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Subject: Black-Powder Era Wargamers rss

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p55carroll
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As far as I can tell, these "Wargamers" threads kinda started out with a "Favorite ACW Games" subject. Either that or "Jenkins' Ear." Anyhow, I thought I'd try a period that stretches from about 1680 to 1880.

Anybody into this period? Favorite games to share?

Here's a GeekList to go with the thread.

Miniatures rules (e.g., The Complete Brigadier and Black Powder) sometimes cover the whole period. I've long wished there were a board wargame that did. Even in SPI days it took two wargames to cover the period on a tactical level: Grenadier and Rifle & Saber.

Weigh in on the period if you like. Name your favorites.

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There's so much ACW and Nappy stuff, that they deserve their own
little followings I think. For me though, Taking this whole era
into account almost makes sense (about as much as a thread on pre-20th
Century would). The breakdowns into specific eras into singular
threads feels as though people are trying to remake BGG into the
image of CSW.

At least there's the subscription system here though -
which is easier for me to handle than the CSW one.
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Can't speak to the period you indicate but, the 30 years war just prior is extremely well covered by the Musket & Pike series. I only recently started playing "Saints in Armor", the 6th game and am itching to play out the first 5 now.
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Wild Tchoup wrote:
I am a big fan of Ian Weir's Lace Wars series. Many of the titles are on theaters of the War of Austrian Succession but also include the Jacobite Uprisings, the Williamite Wars in Ireland and a fantastic 2 game set on the Austro-Russo-Turkish War of the 1730's.

Great focus on maneuver, supply and siege. Gorgeous hand-drawn maps, unparalleled historical commentary ... a separate book for each title.

Ian is also spinning out into Naval titles of the period.

A body of work that is simply unparalleled!


Well put! Amazing series.
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Crap. They now have a digital download option... The last time I looked they didn't, and I balked at the prices.
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Enrico Viglino
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Meisterchow wrote:
Crap. They now have a digital download option... The last time I looked they didn't, and I balked at the prices.


Much much cheaper that way.

I find I'm struggling with the rules a bit though. Some unfamiliar
concepts - or at least ways of explaining them - are at play.
This one's going to require playing with the pieces on a board
to get an idea of what is going on. Somewhat reminiscent of
Zucker's Napoleonic stuff though, so that may help.
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calandale wrote:
There's so much ACW and Nappy stuff, that they deserve their own little followings I think.

Well, they certainly have them. But of course there's a lot else that happened militarily during the 18th and 19th centuries: Seven Years War and colonial wars, for instance.

It's a matter of perspective, but if you look at it from the angle of major tactical changes, it seems to me there are only a couple real "paradigm shifts." Lots of smaller transformations, but only a couple earthshaking ones.

The first was the advent of handheld gunpowder weapons with bayonets. Suddenly every infantryman could fire at the enemy (whereas only trained archers and slingers had been able to do so before), and with the bayonet they could still function as pikemen too.

The next huge change was twofold: smokeless powder and machine guns. That made linear tactics obsolete and forced all the further technological and tactical changes seen in 20th- and 21st-century warfare.

So, to me it seems that Don Featherstone's rough division of military history into three eras makes sense for wargamers. He named Ancient, Horse-and-Musket, and Modern as the three broad periods. His Horse-and-Musket period is the same as what some call the Black-Powder period.
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calandale wrote:
Meisterchow wrote:
Crap. They now have a digital download option... The last time I looked they didn't, and I balked at the prices.


Much much cheaper that way.

I find I'm struggling with the rules a bit though. Some unfamiliar
concepts - or at least ways of explaining them - are at play.
This one's going to require playing with the pieces on a board
to get an idea of what is going on. Somewhat reminiscent of
Zucker's Napoleonic stuff though, so that may help.


Actually that helps quite a bit, since I'm fairly fluent with his CNS series. Even if it's only a conceptual similarity, sounds like I should be able to manage it. HOWEVER, discretionary income is at an ebb, so when I do pull the trigger it won't be an impulse...more like a slow burn.
 
