Recommend
27 
 Thumb up
 Hide
25 Posts

Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: Favorite Scale rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
badge
If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Do you have a preference for tactical, operational, or strategic wargames?

If not, that's cool. If you do, please tell us why. What do you especially like about your favorite scale?

Just to make sure we're all on the same page, please have a look at this Wikipedia article, and scroll down to Unit or map scale. There you'll find some decent definitions of the scales we're talking about here.

And, just to start things off, a little poll:
Poll
What's your preferred wargame scale?
Grand Strategic
Strategic
Operational
Tactical
Skirmish
Nothing definite, but I tend toward the Strategic end of the scale.
Nothing definite, but I tend toward the Tactical end of the scale.
Nothing definite, but I tend to avoid either extreme.
I'm all over the place (or just can't decide).
      132 answers
Poll created by Patrick Carroll
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bill Lawson
United States
Rutland
Vermont
flag msg tools
Boston Redsox
badge
New England Patriots!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I voted Operational but Strategic and Grand Strategic are both close seconds. I play grand tactical battle games like The Battle of Shiloh sometimes but I don't care for tactical games like ASL.
I think having a subscription to S&T in the 70s ruined me for tactical games. There were quite a few shitty ones Kampfpanzer , Combined Arms and I hated the sim-move mechanic. The idea was ok but writing all the moves down wasn't fun. I just have never been interested in them I guess.

I don't want to take your building or village I want to overrun your whole country!!
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Bob
United States
flag msg tools
Be sure to taste your words, before you spit them out.
badge
If you climb in the saddle, be ready for the ride.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Tough choice. I enjoy both Operational and Strategic, but will give the nod to Ops.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jon
Canada
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mb
I normally call my favourite scale "grand tactical" which I thought was the category for the pre-20th century "battle" games. For example, anything in the GBACW (eg. Terrible Swift Sword), La Bat (eg. La Bataille de Mont Saint Jean), M&P (eg. Gustav Adolf the Great: With God and Victorious Arms), etc series. So, I went with the Operational/edging towards Tactical option in the poll.

What I like about it is primarily the narrative. It also meshes nicely with the description of battles that you would read in a book. You know, something like "the 1st Guards battalion held the important crossroads despite repeated attacks by Foy's Brigade". Looking over my counters, I have a "1st Guards" and also the 3 regiments of Foy's Brigade. Cool! Oh, and there is the crossroads on the map.

The inter-relationship between a good game and a good book is the best experience for me in this hobby (next to meeting my fellow gamers) and I think that this scale does it the best, at least as far as my interests go.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Michael Lucey
United States
Ellington
Connecticut
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I chose all over the place. My favorite game is ASL which I guess means tactical, but I will not play an other tactical game but ASL so is it ASL or tactical that I like best? If tactical you'd think I'd play any and all tactical games.

I really like battles, either CWBS for the ACW or area / impulse games for WW2 which is sort of operational but not really.

I also like CDG's of whole wars which puts my in strategic camp but I play them less then the above 2 so its hard to call that my favorite then.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
John Kovacs
United States
Elyria
Ohio
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I prefer tactical level games to almost anything else. I want to be that guy perched in the turret of the Sherman tank, keeping his eyes open for that Panther the gunner spotted a minute ago, or the squad leader pushing his grunts through a shell-torn village in France, Germany, or Russia (or wherever), or the pilot of a P-51D flying escort for a bunch of B-17s about to hit Berlin, lining up an Me-109 in my sights for a head-on shot. I like the nitty-gritty, down-in-the-mud feel of tactical games, where individual heroics are possible, not the anonymity of pushing divisions or armies around with ZOCs on a large map of Europe (or wherever). For those who want to conquer the whole world, have at it, but I do want to take that bridge, building, or crossroads so that the rest of the army can move forward.

To each their own...now, gimme that Tommy gun so I can take out that squad of Germans (or Russians or Japanese or whoever) moving across that bridge over there...
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
badge
If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm not sure how to answer the poll myself, but it's a question I've asked myself over and over through the years.

The first couple "real" wargames I played were Waterloo and The Battle of the Bulge, which I guess are Operational in scale. So, in some ways, that's what always seems normal to me. It's like the climate and topography of the place you grew up: it always seems "normal" (or maybe even "best"), no matter where you later move or settle down.

When I discovered Tactical wargames (via PanzerBlitz, Panzer Leader, and SPI's PRESTAGS series mainly, but also by dabbling at miniatures), I was wowed by them. Here I was getting hands-on (albeit vicarious) experience with all the close-up, nitty-gritty detail that doesn't show up in Operational-level games. And it was very cool, very engaging. At the same time, it was very complicated! I didn't feel I could hope to get into many such games, since each one required a lot of memorizing or looking up rules and such. I wished I could've picked a favorite period and gotten deep into miniatures, but it never happened; I kept changing my mind or my approach, and I found out I hated painting minis and dealing with tabletop terrain.

