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Subject: The State of Wargaming rss

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Michael Peck
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http://www.armchairgeneral.com/articles.php?p=2958&page=1&ca...

 
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Michael @mgouker
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I thought wargaming died off in the 1990s.
 
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Chris Farrell
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I thought it was RPGs that killed them. D&D maybe.

It's hard to take too seriously an article that compares wargames to DVD players because they cost about the same.

Wargames have been dying for a long time. Or so wargamers have always said.

But any hobby that involves learning 30+ page highly-detailed rulebooks (often poorly-written) for a game you're going to play on average a handful of times is never going to be very broad-based.
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Josh Foeller
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From the article: "or how somebody’s five-year-old son picked up his father’s lead miniatures."

GOOD GOD! LEAD! Maybe that's why wargamers are a dying breed?

 
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Lev Mishkin
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Hard question.
the transalation to spanish is in: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/1190291#1190291

Lev Mishkin
 
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Neal Kegley
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Not quite...

There are lots of wargames still being produced and purchased. LOTS.

Just because a rulebook is 30+ pages doesn't mean that it is necessarily poorly written or difficult to learn. There are plenty of games out that have series rules that are 2-4 pages long.

Neal
 
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Hunter Shelburne
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I can't see a death of a hobby where such stalwart publishers like MMP and GMT Games exists almost exclusively for Wargaming.
 
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Leo Zappa
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I think I read the same article in 1982 after SPI bit it, and in 1998, when AH died (before its current Hasbroesque reanimation). As Chris alluded to, I think that wargaming is a hobby for geeky intelligent people, and before the advent of RPGs, CCGs, Warhammer, and Eurogame experiences, wargames were the only game in town for geeky intelligent types, even those whose primary thematic interests lay in areas other than military history. Once these other geek-gaming outlets became available, the potential audience for the traditional wargame became splintered, and like Humpty Dumpty, would never be put back together again. That's why a 300,000 unit sales figure for Panzerblitz will never be repeated. I know I saw this happen with my own friends, as some drifted to D&D, others to Magic and Warhammer, and so forth. But there will always be a core element of people whose first choice in gaming will be military-history hex and counter wargames. In this regard, I agree with the conclusion of the author that such games will endure.

Frankly, at least as regards the paper games, it does seem that the variety and number of games being produced is greater now than it has been in some time. Unit sales may not be close to those in the days of yore, but in terms of number of games being produced, it seems much like the 1970's again. Today's GMT, Columbia, Avalanche, Decision, MMP, and L2 remind of the good old days of AH, SPI, GDW, Yaquinto, and Battleline. As a wargamer, I feel the choices available to me today are as good as they've ever been!
 
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Matt Burchfield
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I think a lot of companies have discovered that you don't need to have a huge rulebook to achieve depth of play. You can capture theme without creating a simulation...etc.
 
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Mark Crocker
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Wargames driven by a deck of cards, is the salvation of the wargame genre (and has been for a few years now).
 
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j b Goodwin

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Quote:
I thought wargaming died off in the 1990s.


You obviously haven't been paying much attention to BGG.


 
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It certainly does seem that the hobby is enjoying a renaissance what with all the reprints and new games. I'm looking forward to getting my two new MMP games since I haven't really played any truly modern examples.

I know that my crowd enjoys wargames a lot and they're most of them younger than 30, many of them female. Of course, it helps that I'm a good salesman, and I rode in on my brother's coattails, who, born in 1963, was in the target demographic back in the 70's.

And thanks to the internet, an increasingly rarefied community gets reunited. There may be fewer of us, but the number of wargamers we can talk to has probably grown. Since finding BGG, I've found variants, reviews, suggestions I might have gone my whole life without learning, and my group includes some thirty people!

I don't like Euro games. I won't play them. And they're very popular. So what? Wargaming scratches an itch no Euro/Ameritrash/RPG can take care of. I've heard several times that wargames were the thing that someone was missing in life. There's nothing like them.

They're not going away.

So I'd say the state of Wargaming is that of a niche entertainment. It's not popular, it's not even well known anymore, but it's viable and not likely to die in the near future.
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Jorgen
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Neopeius wrote:
So I'd say the state of Wargaming is that of a niche entertainment. It's not popular, it's not even well known anymore, but it's viable and not likely to die in the near future.


