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Subject: Diffusion of systems as a major impediment to wargamers moving to more complex games rss

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Enrico Viglino
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Here's the basic thought:

With all of the lighter wargaming options out there, it's
almost as easy as in the earliest days to get 'into' the hobby.
But, there're so many different mechanisms out there now, that
what is learned in one, is not applicable in another. And some of
these systems live mainly on the lighter side of the hobby, so that
what is learned in one doesn't translate well into any heavier
games.

In a lot of ways, it makes sense - companies want the widespread
appeal that the simpler games have (both to grognards and n00bs),
and they also want the monstercore gamers, who really desire
the heavier things (not to say there aren't plenty of medium
length games out there too). But, unlike the earlier spectrum,
there doesn't seem to be much that is learned which spans segments
of the hobby across all complexity. Sure, Ops/event for the CDG's,
but does this mechanism, treated very differently in each game,
teach core principles used throughout the genre? Maybe. Maybe
hand management techniques are similar to deployment ones (every
other hex, anyone?) from bygone years. It just doesn't feel that
way to me.

Ah, I'm just babbling anyway. Should stick to vids for these -
it's tougher to see how disjoint my arguments are then.
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Is complexity defined by length? If not, can you give some examples of satisfyingly complex wargames that play in euro-time?
 
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Darrell Hanning
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That wargame design has, over the last forty-five years, not only evolved but diversified is beyond question. That this diversification is due to introductory-level games, or even largely restricted to introductory-level games is contrary to the evidence. I think we'd have pretty much as many different types of designs regardless of the popularity of introductory-level wargames.

I think the notion that there are "core principles throughout the genre" probably hasn't been true since the seventies.
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Eugene
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Yeah, tactical scenarios. How about something with a title and a box all its own?
 
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Don't want to derail Enrico's thread, so let me think about it and maybe start a new one.
 
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Darrell Hanning
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garygarison wrote:
Is complexity defined by length? If not, can you give some examples of satisfyingly complex wargames that play in euro-time?


I don't think the correct expression is a Boolean.

I think length is an effect of complexity, but not the sole domain of complexity. The more complex the rules, the more factors that weigh in, in any, given decision during the game. Weighing more factors takes more time. You can compensate for this by reducing the number of decisions (e.g., number of units, number of turns, or other variables), but the time per decision will still be higher, the more complex the rules are.
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Enrico Viglino
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garygarison wrote:
Is complexity defined by length? If not, can you give some examples of satisfyingly complex wargames that play in euro-time?


It's not - but I was being sloppy.
 
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Enrico Viglino
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usrlocal wrote:
garygarison wrote:
Yeah, tactical scenarios. How about something with a title and a box all its own?


Well, most (non-tactical-scenario-based-standalone-boxed, to be specific) wargames still come with scenarios that could be played in Euro-time, regardless of complexity. I think you need to clarify your question.


Yeah - I don't think there's a fair solution to this.

The 'Fleet' series, for example is (like ASL) made up of
scenarios. They are more operational in nature, but I think
you'll find the MOST complex games don't support a single
situation (hence their complexity - each ASL scenario actually
doesn't require too many rules).
 
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Jim Cote
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This is also true of euros, which is why I always balk at the idea of the classical "gateway games". They may be stepping stones to gaming in general, but they do not work like programmed instructions teaching you concepts that you will use for the meatier games.
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Enrico Viglino
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ekted wrote:
This is also true of euros, which is why I always balk at the idea of the classical "gateway games". They may be stepping stones to gaming in general, but they do not work like programmed instructions teaching you concepts that you will use for the meatier games.


Sure - but I can't think of a euro you couldn't teach to an eight
year old who'd never played ANY game. They may not do well, but
there's hardly a need for gateway games to get you to that level,
EXCEPT to show that games are worth playing at all.
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Darrell Hanning
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ekted wrote:
This is also true of euros, which is why I always balk at the idea of the classical "gateway games". They may be stepping stones to gaming in general, but they do not work like programmed instructions teaching you concepts that you will use for the meatier games.


I think you're right - and both for Euros and wargames. The "gateway" games of each type serve the same purposes:

1) Teach players how to listen to and digest rules
2) Give players the opportunity to learn how to implement the rules they have been given.
3) Accustom players to the exercise of following logic, and using inductive and deductive reasoning.
4) Introduce players to planning (allocation of resources in a competitive environment, for instance).

