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Subject: Which medium offers better realism rss

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bruce ross
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I asked this over at TMP and I wanted to ask the same question here.

I have a curiosity question. I'm asking this on a board game forum, so I'm guessing there will be some biased answers (I'm going to ask this on TMP too!)

To anyone who has played squad level WW2 tactical games, which do you think offers the best realism? I'm sure rules have a lot to do with this.

I have VERY little experience in either medium.

I played Conflict of Heroes and found it "gamey" I'm looking at other board games that have some more complexity, but I find myself wanting to play with mini's….6mm

I played Chain of Command. It's a nice set of rules, but the terrain making and setup are a PIA and I just do not want this in my gaming, at least not on that level.

However, I'd be willing to play a mini's game OR a board game that would lend itself to using mini's (Panzer 2nd Ed for example). There are cheap and easy ways to throw down some terrain on a small map. Part of my issue was with CoC we were playing on a larger 6'x6' board.

Love to hear what people who have tried both what their experiences are.

Thanks
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Jason Cawley
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First, I don't even know what TMP is. Second, your question is not transparently clear - are you asking about game systems or genres or mediums (board wargame vs computer game e.g.)?

The most realistic of the tactical games out right now is probably Jim Day's Panzer. The most involved for infantry combat is Advanced Squad Leader, and it is superior to the previous in that regard, and by far superior in the availability of historical scenarios, variety of maps, and the like. Panzer beats it on the realism of its armor war modeling, but you have to do more work to create realistic fights because the game designers haven't (yet) done that for you - most of the included scenarios are kind of cookie cutter symmetrical and simplistic, more a set of tutorials to learn all the game's systems than real historical fights.

Advanced Tobruk is also pretty realistic, and Combat Commander is a well developed system along ASL lines but faster to get into (in part from more simple situations, lower counter density, cards streamlining options etc), but I wouldn't call the last more realistic than ASL. More playable is its real focus.

In my opinion, none of the other games you mention are in the same realism league, among board wargames. On the computer, Combat Mission is in the same league, no other title out there seriously is.

One man's opinion, of course, and assuming I understood the question...
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Kent Reuber
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TMP = The Miniatures Page http://theminiaturespage.com

WW2 is going to require a lot of terrain, as being in the open is a bad idea. So, yes, you're going to need a lot of terrain pieces for miniatures, and that's going to make for longer setups.

Because minis don't stack like cardboard counters, you may need to use larger hexes (or the equivalent ground scale) so that the same number of units fit in the same area as a board game.

For the ASL system, there were a couple of modules with enlarged hexes so you could play with minis: Streets of Fire: ASL Deluxe Module 1 and Hedgerow Hell: ASL Deluxe Module 2.

Other tactical boardgames to look at:

Combat Commander Series card driven, infantry only
Band of Brothers
Advanced Squad Leader lots of expansions, but lots of rules
Lock 'n Load Tactical
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Owen Edwards
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I've been flirting with Too Fat Lardies (CoC, IABSM) and Bolt Action. Strong preference, realism + complexity + setup/investment wise, for boardgames. Do love my minis though.
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I'm sure many will disagree, but to me playing with chits on a map with a hexgrid overlay makes for an engrossing and very enjoyable game. Any time I've played with miniatures it has felt more like a toy, not a game.

(your mileage may vary)
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Matt Irsik
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Having been trying to find the "right" WW2 skirmish rules for over 40 years, my advice would be to skip the time/money investment and go with boardgames for WW2 tactical combat. I've played Angriff, Arc of Fire, Disposable Heroes, IABSM, and 30+ more set of rules and they fall into two categories: 1) terribly complex with hidden movement (which is ironic since well painted miniatures should be seen!), lots of charts/tables, etc., and 60 second turns that take over an hour to game, or 2) so simple that it becomes a Hollywood action epic. There just seems to be no middle ground and most miniatures rules handle fire discipline poorly, the morale rules are weird at times, and you never feel like it was actually a WW2 small unit action. What doesn't help is that most WW2 gamers insist on a lot of vehicles (why pay for all of these things if they're not going to be used) being on the board and minimum use of artillery (the rules complicate the game).

Now this doesn't even begin to address the purchase of the miniatures, painting, and the terrain that is needed, where you can easily plunk down $500 for a 3-4 player game. Boardgames do all of this for you for a minimum of effort other than reading the rules. There's also the mindset of miniatures and board gamers which factors into the equation. A board gamer is going to look at the terrain and move their cardboard counters to minimize the effects of enemy fire, often taking several turns for a plan to take effect. I've seen literally hundreds of miniature gamers that won't do that. If the choice is between using hidden movement, then taking 10-15 turns to get into position for an assault, or charging out into the open with all of their painted figs to kill things, the latter will win out every time.

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Mike Hoyt

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acctingman wrote:

To anyone who has played squad level WW2 tactical games, which do you think offers the best realism? I'm sure rules have a lot to do with this.


Yep.

