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Subject: Light Wargames: Boon or Bane? rss

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The title pretty much sums it up.

Are light wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?

On the one hand, light wargames seem to expose more people to wargames and could bring in more players.

On the other hand, light wargames might raise unrealistic expectations as to how easy it is to play wargames, leaving inexperienced players frustrated and disgusted with more complicated games.
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Neither boon nor bane.

Those who are inclined to play wargames will do so. That there are light quick games in the wargame genre is equivalent to there being light "Euros".

After all, the segment for those dense complicated wargames is small, just as the segment for those dense complicated Euros.

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Anthony Simons
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It's all a matter of what you want and what you would class as light.

For instance, if you would prefer something tactical and fast-moving, are not too fussed that some weapons/vehicles don't always behave as they should, and like to be able to visualise the action then Tide of Iron might be the way to go. But if you want none of those things then it's time to pick something heavier.

How this affects the hobby as a whole is that what you might call light bridges the gap in the hobby between the specialist wargamers and the casual wargamers. I class myself as casual, even though I started out wanting the real serious stuff.
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Carl
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Quote:
On the other hand, light wargames might raise unrealistic expectations as to how easy it is to play wargames, leaving inexperienced players frustrated and disgusted with more complicated games.


I don't think I agree with that. If the person is disposed to like wargames, he'll be eager for a game that is even more interesting and involved.

I think the greater danger of overly simple wargames (e.g. Target Arnhem: Across 6 Bridges which has a tiny map and limited replayability) is to leave a potential wargamer dissatisfied and uninterested in exploring wargames further.

Wargames get much of their charm from the breadth of the map, the possibility for maneuvre and creative strategies. If the game is too simple, it may shortchange those elements and turn off a potential wargamer.

IMHO, War of 1812 is an ideal introduction to wargames since it is quite simple to learn, yet interesting enough to be satisfying. It also has great replay value due to the random start blocks and deployment.
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Scott Muldoon (silentdibs)
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Boon. I love being able to play a decent wargame to completion in a single sitting.
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Joel K
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wmd8tc wrote:
On the other hand, light wargames might raise unrealistic expectations as to how easy it is to play wargames, leaving inexperienced players frustrated and disgusted with more complicated games.


I don't follow this line of thinking at all.

Most publishers seem to be putting complexity ratings on their wargames. Failing that, there's usually an indication of roughly how long it takes to play, which can be a proxy for complexity. If someone is incapable of looking over the box (or the thickness of the rulebook?) to see what they're getting themselves into, that's on them, not the fact that light wargames exist and have lulled people into some bizarre expectation that everything will be that easy.

In general I view wargames as extremely niche items that almost demand a heightened interest in whatever the subject is--they aren't the kinds of things that people who are inexperienced tend to buy on impulse. Thus, I think what you outlined above is highly implausible.

The quality of the game is of much more importance than it being a "light" or "heavy" game.
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Joe R

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leroy43 wrote:
Neither boon nor bane.

Those who are inclined to play wargames will do so. That there are light quick games in the wargame genre is equivalent to there being light "Euros".

After all, the segment for those dense complicated wargames is small, just as the segment for those dense complicated Euros.



Conceptually, my head agrees completely. However, as I get older and my eyesight fails and my spare time seems to be shrinking faster than the spot of hair on the top of my head, I appreciate the thicker counters or minis, the simpler rules and the shorter time span of the lighter games.
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Dean Judson
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My partner Carole isn't interested in games with "counters" or obscure (to her) "Military symbols." So Memoir 44 and C&C:Ancients works just great, and made a (light) wargamer out of her.

I agree as well with the desirability of easier visibility and shorter completion times. (The other day I pulled out my old friend G.E.V.--and discovered that I couldn't read the counters properly due to the font size! THAT was a shock.)
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Jaroslaw Kuczynski
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wmd8tc wrote:

Are light wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?


Are block wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?
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Bill Eldard
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wmd8tc wrote:
The title pretty much sums it up.

Are light wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?

On the one hand, light wargames seem to expose more people to wargames and could bring in more players.

On the other hand, light wargames might raise unrealistic expectations as to how easy it is to play wargames, leaving inexperienced players frustrated and disgusted with more complicated games.


I frankly don't understand your "either-or" proposition. It would be like asking if a Prius is bad for Grand Prix racing.

Nothing could be more beneficial to this or any other hobby than to broaden access to it. Wargames at all levels of complexity are a good thing; players will determine what wargames they like -- as they've managed to do for decades.
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Karl Kreder
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Why can't we have both?

