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Subject: Is Space Hulk a "war game"? rss

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Ken B.
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It was recently brought to my attention that at least a certain group of users consider this game to be a wargame. Not just a war-themed, or conflict-themed game, but an actual, proper "wargame".


Here is the thread where I first became aware of this (check page 3 or 4, I believe, as the thread itself does not initially concern itself with this idea):

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/158051



The notion to me is strange that this would be considered a war game...certainly it's more closely related to its other dungeon-crawl brethren, such as HeroQuest, Descent, Doom: The Boardgame (heavy correlation), Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel, and others?


Dungeon Crawl/Quest games such as this...they aren't wargames, are they? Conflict-based, mission-based, sure. There's shootin', and killin'....


But do these things alone make a war game?


What about the fact that it's on a grid-based "dungeon" so to speak? Does this have any impact on your consideration? I realize that Warhammer 40K with its miniatures and ruler-based gameplay is a full-on wargame...


But this?



I'd be interested in hearing opinions on this.
 
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Paul DeStefano
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I wouldn't have labelled it such, but I guess for some it fits. I can see where they're coming from.

Of course, some people think David Hasselhoff is a Pop Star.
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Eric Jome
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I personally for many years felt that the term wargame applied to only one very specific game type; painted miniatures used to play through battle scenarios in tabletop games. Warhammer 40k for example.

Games played with many paper chits on hexagons that re-enact historical battles or wars were, in my mind, "historical wargames" or (very technically) "conflict simulations" if they were highly historically accurate.

A "wargame" is any game that has direct battles as it's central theme. Scale is probably not relevant - squad on squad is a wargame as well as galactic empire versus galactic empire.

A game about war. Little things (miniatures, chits, whatever) trying to kill each other violently in battles, skirmishes, and other conflicts. Clearly many people consider any game that thematically fits this description a "wargame".

Thus, Space Hulk is a wargame. Heroscape is a wargame. Mutant Chronicles is a wargame. They are games about war.

Note - "dungeon exploration" games isn't really a commonly recognized category. If you could find a way for this to achieve the collective meaning of "wargame" you might be able to reclassify Space Hulk and it's relatives. Even then, I think many people would consider it a pre-requisite to have a fantasy theme. Sword and sorcery isn't viewed as a wargame in general, unless the scale ranges up to Battlesystem.

Also, there is a definite group of people who consider only "conflict simulations" to be "wargames"... I assume they take the more historical, mainstream approach to the term, as in "The Pentagon has played through many wargames to prepare for a conflict in the Taiwan straight."
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Ken B.
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Heh--for all the guff that ATers take for not being able to more firmly define the genre, it seems wargamers have their own difficulties sometimes...




I would think you'd have to paint with a very broad brush to tar all games with violent conflict as being wargames. Though perhaps there is some sort of distinction between the terms "wargame" and "consim".

I've seen wargamers cling to the "consim" definition fairly fervently when discussing wargames--historical accuracy, distaste for fantasy/sci-fi themes, et al--so perhaps that clouds my vision.


I mean, I suppose when talking about it in a general sense, it fits--two sides with asymmetrical goals...troops who try to move into position to destroy the enemy...



Perhaps we do need to define the "dungeon crawl" better. For me, the term covers such games as HeroQuest and Descent but also any game that uses the same "mechanics" regardless of theme--including Doom, Space Hulk, and their brethren.


I think the biggest differentiator is the element of "exploring". In most wargames, there is no exploring--the map and everything in it is common knowledge, and is only important in terms of strategic positions that it offers. In a game like Doom, exploring is the heart of the game. You often don't win by "killing all foes" but by accomplishing some location-based goal--usually the 'exit' to the level, ship, dungeon, what have you.
 
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Anthony Simons
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Geosphere wrote:
Of course, some people think David Hasselhoff is a Pop Star.


If he isn't a popstar he must be an actor, though I doubt very much either are true:

 
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Space Hulk straddles two genres... war and Ameritrash. It's all good.

But, for a better game than Space hulk go out on eBay and locate Legions of Steel. Much more war gamey than Space Hulk and a whole lot cheaper.
 
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franklincobb wrote:
The notion to me is strange that this would be considered a war game...certainly it's more closely related to its other dungeon-crawl brethren, such as HeroQuest, Descent, Doom: The Boardgame (heavy correlation), Mutant Chronicles: Siege of the Citadel, and others?

I think people might elevate Space Hulk to wargame status simply because it's a) it's not a dungeon crawl, and b) it's not a dicefest. You don't really need a strategy in those other games, you just bash monsters and eat cheetos, perhaps stopping briefly to talk about wrestling or cube confusion or low calorie beer.

Anyoo, a dungeon crawl generally has a party versus monsters, usually with a large advantage given to the party, whereas Space Hulk is a balanced 2-on-2 game. It also has a wargamey simulation element, I reckon, through the use of blips and the timer.

franklincobb wrote:
I realize that Warhammer 40K with its miniatures and ruler-based gameplay is a full-on wargame...

But this?

I'd be interested in hearing opinions on this.

I'd say Space Hulk is more of a wargame than 40K. 40K is a minis game in need of an activation system, and closer to the beer and pretzels end of the scale. You can have an enjoyable game of 40K by drowning the table in terrain and stabbing anyone who deviates from the targeting rules, but Space Hulk is a solid game right out of the box.

So, yah, I can see Space Hulk as a wargame. If Ogre is, Space Hulk is.
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