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Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 2:23:16 PM   
Daniele

 

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This is a first (and experimental) post to see if we can spark some positive discussion about topics related to wargames and to help us better understand your views and opinions about stuff we care about. So here you go.

Most of the time, wargames depict conflicts with surgical precision and analytical rigor. Nevertheless, they tend to focus only on the military (or close related) aspects. That’s pretty self-evident, of course, as wargames are about war, after all. But we shall not forget that all conflicts are not a mere confrontation of brute force. Also, the more a conflict is controversial, the more it is difficult to show it exclusively from the military perspective.

Where are the ethics, the politics, the personal relationships, the diplomatic struggles? Do we play war because of the strategic and tactical implications only and can we avoid any form of partisanship when a conflict is touching us closer? How do we look at the Vietnam war, for instance? And the Arab-Israeli conflicts?

Since the main goal for a wargame should be the most realistic representation of a conflict, how should we tackle the most controversial ones? Is the “100% military focus” option the only one available? Or can other ways be attempted? Is there a perfect compromise?

Share your thoughts here!

< Message edited by Daniele -- 9/1/2016 8:19:38 AM >
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 2:51:22 PM   
lerugray

 

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It ultimately depends.

If you are making games for wargamers, the way to add in that level of abstraction is at the strategic level, like strategic command 2 or HOI4. WW1 being an example, a purely diplomatic game would make it essentially, not a wargame, maybe similar to one (like twilight struggle) but if not dealing with the operational implications of who what and where with maneuverable units, then in my opinion, it's not really a wargame.

In terms of what I would like to see from matrix, I think it would be really cool if you guys made some versions of published wargames with AI attached, much like Le Grand Guerre which for some reason we can't buy on the site anymore. Absent that, it would be nice to see some games covering more obscure conflicts at a tactical or grand tactical level, like the franco prussian war, seven years war, crimean war, spanish civil war, spanish american war, jutland, Russo Japanese war etc. Even with all of those, if you wanted to add a political dimension like you specified in your post, you could do these at the strategic level. The AGEOD games usually do a great job of that type of game in my view, though a little processor heavy.

I have a couple wargames being looked at by board wargame publishers and at least talk to a lot of board wargamers. Many of them are looking for something like the Tiller games but with a friendlier UI.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 2:56:22 PM   
martxyz

 

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Depending on your perspective, it's already difficult to maintain an entirely neutral stance in a purely military approach, however hard you try. Then, of course, some people don't try anyway, leading to posts that are bigoted, racist, sexist, or willing to view the history behind a game in such a simplistic and biased way that they go on to use it to justify some pretty unpleasant views.

I think that if you were to actually introduce politics, motivations, background (other than military) history, you could find yourself having given birth to a monster.

I'm pleased and grateful that thought is being given to ways to improve perspectives on conflicts, but I suspect the current suggestion would soon become unpleasant and unmanageable. Like most people, I have a general world view, which frequently needs to be reassessed in some cases because of the inconvenient truth of some of the facts. But I think it might be worth considering the weight given to views in support of the idea. In theory, wargames/strategy games should be able to be enjoyed by anyone regardless of gender, nationality, race, or political. In reality, this isn't the case, and those people simply drop out of the forums, and finally stop playing the games, or buying them.

I don't think I'm a shrinking Violet, but apart from this post, I dropped out of the Matrix forums years ago. I have my preferences set so I don't get notified of any replies. I already dread what some would be like. Thx. Martin

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 3:07:34 PM   
rico21

 

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Daniele, my friend
In one part of wargame, two camps clash, so you can choose the camp you like to go slay the camp that you hate, if that is the case, in an entire discretion without penalty to anyone.
Amen

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 3:12:57 PM   
Newsoft


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I would like to point to two interesting examples from board wargaming that expands on what a wargame could be. Those are Mark Herman's Churchill and Volko Ruhnke's COIN-series. I believe that inspiration from such titles could result in highly interesting computer wargames.

Cheers all

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 3:40:48 PM   
mussey


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Strategy and Tactics (S&T) published a semimonthly subscription to a wide ranging series of war games. Matrix could barrow from that. Not only the game topics but also a subscription based platform where we would be introduced to variety of topics on a regular basis. Maybe $100 a year for one game quarterly? Or something similar.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 3:50:04 PM   
Mini_Von


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Political strategy, events, leaders, and diplomacy are just as important to the outcome of the war as the tactical strategy. I think that the event engine would have to steer the campaign in a historical direction in order to keep the game relatively accurate. An ahistorical campaign might also be fun as an alternative option to add to the game. HOI comes to mind when I think of features like this.