I guess I discovered Grand Strategic wargames via Kriegspiel, Tactics II, and Blitzkrieg, plus some wargamey variants of Risk--and later, Rise and Decline of the Third Reich. Kinda cool to be commanding all the armed forces of a nation throughout a whole war. The king-of-the-hill game doesn't get much better unless you're conquering the whole world or expanding into space. I liked the land, sea, and air combinations of forces and being able to conduct complex major operations during the course of a game. However, I usually disliked any political or economic dimensions--even the routine matter of production (and sometimes research). My attraction was to things military, not to balance sheets and political wrangling. Another downside was that at this level, there isn't much distinction among unit types or terrain types; much of the detail that appears in Operational-level games is missing on this grand scale.

Strategic wargames--well, they're in between Operational and Grand Strategic. So, they don't seem quite "normal" to me; they seem a little too abstract and broad-brushy to me. The first one I remember trying was a friend's copy of D-Day. It was OK, but by the middle of the game, it's always just parallel lines of unit-counters pushing up against each other. Not too exciting. Years later, though, I played The Russian Campaign, and that was a very exciting game, despite its Strategic scale.

Skirmish-level wargames are an oddity. I read about Sniper! (first edition) when it came out, but I couldn't believe it'd be any good, so I never tried it. I doubted that board wargames could possibly zoom in to that level of detail and still be realistic. But Squad Leader surprised me: it had individual soldiers and weapons and vehicles, and it worked! I was impressed. So, I went on to try Firepower, Platoon, and the Ambush! series (oh, and Gunslinger too). Most of these games I found to be pretty complicated. They'd be fun and exciting for a while, but then I'd get fed up with all the minutia. An exception was Up Front, which I thought was superb (once I got the hang of it), though I hated the relative-range chits.

Today, I'm really not sure which scale I prefer. But I have a lingering impression that Operational-level wargames are "normal": they "zoom in" just enough to capture some of the military detail, but they stay "zoomed out" enough to capture a panoramic view of major military operations (e.g., battles and campaigns). They're just abstract enough to give players a taste of generalship, whereas Skirmish-level and even squad-level Tactical wargames tend to zoom in so close that there's little time for planning and little room for maneuver.

At the other extreme, Strategic and Grand Strategic games require more long-term planning than I like to have to do. These games can be much too big or long for my liking. And when they're designed to be small and short (as some of them are), I find they lose the epic feel of war on that vast scale. Even The Russian Campaign felt too fast-paced to me; it felt a lot like The Battle of the Bulge, but in TRC, months and years were supposedly passing by during the game.

Indeed, that "time anomaly" problem tends to make me shy away from the two extremes of scale. At the Grand Strategic end, time is compressed way too much (an extreme example is Advanced Civilization). At the Skirmish end, time is sometimes expanded way too much--an example being Gunslinger, which seems to progress in slow motion. (Then again, as I think about it, these "time anomalies" can be appealing: at the Grand Strategic scale, it's cool that you get to do so much in such a short period of time; at the Skirmish level, it's fun that the detailed action is slowed down and highlighted so you get to experience it fully over time as you play.)

Now that I've talked my way this far, I guess I like Operational and Tactical wargames best, on the whole. Then again, right now I'm really enjoying the Grand Strategic game A House Divided. So--I don't know.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wendell
United States
Yellow Springs
Ohio
flag msg tools
Si non potes reperire Berolini in tabula, ludens essetis non WIF.
badge
Hey, get your stinking cursor off my face! I got nukes, you know.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Grand strategic, obviously. I want to struggle over the fate of empires, not a hill.

