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Jeff Hinrickson
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I am becoming more intrigued with wargaming.

With that, I would like to know what mechanics wargamers look for in a game? What mechanics to avoid? What constitutes a good mesh of mechanics in a game to make it a must have?

Finally, who is the wargaming czar? (for example Tom Vasel is the Euro game guru, for the most part.)
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Greg Moore
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I would say that Wargamers are less infatuated with game mechanics than Eurogamers. I would say that Wargamers are more into knowing things like what genre, whether it is strategic/tactical/ operational, how many counters there are, and what system it uses.

But you will find some Wargamers either love or hate the following:
Buckets of dice (lots of dice rolling)
UGO-IGO (You go, Then I go)
CRTs (Combat Results Table)
CDGs (Card Driven Games)
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Jeff Hinrickson
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So what constitutes a good wargame from a bad one? Why would one wargame be rated a 10 and another a 2? Why wouldn't they all be ranked high if mechanics aren't involved?

Sorry for all of the questions, just trying to understand why people like them.
 
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Paul O'Connor
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jjloc wrote:
Finally, who is the wargaming czar?


Robert Wesley
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Paul O'Connor
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jjloc wrote:
So what constitutes a good wargame from a bad one? Why would one wargame be rated a 10 and another a 2? Why wouldn't they all be ranked high if mechanics aren't involved?

Sorry for all of the questions, just trying to understand why people like them.


What distinguishes one strip bar from another? Differences are differences.

In wargames I look for historical fidelity, ease of play, quality of components, a command level appropriate to the subject, and an historical period of interest. Not always in that order.

Mechanics by themselves are not important -- but how those mechanics hook into the subject being portrayed is all-important.
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Greg Moore
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jjloc wrote:
Why wouldn't they all be ranked high if mechanics aren't involved?


Some of the same reasons other games get poor ratings. Poor research, Poorly written rules, Bad balance/victory conditions, and hideous maps.
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Greg Moore
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goldenboat wrote:
Mechanics by themselves are not important -- but how those mechanics hook into the subject being portrayed is all-important.


I suspect Paul is saying that the chrome and/or mechanics should help make the game feel like the genre and level it portrays.
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Martin Gallo
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jjloc wrote:
So what constitutes a good wargame from a bad one? Why would one wargame be rated a 10 and another a 2? Why wouldn't they all be ranked high if mechanics aren't involved?

Sorry for all of the questions, just trying to understand why people like them.



Fun is fun - but what is fun for some is not fun for others.

I enjoy the interaction and the opportunity to pit my wits against another player. Same sort of thing as a lot of euro-type games, but most wargames are two players, have greater depth of strategy and decision-making and take longer to play. Some of us like history and wargames are an interesting way to learn it. I also play and enjoy many euros, but they tend to be lighter fare - better for a short evening and 'less filling' for me than a good wargame.

I have a background in systems engineering, and I suppose I like to learn and know how things are put together and interact. Wargaming offers a lot of ways to explore that in what is probably the most culturally significant factor in human history - war. Unfortunately we are a species that seemingly does not prefer or understand peace.

Note that bad wargames exists and they are no fun, just like bad euros. On generally accepted indicator f a bad game is one that makes it impossible or terribly difficult to recreate the historical outcome or that requires tactics that would not have worked or been impractical in the real world situation. this problem does not plague many euros as they are not simulations. A bad euro tends to be one in which there is no interaction or is just plain old boring (and some wargames are just plain old boring as well).

Wargames and euros are different sides of the same coin, really.
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James Lowry
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Wargamers look for mechanics that are appropriate to the period, scale, and subject of the game.

There are wargamers who are fans of particular types of wargames (such as CDGs), but it really comes down to what you're wanting out of it.

Some people just want a light, but thoughtful game that bears a relationship to a historic conflict. Things like Twilight Struggle can be perfectly fine for that.

Some people want games that are a study of a conflict. The Campaign for North Africa is a huge, grinding process to play through, but you gain a great appreciation for the challenges of supply and logistics in the desert.

Most wargamers want different things at different times. I enjoy both Successors (third edition), which is a lighter game of the breakup of Alexander's empire, and Carthage: The First Punic War, which is a more nuanced study of the First Punic War, with a decent amount of record keeping to do. But I approach both games in different ways, or with a different mindset.

There's no one 'wargaming czar'. In fact, I'm not sure what you mean. If you're talking about knowledgeable reviewers, there's a few people that spring to mind. Richard Berg is a prolific game designer, who has also reviewed games since the '70s. Sadly, I don't think he's reviewed much recently, and nothing on BGG that I know of.

For BGG personalities, da pyrate and gittes have both done a number of informative reviews that I find entertaining.

EDIT: Gah, took me half an hour to write this and the thread has filled up!
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Jeff Hinrickson
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What kind of components do you deem good? What type of map is a good one?

