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When is a recreation, not a recreation?

 
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When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/27/2021 4:03:15 PM   
MrsWargamer


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Currently, I'm weighing a lot of decisions against each other.

Squad Leader or ASL.

Steel Panthers or Steel Tigers.

Boardgame or computer game.

A popular viewpoint is a computer must be exploited to the fullest. Why though?

Bigger isn't always better. More realistic isn't always better. That's just me stating an obvious truth. But feel free to argue over it ad museum if you must. Just don't expect me to feel obliged to argue back.

I played a lot of Squad Leader. What drew me in was the ease. ASL is more 'accurate'. It sure isn't easier to play. I think ASL would have done fine if it has been a lot less Advanced, and a lot more inclusive. In Squad Leader you got 4 boards Germans Russians and Americans. In CoI they started to fiddle. They made the Germans and Russians over again. Which made the American units now out of sync. In Crescendo of Doom they fiddled again, The Americans were even further behind. They added British and French to the key players and other nations. By the time of GI Anvil of Victory, they had created a wobbly mix.

ASL was supposed to clean up the rules. What they really did was greatly complicate the rules. And all you got was a rules manual. Then they proceeded to release nations as massive purchases. Goodbye game in a box.

Myself, I would have rather the game sat back at Squad Leader. A few Rules tweaks perhaps. Some ideas were ok. But we wargamers never leave well enough alone, do we :)
I would have liked a release of British Counters ala Squad Leader. A French set. An Italian set. All done the same way.
I like the massive assortment of vehicle types to a point. But it's excessive.
If you are the British player, you might need a couple of tanks. It's called SQUAD LEADER though. I don't need every piece of armour ever to exist. I don't need 3 counters of every version of a specific type.

I think the maps went a bit overboard. A -1 modifier is the same every single time. So an apple orchard, or a standard of mixed trees. Conifers or hardwoods. If they are all the same modifier, why make a fuss? I think sets of maps, maybe 5-10 boards no more complicated than the first 4 would have been fine. I didn't want more terrain types, I just wanted more boards. The ASL desert boards are about the most useless of the lot too. Yes, I get it, the desert is boringly flat and empty.

Anyway, I think Squad Leader was great because of how it was made. Simple.
ASL is not nearly as great, regardless of the massive sums of product it has generated.
Picking up the Squad Leader box and going to a friend's or a tournament, so much easier than carting around your ASL stash.

I think ASL was more of a mistake than not. More lost opportunity than not. But that's my view, and I have owned it all.

So now the tie in with Steel Panthers and Steel Tigers.
Steel Panthers was an incredible game the day it appeared. It was tweaked some, but it remained the same.
The only thing that harmed it was evolving software. Getting it to run on newer and newer computers and newer and newer OSs seems to be the main hassle. I'm able to enjoy Generals Edition on Win 10 on a modern computer currently. Will that hold true in 5 years? Who knows.

What is our main gripe with Steel Panthers? Is it because it isn't WEGO? 3d? Real-Time? No to all of that.
It's we have trouble running it on our new computer.
What is the main stumbling block to changing it?
Ownership. Yep. That's mainly it. The code is not owned. And the owners are clearly not interested in selling, and yet, they are also not interested in doing anything with it. Not really sure who owns it at all, to be honest.
The best thing Steel Tigers will do is become owned.
The worst thing Steel Tigers will do is not be Steel Panthers in a new dress.

I do NOT want it to become ASL.

I don't need WEGO. Steel Panthers wasn't WEGO. It played just fine without it. Yeah, Kubel blitz is a pain.
I will not buy it if it becomes a silly 3d design. I like Steel Panthers because it looks like Squad Leader. It only looks like it though. Squad Leader has a very specific turn structure. And Steel Panthers doesn't use it. I've seen some emulations of Squad Leader scenarios. Nice effort. Not really the same though. But close.

I don't need Steel Tigers to be an all in one release program. But, Steel Panthers was more or less.
So only getting some Germans and Some Russians will suck. It will look like a DLC money machine. Not the end of the world for a developer to like making money. But let's be real, if designing wargames is your day job, you might have made a mistake. I likely live on a better budget.

