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Subject: Somehow Wargames Seem Incomplete rss

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p55carroll
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I'm perpetually thinking about games, wondering why I feel the way I do about them. And as much as I've loved wargames, something about them has always rubbed me the wrong way or seemed a little off to me--and I've never been able to put my finger on it.

But just now I think I realized what at least part of it is: wargames always seem incomplete.

That is, I'll buy Bitter Woods (fourth edition) and re-create the Battle of the Bulge. But I'm wondering, "OK, but what about all the other western-front campaigns?" The game can't cover those. I have to buy other games and learn other rules--and if I do, I'll end up with a mishmash of different games at different scales with incompatible rules.

Or I'll buy a game that has a map of the world and portrays all of WWII. But at some point, I start thinking, "Yeah, but this is just WWII." What about WWI and all the other wars throughout history?" This game can't cover all that.

Same thing happens if I go to a tactical level and get ASL or something. Sure, it's infinitely expandable, but it still only covers WWII. There's a whole lot of history missing. In fact, there's a lot of WWII missing--e.g., the air and naval dimensions.

No matter which wargame I buy, it's only capable of bringing one thin slice of military history to life on my tabletop. And I'm left wishing for all the rest.

In contrast, if I buy a themeless or fictional game, it always seems complete. Chess is generic; if it covers anything, it presumably covers everything. And Wizard Kings likewise presumably covers everything, since we don't (yet) know anything about what the game is based on except what we see in the game.

Just some quick thoughts.

 
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Paul Carmouche
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete

Dude: everything is incomplete. See Gödel et al.
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Arrigo Velicogna
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
just buy a West front game (Mighty Endeavour; Toppling the Reich; Against the Reich or Brute Force) and play it. Wargames are complete package...

but this is the usual complain thread about wargames... so... play, have fun and think about mobves instead of about non sense shakedevil
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Kent Reuber
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
There's always a bigger picture, but I guess that doesn't bother me. Perhaps I just have a tactical perspective and I'm content to know that there are other fronts that are "someone else's problem".

In a sense, I often feel that wargames give you too much. Take the Battle of the Bulge for example: the Germans are coming through the lines, but what is there objective? In a game, you just look at the scenario. But in real life, we don't know what their objectives are. I've often thought it would be cool to have each player in a wargame draw a card for secret victory conditions which the other player wouldn't know. Perhaps one side is just probing for weakness, or trying to gain a new foothold. I guess most games are good from the perspective of "could you do better than the historical commander" given his mission.
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Rob Rob
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
grimstuff wrote:
Non-simulation games seem to be just about the game itself, without opening an interpretive dialogue about history and what it means to us. In fact, I'd say wargames are an excellent hermeneutic forum. (EDIT: using a rough definition of hermeneutics as 'the study of how things are interpreted.')


Good point. Games based on "reality" can be interpreted at many levels (e.g. "Battle of the Bulge" or "D-Day" could be a tactical, strategic or even operational game). Abstract or fictional games can have a narrow focus (e.g. Squad Leader of CC:E scenarios, do you really know or care how those troops got there or where they go after they exit the map?) I think this is why multi-level games tend to fail (or at least drag on forever). Playing a strategic level game that requires you to fight every battle at the tactical level is just too much "zooming in and out" to be comfortable.
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Colin Hunter
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
Life is always incomplete, it makes it more pleasurable as we have something more to discover. Everything I do is incomplete and imperfect.
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Nick Bah Doo
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
Wargaming is all about accepting the abstraction of the reality ... it's a conlfict simulation after all. It's about accepting scope as well. Scope is necessary to keep the gme playable. Increase scope, lose details or increase playing time.

It's all about finding that sweet spot in the right setting that scratches your itch.
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UA Darth
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
I play games for the game.. not to recreate history.. in no way are the gqames incomplete because YOU decided an "entire" battle sequence needs to be played out... Lame.
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Andrew C
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
Patrick you are one interesting dude.





I sometimes feel the same frustration, but its part and parcel of being an inquisitive human. I want to know everything about history, astronomy, mathematics, and a host of other topics. Unfortunately, I can only examine a slice of each at a time, and I retain even less.

C'est la vie!
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Andy M
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
you complete me.

i am currently working on a game that allows you to play all of time. it starts from the big bang, and it goes on forever. scale: hexes are infinite. number of units: infinite. time to play: 90 mintues (i am planning on it being a euro). i am a bit stuck though with the period around 7876BC, my knowledge of that particular year is incomplete and i am unable to balance things properly. still, it'll be great when it's done!
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
shadow9d9 wrote:
I play games for the game.. not to recreate history.. in no way are the gqames incomplete because YOU decided an "entire" battle sequence needs to be played out... Lame.


Just because some peoples reasons for gaming are incompatible with yours doesn't mean they're "lame".
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Bruce Murphy
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
funpaul wrote:

Dude: everything is incomplete. See Gödel et al.