I would love to merge certain aspects of several games to create the ultimate experience. WITE2 OOB details, HOI diplomacy and events, Decisive Campaign leadership choices would make a great game. I don't know if it would be practical to create but I would certainly enjoy playing something like this.

This is an interesting topic and I am wondering if any developer would be willing to create a masterpiece like this.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 4:02:38 PM   
vettim89


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One thing that modern warriors have to deal with is politically driven ROE, objectives, and interference. For example, in Operation Desert Storm considerable air assets were diverted to hunt for SCUD missile launchers. Militarily these missiles were not a high priority target but politically they were the HIGHEST priority target. It is hard to interject that into a war game but point could be made that it would make them more realistic

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 4:30:57 PM   
wings7


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For me wargames are about realism (and of course play-ability)...that includes tactics, historical content, politics and diplomacy...realism is the key. Controversial games should be welcomed also.
Designer notes are paramount in describing the workings of the game (abstracts or compromises in realism and controversy in the game design).

Patrick

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 5:15:23 PM   
hjalmar99


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First decision in design of a wargame is, of course, the historical context . . . which will then determine the scale, both in geographic scope and in time.

Then comes the classification:
1) TACTICAL (noisy, but boring old shoot-out at the Okee-Dokee Corral)
2) OPERATIONAL (entire battles . . . covering from grand tactical [Waterloo] to strategic campaigns [Case Blue])
3) STRATEGIC (the fate of entire empires - The WAR - where cultural, economic and ideological cards are bet by political gamblers)

I love the direction taken by Vic Reijkers with his Decisive Campaigns series. Newsoft (post above) mentions Mark Herman and Volko Ruhnke. Those two gentlemen are some of the most imaginative wargame designers I have the pleasure to have met. Mark was a star before computer wargames were even a thing.

My own design ideas include a scenario where the actors are the factions within the French political system during the first part of the 20th century.

Sadly, a lot of wargames are just fantasy tactics with the orcs and elves dressed up as tanks and jets. It is as boring as porn. I'd like less eye candy and a lot more cerebral challenge.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 5:27:16 PM   
solops

 

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I like games from all time periods, if they are done well. I play only solo (vs AI). I strongly prefer games with NATO counters for all time periods (excepting the "space" part of space games). I prefer WEGO or Continuous-but-Pausable Time. The two biggest problems I consistently run into are bad AI and bad UI. I gladly sacrifice features and complexity in return for good AI. Politics and espionage, when included, are almost ALWAYS overemphasized and overpowered, especially espionage.

< Message edited by solops -- 8/30/2016 5:30:41 PM >


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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 5:59:55 PM   
Jagdtiger14


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The future of war gaming is VR. Imagine DC Barbarossa in virtual reality where you are standing on the battlefield, interacting with generals to common soldiers, visiting the Wolf's Lair, Churchill, Stalin, etc... You are actually in the game participating. Stalin might purge you, a commissar might have you shot, you might pick up a rifle, map, pee in the woods, fly a plane, what ever. I'm not talking just first person shooter here (I hate those games)...but first person strategist, diplomat, tactician, wide open for what ever. Interacting with the personalities and possibilities.

Pay close attention to what is happening in the world of VR and its development.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 6:42:06 PM   
Macclan5


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Re-Posted Following Note from Daniele / WITPAE Forums


I wish you all the best in this post.

That is the post does not descend into discussions about the 'relative morality' of certain combats / wars / peacekeeping actions.

To try to stay on topic:

I am in agreement that the rigorous precision applied to the pure military objectives / details is often the best application of a war game.

1) It appeals to the amateur historian in me < and in many wargamers? >

2) It appeals to the arm chair general that thinks I would have done X differently with better results < my gamer choice and in many wargamers? >

3) If I /another player have ethical qualms about playing one faction or another I/ another player can simply choose not to play the faction that offends one's personal morality. A persons / gamers morality will vary greatly depending upon their circumstances / society / education / culture / etc.

Its that old story that in pleasing one you offend all others or that you cannot satisfy everyone.

Limiting the game to precise re-enactment of the military situations helps obscure the relative morality ~ probably satisfying more customers / enlarging the audience.

--

The only 'aspect of politics / diplomacy' I often desire in a war game to be enhanced is espionage as a function related to war aims.

Espionage not with political aims but tactical military aims.

Historically one might refer to:

1) Ultra - giving one side a definitive edge in signals intelligence that actually demonstrates itself through fog of war.

2) "The Man who never was" - giving an opponent false signals / plan intelligence that creates a false fog of war for your opponent for example / one that is evident to only them and may fool them.

