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Subject: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro values rss

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Andrew C
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The production quality of wargame components is clearly on the rise. Most publishers are bringing up the level of their quality, but there are a few standouts, particularly among small publishers.

d10-1 A few years ago, it was L2 Design Group that really pushed the envelope of wargame production values, with large counters with outstanding artwork, large colorful glossy charts and tables, nice unique boxes, and beautiful map graphics. The Russian Campaign (fourth and fifth editions), Streets of Stalingrad (third edition), Bitter Woods (fourth edition) are great examples of this.

For example, check out BW's counters:



And SoS's map (though there really aren't any great pictures of it on the Geek)



In recent years, though, other publishers have surpassed even L2's high standards.

d10-2 Simmons Game's Bonaparte at Marengo is really attractive, with its long, narrow wooden blocks and mounted 'aged' map. It quite intentionally, and sucessfully, achieved the look of an antique battle map.



And Simmon's set the bar even higher with its sequel, Napoleon's Triumph. The mounted map and long wooden blocks remained, but they added metal flags for important commanders and two copies of a full color rulebook.



d10-3 Valley Game's recently produced an incredible version of Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. It includes a colorful and innovative 'jigsaw puzzle' mounted map, custom wooden dice, thick and colorful round and hexagonal counters, gorgeous cards, stand-up generals, and a full color, glossy rulebook.

 


d10-4 And then, out of left field, comes Worthington Games. I recently picked up Clash for a Continent: Battles of the American Revolution and French & Indian War. While I liked the wooden counters, the flimsy map and terrain pieces, and the rather bland rules, charts, and box, had something of a homemade feel to them. It is a fine game, but it will hardly impress a euro game from a component standpoint. The game plays well enough, though, that I ordered another game from Worthington: Prussia's Defiant Stand. This is the game that so surprised me that I felt compelled to write this far-too-lengthy post.



PDS is a block wargame, which, after skimming the rules seems like a cross between a very simple CDG and Columbia's Hammer of the Scots (which is itself a fine, but not ground-breaking game, in terms of production value). But PDS includes a true mounted board, (and its a beauty) a very nice standard box, (no sleeve over a plain box) a glossy full color rulebook as nice a FFG's best, and really nice blocks and stickers (none of which were irregular, poorly die cut, etc).

As I opened the box, I could only say, "wow, how does Worthington do this?" They, and other small wargame publishers have really thrown down the gauntlet for GMT and MMP.

In short, if there is one thing we wargamers should thank Euro games for, its for showing wargame publishers what good production values are all about. Small game publishers seem to get it.

GMT and MMP and Columbia, are you listening?
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Brad Miller
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
They don't need to listen. All of the "I like paper maps" people will continue to buy their games, regardless of shoddy production quality...
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Ryan Powers
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Windopaene wrote:
They don't need to listen. All of the "I like paper maps" people will continue to buy their games, regardless of shoddy production quality...


Yeah, because we're all just lying about actually liking the paper maps.

Idiot. Paper map != Shoddy production. There's a time and a place for mounted and a time and a place for paper. Ditto Blocks vs. Cardboard, both serve different purposes and are best applied in the appropriate situations.

Now cardboard and paper can be done well, or can be done badly. (same with mounted boards and wooden bits) Basing your determination of quality on whether it's a paper map or not is stupid.


EDIT to add:
Note: This is simply in reply to the quoted bit, and not to the original post, which I largely agree with.
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Andrew C
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Windopaene wrote:
They don't need to listen. All of the "I like paper maps" people will continue to buy their games, regardless of shoddy production quality...


Well, its not quite that simple. Paper maps are fine for large (i.e. multimap) games that take a long time to play. If I'm going to leave a game set up for days or weeks, then I'm going to put plexiglass over it anyway so I can move it around.

But mounted maps are great for single map, quicker playing games, if only because they make travel easier.

I don't think that 'not buying' games from the likes of GMT and MMP is a valid choice. First, because they make many of the best wargames, and its about the gameplay first and foremost. Second, because if such a tactic drove either or both of them out of business, the wargame hobby would be sorely hurt.
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Chris Talbot
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
keethrax wrote:
Paper map != Shoddy production. There's a time and a place for mounted and a time and a place for paper. Ditto blocks vs. Cardboard, both server different purposes and are best applied in the appropriate situations..

