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Subject: Golden Age of Wargaming? rss

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Hofrat Behrens
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1) The Golden Age of Wargame design has gone, and it was the late 70ies.

Most important reason: There are no new respectable wargame designers coming in. Folks like John Hill, Dunnigan, RAS, Al Nofi, Grumpy Costykian, Chadwick, Miller, Stephenson, Prados or the ADG crew where intellectual giants. Smart, educated, productive, life experienced (but many also where child prodigies)! It is a harsh fact of life, but no designer coming in during the early 90ies and later ever came to their levels. And I am talking not relative but absolute levels of intellectual prowess on a global scale.

Possible explanation: Ever since the Reagan years has the American economy provided idle talent of such calibre much much grander opportunities to make money. Kids as smart as they could, at least up to 2008, become multi-millionaires easily before hitting 40.


2) Maps [for simulation games] should be maps and not paintings. This is relatively unpopular an opinion, but there are epistemic reasons why this is so. In short, a simulation needs a model and not a miniature. A map is a model, it is weeded, constructed and designed. A graphic painting is basically, kitsch. All the ASL maps, and I speak as a loving ASL-player, are kitsch. The MBT maps are also rather terrible as a tool of enlightening you about terrain. It does aim not for clarity but emotion. Kitsch is the mortal enemy of simulation and modelling.

3) The internet, though, has made possible the Golden Age for actually playing the Wargames and exchange thoughts and even turns with other people.
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mark van roekel
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Shuffle Boarders are having the same discussion right now on iminadyinghobby.com
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Arrigo Velicogna
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Settembrini wrote:
1) The Golden Age of Wargame design has gone, and it was the late 70ies.

Most important reason: There are no new respectable wargame designers coming in. Folks like John Hill, Dunnigan, RAS, Al Nofi, Grumpy Costykian, Chadwick, Miller, Stephenson, Prados or the ADG crew where intellectual giants. Smart, educated, productive, life experienced (but many also where child prodigies)! It is a harsh fact of life, but no designer coming in during the early 90ies and later ever came to their levels. And I am talking not relative but absolute levels of intellectual prowess on a global scale.

Possible explanation: Ever since the Reagan years has the American economy provided idle talent of such calibre much much grander opportunities to make money. Kids as smart as they could, at least up to 2008, become multi-millionaires easily before hitting 40.

In short

2) Maps [for simulation games] should be maps and not paintings. This is relatively unpopular an opinion, but there are epistemic reasons why this is so. In short, a simulation needs a model and not a miniature. A map is a model, it is weeded, constructed and designed. A graphic painting is basically, kitsch. All the ASL maps, and I speak as a loving ASL-player, are kitsch. The MBT maps are also rather terrible as a tool of enlightening you about terrain. It does aim not for clarity but emotion. Kitsch is the mortal enemy of simulation and modelling.

3) The internet, though, has made possible the Golden Age for actually playing the Wargames and exchange thoughts and even turns with other people.


Philip Sabin, Adam Starkweather, Brien J. Miller, Mark Walker, Mitchell Land, Terry simo, LBW, Dean Essig, Dave Powell, give me time myself... Prados is good but is also capable to produce questionable historical stuff. Of course if you simply said nothing surpass things done in the 70-80...
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Michael Dorosh
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Settembrini wrote:

2) Maps [for simulation games] should be maps and not paintings. This is relatively unpopular an opinion, but there are epistemic reasons why this is so. In short, a simulation needs a model and not a miniature. A map is a model, it is weeded, constructed and designed. A graphic painting is basically, kitsch. All the ASL maps, and I speak as a loving ASL-player, are kitsch. The MBT maps are also rather terrible as a tool of enlightening you about terrain. It does aim not for clarity but emotion. Kitsch is the mortal enemy of simulation and modelling.



What I really enjoyed about the first trilogy of Combat Mission games on the computer was that it breeded a community of "serious" scenario designers who started using contemporary scale terrain maps and aerial photographs in the research of their actions, mostly because they had to. ASL designers have geomorphic boards - and don't get me wrong, selecting the correct boards and overlays to ape historical terrain locations can be an art form in itself. But there was great verisimilitude in playing over what one thought was the "actual" terrain.

But, of course, those maps were still being done on a 20-metre grid, with limited terrain type sets. Add to that that once Google Earth came out, there was a fair bit of "cheating" in that modern contour, terrain and building data was being subbed in to substitute for missing contemporary data.

For my money, you can never get a "perfect" representation of the "actual" terrain, nor is it probably all that important that you do so, but the effort is always appreciated.

Some great strides being taken by the Panzer Command map builder group in this regard, as far as importing current real world data into their builder. I suppose it will be possible in the future to digitize all the extant 1939-45 era maps into a database and have the ability to generate "historical" data on the fly.

