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Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void

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Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/24/2008 2:12:39 PM   
Adam Parker

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I have to say it, with the dearth of original PC war game releases of late, the board game world has stepped in again (and it's been a mass of activity these past twelve months alone) with GMT's latest release, the frustratingly spelt "Manoeuvre" - 19th century land warfare with a solid dose of abstraction. And it looks a winner.

On opening my box this afternoon I was pleasantly surpised with contents that just ooze innovation from a long standing manufacturer, who would once notoriously only provide paper maps, two dice and counters in an otherwise vacant box.

I've posted quite extensively on these first impressions over at the Wargamer here.

But it just makes me wonder why the PC war game market can't look to where our hobby market has turned with enthusiasm and emulate such designs. "Command and Colors" (with three expansions now), "Hannibal" (with exquisite components), "War at Sea" (updated for the 21st Century gamer) and now "Maneouvre" - all games of the "easy to learn, fun to play, hard to master genre".

Manoeuvre's designer Jeff Horger wrote, that he wanted a game in the quick to learn spirit of chess that could bring his diverse band of gaming buddies together and satisfy their collective hunger and bias, to play a communal collection of some 400 titles - yet, have each being satisfied that their gaming time has been rewarded and enjoyable throughout.

That's a design ethos PC game creators could learn from. Manoeuver offers 24 thick cardboard geomorphic map sections, each 4x4 squares wide. Four such sections go to form an 8 hex wide playing map, each army comprises just 8 counters, diagonal moves and combat are disallowed. How beautifully elegant and simple. An 8x8 map huh? Well, just like Chess...

Yet, something no PC war game of recent, has ever approached since the 21st Century dawned. The last I can think of is the beloved combat engine burried inside the 1990' "Conquest of the New World". I played that more than the entire game.

That's where the retail money seems to be, mine most definitely. Is any PC war game developer going to try to grab it? That's the question.

Anyway, kudos GMT . Well done on some gutsy innovation and production flexibility. GMT is now in my books, a game company that can pleasantly surprise.

Happy gaming,
Post #: 1
RE: Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/24/2008 3:44:34 PM   

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From: Flanders
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It's funny, but I wrote about the same general idea only a couple of days ago on Usenet - copy & paste in here :

... many boardgame developers try hard to come-up with new concepts and ideas to enhance the gaming experience, to make a better game, while many pc wargame developers are either stuck in an engine-rut or think adding more detail to a game equals enhancing it.

Ok, this all sounds so theoretical and made out of thin air, so here are a couple of examples :

Chance : because boardgames are often limited in the number scenarios they can provide due to the map & counter-mix limitations, they achieve replayability by introducing variants, what-ifs, cards and generally a bigger reliance on luck as a determining factor. A boardgame is kept interesting for both players because a sudden reversal of fortune is possible. In computer wargames it seems like
“realism” is a higher priority than “keep it interesting/entertaining”.

Beyond IGO/WEGO : there’s plenty of boardgames where the non-active player can intervene in his opponent’s turn or where a turn can be cut short or where a gamer does not get the chance to move every single unit each turn or where it’s uncertain which player is going to move next. There’s practically no modern boardgame where player interaction is not of paramount interest, yet computer wargames haven’t moved beyond basic “opportunity fire” and other concepts of the seventies.
Wouldn’t you like it when right in the middle of the computer’s turn you could stick a card under it’s virtual nose which reads “your general has just died of pneumonia, end of turn” ?

Embracing new technology : yesterday I saw this video of a demo of a Stalingrad boardgame on YouTube – all pretty amateurish – but at least they’re getting the message out – I got there accidentally because I was looking for a video of a Panther tank. And it wasn’t the first
time I saw a boardgame getting explained on it. Given the medium, pc wargame companies should be all over YouTube, yet apart from that interview with Joel Billings from years ago and the more recent Forge of Freedom effort we’re still stuck with half a dozen screenshots hidden in the game’s forum. Ever seen a pc wargame review where the reviewer put up a video *showing* you stuff ?

Off the wall battles and wars : ok, it’s obviously not feasible financially to develop a computer game on the Tai Ping rebellion in China, but the fact remains that if you like to explore “exotic”
battles and wars you’re better off being a boardgamer. Recent example : Conquest of Paradise -Polynesian tribal warfare)

Gamer input/giving the gamer what he wants : Arjuna will not agree with me here but interesting though it is, the Med front in early 1941 is probably a lot lower on the wish list of many gamers than a Bulge 44 game. There are and were good (technical) reasons why the Aegean came first, but imho the deciding factor was because it was the game he wanted to make. The P500 and other systems give boardgamers a real say as to developer priorities and even Mr. Cox will have to agree
that even HPS won’t let their customers decide what Battleground game gets produced next.


Eddy Sterckx

< Message edited by sterckxe -- 4/24/2008 3:46:41 PM >

(in reply to Adam Parker)
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RE: Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/24/2008 6:51:38 PM   


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Kinda looks like a complicated Stratego.  :)

(in reply to sterckxe)
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RE: Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/27/2008 9:14:09 AM   
Adam Parker

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From: Melbourne Australia
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Kinda looks like a complicated Stratego.  :)

You know Joarm, I gave credit to your insight (see the link) ! Yet, I can definitely say leave out the "complicated". This game is genuinely learned in an hour and played without the rulebook half way through a session thereafter. Very unique today.

Posted my impressions on play and solitaire over at the Wargamer here

Another good purchase.

(in reply to Joram)
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RE: Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/27/2008 2:19:42 PM   


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Hi Adam,

Thanks for the link, I'll check it out later.




(in reply to Adam Parker)
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RE: Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/27/2008 4:53:37 PM   

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ORIGINAL: Adam Parker

the frustratingly spelt "Manoeuvre"

Why "frustratingly"? That's how it's usually spelt. Except by Americans, who can't even spell simple words like 'defence' properly.

(in reply to Adam Parker)
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RE: Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/28/2008 5:36:23 AM   

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ORIGINAL: Hertston
Why "frustratingly"? That's how it's usually spelt. Except by Americans, who can't even spell simple words like 'defence' properly.

I guess both are accepted and we'll all have to use our own judg*e*ment!

I'd like to add in my praise of this game. It's a gem. VASSAL module already available:


(in reply to Hertston)
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RE: Manoeuvre - Another Great BG Fills the Void - 4/28/2008 5:26:44 PM   

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I agree that it is hard to replace sitting down with friends and playing a board game.  Many board games lately have show a great deal of inovation; Friedrick, and Morango are two of the best.  That being said, I think there are some things board games just can't do that computers can.  Fog of war and solo play are just not the same with board games.




(in reply to Rooster)
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