3) The ability invest resources into a Resistance Movement i.e. The Maquis ~ to cause movement / tactical deployment delays and challenges in enemy occupied territory.

I hope this answer is considerate and intelligent enough to address your question

< Message edited by Macclan5 -- 8/30/2016 6:45:41 PM >


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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 7:34:46 PM   
Russell Osterlund

 

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Most of the board and computer war-games I own deal with World War 2, and, more specifically, the Eastern Front. I am troubled at times how the simulations "sanitize" a savage, bloody conflict between two mortal enemies. For example, SS units always "stand-out" because of the choice in color - mostly black (perhaps, they could receive a less terrifying shade, maybe a "pink" tone). As an a-side, I remember AH's "Battle of the Bulge" had a special counter for Kampfgruppe Peiper of Malmedy Massacre infamy with a combat value of 10 as opposed to 9 for most other German armor units - Why? The extra point almost never changed the battle odds. The rules could be changed a bit to reflect the higher casualty rate these SS units incurred, and, not only because they were generally better equipped and, therefore, stronger than other German units, but they were also more fanatic. The presence of partisan units abstracts the Nazi genocide and stronger Russian resistance as the conflict moved eastward. But, is this enough to represent the murder and pillaging taking place? And, as the Nazi armies were pushed back, there was a "scorched earth policy" that once again "disappears" into the mechanics of play.

I believe there is a moral imperative to remind those, who "play" these games, of the inhumanity and tragedy occurring on a scale not seen before in history.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 7:54:00 PM   
hellfish6


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jagdtiger14

The future of war gaming is VR. Imagine DC Barbarossa in virtual reality where you are standing on the battlefield, interacting with generals to common soldiers, visiting the Wolf's Lair, Churchill, Stalin, etc... You are actually in the game participating. Stalin might purge you, a commissar might have you shot, you might pick up a rifle, map, pee in the woods, fly a plane, what ever. I'm not talking just first person shooter here (I hate those games)...but first person strategist, diplomat, tactician, wide open for what ever. Interacting with the personalities and possibilities.

Pay close attention to what is happening in the world of VR and its development.


That won't happen for twenty years at the earliest. Of note, people also said VR would be that great twenty years ago.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 7:56:22 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Daniele

Since the main goal for a wargame should be the most realistic representation of a conflict, how should we tackle the most controversial ones? Is the “100% military focus” option the only one available? Or can other ways be attempted? Is there a perfect compromise?

Share your thoughts here!
warspite1

I am guessing that this thread follows from the work done by VR and Decisive Campaigns?

In order to keep the thread focused I think it would be helpful to understand what controversial topics you have in mind?

But in the meantime and at the risk of stating the obvious I think one thing is really simple. The more recent the conflict (especially where tensions remain unresolved) the more the obvious stance is simply to stick to vanilla war gaming of that conflict and game the military aspect alone.

Equally the further back in time we travel, the more scope I believe there is for taking a partisan approach to one side or other without fear of upsetting some group or other.

But I suspect this question is aimed at the group in the middle! It would be easier to discuss if we knew what we were talking about.


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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 8:13:30 PM   
Mobeer


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If a wargame wants to be realistic then it has to consider those "non-100% military" factors. But if you go down the route of allowing politics in a game then expect controversy.

Since you mentioned "Vietnam war", do you want to be the game to allow the player a choice on using defoliants? Call it "Bombers +1 to hit", or call it using chemicals on civilians? and is it ok to say Vietnam war, or should it be the American War?

Given the current Matrix Games forums policy is to lock anything that vaguely mentions politics or even economics then you will a new approach to forum management.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/30/2016 9:08:59 PM   
Max 86


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One area not considered much in wargames is the treatment of POWs. I would like to see games involve taking prisoners and the players having to decide how to treat them. Just as an example, lets take a Panzer Corps battle. Unit A destroys Unit B and takes 1 SP of Unit B prisoners. Player A has to decide whether to spend prestige on feeding / policing those POWs or execute them to keep prestige. In this case (WW2) playing the Allies would have different consequences than playing the Axis when handling POWs. For other earlier time periods this would not be the case.

I would recommend you speak to your game developers for input on this as well. They should have some insight as to what is feasible or not.

What we need to avoid is the adding of these layers to a game and they do not function correctly when game is released (are you listening AGEOD / WON?). Most games released have to go thru a series of patches to fix bugs and such and adding more layers of complexity just adds more bugs. Let's not go there!

+1 to what Warspite said. The original question is a little vague.

