Tobold's Blog
Thursday, May 05, 2016
 
The gamification of board games

This being 2016 I am actually wondering if I can assume that everybody in my audience has played board games, because one could well imagine a teenager having grown up with video games instead of board games. Anyway the last years have seen a large number of board games transformed into video games, especially on tablets, as the touch screen controls tend to work great for the simulation of a board game. There have also been a number of video games that are purely digital, but pretend to simulate a card game or board game that doesn't exist in physical form. This mixing of two different worlds, tabletop games and video games, has led to some interesting mixes of game design elements as well.

A typical board game is designed to be played by a number of players sitting around a table for a limited time, a few hours at most. At the end of the game, the components go back into the box, and the next time the game is played it is set up to the initial state. There is no persistence or effect of the previous game on the next. There are no rewards for playing or winning, other than the intrinsic fun of playing itself.

The video game simulations of board games are naturally faster than the originals, because the computer takes care of things like shuffling cards, setting up pieces, and stowing them away after use. And frequently you can play them solo against the AI, which makes the game even faster, because it takes out all the bantering between players. Playing alone also means you can play more frequently and possibly for longer than if you have to gather friends around a table. All this leads to a problem: The intrinsic fun of playing has naturally diminishing returns, and while for the physical board game it might take you quite a while before you play it a dozen times with friends, the video game simulation solo form you can play a dozen times in a day or a weekend.

Video games are designed differently than board games. They are inherently longer, a 10-hour board game would be considered nearly impossibly long, while a 10-hour video game is considered somewhat short. Most video games don't constantly start over in the same state again, but offer either a long story to go through, or some persistent character progress making your character for the next game somewhat better than he was in the first game.

The Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, board game version, has some persistence, although that is more an inheritance of pen & paper roleplaying games than of video games: At the end of the game you keep the deck that you modified through playing, and you potentially also get persistent rewards in the form of more skills, powers, or cards. There is also a long story, with the base set already having 8 scenarios, and you can buy adventure decks to draw that out into a campaign of 33 scenarios without having to reset.

In Pathfinder Adventures, the video game adaptation, there are currently only 13 of those 33 scenarios available (although buying the $25 bundle gives you access to all 33 once they come out). Having played this extensively over the last week, I have played through those 13 scenarios with different groups and group sizes (I recommend 4). It took me some time at the start to realize that this is better played like a board game, including voluntarily resetting and starting over with new characters instead of switching characters in and out of an existing group. But even with resets the fun doesn't last forever. And the developers are aware of that, and added a different play mode which works more like a video game: Quest mode.

In quest mode you play through random scenarios, earning experience points, which then give you levels, which then give you added skills, powers, or cards. Unfortunately I didn't get to test that out yet, because in the release version there is a serious bug which makes quest mode unplayable, and I need to wait for the first patch to fix that. But I found the concept of further gamification of the base board game towards a video game quite interesting. It is something I have observed before: For example in the Civilization series of games, when you start a new game that new game doesn't remember any progress from the previous game; in the newer Thea: The Awakening, which is a somewhat similar 4X game, your success in the game levels up your god, which can then be used in a stronger form in the next game, and unlocks new gods. So there are some interesting game design concepts to explore at the frontier between board games and video games.

Monday, May 02, 2016
 
Pathfinder Adventure Card Game

When you play a classic board game like Risk or Monopoly, each player starts out exactly the same. The first game I played back in 1983 that didn't work like that was Talisman, where you made a choice of character at the start and it made a difference whether you chose the warrior or the wizard or whatever. It is from there that I went and discovered pen & paper roleplaying games, so I consider it an important step in my gaming evolution.

30 years later, in 2013, the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game was published. If people weren't already surrounded by so many computer roleplaying games, this would be the perfect introduction to the world of tabletop roleplaying games. Of course it doesn't have the free interactive storytelling of a pen & paper RPG, but it has pretty much everything else: Players with different character classes forming an adventuring group to fight fantasy villains cooperatively with swords & sorcery. There are different scenarios and the DM is replaced by setting up decks of cards according to the scenario and then shuffling those decks to not be too predictable. That way you can even play solo against the scenario. And it is possible to level up your heroes and keep playing them in a campaign. So in many ways the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game is closer to Dungeons & Dragons than for example World of Warcraft is.