I'm only playing computer board game emulations of board game wargames because board game wargames are often harder to obtain. It isn't 1985, and I haven't even seen a hobby store with wargames in over a decade. Often just finding a physical hobby store is something of a stroke of luck. There is one retailer within 30 minutes drive of my home in any direction. They don't sell wargames.

I don't want a computer to play a board game wargame that is anything more than the board game wargame was.
A computer is just a tool. A table is a tool. The table doesn't need to be a digital device. A nice oak table will do just fine. I don't need a computer to be my friend. Yeah, if you live in the middle of north-central nowhere, you might wish for an AI. I'm ok with them designing an AI. But design it as an option. If I can't turn it off, I likely won't purchase the game.

I like that with a computer, you can get updates, you can get options like instant set up. Setting up the counters for The Longest Day is a massive burden. The counters are all expected to be in the exact same place each time. I won't miss the hours of organizing the charts. But once the game begins, I just want the board game. I won't want an AI to oppose me. There isn't one in the board game. It's either me vs a human or not at all. Solo is ok. And there are lots of nice software options out there for board gaming via distance and computer interface. But for me, I like the company.

I personally think a board game wargame via VASSAL will probably always beat our best efforts to create a computer wargame with no board game ancestor that includes an AI. Fire in the East from the Europa series, unwieldy as it is, will always trump War in the East the computer game.

Now I am not the definitive opinion, and I am not the perfect opinion.
But I was there in 1970 and 1980 and 1990 and throughout this century too.
I was buying the games. I was among those that created this hobby :)
I am at least a valid opinion.

And I didn't come here to have an involved argument. I don't require statistics and charts and tables.
There is no winning opinion. You are free to disagree. You just don't get to invalidate my comments by default :)

If I had the millions, I'd probably be in a very large room, with a very cool table able to swallow Fire in the East whole. In the next room, I'd have a really cool set up to play with 72nd scale miniatures. Squad Leader with models. The boards would be partly 3d.

I likely wouldn't be playing computer games. Opponents would be simple. I have millions remember. Hell, I'd pay people to play. I'd probably prowl our military college for candidates ;)

_____________________________

Wargame, 05% of the time.
Play with Barbies 05% of the time.
Play with Legos 10% of the time.
Build models 20% of the time
Shopping 60% of the time.
Exlains why I buy em more than I play em.
Post #: 1
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/27/2021 11:11:10 PM   
Randomizer


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Good rant, I would buy 90%+ or more. Cannot abide miniatures though, unless they're naval.

I'm actually getting back into Squad Leader after a couple of decades lay off. Stopped buying at GI:Anvil of Victory and never made the jump to ASL as I was happy using attenuated rules from the entire set. Now, someone who has attended some of my Elder College history classes and is himself a lapsed board wargamer has offered himself up as an opponent. We're both retired and in our sixties, I'm ex Canadian military and he's a retired contract tradesman and Squad Leader came up over coffee. Hopefully, when the Covid-19 lock down eases we can get together and do some scenarios. I hope to eventually turn him on to the GDW Assault series if Squad Leader works out.

Hope you get your million $ even if it's CAD.

-C

(in reply to MrsWargamer)
Post #: 2
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 12:33:56 AM   
sIg3b


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Joined: 4/25/2011
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I agree with your main points:

1. More simple is sometimes better.
2. There are too few faithful computer adaptations of board game classics.

I´d love to have a Panzer Leader/Panzer Blitz for PC. Even a decent AI shouldn´t be so difficult for games as simple as these.

(in reply to Randomizer)
Post #: 3
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 12:41:59 AM   
MrsWargamer


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Joined: 6/18/2014
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I had the Assault Series. Man I so wanted that down to WW2 though.

_____________________________

Wargame, 05% of the time.
Play with Barbies 05% of the time.
Play with Legos 10% of the time.
Build models 20% of the time
Shopping 60% of the time.
Exlains why I buy em more than I play em.

(in reply to sIg3b)
Post #: 4
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 2:43:36 AM   
z1812


Posts: 1790
Joined: 9/1/2004
Status: online
" When is recreation not recreation "

When you spend more time thinking about it, rather than doing it.

Unless of course, thinking about it gives you as much, or more pleasure, than doing it.