That is, they are stepping stones to games (or wargames) in general.

For these purposes, I think the earliest of the "gateway" wargames are still good primers for the most modern and esoteric of wargame systems.
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calandale wrote:
ekted wrote:
This is also true of euros, which is why I always balk at the idea of the classical "gateway games". They may be stepping stones to gaming in general, but they do not work like programmed instructions teaching you concepts that you will use for the meatier games.


Sure - but I can't think of a euro you couldn't teach to an eight
year old who'd never played ANY game. They may not do well, but
there's hardly a need for gateway games to get you to that level,
EXCEPT to show that games are worth playing at all.


Antiquity

But the point in teaching an eight year old ANY game is not to get them pissed off and frustrated. The point is to give them the chance to enjoy something, and thus encourage them to pursue the hobby. That initially takes games that can be quickly and easily assimilated. So, you teach them Memoir '44, not Case Blue, and Carcassonne, not Antiquity.

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Jim Cote
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I can't think of an 8-year-old I'd want to play games with. devil
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calandale wrote:
Sure - but I can't think of a euro you couldn't teach to an eight year old who'd never played ANY game.

You have got to be shitting me. Pretty much any Martin Wallace. For goodness sake, even your video treatment of Brass had some apparently illegal builds.
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Enrico Viglino
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DarrellKH wrote:
ekted wrote:
This is also true of euros, which is why I always balk at the idea of the classical "gateway games". They may be stepping stones to gaming in general, but they do not work like programmed instructions teaching you concepts that you will use for the meatier games.


I think you're right - and both for Euros and wargames. The "gateway" games of each type serve the same purposes:

1) Teach players how to listen to and digest rules
2) Give players the opportunity to learn how to implement the rules they have been given.
3) Accustom players to the exercise of following logic, and using inductive and deductive reasoning.
4) Introduce players to planning (allocation of resources in a competitive environment, for instance).

That is, they are stepping stones to games (or wargames) in general.

For these purposes, I think the earliest of the "gateway" wargames are still good primers for the most modern and esoteric of wargame systems.


See, this sounds applicable to gateway for euros (aiming at the
true non-gamer) but wargames are almost always being learned by
people who've at least played a few games in their life.

They know how to sit still and think.

They may even know how to read, so they can teach the
game to themselves.

Of course, if you're including Stratego/Risk in your 'wargame'
category, I guess I can understand your point - even if I totally
disagree with them being wargames, gateway or no.

 
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Enrico Viglino
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ekted wrote:
I can't think of an 8-year-old I'd want to play games with. :devil:


I taught my bro Magic Realm at around that age -
not the whole thing, but enough to play it.

Taught a few other young kids Civ, Dragonhunt,
SFB, and other games which appealed to them.

It's not the optimal age opponent, but there's a certain
pleasure to corrupting the youth.
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Enrico Viglino
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garygarison wrote:
calandale wrote:
Sure - but I can't think of a euro you couldn't teach to an eight year old who'd never played ANY game.

You have got to be shitting me. Pretty much any Martin Wallace. For goodness sake, even your video treatment of Brass had some apparently illegal builds.


So? Mistakes get made. Who cares?

Certainly Brass would be teachable by 8.

Most 18xx's too. I'm not saying that they'd
get every move right - I wouldn't really
expect that of people - my group played 1835 wrong
for years it seemed, and generations have screwed up
monopoly (making it a terrible game in the process).

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Chit pulls and CDG have a range of events which could come up each turn. My guiding principle is to prepare for them. I read them all and see which I can exploit or avoid. Sometimes I can make concrete preparations ahead of pulling the chit. at other times I save myself from making mistakes because I have drawn up a plan of what to do if a chit is pulled.

E.g. John Prados Third Reich. I am about to play the Germans in 1943. 6th army is surrounded in Stalingrad. Mud weather is a 50/50 chance decided after set up. Mud makes it all but impossible for them to be saved. The Hungarian and Romanian cavalry can still exploit in mud weather so they should start close to Stalingrad. There is almost no cost to this partial fix so it is well worth while.

Japan first is a political chit which removes 10 US units from his force-pool. This gives Germany a better chance of winning and is 1/13 probability for each season. Discussing it in earshot of my opponent might spook him.

Preparations are specific to this game but the rule of studying the chits and analysing costs and benefits of countermeasures/ exploiting opportunities applies to all such games.
 