I am currently playing the computer version of the game, called Pathfinder Adventures. At least for solo play that is better than the card version, because it takes less table space, and you don't need to shuffle decks all the time. The computer keeps track of everything for you. And as a replacement for the card version, the computer game is actually quite good, even if it has some bugs and is really complicated for a game running on a tablet.

One thing it took me quite a while to figure out was how many characters I was supposed to put into my group. A typical scenario gives you 30 turns to complete, but each character uses up one turn every time you play, so with larger groups you get less turns per player. As in the free version of the computer game you start having access to only 2 characters, playing a group of 2 appears to be the obvious choice. And you notice that if you add more players, you get more locations to complete in each scenario, so it appears that the game becomes harder: 1 player needs to beat 3 locations (30 cards), with 2 players its 4 locations (40 cards), and so on until 6 players with 8 locations and 80 cards. So playing a group of 4 to 6 characters means having only 30 turns to explore 60 to 80 cards, and that appears very difficult.

However each location has either the main villain or a henchman among the 10 cards, and if you beat them you can close that location without having to play the remaining cards there. So on average you only need 5.5 explorations per location, which for 4 players gives you 33 explorations in 6 locations. As some cards allow you to explore more than once per turn, that is quite doable. And it turns out that if you spread out your characters, you can win the game even earlier: When you find the main villain, you can "temporarily close" locations where one of the characters is. So if you have at least 2 locations already permanently closed and your characters are distributed to cover all the remaining locations, you can win way before the 30 turns.

So after some playtesting it turns out that playing a group of 4 is actually easier than playing a group of 2. The reason for that is that in the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game your deck is also your hit points. If you play a card that is discarded (as opposed to one that is "recharged", going back into your deck), your diminishing your character's health. Playing with only 2 characters means that every character gets 15 turns, and needs to be very conservative with his cards to not run out of cards and die. With 4 characters, each character only gets 8 turns maximum, so there is a lot more flexibility and less chance to run out of cards.

I bought the $25 bundle for the computer game, which gives me all the characters and all the adventures. That is cheap compared to buying the same content in card form, which would be over $200, but of course is expensive for a tablet game. You can play the computer game for free and earn gold with which to unlock the adventures and characters. But as I said, playing with 2 characters is maybe not optimal, so it would take some grinding with the starting thief and cleric combo to earn gold to unlock more characters. Paying at least $5 to get the gold to buy a tank and a mage is probably the better option.

I would very much recommend the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game as an introduction to pen & paper roleplaying. Depending on the circumstances you might prefer the card version to play with friends, or the computer version for solo play (or if you want to try the game for free or cheap). However this comes with the caveat that while Pathfinder Adventure Card Game has less rules than the Pathfinder RPG or Dungeons & Dragons, there are still a lot of rules. The computer version takes care of many of those rules and thus is good for learning the game, but it remains relatively complex and complicated compared to other games you might have running on your tablet.

Saturday, April 30, 2016
 
Cloud saves

If you ever had a hard disk crash on your PC, you will be familiar with the concept of having lost your saved games of offline games. You can reinstall the game, but you'd have to start over from the start. The one advantage of many games being online these days, even single-player games, is that there are now frequently "cloud saves", so whatever happens to your computer, your game progress remains safe.

With mobile games you get all sorts of situations here. I've seen some which were so persistently cloud saving your game that it was downright impossible to start over. Others have cloud saves optional, sometimes outsourced to services like Facebook. When using such a device-independent service for cloud saves, you can even have the same game installed on different platforms and share the progress between them.

I'm still playing Pathfinder Adventures, because the underlying card game is so good, even if the computer implementation isn't all that great. And after having created some characters appear multiple times in my list and having bugs that prevent me from playing the quest mode, I thought that maybe I could fix some things by reinstalling the game. And that gave me some surprises as to the cloud save mechanics of the game:

Pathfinder Adventures uses the GameCenter on iOS, and the corresponding service GooglePlayGames on Android. But as these services are platform-specific, there is absolutely no exchange of information between platforms. I bought the adventure/character bundle on iOS, but on Android I don't get access to that, and play for free (which, by the way, isn't working so bad if you don't want to buy all the content for $25). So I assumed that my game progress was saved in the GameCenter when I reinstalled. But curiously only my purchases were! After reinstallation I still had access to the adventures and characters I bought, all my gold, and all the cards from treasure chests that I bought with gold. But all my played characters were reset to their initial level and characteristics, with their initial cards. All the cards, feats, and story progress I had earned was gone.

