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Subject: Block games vs. Area movement wargames rss

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Lee Massey
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This post is for all BGG wargamers! Which do you like better, block games or area movement games? I personally like them both!
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michael confoy
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Too many people I know would laugh and make fun of me if I got caught playing a block game.
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Erik Nicely
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I love the area-move games. It's a way of strategic thinking that appeals to me. With top-notch classics like TP:S and Bo:N (the new Storm Over Stalingrad is a beaut too) I want to play them all the time. I don't get to play them all of the time but I would like to. Block wargames not so much, there's a big disconnect for me when I see blocks on the table, it's a visual thing. There's block games that use area movement but still the disconnect is embedded in my head. And I realize I am probably in the minority for not liking block games all that much.
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Bill Lawson
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My original copy of Risk (bought at a church rummage sale in the 60's) had wooden blocks. Also I played Stratego back than too. That is the extent of my block gaming- wait I just remembered I had a copy of Diplomacy with wooden pieces. I like Area games ok even if I'm more of a hex and counter type of guy. I have been looking at Eastfront II and will probably get this sometime in the next year.
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Matt
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Seems like a lot of the block wargames use area movement so you would have to be more specific. Do you mean block games that utilize secret unit deployment or "fog of war" like Bonaparte at Marengo and Europe Engulfed vs. games that don't like Axis and Allies and the new War of the Ring?

I don't really have a preference.
 
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Colin Hunter
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Hex and Counter.... ooops wrong thread devil

Seriously though both are good, I think in general most of the block games tend to be more modernized, so I might have a slight preference for them.
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I like both concepts!

Area Movement

Area movement provides a more effective depiction of terrain for strategic level games than the portrayal offered by a hexagon grid -- although hexes work better for tactical games with ranged fire.

Area movement is less intimidating for new players -- although BIG hexes are also helpful for newbies.

Area movement maps are "cleaner" or less busy than hexagon maps.

Area movement maps are (in my opinion) much more attractive, especially when the graphic artist uses his or her talents to give the board some distinctive touches.

Block Games

Block games offer instant "fog of war" in a quick and dirty fashion.

Block games are less intimidating than stacks of tiny counters for new players.

Block games have a toy-like appeal to impulse purchasers unfamiliar with wargames.

Blocks are easy to handle for young players new to wargames and old grognards with clumsy fingers -- no tweezers!
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Andrew Tullsen
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papahoth wrote:
Too many people I know would laugh and make fun of me if I got caught playing a block game.



I know, me too.


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Sean Shaw
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I vote for both, but typically will have more area movement wargames. Area movement games can have blocks, or chits, so how about both?
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Bill Eldard
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JackFlash wrote:
This post is for all BGG wargamers! Which do you like better, block games or area movement games? I personally like them both!


??? Block games are about fog of war and step reduction of units; area movement is a method for governing the movement of units.

I don't understand the choice. In fact, as someone noted, a game can be both.

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Craig Benn
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Hex and counter...do'h

For some reason block games leave me cold - it seems more childish than area impulse games. Which is quite irrational - the buckets of dice you use for crusader rex or hammer of the scots is no different really from the buckets of dice you throw in Napoleonic wars which I do like. But it feels more childish for a block game.

And I approve unreservedly of any fog of war rules - so I should like them more but just somehow don't.

In some ways the area impulse mechanic is very artificial, but my brief experience with say breakout normandy - is it passes the fun test.

I probably need to play one of the better block games and give it a fair go...
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Lee Massey
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I guess I should be more specific. As has been noted, some block games are also area movement games. I was referring to games like Hammer of the Scots and Breakout Normandy. That's why I like both kinds of games because they can be mixed types! Does that make sense?
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Yes.

Interesting discussion!
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Bill Eldard
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JackFlash wrote:
I guess I should be more specific. As has been noted, some block games are also area movement games. I was referring to games like Hammer of the Scots and Breakout Normandy. That's why I like both kinds of games because they can be mixed types! Does that make sense?


So if I understand this correctly, it really boils down to this: "Among area movement games, do you prefer those with blocks or those without?"

Did I get that right?
 
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Lee Massey
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That's not right! I like both kind of games, block and area!
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Richard Savage
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Less filling....Tastes great.....Less filling....Tastes great!
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Iain K
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I've never warmed to block games. The only one I play, CC:A doesn't have hidden information, so I'm not even sure it counts.

My issue with Block games is that every wargame in my library needs to stand alone as a decent solitaire experience as well as a good FTF game. Blocks fail miserably at solitaire in my experience.

In contrast, area movement, particularly those in which the impulses come to an end due to the "sunset die roll" and in which both attacker and defender roll DR during combat - *excel* as solitaire games.

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Elwyn Darden
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kemosavage wrote:
Less filling....Tastes great.....Less filling....Tastes great!


More filling....Tastes worse....More filling....Tastes worse!

Just ripping on the quote, actually I like both blocks and area movement. By block games I am endorsing hidden values and step reduction, not merely wooden pieces. Texas Glory - Yes. Command and Colors - No. I have most of the block games, and since the prejudice against them is so strong among some gamers I seldom pass up the chance to play one.

Once you have accepted hidden values and step-reduction the blocks are merely cosmetic. You could play Rommel in the Desert with inverted counters and Pollard markers if you were so inclined. The original 1914 from Avalon Hill had inverted counters (optional) and step-reduction, was that not a "real" wargame?

