Another POINTless Argument (was Re: Scatterguns and SMPs... and PDAF)
From: Allan Goodall <agoodall@s...>
Date: Tue, 22 Apr 1997 23:17:33 -0400
Subject: Another POINTless Argument (was Re: Scatterguns and SMPs... and PDAF)
At 08:09 PM 4/22/97 +0300, Mikko Kurki-Suonio wrote:
>It's a pity. Lack of a points system renders otherwise good games
>practically unplayable, IMHO.
Here we go with the old "point system good/point system bad" argument.
I haven't seen a point system yet that isn't broken. In fact, it's near
impossible for a single number to represent the ability of a unit. Take
following historical example. Choose between a squad of Polish cavalry
(circa 1939, no anti-tank weapons) and a Panzer III. My money's on the
panzer and it's machine guns. How about a Panzer III and a 57mm
gun? Depending on terrain, it could be even odds. Now, how about that
gun and the Polish cavalry squad? My money's NOW on the cavalry. So,
this endless game of rock/paper/scissors, how do you make one number
represent the combat effectiveness of a unit in all situations. You
unit's effectiveness depends just as much on the composition of the
and its fellow units than its own abilities. Only if both sides are
configured EXACTLY the same will a points system work. Yawn.
Point systems, once an aid to scenario design, have resulted in the
Workshopping of the hobby. Grand defenses, stunning offenses, and
hopeless/heroic delaying missions have been replaced by that most rare
modern military occurances: the balanced meeting engagement. Instead of
someone designing a memorable scenario where--shudder--one side might be
better off than the other (thus requiring some actual tactical THOUGHT),
hobby has devolved into an endless march of "bring 2000 points of Orks,
have 2000 points of Squats" slugfests over even terrain. Why they don't
play Checkers, I'll never know.
Hmm. I'm probably over harsh. A point system does allow the same sort of
unit building that exists in CCG deck building and Full Thrust ship
You try to outguess your opponent on the unit design side in order to
you the edge you don't have in terrain or numbers. This in itself would
be a bad thing, except that it encourages game publishers to build
figures (or in CCG parlance, "rares") that cost a lot (in points or
but overpower the opponent. Get your players into an arms race and
never be wanting for sales. Alter the games rules every couple of years,
you've got the marketing juggernaut that is GW. Arguably, FT needs it
than any other game, as ship combat games have little in the way of
in order to balance a scenario. Just be prepared for the endless
over whether A batteries are overpowered, or pulse torpedoes are over
priced, etc., to contine ad nauseum.
I personally don't think that a point system is evil. But your comments
the horrible downside of point systems: they destroy the imagination.
Instead of having to think about a game, you just pick an arbitrary
and build a force accordingly. While your at it, you can show your
in the game by min/maxing the force to the point of absurdity. Now if
games did what WRG's Modern Wargame rules (1920 to 1950) did, that is
players choose a mission and alter their points appropriately, I could
with it. But most point games, ala WH40K, encourage tournament games of
numbers. If one side has a terrain advantage, it need only dig in to win
scenario. Even out the terrain, and the game becomes a dice rolling
Now we're starting to see sad comments like yours where if the game,
regardless of elegant, intuitive mechanics, fast pace, and--most of
all--FUN, doesn't have a point system (even a completely arbitrary, and
broken one) the game must be crap.
After all this, I have to say that I think Jon should include a point
in every game he designs. I don't suggest that he actually spend much
on it, as it's going to be broken--by definition--anyway. But it's
that he'll miss selling his excellent designs to the point-system
unless he adds one. And it can be of some use to beginning players so
they can at least have a vague, ballpark idea of a unit's effectiveness.
customer is always right, after all.
So, Jon, include those point systems. It's no big deal to me. I'll just
ignore that section, anyway. Although, truth to tell, the page would be
more useful if it simply said, "Notes:" and was left intentionally
Allan Goodall: firstname.lastname@example.org
"You'll want to hear about my new obsession.
I'm riding high upon a deep depression.
I'm only happy when it rains." - Garbage