I don't know that a game is necessarily better or worse based on that alone. Abstractions are always a necessary tradeoff with playability. The second generation Combat Mission game engine now has the grid down to 8 metres rather than 20, and a more sophisticated terrain palette. However, that doesn't mean the maps are any more 'perfect' representations of the "actual" terrain, and as calandale posted earlier, the more detail available can sometimes mean there are sometimes just more ways in which the game can get things wrong.

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One in 32,000; that'd be about 100 wargamers in San Diego County. Depends on how broad your definition is, but I suspect there are more. I mean, there are 30 in my group. If you count miniature wargamers (and I think you should) and anyone who would play a wargame even if it's not their favorite passtime, we've probably got 1,000 at least.

Now, we have a lot of military in this town. They may play more than the average folks.
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Benny Bosmans
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Wilhammer wrote:
Maybe we can start right here:

The EWR has 8 guys within 50 miles that show up on a somewhat regular basis.

In Yadkinville, NC, about 50 miles away, is another group - there is some bleed over - one - two guys.

another fellow in Kernersville host 2-4 guys.

Still another guy in K'ville has TDC and WED setup looking for players. Usually it is him and another guy (a regular in the EWR)

In Greensboro, I am aware of half a dozen other guys.

Assume we have 50 active gamers in the triad - in fact out social group on CSW has 27 active members.

50 out of 1.6 million people call themselves wargamers.

And I am not even getting into the very active General boardgaming activity around here.

So, that is a ratio of one in 32,000

The population of the United States is around 315,085,000.

9,800 wargamers is the result for the USA.

Now you guys try your own separate estimate.


Mm your estimates could be right !

If I compare this to Belgium or The Netherlands it would mean 350 and 550 board wargamers.

Of course in some countries miniature wargames are more popular (UK).

So the total western market would be something around 18.000 -20.000 active members these days. I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.

Small numbers really.

With these numbers I don't think many board wargames will be translated to The IPad

Perhaps that's the reason GMT did not publish a wargame first on a tablet.
 
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Ben_Bos wrote:
I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.




You should. They are gateways. People who play those will play other wargames.
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Kyle Seely
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Neopeius wrote:
Ben_Bos wrote:
I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.




You should. They are gateways. People who play those will play other wargames.


I developed my interest in wargaming after first playing Conquest of the Empire and Axis & Allies.
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Benny Bosmans
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Neopeius wrote:
Ben_Bos wrote:
I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.




You should. They are gateways. People who play those will play other wargames.


No. These games hardly recruited historical wargamers because their mechanics are not based on military concepts and are so abstract they don't introduce anything on a simulation level.

You could slam any title on a standard A@A box,

MM44 is a little better as an introduction but frankly it's ...as much a realistic wargame as Ticket to Ride is a railway simulation...

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Michael Dorosh
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Ben_Bos wrote:
Neopeius wrote:
Ben_Bos wrote:
I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.




You should. They are gateways. People who play those will play other wargames.


No. These games hardly recruited historical wargamers because their mechanics are not based on military concepts and are so abstract they don't introduce anything on a simulation level.

You could slam any title on a standard A@A box,

MM44 is a little better as an introduction but frankly it's ...as much a realistic wargame as Ticket to Ride is a railway simulation...



Easy fellas. You're all correct.

These arguments are largely anecdotal, and all of your experiences match mine. I played Axis and Allies in high school and afterwards. Some of the fellows I played with had been regular ASL opponents, who also played a number of other wargames, and liked A&A because of its military history theme and the fact it was light and easy. They actually knew the difference between a Tiger and a Panther.

They also 'recruited' other fellows to play, who never touched a single other wargame and had little interest in military history. They just liked games, and enjoyed A&A.
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Zhe Leng
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Ben_Bos wrote:
Neopeius wrote:
Ben_Bos wrote:
I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.




You should. They are gateways. People who play those will play other wargames.


No. These games hardly recruited historical wargamers because their mechanics are not based on military concepts and are so abstract they don't introduce anything on a simulation level.

You could slam any title on a standard A@A box,

MM44 is a little better as an introduction but frankly it's ...as much a realistic wargame as Ticket to Ride is a railway simulation...



Actually, I played A&A before falling into the trap called "wargame".laugh
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Considering how many folks I get into wargaming first ask, "Is it like Risk?" I think it must be a gateway, even if it's not officially a wargame.
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Bill Wood
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" Depends on how broad your definition is, ..."

No, not going to do it, no, no, no, not going to do it , George....

Military town, double it, Portland Oregon, halve it.

I was born and lived in Tidewater Virginia Area, definitely Military (80% of the economy?)and would agree a greater density is there in Military towns.

--------------------------

I will say that a wargamers is someone who, if asked, will play just about anything in my collection and will buy similar products.

