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Subject: Building a Balanced Wargaming Resume and Collection/Taxonomy rss

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Mark Huberty (General Trashy Meeples the Ambigamer)
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I have some limited experience with the wargaming hobby and am fortunate to live in close proximity to and boast membership in the flourishing wargaming club the First Minnesota Historical Wargame Society. Time to take advantage of that opportunity and expand that limited experience. I would like to game both broadly and deeply. Broadly in the sense that I would like to sample representative games of the major categories of the wargame taxonomy. Deeply in the sense that I would like to play these relatively few games many times and become marginally competitive in them. If you are so inclined, please help me build that taxonomy and then populate it with a few exceptional games.

It seems to me that wargaming can be broken down into conflict, scale, primary gameplay mechanisms, and theater. Am I missing anything?

Conflicts are relatively easy to delineate. I won't cover all of them here but if you want to laud a particular game as the best of a conflict, feel free to do so.

Theater would include land, sea and air. This might be further broken down. Land could be separated into infantry, armor, etc...Sea into surface, sub-surface, etc...Air into air-air, air-surface, etc...Additional categories for combined operations, space, etc... should probably be included as well.

Scale would feature tactical, operational and strategic. This could be further discretized as well with grand tactical, grand strategic, etc...

Mechanism is probably going to be the most fluid taxonomy. The major categories that come to mind include traditional hex-and-counter, CDG, area-impulse and block. I'm sure I'm missing quite a few. Feel free to add to these.

I plan to take the input here and articulate the taxonomy preferred by the wargaming community of BGG.

I also hope that forum participants will provide me with some of the best/favorite/classic examples of each category to build my wargaming experience and collection. I will also use these examples to illustrate the categories so that future neophytes like myself can find recommendations on places to start based on their interests.

Thanks
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Mike Hoyt

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That's an ambitious project. And I think you're going to have trouble tabulating the results.

You could do a BGG poll, which would require a lot of work to set up (you'd need essentially a question for each combination of Conflict, Scale, Theater and Mechanism (re-ordered to fit my own sense of correct order, and then you'd need offer choices within each question that you think folks might want). Still, you'd at least end up results that would be easy to tabulate and refer back to. Maybe after you get enough replies here you'd have a base to compose such a poll with?

It would be great to have some sort of poll like this as an on-gong living object, be fun to see how it changes over time. Maybe BGG should consider it as an enhancement. It would be interesting information, just a bear to compile via something like this thread...



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Jeb
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What is the reason for the project? If you are young and interested in the hobby would just play what you like and let your interests drive what you do.

I'm 52 and have been playing since I was 12 and feel like I have a pretty broad and diverse view of the hobby without doing anything special.
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James Thompson
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I lose all the games... It's fun but!
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You're wanting to hunt, catch, stuff and mount a wargame?

That's what "wargame taxonomy" is, right?
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Juan Valdez
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Speed Adict wrote:

You're wanting to hunt, catch, stuff and mount a wargame?

That's what "wargame taxonomy" is, right?


Not exactly. You're thinking "wargame taxidermy," a slightly different, albeit no less challenging and noble pastime.
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Joe Preiser
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jeb123 wrote:
What is the reason for the project? If you are young and interested in the hobby would just play what you like and let your interests drive what you do.

I'm 52 and have been playing since I was 12 and feel like I have a pretty broad and diverse view of the hobby without doing anything special.


Agreed.
Sample different publishers, designers, game mechanics and find out what you like. Don't get hung up on minutiae at the expense of playing time.
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brian hunt
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I just grabbed the first game that portrayed what I found the most interesting. Even now I tend to buy games that way are over my head and my wife yells at me for not playing all my games. I just tell her that they are for when I retire. Once you play a few you will start to find what mechanics/size/era you seem to enjoy the most and everything seems to fall into place. One thing that I have noticed is the "popular" or "hotness" of wargames I seem to agree with, as with family/euro/other board games I tend to not agree with as much.
 
