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Subject: Is Supply Line a wargame? Should we call it one? rss

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Hi there fellow gamers.

This isn't a shameless plug. Well, not entirely a shameless plug.

Over the last three years we have been developing a 4X game based on logistic supply for ground-based expansion which include a pretty large military aspect (You can see more about the current call for playtesters at Supply Line - Final Public Playtest - Includes PnP Assets).

We are calling it a Logistics War Game - and yet someone in the team said 'it's not a war game - it doesn't follow the normal set of rules for war games'. I'm not sure if that's true or not.

I would really like a good steer from you war-gamers as to whether or not Supply Line is a war game and whether or not it is a bad idea to claim to be one. (The rules are available in the download on the playtest link above).

Thanks for reading!
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Peter S.
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So, kinda like Quartermaster General in that respect? You'll hear people say no. Ignore 'em.

Rather, the term "wargame" to some folks means something very general (i.e., generally but not always using the theme of real-world armed conflicts) and to some folks means something more specific (i.e., a detailed simulationist approach to specific historic conflicts either at the scale of individual battles or at the scale of specific campaigns). It's good to recognize that the term "wargame" will convey this second meaning to some folks, and that anyone buying the game with this second meaning in mind will be frustrated when that's not what they receive, but I wouldn't advocate the term being restricted to a narrow definition. Just take care to be clear in your presentation and box-copy what the person will be getting and, other than the debate that's about to erupt here, you should be fine.
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Brian Train
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This is a very interesting idea, as logistics usually gets the short end of the stick in wargames.
I don't know if you are aware of the old game Logistics Command, but it runs along similar lines (and was not for casual players, but more of a training aid, or an introduction to concepts in supply line management).
Don't worry about people whinging that it isn't a wargame - Peter has it right.

Brian
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Brian Train
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Fine with me Scott - I am wearing my Flak Jacket of Indifference.

Brian
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Mike Hoyt
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westbrookgamer wrote:

We are calling it a Logistics War Game - and yet someone in the team said 'it's not a war game - it doesn't follow the normal set of rules for war games'. I'm not sure if that's true or not.

I would really like a good steer from you war-gamers as to whether or not Supply Line is a war game and whether or not it is a bad idea to claim to be one.


I wouldn't agree there is such a thing as "normal set of rules for war games"...there is enough variety now that this just isn't true. Where I would be unlikely to call your game a wargame is in the subject. Logistics is certainly a part of war, but your game doesn't really model conventional logistics, it's more of an abstract with a military theme.

Now, does it matter? Well, you cared enough to ask and I find that respectful and appreciate it. You'll have to see what kind of response you get and make your decision accordingly.

But I suspect the more practical question is how does calling it a wargame (or not) help/hinder you in finding an audience? And that's a tough call (again IMHO)... the theme is pretty heavy and integrated for an Abstract, but your team member is correct in that it's not what most of us would consider a wargame. Perhaps it is telling that only one member of your team raised this point? Where did your team come from? Do they play a lot of wargames and think this is another? Or do they come from the Abstract side and just kind of noticed the theme and thought it might be a wargame?

Regardless, it looks interesting and I've left you a suggestion on the Play testing thread. Good luck
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blockhead wrote:
I wouldn't agree there is such a thing as "normal set of rules for war games"...there is enough variety now that this just isn't true. Where I would be unlikely to call your game a wargame is in the subject. Logistics is certainly a part of war, but your game doesn't really model conventional logistics, it's more of an abstract with a military theme.

Now, does it matter? Well, you cared enough to ask and I find that respectful and appreciate it. You'll have to see what kind of response you get and make your decision accordingly.

But I suspect the more practical question is how does calling it a wargame (or not) help/hinder you in finding an audience? And that's a tough call (again IMHO)... the theme is pretty heavy and integrated for an Abstract, but your team member is correct in that it's not what most of us would consider a wargame. Perhaps it is telling that only one member of your team raised this point? Where did your team come from? Do they play a lot of wargames and think this is another? Or do they come from the Abstract side and just kind of noticed the theme and thought it might be a wargame?

Regardless, it looks interesting and I've left you a suggestion on the Play testing thread. Good luck


Thanks for such great feedback from all of you. A while ago two of us (me and Carlos, a co-designer) were hashing out what <b>we thought</b> about the question - and I was probably being out of line, in terms of thinking of Go and Chess as being 'abstract war games' - so in the end, we ended quibbling about how abstract Supply Line is. We had probably drunk way too much coffee, but SL is definitely somewhere on a spectrum!

