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Subject: Is it a card-driven wargame? rss

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Thomas Heaney
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Ok, I'm feeling like playing Devil's Advocate tonight, so after reading the rules a couple of times and studying the mapboard, I suggest that that Twilight Struggle isn't a card-driven wargame. [Note that I'm not saying that's bad; I'm really looking forward to playing it and not only do I think it will be a fun game, but I also think it will be very accessible and thus a bit of a gateway game for new wargamers.] (My only beef is that GMT didn't ship my copy until today and it won't be here until Tuesday . . . and I'm going out of town for a week . . . wahhhh. cry )

In all the previous incarnations of the card-driven wargame, from We the People on down, there have been armies and generals to maneuver across a map complete with interceptions and forced marches. The central genius of these games has been the use of cards to activiate these maneuver forces as well as simulate other events and tactics. The point of these games was that there was a "traditional" wargame (armies to move and attack) at their heart that was driven by a card system.

TS is in contrast, a card-management/area control game. There are no armies to move or battle or supply or force march; instead, cards are used to add abstract influence points to various places or to directly contest control of a place (e.g. via a coup attempt). Victory points then come, primarily, from the scoring of various areas on the board based upon majority control. This all sounds positively Euro to me.

Is that what we are looking at? The mechansism of a Euro game mated with a thick coating of theme with a little bit of wargame added? Heck, it doesn't even seem "fiddly" like most wargames compared to Euros. Do we place TS closer to El Grande or Wallenstein than to We the People?

[Heck, maybe it opens a door to a whole to genre? Or am I reading more into this than I should?] blush
 
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Kevin Rohrer
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Yes, it is definitely a card-driven game. The cards you get each turn and play drive the game.

No, it is not a wargame. There is no conflict and no army/navy counters to move around the board. Combat is not even abstracted, except in an extremely abstract way. cool

TS is a power politics game, pure and simple. I have played it once, and having grown up in this era and been stationed in Germany with the US Army in the 1970s, can identify with the theme and really like it.
 
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From reading the rules on this game, it's probably the closest someone has come to the mechanics and play of We the People which is probably the game that defines the start of CDG's.

It's about using cards to place influence and influence is really what gets you the points to win the game. Much like WtP, there is conflict (of course on a grand abstracted scale in TS), but similarly the conflict is there to ultimately gain you more influence or control over an area.

This game in on my top "must purchase" list for historical/wargames for 2006. I consider it more historical than wargame, much like I would apply this same standard to WtP.

Cheers.
 
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Brian Morris
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Definate card driven game. I think Twilight Struggle in fact will make a great gateway game to the CDG system. The rules are only 8 pages long and yet the basics of the cards are the same you will find in more advanced games of the type such as For The People and Sword of Rome. Cool thing is the game plays in only around 3 hours so you can play an entire game on a weeknight.
 
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Jason Matthews
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theaney wrote:
Ok, I'm feeling like playing Devil's Advocate tonight, so after reading the rules a couple of times and studying the mapboard, I suggest that that Twilight Struggle isn't a card-driven wargame. [Note that I'm not saying that's bad; I'm really looking forward to playing it and not only do I think it will be a fun game, but I also think it will be very accessible and thus a bit of a gateway game for new wargamers.] (My only beef is that GMT didn't ship my copy until today and it won't be here until Tuesday . . . and I'm going out of town for a week . . . wahhhh. cry )

In all the previous incarnations of the card-driven wargame, from We the People on down, there have been armies and generals to maneuver across a map complete with interceptions and forced marches. The central genius of these games has been the use of cards to activiate these maneuver forces as well as simulate other events and tactics. The point of these games was that there was a "traditional" wargame (armies to move and attack) at their heart that was driven by a card system.

TS is in contrast, a card-management/area control game. There are no armies to move or battle or supply or force march; instead, cards are used to add abstract influence points to various places or to directly contest control of a place (e.g. via a coup attempt). Victory points then come, primarily, from the scoring of various areas on the board based upon majority control. This all sounds positively Euro to me.

Is that what we are looking at? The mechansism of a Euro game mated with a thick coating of theme with a little bit of wargame added? Heck, it doesn't even seem "fiddly" like most wargames compared to Euros. Do we place TS closer to El Grande or Wallenstein than to We the People?

