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Subject: Questions for the war gamers... rss

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Christian Marcussen
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At the eve of Bloodline Games first release, we are looking for new games to develope, and often dismiss the idea of war games for several reasons. Mostly becuase with the component quality we like, it simply would not be financially feasible. However the idea intriques us. So I figured I would ask you some of the questions I'm asking myself.

1) Is there even a need for new wargames? If yes - why? What is it you are missing.

2) Would you be willing to pay the addional cost for platsic minis over counters or blocks (if the game itself was up to your standards)

3) What scenarios/eras would you like to see?

Thanks for your thoughts.
 
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Mark Christopher
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Keep in mind that in most cases, counters hold information that's not necessarily easy to transfer to plastic figures.

Personally, I prefer counters. I don't seem to have the patience to paint minis, and blobs of mono-colored plastic just look ugly compared to some of the wonderful artwork that's currently being put on counters.
 
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Leo Zappa
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A GOOD strategic level game of the American Civil War with minis is probably the biggest single gap out there. The only thing close was now-defunct Eagle's "The American Civil War", but it was a very mediocre effort (and I was a fan of most Eagle games - this was the only I really didn't feel was a good effort). If you could develop an "Axis and Allies" styled game with enough chrome to differentiate the North and South with some semblence of historical accuracy and theme, I think you'd have something. Price point would probably be somewhere between $50-$75. What do you think?
 
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Andrew Prizzi
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A major consideration for me as I look at buying a new wargame is "does this game cover something that I don't already have in my collection?"

There are 2 ascpects to this:

Topic (American Civil War, WWII, Scifi interstellar war, etc)

and Scale (Tactical, Operational, Strategic)

Some combinations of these (Operational WWII Eastern Front for example) are much more prevalent in the marketplace than others (Strategic Philipine Insurrection for example).

If you're going to make an operational eastfront game it had better be REALLY GOOD for a lot of people to buy it, because there are already several very good games that fill that niche, but if you make a game that covers something new- like the Philippine Insurection then as long as your game is good it can stand out.
 
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Jim Cote
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My preference for "bits" is:

+ Wooden squares/discs (with stickers if necessary for info)
+ Cardboard counters
+ Getting a root canal
+ Plastic figures
 
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Mark Christopher
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ekted wrote:
My preference for "bits" is:

+ Wooden squares/discs (with stickers if necessary for info)
+ Cardboard counters
+ Getting a root canal
+ Plastic figures

Dental game bits. This could be the next big thing!
 
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Christian Marcussen
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Quote:
Keep in mind that in most cases, counters hold information that's not necessarily easy to transfer to plastic figures.

Personally, I prefer counters. I don't seem to have the patience to paint minis, and blobs of mono-colored plastic just look ugly compared to some of the wonderful artwork that's currently being put on counters.


Indeed. I have a few ideas to fix that though. You do have a point about mono colored units compared to pretty counters. I would like plastic better, but thats a matter taste really

Quote:
Some combinations of these (Operational WWII Eastern Front for example) are much more prevalent in the marketplace than others (Strategic Philipine Insurrection for example).

If you're going to make an operational eastfront game it had better be REALLY GOOD for a lot of people to buy it, because there are already several very good games that fill that niche, but if you make a game that covers something new- like the Philippine Insurection then as long as your game is good it can stand out.


Thing is the common battles are polular and well known. Therefore they can attract more customers. So thing is what would sell the least games - a good game with a common scenario or a good game with a unique scenario. I'm not sure . People love the east front, D-day etc as these get dipicted alot in film.

Quote:
My preference for "bits" is:

+ Wooden squares/discs (with stickers if necessary for info)
+ Cardboard counters
+ Getting a root canal
+ Plastic figures




 
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Mark Christopher
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As for whether there's a "need" for new wargames, take a look at two of my favorites: Bonaparte at Marengo and Friedrich. Both in subjects that have been covered, but both with innovative, tense gameplay. If you have a good game that somehow distinguishes it from the current crop, I'd say yes, there's a need.
 
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Donald Wilbur III
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I think there's a dire shortage of grand strategic level games that can be played in an evening (2hours, 3 hours tops). GMT is coming out with an ACW title next year (I hope) but titles for other conflicts are practically non-existant.
 
