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Subject: Explaining what a wargame is. rss

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Greg Moore
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I went into a game store today that I had not been into before. They had a real nice selection of Euro, Ameri....., CCGs, CMGs, and Warhammer. But I did not see a wargame section. I thought maybe I missed it, so I asked the clerk (who friendly and helpful). He told me that the boardgames were not really in sections. It almost seemed as if the clerk had pondered what a wargame was. He then proceeded to name all the Risk and Axis & Allies variants, StarCraft, Doom, and Descent with me saying no after each one. While I have no problem playing any of those, they were not what I meant when I asked for wargames. I then attempted to explain by naming companies like GMT, MMP, and Avalanche Press. He apparently had not heard of them. I was at a loss to actually explain what wargames were. I did see a Command & Colors: Ancients after looking around some more, so someone had stocked a GMT game.

Maybe I should have asked if they had any Historical Simulations.
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Chris Geggus
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You're right - there is no easy, one shot way of explaining a wargame to someone who has no comprehension of what you are talking about. In a perfect world it would be great to have a ready supply in your backpack to pull out and explain, clearly and concisely, exactly what we mean by wargames, but that doesn't happen.

Historical simulation may make non-believers understand better, but maybe even that is still a total mystery to a lot of people. I have, most regretably, found myself saying a number of times:

" Like Risk, but with more accuracy and depth to it. "

I know, shame on me, but how else do you get a message across in a five second window?
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Jeff Thompson
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When you receive a war game in the mail, try explaining what a "war game" is to a six year old.

Well... you see... it's a game about war...

"What is war, daddy?"

Not a more sobering question have I ever been asked.
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Chris Geggus
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Tompy wrote:
She was lucky I was too drunk to spank her.


The wife or the six year old?
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Chris Ferejohn
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Tompy wrote:
When you receive a war game in the mail, try explaining what a "war game" is to a six year old.

Well... you see... it's a game about war...

"What is war, daddy?"

Not a more sobering question have I ever been asked.


Wait until "how do I know if I'm pregnant?"

Well, assuming your six year old is a girl I guess...
 
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Pete Belli
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I agree.

The common "A wargame is like Risk but..." is actually an ideal answer.

Most intelligent people know what Risk is, and that response won't make the other person's eyes glaze over like a lengthy senatorial-style verbal essay on the history of the wargame business.
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Wendell
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Ahiksking wrote:
You're right - there is no easy, one shot way of explaining a wargame to someone who has no comprehension of what you are talking about. In a perfect world it would be great to have a ready supply in your backpack to pull out and explain, clearly and concisely, exactly what we mean by wargames, but that doesn't happen.

Historical simulation may make non-believers understand better, but maybe even that is still a total mystery to a lot of people. I have, most regretably, found myself saying a number of times:

" Like Risk, but with more accuracy and depth to it. "

I know, shame on me, but how else do you get a message across in a five second window?


That's not the worst description, for somebody who wouldn't know US Grant from Cary Grant.
 
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Gary Christiansen
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Somehow I dread the idea of comparing most of the wargames I genuinely like to Risk, but that may be about the simplest means of getting it across to the uninformed. But you'd be amazed how many people I run across who know about Axis & Allies and can comprehend an explanation of a game even more complex tied to a historic battle or war.
 
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Bruce Sponagle
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bleakgeek wrote:
"It is like, playing WW2 and you can win with the Germans"


Substitute "French" with "Germans" and it makes even more sense...
 
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Robert Wilson
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Tompy wrote:
When you receive a war game in the mail, try explaining what a "war game" is to a six year old.

Well... you see... it's a game about war...

"What is war, daddy?"

Not a more sobering question have I ever been asked.



I agree

My 4 year old likes all my " jungle maps" when I am sorting out my new ASL gear , oh and the purple dice in Beyond Valor was a huge hit
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Drew Heath
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dude163 wrote:
oh and the purple dice in Beyond Valor was a huge hit


You see these things Billy? If you throw them and they both have one spot, people DIE! Wanna try it on Mommy? arrrh
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Don Cooper
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My definition of a wargame:

1.More historical than abstract in concept. Defined time periods with specific dates , either minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, years decades, etc ....

2.The map should be geographic in design. Many Eurogames are defined by the absence of a map that is extremely abstract.

3.Use of a randomizing element, such as a die, to detail special events or combat results.

4.A set of rules that are created to illustrate realism as opposed to a rules based on a pre-configured system. The lack of detail indicates abstraction and abstraction creates un-historical results.

5.A wargame based on history will not be balanced in all ways but rather define strengths and weaknesses of the players.

I, for example, would rate "Napoleon’s Triumph" a 1 or maybe a 2 out of five. While "Frederich," which is often considered a Eurogame by many (which I think is wrong), may score a four or five out of five.

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Eric Jome
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Azzarc wrote:
I was at a loss to actually explain what wargames were.


"They are games about historical wars with a lot of attention to historical accuracy. Like a game about a famous battle like Gettysburg or the Battle of the Bulge, for example."

That is the best way to explain it - mention historical battles by name and add "you know, a game about that".
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Eric Jome
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Tompy wrote:
"What is war, daddy?"


"A war is a very sad thing. When one group of people and another group of people fight over something. Lots of people get hurt and everyone is very sad. It's the worst thing in the world. We play games about it to remind us what it is like. Because we never want it to happen and if we remember, maybe it won't."

How is that? Glosses over how adults can disassociate the strategy of war from the horror of war to play a game, but that is a subject for a more advanced student.
 
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Xander Fulton
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pete belli wrote:
I agree.

The common "A wargame is like Risk but..." is actually an ideal answer.

Most intelligent people know what Risk is, and that response won't make the other person's eyes glaze over like a lengthy senatorial-style verbal essay on the history of the wargame business.


I've always tried "like chess, but usually on a hexagon map instead of squares, and the pieces simulate actual military units rather than abstractions".

Believe it or not, there are people who've never heard of Risk. Chess is pretty ubiquitous, though. At least, in North America. Even if the person doesn't know how to play it (which is most people, actually), they have at least heard of it or seen it.
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HMS Iron Duke
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Tompy wrote:
When you receive a war game in the mail, try explaining what a "war game" is to a six year old.

Well... you see... it's a game about war...

"What is war, daddy?"

Not a more sobering question have I ever been asked.


There are very few posts that make me pause and think. This was one. My 3 year old likes looking at the games with me. At this point its just pretty uniforms and maps. Wow, I'm going to need to come up with a good answer to that one sometime soon.

Can I just keep my kids at age 4? All of the wonder, none of the headaches?
 
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Jason Rahman
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Quote:
The lack of detail indicates abstraction and abstraction creates un-historical results.


Not always, just because a game has 60 pages of rules doesn't make it more historically acurite than a game with 15 pages of rules. Abstraction can be used in a historical correct wargame, it's just a matter of what is abstracted and how it is abstracted.
 
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M@tthijs
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Tompy wrote:
When you receive a war game in the mail, try explaining what a "war game" is to a six year old.

Well... you see... it's a game about war...

"What is war, daddy?"
[..]
Well,... it's a way how grown-ups settle disputes. ...Uhm, no, wait...
 
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Uwe A. Redjac
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Tompy wrote:
"What is war, daddy?"

"It's where heroes are made. Heroes die young. Remember ASL? Stay clear of it. Your turn."
 
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