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ekted wrote:
I can't think of an 8-year-old I'd want to play games with. devil

playing games with little kids is intensely satisfying for me. I'm not nearly as ambitious as Enrico, though. Goofy card games are just fine.
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To sidestep the question and interject an opinion (as I'm wont to do), I think there's a natural-selection process going on here. While some gamers may crave complexity and some may crave diversity and some may want both, limits are imposed by the human life span and available leisure time--not to mention brain capacity and other factors.

In the long run, it turns out The Campaign for North Africa and Case Blue just aren't practical. Nor is Advanced Squad Leader practical for most. They're monuments to how far a rare breed of gamer is willing to go.

The underlying question here seems to be, How can we entice normal people to venture into our time-consuming, brain-straining space and facilitate their journey? Especially now that our space is so diversified?

The answer I'm leaning toward is Don't even try. Complexity hounds will find their own way, no matter how circuitous the path becomes. Normal people will balk at the journey in any case, no matter how well we mark and illuminate the path.
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I'm not really sure I understand what the issue is here. Is the fact that there are lots of different games with different systems really a problem? If it is then it's a problem shared by euro games, AT games, roleplaying games and video games. I do think that there are some common principles that run through wargames (e.g. one in every three games must be an Eastern Front game!) and, as a massive fan of CDGs, I think that once you've played one or two of them it's much, much easier to learn subsequent games.
 
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Enrico Viglino
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photocurio wrote:
ekted wrote:
I can't think of an 8-year-old I'd want to play games with. :devil:

playing games with little kids is intensely satisfying for me. I'm not nearly as ambitious as Enrico, though. Goofy card games are just fine.


I'm not a big fan of little children.

Thus, I try to make them useful to me,
as soon as possible.
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calandale wrote:
garygarison wrote:
You have got to be shitting me. Pretty much any Martin Wallace. For goodness sake, even your video treatment of Brass had some apparently illegal builds.


So? Mistakes get made. Who cares?

Certainly Brass would be teachable by 8.

A mistake would be neglecting to fill the distant market with coal when a player builds coal that can trace to a port. That's not a big deal. Building a link or industry in a legal manner is the heart of the game, though. Messing this up is more than just a mistake -- it's not even playing the game.

 
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Enrico Viglino
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Patrick Carroll wrote:


In the long run, it turns out The Campaign for North Africa and Case Blue just aren't practical. Nor is Advanced Squad Leader practical for most. They're monuments to how far a rare breed of gamer is willing to go.


I'd say that ASL is pretty accessible to anyone interested in the
topic (I'm not) who is a serious wargamer. At least the starter kit.
CNA or Case Blue have a different problem - time & space - on top
of complexity.

The question is how to GET there. Used to be, the path in that direction
was easy - Afrika Corps - PanzerBlitz - ASL, for exammple. One led well
to the next, using similar concepts in increasing complexity.

Quote:
The underlying question here seems to be, How can we entice normal people to venture into our time-consuming, brain-straining space and facilitate their journey? Especially now that our space is so diversified?


Not at all. It's more, "where are the steps for those who want to proceed'.

I had them. Most of us did. But today's gamers are focusing on
CDG's and other systems not related to the traditional games,
and then expected to dive into OCS/GBoH? Those that make that
jump impress the shit outta me.

Quote:
The answer I'm leaning toward is Don't even try. Complexity hounds will find their own way, no matter how circuitous the path becomes. Normal people will balk at the journey in any case, no matter how well we mark and illuminate the path.


I don't care about those who don't WANT to go there.
It's the barriers we're putting up because the popular gateway games are
of a very different format from the monsters.
 
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Enrico Viglino
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yankeezulu wrote:
I'm not really sure I understand what the issue is here. Is the fact that there are lots of different games with different systems really a problem? If it is then it's a problem shared by euro games, AT games, roleplaying games and video games. I do think that there are some common principles that run through wargames (e.g. one in every three games must be an Eastern Front game!) and, as a massive fan of CDGs, I think that once you've played one or two of them it's much, much easier to learn subsequent games.


The big difference is that a euro or video game is often
about figuring out how to use the system. A wargame pretty
much presupposes that before you can express your strategy.

I find the differences in CDG's makes learning new ones HARDER.
Some of this may just be terrible rules organization on GMT's part.
 
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