99% of my gaming is conflict sim stuff. So is the EWR group and the 50 I provide as a sample. We will divert on occasion, and we certainly won't deny you a play session just because you play D&D or Eurogames, but would rather play a consim.

-------------------------

The more estimates we get, perhaps the numbers can get better.
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Mark Humphries
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My guesstimate is 1/10M to 1/0.5M for the Philippines depending on what you count as a wargamer (out of about 100M)
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Warren Bruhn
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Wilhammer wrote:

Military town, double it, Portland Oregon, halve it.


Can't agree with that observation. I spent time in military towns during my six year of service, and that was during the 70's & 80's, when there wasn't so much competition for wargames as a form of entertainment. I've been in Oregon since mid-1996, and I've met more local wargamers here than I ever met anywhere else. Have been in the Portland metro area since mid-2003, and there's more wargamers here than I could have imagined. When I first visited a wargame club in Portland in 1996 the place was packed, mostly with miniatures wargamers, but with an additional room for just cardboard wargames, with WiF set up. I know of at least six groups that play cardboard wargames in Eugene, Corvallis, Newberg, and Portland. Only one of those groups mixes in miniatures. There's about six other groups playing miniatures wargames between Vancouver, WA (north side of the Columbia River from Portland), and Eugene, Oregon. While cardboard wargaming at the local game stores tends to focus on the light end of the spectrum, I'm aware of five private residences where monster wargames such as WiF, EiA, The Devil's Cauldron, Where Eagles Dare, and various OCS games are being played. Your distant perspective on wargaming in Portland and the Willamette Valley does not coincide with what I'm seeing from close up.
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Art Bugorski
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I think this will be the golden age of wargaming because of euro-games. Euro-games have brought a focus on efficiency of mechanics, cleanliness of design, and reminded people just how much depth can be derived from few rules (I'm picturing Dr Dre rapping "Mother fuckers act like they forgot about Go").

This has in turn inspired a new generation of war game designers to focus on tight designs. Twilight Struggle, GMT COIN Series, No Retreat series, Combat Commander Series, Conflict of Heroes, nor many others would exist without this influence.

With the internet to critique, edit, and play balance and with modern production values along with the lessons learned from the past how could it not get better?
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Enrico Viglino
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DarrellKH wrote:
Herr Dr wrote:
True dat.

Only thing I can't get my head around is that nothing has yet displaced World in Flames, ASL or Empires in Arms: nothing even close. Why (besides, no time for way of life games)? Despite that, the level just under those cornerstones of the hobby has witnessed a flood of great titles (Paths of Glory, For the People, etc.) the last 15 years. I don't see that letting up anytime soon giving the current tribe of wargame designers.



Choices. Those games operated in a relative vacuum of choices, for their type of game. ASL still does - how many tactical-level, WWII RPG-style games are there, after all?


There have been significant choices available to match each of these.

WiF faced the A3R/EotRS and then later TK/DS combos - both of which
I think I prefer. EiA came on the scene with War & Peace already pretty
established. And there seem to be a LOT of WWII tactical games around
now and then - whilst PanzerBlitz and such are at a higher scale,
Combat Commander and some other newer designs have grabbed a big
market share. To be fair too, I'd bet EiA is played less in total
than Nappy Wars or AoN - so although these games are much smaller,
in a sense that very facet HAS made them surpass EiA (of course,
one could say the same for A&A vs. WiF).
 
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Mark Humphries
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AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
I think this will be the golden age of wargaming because of euro-games. Euro-games have brought a focus on efficiency of mechanics, cleanliness of design, and reminded people just how much depth can be derived from few rules (I'm picturing Dr Dre rapping "Mother fuckers act like they forgot about Go").

This has in turn inspired a new generation of war game designers to focus on tight designs. Twilight Struggle, GMT COIN Series, No Retreat series, Combat Commander Series, Conflict of Heroes, nor many others would exist without this influence.


Sounds more like the Golden Age of Weuros. BTW wargamers say 'wargame' not 'war game'
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Enrico Viglino
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Neopeius wrote:
One in 32,000; that'd be about 100 wargamers in San Diego County. Depends on how broad your definition is, but I suspect there are more. I mean, there are 30 in my group.


Where I lived, I was pretty much SHOCKED to find any that weren't in
my group. Generally, there were ways to find out about people (via
game stores or otherwise).

Quote:
If you count miniature wargamers (and I think you should)


Didn't. It didn't serve much purpose to do so - they were a different
hobby essentially. Yeah, I'd play minis, but they wouldn't touch
the board wargames. Some would have nostalgic feelings about AH
games, but largely they just weren't into playing 'em - they found
what they wanted in the minis alone.

Sluggonics wrote:
Neopeius wrote:
Ben_Bos wrote:
I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.




You should. They are gateways. People who play those will play other wargames.


I developed my interest in wargaming after first playing Conquest of the Empire and Axis & Allies.


