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Tuesday, 30 August 2011

The Attraction of Wargames

Hi all,

Today, I'm asking the question- what do we want from a wargame? What is it about a game that draws us to it, or instead repels us?

This is essentially an extension of my earlier Distractions post, where I suggested that a wargame benefits from intuitive rules and a lack of counters- anything, in fact, which pulls you away from the game into the rules. Unfortunately, as someone pointed out, the logical conclusion of this is to computerize wargames- and that doesn't involve any models, so I'm not a fan of the idea in principle. :)

It did get me thinking though- what would my ideal wargame look like? Just as importantly, since few people would want to play my perfect wargame (preferring, I suspect, to play their own) what appeals to other people- and I think there are a few elements which are common to all of us, to a greater or lesser extent.

1) The Visual Aspect.

Picture courtesy TooMuchLead

Having a table full of models which you use to fight has significant visual impact. It is also "real"- by which I mean that the models and scenery are solid, and can be physically interacted with. This is one of the things which separates the hobby from computer simulation. So, any wargame should have a strong visual component to be called Great.

2) The Gaming Group

No game will ever fall onto my radar if no-one plays it. Yes, even the people you don't like- they need to play it, in order to bring in more of the people you do like. This is probably number 1) on the list, but I realised that I spend weeks building armies and scenery to get a good looking game, and hours playing it, so it gets pipped at the post on time. Speaking of which...

3) 2 Hours.

127 hours- AKA Monopoly

If a game takes more than 2 hours to play (on average) it starts to become a little tired. Games Workshop, I have to say, has this aspect nailed- most Tournaments I'm aware have have 2 1/2 hours per game- that includes getting to know your opponent, setting rules for terrain etc. Most 40K games of 2000 points, in my experience, take 2 hours from unpacking the army to closing the clasps on the case afterwards.

4) Reward me for Strategy and Tactics.

Yes, I would like a cookie if I successfully execute a Fabian Strategy.

In essence, I want the game to reward me with success (at least, a greater chance of success) for using effective strategies and tactics against my opponents. In addition, I want the game to punish me for not being successful at this. In that vein, I also want...

5) The Opportunity to Frustrate my Opponents.

One of the greatest elements of a good multi-player board game is, I think, the ability to interfere with your opponents strategy. For example, when playing Talisman, play a Rogue- wait for another player to build the Talisman to travel around the board, rob them, and save yourself all the work :)

So- from a fairly broad point of view, this is what I look for in a game. I think that the reason I keep playing GW games is that they tick the first 3 boxes- looks great, good group of gamers and quick to play.

Thoughts, opinions and points of view on this are all welcome- in fact, what is your list of "Ideal Qualities" in a wargame?

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