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Enrico Viglino
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Patrick Carroll wrote:


It's a matter of perspective, but if you look at it from the angle of major tactical changes, it seems to me there are only a couple real "paradigm shifts." Lots of smaller transformations, but only a couple earthshaking ones.


Dunno if I can agree that their are so few - but I'd include the
tactical effect of state organization for war as well. The armies
that Rome (as the strongest example) could bring to the field
were significantly different from those which were mustered during
the medieval era (even late medieval with gunpowder weapons). You don't
see that kind of organization until very late, but then in an accelerated
manner, over a few centuries. Some of this was technological, with better
road and (especially) rail transport. But it sure affected how battles
were fought.

Quote:
The first was the advent of handheld gunpowder weapons with bayonets. Suddenly every infantryman could fire at the enemy (whereas only trained archers and slingers had been able to do so before), and with the bayonet they could still function as pikemen too.


I see this as a very gradual change. The bayonet itself not being as big
a deal as the long term acceptance of gunpowder and improvements.
Bayonets were merely a hop on that route.

Quote:
The next huge change was twofold: smokeless powder and machine guns. That made linear tactics obsolete and forced all the further technological and tactical changes seen in 20th- and 21st-century warfare.


Throw in the breach loading rifle for good measure. But, whether these
forced other technological changes is, to me, rather moot. We've seen
a tremendous expansion of what the battlefield even is - with air, EW,
and other aspects making combat nothing like what it was in the early
decades of the machine gun.


Quote:
So, to me it seems that Don Featherstone's rough division of military history into three eras makes sense for wargamers. He named Ancient, Horse-and-Musket, and Modern as the three broad periods. His Horse-and-Musket period is the same as what some call the Black-Powder period.


Useful as broad markers maybe, but the tactical differences are sufficient
to make any but simplistic renderings (ones which make all eras
pretty much indistinguishable in treatment) require significant differences
in how you model them.


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calandale wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
So, to me it seems that Don Featherstone's rough division of military history into three eras makes sense for wargamers. He named Ancient, Horse-and-Musket, and Modern as the three broad periods. His Horse-and-Musket period is the same as what some call the Black-Powder period.

Useful as broad markers maybe, but the tactical differences are sufficient to make any but simplistic renderings (ones which make all eras pretty much indistinguishable in treatment) require significant differences in how you model them.

Well, I guess it depends on how many eras you're willing to put up with. If you're really into detail, have eclectic tastes, and never get enough wargames, you're probably happy to see periods broken down into many small subdivisions.

I've always been more of a generalist. I'd much rather see a good "survey" of military history than suffer through somebody's fine-toothed-comb treatment of a pet subject. If there are differences between the warfare of the English Civil War and that of the Dutch Revolt, I really don't care about them.

I like Featherstone's breakdown into "mostly melee" (Ancient), "balanced/transitional" (Horse-and-Musket), and "mostly firepower" (Modern). One or two more categories I might be able to tolerate. More than that, and you're getting too picky for me.

Anyhow, having read a fair bit about some of the wars in the 1680-1880 time period, I'm sure there's plenty of similarity between the beginning and end of that era. There are differences too, and that's what makes it interesting. But one good set of wargame rules (e.g., The Complete Brigadier) can cover it all and demonstrate the changes in weaponry and organization.
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Some games that I know won't appeal to many, but I like them:

A Famous Victory

Fields of Glory: Oudenarde & Malplaquet

Both games deal with battles during the War of the Spanish Succession involving John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough. Some will say they are too much of a good thing, diving in to details that could better be abstracted while maintaining the period flavor. Perhaps that's true, but I love these nonetheless!

For the "overview" treatment, see Marlborough's Battles: Ramillies and Malplaquet. These are okay as well if you can cope with the errata. But I like the bigger versions better--by far.



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Wild Tchoup wrote:
I am a big fan of Ian Weir's Lace Wars series. Many of the titles are on theaters of the War of Austrian Succession but also include the Jacobite Uprisings, the Williamite Wars in Ireland and a fantastic 2 game set on the Austro-Russo-Turkish War of the 1730's.

