$18.00
GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters: 116.7

7,093 Supporters

$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
44.7% of Goal | left

Support:

Recommend
30 
 Thumb up
 Hide
59 Posts
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 

Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: The three tests a wargame must pass to become a classic (for me) rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
Øivind Karlsrud
Norway
Bjørkelangen
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Games I want to play on VASSAL: ASL, ASLSK, GMT CDG's I own
badge
Games I want to play on VASSAL: ASL, ASLSK, GMT CDG's I own
mbmbmbmbmb
I have realized that I demand quite a lot from wargames, and many (most, actually) wargames fail for me. A wargame has to pass three consecutive tests.

First, I look at the rules, and see if there is something that excites me. What kind of mechanisms did the designer choose in order to reflect history? Are there some interesting mechanisms to reflect what's special in this conflict, or is it just a generic system which has been used for many other conflicts? Does the game represent the things I think are important? This test is important because there must be something which makes me buy the game in the first place.

Second, I play the game, and see if the gameplay excites me. Many games fail this test. Some games are too random, some are not balanced, some have just one strategy, some are too grindy, some are too fiddly, some have too complex interactions to wrap their head around (I'm not just thinking about rules complexity). There are so many ways I have seen wargames fail (for me). Sometimes I accept bad gameplay in one sense if it's good in another sense, let's say a fiddly game which is very tight and balanced. But there must be some seriously good gameplay there, for gameplay's own sake.

Third, the game must not break my suspension of disbelief, at least not too much (this is very subjective, of course). A House Divided is a game which eventually passed the second test after an experienced player showed me how to play, but it has still failed to become a classic for me, because we always seem to end up with a cavalry race that doesn't remind me of the Civil War at all. That said, I do accept quite a lot in other games, and any game which passes the second test will get a decent rating from me. I have given AHD a 7, which I give to games I am always willing to play, but will usually not suggest.

I guess it's hard to be a wargame in my collection. Alas, many of them end up as unloved dust collectors. cry Eurogames have it easy, because they just have to be good games. And since that is the sole focus of eurogame design, they often are good games (IMO), a lot more often than wargames which also try to represent history in some way, and sometimes end up sacrificing gameplay.
34 
 Thumb up
1.03
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tony Doran
United States
Columbia
Tennessee
flag msg tools
mbmb
I find it interesting that none of your criteria address popularity (with which, I agree) or longevity- does the game keep producing these reactions in you over time?

I also look for design interest. What mechanisms are used by the designer?

Suspension of disbelief is tougher. Do you mean that a wargame should at least be able to produce the historical result, even if gameplay often does not? If so, then I agree with this also.

Interesting subject, and close to home for me just now. After 50 years in the hobby, I am weeding out games which simply do not meet the test of time.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mick Mickelsen
United States
Dallas
Texas
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I agree with your sentiments.

While I enjoy a great war-game- or any game where the mechanics attempt to model some aspect of reality, most fail for me and I end up keeping very few war-games in my collection.

I always enjoy a game of Splendor.

But I love playing Twilight Struggle; 13 Days; Pax Porfiriana; Hannibal; Sekigahara; The Russian Campaign, etc.

But most war-games I buy I end up playing once or twice and selling them.

House Divided was a game that also fell short for me, although I think it is a brilliant design in many respects.

Napoleon's Triumph also brilliant- but very difficult to wrap my head around the rules, and once learned, have to relearn if more than year has passed since I last played it.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

For me, reverse the order of importance of 3 and 2, and drop 1 entirely.

I don't need there to be anything entirely new in a game if it has everything right. Yes I like designs that use new systems because sometimes they can achieve the other 2 goals that way, and elegantly so - bully. But it isn't a requirement. I never look at a game and think, "I can't play this, it doesn't have a new mechanic". Just not part of the thought process at all.

If a game is accurate, I still want it to have gameplay interest. I don't much mind it being grindy or being involved, if it has an immersion factor and that grind or complexity seems real (rather than a "gamey" unrealistic optimum approach like your cavalry race example - that would completely kill the game for me, if I didn't house rule it out of existence). The working or good tactics in the game having nothing to do with what mattered in the real war is a deal breaker.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Tony Doran
United States
Columbia
Tennessee
flag msg tools
mbmb
[q="JasonC"]
For me, reverse the order of importance of 3 and 2, and drop 1 entirely.

