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Subject: Computers and "ordinary" board wargames rss

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K G
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Can anyone comment on how computers have impacted the play of ordinary board wargames? I don't think I mean VASSAL, though I know very little about it.

For that matter, I know very little about card-driven wargaming, but it seems to me that one of the complaints against CDG is the "gamesmanship" that is often created as people know what cards are in the deck. So ... might this be remedied by drawing "cards" from a variable computer-based deck?

I'm not one for smartphones and all that, but it seems that everyone now has them and I see them lying about in meetings and all. Accessing the Internet is now longer what it still is for me. That is, booting up the desktop and waiting an eternity for everything to warm-up. (This is perhaps the best time of the day; I drink coffee and daydream.)

As well, so long as I am imagining the future, might players log in their game turns--for ordinary games, mind you--and receive "orders" from higher levels of command changing victory conditions, &c.?

Has all this been discussed elsewhere?

Again, I have to admit I'm not all that personally interested in computers except as research tools, but I am curious about the future of gaming.
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Arthur Dougherty
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A friend of mine once had a dream of programming a set of utilities for the board game Supremacy. He was going to make it track your economy, spies, and a bunch of other overhead. You would interact with the tablet instead of interacting with stuff on the board or papers and pencils for spies and what not. I forget how he was going to implement stuff from other expansions, but basically if it could be made easier on the tablet, he was going to put it on there. I think he wanted to have it networked as well. He never got around to it but that was the most clear example I had of someone thinking about computers assisting ordinary board war games.

I've seen hipshot use an app of sorts for calculating OCS combat odds, seems like that could be really useful as well.

In the end, I have mixed feelings on this. I liked the idea my friend had for Supremacy because I know there was a lot to track, and some of that info needed to be hidden. Assuming the interface was up to snuff, it would have been cool to just tap where my spies were and stuff like that.

At the same time, I really like the tangible feel of playing a board game, which is why I haven't gotten into VASSAL yet even though I probably should. I tend to lose the big picture when playing a war game on a screen and somehow manually manipulating the pieces lets me know that I understand the system I'm currently interacting with.

I got thrown a bit by your example with the cards, I have to admit. Is the idea that the game could have a number of possible decks of cards? Is it still just the same deck as it would be in a board game just handled by a computer? If so, is that randomization any different than the randomization of shuffling and eventually experienced players will have a familiarity with the deck regardless of its physical or virtual nature?
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K G
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Re: drawing from the computer's deck, I thought that various decks would be available and that the players wouldn't know which one they were using until after the game. This would really introduce the unexpected into these games.

As for other games, the reinforcement track could be hidden from view and might vary in a number of ways.
 
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Mike Hoyt

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I like spreadsheets for tracking some game information. An example is a spreadsheet I built for Seapower & the State that helps allocate and track the civilian shipping, saves a ton of time and makes the game more fun for me, even if I do have to turn round and enter the ship allocations in the laptop.

But the biggest impact I see on gaming is coming from the on-line video games. I don't like it, but I see it as a major trend. My teenage son sits at the table with his laptop, headphones and microphone, then dials into a game. His friends, some from his high school, some from around the world, also dial in. Then they go on missions, calling out strategy and spotting reports to each other. When he plugs into that, he's part of a team and totally immersed. This is more than a mindless first person shooter, the boys are actually practicing more and more complex team tactics. For tactical gaming, nothing I have in cardboard begins to compare or interest him.

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Arthur Dougherty
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Kluvon wrote:
Re: drawing from the computer's deck, I thought that various decks would be available and that the players wouldn't know which one they were using until after the game. This would really introduce the unexpected into these games.


In my mind, assuming a CDG, there has to be a finite number of cards, and given that, hardcore players will always be able to get familiar with the cards themselves, not necessarily the deck. I don't personally feel a computer controlling the deck would ever get around the problem of familiarity unless it was so many cards that you could never actually playtest it.
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K G
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Arthur, you may be right. I know very, very little about CDG.

But, as an example, one game deck for a strategic level WWII game might have a card prompting the partition of Poland and another might not have that card. Both German and Russian players would never know until the end if such a thing is a possibility (or play makes such a card irrelevant.) Perhaps there are better examples, but, again, I'm pretty traditional in my play.

 
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Russ Williams
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Kluvon wrote:
Arthur, you may be right. I know very, very little about CDG.

But, as an example, one game deck for a strategic level WWII game might have a card prompting the partition of Poland and another might not have that card. Both German and Russian players would never know until the end if such a thing is a possibility (or play makes such a card irrelevant.) Perhaps there are better examples, but, again, I'm pretty traditional in my play.

A physical boardgame could do that just as well as a computer game could. Indeed, many boardgames DO remove part of the deck or otherwise randomly create the deck as part of the setup process. You don't need computers to do that!
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K G
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I don't know if one would want to deal with multiple decks as a computer could.

What I like about my imaginings is that wargame publishers could release new cards of any kind from time to time without ever informing the players. One would be very much surprised.
 
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Mike W
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Not about wargames, but one of my gaming buddies has written a spreadsheet for tracking money and stock in various 18xx games. Works great -- you don't need to use any physical $.
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Sukunai Yori
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No one has mentioned it yet, so I will point out the single biggest thing computers have done for board game wargames, is make it a lot easier to sell them.

In the 70s buying wargames went something like this. Travel distance to hobby store, look at shelves, notice the dust had gotten thicker on the same games that were there last time. Nothing new had arrived, and maaaaybe a new magazine had arrived. Though usually not.

Most trips ended with me getting nothing.

There was a momentary blip in the hobby when SL/ASL was all the rage.

Today, if I actually want a wargame, I turn on the computer, go to any of several places online, browse the titles, see what is new (there often is something new) and if I get an interest I can get a LOT of input on them from wargamers around the world.

Plus of course programs like Vassal and others like it, allow me to play my board games vs others if I am seriously interested. There is today NO reason for not playing my board games.
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ICONOCLAST

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One of my favourite games is Pax Britannica, but the income and maintenance calculation can be tedious, especially for Britain. I made a spreadsheet to handle all this, and it speeds play considerably.
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