[Heck, maybe it opens a door to a whole to genre? Or am I reading more into this than I should?] blush


Well, I guess Ananda and I should take credit for creating a whole new genre of gaming and just leave it at that. Sadly I can't really resist this debate. Amusingly, the mechanisms that folks site as "euro-like" were inspired by designs that are not considered Euros.

First, of course, the basic placement of influence, (in chains, for control of territory), comes right from We The People. The other mechanism that is called Euro-like is the scoring system. That was influenced by History of the World. While this was originally a Ragnar Brothers design, and they do stray toward the euroy side of the line, most people would not call History of the World a Euro Game.

The card mechanisms themselves frequently are adapted from things I have seen in {gasp} CCG's.

When I entered the hobby there were a lot of games that fell somewhere between a hex/crt wargame, and something else. We had no conception of Euro Games, but they were not family games either. Civilization, Republic of Rome, Pax Britannia and Diplomacy are all games in this vein. If you asked anyone what you were playing, you'd say a wargame -- as distinct from a role playing game, or a family game. But they were not about war in any meaningful way either. They were "conflict simulations." Since many wargamers enjoyed them, I believe that is why we developed the term "conflict simulation."

To my mind, that is where Twilight Struggle falls. Its not a new kind of game, its just a kind that sort of vanished with Avalon Hill. It looked like GMT might pick up that mantle, but it became more difficult when GMT went to a P500 only system. That said, the P500 system has been able to very successfully publish Manifest Destiny, which is another game that falls into this category of "conflict simulation." So, perhaps there is hope yet.

In any case, who needs another wargame about the Cold War. It has been done to death, and very well already. Oddly enough, for a geopolitical conflict, there was a complete void of games that dealt with the Cold War as a geopolitical exercise. Games that were not geared toward WWIII, tended to be multiplayer games like Cold War, or U.N. or Superpower. As multiplayer games, they almost from the get go, abandon the bipolar and historical context of the Cold War, and use it merely as a backdrop for some kind of Risk variant.

So, we have tried to fill that void. I'll let you guys decide how well we did.

However, I will admit to one totally Euro Gamer bias in this game -- time. I will never design a monster game, because I don't have the time to make sure it works. Even Twilight Struggle is on the long end of time that I can muster nowadays. So, this game and any other that I am involved in will try to accomplish its goals in a time period that is managable. For me, that's about 3 hours or less. In my mind, the guy on the Euro front that is designing games that are pushing in the Grognard direction is Martin Wallace. Liberte, Struggle of Empires and Byzantium all seem to me to be games that consim players should be perfectly comfortable with. So, perhaps nudging from both directions, grognards and Eurogamers will have some new gaming choices that are truly middle ground between both wings of our hobby.
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Allen Doum
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The idea that Twilight Struggle is a hybrid of different types of games is no big deal. That sort of thing always happens. Once upon a time, Leaders in wargames, where they existed at all, might give a movement bonus. After Role Playing games were introduced, leaders started getting more complex, with more stats and game effects.

So CDGs starting with WtP all involved the moving of armies and had reactions battles and retreats that were similar to wargames, where Twilight Struggle does not. As Jason points out, there were already games, like Civ, Age of Ren, and History of the World, that were hybrids.

Part of this is due to the limited definiton of 'CDG' used by some. While Mark Herman first joined card play to movement and combat in wargames in games that I very much like, I see this as more of an major evolution in game design, not a revolution. WtP was a 'hybrid' when it was released, IMO. But that is an arguement I have already had elsewhere, and won't further discuss here.

This is part of why it is difficult to catagorize games. Every time a nice, neat set of catagories is suggested, it is easy to point out a game that sits squarely on the lines. Twilight Struggle may have a little more Historical detail than Struggle of Empires, but considerably less than Empire of the Sun. It is like a thermostat, not a switch; set it to your comfort zone, and enjoy.
 
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Thomas Heaney
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Actually, I agree with everyone (and thanks Jason for offering your views). Games are indeed a thermostat, analog rather than digital. Nevertheless, I think that TS is enough of a departure from previous CDWG to note this. I think it may lead to some new game developments in the near future.
 
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Jason Weed
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theaney wrote:
Actually, I agree with everyone (and thanks Jason for offering your views). Games are indeed a thermostat, analog rather than digital. Nevertheless, I think that TS is enough of a departure from previous CDWG to note this. I think it may lead to some new game developments in the near future.


Labyrinth being one, and yes, this is a wargame.
 
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