I have no aversion to area movement. It can be done well. In many cases area movement is essential to the design, and I respect that. In some cases hexes are an ahistorical fudge-factor, and I applaud those designers for making the call. In many cases the designer is trying to make the game simpler so that players can focus on some other aspect of the game; I can accept that.

In some cases, however, it looks and feels like the designer is using a quick and dirty shortcut. Have supply rules gone out the window? Do areas funnel the action on one path when other alternative strategies were available? Do the areas allow alternative strategies that could not possibly have been pursued?

Hexes are deceptively reasonable. You can dispute whether hex 2012 should be a mountain hex or not, but there is no question that a 2012 lies between 2011 and 2013. You can dispute whether the movement, supply, command or line of sight rules make sense, but you cannot argue that the hexgrid itself is the source of confusion. (The LOS down the hexside conundrum is a RULES problem.) The border of every area can legitimately be called into question. Why shouldn't this province stick out a bit further here until it touches that province there? Why can't Arizona attack Colorado? Why is Texas so big; can't we just cut it into quarters?

For me the real test is that there are many cardboard counter games, including some of my favorites, that I would intrigued to see redone as blockgames. There are almost no hex games that cry out for area movement treatment.
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Wes Nott
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citizen k wrote:
I've never warmed to block games. The only one I play, CC:A doesn't have hidden information, so I'm not even sure it counts.

My issue with Block games is that every wargame in my library needs to stand alone as a decent solitaire experience as well as a good FTF game. Blocks fail miserably at solitaire in my experience.

In contrast, area movement, particularly those in which the impulses come to an end due to the "sunset die roll" and in which both attacker and defender roll DR during combat - *excel* as solitaire games.



Yeah, CC:A isn't a "block" game. It just uses standup block counters in place of miniatures like every other game in the system. I think the blocks look quite nice.

I we talking about the difference between block games and area impulse games?
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Lee Massey
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We're talking about which type we prefer to play! I prefer both types including the ones that are mixed types. I like Hammer of the Scots and Breakout Normandy as well as others. Which do you like?
 
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Kurt Weihs
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Block games with area movement are my favs so the answer is YES! lol.

Bonaparte' at Marengo - Simmons Games: This one is diceless so if you feel cheapened by playing with blocks and rolling buckets 'o dice you can respect yourself in the morning 50% more after playing this one.

Napoleon - Avalon Hill: I prefer this version over the Columbia Games version. A tad simpler with very little change in outcome or gameplay. Takes less time for same results.

Hammer of the Scots - Columbia Games: C'mon! This is a classic, what's not to like???
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Jens Hoppe
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:shrug:

A lot of elements go into my evaluation of wargames - balance, depth, graphics, immersion, decisions, subject, etc. - but to be honest, the type of counters and the shape of the areas on the board are not much of a factor.

I like some block games: Bobby Lee, Napoleon, and Rommel in the Desert spring to mind. I dislike others (I am looking at you, Crusader Rex) and I am more or less neutral towards some (HOTS, Wizard Kings). Blocks are a great design innovation if done right, but blocks by themselves won't make a game good.

Again, I like some area movement games (AH's area/impulse games are classics), but really, the fact that they use areas has little to do with it. And what's so special about areas anyway? Point-to-point maps and hex maps are really just specialized area movement maps, and often most of the distinction is just aesthetic.

"Proper" irregular areas of course often go hand in hand with rules that take advantage of the areas. For example, having areas shaped to terrain features might make specific terrain movement cost rules redundant. If the rules take advantage of these kind of elements, areas can be a great idea. On the other hand, just having areas because you "had to divide the board into discrete zones somehow" seems like a waste.
 
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Will DeMorris
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Really it depends on the individual game. I like some block games (Hammer, Crusader Rex, etc) and I like some are movement games (FAB:Bulge, Storm over Arnhem).

-Will
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Lee Massey
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[q="jens_hoppe"]:shrug:

Quote:
Point-to-point maps and hex maps are really just specialized area movement maps, and often most of the distinction is just aesthetic.







I think stacking and the problems that it can cause is a good reason in favor of area movement games. I play ASL too and I hate having to look through each stack to find out who is in the stack. It can slow the game down so I believe it is not just a matter of aesthetics. arrrh
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Jens Hoppe
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JackFlash wrote:
I think stacking and the problems that it can cause is a good reason in favor of area movement games. I play ASL too and I hate having to look through each stack to find out who is in the stack. It can slow the game down so I believe it is not just a matter of aesthetics. arrrh


I am not much of a fan of hex games with heavy stacking myself, and prefer games with low or no stacking.

But, as long as it's functionally equivalent whether units are spread out or stacked in an area (true for many games but not for ASL, for example), it is not the fact that the game uses hexes that necessitates stacking: Hexes after all are just particular, regularly-shaped areas. It is instead the size of the hex-shaped areas, combined with the rules for how many units can go in an area that bears the blame.

After all, what's to stop one from just making bigger hexes to eliminate stacking? Many Columbia games, including the Front series games, Rommel in the Desert, Bobby Lee, Sam Grant, and Wizard Kings do this. Or how about designing games with little stacking? GMT's Great Battles of History games (particularly with the Simple rules) spring to mind.


But I agree, that in the "real" world, having areas often works well. Breakout: Normandy, for example, allows you to have many units in the same area with little or no stacking. Areas in that game are based on the underlying terrain, so borders follow rivers for example, which allows the game to model quite complex situations (river crossings, contesting bridges) quite elegantly. Could you have done the same with point-to-point or hexes? Sure, but areas is the intuitive, logical choice in this case.

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