I don't think there is any much inherent advantage in miniatures vs board-games in terms of realism. Miniatures have a huge advantage in terms of aesthetics, board-games in terms of cost. That's the big distinction.

Range and Scale can be an issue with miniatures. Even with 6mm figures, if we figure that each individual is 2 yards tall, that means 100 yard range translates to 300mm, or almost 1 foot of table space. You mentioned a problem with a 6 foot square table? Well that still means nobody was ever more than 600 yards away.

Which may not be a problem. A lot of miniatures players use a different ground scale than figure scale and it works out well. And I pretty readily accept the argument that while rifles on a proving range can shoot hundreds of yards, soldiers in combat rarely engaged at those longer ranges and thus a Squad Level engagement can realistically be done on a small table.

So with that all said, your supposition that it comes down to rules is correct. Here I would caution against the occasionally seen fallacy that the more complex the rules the more realistic the action. Not true! What's important is what aspects of the fight you think need to be modeled; Morale, C&C, Troop Quality, Weather, etc. Different rule-sets model these to different degrees and in different ways. That becomes a matter of personal taste, as is the extent to which you want to include random events.

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David Janik-Jones
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Quote:
To anyone who has played squad level WW2 tactical games, which medium do you think offers the best realism?

Either, or both, if you prefer. Neither one offers realism in any sense of the word.

Both miniatures and hex-and-counter can offer some great games at this scale (great will vary from person to person, depending on what you want to see modelled, since one man's "that's great" is another man's "that's stupid!")

John Hill, long-time grognard, designer of fame, and player of both types, and designer of Squad Leader said it best when talking about realism ...

Quote:
"The whole hobby of wargaming is a gigantic fudge. In absolutely no way can we simulate the horror and fear and confusion of a battlefield. Any person who believes we are obtaining "realism" in any game of ours has very little understanding of war. On a realism scale of 1 to 10, the highest possible rating we can hope for with paper and cardboard is a 2. The only way you could possibly approach an accurate simulation of the battle environment and its tension would be if both players had the clear understanding that the loser would be shot."

I've spent 45 years playing this scale of game of both types, probably playing 99% of everything that has ever been produced, looking for the perfect game. I'm now experienced enough to know that doesn't exist, realism is a silly objective to shot for (pun intended) in a wargame, and I'm happy to roll either way if it's a game that appeals to me. Mostly hex-and-counter these days, but I can field a great 10mm infantry-centric battle when asked.

In the end, everyone knows that Combat Commander and Arty Conliffe's CrossFire! are the best, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.
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Crow
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"Realism" is a tough qualifier, as it is generally beholden to the biases of both the listener and speaker.

IMO, the most important trait of realism in a tactical sense is a lack of perfect knowledge, the element of uncertainty and "fog of war".

Given that context, mini's games have it rough. If you are avoiding using a referee system, I'd say board games have the clear advantage here. Combat Commander Series is still a top contender.

Edit: Cross-posted!
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Owen Edwards
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I posted elsewhere on this site, incidentally, on the mechanical biases of each medium - I suggested that whilst there were no inherent advantages to one or the other, certain physical factors meant there was a "slope" in miniatures to gamier tactics (not that boardgames can't be unpleasantly gamey).

re DJJ, "realism" plainly has a wider range of reference than "what did the average soldier feel?" - part of what we(/I?) mean by "realism" is "this presents the technical and tactical problems and opportunities of the situation engagingly and, arguably, accurately". "Realism" and "simulation value" have a cross-over in terms of how we use them. Wargames can meaningfully shed light on aspects of battles or wars (if they can't, please go and tell armed forces of the last 200 years who have been playing them to understand their jobs...what a waste of time!).
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bruce ross
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Thanks for all the comments.

Part of my dilemma is aesthetics and laziness. Every time I see a video review of a board game and see a stack of 3 counters in one hex it's just a huge turn off for me. Then, when I think about miniatures I dread all that terrain and setup.

Maybe it's mini's and a board game setup for me then. Dunno. Have to try some things out and decide.

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Robert Stuart
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For relatively simple rules which give a remarkably realistic effect, you can't beat Band of Brothers: Screaming Eagles. There's been a lot written about this by the game's author and corroborated by game players who have experience with a number of systems. I myself have limited experience with other squad level systems, and a less-than-detailed knowledge of tactical actions in WWII, but I would agree with the author.

For pure tank vs tank action at a distance, the most realistic game I've played is Panzer (second edition).

For realism in the map & terrain, I would recommend the historical modules Advanced Tobruk (e.g., Darkest December, Parker's Crossroads) or Advanced Squad Leader (e.g., Decision at Delst).

For rules complexity and scope, which from what I can see produces in itself a unique level of realism, I would recommend you look at Advanced Squad Leader.
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Robert Stuart
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acctingman wrote:
Thanks for all the comments.

Part of my dilemma is aesthetics and laziness. Every time I see a video review of a board game and see a stack of 3 counters in one hex it's just a huge turn off for me.