Great focus on maneuver, supply and siege. Gorgeous hand-drawn maps, unparalleled historical commentary ... a separate book for each title.

Ian is also spinning out into Naval titles of the period.

A body of work that is simply unparalleled!


Which would be the best game(s) of the series ?

Are there any written reviews of these games ?
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
calandale wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
So, to me it seems that Don Featherstone's rough division of military history into three eras makes sense for wargamers. He named Ancient, Horse-and-Musket, and Modern as the three broad periods. His Horse-and-Musket period is the same as what some call the Black-Powder period.

Useful as broad markers maybe, but the tactical differences are sufficient to make any but simplistic renderings (ones which make all eras pretty much indistinguishable in treatment) require significant differences in how you model them.

Well, I guess it depends on how many eras you're willing to put up with. If you're really into detail, have eclectic tastes, and never get enough wargames, you're probably happy to see periods broken down into many small subdivisions.

I've always been more of a generalist. I'd much rather see a good "survey" of military history than suffer through somebody's fine-toothed-comb treatment of a pet subject. If there are differences between the warfare of the English Civil War and that of the Dutch Revolt, I really don't care about them.


So why differ at all? The old SPI/AH systems applied to any era (or scale).
Just tweak a few numbers, and you can express anything.




Quote:
Anyhow, having read a fair bit about some of the wars in the 1680-1880 time period, I'm sure there's plenty of similarity between the beginning and end of that era. There are differences too, and that's what makes it interesting. But one good set of wargame rules (e.g., The Complete Brigadier) can cover it all and demonstrate the changes in weaponry and organization.


I heard another good set of rules handles every era.
It's called the Laws of Physics, IIRC. Fair level of detail
even.

But overly generic systems give me little I want to know.
The linear tactics of Fredrick are not the same as the more
free-wheeling ones of Napoleon. And that's only 50 years!
It's playing with such differences which led me to wargaming
rather than abstracts.
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calandale wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
Well, I guess it depends on how many eras you're willing to put up with. If you're really into detail, have eclectic tastes, and never get enough wargames, you're probably happy to see periods broken down into many small subdivisions.

I've always been more of a generalist. I'd much rather see a good "survey" of military history than suffer through somebody's fine-toothed-comb treatment of a pet subject. If there are differences between the warfare of the English Civil War and that of the Dutch Revolt, I really don't care about them.

So why differ at all? The old SPI/AH systems applied to any era (or scale). Just tweak a few numbers, and you can express anything.

I kinda wish they had done that, but it didn't look to me like they did. Oh, the "D-elim" CRT was used for the first few AH games, and some of the SPI quad games seemed pretty similar. But my main complaint back then was that innovation was running amok. It seemed that every time a new game came out, I'd have to learn a whole new set of rules. It was aggravating. Especially aggravating when I knew damned well there was often no reasoning behind the new rules. They guy who decided "non-sticky" ZOCs were most fitting for the Thirty Years War was full of it, as far as I'm concerned. That type of ZOC just hadn't been used much, and he wanted to experiment with it. To me, about 85 percent of what passes for clever wargame design is just BS--innovation for its own sake.

That's what kept driving me toward miniatures all those years. I could never actually get into miniatures (I hated collecting and painting them, and I didn't care about the visual effect), but I loved the idea that one good set of miniatures rules could cover countless scenarios in a given period of history. Basically, one set of rules was all I wanted to learn.


Quote:
But overly generic systems give me little I want to know.
The linear tactics of Fredrick are not the same as the more
free-wheeling ones of Napoleon. And that's only 50 years!
It's playing with such differences which led me to wargaming
rather than abstracts.

I'm actually more into abstracts than wargames myself. I've always felt the idea behind Nieuchess was brilliant. I wish that idea had caught on. I admire what S. Craig Taylor tried to do with Battle: The Game of Generals; it's too bad that wasn't better developed and didn't catch on.

Why differ at all? Well, Nieuchess didn't. Battle: The Game of Generals did, because it's interesting to be able to get some hands-on vicarious experience with a few of the basic developments in military science. So, that game covers three broad periods.

