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Subject: GMT's Churchill on War on the Rocks rss

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Michael Peck
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I'm pleased to announce that my review of Churchill has been published by the defense policy site War on the Rocks (might be their first hobby wargame review). https://warontherocks.com/2018/01/shall-fight-tabletop-game-...

Michael
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Kevin L. Kitchens
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In spite of a couple of unnecessary political jabs, an excellent review of an excellent game. Thanks for sharing.

Of course on reading the comments of Churchill supporting Stalin against a common enemy, it did bring to mind how folks of a certain ideology were forced to hold their nose and support one candidate to hopefully bring about the defeat of the opposing candidate.

And as I type that now, I realize it could safely be said about both sides
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Steve Boone
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Your review of the game was very good. It makes me take a second look at a game I thought I’d have no interest in.

OTOH, a “seasoned diplomat” that is ineffective, or possibly even contrary, to the overall national strategy should have left sooner. Iran bears this out
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Andrew B
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Such a well written and apropos review! Congratulations!

I enjoyed it so much that I ended up reading some of your non-tabletop articles. Good stuff!
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Wendell
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Nice review, Michael - though I must admit it never occurred to me to describe Churchill by comparing it to Candy Land and poker!

I do like this quote... “If Hitler invaded Hell, I would make at least a favorable reference to the devil in the House of Commons.”
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Bruce Geryk
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Interesting review, Michael. I just throw in my usual caution:

"The ultimate lesson of Churchill is that diplomacy matters."

Absolutely. The ultimate lesson of Churchill is that diplomacy matters in the world constructed for that game. You can't necessarily take the lessons of the game and apply them to real life, because I could design a model where the opposite is true.
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JPotter - Bits77
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Brooski wrote:
You can't necessarily take the lessons of the game and apply them to real life, because I could design a model where the opposite is true.


I'd like to see that. In a game, not so much in real life; in games the disasters are confined to tabletops.

In the case of Churchill, the lessons of life were applied to a game, not the other way 'round.
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Bruce Geryk
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aesthetocyst wrote:

I'd like to see that. In a game, not so much in real life; in games the disasters are confined to tabletops.

You could design the game so that the US has more incentive to go it alone in the Pacific, structure the victory points so that the British need to take the brunt of the fighting in the West, the war takes longer, the Russians are bruised, and US unilateralism allows the US to emerge with a stronger position vis-a-vis the other two Powers by war's end.

aesthetocyst wrote:

In the case of Churchill, the lessons of life were applied to a game, not the other way 'round.

That's actually precisely my point: the lessons are lessons of history, not of the game. If you design a game with lessons you believe you learned from history, then those lessons will simply be historical presumptions codified in game terms. What games can't do is predict alternate outcomes, because the circumstances of those outcomes will be based on assumptions and parameters baked into the game (e.g the designer's world, not the actual one). Churchill doesn't show that diplomacy matters - history does.
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Alex Berry
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The lesson then seems to be don't crush the Axis, but build up overwhelming political support in minor countries.
 
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Mark Herman
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Tuttle757 wrote:
The lesson then seems to be don't crush the Axis, but build up overwhelming political support in minor countries.


I would reference you to the body of play out there and session reports that see it differently. When the players ignore the war and play the politics unless one player dominates, its anyones game, hence poor strategy. The game does postulate that the path for UK victory favors a political game, but when that prevails its because the US did not get them under control. Game balance is based on the players. If you do not act in your own self interest within the bounds of an alliance you end up with a broken alliance, something that all sides feared.

Mike is using the game to make his point, but not the one that I was making. That said, I like his description of the game for a non-game audience. The game is what it purports to be a game around alliance politics and national interests.

Mark
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Brandon
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Brooski wrote:
aesthetocyst wrote:

I'd like to see that. In a game, not so much in real life; in games the disasters are confined to tabletops.

You could design the game so that the US has more incentive to go it alone in the Pacific, structure the victory points so that the British need to take the brunt of the fighting in the West, the war takes longer, the Russians are bruised, and US unilateralism allows the US to emerge with a stronger position vis-a-vis the other two Powers by war's end.

aesthetocyst wrote:

In the case of Churchill, the lessons of life were applied to a game, not the other way 'round.

That's actually precisely my point: the lessons are lessons of history, not of the game. If you design a game with lessons you believe you learned from history, then those lessons will simply be historical presumptions codified in game terms. What games can't do is predict alternate outcomes, because the circumstances of those outcomes will be based on assumptions and parameters baked into the game (e.g the designer's world, not the actual one). Churchill doesn't show that diplomacy matters - history does.


With all due respect, you can make similar arguments against history books. The content of the book is merely the historical presumptions of the author codified in language. The alternative goals etc that you list in the beginning are similar to the various perspectives or points that an author tries to drive home, that is, their hypothesis. Unfortunately, these historical hypotheses cannot be tested as in science. However, in both cases, game and book, the reader/player brings their own knowledge and presumptions to bear, allowing them to mentally test the outcomes/conclusions.

In this sense, one can find lessons in a game, but one must recognize, as you point out, that the lessons are in fact the ideas that the designer wanted to explore, just as an author might explore some new angle. The difference is just that with a game you can physically play out the dynamics of a situation rather than depending on the author's static narrative.
 
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I had a plan...
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Congratulations Michael.
 
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Lawrence Hung
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Sometimes I feel I am baking the rules of the game into the world and try to manipulate things to fit in...
 
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