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Subject: The Golden Age... rss

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Steve Arthur
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Did the legendary wargaming Golden Age really exist some 30 or so years ago or are we as I believe living in a wargaming Golden Age right now?...
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Why can't it be both?
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J.L. Robert
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I'd like to think we're experiencing a wargaming renaissance.

But I also fear that the market is flooding itself, like it did in the past.
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J.L.Robert wrote:

But I also fear that the market is flooding itself, like it did in the past.


I don't know how fair an assessment that is.

The big boom in hobbyists seemed less dedicated
(younger) than what we have right now. Now, if
wargaming pushes its way into being a fad again -
with people who aren't going to stick with it
beyond their teen years, yeah, we could see
the same cycle.
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J.L.Robert wrote:
I'd like to think we're experiencing a wargaming renaissance.

But I also fear that the market is flooding itself, like it did in the past.
Hungadunga's been hosting this fabulous monthly wargame designer thread, and Jim Dunnigan was one of the previously featured designers.

He said a lot of interesting things about the wargame and wargamer market, but three highlights here:

From http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/6126005#6126005:
jfdunnigan wrote:
The Feedback surveys, whose results were reported in the Outgoing Mail section, made it clear early on that there were, from the beginning, a number of niches. These varied by scale (tactical to strategic), period and environment (air, land or naval),


From http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/6106970#6106970:
jfdunnigan wrote:
Markets splinter as they age, which is why there so many more popular TV shows now, but with much smaller viewing audiences.SPI was the first stage of that, and we knew we were finding, or creating, new niches, and supplying them. The many smaller wargame operations that appeared after SPI often just served niches (sometimes only one). We warned "completist" wargamers to not try and play every game, although we were happy to see them buy all of them.

Note that there are more manual wargames being published each year now, than in the 1970s, when there were many more active wargamers.


And finally, from http://www.boardgamegeek.com/article/6071130#6071130:
jfdunnigan wrote:
The problem is that people who prefer face-to-face gaming are a small subset of the wargamer population. Note that the number of new people entering the manual wargame population declined sharply after the 1970s, and has not recovered much since. The 1970s were the exception, everything since then is the norm for the size of the manual wargame market.


I think to the points JL raises, I agree that we're in a renaissance of sorts, but the type of game is changing. We're seeing a lot more games that are, by design, meant to fit into a 2-3 hour time slot. There are still monster games being published (by GMT and MMP mostly), but they're even more of an exception than they used to be.

I'm also seeing a shift to wargames that include design and historical considerations outside of the order of battle here are my units there are yours let us have at it mould that I (mis)remember from my youth.

With respect to the market flooding itself, I feel it's probably more perception than anything else. GMT, MMP, CG, Lock n Load, CEW and others are all using pre-order programs of some kind or another which has greatly reduced their business risk and turned them into stable albeit small publishers.
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Hunga Dunga
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I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.
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Steve Arthur
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Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.


Me too...the impression I get is that people are more discerning now...in the old days we (me anyway) snapped up almost anything that was going (good and bad) and were grateful for the opportunity because it was all so new and wonderful and filled the void and we didn't know any better...nowadays there's more choice but there's also more discussion about what's available (eg.BGG)...dud games don't get much of a look in and designers and publishers (poor bastards) are forced to work harder to keep an eye on their innovation and quality levels...for mine,games have never been better in all departments...
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Dan Edwards
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Atraxrobustus wrote:
Did the legendary wargaming Golden Age really exist some 30 or so years ago or are we as I believe living in a wargaming Golden Age right now?...


Well, to borrow a comedy bit from the late 70's, Theodoric of York: Medieval Gamer thought he was living when wargame designs reached the pinnacle, and he was right...at the time.

It was good to be a gamer thirty years ago. I thought it was pretty cool that I could send a letter to Victory Games and they'd actually respond to my questions.



Who knew the internet would make such things obsolete? I certainly never expected to be getting near instant responses from designers to my questions online, but between published errata and the USPS, we got by. Getting the latest copy of S&T, MOVES or The General was sort of a one-way BGG.

The games were good. Stuff that seemed radical a few years ago, like the little guys on the counters for Sniper! were commonplace.

Battle of the Bulge got a big facelift. I played innovative designs like Ace of Aces. I remember the luxury of being able to contrast the new Fighting Sail from SPI with the standby, Wooden Ships & Iron Men. What a smorgasbord! Imagine, TWO games about the age of sail! We lived like kings.

So, was there a Golden Age back then? Well, we thought we'd come a long way since Tactics. I remember my older brother and his classics, like Anzio and The Battle of the Bulge, and while they were OK, I mean, pink panzers? At the graphics we had in the new Bulge game, it just blew the old stuff away...those old time games were so 1960s.

There were outfits like GDW and Yaquinto, besides the big two. Great games were there to be played, and more were coming up very shortly. Yes, it was a golden age.