I love close-up detail and prefer tactical wargames for that reason; they're the ones that really take me back and show me what it was like. But when I take that trip, I'm only out to titillate my imagination and emotions; I'm not making anything like a serious study. If I wanted to make a serious study of military history/art/science, I'd spend 98 percent of my time with books and divide the rest between wargames and documentaries or lectures. I don't believe wargames are of that much value in such a study.

Above all, I don't want to have to keep learning new sets of rules all the time. That, to me, is a ridiculous waste of time and effort.
 
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Here's a list of wars in this era, for anyone interested.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
calandale wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
Well, I guess it depends on how many eras you're willing to put up with. If you're really into detail, have eclectic tastes, and never get enough wargames, you're probably happy to see periods broken down into many small subdivisions.

I've always been more of a generalist. I'd much rather see a good "survey" of military history than suffer through somebody's fine-toothed-comb treatment of a pet subject. If there are differences between the warfare of the English Civil War and that of the Dutch Revolt, I really don't care about them.

So why differ at all? The old SPI/AH systems applied to any era (or scale). Just tweak a few numbers, and you can express anything.

I kinda wish they had done that, but it didn't look to me like they did. Oh, the "D-elim" CRT was used for the first few AH games, and some of the SPI quad games seemed pretty similar.


Pretty much what I'm talking about here. You can't apply them once
tactical air comes onto the field, but they seem to handle everything
else - and at larger scales, air just becomes a part of the mix really;
it might need some special rules, but is not a huge addition. Hell, works
for Third Reich as well as ancients. It also tells me not a damned thing.

Quote:

But my main complaint back then was that innovation was running amok. It seemed that every time a new game came out, I'd have to learn a whole new set of rules. It was aggravating. Especially aggravating when I knew damned well there was often no reasoning behind the new rules. They guy who decided "non-sticky" ZOCs were most fitting for the Thirty Years War was full of it, as far as I'm concerned. That type of ZOC just hadn't been used much, and he wanted to experiment with it. To me, about 85 percent of what passes for clever wargame design is just BS--innovation for its own sake.


When you're modelling things so abstractly, it probably does look that
way. If you really do feel it's BS though, you can play most of these
games by the rules you're familiar with, and ignore what the designer
is trying to represent. In most cases, it probably won't matter much,
given the level of detail/imagery present.

Quote:
... the idea that one good set of miniatures rules could cover countless scenarios in a given period of history. Basically, one set of rules was all I wanted to learn.


This is (largely) true. Special battles need special cases (unless
there's a GM to act as the rules), but this has nothing to do with
the cross-era thing. A good detailed minis game covering all the
gunpowder era is going to need a lot of differences. Things are
pretty stable from 1700 to 1760 or so though - you could probably
cover these with a reasonable sized rulebook. But, if you want
to also include the Napoleonic era, there would have to be huge
additions. The unified approach is coolest in creating 'what if'
scenarios, like Napoleon vs. Fredrick, for whatever that would be
worth.
Quote:

I love close-up detail and prefer tactical wargames for that reason; they're the ones that really take me back and show me what it was like. But when I take that trip, I'm only out to titillate my imagination and emotions; I'm not making anything like a serious study. If I wanted to make a serious study of military history/art/science, I'd spend 98 percent of my time with books and divide the rest between wargames and documentaries or lectures. I don't believe wargames are of that much value in such a study.


I don't consider what I do serious study; not in the least.
But, if things are too abstract, my imagination is bored.
The game begins to seem more a puzzle/game than it does something
designed to show me what's happening.

I look at Chariots of Fire as a great example. The history is
just not good enough to more than speculate at how these things were
used, but Berg manages to capture a very believable representation,
and you can see it play out in some detail. And it's different from
how any other weapon system (even horse archers) works; very different.
Playing the same scenarios in Ancient Battles Deluxe doesn't show it
at all. Yeah, the outcome may be the same, but I'm not seeing that
imagery in the detail to really see what the designer thinks happened.

