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Subject: Question for the BGG historians among you... rss

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Is it just me? Or doesn't it seem that war games have never had any significant presence in the top 25 ramkings on BGG? I can recall Europe Engulfed being up around #12 or so about two years ago. And Memoir '44 got into the top 10. But have you looked at the rankings lately?

Out of the Top 25, seven of the slots are occupied by war games. Nine actually if you consider Macher Die and Wallenstein war games. And Command & Colors: Ancients at #4?

GMT

And speaking of that... has anyone looked at GMT's P500 list today? The expansion for C&C:A, which was added to the P500 less than 10 days ago already has 359 orders.

Whoa.

Have war games, even light ones such as the C&C series (and let's add War of the Ring to make it 10 of the top 25) ever had this much presence in the rankings on BGG? That's 40% of the top 25 being defined in some manner as a war game.

Shifting Influences?

Are war games coming back? Not that they ever left, but what I mean is do you suspect as I do that war games in all their many formats are the next big thing? What with the cross-pollination of what's called Euro and what's definitely North American in mechanics and presentation, do you sense an emerging genre of faster, slicker and more easily marketed games that deal with direct conflict and even historical conflicts?

Suspicious Indicators

FFG rereleased Britainnia... quite a few of the next releases from GMT will be similar to the cross-pollinated genre, The Atlantic Games so to speak. Maneuver, Winds of Plunder, Conquest of Paradise. MMP keeps hope alive for Up Front and in case that doesn't happen there's GMT's Combat Commander which has also made the P500 cut.

Are we witnessing a revival of the 70' and 80's heydey of wargaming? But this time with the best of the Euro-style game coupled with the design genius of the North American war game designer? *

* And by this I do not mean to slight the many extraordinary war game designs from the brilliant minds that are not American or Canadian, just that the vast majority of conflict simulations came primarily from North America.
 
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Quote:
Are we witnessing a revival of the 70' and 80's heydey of wargaming? But this time with the best of the Euro-style game coupled with the design genius of the North American war game designer? *


No.

I think what we are seeing is that most of the internet wargamers are migrating over here to BGG. I believe that they are coming and rating their favorite games highly. However, the TOTAL amount of ratings for these games isn't that high, so no, I don't think a resurgence is occuring. Just look at the Geek Madness tournament and see how wargames are systematically eliminated.

However, I do think that the light wargames are replacing the older ones for many people. I do think that Command and Colors: Ancients belongs in its position, and that games like it have become the wargames of today. But I still think that wargames are played by minority of gamers. It's just that they are a vocal minority.
 
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Brad Miller
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Well Paths of Glory used to be near the Top 10, if not in it.

Plus I think when CSW went to their current subscription model, many lurkers there came here. Also, with the "Euro-ness" of several recent releases, (HotS, CR, Twilight Struggle), Euro-gamers are branching out a bit and getting exposed to more games. Plus, I think many of the denizens here were raised on AH wargames, and only the collapse of AH, and shrinking time/opponents, prevented our true wargaming roots from showing.

Taken with the fact that Euros can start to seem a bit "samey" after a while, may well lead to more wargaming being done, simply for a change of pace. What really needs to be asked is, "what would you define as a new golden age of wargaming"?

Plus, the ability to play by internet really makes playing many of these games much more feasable for many of us. Six out of seven of my "Wargame Plays" so far this year have been via Email.
 
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TomVasel wrote:
I think what we are seeing is that most of the internet wargamers are migrating over here to BGG.


Bingo
 
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Michael @mgouker
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I think the games are just getting better. A lot of the design mechanics of newer wargames address some of the problems in classic designs, such as downtime. GMT is also blessed with a bunch of great designs this year, which I think will be tough to sustain. Games like Here I Stand, Pax Romana, Twilight Struggle, and others are very special.

What I am actually most concerned with, however, is that there seem to be very few new euros that are attractive. In 2003 & 2004, there were a lot of games I was immediately compelled to buy, but this year it is hard to get excited about any euros. It's still early (March is real early), but I would really like to see something innovative. Does anyone else feel the same?
 
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No, it's not the renaissance of wargames (though there are some good ones that you like to call Atlantic Games coming out these days). It's really just the vocal wargamers coming to BGG and the fact that BGG still has an artificially low qualifying threshhold for getting into the Top Ranked Games (30 votes). With the number of people here at BGG now rating all sorts of games, that threshhold should probably be moved up to something like 100 votes or so. Then, a tiny handful of gamers of any genre (war, sports, Italian shill artists) couldn't propel a game into the top ranks so easily.
 