I don't need there to be anything entirely new in a game if it has everything right. Yes I like designs that use new systems because sometimes they can achieve the other 2 goals that way, and elegantly so - bully. But it isn't a requirement. I never look at a game and think, "I can't play this, it doesn't have a new mechanic". Just not part of the thought process at all.

Jason:

You misunderstand me. I don't think "I can't play this, it doesn't have a new mechanic". For me it is more, "I see this game has a new mechanic, I'd love to play it and see how it works." Sometimes, upon play, I find it does not work, but often I find it casts a new light on some aspect of the history depicted that I had not thought of before, or it depicts something I had thought about better than other games I have tried.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jason Cawley
United States
Anthem
Arizona
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb

Tony - I can't have misunderstood you, I wasn't even talking to you. I was talking to Oivind.

Cheers...
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
401k? More like .357
United States
Baltimore
Maryland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I just want to take this moment to be the first to mention "dripping with theme" in this thread.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
mbmbmbmbmb
3, 2, 1 for me, though I admit that a unique or well-designed and interesting mechanic (from your point 1) turns my grognard handle quite a bit. After 1,000+ games through my hands, I'm very discerning these days and am only keeping my very favourites.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
suPUR DUEper
United States
Villa Hills
Kentucky
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Classic to me implies longevity so I think that criteria has to be in there.
Memorable would also be another criteria I would use. I need tension and a sense of drama. Being epic helps too.

World in Flames is a representative example for me.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cameron Taylor
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
My three tests:

#1: Realism of Outcomes (i.e. historical moves should largely yield historical outcomes and infeasible moves shouldn't be possible) *
#2: Realism of Process (i.e. abstraction / aggregation appropriate to the scale represented)
#3: Elegance of Rule Set (i.e. playability and amount of 'chrome' rules exceptions)

* : Usually the more I learn about a conflict the more this part of any system needs to have optional rules or house rules.

Even if it's not in a period I'm particularly interested in (e.g. Spanish Civil War), I'll still buy and play it if the game system is designed very well—and I'm sure I would enjoy it too. In fact, that's how I become interested in other periods; you don't know if something is truly (un)interesting until you learn something about it. For me, wargames are about illustrating tactics and strategy to help history come alive. If I wanted an immersive narrative I'd read a memoir or a grand history of the topic. But if the wargame doesn't explain why things happened the way they did and what feasible alternatives there were, then it holds no interest for me.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Gilles Daquin
Japan
Tokyo
Tokyo
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
ok, I see the theme. Let me contribute my bit:

#1 suspension of disbelief: what you see happening on the board takes you "there", your mind is caught and the room around you ceases to exist

#2 streamlining of the rules: rules don't get in the way and painlessly support the narrative

#3 Decisions, decisions: I have to be able to think of a general plan, try to execute it and what I do has an impact short term, mid term without totally committing the long term

instant classics: none. hmmm, maybe my criteria are not that good...

I like:





play many others with pleasure.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Øivind Karlsrud
Norway
Bjørkelangen
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Games I want to play on VASSAL: ASL, ASLSK, GMT CDG's I own
badge
Games I want to play on VASSAL: ASL, ASLSK, GMT CDG's I own
mbmbmbmbmb
narodynot wrote:
I find it interesting that none of your criteria address popularity (with which, I agree) or longevity- does the game keep producing these reactions in you over time?

I guess I look at this as part of the second criterion. Is the game balanced? Does it support multiple strategies? That's what gives a game longevity. Popularity doesn't matter to me, but there is often a reason a game is popular, and many BGG users have the same preferences as me. For eurogames it is often sufficient to know that a game is popular on BGG. For wargames it is trickier, because wargamers agree less on what is important in a game. Many wargamers like games I consider bad games, e.g. because they like the story the game tells.
Quote:
Suspension of disbelief is tougher. Do you mean that a wargame should at least be able to produce the historical result, even if gameplay often does not? If so, then I agree with this also.

I think we agree in principle. A game should be able to produce historical result, but players should be able to make other choices. Results should still be realistic (at least as far as I'm concerned). I am mostly concerned with overall results. I have had discussions with BGG users who are bothered by how corps-sized units are used in the Pacific in World in Flames, while divisions was typical, but that's the kind of thing which doesn't bother me too much, because it doesn't really influence overall strategy. There may be other distortions in WiF which does bother me, though.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carl Paradis
Canada
Ste-Thérèse
Québec
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
A classic?