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Christian Marcussen
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markus_kt wrote:
As for whether there's a "need" for new wargames, take a look at two of my favorites: Bonaparte at Marengo and Friedrich. Both in subjects that have been covered, but both with innovative, tense gameplay. If you have a good game that somehow distinguishes it from the current crop, I'd say yes, there's a need.


Could you please point out what aspects made these game stand out? Do you have any ideas for elements you would like to see added to other games?

For those of you who prefer counters, or blocks. Is there something new you would like to see dismplayed on these? (ps: block games - do the tickers come on a sheet for the player to stick on to the block, or is this done in the production?)
 
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Christian Marcussen
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gilesclone wrote:
I think there's a dire shortage of grand strategic level games that can be played in an evening (2hours, 3 hours tops). GMT is coming out with an ACW title next year (I hope) but titles for other conflicts are practically non-existant.


Could you give me an example of what kind of scenario, and how grand "grand" is?

Dont many war games have smaller scenarios which can be played in 2-3 hours? Or arent these grand enough?
 
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Mark Christopher
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marqzen wrote:
Quote:
Keep in mind that in most cases, counters hold information that's not necessarily easy to transfer to plastic figures.

Personally, I prefer counters. I don't seem to have the patience to paint minis, and blobs of mono-colored plastic just look ugly compared to some of the wonderful artwork that's currently being put on counters.


Indeed. I have a few ideas to fix that though. You do have a point about mono colored units compared to pretty counters. I would like plastic better, but thats a matter taste really


For me, it seems that counters make a good abstract representation of a given combat unit. Plastic minis seem to attempt to take the abstraction out, but that's one place they fail for me. Take Memoir '44 as an example (barely a wargame, but it'll suit). Battles in that game look like nothing more than a pair of hooligan gangs getting in a fight. I'd love to see more representative minis. Rather than one big soldier on a base, have a group/line/mob (whatever suits the warfare of the period) on a base. Make a battle actually look like a battle. Pre-painted, from my POV, is even better, and with space on the base for any other information that needs to be easily accessible would be great.

I have no idea if that sort of thing is realistic, though I tend to think not. I'd love to paing the 6mm minis I bought for Commands & Colors: Ancients and then buy or make terrain hexes, but find the time and money involved a hinderance.
 
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Andrew Prizzi
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I understand the point that Bulge Games, D-Day games, Stalingrad games, and Gettysburg games, etc sell- that's why they keep making them, but there are also plenty of "popular" or well-known conflicts that don't have a glut of games about them:

How many games are there about the raid on Pearl Harbor?

How many strategic level games are there on the Korean War? Vietnam War?

How many good strategic level Star Wars games are there? (of course the licencing costs may be an issue )

A game on a topic that is already well covered will definitely sell if the gameplay really stands out, but I stand by my initial comment that it will have to REALLY stand out for someone with 4 or 5 games that already cover the same topic to go ahead and buy it.
 
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Mark Christopher
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marqzen wrote:
markus_kt wrote:
As for whether there's a "need" for new wargames, take a look at two of my favorites: Bonaparte at Marengo and Friedrich. Both in subjects that have been covered, but both with innovative, tense gameplay. If you have a good game that somehow distinguishes it from the current crop, I'd say yes, there's a need.


Could you please point out what aspects made these game stand out? Do you have any ideas for elements you would like to see added to other games?

For those of you who prefer counters, or blocks. Is there something new you would like to see dismplayed on these? (ps: block games - do the tickers come on a sheet for the player to stick on to the block, or is this done in the production?)

For Bonaparte at Marengo, it's somewhat difficult, as everything about it seems to come together into a unique experience. I'd say it's the mix of randomless combat, hidden unit value/types, a limited number of actions per turn, and well-tested, tight victory conditions. These all come together to create a wargame that's been compared to chess in gameplay style relatively often. I can't focus enough (it being a Friday afternoon) to get into more specifics.

For Friedrich, it's the insanely simple rules, the map being divided into multiple sectors of 4 types to abstract the use of resources (which, themselves, are represented by what amount to normal playing cards), and the "cards of fate", which are a very neat way to put a timetable on the game. Some games are hampered by a specific ending turn, leading to unrealistic actions on that ending turn by the players. In Friedrich, after the 5th turn, 1 (of 18) cards is revealed at the end of each turn. 4 specific cards are needed to end the game (IIRC; one for Russian, one for Sweden, and two for France). Practically the opposite of a specific ending turn. Some are turned off by this, but I love the resulting tension. Makes one move fast, hoping the cards that knock one's power out of the game don't come up quickly.
 
