Lewis Pulsipher
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I am working toward the elusive "one hour wargame", and Euro/wargame crosses in general. My games tend to be longer than an hour, however (they are usually multiplayer), so I've made a list of techniques to reduce the length of a game. There is not much exposition here, but I thought you might be interested, and might think of additional methods:

Limit to two players

"Time" limit
Actual Time
Turns/hands (is a natural for some historical games)
Expenditure of something (such as a deck of cards)
Play to a certain number of points

Simultaneous action. (reduce the time it takes to do something)
Simultaneous plays (or nearly so)
Real-time (anyone acts anytime)
(The "norm" is turns)

Reduce the number of pieces the player must manipulate/keep track of/plan for
In some race games, each player has only one piece
In most card games players have few "pieces" (the cards)
Traditional games often have few pieces (12 each in checkers, max 5 in Tic-Tac-Toe)

Multiple victory conditions--if you can win more than one way, the victory may come more quickly

Avoid the need to write anything down or calculate anything

Avoid the need for any record-keeping outside of the pieces/board/cards themselves

Resolve any conflict quickly (no interminable dice rolling, for example)(no calculations required)

Limit the time spent managing resources (economy--way to acquire new pieces)--which may mean, have no economy

If a wargame, make the game tactical rather than strategic (longer) or grand strategic (longest)

Information: either make much of the information available so that players won't have to wonder/ponder what's going on, or make almost no information available so the player cannot profitably use information to make an analysis
In many card games, little information is available
The same can be said for many role-playing games

How to reduce "analysis paralysis? Even games with fairly simple rules (chess) can profitably be analyzed for long periods. I'm not sure what you can do about this, nor am I certain that you need to--"analysis paralysis" is practically a personality trait that tends to show up regardless of the game, unless it is dominated by chance.
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Mario Lanza
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It's a Eurogame but I like the Reef Encounter method. Each player has 4 shrimps that are played to the board and (hopefully) consumed by a hungry Parrot fish. By the virtue of one player consuming his last shrimp, the game ends.

This is similar to "Expenditure" but the timing is entirely in the hands of the players. The other activities (like taking sets of coral) complement this method and work to the end arriving promptly.

Recently I've adopted a speed method whereby I try to consume much more quickly than my opponents and leave at least 2 of them them each 2 of their shrimp in play. As such the game end method works also toward strategic consideration.
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Alan Richbourg
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Lew, please keep posting these. I find your insights fascinating and helpful.

This may be a variant of "reduce the number of pieces", but some sort of command limit, where only a certain subset of a player's pieces can be moved, seems to reduce game length. This can be an arbitrary number, card driven, or limited by special pieces (for example an army unit cannot be moved without a leader unit).

The best way I know though is to make it a diverging rather than converging game, to avoid a stalemate. For example, in Fortress America, the attackers only have so many turns to win before America will start walking away with the game, due to the laser America gains each turn. Similarly in Axis & Allies Pacific, Japan has to win in a few turns, or the Allies will inevitably win (turning their economic ability into military capability). Contrast this with the "stop the leader" action in Diplomacy, which can drag on interminably (and often does) due to a stalemate. Often it's better to let the winner win and get it over with, after the other side had their reasonable chance at victory.
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Greg Aleknevicus
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Anthony Simons wrote an article on this for The Games Journal:

http://www.thegamesjournal.com/articles/ShorteningGames.shtm...

Most of the recommendations are fairly obvious but there's one that you don't mention: limiting (or eliminating) any "set-up" phase to a game. Start the game in the middle of the action rather than forcing the players to build to that point.
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Mike Siggins
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Charles Vasey wrote this piece for Sumo:

http://www.gamecabinet.com/sumo/Issue16.17.18/Downsizing.htm...

Mark Johnson and I recently discussed Euro/Wargame hybrids on his BoardgamesToGo podcast:

http://libsyn.com/media/boardgamestogo/BGTG_38B_2005-10-04.m...
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Lewis Pulsipher
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As my games tend to be more than 60-90 minutes--they're ALL wargames, and almost all multiplayer--my effort here is to find ways to reduce the length. I don't think you'll ever get a "Britannia-like" game down to 60-90 minutes without losing everything that makes it a unique system, though I do have one that I think will ultimately come in at 120-150 minutes.

Yes, insofar as many of these items amount to "reduce the number of choices the players must make", I should have included "no freely-chosen setup".

I like the idea of divergence rather than convergence; but I don't see its application to games with more than two players, unfortunately. (Unless the game is one player versus everyone else....)

I have downloaded the podcast, Mike, haven't listened yet. I have a couple virtually-complete games that were devised as crosses between Euro and wargame, but if there are more than two players the length goes over 90 minutes.

Thanks for the article references.

Lew
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Alan Richbourg
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One example I gave for divergence, Fortress America, is a 4 player game within a 2 player game, essentially. The time limit aspect is governed by the 2 sided aspect (everyone against America), but there is also competition between the non-American players. Just like in Friedrich.