I'm going to agree.
 
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Excellent! Let me know when you do... ^_~
 
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Michael Lawson
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mgringo wrote:
I thought wargaming died off in the 1990s.


Heh. So did hair metal.

This isn't the only hobby that I'm part of that has seen its fair share of chicken littles; I'm also a shortwave listener, and on rec.radio.shortwave you'll find (if you can sift through the political dreck) someone showing up once a week to declare that shortwave is dead. I'm used to hearing this stuff, and probably a lot of old grognards have heard the same as well.

Yet the hobby endures. No, not at the same level as found in the 70's and early 80's (before I started wargaming), but it still exists. The loss of SPI and AH didn't kill it. The rise of video games didn't kill it. Hell, even Magic and Pokemon didn't kill it.

The wargaming hobby continues because people buy the games and people put out new games. Sites like Consimworld and the Geek allow the Netizens to connect and provide feedback on the games, and to stir up enough interest in purchasing games.

The fact that companies like GMT require a P500 means that they intend to stay in business and be profitable, not that their product is dying. These companies have learned the hard way that if they want to survive, the best way to guarrantee success is to go and print games that people will actually buy, rather than put out a game and hope people will buy it. Besides, any perusal of the P500 will show that a ton of games are in the pipeline ready to be published, as opposed to a slowly dying trickle of games.

Will wargaming return to the glory days? No. Neither will D&D, Magic, Pokemon, or other games that had a burst of popularity and shone on the stage brightly. The trick is to understand your market, acknowledge your place in it, and encourage new converts to the games when possible.

(Note: I still listen to my collection of hair metal.)

 
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Michael Sosa
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Oh the shameful sarcasm....

Judging by Memoir '44 sales, I'd say wargaming is doing alright!
 
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Greg Moore
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Well I thought boardgaming in general has been growing.

I think part of the problem is people do not know wargames even exist. How can you know if you might like something if you have never seen it. Many times when I introduce people to a Eurogame, they ask where do you buy a game like that. That is because they have not seen any in Wal-Mart, Target, or the mall. Kind of like when my brother-in-law asked where I find the good beer, I said not at the convenience store.
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chris reichl

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I'm one of those gamers that came of age during the 80s. Believe me, there's a lot of AH/VG/GDW titles I wish I bought, or sadly didn't lose in the "Great Purge of 1989"* (more on that later). However, I do remember when I left the Navy after the first Gulf War and joined a gaming group. This is where I saw the problem, and I saw the problem in the 80s as well. I'm not even close to be considered a Grognardby a long shot.

Now don't get me wrong I enjoy wargames, and lately getting back into board more than PC. I like both to be honest. I own Combat Mission, as well as Legion Gold, and Spartan as well as Civilization (and waay too many others)

The problem in the 80s was largely RPGs were coming into their own, and selling more than boardgames. But as an article by Greg Costikyan "SPI died for your Sins," http://www.costik.com/spisins.html
Costikyan states a lot was due to the ineptitude of the industry itself. TSR bought SPI and then shot itself in the foot. It treated the subscribers of Strategy and Tactics magazine shabbily and drove it into the ground. By the time 3W took the helm it was too late. Also games were getting more and more complicated and expensive. I remember when ASL came out and it was $45.00 for the rulebook, JUST the rulebook, and "Beyond Valor" the first module was $60.00. I remember when my friend bought "Vietnam 1965-1975" by Victory Games, wanna talk about a THICK rulebook?
They were mainly to those who were hardcore the "grognards". But as far as the average gamer or beginning gamer was concerned, way too complicated. That part still needs to change. Beginners are not going to dive into ASL, or Third Reich, ok? AH used to cater to that market with Afrika Korps, D-Day,etc...

But let's face it, we're not in the majority. I hear the same whining on Wargamer.com about PC games, and its more apparent when I got to my local board game store. I don't see much shelf space for Wargames at all. More is devoted to Warhammer, Battletech, RPGs, CCGs, and of course Eurogames. Reason? They sell and they can sell more.