Also like strategic and operational a lot. Not so much tactical, though I could be convinced by some of these nice-looking tactical games I see around.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Leo Zappa
United States
Aliquippa
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't mind playing some tactical games (e.g. Panzerblitz) as they can tell a nice story. However, I find that as the scale of a wargame reduces to tactical, the gap between reality and game widens to the point that it becomes a bit too abstract for me to totally immerse myself in the experience. When playing an operational or strategic level game, the use of maps and pieces with NATO symbols is in fact very much like how combat and staff officers control a battle in real life (speaking as a former battalion staff officer myself, I participated in wargames using maps and grease pencil drawn NATO symbols that quite closely resembled wargames that I've played). The experience of playing the game is very close to that of the real thing at that level, except without the explosions and lousy food.
9 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Kai Jensen
United States
Santa Rosa
California
flag msg tools
badge
I was going to buy OverText but I didn't know what to say with it!
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I like tactical and grand strategic, but not much in between. I guess that means I'm either after YOU or your whole COUNTRY. (Such an extremist whistle )
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
D T P
United States
Pikeville
North Carolina
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm definately a Grand Strategic guy. My favorite wargame is World in Flames. My third favorite is War Between The States (second edition). I like this scale because I hated the idea that units march off the map to other theaters. In Grand Strategic games this doesn't happen. There are no other theaters! I also like the idea that I am the one who decides what type of army I will have. I want to decide whether I'll have more armor or more planes, etc. I think that when you play a game where all the reinforcements are decided by a schedule you are often unable to affect dramatic changes from what happened historically.
Despite this my second favorite game is Fire in the East/Scorched Earth. (I tend to think of these as one game) But Europa is so large that it has a strategic feel to it even though it is more operational in it's play.
Years ago, when I was still in the game club we played a lot of Panzer Leader and PanzerBlitz. Squad Leader was a huge favorite then too. But I think I burned out on these games when the club members decided that if two maps were fun that twenty would be even more fun. I have seen SL game where there were so many maps that the play area was bigger than my WiF game! That's a bit too extreme for my taste. I still get the occasional itch for SL though.
Good thread Patrick. I was thinking of this same question all day today.

One final note; I am a huge Blitzkrieg fan. But I don't know that I would call it 'Grand' Strategic though. You don't get to have full control of the economic aspects or unit building in Blitzkrieg. Resource and city control plays some impact, but I think of it as more of a strategic than grand strategic game. Reinforcements are still decided by a designer made schedule.
I have made some house rules that give the players far greater control over unit building and when used they do give it a more grand strategic feel.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Global Nomad
Portugal
Barcelona
flag msg tools
The 16th century São João Baptista, also known as Botafogo (Spitfire) was a Portuguese galleon warship considered the most powerful warship in the world at the time.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Looking at the most voted wargames then it would seem tactical would be more on the top than shown on this poll
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
badge
If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
mpires wrote:
Looking at the most voted wargames then it would seem tactical would be more on the top than shown on this poll


If you add up Tactical, Skirmish, and ". . . tend toward the Tactical end" in my poll above, the biggest percentage is there.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Definitely 'Grand Strategic' for me. Give me an entire 'theatre', or even the entire 'world'! I don't mind an 'edge of the world' effect when the edge is far off in some 'peripheral' sector (e.g. 'Far West' in Civil War, 'interior' of Africa or Siberia in WWII ETO games). It's more 'annoying' when the frontline is anchored on a map edge.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Patrick Carroll wrote:
I'm not sure how to answer the poll myself, but it's a question I've asked myself over and over through the years.....


Wow Patrick, that's alot of verbiage to say essentially 'I don't know'.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Ryan Powers
United States
Marble
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I don't have any overall favorites, but I do have favorites in certain time eras. Different eras = different scale preferences though. And even then I probably have at least one exception in each era that I like.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
badge
If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
deadkenny wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
I'm not sure how to answer the poll myself, but it's a question I've asked myself over and over through the years.....


Wow Patrick, that's alot of verbiage to say essentially 'I don't know'.


Heck, that's nothing. Count up all the words I've posted to BGG. Maybe most of the words I've uttered in my life, come to think of it.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
badge
If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
keethrax wrote:
I don't have any overall favorites, but I do have favorites in certain time eras. Different eras = different scale preferences though. And even then I probably have at least one exception in each era that I like.


Sounds very complex.

One thing I've found is that I get antsy with one extreme or the other. When I was first into Squad Leader, it was taking up all my time. And I was having a blast, not complaining. But all the minutia got to me, and a started wishing for a strategy-level gmae (I remember seeing an article on Fortress Europa around that time and thinking it looked wonderfully and refreshingly abstract).

But then I'd get into a strategy-level game like Advanced Third Reich or Victory in the Pacific, and I'd wonder where all the cool tactical detail was. Then I'd have to play something like Up Front to scratch that itch.

Operational-level games strike a nice balance, IMO. But they don't offer the zoomed-in excitement of Tactical games or the epic panorama of Grand Strategic games.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
badge
If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Aside: I wonder why this thread is making me want to finally break down and try one of The Gamers' CW Brigade games. . . .
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Numfar! Do the dance of shame!
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart.
badge
You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.
Avatar
desertfox2004 wrote:
I don't mind playing some tactical games (e.g. Panzerblitz) as they can tell a nice story. However, I find that as the scale of a wargame reduces to tactical, the gap between reality and game widens to the point that it becomes a bit too abstract for me to totally immerse myself in the experience. When playing an operational or strategic level game, the use of maps and pieces with NATO symbols is in fact very much like how combat and staff officers control a battle in real life (speaking as a former battalion staff officer myself, I participated in wargames using maps and grease pencil drawn NATO symbols that quite closely resembled wargames that I've played). The experience of playing the game is very close to that of the real thing at that level, except without the explosions and lousy food.