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Jason Cawley
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Mark - you aren't going to get one canonical anything on such a subject, though you are free to pick your own. If you ask 40 wargamers you will get something like 10 answers.

Some random things (by no means all) you've left out - multi player, 2 player. Monster, normal dimensions, rapid playing - small. (This is mostly a map size and counter count distinction - if it has 4 maps and 2000 counters, it is a a monster game e.g.)

Between tactical and operational is the whole genre of grand tactical, especially for pre 1900 games. Any game that depicts 1-3 days of action in the same named battle in the same overall map location, but still has ranged combat would qualify e.g. Terrible Swift Sword or Wellington's Victory focused on Gettysburg and Waterloo respectively. You might still call these "tactical games", but they are quite distinct from e.g. Squad Leader or Conflict of Heroes or Panzer.

Then in "meta" mechanics and genre like distinctions, some are true wargames, some Euro-esque games with some wargame elements (lots of area control or allocation games e.g. are more Euro like), and some are "Ameritrash" (which isn't a pejorative, it just means heavy emphasis on chance for outcomes, light mechanics, short rules, theme and playability focus without much or any concern for historical realism).

Your use of the term "theater" isn't normal in the hobby, where theater can just mean e.g. set in the Pacific vs Europe or just the eastern front in WW2. Yes there are air games, naval games, land warfare focused games, and combined arms focused games. Those are usually just called something like topic or branch (meaning, of service) rather than "theater". This is just a quibble, but might help you avoid some misunderstandings of your use of the term "theater", by others.
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michael dorazio
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Zero responses?
Not even a Case Blue?
 
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Mark Huberty (General Trashy Meeples the Ambigamer)
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Jason,
Thank you for your additions. I am aware that canonical is unrealistic. I also was reluctant to use the term "theater" given its typical geographic use in the history books, but I was unaware of the preferred alternative - thank you for providing some.

To all those suggesting I simply pursue my interests, I am already doing so (Breakout: Normandy and Paths of Glory in particular have struck a chord) and this exercise is merely for entertainment. Consider it a supplement to gaming and not something done at its expense. I am also diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder and these kinds of organizational pursuits are difficult for me to avoid.

Thank you all for your considered replies and happy gaming!
 
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Jason Cawley
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Mark - glad some of it helped, but also please clarify. Are you looking for recommendations for games to focus on, or merely for comment on your classification system? Because so far my remarks have only focused on the latter...
 
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Mark Huberty (General Trashy Meeples the Ambigamer)
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My primary goal is to focus on the latter, to expand and clarify my classification system. My secondary objective is to obtain a few recommendations in the categories that comprise the classification system as I would like to try many different types of games instead of limiting myself to say area-impulse or CDGs as I mostly have thus far.
 
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Jason Cawley
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OK, got it I think.

For card driven games I'd recommend sticking to two titles - Paths of Glory for 2 player, and The Napoleonic Wars for multiplayer.

For hex and counter operational wargames I'd recommend A Victory Lost as an entry game, and Simonitch "year series" after that. That means France '40, Ukraine '43, Normandy, Ardennes, and Holland '44, and soon Stalingrad '42. If you have to pick only a couple of those, choose Ardennes '44 and Ukraine '43.

For land tactical games I'd recommend Conflict of Heroes or Jim Day's Panzer. Both have less on an entry learning curve than something like Advanced Squad Leader but can cover practically any WW2 tactical situation, with maybe a couple of expansions needed at most, and are solidly realistic and playable systems.

For grand tactical games, I'd recommend two systems, Great Battles of the American Civil War (simpler than Napoleonics, includes playable scale and monster titles), and Simplified Great Battles of History for medieval and ancient warfare.

If you want a simple, easy entry and playable air game that works well multiplayer, I'd try Blue Max. Truly realistic games more complex than that generally need mods and are harder to get into.

Won't cover all your categories (get someone who knows them better to give you block game recommendations e.g.), but it will give you some ideas. FWIW...



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Mark Huberty (General Trashy Meeples the Ambigamer)
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Jason,
Exactly what I was looking for - thank you so much!
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