In my defence, when the game was first worked on, we had tanks and trucks and factories and roads and bridges - i.e. it was far less abstract than it became. We let go of all of that in order to speed up the game and reduce it's complexity. The effect of the change of approach was dramatic - the game plays about 100 times faster now (it was actually unplayable in it's original format - and yes, 100 times is not an exaggeration), and the accounting is down to two columns (rather than a sheet for each building and vehicle).

So, we discovered in this process that abstraction is a necessary feature of any simulation, however we also noticed (and agree) that in the process of abstraction our theme became far less apparent regardless of the fact that the game was never like other war-games in it's rules.

We are not regular war-gamers. Matt (who made the point) is far more of a war-gamer and so his opinion had strength. He really liked Supply Line - just said, "it's not a war-game". Another play-tester (Rosy) suggested that calling it a war game would be a disincentive for her, because she associates war games with thousands of cardboard chits, thick tomes of inexplicable rules, and weeks of play.

So, in light of the degree of (evolved) abstraction, and in light of the lack of similarity of other war-games, I'm thinking we should drop the 'war-game' tag.

Thanks again to you all for your intelligent and kind thoughts on this!

Oh!! And a grateful shout out to Peter and Brian for mentioning Quartermaster General and Logistics Command, neither of which I was familiar with. They both look interesting, but quite distinct from Supply Line.

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Peter S.
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Hey, you're welcome!
 
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ltmurnau wrote:
Fine with me Scott - I am wearing my Flak Jacket of Indifference.


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Steven Mitchell
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I don't know what you have to say, it makes no difference anyway: whatever it is, I'm against it!
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blockhead wrote:
westbrookgamer wrote:

We are calling it a Logistics War Game - and yet someone in the team said 'it's not a war game - it doesn't follow the normal set of rules for war games'. I'm not sure if that's true or not.

I would really like a good steer from you war-gamers as to whether or not Supply Line is a war game and whether or not it is a bad idea to claim to be one.


I wouldn't agree there is such a thing as "normal set of rules for war games"...there is enough variety now that this just isn't true. Where I would be unlikely to call your game a wargame is in the subject. Logistics is certainly a part of war, but your game doesn't really model conventional logistics, it's more of an abstract with a military theme.


This is about right. I'm one of the fuddy-duddies Peter talks about when it comes to such labels — more as a matter of precision than because there is some 'ideal wargame' which all real wargames imperfectly manifest. And not being a wargame is no slight in my mind; being a wargame doesn't really come with any privileges.

But for me it's not a matter of what the rules contain, but what they are attempting to do. If they're attempting to depict military combat by modelling actual decisions and results, it's a wargame. A game can be quite simple and abstract a ton of things and still fit that definition. Or it can be very complex.
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westbrookgamer wrote:
This isn't a shameless plug. Well, not entirely a shameless plug.

I missed the part that isn't.

Seriously, it would save your time and ours if you dispensed with that in future. You're doing a game, you're going to plug it, and many in this forum are interested in that sort of game. No need to be coy. Tell us about it and skip the "should we call it a wargame" bit (it's a distraction that adds nada).
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Barry Harvey
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Are wargamers your target market?
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Leo Zappa
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caracfergus wrote:
Are wargamers your target market?


The most relevant response yet. Know who your target market is and build your messaging so that it is aimed clearly at that target. If you call your game a wargame, that will send different signals to different audiences. To a Eurogaming audience, it will likely conjure visions of direct conflict, thick rule books, and long play times, which would be a turn off for many in that crowd. To a wargaming audience, they will tend to look for certain things they expect in a wargame, and if they don't find them, they will likely experience cognitive dissonance which will leave them unsatisfied. Better that you leave the wargame tag off of this game so as not to unfavorably bias potential customers.
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desertfox2004 wrote:
caracfergus wrote:
Are wargamers your target market?


The most relevant response yet. Know who your target market is and build your messaging so that it is aimed clearly at that target.


Agreed. And to that end it occurred to me to look at westbrookgamer's collection: Euros and Thematic games. Nothing wrong with that, but unless designer Ben Griffen's experience is vastly different, it's a good bet that the only thing wargame about this is that has a war setting and it's on a hex map.
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