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derk wrote:
If only I could convince the publishers that the 'Geek is a powerful marketing tool... shake


No doubt GMT sees that it is. The question though is whether they are going to spend money here.

Also, with the addition of so many war gamers from other, less friendly(?) sites, war games will very likely get more exposure here than ever before. It's more than possible that BGG exposure could fuel the demand for war games which would then add incentive for more and more war gamers to join which would then add more exposure and increase sales numbers across the board for small print run games.

Which sort of answers Brad's question about the golden age of war games. I think it's just around the corner and from where I sit it looks very nice indeed. But a definitive answer for me would be -> When Hannibal: Rome Vs. Carthage gets reprinted by Avalon Hill... from there on it ought to be an avalanche.
 
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JonMichael Rasmus
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I've been keeping tabs on the top 100 for just under a year now and here's the skinny:

March 22, 05
#5 War of the Ring
#7 Wallenstein
#10 Memoir '44
#12 Paths of Glory
#13 Twilight Imperium 3rd Edition
#18 Europe Engulfed
#21 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
#22 Hammer of the Scots
#23 A Game of Thrones: Clash of Kings Expansion
#25 Up Front

10 games

March 7, 06
#4 Commands and Colors: Ancients
#9 A Game of Thrones: Clash of Kings Expansion
#10 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
#11 Paths of Glory
#12 Twilight Struggle
#14 Wallenstein
#16 Red Barricades - ASL Historical Module 1
#18 War of the Ring
#24 Beyond Valor - ASL Module 1
#25 Memoir '44

10 games

Seems like old times to me.
 
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Jesse Smit
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I think that this is definately a good moment for wargames and not so much for euros. I enjoy both genres equally but looking at the GMT p500 there are at least 5 games which im excited about but i dont see any euro games on the near horizon which look nearly as promising.
 
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Alan Kaiser
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To a large extent I would agree that wargames are coming back in a way. A lot of it I'm sure has to do with wargamers finding this site and moving away from something like ConSimworld. But it's probably just as much a factor that many of us who are heavily into games tend to come from a background of Avalon Hill wargames/Axis and Allies etc. etc. And in the last 5 years or so more and more of these people are rediscovering games again and finding that the games are more diverse and better than ever. But this same group of people also have lots of increased demands on their time and pocketbooks. Especially time, since many of us are juggling kids, wives, jobs, friends and who knows how many other activities.

As an old school wargamer, I see the same thing in a lot of the people that I play games with as well as see the same stories over and over here on the Geek day in and day out. People don't have the time for a 6 hour or weekend long wargame anymore but a game that last hour or two . . . sure why not! Over the last several years I've noticed a trend of sorts in the gaming world and I think a lot of other people have as well, including publishers. Wargames are popular and getting more popular but don't ask gamers to spend more than a couple hours on one. And publishers are responding. Look at Simmons Games, Worthington etc who have sprung up lately with games aimed squarely at these types of gamers. For more proof look to GMT's P500 list. There are lots of games on the current list that would fall in the light to medium wargame category. That wasn't the case even just a few short years ago. And the popularity of block games from Columbia and others is another indication as well.

So is this resurgence due to peopel who have never played a wargame suddenly finding them or is it more because the old wargamers are migrating more toward the lighter end of the wargaming spectrum? Hard to tell but I'd guess it's an equal amount of both. Either way I see it as an indication that the gaming hobby as a whole is growing, growing slowly but nonetheless growing. Wargamers, RPGers, CCGers, Eurogamers and whatever else gamers call themselves, everyone is benefiting. Wargamers and trying euros, Eurogamers are trying crossover RPGs etc. etc. It can only be a good thing for us all!
 
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Seeing as how I am an expert BGG historian:

A definitive study* was performed based on the BGG ranking system combined with active member popular vote:

2004 Geek Madness Tournament:

10 of 32 games entered were war games.
3 made it to the sweet sixteen: Hammer, Memoir, Up Front
0 made it to the great eight.

2005 Geek Madness Tournament:

21 of 64 games entered were war games.
3 made it to the sweet sixteen: Hammer, Memoir, War of the Ring
1 made it to the great eight: Hammer
0 made it to the final four.

*I have not run these figures past Chaddyboy, BGG's official expert in the statistical analysis field, so I am not sure what to conclude from them, but the findings are indisputable.