< Message edited by Max 86 -- 8/30/2016 9:12:22 PM >


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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 12:39:32 AM   
kevinkin


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Assuming the ultimate goal is to sell product and not to necessarily please all war gamers, the answer comes from predicting what will sell in the future. Take a look at the report below, especially page 12. It's always best to tackle controversy head on. Compromises will please no one. A military focus will be the most quantitative while incorporating non-military factors the least and leads to more arbitrary design decisions. I think an example or two of the "most controversial ones" would really help. What's controversial to one person is just fine with another. Back to sales. I do not think it would be wise to turn off gamers brought up in the US. For example, a game depicting the ins-and-outs of the American Indian wars might not be of too much interest compare to a brand new co-play WWII platoon scale game with a slick interface and graphics. Players deal with ethics and politics all day and probably don't what to spend entertainment time immersed in it. I would design "best in class" combat sims and leave the outside stuff open to the imagination. Or to others to try to get right. Games like Civ V are so balanced and PC they lose any notion of realism. Not that Matrix would ever go that far.

http://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/ESA-Essential-Facts-2015.pdf

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 1:32:10 AM   
gunny

 

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Not to worry too much about controversial games, or ethics, since that bridge was crossed with the advent of games featuring car theft and killing drug dealers. However the topic is war games, so back on track here. The level of war game makes a difference as to how much controversy is visible, if at all. You mentioned Vietnam. At a tactical level it is no different that any other war game out there. Squads getting annihilated and ordnance going boom. But at a grand strategic level you see soft factors featuring politics, morale, prestige, troop quality, production commodities, then to be realistic you are probably going to have to account for negative factors like corruption, political unrest, civilian casualties, and cold war meddling in keeping with the theme, for example Vietnam. So are you prepared to display something like units losing intelligence in a sector because the enemy has threatened local villages with death. Or local guerrilla activity increasing in a sector because a B-52 strike hit the wrong target and prestige points are lost. I think it would be great to see this level of detail in a grand strategic game but the ethics may be a little uncharted. Don't nerf it.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 1:50:46 AM   
BoerWar


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If you buy Clausewitz' argument (and I do) then you believe war is a political act. To try to divorce the two concepts negates any meaning. In virtually every conflict both sides entered believing they could achieve a favorable political outcome. Even if the military balance appeared lopsided, the weaker side believed it had a path to a favorable political solution, otherwise it would rationally capitulate. The key for a good wargame designer is to capture those nuances in the victory conditions.

Japan's attack on the U.S. in 1941 is a perfect example. There is no version of alternate reality where the Japanese military captures and holds significant portions of U.S. territory. Nevertheless, Japan went to war hoping it could cause enough pain to make America walk away from the Western Pacific.

Personally, I prefer games (like World in Flames and Days of Decision) that attempt to capture these political nuances more than games that don't. Games that ignore the political nuances are just dressed up versions of chess and checkers.

If you are looking to design a game around the War on Terror then it would absolutely have to capture political (or religious) intent on both sides unless you are doing a tactical simulation. A purely military simulation at the operational or strategic level would be pointless.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 3:20:27 AM   
Agathosdaimon


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Most wargamers i know including myself, certainly do not condone war crimes and have no disagreement over who the bad guys are so to speak, and although alot of games make it popular to play as Napoleon or the Wehrmacht or Kriegsmarine, these are popular perhaps it answers to a sense of some wholeness to also acknowledge the "dark side" or to better understand why and how they did what they did. It is also though that usually one is playing as some figure who is just focussed on the strategy and tactics, like Rommel or just a soldier on the front line facing certain doom.

The atrocities of war though seem to only really come up after the war, so i am not sure how you could include them in the game during the war and have them play into the final result at least in a game from a past historical period.

CMANO though is quite good being set in our time, the affects of committing war crimes could very quickly end the scenario as a failure. This too reflects where we are at with technology being that the military campaigns of the past were not able to so easily inflict so much death and destruction on populations.

Perhaps though the ethical and moral dimensions do already appear in many wargames - even in the Total War series, where you can decided whether to violently or peacefully deal with a city once it has been captured and both options will affect you.

Wargames have done pretty well to avoid partisan politics ie, right wing wargames and left wing wargames - both do not seem to be a thing at all - though i am yet to play the Ageod russian revolution game or their spanish civil war game.


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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 3:28:41 AM   
Agathosdaimon


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vietnam war is a good one to talk about as the use of carpet bombing or other mass death causing technologies did not really help to win clearly, - is is there a game which lets you play as the Vietcong instead?