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Donald Wilbur III
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marqzen wrote:
gilesclone wrote:
I think there's a dire shortage of grand strategic level games that can be played in an evening (2hours, 3 hours tops). GMT is coming out with an ACW title next year (I hope) but titles for other conflicts are practically non-existant.


Could you give me an example of what kind of scenario, and how grand "grand" is?

Dont many war games have smaller scenarios which can be played in 2-3 hours? Or arent these grand enough?


What I mean by GRAND strategy is: the whole war, the big picture. So I would like to have a game about say, World War II with the whole world map (say like Axis and Allies) and all the major players that can be finished in an evening. (A&A is okay, but it's too long and doesn't have much in the way of politics or economics).

Smaller scenarios are common as dirt. I don't want to calculate armor penetration, I want to make political/economic/strategic decisions. And I don't want to play just 1942, I like to see it from beginning to end.

The closest examples I can find so far are: A House Divided, Wilderness War, and We the People. Of these three, only WtP has a 2 hour play time. (The others are closer to 4 in my experience). And WtP is out of print and unlikely to be reprinted.

There are other games that might fit my time preferences, but usually they aren't that great as games.
 
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Donald Wilbur III
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As far as counters vs blocks vs minis. I prefer blocks, but counters are cool too. In general I wouldn't spend any extra for minis.

If you need a topic, I'd like to see a good game of the Balkan Wars.
 
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Mark Christopher
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gilesclone wrote:
Of these three, only WtP has a 2 hour play time. (The others are closer to 4 in my experience). And WtP is out of print and unlikely to be reprinted.

I believe that a re-make of We the People is under development under the name Washington's War. IIRC, gameplay changes include trading the card-based combat for a CRT and slightly adjusting the strategy cards.
 
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Thomas Granvold
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marqzen wrote:
1) Is there even a need for new wargames? If yes - why? What is it you are missing.


There is always a need for new wargames. There is such a vast amount of history to base wargames on that there is a lot that is not well covered yet. Amoung things that are missing or not well covered that come to mind are, Asia before 1800, dark age and medevil europe, Africa before being colonized and South America. Of course these are not the areas of the most interest which is why few games have been done.

Quote:
2) Would you be willing to pay the addional cost for platsic minis over counters or blocks (if the game itself was up to your standards)


Up to a point pricewise. Anything over $75.00 would probably be out, unless it was a really great game.

Quote:
3) What scenarios/eras would you like to see?


My suggestions are medevil europe tactical scale game (check out the old Cry Havoc as a starting point), Samurai tactical scale (see Samurai Blades, a scenario based on the 7 Samurai movie would be good), and a well done grand strategic game of ancient China (while could include the building of the Great Wall, and the rise and fall of dyansties).

What I'd like to see is both a game that is not too difficult to learn, yet has tactical and strategic depth. Also the more that it is based on history the better. Also, the games should have more than one scenario/variation to keep it interesting. Tactical level games especially should have lots of scenarios, maps, variations which makes supplements almost a requirment.

Quote:
Thanks for your thoughts.


Good luck
 
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Jim Marshall
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Interesting topic.

Firstly, I suspect that the market for traditional hex and counter games is loyal but pretty small. It's also covered by a number of specialist designers/publishers with a lot of experience whom you would be up against, so unless you want to commission Richard Berg to design a game for you, it may well turn out to be a 'learning experience'.

However, let's look at the games that are mentioned in the previous replies (We The People, Friedrich, Memoir '44, A House Divided, Napoleon at Marengo), to which I would add Hammer of the Scots. I think they have a number of common features:

* They're not pure, traditional hex'n'counter games
* For wargames, they're fairly simple, and thus of interest to Eurogamers
* They (largely) play in 2-3 hours, while even the longer ones will complete in a single evening
* Each was very innovative when first released - WtP: card driven action sequence, Friedrich: linking the players consumable resources (playing cards) to areas on the board, Hammer - mix of hidden units and a very fluid, mobile situation with action on many parts of the board, plus stacks of colour)
* Each has run to second or third printings, and/or has spawned a series of follow on games using the same or derivative systems
* Each is highly rated on BGG, with a lot of forum entries/discourse which garners kudos
* While they're based (to a greater or lesser extent) on historical conflicts, they're all primarily good games (the inclusion of Mem'44 may raise a few catcalls amongst the purists, but it and the series from which is drawn are probably the biggest sellers here).
* Finally, they're all great fun (again, individuals may quibble about some of the games, but hey that's life)

Consequently, the interested audience goes beyond hard core wargamers and into the Euro fans, specially those for whom another warmed over Settlers rehash has lost its appeal.