(in reply to MrsWargamer)
Post #: 5
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 9:07:55 AM   
RFalvo69


Posts: 1372
Joined: 7/11/2013
From: Lamezia Terme (Italy)
Status: offline
My most recent answer would be "Europa Universalis IV". I love(d) the game, but, after a zillion of expansions, the answer to a simple question...

"OK, part of the lands in my country are governed directly by my ruler, while others are divided among various groups, like the Nobles or the Clergy. If I conquer new lands, how are these assigned?"

...was this:



...And I suddenly felt the urge to launch "Doom".


_____________________________

"Yes darling, I served in the Navy for eight years. I was a cook..."
"Oh dad... so you were a God-damned cook?"

(My 10 years old daughter after watching "The Hunt for Red October")

(in reply to z1812)
Post #: 6
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 12:09:45 PM   
jmlima

 

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Joined: 3/1/2007
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quote:

ORIGINAL: MrsWargamer

Currently, I'm weighing a lot of decisions against each other.

Squad Leader or ASL.

...

Boardgame or computer game.
...)


Done those questions to exhaustion, re SL vs ASL, none, but if you have to chose one, ASL. It looks daunting and grotesquely bloated, but between both sets it's the best game and the most coherent set of rules. Also, SASL is the best solo engine for any boardgame, and some rules (activation) can be used in ASL to great effect.

Re board vs computer, in short, IMO, it comes down in the first instance to a simple question, are you looking to solo? If solo, go computer, if you have opponents you can chose between both.

Then onwards to the second question, does the bulk of what you want to play is related to exotic time periods or battles? Go board. Are you primarily a WW2 or modern player? Go either way.

The final question, are you happy not having a clue what's happening under the hood, including all the bugs computer games have that are never found out? You can chose either. If, on the other hand, you like to know that the calculations are actually correct and have a meaning, or, if you are not happy you can change the rule to whatever you want, go board.



< Message edited by jmlima -- 2/28/2021 12:10:42 PM >

(in reply to MrsWargamer)
Post #: 7
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 12:10:18 PM   
springel


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From: Groningen, NL
Status: offline
quote:

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it's not the same river and he's not the same man.”


All wargames were steps in the development of the state of wargames, but at the same time they were steps in the development of wargamers.

(in reply to RFalvo69)
Post #: 8
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 12:52:30 PM   
RFalvo69


Posts: 1372
Joined: 7/11/2013
From: Lamezia Terme (Italy)
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quote:

ORIGINAL: jmlima
Done those questions to exhaustion, re SL vs ASL, none, but if you have to chose one, ASL. It looks daunting and grotesquely bloated, but between both sets it's the best game and the most coherent set of rules.

I only dipped my toe in ASL. My objective was to learn it during the pandemic - which, I'm now understanding, is the new "New Year Resolution..."

Anyway, my impression is that the basics are quite easy and streamlined. On the top of them, however, they bolted the desire to simulate anything. Your squad wants to throw a grenade from a wood hex in flames, through snow drifts from a nearby crest - with a leader present? There are rules for that. I do understand why some people devote their lives to ASL and ASL only. It is like a World in miniature, the Skyrim of wargames.

_____________________________

"Yes darling, I served in the Navy for eight years. I was a cook..."
"Oh dad... so you were a God-damned cook?"

(My 10 years old daughter after watching "The Hunt for Red October")

(in reply to jmlima)
Post #: 9
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 1:03:33 PM   
jmlima

 

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Joined: 3/1/2007
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quote:

ORIGINAL: RFalvo69


quote:

ORIGINAL: jmlima
Done those questions to exhaustion, re SL vs ASL, none, but if you have to chose one, ASL. It looks daunting and grotesquely bloated, but between both sets it's the best game and the most coherent set of rules.

I only dipped my toe in ASL. My objective was to learn it during the pandemic - which, I'm now understanding, is the new "New Year Resolution..."

Anyway, my impression is that the basics are quite easy and streamlined. On the top of them, however, they bolted the desire to simulate anything. Your squad wants to throw a grenade from a wood hex in flames, through snow drifts from a nearby crest - with a leader present? There are rules for that. I do understand why some people devote their lives to ASL and ASL only. It is like a World in miniature, the Skyrim of wargames.