From looking at the backs of wargame boxes, it looks to me as if it is just a hell of a lot of card board chits for your armies and a hex map.

There must be a lot of thought and research put into wargames because it always seems that they are very expensive. I know it cannot the components driving the price because I have seen some Euros with excellent components for half the price of a wargame. (this is not a down play on wargames at all, just an observation based strictly on components).
 
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Ray
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My thoughts from a thread comparing consim and euro motivators: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/894363?sk=#894363

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Bill Eldard
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jjloc wrote:
I am becoming more intrigued with wargaming.


What is it that you find intriguing?

jjloc wrote:
With that, I would like to know what mechanics wargamers look for in a game? What mechanics to avoid? What constitutes a good mesh of mechanics in a game to make it a must have?


As others have stated, mechanics themselves aren't generally the reason why wargamers prefer some games over others. When mechanics are a good fit for a particular subject and scale, the game generally sells. There are, for example, fans of CDGs -- wargamers who buy a lot of CDG games because they like the mechanic. But it by no means demonstrates that CDG is the best mechanic for all wargames, any more than auctions are the best mechanic for all euro-games.

jjloc wrote:
Finally, who is the wargaming czar? (for example Tom Vasel is the Euro game guru, for the most part.)


He is if you define the wargaming czar as someone who reviews hundreds of wargames. Richard Berg used to review games over decades -- I don't know if he still does.
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My quickie suggestion is find a level of command (strategic/operational/tacticat) you like in an era that you are interested in (ancients, medieval, napoleonics, acw, ww1, ww2, modern, sci-fi, fantasy) with a playtime (half an hour to hundreds), number of players available to you (solo to huge multiplayer teams) and complexity (pamphlet to 350 page binder) to your taste and just go with it.

Check out the reviews here and look for the words "It is fun!". Take the plunge. You won't regret it.
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Jeff Hinrickson
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Eldard wrote:
jjloc wrote:
I am becoming more intrigued with wargaming.


What is it that you find intriguing?



I just love lots of chits and good theme. Also, as one previously mentioned - even though it is a game you learn a bit of history as well by playing.
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James Lowry
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jjloc wrote:
What kind of components do you deem good? What type of map is a good one?

From looking at the backs of wargame boxes, it looks to me as if it is just a hell of a lot of card board chits for your armies and a hex map.

There must be a lot of thought and research put into wargames because it always seems that they are very expensive. I know it cannot the components driving the price because I have seen some Euros with excellent components for half the price of a wargame. (this is not a down play on wargames at all, just an observation based strictly on components).

Actually, a lot of it is components. The price is generally high, because the print run is generally small.

Time for research and development doesn't help, but economies of scale do drive a fair amount of the pricing structure.
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Michael Lucey
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Its something very difficult to explain and more so to understand until you start to experience it.

What makes Agricola a better game then Puerto Rico? Why is San Juan not almost as good as PR? What is the difference between the TTR games, they are all about building railroads?

Wargames are theme based, most players like the historical feel to them. Some people like hexes while others like cards and others areas or blocks. That's where it gets subjective. Do you like diceless euro's or tiles or cards or combinations of them? Those are basic mechanics.

Then you have the scale, do you like groups of men (tactical) or battles (operational) or whole scope of theatre or war (strategic) and then you have variations or mixes of those like grand tactical.
Once you get through that you get chit activation or you go I go or impulse based or card driven and of course variations or combinations of those.

Then you need them to be historically accurate and play out along historical lines. Within that you need balance so both sides have a chance to win. You also need both sides to have something to do or its boring, the ability to both attack and defend have greater popularity then each side doing one thing only. On top of all that you want to be able to replay the game otherwise its a waste of money.

Most games need chits for the information presentation, there is so much going on in these games you need the data. What are the units attack and defense values, how far can they move, do they need to be linked for leadership and do they fly, drive or walk? Only chits or blocks can give that much data for all the units (or cards in a low scale game). Looks are subjective but in the end they need to be readable. They are not cheap BTW, they cost a lot to design, print and cut. Die's cost a fortune to machine out so just because their cardboard does not make them cheap.

In the end they are still just board games, call them very detailed and complicated themed euro's that use dice and tables to portray the fog of war from battle that creates chance and bad "luck" that naturally occurs in war.

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Ray
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Another good thread from someone who spend a lot of time discussing trying wargames: http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/178658
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Joel K
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jjloc wrote:
From looking at the backs of wargame boxes, it looks to me as if it is just a hell of a lot of card board chits for your armies and a hex map.


Lots of them are like that. But there's plenty of variety...

Chits with point-to-point maps (Wilderness War, Here I Stand, Paths of Glory)

Block games (Hammer of the Scots, Europe Engulfed) with area movement maps.

Chits with area movement (Warriors of God).

Blocks with point-to-point maps (Crusader Rex).

