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Subject: Deterministic Medium-Light War Games rss

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Darth James
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Recently I've begun dipping my toes into the war games subsection of our hobby. I picked up Pocket Ogre, but didn't care for the combat (I believe the universe has decreed it's impossible for a d6 to fall in my favor). I have Space Empires 4x headed my way, but that uses d10 (which, admittedly, are much kinder to me than any d6 has ever been).

Due to the fact that we are massively downsizing, I can only have a set number of games filling a set amount of space, and so I can't do with war games what I did with Ameriawesome games when I first got into gaming (i.e. buy a bunch and see what tickles my fancy).

So what are some good, medium-light (to possibly medium) weight war games with deterministic combat? I've read the rules for Space Empires already and anything at that complexity level would be perfect.

The perfect game would fulfill all these requirements and be of a different theme than Space Empires, but feel free to suggest sci-fi games that fulfill the other requirements as well.

Edit: The game also needs to play very well with two. I'm essentially envisioning a hex-and-counter game that doesn't use dice.
 
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Pokey 64
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If I've got the definition of "deterministic combat" correct, I have to recommend Small World.

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Darth James
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panzer6 wrote:
If I've got the definition of "deterministic combat" correct, I have to recommend Small World.



I almost listed Small World as an example but consider it too light for what I'm looking for. I also need something that plays well with two and I felt like the 2-player experience in Small World was lackluster.
 
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Tyler
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Definitely not "light," but The Guns of Gettysburg is a beautiful 2-player design with no dice anywhere. Some wargamers find the short but very dense ruleset a little hard to grok since it is so different from some of the tropes of the genre, but I think this makes it a little easier for relative newcomers who don't bring a lot of prior baggage to the game.

It takes up relatively little shelf space, but looks amazing out on the table... Plus it plays in hours rather than days, so it can't be counted as too incredibly heavy in my opinion.

Plus... Did I mention this game looks great!

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The thing about Guns of Gettysburg is that it is so incredibly different that it's not a good introduction to what wargaming is like. It's almost an abstract. My comment here is based on playing Bonaparte at Marengo, which is the same system as far as I know.

Honestly, I don't know if a diceless hex and counter wargame exists...I think dice or some randomness/chaos is essential to wargaming. Some are more luck-dependent than others, sure, but what's going on is it's testing your ability to develop new plans given rapidly changing circumstances. If that bothers you, you might not really like wargames much.
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Pokey 64
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:
panzer6 wrote:
If I've got the definition of "deterministic combat" correct, I have to recommend Small World.



I almost listed Small World as an example but consider it too light for what I'm looking for. I also need something that plays well with two and I felt like the 2-player experience in Small World was lackluster.


OK. Kriegspiel then. Easy to find on the second hand market. True, old school wargame with diceless combat resolution. Two players (more if you play teams) light to medium weight.
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Darth James
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These are great suggestions and I will look into them.

It's entirely possible most war games are "not for me" and I can accept that. We'll see what my response is to Space Empires next weekend.

If not deterministic, can you perhaps recommend some war games light on the luck factor?
 
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Pokey 64
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EvilPandaPirate wrote:

If not deterministic, can you perhaps recommend some war games light on the luck factor?


Not really. Most good wargames are light on the luck factor and the wargame genre is a huge area.

You move your units, pick your ground, decide how much force to use then the die roll. That die roll, combined with a combat results chart, doesn't leave a lot to luck.
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Jeff K
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Rindu wrote:
The thing about Guns of Gettysburg is that it is so incredibly different that it's not a good introduction to what wargaming is like. It's almost an abstract. My comment here is based on playing Bonaparte at Marengo, which is the same system as far as I know.



GoG is actually nothing at all like B@M. The similarities are strictly superficial. The combat systems could not be any more distinct. But both are indeed very abstract, as he said.

I will also agree with Rindu that GoG would not make a good introductory game. Aside from being extremely complex, as he said it shares very little similarities with other wargames (any other really).

Actually, B@M is much simpler and I think fits your criteria pretty well, although as Rindu said I think it is still not really a good intro into other wargames. But it fits your bill quite nicely. Unfortunately long OOP, but there is hope of a reprint.

As for diceless systems, you can see a list of them in this Geeklist

I would agree with both panzer6 and Rindu that so-called "luckless" combat does not feature prominently in wargames because it is unrealistic. Depicting war without the actual "fortunes of war" is difficult. Most deterministic systems are highly likely to be quite abstract, such as the Simmons Games.

