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Subject: Team Building War or Strategy game rss

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Prawn King
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Is there any board wargame (still available) that would lend itself to a team building excercise?

I have a development programme for managers and I am toying with the idea of doing something different. It struck me that putting them into a battlefield command role would be an option? What kind of games out there would lend themselves to this sort of thing?

Basic criteria would be:-

1. Entry Level (but not too easy as I want to assess participants' ability to read and digest reasonably complex, unfamiliar texts and concepts).

2. Playable within 6 hours, including rules reading and set-up time.

3. Could be "referee-able" or perhaps collaborative?

4. Must contain reasonable levels of decision making (allows a degree of testing of the participants).

5. Should also be fun and exciting.

My participants and myself are not new to teambuilding and have done most of the usual outdoor activities so this is an attempt at something new.
All answers will be appreciated.
Thx
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Jesse Escobedo
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Commands & Colors: Ancients Lends itself well to team play in the Commands & Colors: Ancients Expansion Pack #5 – Epic Ancients II set. 4 players on each side.

If you do not want competition, Pandemic has some good team play.
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Andrew N
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Axis & Allies might fit the bill? Other than that, any relatively light wargame with enough forces available to spit up should fit the bill, too. Glory III (at least the Antietam scenario), for example, could work. You could also conceivably play Combat Commander by committee. Each member of the team gets a leader and a part of the forces for one side, then all the players have to decide together on how best to allocate cards, etc.
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brant G
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I've seen folks play a game of chess where there are 2 guys on each team facing off over the "master" chess board, but they have a limited number of moves they are allowed to make independently. For anything else, they have to request permission from "higher HQ" that's in another room / behind a screen / somehow not able to see the main board.

1 of the two guys at the main table can leave to talk to one of the guys from higher HQ to meet in a neutral place (no one can see anyone's board) and report movements, request instructions, request help, etc (this can also be done with radios). They also have a time limit on each turn to update their HQ, consult or request instructions from HQ, and execute their move. If you run out of time, you lose that turn.

HQ also has their own board, but they're just using it to track / update what's on the main table.

In essence, you have your tactical commanders who can push their platoons (the pawns) around the master map and all your supporting assets (the back row) are controlled by higher, who is relying on reports from the front to update their view of the situation.

It's not a true double-blind Kriegspiel because you have players who are able to see the 'master' map and directly operate on it. But it does stress the need for accurate reporting and communication, as well as trusting your subordinates.

You can sort your higher HQ into a staff that's basically OPS/INTEL - 1 group trying to figure out what the enemy is doing and the other grouping looking 2-4 turns ahead to make recommendations for your commander, who has very little time to turn around his moves.

Using Chess with non-wargamers works b/c they don't see it as some esoteric game full of complications they have to learn just to play. Most folks know what chess is and how it works, and so the principles of building the team and focusing on the communication within the team come to the fore, rather than "we didn't know how to play the game."
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Mike Szarka
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When it is your turn to send a VASSAL move, the wait is excruciating. When it's my turn, well, I've been busy.
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1812: The Invasion of Canada is three players against two, is light and fun. But pretty abstract.

Escape from Colditz would have the prisoners working together against a German guard. There is a reprint edition available.
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L. Somer
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Memoir 44 using Overlord would work.
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Prawn King
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Hey Thanks!

Never expected so many quick replies

You certainly have me thinking now. I have played that fire rescue game a few times (can't remember what it's called now!) and also Pandemic. These were what got me thinking about collaborative efforts, the description of the chess game is also intriguing.

I even thought about "Ranger" (if thats the correct name) for some kind of collaborative SpecOps but I guess thats too complicated?

I have C&C Ancients so thats a possibility, although not any of the add ons. I think Axis & Allies might seem more of a toy thing (no disrepsect meant whatsoever)and raise a few too many eyebrows. Half of the participants already have active military service histories, but no gaming experience to my knowledge.

Well thanks again for your help.

Best regards,
Andy
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Hunga Dunga
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For large groups, Diplomacy works really well. You need at least two players per country, though. The person who writes the moves isn't allowed to speak directly to another country - he/she has to do this through one or more ambassadors.

Good fun.
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Carl Fung
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Hungadunga wrote:
For large groups, Diplomacy works really well. You need at least two players per country, though. The person who writes the moves isn't allowed to speak directly to another country - he/she has to do this through one or more ambassadors.

Good fun.


Seconded.