Not everything, merely everything sufficiently complex. See Gödel, Escher, Bach.

B>
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Mike Windsor
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
I find that games that deal with just one battle or campaign can be a little harder to justify than those that are made to be expandable. That said, I believe that what you are really paying for is the rules and counters. Once you have a rules set and counters, with some effort, you can come up with an OOB and make your own maps (they may not look professional, but who cares). Now your game just got expandable.

I've always thought that the best American Civil War game would give you rules, counters, an OOB, and a few historical maps. The expansion would be historical maps of areas where a battle might have been fought but wasn't. (What if the armies had come together in Hanover, PA, or Westminster, MD in 1863 instead of Gettysburg?) To me, these what-ifs are a lot more interesting because players don't come with preconceptions as to how the battle should be fought. Unfortunately, my idea hasn't exactly caught hold.
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
bestbandis wrote:

You seem to be looking for the world in microcosm, and are not finding it in wargames. If I may be so bold, I would say you might want to quit games (or at least put them aside until you are able to enjoy them for what they are) and take up study. . . .


You've got me pegged, it's true. Indeed, ever since I dabbled at the Tarot in my teens, I've longed to find "the world in microcosm," especially in the form of something very much like a game (and the Tarot is sometimes called a game; and incidentally games are played with tarot cards).

But in this thread, I didn't really mean to go there.

I was really just wanting to contrast the likes of Agricola with the likes of Turning Point: Stalingrad. Agricola has something of a farming theme, but it's obviously not really a game about farming; it's just a game, and it's complete within itself (except insofar as the publisher keeps coming out with expansion decks)--and I'm not likely to ever think, "Wait a minute, something's missing here." I'll probably consider it a complete, self-contained game--just like chess, checkers, go, or anything else on that order.

But Turning Point: Stalingrad clearly is about the Battle of Stalingrad in particular. And we all know that battle was part of a huge campaign, which was part of a huge war, which was one major episode in military history. And because I know about that context, I naturally start wondering about the rest of the picture. And sometimes that leads me into thinking something like, "Is this one particular battle really that significant? Is it worth the time I'm spending on it? Or would I do better to get a larger-scale game, or watch a documentary, or read a book?"

Now, if I were just playing TPS the way I'd play Agricola--as a fun little competitive diversion--I wouldn't think twice about it. I'd just focus on making good moves and besting my opponent, enjoying the game and learning something about how it works as I go along. And actually, I do play wargames that way sometimes--especially light wargames. (Maybe that's the key; maybe I should stick to light wargames.) But when a wargame is fairly complex and seems to be making a serious attempt to model some facet of military history, I naturally regard it as a model of military history and try to explore history or military science via the game.

And when I do that, I automatically start reflecting on how this particular slice of history meshes with all the rest of history.

It's different than reading a book. I might read a book about the Battle of Stalingrad, knowing that it's limited to that specific subject. But it's not the only book I'm ever going to read. I'll read that one, then pick up another one to further expand my knowledge.

Games are supposed to be replayable. You learn one, and you play it over and over again, hoping to get better and better at it--or at least enjoy the process of trying. I probably wouldn't read a book on Stalingrad over and over again. So, why would I play a game on Stalingrad over and over again? If I did, sooner or later I'd feel stuck in a rut.

Yet, I've played backgammon perhaps hundreds of times, and I might play it thousands of times more without ever feeling stuck in a rut. Partly that's because backgammon isn't about anything in particular.

Well, I'm starting to ramble again, so I'll shut up. Just wanted to say I'm not searching for Enochian Chess (though I wouldn't mind discovering a sophisticated version of Nieuchess that really captures the essence of warfare). I'm just noticing that, as much as I've enjoyed wargames, they always leave me feeling that they're incomplete--because each one only covers some particular event and therefore doesn't seem as replayable as games are supposed to be (IMO).

I mean, how many times does one want to assault the Tractor Works before he gets fed up and never wants to see the Tractor Works ever again?

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UA Darth
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
Nikku wrote:
shadow9d9 wrote:
I play games for the game.. not to recreate history.. in no way are the gqames incomplete because YOU decided an "entire" battle sequence needs to be played out... Lame.


Just because some peoples reasons for gaming are incompatible with yours doesn't mean they're "lame". :what:


It is lame that he declares games "incomplete" because of HIS way of thinking.

Reading comprehension please?
 
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
Patrick Carroll wrote:
I mean, how many times does one want to assault the Tractor Works before he gets fed up and never wants to see the Tractor Works ever again?


How many different ways have you tried to assault the Tractor Works?

That's what wargaming is about...trying out the alternatives instead of mechanically replaying what actually happened.
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
shadow9d9 wrote:
Nikku wrote:
shadow9d9 wrote:
I play games for the game.. not to recreate history.. in no way are the gqames incomplete because YOU decided an "entire" battle sequence needs to be played out... Lame.