If it's any help, the maximum unit stacking in Band of Brothers is two per hex. At the end of a turn you can have as many as three counters on a particular unit -- but at turn's end all but the 'suppression' counters, for infantry and guns, and the 'move' counters, for vehicles, are removed, so that you get a clear picture of the unit layout on the board.

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Martin McCleary
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acctingman wrote:
Thanks for all the comments.

Part of my dilemma is aesthetics and laziness. Every time I see a video review of a board game and see a stack of 3 counters in one hex it's just a huge turn off for me. Then, when I think about miniatures I dread all that terrain and setup.

Maybe it's mini's and a board game setup for me then. Dunno. Have to try some things out and decide.



I would take a look at Strikenet games http://www.strikenet-games.com/.

Before Panzer was a board game it was a mini game. They sell "Panzer Flats" which are very nice top down 1/285 views of WWII tanks, infantry, guns, etc from the major factions. Granted you have to cut and mount them but they are a far better investment than the actual mini's. You can use paper terrain also.

I've done mini's and board games over the years, I strongly prefer board games but will play either depending on the group. What I've noticed with hard core mini guys is they are usually more interested in discussing where they bought the mini, how they painted it, etc. over actually playing a game. So while there's some beautiful work out there I never saw a lot of it getting much use.

I got out of the mini's because I don't like to paint, for me spray paint was fine as I was more interested in the game. After a while I had a pile of lead that wasn't used much and got rid of almost all of it and never looked back.

Mini's are great for small scale tactical actions if the scenario is well thought out but what I see repeatedly are the guys who just line em up and crash into each other.

Another older game you could consider is Tank! (and the expansion) by SPI. It was essentially a miniatures game with counters. It is mini friendly and all you'd need for 1/285 would be a map with larger hexes to accommodate the models (or panzer flats) or you can just skip the hex map and substitute a scale of 1 inch = 50 meters and you're there.

Finally as has been noted neither medium is "more realistic". I served in armor units for 21+ years and there isn't a game out there that comes close. They can be more detailed but it is not the same as realism.

Find something fun and enjoy it.
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M St
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The question has nothing to do with the medium. It's a question of the specific set of rules.
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Lewis Goldberg
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acctingman wrote:
Thanks for all the comments.

Part of my dilemma is aesthetics and laziness. Every time I see a video review of a board game and see a stack of 3 counters in one hex it's just a huge turn off for me. Then, when I think about miniatures I dread all that terrain and setup.

Maybe it's mini's and a board game setup for me then. Dunno. Have to try some things out and decide.



Just relax and read a book instead.
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Michael Lind
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How about Balboa Games H-Hour from 1976?


H-Hour

It's a really old game but it sounds a lot like what you're looking for if it has to be "convertible" to miniatures.

"A game of man-to-man urban combat in World War II featuring German, Russian, and American forces. Each turn is fifteen seconds and each square is 10 feet across."

In fact, I even have a copy available and if you're really interested I'll put it up on the BGG Marketplace for you.



 
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THE MAVERICK
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acctingman wrote:
However, I'd be willing to play a mini's game OR a board game that would lend itself to using mini's (Panzer 2nd Ed for example). There are cheap and easy ways to throw down some terrain on a small map. Part of my issue was with CoC we were playing on a larger 6'x6' board.

Here's your game:



Also available in a World War II version...

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I agree with those who say neither medium is going to be very realistic. But it depends on what you mean by realism, of course. Some people are happy as long as armor and penetration values are as realistic as they can be. But if you want realism from a command & control perspective, both mediums are horribly unrealistic. Both give you perfect knowledge about the terrain, and usually they give you perfect knowledge about the location of units too (realistically, you wouldn't even have perfect knowledge about the location of your own units at all times). Some games give you some lack of control, especially card-driven games like Combat Commander. I haven't played miniature games, but I have a feeling board games tend to have more abstractions like these, and that's probably a good idea if you want realism at the tactical level. Something like the solitaire game Fields of Fire is probably a step in the right direction, because it doesn't give you perfect information about the terrain. I think it does a lot of other things right, too. But I'm still waiting for my copy, so I haven't tried it yet.
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Jon M
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I think you could port chain of command to a hex grid and counters reasonably easily.

A 30 mm hex grid with 1" in the rules equivalent to approx 10 mm gives a pretty good port over to the hex grid for the main weapon ranges, etc. eg 18" becomes 5 hexes apart.

If each team is a 1" counter, junior and senior leaders could be 1/2". You could use a china pencil on the counter to mark casualties and a dice to track shock on each team.

If you had access to a large format printer then you could print out the "board" at A1, so a very quick set up.

Stacking would be limited to teams in the same squad. Command range would be simple enough (4"=same hex,6"=1 hex,9"=2 hexes) so for a leader to be attached to a team they would have to be in the same hex.

Movement would be slightly more tricky but you could dice as normal with a result of 2 or less meaning the unit doesn't move, 3-5 = 1 hex, 6-8 = 2 hexes, etc.

I think CoC gives a lot of the fog of war and imperfect information that you are looking for with the jump off points/deployment and command dice mechanics.
 
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