I've played this just with a single player per country but alternatively you can have several people on a team per country. The game is meant to have a lot of decision making in terms of forming alliances, keeping the alliances, or breaking them for strategic goals. Helps with planning, negotiation, and coordination.
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Jason Cawley
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Hunga Dunga - well, diplomacy is famously a game you should never play against people you have to work or live with, since expertly timed backstabbing is the core mechanic of the game - lol. So I am not sure I would choose it for a team building exercise.

Any of the larger American Civil War grand tactical games lends itself to multiplayer teams by assigning one corps or division command to each player, with an overall commander giving them assignments. The same works in Napoleonics, there is just usually a bit steeper learning curve with those.
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Brian Train
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I would +1 Brant's excellent suggestion for double-blind chess.

I think otherwise your people will struggle too much with the rules and format of the game - we forget that what is very familiar to us is incomprehensible to someone whose experience of boardgames levelled off at Stratego or Risk, no matter how intelligent they are.
And if they are of the video-game generation, they might struggle with the abstractions even more.

There are a lot of chess variants out there, but mostly it's just more and different pieces or a bigger board - again, you end up struggling with the rules.
Taking away the omnipotent view is a simple but huge change.
A variant of chess called Infochess has been used by the military, and it has some interesting variations on this:

http://www.nps.edu/Academics/Centers/IOCenter/docs/InfoChess...

Brian
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Carl Fung
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mcszarka wrote:


Escape from Colditz would have the prisoners working together against a German guard. There is a reprint edition available.


Thinking about this more, games that have players working towards a common goal as opposed to defeating each other might make for better team building. As most wargames are one vs. another, this may foster opposition instead of collaboration.

I'm not familiar with Escape from Colditz but if the goal is for all the players to escape (and not who escapes the most) then this could foster working as a team. The referee or facilitator for the event can be the German guards.
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Andrew Kluck
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Victory: The Blocks of War is easy to teach (it's a block game with steps loss and initiative letters found in Hammer of the Scots) and it allows for an interesting group experience. The maps are geomorphic and can be laid out to make the playspace as large as you'd like. The teams can be split into 4 or more, one Supreme Commander in charge of resource allocation and coordinating forces and Air Force, Army and Naval Commanders each focused on their own particular objectives but needing to balance that with the needs of their supporting branches.

The stock rules as written make for a poor wargame, but they're easily modified and the Geek has many more grognardy variants.
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Confusion Under Fire
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calvinboy24 wrote:
mcszarka wrote:


Escape from Colditz would have the prisoners working together against a German guard. There is a reprint edition available.


Thinking about this more, games that have players working towards a common goal as opposed to defeating each other might make for better team building. As most wargames are one vs. another, this may foster opposition instead of collaboration.

I'm not familiar with Escape from Colditz but if the goal is for all the players to escape (and not who escapes the most) then this could foster working as a team. The referee or facilitator for the event can be the German guards.


Colditz would pronounce the winner as the player who got the most pawns to freedom. But I think this might be one line in the relatively short rules so as you can see the victory objective could easily be changed to allow more of a team effort. It has been a long time since I have played this (25+ years+?) but even as a kid, I remember that a team effort was required. Players can work together to bluff the German player who is meant to be in control of the game. Personalities can play a part and the rules are simple enough to understand pretty quickly.
I second the idea of not getting non wargamers to play and understand a wargame, a big gamble. At best they will muddle through the rules and not really give you any insight as to how they are thinking. There are a few co op games of which Pandemic, already mentioned, is quite good. Another which I think fits the bill quite well is Space Alert. Taken from the game page here om BGG;

Space Alert is a cooperative team survival game. Players become crew members of a small spaceship scanning dangerous sectors of galaxy. The missions last just 10 real-time minutes (hyperspace jump, sector scan, hyperspace jump back) and the only task the players have is to protect their ship.

During play, the central computer will announce the presence of various threats on one the supplied 10 minute soundtracks that also acts as a game timer. The threats vary from space battleships and interceptors to different interstellar monsters and abominations, asteroids or even intruders and malfunctions on the spaceship. Players have to agree who will take care of which task and coordinate their actions (moving around the ship, firing weapons, distributing energy, using battlebots to deal with intruders, launching guided missiles, etc.) in real time to defend the ship. Only a well-working team can survive 10 minutes and make the jump back to safety.

The game offers several difficulty levels, huge variability and a unique experience for one to five player teams. One mission lasts only about 30 minutes, including setup and evaluation.


This may be a little short in game length for you but could also be added at the end if the main game ended sooner than expected.
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Jur dj
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Mid-East Peace is a rules light negotiating game with some simple on board economic and military action. I've seen it work as a team game (you can give roles like Head of STate, Minister of Foreign Affairs, MInister of Defence, Minister of Oil).