Quote:
Above all, I don't want to have to keep learning new sets of rules all the time. That, to me, is a ridiculous waste of time and effort.


A good minis rule set is probably the way to go then. No reason you
have to bog down with painting an all that. Games like Napoleon's Battles
even come with counters, and IIRC, little terrain pieces.

Another option is to take a rules set you like, and an erasable hex
mat, and build your own battles for it that way. You'll get as much detail
as most minis gamers do.
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Wild Tchoup wrote:

More recently, I've been digging into the Austro-Turksih/Russo-Turkish War titles, Türkenkrieg (1737-1739) and Heirs of the Golden Horde. Studying this campaign has made me hunger for more on the conflict with Turkey in the Balkans. What an incredible theater! The addition of the Russian conflict in the wild steppes of the Ukraine against the Tatars just makes this all the better. These 2 games are only somewhat linked. Like many of these titles, its probably best played with many players as even allied sides had lots of disagreements and divergent goals. The system really gets these down very well.

I'll get to those initial impression posts soon and dig into the mechanics.


Thank you very much for pointing out these games.

The Ottoman Turks ruled a significant part of Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East for hundreds of years, yet they are severely unrepresented as far as wargames are concerned
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This is my favorite period for wargaming, both for cardboard and for miniatures. I generally play with cardboard for the strategic and operational level, and play with miniatures for the tactical level. Here's the cardboard games that I like:

Empires in Arms

The Civil War

1776

Friedrich

No Peace Without Spain!

Gunslinger

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Wild Tchoup wrote:
I'll get to those initial impression posts soon and dig into the mechanics.

My group is currently researching what monster we should play next, and we would be very interested in reading that.

Quote:
Like many of these titles, its probably best played with many players as even allied sides had lots of disagreements and divergent goals. The system really gets these down very well.

This sounds promising, but how would it work? My main concern about the Lace Wars series is that there are six (maybe seven) of us, and some of the powers in Game & Gambit & Cockpit seem to be rather minor to the others. Austria and France are involved everywhere all the time, but how interesting is the gameplay for Savoy, or Spain, and how much of their time is spent waiting for their opponents playing in the other theatres before coming to play in Italy?

And Turkenkrieg looks to be 2-player. Are there any interesting mechanisms for team play and friction between the players on the same side, or do you just divide the troops and play?
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calandale wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
... the idea that one good set of miniatures rules could cover countless scenarios in a given period of history. Basically, one set of rules was all I wanted to learn.

This is (largely) true. Special battles need special cases (unless
there's a GM to act as the rules), but this has nothing to do with
the cross-era thing. A good detailed minis game covering all the
gunpowder era is going to need a lot of differences. Things are
pretty stable from 1700 to 1760 or so though - you could probably
cover these with a reasonable sized rulebook. But, if you want
to also include the Napoleonic era, there would have to be huge
additions. The unified approach is coolest in creating 'what if'
scenarios, like Napoleon vs. Fredrick, for whatever that would be
worth.

While I haven't yet tried it myself, I've heard nothing but good things about The Complete Brigadier, a set of miniatures rules that covers the period 1680 to 1880. I've been reading through the two booklets that come in the box, and it looks like the designer divides the era into about four subperiods. Weapons and organization differ in each subperiod, and there are special rules for irregular forces. But the basic rules work throughout all four subperiods. I don't get the impression that the mechanics of play need to be different for each period in order to represent the changes, though occasionally there's a special rule (e.g., in the earliest subperiod, civilian teamsters hauled cannons around, so those clunky guns can't limber and unlimber or move as freely as guns in later subperiods can).

I don't know that I'll love this rules set, but I do love the idea of being able to play a French-and-Indian War scenario one weekend and an American Civil War scenario the next, without having to learn any new rules. Especially if the F&I War scenario looks and feels like the F&I War and the ACW scenario looks and feels like the ACW. Seems to me the different weapons and organizations should achieve that. If I were using miniatures, the differences would be visually enhanced, but I don't care as much about that.