I agree with this. Just because it's a paper map doesn't mean the map is of poor quality. While many gamers may not like paper maps, I prefer them for most war games. A fully mounted board just doesn't make sense for all games, and mounted boards come with their own share of problems (warping, extra cost, etc.).

Chris
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Barry Kendall
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An interesting topic. It occurs to me that this is a good example of the benefit to both groups, eurogamers and grognards, of the cross-pollination in graphic and component design the results of which gave rise to this post.

Those of us grown old and gray enough will remember the competition between Avalon Hill and SPI in the '70s and early '80s. AH gave us mounted boards and varnished counters, some of which were even 5/8" across instead of 1/2" while SPI councentrated on quantity of production and diverse topics with heavy paper maps, generally less color and 1/2" counters in standard multiples of 100, 200, 255 and 400-counter sheets.

Competition between these two, in addition to consumer expectations stimulated by other early companies such as Game Designers' Workshop prompted an upward trend in graphics and other innovations.

Now we see similar bar-raising in everything from die-cutting and counter thickness to the artistry of maps and boards. We see the use of non-traditional materials in board wargames, such as metal and wood (and even, apparently, Masonite, judging by FFG's Tide of Iron boards).

We see the component style of low-complexity conflict games like "Axis & Allies" transferred to "Tide of Iron," which would probably be taken more seriously by traditionalists if it used counters (they make a mistake in dismissing ToI because of its "toy pieces"). We see games with more texture, color and eye appeal than ever before.

All this is not to say that games themselves are better than they used to be, though I personally think this is often so in the practical sense of available time.

A game such as "Phaseline: Smash" is not likely to be outdone in representing the balance between maneuver warfare, logistics, and time. Such a game is also not likely to be published again any time soon because the past fifteen years have seen a shift in gamers' expectations, partly influenced by euros but also impacted by the pace of modern society, regarding how long a game "should" take.

Personally I think game length is simply a matter of consumer choice; sometimes a long game is necessary to provide the level of representation necessary, for instance, in a detailed historical game. But in general even "wargame" publishers appear to see the economic writing on the wall and are adjusting their marketing to involve more short-duration, single-sitting-playable games.

Regarding publishers who do not seem to be falling in line with heightened standards, I'd argue that GMT, whose identity is at least implied above, is in fact making adjustments: witness their "deluxe boards" (which still, imo, fall short of a quality mounted board, but are at least a move in the right direction) and, most recently, full high-quality mounted boards for their "Commands & Colors: Ancients" line--an excellent development.

As time goes on I fully expect to see this trend continue; it seems essential for the larger companies in order to stay competitive (and bear in mind, these are all still very small enterprises by business standards, and fiscal caution is very necessary). The one drawback is that it puts an increased burden on very small start-up enterprises, which might lead to a decrease in the diversity of games offered to the public.

In this regard, BGG is an invaluable asset to the gaming community in providing information and exposure to such efforts by new and/or obscure designers and companies.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we're living in the golden age, folks.
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Jason Roach
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The paper maps are sometimes the best bet for many wargames. The fact is that a well-done paper map with plexi over it, looks great and has a lot of utility. Actually, I don't know anyone who does not use Plexi or Poster frames with their wargame maps.

-Jason
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Windopaene wrote:
They don't need to listen. All of the "I like paper maps" people will continue to buy their games, regardless of shoddy production quality...

And all of the "I've got more money than sense!" fools will continue to demand higher production values and higher prices, even for games they'll only play a couple of times, while we will buy the cheap paper maps in the cheap games. And we will be the ones actually supporting the hobby and encouraging the small press and low volume designs with the innovative ideas.
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Andrew C
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Barry Kendall wrote:

I've said it before and I'll say it again: we're living in the golden age, folks.


Barry, I too have said the same thing many times on BGG, and considered closing the OP with it. I decided against it over concern of sounding repetitive.

Thanks for saying it for me, I couldn't agree more!
 
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Andrew C
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Wulf Corbett wrote:

And all of the "I've got more money than sense!" fools will continue to demand higher production values and higher prices...