Chits with no map at all, just a grid of cards (Fields of Fire).
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Ryan Powers
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jjloc wrote:


With that, I would like to know what mechanics wargamers look for in a game? What mechanics to avoid? What constitutes a good mesh of mechanics in a game to make it a must have?


The era/scale really determines a lot of that. Lots of mechanics that work well in one era or at one scale fall flat in others.

Is there a particular historical period you are interested in?
 
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Jeff Hinrickson
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keethrax wrote:
jjloc wrote:


With that, I would like to know what mechanics wargamers look for in a game? What mechanics to avoid? What constitutes a good mesh of mechanics in a game to make it a must have?


The era/scale really determines a lot of that. Lots of mechanics that work well in one era or at one scale fall flat in others.

Is there a particular historical period you are interested in?


I have been interested in naval battles in WWII
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Bill Eldard
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jjloc wrote:
keethrax wrote:
jjloc wrote:


With that, I would like to know what mechanics wargamers look for in a game? What mechanics to avoid? What constitutes a good mesh of mechanics in a game to make it a must have?


The era/scale really determines a lot of that. Lots of mechanics that work well in one era or at one scale fall flat in others.

Is there a particular historical period you are interested in?


I have been interested in naval battles in WWII


As a starter, you might like War At Sea, or (if you can find a copy) Victory in the Pacific. These are basically strategic level naval games with an abstract, buckets-of-dice 'tactical' combat resolution.

But there are also some good operational/tactical, albeit complex WW2 naval games.

Second World War at Sea: Midway
Second World War at Sea: SOPAC
Second World War at Sea: Bomb Alley
Second World War at Sea: Bismarck
Second World War at Sea: Coral Sea
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Jeff Hinrickson
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Peso Pete wrote:
jjloc wrote:
keethrax wrote:
jjloc wrote:


With that, I would like to know what mechanics wargamers look for in a game? What mechanics to avoid? What constitutes a good mesh of mechanics in a game to make it a must have?


The era/scale really determines a lot of that. Lots of mechanics that work well in one era or at one scale fall flat in others.

Is there a particular historical period you are interested in?


I have been interested in naval battles in WWII


Then the next question would be what scale are you interested in? Theater (Atlantic vs Pacific)? Tactical-level (ship vs ship)? Operational-level (fleet vs fleet)? Strategic-level (the whole war)? There are a number of games on each level that vary greatly in complexity and components. Once you know the answers to those questions, then it will be pretty easy to find the right game for you.


See, I knew wargames had more depth than just a bunch of counters and dice.

I think at this point I would be interested in the Tactical and the Strategic.
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Ryan Powers
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jjloc wrote:
keethrax wrote:
jjloc wrote:


With that, I would like to know what mechanics wargamers look for in a game? What mechanics to avoid? What constitutes a good mesh of mechanics in a game to make it a must have?


The era/scale really determines a lot of that. Lots of mechanics that work well in one era or at one scale fall flat in others.

Is there a particular historical period you are interested in?


I have been interested in naval battles in WWII


I'm just getting into that myself (though more in a miniatures sense). So I can't really help you much. Though it looks like some suggestions have been made. Once I'm done getting my Graf Spee, Exeter, Ajax, and Achilles painted I'll let you know what I think of a few minis rules sets though...

The basic point is though, that the mechanics are more closely bound to the theme than in most euros, so it's harder to discuss them in isolation.
 
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We play mostly tactical (small unit) wargames in our group. Things like Combat Commander and the ASL starter kits, Attack Vector:Tactical and Close Action and Flying Colors.

What I like about wargames is the sense of action and the story you can tell.

I like Puerto Rico, but when you're done, what is there to say? I built some buildings, shipped some corn and made VPs? (Granted, a good session report writer can turn any game into a good story).

But that's a far cry from a recent ASL game in which a half squad of Russians managed to blast away at some German squads nailing them and putting bullet into the head of their best leader, dropping him like a sack of rags. Meanwhile, the Germans kept pushing into the Russian buildings while the Russians fired and moved back, trying to stay out of their way. Nothing like dashing across a road to get to safety when your squad comes under heavy fire and is blasted away into a quivering heap in the middle of the street and then manages to pick itself up and run for the nearest building to hide in the closets and under the beds!

The only game we've played with WWII naval stuff is Battleship Captain. That's a miniatures game, really, but with wargame type rules. Others have suggested additional possibilities for that genre.

The thing with wargames is that you can get as detailed as you want. There are simple games out there that give a quick but not so detailed battle of ships such and then there are grand games where you move your ships on a big map and then, when they get close, switch to a tactical map to move them around each other, blasting away.

And, with YOUR avatar, you're already ready to play a wargame! (That's how most of ours end...hahahahaha!)
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goldenboat wrote:
What distinguishes one strip bar from another?


Age and Smell

.
and I could be talking the girls or the building

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