I agree very much with the Armchairgeneral article as well. When a game company has to get 500 orders in order to get a game to print, that is not a good sign. My one problem I've seen is Price. As much as I'd love to own Command and Colors: Ancients, I don't have the 45.00 to spend on a game that I might not even play much, much less find any opponents, and my store isn't going to stock that one if they don't see its going to sell (This can be applied to the PC strategy and war market as well).

I think things are going to be where they are; like it or not. We need to support our publishers be it L2, GMT or even indie DTPs. However we also need to be open to new ideas, be it using minis, blocks or even card driven mechanisms. Maybe a different map like in Napoleon at Marengo or even a new solitaire system that can be applied to a game series.
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Derek H
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Neopeius wrote:
So I'd say the state of Wargaming is that of a niche entertainment. It's not popular, it's not even well known anymore, but it's viable and not likely to die in the near future.

Just like boardgaming in general, in fact. If we are brutally honest; this industry as a whole is a small niche icw electronic entertainment, movies, TV, sports etc. Lets not splinter it any further - board wargamers are not "them", they are "us".
 
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Gary Krockover
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Ah, I see that somebody found the semi-annual article that talks about how wargaming is dying! I believe that the first edition of that article was published around 1975 wasn't it?
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Hilary Hartman
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GaryJK wrote:
Ah, I see that somebody found the semi-annual article that talks about how wargaming is dying! I believe that the first edition of that article was published around 1975 wasn't it?


LOL

Exactly. The sky is falling syndrome.

Wargaming is enjoying a bit of the spotlight, moreso now than then, especially with the Internet and websites like BGG and consim. Furthermore, as more games like A Victory Lost are produced--games with strategy, tactics, and a rule book under 20 pages (which includes great, illustrated examples)--the more wargames are likely to flourish.
 
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Jim U
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Belisarius88 wrote:
Judging by Memoir '44 sales, I'd say wargaming is doing alright!

I think the author of the article defines "wargames" more narrowly than you have.

While abstract wargames like Memoir '44 and Chess may have a healthy market, I think the author was addressing the decline of simulation-type wargames like PanzerBlitz.
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Steve Bernhardt
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GaryJK wrote:
Ah, I see that somebody found the semi-annual article that talks about how wargaming is dying! I believe that the first edition of that article was published around 1975 wasn't it?


lol, yup.
 
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Lev Mishkin
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we love wargames i can understad it. But you don´t answer the big questions in the article. "true is ugly" We dislike true and meke the ostrich strategy.
 
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Michael Lawson
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Lev Mishkin wrote:
we love wargames i can understad it. But you don´t answer the big questions in the article. "true is ugly" We dislike true and meke the ostrich strategy.


I believe that two people can look at the same data and draw two different conclusions; that either wargaming is dying or wargaming is thriving. The arguments hinge upon the question "how is wargaming doing compared to what?" If we're trying to compare wargaming to the "glory days" of the 70's, then it is dying. If you compare wargaming to video games, then it is dying. If you compare wargaming to where it stood when AH "died" and GMT nearly went under, then it is thriving. If you see the number of games being produced compared to the 90's, it is thriving. If you compare wargaming to DVDs, it is dying. If you compare wargaming to VCRs, it is thriving.

The point I'm trying to make is that wargaming has found it's level in the gaming community, and trying to evangelize to bring back the days when Eurogames weren't around, Hasbro didn't own every mass produced game in sight, D&D was just arriving on the scene, and video games were limited to a brand named Atari, is probably going to be a waste of our time. Games like Memoir '44 and sites like The Geek will do more for wargaming than any prosletizing or advertising that we could do. Remaining an active voice in the gaming community is more important than trying to reach non-gamers entirely.

Is that an ostrich scenario? Maybe. However, we aren't exactly trendy, are we? Except for Curt Schilling, there aren't many celebrities that line up and say that they play wargames, nor are there millionaires who line up their fortunes to try to grab shelf space at the local mega-mart for the latest Columbia block game offering. Why waste money when the effect is minimal, when directing money toward constructive items (better games and games that are a step up from Memoir '44) is probably a better investment?

Besides, if this were the "shortwave radio is dying" discussion, then there would be plenty of people to point out that while the main era of shortwave has passed, it's not like the bands are silent. There's plenty out there to listen to, its just not ye olde Radio Moscow and Co. that many of us remembered from childhood.
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