I think any 2 sided but multi-player game could be divergent; it wouldn't necessarily need to be all against 1 player. There would just be 2 teams of players. The original Axis and Allies is kind of that way, for instance. I can see though that more than 2 sided games might always converge towards a stalemate, or else tend toward being in effect 2 sided.
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Robert Wesley
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''REAL 'men' play games for 'daze'!'' laugh
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marc lecours
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Try actually timing the various aspects of your game. How much time do players spend doing various things. When I did that with a wargame I was playing I noticed that my opponent spent a large amount of time looking up the possible results on the CRT after having made all his decisions but before rolling the dice. I suggested that we save time by just throwing the dice THEN looking up the results. We tried it. It saved time but he went back to his old ways because it was part of his enjoyment of the game.

In some games what takes up a lot of time is simple things like counting victory points often. Example: Britannia, history of the world, 7 ages.

One game that has a simple way to count up victory points is Kremlin. You wave at the parade and you get a point.

Another way to speed up the game would be for both players to have something to do at once. How about a game where there are two parts to the game. Maybe a map for movement and some type of logistics,command chart. While one player does stuff on the map, the other does stuff on the chart.

Another thing that slows down things is having to wait for the other to make decisions. Example: I mave my bomber, you decide whether to commit your fighters, THen I commit my fighters, then I choose whether to back down, back and forth.

Eliminate die rolls wherever possible. Leave only a few important ones. Have no more than one or two types of combat modifiers. If you have to look it up then it slows down the game.

Have as few as possible exceptions so that time is not wasted looking up rules.

have a specific rule that the rulebook cannot be consulted on your turn.

In a diplomatic multipplayer game, Have a specific rule that an ally cannot be consulted on your turn.

People can handle about 5 pieces of information. Keep choices down to 5. 5 possible units to move on a turn or 5 types of action to choose from. Assume that the other units are still busy completing previous orders.

Logistics: In a WWII game assume that the players have a great logistics staff. They will anticipate your needs and make the right choices. Instead of having to move supplies to the front line assume that the right choices where made for the player. Supplies and reinforcements appear at depots at normal costs and anywhere needed for double the cost.

A sand timer or chess clock is a possibility against analysis paralysis.

What about a real time game. Every 1 minute both players have to make a move.

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Jim Pulles
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For us at the club, it's usually...

"Dave! It's your turn!!"... *SMACK*!
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Lewis Pulsipher
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nelciara wrote:
...

I really dont understand why it so often is a problem in wargames when it comes to rules.

Rules are there to set the frames of the game they are not there to be discussed!

Its always so much talk about how to interpretet them not to mention all the exeptions!

OK, im not a wargamer but i do think that its up to the designer to adress this "problem" no matter what you are designing.


I suspect that wargamers are more competitively-oriented than Europlayers (overall), so if the rules are unclear, there's more likelihood of disagreement because of the competitive nature. Furthermore, wargames, by representing something real (which many Eurogames do not, practically speaking), are inevitably more complex, hence more opportunities for rules dysfunction. Finally, because wargames represent a reality, people like to discuss how well they represent reality, which usually means discussing the rules.

Eurogames are designed for a different market than wargames have been over the years: they are not "better-designed", just designed for a different kind of player. I am trying to find a common ground between the two.

Lew Pulsipher
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Michael Von Ahnen
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Quote:
Quote:
nelciara wrote:
...

I really dont understand why it so often is a problem in wargames when it comes to rules.

Rules are there to set the frames of the game they are not there to be discussed!

Its always so much talk about how to interpretet them not to mention all the exeptions!

OK, im not a wargamer but i do think that its up to the designer to adress this "problem" no matter what you are designing.


I suspect that wargamers are more competitively-oriented than Europlayers (overall), so if the rules are unclear, there's more likelihood of disagreement because of the competitive nature. Furthermore, wargames, by representing something real (which many Eurogames do not, practically speaking), are inevitably more complex, hence more opportunities for rules dysfunction. Finally, because wargames represent a reality, people like to discuss how well they represent reality, which usually means discussing the rules.

Eurogames are designed for a different market than wargames have been over the years: they are not "better-designed", just designed for a different kind of player. I am trying to find a common ground between the two.

Lew Pulsipher


I agree with Lew here. The less abstract the theme, the more rules end up to it. How rewarding would ASL be if every squad, leader, weapon, terrain obsticle, and vehicle had exactly the same properties? One size does not fit all in a game like that.

But, it is a game designers responsibility to make the game playable. If the idea of the game is to not require refering to the rules during play, then you can not have 20 pages of rules. But is it a requirement to not refer to the rules?

You can "play" almost any wargame in 60 to 90 minutes. You may not "complete" the game, but I can not think of a single wargame that can not have turn done in 60 to 90 minutes. I have played many games where the objective of the evening was to play a few turns of a very long game. And for many wargamers, that is what you are looking for in an evening of gaming.
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Rohan Jain
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Also, you could put in a normal version (long version with all rules) and have other "modes", such as points or preset time limit.
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Brendan Tracey
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I guess it's along the lines of not needing to refer back to the rules, however, if your game has cards, or tiles or something, and people are taking a long time to read the components, try to make it more visual, so that people can see what a card does without having to read anything.

If your looking to reduce the game length by just a little bit, try changing the end conditions by a little bit. Instead of playing to 10 points, play to 9. It could have a big change on when the game ends.
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