Easy: First that the game be played, and played a lot...

Check the "What's on your Table" BGG statistics.

http://wgoyt.onesuponagame.com/Detail/YearPublished/1956/201...

Here are the first 30 entries.

123 - Paths of Glory (1999)
109 - Combat Commander: Europe (2006)
107 - Commands & Colors: Ancients (2006)
98 - Here I Stand (2006)
92 - No Retreat! The Russian Front (2011)
82 - World in Flames (1985)
81 - Washington's War (2010)
80 - Twilight Struggle (2005)
78 - For the People (1998)
76 - Empire of the Sun (2005)
75 - D-Day at Omaha Beach (2009)
75 - Labyrinth: The War on Terror, 2001 – ? (2010)
72 - Commands & Colors: Napoleonics (2010)
72 - Red Winter: The Soviet Attack at Tolvajärvi, Finland – 8-12 December 1939 (2012)
67 - Advanced Squad Leader (1985)
67 - Fighting Formations: Grossdeutschland Motorized Infantry Division (2011)
65 - Hold the Line (2008)
65 - Napoleon's Triumph (2007)
64 - Hearts and Minds: Vietnam 1965-1975 (2010)
64 - Julius Caesar (2010)
58 - Wilderness War (2001)
57 - Unconditional Surrender! World War 2 in Europe (2014)
56 - Fire in the Lake (2014)
55 - B-17: Queen of the Skies (1981)
54 - Normandy '44 (2010)
53 - Andean Abyss (2012)
53 - Cuba Libre (2013)
52 - Shifting Sands (2006)
52 - Squad Leader (1977)
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cameron Taylor
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
licinius wrote:
Easy: First that the game be played, and played a lot...


Playing it often doesn't mean it's a good game, likely merely that it's convenient (i.e. short, simple, and has a small footprint).

licinius wrote:
Check the "What's on your Table" BGG statistics.

http://wgoyt.onesuponagame.com/Detail/YearPublished/1956/201...


Self–selection bias. I wouldn't be surprised if the real figures (assuming everybody documented their plays on BoardGameGeek) had at the top Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) and the Operational Combat Series (OCS).

I like CDGs because they give me some historical background and weave a rich narrative of a conflict, but just because I play them more often doesn't make them better wargames. I'd much rather spend most of my time playing OCS, Gulf Strike, and the Next War series, but that isn't always practical. Quality over quantity.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Øivind Karlsrud
Norway
Bjørkelangen
Unspecified
flag msg tools
Games I want to play on VASSAL: ASL, ASLSK, GMT CDG's I own
badge
Games I want to play on VASSAL: ASL, ASLSK, GMT CDG's I own
mbmbmbmbmb
JasonC wrote:
I don't need there to be anything entirely new in a game if it has everything right. Yes I like designs that use new systems because sometimes they can achieve the other 2 goals that way, and elegantly so - bully. But it isn't a requirement. I never look at a game and think, "I can't play this, it doesn't have a new mechanic". Just not part of the thought process at all.

It's more important to me that a designer has chosen appropriate mechanisms, than new mechanisms. I am often excited by games which use familiar mechanisms, but maybe combined in new ways. And I like chrome rules for important terrain, units, etc. Things like the special rules for Charles De Gaulle and Rommel in France '40.
Quote:
If a game is accurate, I still want it to have gameplay interest. I don't much mind it being grindy or being involved, if it has an immersion factor and that grind or complexity seems real (rather than a "gamey" unrealistic optimum approach like your cavalry race example - that would completely kill the game for me, if I didn't house rule it out of existence). The working or good tactics in the game having nothing to do with what mattered in the real war is a deal breaker.

Just to make sure we have the same understanding of "grindy": I mean games which are just attritional, with no way to outmaneuver your opponent. Tactical maneuver can be enough, though. The U.S. Civil War may be strategically grindy (just speculating, I'm still in my first solo playthrough), but I can see that it is possible to create interesting tactical threats by using the activation mechanisms. I like how there is always the threat of a double impulse for the side going last. In fact, I was able to maneuver McDowell (also played by myself) into a corner and annihilate his army (because he couldn't retreat further), and later I was able to capture Washington.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon Gautier

Rhinebeck
New York
msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
What's funny is I can agree more or less with someone's criteria and then look down at the games they like and just laugh because for me there is no relationship between the two. So it is with such subjective topics.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carl Paradis
Canada
Ste-Thérèse
Québec
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
SeriousCat wrote:
I wouldn't be surprised if the real figures (assuming everybody documented their plays on BoardGameGeek) had at the top Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) and the Operational Combat Series (OCS).


