From: Paducah, Kentucky
I am one the Empires In Arms buyers that is totally befuddled as well. Let me throw my 2 cents in and I hope you will feel better afterwords. (All remarks from here on out will apply to World in Flames unless specifically noted.)
World In Flames is a large, complex game. Back when I learned how to play (almost 20 years ago), it took several games before I felt comfortable with the rules. It took several more games before I was anywhere near proficient. Those initial games were slow drudging affairs that ended up with the realization that things were simply being done wrong and maybe it was time to start again.
I believe that the real reason these big games are hard to learn is that the rules are laid out as a reference. It is easy enough to find the rule that tells you how to do what you are doing but almost impossible for a new player to know what he wants to do at that point. (This has been my problem with EIA.) At least with World in Flames, I had a pretty good background of what actually happened in WWII and could always rely on that as a guideline for the strategic things. (i.e. Conquer Poland, Conquer France, Bomb Britain, Try to Conquer Russia, etc.)
I believe, from what I have seen on this forum, that Steve is taking care to expose the 'behind the scenes' information rather than obfuscate it. This will help because you will not find yourself wondering why your units disappeared, etc.
I also know that there is a much larger online community for World In Flames than there is for Empire in Arms. In fact, there are places where you can find After Action Reports of WIF board games with information that will help you assimilate the structure of the game.
Personally, I find myself in an interesting situation. I have been trying to 'get up a game' of WIF for about 3 years. Every time I get to the point where I think I am ready to inflict myself on another player life has thrown me a curve ball that caused me not to have the time to play. After a few months, I am back to square one and feel the need to reread the rules as I start playing with the Cyberboard version in an attempt to refresh my memory.
During this time, I have been thinking about why it is difficult to absorb these rules and how to convey them to new players as I have some friends I would like to introduce to this game. In this effort, I have come up with a solution (which again has been pushed to the back burner by Real Life (TM).
I spent some time looking at the rules and trying to identify the small sections of rules that did not rely upon any other section of rules. My intent was to present a list of rule numbers that fulfilled the following goals:
- Every rule would be in the list.
- If possible, no rule would be listed until all rules it referred to were already on the list.
This would give a new player the ability to read the rules without having to jump all over the place.
At the same time, I would like to present a set of examples (using cyberboard at first) as to how the rules work. It is my hope that I would be able to share a set of save games of WIF that a player could use to 'walk through' the examples one by one. I think it would be neat if there were some tutorial scenarios that had very limited units for this exact purpose.
Also, it is important to note that there are smaller scenarios that do not use all of the rules extensively. For example, there is a Barbarossa scenario that would be very useful for learning how to use Ground and Air units. Then there is a smallish Pacific scenario that is useful for learning to use Naval units. Many players (like me) may be eager to jump in and do the entire campaign. This will make it more difficult to learn.
One thing that might be very useful to new players (and to players like myself who have been away from the game a long time) would be for some of you who are using Cyberboard to collect an entire set of game files from an entire campaign game. This would allow other players to go through the observation process and see how things work.
I guess what I really want to say is that there will be considerably more information available (both in game and out) to help you learn and I (and, I am sure, others) will be willing to help you get to the top of Mount Learning Curve.
Bridge is the best wargame going .. Where else can you find a tournament every weekend?