Great. And I started on my path to wargames with Monopoly & Risk -
but it doesn't mean that they are either. Basically, there was a
HUGE group of people who had played A&A or the like - most of which
didn't want to touch a traditional wargame. The groups playing these,
though some might be wargamers, weren't a part of the hobby.
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Andrew Laws
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AngryStarAnarchy wrote:
I think this will be the golden age of wargaming because of euro-games. Euro-games have brought a focus on efficiency of mechanics, cleanliness of design, and reminded people just how much depth can be derived from few rules (I'm picturing Dr Dre rapping "Mother fuckers act like they forgot about Go").


Amen. I'll buy that for a dollar. I've got 2-3 hours a week and nairy a pair of tweezers in sight. Entertain me.
 
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Rob Ryan
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mrbeankc wrote:
I think competition has helped a great deal. In the 70s, 80s and 90s Avalon Hill basically had a monopoly in the wargame market. Monopolies stifle innovation. Today the market is spread out amongst GMT, MMP, Avalanche and others and those wargame publishers compete as well against non wargame publishers like Z-Man, Fantasy Flight and Rio Grande for our gaming dollar. Competition is pretty high at the moment which means publishers have to publish strong games with quality components in order to compete. So I don't buy that it's just a case of "cult of the new". I think the games today are much better than 20 years ago because the companies have to produce quality if they are going to stay in business.


I am not sure you know what Monopoly means as AH did not have control of nearly all the market share. In the 30 year period you cite there were quite a few companies that made war games. Does anyone have any market share data back up or refute this claim?
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Rob Ryan wrote:
mrbeankc wrote:
I think competition has helped a great deal. In the 70s, 80s and 90s Avalon Hill basically had a monopoly in the wargame market. Monopolies stifle innovation. Today the market is spread out amongst GMT, MMP, Avalanche and others and those wargame publishers compete as well against non wargame publishers like Z-Man, Fantasy Flight and Rio Grande for our gaming dollar. Competition is pretty high at the moment which means publishers have to publish strong games with quality components in order to compete. So I don't buy that it's just a case of "cult of the new". I think the games today are much better than 20 years ago because the companies have to produce quality if they are going to stay in business.


I am not sure you know what Monopoly means as AH did not have control of nearly all the market share. In the 30 year period you cite there were quite a few companies that made war games. Does anyone have any market share data back up or refute this claim?


Dunnigan provided numbers in early editions of The Complete Wargaming Handbook, perhaps later editions too, I'm not sure.
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Neopeius wrote:
Ben_Bos wrote:
I don't consider Risk or Axis&Allies players in this group.




You should. They are gateways. People who play those will play other wargames.


Or even, some who are "true" wargamers (i.e. like to play hex-n-counter, CDG, block, etc. games) also like to play A&A and Risk from time to time, as a change of pace (we do this in my gaming group all the time - we just finished an A&A campaign, and now are into a four-player game of Sword of Rome, while a couple of us are playing Viva Espana, an old Battleline hex-n-counter game from the 70's).
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William Ford
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While I'm partial to labeling the 1970s or part of the 1970s as the Golden Age of wargaming (maybe a period that starts with the publication of PanzerBlitz and ends with the publication of Squad Leader), here's Nick Schuessler's take from 1981:

"I started gaming in the early '60s; Tactics II was my first game. My involvement has been an off-and-on affair. Looking back, I notice that nobody talks of a 'golden age' in wargaming, and for good reason. It hasn't happened yet. In the '60s the market was being developed. In the '70s, the focus switched to design. Both decades were teething periods . . . If we're going to have a 'golden age,' it should happen in the '80s. Gamers are smarter, better educated, and know better what they want. The competition for market share will get sharper, and the gamer will be the main beneficiary."

Nick Schuessler & Steve Jackson, Game Design: Theory and Practice p. 10 (Steve Jackson Games 1981). (Note that the introduction says Schuessler alone is the author of this chapter of the book.)
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Rob Ryan wrote:
mrbeankc wrote:
I think competition has helped a great deal. In the 70s, 80s and 90s Avalon Hill basically had a monopoly in the wargame market. Monopolies stifle innovation. Today the market is spread out amongst GMT, MMP, Avalanche and others and those wargame publishers compete as well against non wargame publishers like Z-Man, Fantasy Flight and Rio Grande for our gaming dollar. Competition is pretty high at the moment which means publishers have to publish strong games with quality components in order to compete. So I don't buy that it's just a case of "cult of the new". I think the games today are much better than 20 years ago because the companies have to produce quality if they are going to stay in business.


I am not sure you know what Monopoly means as AH did not have control of nearly all the market share. In the 30 year period you cite there were quite a few companies that made war games. Does anyone have any market share data back up or refute this claim?


True enough - AND there was a hell of a lot of innovation going on
during those years. Wargaming didn't just remain static.
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