Quote:
I look at Chariots of Fire as a great example. The history is
just not good enough to more than speculate at how these things were
used, but Berg manages to capture a very believable representation,
and you can see it play out in some detail. And it's different from
how any other weapon system (even horse archers) works; very different.
Playing the same scenarios in Ancient Battles Deluxe doesn't show it
at all. Yeah, the outcome may be the same, but I'm not seeing that
imagery in the detail to really see what the designer thinks happened.

To me, that's kinda like following the work of a favorite movie producer; you like the way that producer uses various effects to present a particular view of the subject. I'm not a big movie buff, so I've never done that. Indeed, I don't really get it. Movies are artificial anyway, and why should I care about what's in a particular producer's mind?

If a wargame designer is just somebody who presents a particular subjective view of military history, he's like a filmmaker to me (nothing personal; I know you're into videos, but I'm talking about major motion pictures). I might enjoy the finished product for a couple entertaining hours, but I'll never care about the filmmaker or his techniques or his other work (unless another of his movies just happens to appeal to me).

In the case of Berg's chariot warfare versus the Banks/Nagel rendition of chariot warfare, to me the difference is negligible. What those charioteers actually did historically is the only thing of real interest to me. And since records are so scarce, I have to picture it in my own imagination anyway. So give me the shorter, more playable game, as long as I get to have my chariot-borne archers roll up and fire at nearby enemy soldiers. If Berg's rendition is more vivid and cinematic, it still boils down to his vision of how things were; and I'm only interested in my vision of how things were--which, of course, I want to be as close as possible to the way things really were. If you're playing the game with me, what you imagine will probably be different than what I imagine, and maybe only one of us (at most) can have it right; but a more abstract game at least allows us the freedom to imagine. A very detailed, realistic one replaces our imagination and understanding with that of the game designer.

I don't like having other people's imagery foisted upon me. I'd rather be free to come up with my own, based on what I've read or feel I know.

Quote:
Quote:
Above all, I don't want to have to keep learning new sets of rules all the time. That, to me, is a ridiculous waste of time and effort.

A good minis rule set is probably the way to go then. No reason you
have to bog down with painting an all that. Games like Napoleon's Battles even come with counters, and IIRC, little terrain pieces.

Another option is to take a rules set you like, and an erasable hex
mat, and build your own battles for it that way. You'll get as much detail as most minis gamers do.

As it happens, The Complete Brigadier comes with cardboard counters and instructions on how to research and make mapsheets to use with the game, in case one doesn't want to use miniatures (or hasn't got them painted and ready yet). That's one reason I bought the game.

Sadly, though, it turns out I don't even have that much of a do-it-yourself streak in me. I knew I'd never have the patience or interest to make my own map or create stat sheets for the various units, so I never punched the counters.

For my taste, a game has to come ready-made. I won't do anything besides read the rules, set it up, and play it. I very reluctantly forced myself to put together print-and-play games a couple times, but even that was more of a chore than I'm usually willing to tackle.

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If you're looking for the true monster game that would be Kabinettskrieg

That was what I was really thinking of when I wrote "Game & Gambit & Cockpit".
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

While I haven't yet tried it myself, I've heard nothing but good things about The Complete Brigadier, a set of miniatures rules that covers the period 1680 to 1880. I've been reading through the two booklets that come in the box, and it looks like the designer divides the era into about four subperiods. Weapons and organization differ in each subperiod,



With that, I think one could probably cover a much larger period.
Truth be told, to handle that period, with colonial wars and East
Europe, you'd pretty much need an 'ancients' type system anyhow.

It isn't until the end of the era that things really start to change,
with massive entrenchments and the like. By the end of the ACW though, you're seeing
what WWI is going to look like.

Then everything changes again towards the end of WWI, with small units
being more important again.

Quote:
and there are special rules for irregular forces.