Just like Euro's different moods strike me a different times. I am careful on what light war games I show non-war gamers to make sure it has easy rules, is an era they are interested in, and has some of the mechanics that most war games share so they have something to relate to in the future.

Since I run a demo area for war games at Strategicon in Los Angles (we call it the war game boot camp) I have been refining my ideas on what makes a good introductory war game, which I think is sometime different than a light war game. I go back to the idea that a war game with similar mechanics to a lot of other games (examples Zone of Control (ZoC), Out of Supply (OOS), Unit Activation, etc...) is a good demo tool because it give introductory war games something that they know for the next game.

The other key is what are they interested in, WWII, Ancients, Feudal Japan, American Civil War. I compile lists of good light war games from each era to have ready for each con. It is hard to cover everything but if you hit the big ones you are usually ok.

I want to mention just one more thing in this long and rambling post. And that is appearance is very important, with board games today productions values keep going up and up. In my experience older war games are what scare most new board gamers away, they have hear stories about the old days of war gaming and they carry that forward at least as much I have seen. So the nicer the presentation the easier it is to get newer gamers involved.

BTW Wings of War with the mini's gets every time.

Hope that helps
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Yeah, I am sorry for not being more articulate on the bane front. I was thinking of how many grognards grumble about lighter wargames as not being wargames when trying to come up with the bane so the false dichotomy would work. Feel free to come up with another reason they could be a bane.

My personal opinion is I enjoy lighter wargames, but I didn't feel that was necessary to bring into the thread as I was attempting to start a discussion regarding viewpoints and opinions on the lighter fare.

Good points have been made so far.
 
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Pete Belli
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Quote:
Are block wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?


A good thing...

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Karl Kreder
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Quote:
Quote:
Are block wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?


A good thing...


A very, very good thing.
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Tim Stellmach
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leroy43 wrote:
Neither boon nor bane.

Bone.
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Brad Miller
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Total boon.

The complicated ones are still there if and when someone decides to "move up" in complexity...
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wmd8tc wrote:
Feel free to come up with another reason they could be a bane.


Well, if you are a fan of big, meaty, complex wargames, and if we assume that there is some finite amount of resources to draw on (relatively few wargamers in the best of times, limited discretionary dollars, etc) to get wargames published, then I guess light wargames might be the bane of your gaming existence.

With dwindling attention spans, or just the general drift of preferences towards the shorter, lighter, playable-in-an-evening stuff...more of the limited resources go to producing these games the market is clamoring for. That elbows the complex, heavier stuff out of the way.

There, I tried.
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Windopaene wrote:
Total boon.

The complicated ones are still there if and when someone decides to "move up" in complexity...


Exactly - if one were to want wargaming to die off completely, the best course of action would be to have the industry make nothing but ASL and OCS series wargames from this point forward. That would leave this hobby to a handful of aging crumudgeons (I somewhat resemble that remark ). With the lighter games that are being published, the hobby is being introduced to a lot of new people who would never have gotten involved if only the heavies were available. Additionally, from my point of view, the lighter games fit my lifestyle today much better than the hard core games of the past. If I couldn't play Commands & Colors Ancients, Modern Naval Battles-Global Warfare, or Axis & Allies Guadalcanal, I wouldn't get much of any wargaming in at all these days.

There is no downside to the growing number of lighter wargaming titles becoming available.
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wmd8tc wrote:
The title pretty much sums it up.

Are light wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?

On the one hand, light wargames seem to expose more people to wargames and could bring in more players.

On the other hand, light wargames might raise unrealistic expectations as to how easy it is to play wargames, leaving inexperienced players frustrated and disgusted with more complicated games.


I think options are always a good thing. The libertarian in me says the hobby will naturally adjust if every individual is allowed to pick and play whatever he likes. So, design and produce wargames of all kinds, and let the wargamers sort 'em out. Then it becomes just a matter of supply and demand.

For me personally, light wargames are essential if I'm to hang on to my old wargaming hobby at all. I got fed up with even medium-weight games ten years ago, and I won't tolerate anything very big or long or complicated anymore.

Yeah, I'm surprised to see some folks talking about Memoir '44 as if it's a real wargame--because I've experienced the likes of Advanced Third Reich, The Longest Day, and Advanced Squad Leader. But what the heck--Memoir '44 is a game about war, right? Hence a wargame of sorts. If the popularity of such games continues and grows, that may be the future of wargaming for all we know. And would that be a bad thing? I don't think it would be particularly good or bad; it'd be OK with me either way.