Just because some peoples reasons for gaming are incompatible with yours doesn't mean they're "lame".


It is lame that he declares games "incomplete" because of HIS way of thinking.

Reading comprehension please?


Actually, I declared that they seem incomplete to me.

At least that's what I said in my initial post. Didn't try to spell all that out in the subject line.


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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
I was playing Agricola yesterday and it seemed incomplete. Yes it was all about _my_ farm but what about the neighbor's farm to the North? What about the city to the east? Hell, Where are the horses?
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Paul Carmouche
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
moss_icon wrote:
you complete me.

i am currently working on a game that allows you to play all of time. it starts from the big bang, and it goes on forever. scale: hexes are infinite. number of units: infinite. time to play: 90 mintues (i am planning on it being a euro). i am a bit stuck though with the period around 7876BC, my knowledge of that particular year is incomplete and i am unable to balance things properly. still, it'll be great when it's done!


Oh no! I'm working on the same game! It's called "Om" and has only one bit.
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
J.L.Robert wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
I mean, how many times does one want to assault the Tractor Works before he gets fed up and never wants to see the Tractor Works ever again?


How many different ways have you tried to assault the Tractor Works?

That's what wargaming is about...trying out the alternatives instead of mechanically replaying what actually happened.


In all my years of wargaming, I don't think I've ever "replay[ed] what actually happened."

But there are only so many times I want to experiment with various ways of assaulting the Tractor Works. Then I want to do something else.

And if I've invested a lot of time and energy into that one narrowly focused game, when I get tired of assaulting the Tractor Works, I feel I didn't get a very good return on my investment. I end up thinking, "Hmm, is that all you can do with this game?"

In an expandable game like ASL, there's more of a payoff: when you're done assaulting the Tractor Works, you can assault hundreds or thousands of other places. But you're limited to WWII land combat, and I get tired of that eventually too. And ASL is a big investment! So the only way I'd get a good return on that would be if I were a dyed-in-the-wool WWII land warfare buff.

In light wargames like the one I'm playing now (Ancient Battles Deluxe), there's a relatively small investment of money, time, and energy. So if I get a little enjoyment from it, then get tired of it later, it's no big deal. I feel I at least broke even.

When I have to make a big investment, I expect a big return--which basically means the game ought to be highly replayable. And ideally, it ought to feel complete. (Either that or it has to be so much fun that it's beyond orgasmic, in which case maybe I'd be delighted to play it only once or twice. But I don't think I've ever seen anything close to that in the realm of wargames.)

 
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
I used to be quite obsessed with the perfect simulation when I started wargaming but my outlook has since evolved. I now look at wargame designs in the same way that I look at paintings. That is, the subject may hold some sway over me but it's the artist's interpretation of the subject that's the most interesting. What aspects of the conflict did the designer feel were most important and what did he choose to leave out? What mechanisms did he devise and how well did he integrate them? Is there anything extraneous or does every design element have a purpose? What makes the design both a fun game to play as well as a reasonable, historic simulation? Just as with a painting, it's the interpretation of the subject that's engrossing not just the subject.
 
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
grimstuff wrote:
funpaul wrote:
Oh no! I'm working on the same game! It's called "Om" and has only one bit.


What shape is the bit?

It's the shape of one hand clapping...
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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
grimstuff wrote:
What shape is the bit?


[IMG]http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/d/d9/Möbius_strip.jpg/200px-Möbius_strip.jpg[/IMG]

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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
Patrick Carroll wrote:
shadow9d9 wrote:
Nikku wrote:
shadow9d9 wrote:
I play games for the game.. not to recreate history.. in no way are the gqames incomplete because YOU decided an "entire" battle sequence needs to be played out... Lame.


Just because some peoples reasons for gaming are incompatible with yours doesn't mean they're "lame". :what:


It is lame that he declares games "incomplete" because of HIS way of thinking.

Reading comprehension please?


Actually, I declared that they seem incomplete to me.

At least that's what I said in my initial post. Didn't try to spell all that out in the subject line.




I suppose so. "Wargames always seem incomplete to me" would have been a better headline.

Your argument, to me, is akin to saying that movies are all incomplete because they don't tell what happens to the character before and after the events in the movie.

Wouldn't it be better to just enjoy a game for a game?

Why would you need to play all wars in history for a ww2 game?

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Re: Wargames Are Always Incomplete
moss_icon wrote:
i am a bit stuck though with the period around 7876BC, my knowledge of that particular year is incomplete and i am unable to balance things properly. still, it'll be great when it's done!



That was the first instance of

"200 Yahoo boots!"

In cuneiform on either wax or clay tablets .


It has been carried down in secrecy for eons, however recently it resurfaced...

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/229036/page/1
 
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