These are the big problem with the earlier periods. Most units are
formed, but irregulars, to be properly modeled, hell, you could
go right through the modern era if you managed this. Sure, mechanized
units and airpower would be different, but once you've gotten over the
hurdle of dealing with all the formation and doctrinal differences which
happened in the couple hundred years you're dealing with, why not a few
thousand more? I mean, other than just new movement factors and weapons
systems. The big questions are what things a system wants to focus
on, but once you do that, it's all just numbers that need to be
designed I think - and special rules (perhaps) for stuff like
fire whilst moving (say horse archers).


Quote:
though occasionally there's a special rule (e.g., in the earliest subperiod, civilian teamsters hauled cannons around, so those clunky guns can't limber and unlimber or move as freely as guns in later subperiods can).


This is where the real work comes in. Identifying all the differences.
Look, the linear tactics of Fredrick and Marlborough aren't the same as
those used in the Thirty Years War, and they're also not the same as
those used in the ACW/Napoleonic eras. Basically, for such a system
to capture much of value, units would need their own special movement
rules for nearly every period and type - but you need that anyhow
if you're going to be handling things like irregulars. The core system
could be pretty simple, with all the 'special' rules on a per unit basis.
That could probably be handled with various movement templates, to make
learning (though not necessarily application) fairly easy.




Quote:
To me, that's kinda like following the work of a favorite movie producer; you like the way that producer uses various effects to present a particular view of the subject. I'm not a big movie buff, so I've never done that. Indeed, I don't really get it. Movies are artificial anyway, and why should I care about what's in a particular producer's mind?


Well, it is a fairly accepted belief. The big thing though is to
be able to see it in action, and how differently the chariot works
from any weapon system since. Of course, it doesn't show very well
what made them obsolete. That would require more detail in the
density of troops than was chosen for the system. Again, what
the game wants to highlight. If you're not interested in what
specifics the designer wants to show, you probably shouldn't
be playing games - that's precisely what they do in every case.

Quote:
If a wargame designer is just somebody who presents a particular subjective view of military history....


If he doesn't, then he's probably just providing either a verbatim
replay of history or sheer fantasy. Just as reading history gives
you a view through a subjective lens, so too does a game. Once you
start asking, "what would happen if Pickett's Charge occurred several
hours earlier, you're getting into the subjective biases of what the
designer thinks of how the tactical and weapons systems would operate
in situations for which you can no longer match directly.

Quote:
In the case of Berg's chariot warfare versus the Banks/Nagel rendition of chariot warfare, to me the difference is negligible. What those charioteers actually did historically is the only thing of real interest to me. And since records are so scarce, I have to picture it in my own imagination anyway. So give me the shorter, more playable game, as long as I get to have my chariot-borne archers roll up and fire at nearby enemy soldiers.


Unfortunately, that simply isn't the case in ABD. Chariots are treated
as shock units only. This is the design's way of getting around
having to detail their peculiarities, and I find that thoroughly unsatisfactory.

Quote:
If Berg's rendition is more vivid and cinematic, it still boils down to his vision of how things were;


Not just his. But yes, it's very sketchy. I'd still rather see a
reasonably believable breakdown of that fire in motion aspect than
abstracting it away - even if I'm not certain that it's precisely
happening the way that it did.


Quote:
and I'm only interested in my vision of how things were--which, of course, I want to be as close as possible to the way things really were.


Fair enough. The GBoH handling is close to what I thought from other
sources. But, those are all experimental rather than historical/archaeological.

Quote:
If you're playing the game with me, what you imagine will probably be different than what I imagine, and maybe only one of us (at most) can have it right;


Not necessarily. We could be imagining at different levels of detail.
For example, the ABD system does seem to 'get it right', but Berg's
(different) view might as well. Both capture the basic concept that
chariots are the king of the field, but one just makes them numerically
more potent, whilst the other requires careful handling because they
are also very fragile.

Quote:
but a more abstract game at least allows us the freedom to imagine. A very detailed, realistic one replaces our imagination and understanding with that of the game designer.


True enough. If you disagreed with the view of the more detailed
game, it's a reason not to use it. On the other hand, we play simulations
(I think) because we want to see a bit more than we would with abstract
treatments. One could claim the card game War represents a certain story,
and perhaps align it well enough, but it likely wouldn't be as satisfying
as something that portrayed in more detail. Simplicity and abstraction
are matters of taste, and we stand on different places in the spectrum -
but I'd guess neither of us is on an extreme.