 
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I think wargaming really is making a comeback, kickstarted by the eurogame boom. A lot of eurogamers see the high rankings for wargames, give them a try via some hybrid game (HotS or Friedrich or whatever), then incorporate them into a mixed diet of games (war, euro, abstract, CCG etc). The wargamers I know are all on the youngish (under 30) side, and none of them are CSW people migrating here, or wargamers exclusively.
 
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Quote:
With the number of people here at BGG now rating all sorts of games, that threshhold should probably be moved up to something like 100 votes or so. Then, a tiny handful of gamers of any genre (war, sports, Italian shill artists) couldn't propel a game into the top ranks so easily.


I dunno Randy, that would just delay a good game's appearance in the top 25... sometimes maybe only for a few days. The only war game I saw that didn't have well over a hundred ratings was one of the ASL modules which had 99 ratings.

OTOH, I tend to agree that the threshold to enter the upper tiers of the ratings ought to be higher. How that would work is beyond me, but it sounds cool.

Several of the people who I regularly game with have asked me about war games and have expressed interest in them. For the most part these people are also BGG members and I suspect their interest is influenced by the increasing exposure war games are getting here.

I think the butterfly already flapped it's wings in the Amazon and the tsunami will arrive sometime before 2008.
 
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As a previous wargamer (primarily Avalon Hill games) who after more than 15 years just got back into gaming, I think I can offer some anecdotal evidence on this topic. (By the way, I just joined BGG today after surfing the site daily for a month or two...this is my first post!)

I think most of the prior comments are right on. I initially discovered BGG because I was looking for some software to create battle maps for a thesis I am writing on Alexander the Great. I searched google for wargame sites, figuring I could find an inexpensive mapping program. I also discovered, quite by accident, BGG.

With my roots in gaming, the site immediately grabbed me, and truth be told, became a bit of an obsession. I'm now back to gaming (and buying games) like mad, and a big part of the reason is BGG. Being able to actually see the games, and read peoples' opinion of them before buying them, is fantastic. I also agree that the new game mechanics (block games, card driven games) along with much better production standards, are reigniting my interest. I've stopped being lazing and just relying computer games, and I'm now actively seeking out opponents for, and playing solo, games like EastFront, Europe Engulfed, C&C Ancients, Great Battles in History, etc. I even got my father to play Memoir '44 (he loved it!)

Also, as the other folks have noted, I'm not simply playing wargames. I've also purchased, and played, Descent, Runebound, and Quest for the Dragonlords. They're all great fun, and again, the production values are unbelievable compare to Panzer Leader!

Anyway, I'm glad to finally jump into BGG as a member. If anyone lives in North County San Diego and is looking for an opponent, give me a shout!
 
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Michael @mgouker
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Welcome to BGG, Andrew! Have you checked out VASSAL?
 
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Sky Knight X wrote:

*I have not run these figures past Chaddyboy, BGG's official expert in the statistical analysis field, so I am not sure what to conclude from them, but the findings are indisputable.


No point in running the past Chaddyboy, you have 32 entries and Chaddyboy is a specialist in 25. He would probably say that 32 was statistically unreliable and have the experts to back him up.
 
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I won't make the mistake of speculating about people in general (even though that's my alleged field of study) but I certainly fit the description of a eurogamer that has a growing interest in wargames. After playing lots of euros they start to all taste the same - occasionally something sufficiently innovative comes out to pique my interest but by and large I think I'm much more jaded regarding new games than I was one I was just discovering the hobby.

Wargames, on the otherhand, offer new challenges not present in many euros. It's fresh and interesting, and as a result I've started adding more and more to my collection.

There you go - completely anecdotal, but it supports your hypothesis and that's what counts

-MMM
 
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I think the hobby is just coming full circle. Wargames from Avalon Hill gave rise to multi-player strategy games. People into multi player strategy games got into Euros. The German games have brought people into the hobby in a big way, and then these people began to check out the old admired multi-player strategy games. Soon enough, they were looking at wargames again.

So DW, are RPGs, CCGs, and minis on an upswing as well, or is it just segments of the hobby? My guess is everything is up.

But so much of gaming nowadays is people buy games faster than they play them. People rate a game with one playing and never play it again. Essen buzz is almost deafening anymore. And with people so eager to buy new games so fast, I worry that more and more publishers will start putting unfinished games on the market. If people have already preordered your entire run of a game, there will eventually be the temptation to take the money and run so to speak.

And using the BGG madness as a popularity barometer is quite silly as are most yelling matches here on the BGG.
 