Overall not a catastrophe, because I wasn't too far into the game yet. But as a method of cloud saving it sure is peculiar. Yes, it's good that my purchases were preserved, but I would really have liked my game progress to be cloud saved as well.

Thursday, April 28, 2016
 
Pathfinder Adventure

Every cloud has a silver lining. So while my arm is hurting and temporarily useless after surgery, I do have paid sick leave and can either watch Netflix or play games with one hand. And today one of the games I have been waiting for was finally released: Pathfinder Adventures, available both on iOS and Android. This is the computer version of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game from Paizo, which had very good reviews. So how did the computer version work out?

Unfortunately, up to now, not so well. There are quite a number of bugs, some of them serious, like me unable to do the quest mode on my iPad. And that in spite of a long beta. Some bugs are not reproducible and weird, like skill checks that you roll the exact number for sometimes failing (which the rules say they shouldn't).

In spite of the bugs, I still like playing this. However I was familiar with the card game and the rules of it. The tutorial isn't really doing a good job of teaching the game, so somebody not familiar might well end up with several open questions. And the game's help system isn't always a big help, and has some bugs too. So right now I can only recommend Pathfinder Adventures to fans of the original who are willing to overlook the bugs in order to not having to shuffle so many stacks of cards.

P.S. There are three other games I'm currently playing on my iPad which I would rather recommend: Magic Duels, Gems of War, and Galactic Keep. I only discovered the latter recently, and it has a very old school pen & paper roleplaying feel to it, which I like a lot.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016
 
Artificial intelligence and real emotion

The graphics card in my PC has more computing power than the mainframe that controlled the first moon landing. The latest games have such evolved graphics capabilities that faces become realistic enough to not cause an uncanny valley effect. We are close to virtual reality graphics becoming mainstream. A huge percentage of the development budget of games over the last 30 years has been attributed to better and better graphics, and the result is showing.

On the other hand my PC doesn't have an "AI card". The science of AI has evolved, with computers now being able to beat human grand masters at highly complex games like chess or go, or master much less formal tasks like answering Jeopardy questions. But the artificial intelligence in most computer games hasn't evolved much at all. Computer opponents frequently are mentioned in video games reviews for their extreme stupidity in cases where that stupidity is so obvious that it breaks immersion. After 15 years of development of AI in the Total War series of games, the AI hasn't become better at playing that game. Video game advertising will frequently mention graphics, but almost never AI. It doesn't appear as if AI development is a major part of the development budget of any new game.

Instead developers are increasingly relying on other players to provide intelligence. It appears to be far cheaper to make your game PvP than to create a half decent AI. Why bother creating NPCs which behave believably in a MMORPG, if you can develop a MOBA instead where the NPCs are by design extremely stupid, and any opponent intelligence is provided by another player? Any game which ran into trouble during development is released as PvP only, because apparently the graphics was all the team worked on for the major part of the development process, and slapping on an AI at the end was considered optional.

The problem of that is that the PvP is only inherently attractive to a part of the player base, the "killers" of the Bartle test classification. A lot of players would rather either interact peacefully with others, or interact with a virtual world powered by artificial intelligence. If you consider other players as a cheap replacement of artificial intelligence, you risk getting more than you bargained for: Players not only come with intelligence and believable behavior, they also come with real emotions. And in  a conflict-based environment those emotions can run high and become rather unpleasant. The above mentioned MOBA games are frequently mentioned for having "toxic communities". In order to contain the toxicity, game developers then try to limit communication between players, which further drives away social player.

I am currently enjoying Magic Duels very much, because it has a decent AI and I don't need to play against other players. On the one side that allows me to avoid typical interactions with angry opponents, like people playing deliberately slow to annoy you. On the other side I do not need to be careful not to hurt the feelings of my opponent, for example I can throw games when in spite of a mulligan I still haven't got enough mana or get mana swamped. And I don't get the feeling that, compared for example with Hearthstone's human opponents, I am really missing out on much if I play an AI instead of a human. You really don't need all that much of an AI before playing against that AI becomes better than the sum of the advantages and disadvantages of playing against a human. How often do people make friends with their opponents in a PvP game?