Vietnam seems more a like a game that is either survival horror or more or a grand global supreme ruler type game of the period, at least if one wants to be historical. Perhaps also smaller tactical games based on particular battles, where it is not unlike games based on Rorkes Drift.

There is a good vid on youtube on teh History buffs channel on the historical accuracy and inaccuracy of the movie We Were Soldiers, which i saw recently, very insightful and relevant to this thread topic

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 3:51:17 AM   
skshrews3

 

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"Since the main goal for a wargame should be the most realistic representation of a conflict, how should we tackle the most controversial ones? Is the “100% military focus” option the only one available? Or can other ways be attempted? Is there a perfect compromise? "

Board games seem to be willing to take on these "ancillary" issues more than computer games for whatever reasons. Look at Mark Herman games that use cards to drop political events onto your best laid military plans every turn. Or the Vietnam games "Fire in the Lake" or "Hearts and Minds" that stress the political aspects of the Vietnam War.

I think the PC gaming world is starving for a "wargame" that moves away from the usual NATO counter smothered map, to fewer pieces and a more recognizable story of politics and people.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 5:08:27 AM   
Hofstadter

 

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I think wargaming should try to veer more in the direction that Decisive Campaigns Barbarossa took, but make it even more realistic. A game that combines the interpersonal relationships of DCB with the general stylings of Scourge of War in HITS mode...except you know....not terrible, would be amazing. I wanna be in a room looking at a map, trying to decide whos info is the most reliable. Who can I trust with a push, who refuses to deviate from the OOB. Wargaming should towards high command generalship rather than operational counter pushing.

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 8:34:17 AM   
BradK82

 

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I have intimated at this in another thread. I am dispassionate about sides. In a vietnam scenario for instance I am interested in how the game models the event and the possibilities for both sides to achieve "victory" whatever that means when human life is lost.

One poster called this the advanced chess aproach to wargames. I don't think so, there are many wargamers like myself who are history buffs who would not be grand masters at chess.

In a final example in Ageod's Civil War II there is an option to suspend Habeas Corpus as Lincoln did. Historians today debate the morality of this. All that I consider is what does it provide me and at what cost. Anyway, Lincoln saved the UNION and you can argue amongst yourself whether this was a good thing. I take it Colin Kaepernick does not.


< Message edited by BradK82 -- 8/31/2016 8:36:45 AM >

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 9:23:08 AM   
RodyMetal


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Most people like to play video game for interaction, push counters, move things, and boom boom. If the game about being an army general, then you should be one, game should really present clear and detail information to you, and you make decisions based on that, I wish if DC:B has less counter pushing, and more decision makings.

Regards

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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 1:27:50 PM   
Vic


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Hi all,

Interesting responses.

As for my two cents. I think the ideal level of ethics in a wargame depends on the player. Some like it, some dont. Its like how tactical do you want your game to be? how detailed? how many counters? ... how ethical?

Where to strike the balance if you want the majority of players to enjoy depends on lots of things. Clever writing helps. In DC:B we added a variant flag so you could turn off the most sensitive stuff.

In the end the most important thing is distance from the subject in time and space.

For example:

Making a decision on German ww2 train allocation for death camps would be extremely distasteful.
But making a decision on Roman cargoships allocation for importing slaves for arena fights would not rub me the same way.

Best wishes,
Vic

< Message edited by Vic -- 8/31/2016 1:29:08 PM >


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(in reply to RodyMetal)
Post #: 28
RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 2:35:15 PM   
TitaniumTrout

 

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I think you could look at the COIN series of boardgames, published by GMT Games, as another excellent way to describe a conflict. There's no way you could port, say the Vietnam War, to the War in the East engine. But you can devise an entirely new way of describing the game that minimizes the military options. Of particular interest is that the COIN players may all have different objectives, and some may not overlap at all.

Personally I'm sick of all the reclones-reskins-redos of past game design. The genre is ripe for some growth. Look at Combat Mission, Command Ops, and Graviteam Tactics. No hexes. Real time command, but pauseable, and a wide variety of scenarios. Angola anyone?

As cool as an ASL simulator recreating Normandy... enough already. Check out the COIN style, bring me something new.

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(in reply to Vic)
Post #: 29
RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you! - 8/31/2016 3:37:22 PM   
Zap


Posts: 3061
Joined: 12/6/2004
From: LAS VEGAS TAKE A CHANCE
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If any movement in this direction of adding politics happens may I suggest game publishers/designers/players be prepared! Outside interests will pigeon hole you and classify you in a negative way. As has been done with wargamers presently. The question do you have the balls to stand up to that criticism, if you take that path.

< Message edited by Zap -- 8/31/2016 3:40:37 PM >


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