We're all aware of the half dozen games we consider to be gateway wargames, and unlike other wargames, these games can be found at Toys'rUs and other major online and bricks-and-mortar retailers.
But I recently ran this extremely unscientific poll Poll: Do you think military battle tanks are cool? on the BGG general forums, which I then subjected to an extremely unscientific analysis, and here is what I convinced myself of: while 75% of respondents thought military tanks we cool or sorta cool, a whopping 90% would be interested in a board or card game that involved military tanks.
One interpretation of these numbers is that THE GATEWAY WARGAME has yet to be published.
So, the purpose behind this thread is to see if we can knock together a wargame that will appeal to this untapped audience.
Instead of posting a completely thought-out game concept, call out an element of this new gateway wargame that you think is one of the important ingredients needed to help these boardgamers take the plunge.
Maybe we can fit some or all of these parts together and create the Ultimate Gateway Wargame!
Whatever type of game it is, the player should have the ability to load out his unit (tank, squad whatever) with equipment for the upcoming mission. There should also be a campaign element that allows the player's pieces to become more capable over time.
When my son plays anything (Xbox, Heroscape, X Wing, whatever) he is all about tricking out his units and customizing them for the battle to come. Panzer General (the computer game) had the same allure for me back in the day.
add some more combat resolution mechanics (like differing strengths results in different number/type of dice a la risk or Axis and Allies), add some more terrain with different moving options/problems (difficult/normal/impassable,a double move for 1 unit f.e.), add some infantry stands, different tanks, nations, theaters (for expansion kits - money rules.. eeerh variety) and voila the tank grognards have an easy to learn, family friendly chess like game.
What worked as a gateway for me: Games with 100s of counters, looking awesome (to me, at that time) ("so many little tanks and helicopters! And a rulebook that is only like 40 pages, which is NOTHING compared to any of those RPGs I have been playing lately.").
Maybe piles of tiny plastic minis will work better. Personally I think nice thick cardboard counters can work, and big stacks of counters look very nice in its own way, especially if you mix in a nice selection of colorful thematic status-markers.
If wargames were just about tiny skirmish games (nothing wrong with them!) I am not sure I would ever had noticed the genre at all. Big maps with lots of counters what was made the games stand out compared to other boardgames.
That said, happy to play along, throwing out some ideas
Ok, 3D printing : people who generally know what they're talking about tell me that 3 years from now it'll hit the home market and prices will come down to the magical $199. This means that a viable business model could be to sell a boardgame completely digital - the rules and map/charts in pdf, the dice, miniatures and/or counters as 3D home-printable models, thereby reducing the production and shipping costs significantly. So a gateway game has to have miniatures.
Society : love it or hate it, but there are a lot more hobbies, interests and entertainment options open to kids these days than back in the eighties. Wargames can compete in this environment, but not 6-hour slow yawn-fests. This doesn't mean you have to create no-brain-required game - kids can handle complexity. If you don't believe that grab a Warhammer 40K manual or read a Magic the Gathering strategy article. So a gateway game has to be fast playing and somewhat intricate and a bit more than just checking who can throw the most "6"s
If this all sounds like Memoir '44, that's because the next gateway game will have to be a bit like that. Over 21K people have it marked as owned here on BGG, which I'm pretty sure isn't 10% of actual units sold. Who said wargames didn't sell 100K units anymore like back in the day ? They still do, only the definition of what's a wargame has shifted a bit.
I think that there is no ultimate magic gateway game. E.g. some people evidently will be drawn to miniatures, while other people will be turned off by miniatures. Some people will be drawn to a specific historical battle or war, while others will prefer a more generic or fantasy or science fiction setting. Etc.