When the internet and online gaming was young, many people believed in huge opportunities for friendly online social interaction through games. We believed we would get virtual worlds which we would inhabit online, build communities, and find friends. Today "multiplayer online PvP" is often a crutch for game companies too cheap to develop a decent artificial intelligence, and the internet is full of horror stories of online social interactions gone wrong. If a friend is somebody who helps you move your furniture, and a true friend is somebody who helps you move the body, how many friends that qualify did we really make? Didn't we just cheapen the word "friend" by sticking it to any online acquaintance that wasn't horrible to play a game with?

I do believe that today the "online multiplayer" feature drives away at least as many potential customers of a game as it attracts. Time to start working on artificial intelligence instead. We can still hope for great virtual worlds to live in, but there better be a lot of AI-controlled NPCs to interact with to make that a pleasant experience.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016
 
WoW Legion launches August 30th

Blizzard announced that their next expansion for World of Warcraft, Legion, will launch on August 30th. Which is a) a bit less than 2 years since the last expansion, and b) faster than I expected. Not that this really changes anything. World of Warcraft is still following the universal MMORPG subscription curve described by Raph Koster, with each expansion bringing a spike of returning subscribers, followed by relatively fast drop back to the original curve. Providing an endless stream of material for sensationalist WoW-haters who each time write a "WoW lost millions of subscribers again". If you sum those up, you'll realize that WoW lost 20+ million subscribers over the years, which is more than it had at any point. It's a bit like Time reporting national debts without mentioning national assets.

As I made an impulse buy during my last period of playing WoW and pre-purchased Legion, I will most certainly play this expansion at least for a while. And as I bought a bunch of WoW tokens before they doubled in price, everything I need is already paid for. Having said that, I don't expect much from Legion. I have grown increasingly impatient with the lack of innovation in MMORPGs. Every expansion, even every new game, feels like more of the same, minor variations of a theme I've grown too familiar with. So I'll play a character or two to the new level cap, and then that's it.

I don't think I'll like Legion as much as I like Warlords of Draenor, mainly because of the loss of my garrison. I know very well that different players want different things from player housing: Functionality, decoration, or social aspects for example. Personally I am very much in the functional camp, so losing the more functional garrisons to get the more social class order halls for me is a distinctive loss. And who are they kidding with a story line which makes every single player the leader of their class order? If you have any actual social interaction it should become rather obvious that only the NPCs will pretend that you are a leader, and that pretense will run very thin very soon.

I do expect Blizzard to provide polished work, because they always do. And as every game feels the same and I really don't want to play MMORPGs all year long any more, two or so months of Legion will suffice for my annual MMORPG quota this year.

Saturday, April 16, 2016
 
One-hand-icapped

Once upon a time in the late 70's, teenage Tobold decided that he wanted to learn how to type. That was an unconventional idea at the time, as typing was a skill needed only by secretaries, and "keyboards" were musical instruments. Kudos to my parents to supporting any of my efforts to learn something, and so I learned how to type blind, using all ten fingers, and at a good speed (albeit below that of professional typists). That turned out to be an immensely useful skill in my life, as these days typists are nearly extinct and everybody in a company types his own stuff on a computer.

All that to say that blogging for me is very much an activity that uses both hands. And so is most of my gaming: Many PC games have me using the mouse with my right hand, while the left is controlling for example character movement with WASD. On a console I use a gamepad, which very much needs both hands. The problem with that is that I'll have surgery next week that will temporarily rob me of the use of one hand. So how will I game?

Apart from dirty jokes ("Best one-handed game? Bayonetta!"), advice on how to play games with just one hand isn't all that common on the internet, as it is a problem that affects only few people. But looking at my Steam library and thinking of the games I've played, there are some trends I observe. First of all, action games nearly universally require two hands. Whether it is shooters or action adventures like Shadows over Mordor or racing games or MMORPGs, pretty much anything fast and real-time needs two hands. The chance to find a game that can be played with one hand goes up a lot as soon as you move towards turn-based games: Strategy or tactical games like Civilization or XCOM, point-and-click adventures, as well as board-game simulations or card games usually all need just one hand on the mouse.

As far as platforms go, consoles are nearly useless for the one-handed gamer. On the other side of the spectrum tablets are excellent if you don't have the use of both hands. Many games apparently are designed with the idea that you hold the tablet in one hand and play with the other. So if you manage to balance the tablet on your knees, you only need one hand. PCs are somewhere in the middle: Some games can be controlled with just the mouse, others need mouse and keyboard but not necessarily simultaneously. That is a bit more complicated, but still feasible. Only when the game demands both mouse and keyboard at the same time am I out of luck.