I think you are seriously deluding yourself here. shake
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cameron Taylor
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
licinius wrote:
I think you are seriously deluding yourself here. shake




I think you underestimate the popularity of these so–called 'lifestyle' games. I don't play nor am I interested in ASL, but even I know it has a cult following. There are people who play almost nothing but ASL every week.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
David Janik-Jones
Canada
Waterloo
Ontario
flag msg tools
designer
publisher
Slywester Janik, awarded the Krzyż Walecznych (Polish Cross of Valour), August 1944
mbmbmbmbmb
SeriousCat wrote:
licinius wrote:
I think you are seriously deluding yourself here. shake




I think you underestimate the popularity of these so–called 'lifestyle' games. I don't play nor am I interested in ASL, but even I know it has a cult following. There are people who play almost nothing but ASL every week.

ASL, maybe. OCS on the table of (war)gamers more often than, say Combat Commander? Simply no way I can imagine that scenario.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Cameron Taylor
New Zealand
Auckland
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
Combat Commander would be up there too, same with Conflict of Heroes.

OCS has a very small but very dedicated following. Lots and lots of plays every week.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carl Paradis
Canada
Ste-Thérèse
Québec
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
SeriousCat wrote:
licinius wrote:
I think you are seriously deluding yourself here. shake




I think you underestimate the popularity of these so–called 'lifestyle' games. I don't play nor am I interested in ASL, but even I know it has a cult following. There are people who play almost nothing but ASL every week.


You are absolutely right on the "lifestyle" thing. I still do not think that these are a very large part of the hobby. I wonder how many people are playing ASL and OCS regularly, or their proportion. It would be very interesting to know. At local game conventions I rarely see an ASL or OCS game being played. But OCS games are is a bitch to set-up and needs more play time than a convention so its understandable. ASL is way more playable, yet still rare. meeple
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Carl Paradis
Canada
Ste-Thérèse
Québec
flag msg tools
designer
mbmbmbmbmb
SeriousCat wrote:
Combat Commander would be up there too, same with Conflict of Heroes.

OCS has a very small but very dedicated following. Lots and lots of plays every week.


Combat Commander is in second place on the list.

But you are right, no Conflicts of Heroes! Eeek... soblue

For OCS I guess all the Titles should perhaps be amalgamated together into a single heading to give us a better idea or their popularity: I'll try to do this ASAP.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Middleton
United States
Laramie
Wyoming
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
The top played games are mediocre crossovers like Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. They are pretty damn far off sight from the best wargames.

6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Middleton
United States
Laramie
Wyoming
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
licinius wrote:
SeriousCat wrote:
licinius wrote:
I think you are seriously deluding yourself here. shake




I think you underestimate the popularity of these so–called 'lifestyle' games. I don't play nor am I interested in ASL, but even I know it has a cult following. There are people who play almost nothing but ASL every week.


You are absolutely right on the "lifestyle" thing. I still do not think that these are a very large part of the hobby. I wonder how many people are playing ASL and OCS regularly, or their proportion. It would be very interesting to know. At local game conventions I rarely see an ASL or OCS game being played. But OCS games are is a bitch to set-up and needs more play time than a convention so its understandable. ASL is way more playable, yet still rare. meeple


I count the setup time as one play......
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jim O'Neill (Established 1949)
Scotland
Motherwell
I aten't dead yet...
flag msg tools
VENI, VIDI, VISA - my good wife conquering a Shopping Mall.
badge
Like a good red wine, I improve with age... and being laid.
mbmbmbmbmb
DegenerateElite wrote:
The top played games are mediocre crossovers like Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan. They are pretty damn far off sight from the best wargames.


Hi John,

That's the first time I have seen Sekigahara and Mediocre in the same sentence... whistle

Seriously though, My all-time classics are



You will be forgiven for noticing a slight bias towards the Napoleonic Wars.


Jim

Est. 1949

11 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2 , 3  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.