That´s exactly what I thought. If you want to achieve a very high level of realism in a simulation, I guess the tactical scale doesn´t lend itself very well to that.

You can play a tactical game for hours and hours, pondering over every move, looking up rules, taking bathroom breaks inbetween, and it´s very possible that in the end you will have simulated just a few minutes of game time. That´s very far from the experience a real small unit leader has.

Now, if you spend a whole weekend playing a strategic game that simulates a timespan of several months or years, I think that really puts yourself in the shoes of a great military leader. It´s simple to just fast-forward the in-game time in your head. Even the fact that you are warm and cosy while playing the game is totally appropriate. Neither Winston Churchill nor Adolf Hitler had to crawl through the mud at any point in WWII.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Numfar! Do the dance of shame!
Germany
Berlin
flag msg tools
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won't either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart.
badge
You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness.
Avatar
I´d like to use this opportunity to throw in an excerpt from the designers notes of Close Action.

Mark A. Campbell wrote:
Certain periods and areas of warfare make better subjects for wargames than others (that is, they provide both more realism and more enjoyment as games). For example, many gamers prefer skirmish-level games, where every player controls only a handful of men, to games wheren the player is commanding an army corps or an entire theater. Yet there can be no doubt in the minds of anyone who has studied the subject in any detail that it is much easier to design a realistic strategic or operational-level wargame than at the micro-tactical level. I was lucky enough to pick one of the easiest areas of warfare to simulate at the tactical level. Surprise, one of the most important aspects of land battles, was less of a concern in naval battles in the age of sail. They generally took place in broad daylight or moonlight, and the commanders usually knew the composition of the opposing force to a fine degree, sometimes down to the actual name of the enemy ships.


Of course, you could still argue that the commanders didn´t have birds-eye view of the area they were fighting in, but I count that as a limitation of the medium.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Andy Linman
United States
Allen
Texas
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I guess I'm a bit odd (who'dathunkit) in that I tend toward the extremes and away from the middle; games simulating one campaign just don't appeal to me as much as either sitting in one tank, OR being Winston Churchill.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
p55carroll
United States
Minnesota
flag msg tools
Don't hang around, 'cause two's a crowd on my cloud, baby.
badge
If I were to hang my head, I'd miss all the rainbows. And I'd drown in raindrops instead.
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Varus wrote:
I guess I'm a bit odd (who'dathunkit) in that I tend toward the extremes and away from the middle; games simulating one campaign just don't appeal to me as much as either sitting in one tank, OR being Winston Churchill.


I probably shoulda made that an option, now that you mention it (I thought it'd be taken care of by "Operational," but it isn't really).

You're not that odd; I've heard that before. In fact, I distinctly remember one of the editors of Avalon Hill's magazine The General saying just that. And it's easy for me to understand that point of view.

There's something especially attractive about both extremes. Philosophically, I call the extremes "hero games" (Skirmish) and "god games" (Grand Strategic), because I think that's what it comes down to. Everybody wants to be a hero or a god (or both). Skirmish-level games put you right into the thick of the action where you can be heroic. Grand-Strategy-level games put you above it all, so that you're like a god on Mount Olympus manipulating events down below.

Operational-level games kinda don't do either of those things. So, I suspect they seem pretty bland to many people. OTOH, as others have mentioned in this thread, they may be the most accurate military simulations available. That's because the closer you get to either extreme, the more distortion there's likely to be. At the Skirmish level, there are countless details that ought to be simulated or accounted for but can't be (the human mind, much less the game design, couldn't handle it all, for one thing). At the Grand Strategy level, there are countless possibilities (countless branches of a decision tree that defies comprehension) that should be simulated but can't be.

In the middle, around the Operational level, there's some kind of balance. The game designer is consciously blowing off a lot of low-level detail and high-level strategizing in order to focus squarely on the battle or campaign at hand. Given enough data and brainpower and creative genius, a pretty good simulation game might come of that--one that faithfully models the conflict it's based on.

Not every wargamer wants that, though. Some are serious history buffs and do like to see a realistic simulation. Others are into wargaming mainly just for fun of a gamey kind--where they get to indulge in some military make-believe. To each his own. And of course you can have both, if you like. I've enjoyed both myself.

Still, the two extremes are appealing. I think we all want to be gods or heroes; and a mid-level battlefield commander isn't necessarily either--he's just human, like us.

The other factor--as you and others have mentioned--is that every Operational-level game has its obvious limits. It's only about one particular battle or campaign--and that leaves us wondering about all the others, and about how this one connects to the others. Besides, how many times can you enjoy re-creating the Battle of the Bulge or whatever? Once you've done it a few times, you know what it's like; you run out of alternatives you want to experiment with.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.