It is a bit touchy subject at the moment, though
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Zhe Leng
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There is a 6-player version of Napoleon's Triumph. 3 players on each side (left wing, right wing, and central). You can apply delay on the communication between commanders, which makes it more interesting.
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Andrew Kluck
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lengzhe wrote:
There is a 6-player version of Napoleon's Triumph. 3 players on each side (left wing, right wing, and central). You can apply delay on the communication between commanders, which makes it more interesting.

This is what first came to my mind as well, and is a fantastic idea, but the learning curve on this is high even for wargaming veterans for an afternoon team building exercise.

On the other hand, the rules are short (8 pages) and very clear, there is no luck at all so it'll just be a raw cooperative exercise, and it can be played fairly quickly.

It's pricey though.
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Norm Stewart
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This is a very interesting topic.

If you can provide a few more parameters, it could help target more appropriate options:
1. How many people would be involved.
2. Would teams playing each game "player" be OK?
3. Would multiple independent games to accommodate the gang be OK, or do you want everyone to share the same experience?
4. Is any era OK; I would guess current events would be best avoided?
5. Would you like multiple sides or two sides?

The coolest approach I heard (and I forget the name of the guy doing these) was the use of a very simple game (in his case, Rand's Lee vs Meade from 1974) but letting the two teams self organize. Let them figure-out the Command structure and support needs. It was refereed on a separate board, with each side having their own board and whatever info they gleaned on the enemy from the referee. He also made blow-ups of the map and pieces, so multiple people could see what was happening.

The key was simple mechanics and maybe even rather crude esthetics, and multifaceted trainee dynamics. A referee is probably a must, to gate the usually way to accurate information in most wargames.

I'd personally love to try something like that; and it could be particularly good for a Management Training environment.
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brant G
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VA-Norm wrote:
I'd personally love to try something like that; and it could be particularly good for a Management Training environment.


Harnessed Electrons has been doing team wargaming as a staff/mgmt training tool for a while

Info about the exercises as they are run at conventions here: http://grogheads.com/?p=4346

Company info here: http://harnessedelectrons.com/training.html

Most of the exercises are built around a computer game, but that's just to be able to project the turns as they unfold. The players do their thing around a set of maps, and give their instructions to the computer operator (who is on the training team), so they never touch the game.
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Hunga Dunga
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JasonC wrote:
diplomacy is famously a game you should never play against people you have to work or live with

That's not really true. I conducted a survey here a while ago, and no one had lost a friend due to playing Diplomacy.
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Roger Hobden
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Hungadunga wrote:
JasonC wrote:
diplomacy is famously a game you should never play against people you have to work or live with

That's not really true. I conducted a survey here a while ago, and no one had lost a friend due to playing Diplomacy.


Because they had no friends to begin with.
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Jason Cawley
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Hunga Dunga - the people you surveyed didn't tell you so, at most. The people who did aren't hanging around here filling out on line polls.

Huge in-game rewards for unpredicted dishonesty are not what managers want to train into their teams, let's just put it that way.
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Hunga Dunga
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JasonC wrote:
Hunga Dunga - the people you surveyed didn't tell you so, at most. The people who did aren't hanging around here filling out on line polls.

Huge in-game rewards for unpredicted dishonesty are not what managers want to train into their teams, let's just put it that way.


Are you trying to disqualify my sample?

If you know upfront that someone is going to break a deal without facing the wheel, only someone really immature would consider that to be worth breaking a friendship. And would you want that person working in your company? This exercise, among other things, will help weed out people like that!
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Mike Szarka
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No matter what you think about Diplomacy, I would say fostering team-building would not be at the top of the list of its attributes.
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Prawn King
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Once again thanks to everyone for their contributions, I have a lot of material to pull something together from.

I seem to be swaying towards a pure collaborative effort, as this fits my perception of team building nicely. (Suddenly B-17 QOTS springs to mind!! - I don't have enough crew members though).

I have an ancient copy of Escape from Colditz so I am going to check that in more detail, I only remember having to do a lot of ad-lib gap filling in the rules.
Although not a wargame or strategy game, someone also tipped me off about Sherlock Holmes Consulting Detective and I have the Mansion Murders expansion so I will also look into that.

Has anyone experience of D-Day Dice? I would like something wargamey and that is also topical with the 70th anniversary this year. I know someone who can loan me a copy too.

Thanks again, nice weekend to all,
regards,
Andy
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