But if wargaming's future sees everybody playing games like Case Blue, that's fine with me too. I myself won't be part of it, though. But I guess I had my heyday.
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Mark Christopher
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zeotter wrote:
Quote:
Quote:
Are block wargames a good thing for wargaming or a bad thing?


A good thing...


A very, very good thing.


Damn straight.

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I agree with pretty much everyone here.

Starting up a complex game against an opponent and never finishing it due to time constraints was frustrating me to the point that I almost walked away from the hobby. "Discovering" games that let me play them to completion in less than 3 hours was a real boon personally.

Now I have the benefits of both; the easy/medium games for real time head to head play and also the more complex ones for solo or versus an opponent via VASSAL.

Life is good.
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Well, you asked for it mind you, so I will take the chance of laying this out there and at least it should be good for a laugh or two...

It might be interesting to see what the hobby looks like, in terms of rules complexity and game mechanics (and size), in roughly another 20-30 years.

If anything more complex than M44 and C&C:A has become a relic and indeed those are viewed as complicated games (they still have old-school printed cards, not the new 'qoiupgopapoapoa' mechanic, and the rules are over 2 pages long, and you have to actually read them) that take too long to play, since they require more than 5-10 minutes which by then is perhaps the attention span, or at least the longest time one can remain sitting in a single spot, of a typical person and in those 5-10 minutes they have received 10 cell phone calls and texted a dozen of their friends and been twittered 50 times (and by the way this is while they are playing the game at work)...

On the other hand, given the likehood of me being around by then to observe the phenomenon (which I might view, and not for the wargame part of that described future, as gratefully low) perhaps it really does not matter.

Oh for the days when people would actually play a heavy war game for 10-12-16 hours on a Saturday, sometimes after staying up late playing the same game the Friday night before, with no cell phone interruptions. When you got together with your buds and pushed painted lead around a table for something more meaningful than a three hour tournament game.

My wife wont play chess with me for cryin' out loud, she is either too busy or simply has more active interests than boardgaming, so for me the fact there are all these super-easy spouse-compatible games makes not a hill of beans of difference, they just take up shelf space in the (brick & mortar or virtual electronic) game store, as well as blog bandwidth.

There, you wanted old, grumpy, grizzly, whiny grognard, how's that for old, grumpy, grizzly, whiny grognard? Don't say I didn't warn you!

On the other hand... my first wargames were AH Bulge, Afrika Korps, Stalingrad and Midway which I first played with my parents (they were all brought home for me by my Dad one night) back in the 60's or early 70's when I was not yet an 8-track tape playing leisure suit wearing disco dancing teenager (ha! yeah baby!). If that had been Wacht am Rhein, Campaign for North Africa, Fire in the East, and War in the Pacific I doubt the whole concept would have ever caught on. (although... if that had been pushing a boatful of lead, maybe...)

In other words, the reality is "light wargames" are hardly a new concept.

EDIT - in fact I would venture a guess that Afrika Korps is considerably lighter than M44... I hate to say it, but let's face it.
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Timothy Young
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I think the real danger of viewing light wargames as a 'bane' is that it creates a sense of superiority that can prevent people from getting interested in wargaming.

A new gamer might try their hand at an accessible, (relatively) cheap, easy to get hold of and easy to play game like M'44. However, if they ask for advice on a wargame forum only to find people saying that they are playing a silly game and not a 'real wargame', then it will completely put them off the whole concept.

So in my view the only 'bane' caused by light wargames is that it can bring out the worst in some people.
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Boon. People have got to start somewhere. I started with Kriegspiel and the reason is that it was a simple game to understand. It is easier to start simple and go to complex in my opinion. If someone likes Memoir '44, you can always say, "Hey, why don't we try out something a little more meatier."

Also, by broadening our concept of what a wargame is we can help to bring more people into the hobby. Change is inevitable, and if wargames want to survive they must change as well.
 
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james browning
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Windopaene wrote:
Total boon.

The complicated ones are still there if and when someone decides to "move up" in complexity...


I agree!
I don't own very many complex wargames and those I own have been pretty much set aside for now because light wargames (Such as the Commands and Colors system games) are much easier to get my non-boardgamer friends to try. I've started frequently playing with a friend of mine whose only exposure to board games or wargames are Risk and Axis and Allies. He was quite reluctant to play any of my C&C games because he has had bad experiences with the aforementioned games but once he had a few plays under his belt he quickly became hooked. We now have a weekly (sometimes multiple times a week) play time(s) scheduled.
 
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