I don't think plastic minis/blocks/counters or the particular subject matter are the major issues here (Marengo? Come on, a few history buffs aside, how many owners of the game were aware of the battle before buying the game? It's the word of mouth/BGG buzz that's doing it here). To me, the appeal is that they're all well designed, tense games offering something that hasn't been seen before. That's not of course to say each of them is 100% unique and original.

But if you want my opinion, in some ways the more obscure and less-gamed the topic the more eyebrows will lift (Marengo, Friedrich, Hammer - none of them common themes). Blocks and counters lend gravitas, and as mentioned in previous posts can be a way of offering game play elements (the hidden unit element of blocks) or information (unit types/attributes on counters) in a way that a plastic orc or Sherman tank can't. Although having Gandalf in a game has never knowingly hurt sales!

Hope this is useful.

 
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Just to throw in my thoughts, I'd like to see a block game system based on the Three Kingdoms era in China. The number of scenerios, characters, and units in Three Kingdoms would allow for numerous expansions if it is successful.

 
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Trevor Murphy
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Could you just put out a board and rulebook, and then heavily imply that the players need to own both 'Zombies!!!' and 'Walk the Dogs'? These games are reasonably priced, and have copious nice bits.

Then, we could finally play the definitive game about the war of dogs vs. zombies.
 
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Andrew C
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gilesclone wrote:
I think there's a dire shortage of grand strategic level games that can be played in an evening (2hours, 3 hours tops). GMT is coming out with an ACW title next year (I hope) but titles for other conflicts are practically non-existant.


I second the motion...more simple/quick strategic level games.
 
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Steve Herron
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I thought a simpler game using minis on the siege of Jerusalem would be neat. Another idea I had was a card game on the battle of Britian that possibly could be played solitaire.
 
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Phillip Heaton
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These are the wars that seem to be the most popular in America:

1. WWII
2. Napoleonic
3. Ancients
4. American Civil War

In Great Britain, the following wars also seem to be popular:

1. English Civil War
2. War of the Roses
3. Hundred Years War

There are some combinations that seem to work well, all tactical. By tactical I mean that one counter equals one man/ship/aircraft. These would be the ones that could possibly benefit from plastic figures:

1. WWI tactical air combat.
2. Age of Sail tactical naval warfare.
3. WWII through modern tactical land combat.
4. Fantasy tactical combat.
5. Sci-Fi tactical combat.
=========================================================================

WWII has been done to death. The last thing we need would be yet another game on the Battle of the Bulge. Unless you could find a unique system that simulates an aspect of WWII that hasn't been handled well to this point, I'd avoid the war entirely.

The Napoleonic Wars present much of the same problem. I really can't think of an aspect of those wars that hasn't been handled well already.

There is some room in Ancients, but the problem with this era is that the wars and battles that are at all popular (IE, people have heard of them) have generally already been done. Maybe not a well as could be done, but there is generally a game of some sort about them. Some possible suggestions:

1. Caesar's campaign in Gaul.
2. A strategic game based around Egypt, with the various invasions and raids having to be defended against while also balancing the pressures of internal politics. Dynasties rise and fall, but Egypt remains eternal.
3. A strategic game based around China, with the various invasions and raids having to be defended against while also balancing the pressures of internal politics. Dynasties rise and fall, but China remains eternal.

The American Civil War could use a good strategic game that takes politics and economics into account, but doesn't take forever to play.

While it might be nice for you to cover the Wahehe wars between Germany and the Wahehe in German Southwest Africa, you need to field a game that you stand some chance of selling.
 
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Christian Marcussen
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Wow - this thread turned out most inspirational - thanks BGGs! A few of the ideas you mention have alreday been on the table, while others are stuff we havent discussed but definately will! Ohhh - so many great games to be made

Regarding the idea of a grand strategic war game, covering WW2 in 2-3 hours. It would be interesting, but personally I would rather see grand games being pretty long (but obvioulsy most are, so having a shorter game would be more novel).

cool

A new question (please keep answering the previous ones if you have something to add).

- Do you as a war gamer in general want things to be very concerned with war... or would you like things to also include politics, resource management, and empire management?
 
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