As I mentioned above, I type with both hands and find "eagle finger" typing with one hand tedious. Between that, surgery, the after-surgery pain, and the drugs against the pain, I probably won't be blogging much in the coming months.

 
Far Cry 3 motion sickness

After only 3 hours of playing, I just uninstalled Far Cry 3. That isn't counting the 1 hour I spent surfing the internet trying to find out how to turn of the extreme head bob of that game. Apparently there is no way, and the general advice of increasing FOV only made me even more nauseous. These days there aren't many games any more that cause me motion sickness, but Far Cry 3 is rather extreme.

While I would have liked to follow the story a bit more, the 3 hours were sufficient to understand the Far Cry 3 game concept. It is the famous Ubisoft Formula, an open world where you climb towers to unlock side quests in various sub-regions. Just instead of Assassin's Creed close combat, Far Cry is a first person shooter. I didn't see more of the story because the open world part determines your gear. The obvious solution is to *not* follow the story, but go hunting after various animals the moment you leave the tutorial. Once you have all the necessary skins for weapon holsters, backback, ammo pouches, etc., you don't constantly run out of ammo or inventory space any more, and the game becomes a lot more playable. If it wasn't for the head bob causing me motion sickness.

The good news is that I didn't pay full price for Far Cry 3, but had picked it up at some Steam sale. And for once I wisely refused to buy Far Cry 4 before trying out Far Cry 3. Apparently even the brand new Far Cry Primal has head bob which can't be turned off in the options, which is really a design oversight. I just wished there was a list available somewhere which games have head bob that can't be turned off, so that people who are susceptible to motion sickness can avoid those games.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016
 
When private sounds like pirate

Activision Blizzard didn't make itself many new friends when they sent their lawyers to shut down a private vanilla server this month. But from their point of view a "private" server is a "pirate" server. There is at least a probability that somebody playing on a private server decides not to pay Blizzard to play on an official server as well. So private servers are a potential loss of revenue for Blizzard. And as "running a World of Warcraft server", regardless of what edition impinges on Blizzard's intellectual property rights, shutting down the private server is totally within Blizzard's rights.

"But they don't shut down all private servers" or "but they let that server run for some time, they can't shut it down now" are not good arguments. That is just a problem of agility, a big company can't always react immediately to everything what is going on. And then a lawyer costs money, so they only send one if the target is big enough. If they could, Blizzard would shut down all private servers immediately.

The only hope here is that Blizzard noticed from the large number of players on the vanilla server that there is a demand for retro servers. Some other games have them, especially Everquest. Gamers are a nostalgic bunch who always think that games were better before and that developers work tirelessly to make them worse. Many has-been devs have learned to exploit that nostalgia to their benefit by running Kickstarter scams projects. As player numbers on the main servers are in constant decline, starting a vanilla server themselves would be a great idea for Blizzard.

Friday, April 08, 2016
 
Capped Free-to-Play

I was reading an article on Pocket Tactics on the Free-to-Play model of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game, soon to be released on iOS (a game I'm waiting for). The game gives you between 100 and 300 gold for beating a scenario, depending on difficulty level, plus very small amounts of gold for stuff you do in those scenarios (e.g. 1 gold for killing a monster). You can then use that gold to buy characters and adventures. There are 5 characters costing 2000 gold each, and 4 characters costing 4000 gold each. The first adventure costs 750 gold, but the other 5 cost 4000 gold each. So if you want to buy all characters and all adventures, that will cost you 46,750 gold. If we estimate generously that you'll make on average 250 gold per scenario played, you'll need to play 187 scenarios to buy everything.

Or you can get all characters and adventures for $25.

I find that a very interesting and fair business model. $25 for all the content in the game is probably something I am going to buy. Unlike other Free2Play games which can ask for endless amounts of money, the money cost of the game is capped at $25. On the one side you'll get people who "buy to own" Pathfinder Adventure Card Game for $25, and on the other side you'll get people who refuse to pay anything but can still unlock all the content by grinding a lot. Not sure what intermediate options there are going to be.