And I can hear Steve Martin, as Theodoric of York, reflecting on all this:

"Maybe the OP is right. Perhaps our games and design methods are primitive. Perhaps a new age of gaming, driven by electronic feedback and new technology, will create games that we can only dream of! Perhaps man was meant to integrate cards, variable decision points and other tools and gimmicks to enhance replayability, rather than fighting the same old battle over and over! Perhaps one day, wargamers will look back on this as a primitive, terrible time when a few designers dictated what would get published, and the wargaming masses were misled and deprived!

Naaaaah!"

Today's stuff is better. I bet tomorrow will bring better stuff than we have today, and thirty years from now, guys will be posting on holographic communication devices about the Golden Age of Gaming in 2011.

I'm a happy gamer now, and I was a happy gamer then.







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Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.
I wouldn't mind being a wargamer over 20 years. When ipads, touchscreen tables, internet, software and hardware have diminished the wall between (multiplayer) board gaming and (solo play) computer gaming.

When I don't have to look up if a counter can move 5 or 6 hexes, due to weather (13.45) hex terrain (8.67a), hexside (8.8), enemy proximity (12.5), supply (16.4-16.6), command (5.55) and general mood of the troops (19.3a). I'll just put my finger on the cardboard counter and the table will show me where I can move it, instantly.
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Atraxrobustus wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.


Me too...the impression I get is that people are more discerning now...in the old days we (me anyway) snapped up almost anything that was going (good and bad) and were grateful for the opportunity because it was all so new and wonderful and filled the void and we didn't know any better...nowadays there's more choice but there's also more discussion about what's available (eg.BGG)...dud games don't get much of a look in and designers and publishers (poor bastards) are forced to work harder to keep an eye on their innovation and quality levels...for mine,games have never been better in all departments...


The reason that people are more discerning is that there is more "product" available. This includes all the other other stuff that has gone before. We have a huge back catalogue of games and new ones all the time to play and appreciate. It's impossible to do them all.

Also, you have to factor the influence of the internet and the productivity gains that digitisation have made. This makes easier distribution and ordering possible and 4 colour printing affordable for most games, to name just 2 technological improvements. That's without the increaase in "discernment" that has become possible because of BGG and other web based forums.

As well, the "better" games being done now are only "better" in comparison to their predecesors. Everything builds on something else so I agree with Calandale when he says "why can't both be possible". The old games from the 70s may seem clunky now but back then they didn't and the reason "almost anything was snapped up" was that it was all so cool then.

Name one game that was massively popular in or before 1980 that you can definately say is crap now, or doesn't still provide a great gaming experience without being compared to something that came later. These old games are still great fun unless you are obsessed by trends or style or gaming history.

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Mike Kreuzer
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How lucky are we to live through a second golden age?

An apposite article in ars technica from yesterday.

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This is the Platinum Age.

Golden Age was years ago... we have upgraded.

devil

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usrlocal wrote:
_Kael_ wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.
I wouldn't mind being a wargamer over 20 years. When ipads, touchscreen tables, internet, software and hardware have diminished the wall between (multiplayer) board gaming and (solo play) computer gaming.

When I don't have to look up if a counter can move 5 or 6 hexes, due to weather (13.45) hex terrain (8.67a), hexside (8.8), enemy proximity (12.5), supply (16.4-16.6), command (5.55) and general mood of the troops (19.3a). I'll just put my finger on the cardboard counter and the table will show me where I can move it, instantly.


Not to be sarcastic, but you can get that experience now with computer wargames. I myself like having to wrestle with rules in order to know them well enough to play fluidly. It's a good workout for the brain.


Me, too. Also, if a computer game has a bug in it, or if the rules don't seem to be "working right" (the other side is cheating, maybe), there is nothing you can do about it. And it's a lot easier to get to the "inner structure" of a boardgame to write variants.
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usrlocal wrote:
_Kael_ wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.
I wouldn't mind being a wargamer over 20 years. When ipads, touchscreen tables, internet, software and hardware have diminished the wall between (multiplayer) board gaming and (solo play) computer gaming.

When I don't have to look up if a counter can move 5 or 6 hexes, due to weather (13.45) hex terrain (8.67a), hexside (8.8), enemy proximity (12.5), supply (16.4-16.6), command (5.55) and general mood of the troops (19.3a). I'll just put my finger on the cardboard counter and the table will show me where I can move it, instantly.

Not to be sarcastic, but you can get that experience now with computer wargames. I myself like having to wrestle with rules in order to know them well enough to play fluidly. It's a good workout for the brain.

Not taken so.
I like a board between me and my (physically present) opponent. So that alone sort-of rules out PC.

I do think touch tables &such could be great additions.

As for the rules: to each his own. I don't want to turn wargaming into some sort of Real Time Strategy game. But I do think it would be nice to play a game correctly, as opposed to finding out that you messed up/ forgot half the rules in your previous session. Let the computer do what it does best (number crunching), then will I do what I do best (or at least: better) :making strategic decisions.
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Enrico Viglino
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Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.


I know this - it was more fun before.

Not the games, the people. Or maybe I've changed.
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_Kael_ wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.
I wouldn't mind being a wargamer over 20 years. When ipads, touchscreen tables, internet, software and hardware have diminished the wall between (multiplayer) board gaming and (solo play) computer gaming.