Geez, I hope that's not directed at me (though I am certainly guilty of it at times).

I certainly agree that a mounted map, for example, is not required in a wargame. In fact, it doesn't even factor into my decision to buy or not to buy. But overall component quality (color rules, nice glossy charts, solid graphics etc.) certainly is appreciated.

In fact, my last two wargame purchases Totensonntag, and World at War: Eisenbach Gap are standard hex and counter faire, and from a small publisher.

So...am I forgiven for extolling the virtues of nice components?
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Cleitus the Black wrote:
In fact, my last two wargame purchases Totensonntag, and World at War: Eisenbach Gap are standard hex and counter faire, and from a small publisher.

So...am I forgiven for extolling the virtues of nice components?

Nice components are good, in fact the recent upsurge in beautifully colourful components is the true mark of this golden age (although some people ought to calm it down so we can actually SEE the counters - I'm looking at Napoleonic Battles: Austerlitz 1805, Avalanche Press shake , but I'm having to look really close!). DTP and computerised design have made the new games possible.

But the idea that mounted boards and boxes full of plastic toys are part of the same trend ignores the fact that innovation and progress come from the low end of the market, from companies and individuals who couldn't afford to produce mounted maps - or, for that matter, the download & print designers, who can't afford to print their own maps at all!

True, there's a lot of dross in the new stuff, and some poor quality. But there's a LOT of it! Sturgeon's law might say that 90% of everything is crap, but the more there is, the more of that 10% there is!
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Cleitus the Black wrote:
But overall component quality (color rules, nice glossy charts, solid graphics etc.) certainly is appreciated.

I suppose I'm the opposite in some ways. I really don't care about full-colour rules. B&W is perfectly fine, and I think it's generally a waste to offer full-colour rules when they're not needed. I'd rather see that extra time and effort being put into making sure the rules are clear. I'm not sure I understand why it matters if the rules are in colour or not.

I like war game to look nice, but I'd rather see simple, practical images than images that make the counters or maps confusing.

Chris
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Windopaene wrote:
They don't need to listen. All of the "I like paper maps" people will continue to buy their games, regardless of shoddy production quality...


Is this a new record for threadjacking?

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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Cleitus the Black wrote:
In fact, my last two wargame purchases Totensonntag, and World at War: Eisenbach Gap are standard hex and counter faire, and from a small publisher.


I've noticed that quality is going up, AND cost has dropped to zero, because Andrew is buying all the wargames I could want before I have to buy them for myself. Looking forward to playing both of those, Andrew!
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
ctalbot wrote:

I suppose I'm the opposite in some ways. I really don't care about full-colour rules. B&W is perfectly fine, and I think it's generally a waste to offer full-colour rules when they're not needed. I'd rather see that extra time and effort being put into making sure the rules are clear. I'm not sure I understand why it matters if the rules are in colour or not.



It depends on the rules in question. But color can help in lots of ways.

Different color text can have different meanings (this is doable in B&W as well with bold/italics/etc).

But, and to me more importantly, using color allows for more clarity in graphics and examples. And a few good pictures to go with examples can sometimes make all the difference in the world for a sticky bit of rules.

I would agree if you're not going to make full use of the possibilities of color, I'd rather save a bit and go B&W. But if you do use color well, the added clarity can be well worth a couple extra $$ from me when I buy the game.

The flipside is some rules get so cluttered with pictures and such because they're in color that they actually become less useful.
 
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
I think MMP is already hip to this. Look at the counters for Fire in the Sky: The Great Pacific War 1941-1945 and the upcoming The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen.

The maps will never be mounted for the bigger wargames because they would weigh several pounds, cost a fortune, and fill up most of a box. However, the graphics on wargame maps are much better than they used to be.

LocknLoad's games are very attractive and have tried various ways to create visually interesting games. Totensonntag has a mounted board and great design.

Columbia and GMT are definitely lagging behind a bit in the sexy department. Eastfront is saved by my interest in the subject and a great map, but the rest of the Columbia block games are absolute dogs from a material standpoint.

I hope GMT catches the fever because some of their designs are my favorite games.


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Brad Miller
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
keethrax wrote:


Idiot. Paper map != Shoddy production. There's a time and a place for mounted and a time and a place for paper.