My suggestions would be to avoid CDGs, which can be impacted by some card draws (some games also have bad card combos). I would stick instead to old school games that have CRTs (and to some extent firepower tables), mostly because the odds of combat are under your control and the CRTs do not have any surprises. In an old school game, if you need to win a battle, you just bring the odds that assure you of success (easier said than done). These still have the attraction that sometimes, fate beats the odds. As it should.
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Apenheul
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I'd consider Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition). It works with Action Points and cards, very deterministic.
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Jeff K
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I also forgot to mention the GMT COIN Series, combat is strictly deterministic, but it does have cards. These are largely luckless CDGs, though, very analytical.
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Darth James
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Xookliba wrote:
Rindu wrote:
The thing about Guns of Gettysburg is that it is so incredibly different that it's not a good introduction to what wargaming is like. It's almost an abstract. My comment here is based on playing Bonaparte at Marengo, which is the same system as far as I know.



GoG is actually nothing at all like B@M. The similarities are strictly superficial. The combat systems could not be any more distinct. But both are indeed very abstract, as he said.

I will also agree with Rindu that GoG would not make a good introductory game. Aside from being extremely complex, as he said it shares very little similarities with other wargames (any other really).

Actually, B@M is much simpler and I think fits your criteria pretty well, although as Rindu said I think it is still not really a good intro into other wargames. But it fits your bill quite nicely. Unfortunately long OOP, but there is hope of a reprint.

As for diceless systems, you can see a list of them in this Geeklist

I would agree with both panzer6 and Rindu that so-called "luckless" combat does not feature prominently in wargames because it is unrealistic. Depicting war without the actual "fortunes of war" is difficult. Most deterministic systems are highly likely to be quite abstract, such as the Simmons Games.

My suggestions would be to avoid CDGs, which can be impacted by some card draws (some games also have bad card combos). I would stick instead to old school games that have CRTs (and to some extent firepower tables), mostly because the odds of combat are under your control and the CRTs do not have any surprises. In an old school game, if you need to win a battle, you just bring the odds that assure you of success (easier said than done). These still have the attraction that sometimes, fate beats the odds. As it should.


Fantastic answer. I will check out that Geeklist for some ideas. Most appreciated.
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Francois
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I don't want to derail the thread into a "this is not a wargame" discussion but, I've found that Kemet scratches my "wargame" itch very well. The luck factor is light but, a lot of wargammers don't like the movement (everything is a few moves away from everything else).

I've never played it 2 players though so it may not be that great. You can check the Watch it played! video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4rvQWx77b0A
 
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Daniel B-G
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How about Maria? It uses cards, but you draw so many that luck is mitigated, the game is about hand management and picking your battles and knowing what suits you are strong in.

In addition, you get to choose the point at which you concede and can minimise losses first, so it should be rare that you get screwed by luck.

+! to Kemet. Not really a full wargame, but still a great hybrid and the combat is fully deterministic.
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Mike Jaquette
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My favorite light "war" games...

Sekigahara: The Unification of Japan - Elegant and brilliant. Simple mechanics, deep strategy, beautiful board. My favorite of the 3!

1775: Rebellion - Dice rolling, cube pushin' goodness. Very well balanced and thought out. Highly recommended. I did not care for 1812 but I love 1775!

Kemet - lightest of the 3 but VERY fun to play with the right group. Move troops, recruit monsters, decimate your enemy.

I highly recommend all three, at the very least watch the reviews!




Edit: Typo
 
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Picking your battles. That's key in wargaming. There will be luck or randomness, but a perceptive player will weigh costs and benefits and probabilities. For instance, you might plan an attack that has only a 50-50 chance of succeeding. Do you go for it? Well, it depends on how much it will hurt you if it fails, or how important it is to succeed. Maybe you'll hold off until next turn when you can attack in greater strength...but then your opponent might be stronger! Or perhaps it would be better to keep a part of your forces in reserve, so that they can fill in if you fail horribly.

There are also actions you can take to mitigate the effects of bad luck. In Advanced Squad Leader, you roll dice a LOT, but it's still a game of skill. There are techniques to manage luck and ways to play which don't require you to roll lots of dice. You can also evolve your play to be more positional. When I first played War of 1812, I would keep fighting battles constantly. But that was bloody and often didn't work, and I found the best strategy is to fight maybe two or three battles the entire game: the rest is positioning and maneuver. In games where the combat system is extremely chaotic, good play often involves few battles because you want to wait until you have a very favorable position, due to terrain, numbers, or what have you. War of 1812 is very much about gathering your forces for one big battle, then dispersing them before winter attrition hits and everyone starves, but in such a way that your opponent can't hurt you. Of course, if you're playing a tactical game, which just IS a battle, you obviously have to fight it out. But managing your luck, reading probabilities, and developing a good plan are still going to be a part of the game.

I'm partial to A Victory Lost: Crisis in Ukraine 1942-1943 or A Victory Denied: Crisis at Smolensk, July-September, 1941 as introductory hex and counter wargmes, or something in the Standard Combat Series.

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Moe45673
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Strike of the Eagle would do it. An Academy Games production (they of Conflict of Heroes and 1775: Rebellion fame), so you know the components are stellar. It's a block game with real bluffing (similar to Space Empires: 4X hidden units) and combat is diceless. Game comes with many scenarios from 2-4 players
 
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