Quote:
I don't like having other people's imagery foisted upon me. I'd rather be free to come up with my own, based on what I've read or feel I know.


This is where everyone is I think.
Quote:

As it happens, The Complete Brigadier comes with cardboard counters and instructions on how to research and make mapsheets to use with the game, in case one doesn't want to use miniatures (or hasn't got them painted and ready yet). That's one reason I bought the game.

Sadly, though, it turns out I don't even have that much of a do-it-yourself streak in me. I knew I'd never have the patience or interest to make my own map or create stat sheets for the various units, so I never punched the counters.



Probably other people do...and have made them available for download.
Yes, I fully understand such laziness - but that's because I have so
damned many fully printed games to learn and play.

Quote:
For my taste, a game has to come ready-made. I won't do anything besides read the rules, set it up, and play it. I very reluctantly forced myself to put together print-and-play games a couple times, but even that was more of a chore than I'm usually willing to tackle.


So here's where the problem is - there simply isn't a market for a
fully produced game to cover all battles you'll ever want over
many eras. At least not a physical game; there may well be enough
for a computer game. So, you can't have what you want without any
effort.

It's time to reassess what you want.

I'll go back to a simple suggestion - find a rules set which works
over a lot of designs; buy games that look like they'll work for them;
and play them by the rules you like. Fudge where necessary. It often
works okay.

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calandale wrote:
It's time to reassess what you want.

Oh, I do that constantly! It's my MO.


Quote:
I'll go back to a simple suggestion - find a rules set which works
over a lot of designs; buy games that look like they'll work for them;
and play them by the rules you like. Fudge where necessary. It often
works okay.

Me, personally? Yeah, well, I already know what I'm actually going to do. I thought we were just discussing the theoretical/philosophical possibilities of designing wargames in various ways.

Regarding the black-powder period in particular (since that's the subject of this thread), I'm going to start by learning Battles & Leaders and playing it a few times. It's meant for tactical ACW combat, but its components are generic-looking and the map can be configured in many ways. If I like it well enough, I'll pull weapon and organization charts from The Complete Brigadier (and maybe elsewhere) and modify them for use with the B&L components. If all goes well, I'll have my simplistic, all-purpose black-powder-era tactical game. Then maybe I'll try my hand at scenario design or something.

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Patrick Carroll wrote:

Me, personally? Yeah, well, I already know what I'm actually going to do. I thought we were just discussing the theoretical/philosophical possibilities of designing wargames in various ways.


I think that the combination of factors with which you shot down most
of the ideas are pretty much unique, so yeah, this became about you.

Quote:

Regarding the black-powder period in particular (since that's the subject of this thread), I'm going to start by learning Battles & Leaders and playing it a few times. It's meant for tactical ACW combat, but its components are generic-looking and the map can be configured in many ways. If I like it well enough, I'll pull weapon and organization charts from The Complete Brigadier (and maybe elsewhere) and modify them for use with the B&L components. If all goes well, I'll have my simplistic, all-purpose black-powder-era tactical game. Then maybe I'll try my hand at scenario design or something.


Yeah, if you go simple enough, it should work.
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A Lesser Wrath/Sommar Skrala showed up in the mail today. This is a double game showcasing both the Lace Wars system for operational land combat (A Lesser Wrath) and the SEA LORDS system for operational naval warfare of the period (Summer Squall). Best of all, the theater and game is small enough that this is probably the perfect set to learn with before tackling the bigger brethren.

The game covers the Russo-Swedish War in Finland two decades after the Great Northern War between Charles XII and Peter the Great. Here we get treated to the little known "War of the Hats" that resulted in Russian conquest and final Swedish humiliation. There would be yet another war with Sweden later on in this century...

"Hats" off to Ian Weir and Red Sash Games for putting out such a fine introduction to both systems with the usual color, depth, and detail these games are known for!
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