I disagree. And you can keep your name-calling to yourself plz
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Windopaene wrote:
keethrax wrote:


Idiot. Paper map != Shoddy production. There's a time and a place for mounted and a time and a place for paper.


I disagree. And you can keep your name-calling to yourself plz


When you stop making foolish blanket statements that imply the same thing about those that disagree, I'll be glad to.

EDIT: How about this, I'll soften it to the following:

Blanket statements like your original make the person posting such statements look like an idiot. Feel free to apply it to yourself or not.

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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
I agree that name calling is not needed, but how can you think that a paper map is never appropriate? Case Blue would cost two mints (it already cost one) and weigh a ton with mounted maps.

Windopaene wrote:
keethrax wrote:


Idiot. Paper map != Shoddy production. There's a time and a place for mounted and a time and a place for paper.


I disagree. And you can keep your name-calling to yourself plz


edit: corrected the effect it would have on Case Blue's price
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Cleitus the Black wrote:

really nice blocks and stickers (none of which were irregular, poorly die cut, etc).


(addition: This refers to Prussia's defiant stand)
I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with the quality of the blocks themselves. They are quite small and there were some size differences between them. Nothing game breaking, but still. I guess smaller size makes sense since map can get quite crowded.

Other than that the game looks great.
 
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At least Clash of Arms always created games with great map and counters.
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
I find nothing shoddy about the quality of the games from GMT and MMP. The very fact that they are the top two wargame publishers I think speaks for itself in terms of the quality of their games.

As for paper maps. Let's start with the situation that eurogames have mapboards and most wargames do not. There is a reason for this. Eurogames have much smaller maps and much larger print runs. Both feed into the economics of mapboards. Caylus is a great game but it has a mapboard about the size of a table napkin. I would rather not try and simulate the WW II Pacific Theater of Operations on a map of the size we normally see with most Euros.

Secondly, it simply is not practical for most wargames to have mounted maps in terms of economics. Avalon Hill did it but they did so (aside from the fact that they were owned by a printing company and thus they had lower printing costs) by making their maps smaller. Their mapboards from the 70s and 80s were significantly smaller than the large maps we see published today.

Lastly the standard sized maps for wargames today besides being huge require multple maps. For example the GMT game Army Group North has five 22"x34" & two 17"x22" mapsheets. Now let's imagine how heavy that game would be if it had those 7 maps mounted. You willing to pay $30 to have a game shipped?

In the end if GMT and MMP were to offer their games with mounted mapboards and with paper, I would choose the paper map.
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
BeatPosse wrote:
I agree that name calling is not needed, but how can you think that a paper map is never appropriate? Case Blue would cost two mints (it already cost one) and weigh a ton with mounted maps.

Windopaene wrote:
keethrax wrote:


Idiot. Paper map != Shoddy production. There's a time and a place for mounted and a time and a place for paper.


I disagree. And you can keep your name-calling to yourself plz


edit: corrected the effect it would have on Case Blue's price


But we are generally not talking about monster games. Twilight Struggle, Path's of Glory, , the first two C&C:As, etc. Columbia can get some grief here as well. None of those "Need" a paper map.

I will make blanket statements when they are based upon my criteria. I think that in all of these cases, it is shoddy production. Lots of other companies, (small ones included), are able to give up mounted maps, that don't warp, and that don't raise the price by a noticeable (retail) amount. See: 1960, Hannibal, Simmons games, the Phalanx games, etc.

And you have all proved my point exactly, saying that you do in fact, see paper maps as a good thing, so will continue to buy them. Which is what I said...
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Re: Wargame production quality increasing-matching Euro valu
Windopaene wrote:
But we are generally not talking about monster games. Twilight Struggle, Path's of Glory, , the first two C&C:As, etc. Columbia can get some grief here as well. None of those "Need" a paper map.

None of them need a mounted map, either.

Chris
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Quote:
I've noticed that quality is going up, AND cost has dropped to zero, because Andrew is buying all the wargames I could want before I have to buy them for myself. Looking forward to playing both of those, Andrew!

I guess someone around here had better start carrying his weight and pre-order WaW: Death of the 1st Panzer!
 
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