And this isn't the only game that works like that. Magic Duels just released the latest version on the iOS and added not one, but two expansions to the game: Oath of the Gatewatch and Shadows over Innistrad. If you decide to buy all cards instead of playing for them, you still can't spend much more than $50 per expansion to get all the virtual cards. That might seem expensive compared to other iOS games, but for the Magic player that sounds dirt cheap, as buying enough physical cards to get one expansions is easily 10 times that expensive. Personally I am using a mixed strategy here, I spent enough money so that with the gold I had already accumulated over the last months I got the complete Shadows over Innistrad, but I'll earn the cards from the other expansion by playing.

Right now I'm quite happy deckbuilding with all those new cards, doing a "vampire deck" and so on. Having access from cards from 4 expansions makes it easier to create theme decks that don't suck. I only wished that there were better filters, right now it is hard to find for example all cards containing the word vampire in the game without using external sources. But to come back to the business model, I am also quite happy with that, knowing that I did spend what I wanted to spend, and that the game isn't pushing me towards spending more.

Thursday, April 07, 2016
 
Rollable 4-sided dice

You might have heard me mention that I am not a huge fan of Kickstarter, as I consider it a platform where people who have no clue of project management can find funders who have no clue about the viability of the project proposed. Having said that, I did back some Kickstarter projects which seemed more realistic to me, especially when Kickstarter was the only way to get hold of the product. One of the projects I backed was for rollable 4-sided dice, back in 2014. While the project was late, I did eventually get my dice in 2015, and I am very happy with them.

Of course many of my readers won't even know what a 4-sided dice is, and why I would want one with a different shape than the classical one. These are random number generators pretty much exclusively used by people playing pen & paper role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons. D&D uses 4-sided dice (d4) among many others: d6, d8, d10, d12, d20. Apart from the d10 and some exotic varieties like d30 which get little use, these dice are all platonic solids. The symmetry of the d6, d8, d10, d12, and d20 results in that when the dice land on a flat surface, there is a flat surface opposite showing up. Then there are numbers painted on that up side which give you the result. The 4-sided dice are the exception: When they land on a flat surface, a corner is pointing up. So to read the result you need to consult smaller numbers engraved on the edges. Furthermore the tetrahedron doesn't roll like the other dice, it just falls down when you throw it and sits there.

The rollable 4-sided dice solve both of these problems. While they are somewhat rounded and thus non-platonic solids, they can be rolled like dice and land with a number showing up. And now these rollable 4-sided dice are available on Shopify. Helpful if you missed the Kickstarter and want some of these. They offer both smaller quantities for personal use, and larger quantities in candy jars for resale in a games store. Recommended!

Wednesday, April 06, 2016
 
A European perspective

The view that most Americans have of Hitler is very much conditioned by the 4 years between 1941 when America entered the war, and the end of the war in 1945. Americans think of Hitler as some sort of boss mob they defeated, a war enemy, top of the list of several crazy dictators that America freed the world of. Europeans, because they were closer to the action during the pre-war and early war years also remember Hitler as a populist extreme right-wing politician.

Ever since Vidal completely derailed Buckley with the comparison on live TV in 1968, it has been very clear that the Republican party doesn't see any parallel between their politics and Nazism. But from a European perspective the more extreme right-wing populist positions mentioned in the Republican primaries bear at least some resemblance to some of the Nazi politics. You take proposals like confiscating money from Mexicans to pay for keeping them out, or imposing travel restrictions on Muslims and change the words "Mexicans" / "Muslims" into "Jews", and the resemblance to laws issued by the Nazis between 1933 and 1941 becomes quite eerie and a bit frightening.

That is not to say that Donald Trump is a Nazi or comparable to Hitler. There is absolutely no indication that even if elected he would somehow turn America from a republic into a dictatorship. It isn't even very likely that any of his proposals would ever be enacted if he became president. He probably doesn't even believe in that stuff, he just knows that it is what certain people want to hear and says it because it could potentially get him the Republican nomination. But the resemblance to anti-semitic propaganda and laws does explain certain European reactions to Donald Trump.

Personally I see Donald Trump more as a symbol of the schism in the Republican party between the establishment Republicans and the anti-establishment Republicans. There is still a greater than zero chance that Trump will split the party like Theodore Roosevelt did in 1912. And while I do believe that there is no way that the party can work around that schism and win the presidential election this year, I consider it possible that a split would actually strengthen the Republicans in the long run. Right now nobody really knows what the Republican party stands for, and some of the more extreme opinions on that matter look rather ugly from over here.

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