knowing the many bugs of the patch 3.4, (AA equipment that only are AA if the icon is AA, the ignore losses bug,...), which patch is better to play until we wait for the expected 3.5?
This is going to be a long post so please forgive me.
Furthermore, this is only my opinion and I very much hope Bob and others will comment on it in order to give as thorough an overview as possible. I shall attempt to answer your question as best as I can and then give what I think is as reasonable encapsulation of the whole “State of TOAW” as I see it. In addition, I am also writing this for potential new players as well if they are considering purchasing TOAW III but are put off by all the talk of 3.4 bugs.
Ok. So let’s go.
I do not know the version number of TOAW III as it is currently available from the Matrix site. It is most likely that it is the 188.8.131.52 version. If that is the case then new players will not have the option to “roll back” to an earlier version: for example 3.2. Edit: Not true. Please see later post.
For those amongst us who have the original release of TOAW III and all the subsequent patches, it is possible to install the original 3.0, rename the exe, and then install the next patch, rename that exe, and install the next patch and so on up to 3.4. This gives the option to choose whichever version is most appropriate for any particular scenario but herein lays a very complex issue which I will deal with next. And do not forget all the bugs in 3.2 that 3.4 fixed.
From here I apologise if this gets rambling.
TOAW has always had bugs. It is no different in this respect than any other computer game. The history of TOAW development has revolved around bug fixes and game development. Talonsoft tended to go for game development and bug fixes in that order. Ralph’s work on TOAW III has been more balanced. The list for ACOW to TOAW III 3.4 bug fixes is as long as your arm. Indeed, the current concern involving Ignore Losses is not a bug that was introduced by 3.4. It is a bug(?) that has been with TOAW probably since TOAW I but certainly with ACOW.
3.4 only highlighted the bug(?) because a couple of improvements to the combat engine combined with a couple of significant bug fixes to make the defence stronger and that is true even if you ignore the effects of Ignore Losses. The Ignore Losses issue became noticed because it was the most obvious example of the defence’s new found strength.
Bottom line: there are bugs in 3.4, there were bugs in 3.2, 3.1, 3.0, ACOW, TOAW II, TOAW I, oh and let’s not forget WOTY. There will be bugs in 3.5, 3.6 etc and TOAW IV. Yes, I have faith!
What does all this mean in practical terms?
The most important consideration in my opinion, and should be the main concern for everyone, is not specific bugs in 3.4. It is play balance.
Even if you ignore the Ignore Losses problem, it is clear (from my experience) that the increase in defensive resilience has damaged many of the older scenarios in terms of play balance and essentially broken some (curiously, there are some old scenarios that play better under 3.4 than they did originally).
Scenarios that were designed to be very tough for attackers are now so tough that attackers cannot make any headway. Attu Island 43 is a good example of that and I believe the Soviets trying to break the Mannerheim Line is another.
Now all of this is not as bad as it sounds at least in terms of blaming 3.4 for it. It has always been the case that scenarios created before the latest release/patch had their play balance upset from the original. TOAW I and TOAW II scenarios were in need of re-balancing with the introduction of ACOW. ACOW scenarios needed re-balancing with the introduction of TOAW III. Technically, TOAW III 3.0 scenarios needed re-balancing (or at least looking at) with the introduction of 3.1 and so on. Most players (and I am speaking generally) were happy to overlook any play balance issues in the TOAW III versions since they tended to be rather minor. 3.4 changed that with a vengeance.
More than ever before (at least with scenarios created for TOAW III) older scenarios (pre 3.4) need looking at and re-balancing.
I would like to summon Secadegas here to comment on Veers’ 3.4 changes to Europe Aflame since I am sure that his opinion on the changes to Europe Aflame would be instructional due to his vast experience with that scenario. Joao, please don't make me sacrifice any chickens.
The whole issue of re-balancing old scenarios is complicated by two factors.
First, all scenarios are different in the way that their designers chose to balance their scenarios - if indeed they tested for play balance at all.
Fire in the East and Europe Aflame are very good examples of that. Both of those scenarios are so large that they could not possibly be play-tested adequately prior to release. They both rely on play-testing after release and support for updating the scenarios from comments received from players. Europe Aflame is probably the most successful in this regard and that is due entirely to the dedication and work of Mark Stevens and now Veers in keeping it updated and the player-base of that scenario for pointing out errors and suggesting improvements. Both Fire in the East and Europe Aflame had very good reasons for less-than-rigorous play testing prior to first release.
It should come as no surprise that not all scenarios are created equally and that only a small number of designers support their scenarios through all iterations of the TOAW engine.
The point is that there is no single re-balancing strategy that can be mechanically applied to pre-3.4 scenarios just as turning off the new turn rules sometimes helps, sometimes hinders, and sometimes makes no difference at all.
Second, players vary in their willingness, experience, confidence, and time constraints upon them to make the re-balancing changes themselves. Ideally, of course, the original designer would re-balance their scenarios. Apart from a few dedicated designers, this is not going to happen. Neither is it worth waiting for a third party to do it either.
I began my TOAW career with TOAW II back in 1998. I was not connected to the internet. I had no chance of an opponent beyond the PO. What I wanted from the game, more than anything else, was a challenging game. It meant learning the editor. It meant upping the supply and replacements for the PO side. It meant dropping in anything from an extra regiment to an extra army-group. These were not re-balancing issues per se but it forced me to learn how to use the editor.
It may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I am convinced that players need to their hands dirty. For new players I cannot stress enough the need to learn how the editor works (it is not that difficult – well, deciphering the Event List can be a challenge but generally speaking re-balancing does not require messing with the Event List) and it is crucial.
I am currently listing nearly 900 scenarios for TOAW. That is: 89 for 3.4, 290 for TOAW III excluding 3.4, 255 for ACOW, 15 for WOTY, 50 for TOAW II, and 183 for TOAW I. As a whole they are of variable quality but not a single one is without value and most have much to recommend them. The vast majority of them require re-balancing.
Who is going to do it?
We all should.
< Message edited by shunwick -- 5/25/2013 7:05:03 PM >
I love the smell of TOAW in the morning...