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Sky Knight X wrote:
Seeing as how I am an expert BGG historian:

A definitive study* was performed based on the BGG ranking system combined with active member popular vote:

2004 Geek Madness Tournament:

10 of 32 games entered were war games.
3 made it to the sweet sixteen: Hammer, Memoir, Up Front
0 made it to the great eight.

2005 Geek Madness Tournament:

21 of 64 games entered were war games.
3 made it to the sweet sixteen: Hammer, Memoir, War of the Ring
1 made it to the great eight: Hammer
0 made it to the final four.


As much as I like the Geek Madness Tournament, I've seen you pair wargames against each other automatically eliminating one.
 
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DWTripp wrote:
..if you consider Macher Die and Wallenstein war games


I was just re-reading this and went What the?

On a good day I will pay Wallenstein as wargame, just mind you, but Die Macher? I am just not seeing it DW!

On the general topic I wouldn't be surpised to see war games make a bit of a comeback. I think during the late 80s and 90s a few things happened.

d10-1 The publishing dropped way off. In my mind a significant part of this is SPI's void not being filled.
d10-2 The priced themselves out of the market. They went from sort of affordable to ludicrously expensive.
d10-3 Computer games started taking off, sucking in the young players would ten years previously would have been absorbed into the wargaming fold.
d10-4 Eurogames starting taking off with a similar impact to computer games.

I don't add roleplaying games into the above since they had coexisted quite nicely with wargames since the mid 70s, although possibly CCGs should be listed.

My gut feel is there are now more wargames being published than in quite some years and they are at a more accessible price too. Also some of the shine has come off computer games. They are good, but just don't replace another person on the other side of the board.
 
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More Top 25 Stats:

August 19, 2001: Collection and Ratings were introduced.
(http://www.boardgamegeek.com/geeklist.php3?action=view&listi...)

September 2001

1. Paths of Glory
(3. Macher, Die)
6. Up Front
10. Banzai: Up Front Expansion

August 2002

3. Paths of Glory
(5. Macher, die)
9. Up Front

December 2002

4. Paths of Glory
(5. Macher, die)
14. Full Metal Planete
15. Up Front
24. Wallenstein

May 2003

3. Warangel
4. Duel of Ages Set 1 - Worldspanner
5. Hammer of the Scots
(8. Macher, die)
9. Paths of Glory
14. Napoleon in Europe
15. Up Front
16. Wallenstein
25. More Cosmic Encounter

June 2004

6 Paths of Glory
(8 Macher, die)
9 Wallenstein
12 Hammer of the Scots
14 Europe Engulfed
18 Up Front
20 A Game of Thrones
22 Princes of the Renaissance

November 2004

3 War of the Ring
7 Memoir '44
9 Wallenstein
(10 Macher, die)
14 Paths of Glory
15 Europe Engulfed
16 Hammer of the Scots
19 Up Front
23 Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage
24 HeroScape

December 2002 was mostly Settlers, Carcassonne and Settlers (nr. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 21, 25).
 
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DWTripp wrote:
derk wrote:
If only I could convince the publishers that the 'Geek is a powerful marketing tool... shake


No doubt GMT sees that it is. The question though is whether they are going to spend money here.

GMT was actually one of the first companies to authorize a few text ads for some of its specific games, back when Aldie added this innovation in 2003. (Sword of Rome and Winds of Plunder spring to mind as running ads in that time frame.) They've placed a few other scattered text ads since then. No banners -- yet.

So now, of course, all blame for those pernicious BGG ads will be laid squarely at GMT's feet... devil

Seriously, ad performance has never come close to matching the effect of word of mouth here by users with no connection to any company. I suspect that claim applies to any publisher's fare, regardless of its market niche.
 
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I think one big reason for the revival of war games is the ability to play them over the net with full graphics. I almost never play war games FtF but I always have several games going via Cyberboard, Cyberboard/ACTS or VASSAL.

The fact that you can play at your own speed and take breaks when you need or have to is fantastic. Internet play also eliminates the problem with long games having to be stored away between sessions, downtime with slow opponents, spilled beverages and so on. I know I went from perhaps one wargame play a year to 20 or more when I discovered Cyberboard.
 
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sisteray wrote:

As much as I like the Geek Madness Tournament, I've seen you pair wargames against each other automatically eliminating one.


One gets eliminated, but one also wins and moves to the next round. If the wargames are pitted separately against euros, both wargames would lose.
 
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