Nah - that's when I'll take up sex again.
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usrlocal wrote:
Jude wrote:
Me, too. Also, if a computer game has a bug in it, or if the rules don't seem to be "working right" (the other side is cheating, maybe), there is nothing you can do about it. And it's a lot easier to get to the "inner structure" of a boardgame to write variants.


That's exactly why I stopped playing computer wargames. Not knowing what was going on under the hood became really annoying to me. And yes, most computer 'AIs' cheat their little silicon hearts out.


I remember playing the computer verions of the GBoH series some, oh, 10 or 15 years ago. I enjoyed them to be sure, especially since I was primarily a solo wargamer then. However, since the details for movement rates, combat, routing, etc were handled by the computer I was left with an odd vacant feeling.

The conclusion I came to was that part of the appeal for me was getting into the minutia of a game. "Oh it's raining now. Well that will half my movement rate. Crap!". One reason why I play these games is to get a better understanding as to why the real life events unfolded as they did. With the computer smoothing the rough edges out of the game I was left feeling a little wanting.
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Capt_S wrote:
usrlocal wrote:
Jude wrote:
Me, too. Also, if a computer game has a bug in it, or if the rules don't seem to be "working right" (the other side is cheating, maybe), there is nothing you can do about it. And it's a lot easier to get to the "inner structure" of a boardgame to write variants.


That's exactly why I stopped playing computer wargames. Not knowing what was going on under the hood became really annoying to me. And yes, most computer 'AIs' cheat their little silicon hearts out.


I remember playing the computer verions of the GBoH series some, oh, 10 or 15 years ago. I enjoyed them to be sure, especially since I was primarily a solo wargamer then. However, since the details for movement rates, combat, routing, etc were handled by the computer I was left with an odd vacant feeling.

The conclusion I came to was that part of the appeal for me was getting into the minutia of a game. "Oh it's raining now. Well that will half my movement rate. Crap!". One reason why I play these games is to get a better understanding as to why the real life events unfolded as they did. With the computer smoothing the rough edges out of the game I was left feeling a little wanting.


Yeah - I don't want to give up all the little mechanical actions -
and I certainly don't want to be performing them with a (painful)
mouse.

I think there's a future compromise though - which will be automated
record keeping. Physical components that can display information
(chippy chits?). Since the information is just that, physical components
could be one-time investments (until the next 'upgrade' :P ).

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red black wrote:
Capt_S wrote:
The conclusion I came to was that part of the appeal for me was getting into the minutia of a game. "Oh it's raining now. Well that will half my movement rate. Crap!". One reason why I play these games is to get a better understanding as to why the real life events unfolded as they did. With the computer smoothing the rough edges out of the game I was left feeling a little wanting.


You don't notice when your movement rate is halved in computer games?


Noticed?...yes.

Knowing why?.....not necessarily.
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Capt_S wrote:
red black wrote:
Capt_S wrote:
The conclusion I came to was that part of the appeal for me was getting into the minutia of a game. "Oh it's raining now. Well that will half my movement rate. Crap!". One reason why I play these games is to get a better understanding as to why the real life events unfolded as they did. With the computer smoothing the rough edges out of the game I was left feeling a little wanting.


You don't notice when your movement rate is halved in computer games?


Noticed?...yes.

Knowing why?.....not necessarily.


I like the old hex-and-counter operational games and still have a soft spot for Squad Leader -- but find VASSAL too unclear without someone of infinite patience to walk me through the mechanics and put up with my inevitable screwups. I can set it up, but am a bit lost after that.

In a bit of departure, however, I recently picked up Memoir '44 and played the online version yesterday. With the exception that it doesn't allow for pausing games to move on to other things and then resume later, it's a very good experience. It's transparent about what the rules are (i.e. max move, moves where you can still shoot, etc.,) when you click on a unit while not allowing you to get all screwed up. If they could meld that with: (a) the ipad experience; and (b) asynchronous play, I think that'd be the template for IMHO a perfect wargame experience. Play with others, play solo (it has the option), play in free moments. Perfect.
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Indeed.

I like VASSAL for a number of reasons. One being that the modules are often simply just representations of the board, units, charts and dice. The players need to bring a complete understanding of the rules to the (virtual) table to play it.

That being said, I did like the command range indicator found in the module for A Victory Lost. So I suppose some computerizing of the play gets a thumbs up from me.



PS - I like the rule enforcement found on WarGameRoom too.
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Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.


Who wouldn't? Today, you get the best of what's new. AND most all of the games of yesterday remain playable. It's the best of both worlds.
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J.L.Robert wrote:
Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.


Who wouldn't? Today, you get the best of what's new. AND most all of the games of yesterday remain playable. It's the best of both worlds.


Thaaaaat's what makes this the Golden Age'!
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Hungadunga wrote:
I would rather be a wargamer now than at any other time in history.


Agree... (whilst looking down at my old SPI counters and those included in Field Commander: Napoleon)
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