ASL is really a 'only game I play' kind of thing, most of all during the beginnings. If you have someone explaining the basics, it's dead easy (even PTO), the fundamentals are really simple. All of the rest, most of all the exclusions and exceptions spread out throughout the entire rulebook, that's a different thing altogether (for ex, the mythical nightmare of a PTO amphibious landing during the night leading to a fight in a cave complex). IMO, this level of play is much better in the computer but, having said this, if you want PTO at this scale, then ASL is still the only game in town.

(in reply to RFalvo69)
Post #: 10
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 1:08:10 PM   
MrsWargamer


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My own analogy.

Squad Leader is the perfect pepperoni pizza.

ASL has 4 types of meat, 3 kinds of cheese, onions, green peppers, red peppers, mushrooms, olives, no pineapple of course, that would be excessive, and a sprinkle of everything seasoning. Does it taste good? Maybe. But it's kinda excessive, overwhelming, way too expensive, and impossible to pick up.

Too many computer games are kinda the same.

Steel Panthers was a perfect pizza. Battle Academy is a perfect pizza. Will steel Tigers be a perfect pizza? We will just have to wait to taste it.
Personally, I'd love to have Squad Leader re released as all the counters from CoI CoD GI Anvil, all done to Squad Leader details only. Maybe with a new set of usable anywhere boards. I'd buy it. It would be nice, if they re released the ASL starters as just one starter too. Maybe called it ASL Basic. Offered a mix of the most cliche of units. For Germans, the Panzer 2, 3 and 4. Sure the other tanks are sexy, but the war was mainly fought with the basics. And at base Squad Leader level, you don't need nauseating levels of detail.

_____________________________

Wargame, 05% of the time.
Play with Barbies 05% of the time.
Play with Legos 10% of the time.
Build models 20% of the time
Shopping 60% of the time.
Exlains why I buy em more than I play em.

(in reply to RFalvo69)
Post #: 11
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 1:26:22 PM   
jmlima

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: MrsWargamer

...
Personally, I'd love to have Squad Leader re released as all the counters from CoI CoD GI Anvil, all done to Squad Leader details only. ...


Isn't that what Flying Pig's 'Old School Tactical' is?

If you are into that style of gaming, then board is closer to what you want than computer. For example, let's look at the pacific campaign. The best games simulating the entire campaign are still boardgames, no pc game comes even closer to simulate the role of a theatre commander as well as boardgames.

(in reply to MrsWargamer)
Post #: 12
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 2:33:40 PM   
MrsWargamer


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jmlima


quote:

ORIGINAL: MrsWargamer

...
Personally, I'd love to have Squad Leader re released as all the counters from CoI CoD GI Anvil, all done to Squad Leader details only. ...


Isn't that what Flying Pig's 'Old School Tactical' is?

If you are into that style of gaming, then board is closer to what you want than computer. For example, let's look at the pacific campaign. The best games simulating the entire campaign are still boardgames, no pc game comes even closer to simulate the role of a theatre commander as well as boardgames.



Hmm some days I feel so isolated and out of the loop :)
That design looks very nice too.

_____________________________

Wargame, 05% of the time.
Play with Barbies 05% of the time.
Play with Legos 10% of the time.
Build models 20% of the time
Shopping 60% of the time.
Exlains why I buy em more than I play em.

(in reply to jmlima)
Post #: 13
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 2:35:51 PM   
76mm


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From: Washington, DC
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quote:

ORIGINAL: MrsWargamer
I don't need Steel Tigers to be an all in one release program. But, Steel Panthers was more or less.
So only getting some Germans and Some Russians will suck. It will look like a DLC money machine. Not the end of the world for a developer to like making money. But let's be real, if designing wargames is your day job, you might have made a mistake. I likely live on a better budget.

I have absolutely no problem with DLCs in theory...I'm happy to pay a developer another $10 or $20 for some content that I want (and pass on the content I don't want). My problem with the concept comes from the fact that the initial games have a very narrow focus, and then the DLCs trickle out very slowly, or not at all.

Flashpoint Campaigns is a great example--loved it when it came out, but it only had a few scenarios. So I waited for Southern Storm...and waited, and waited, and waited. Still hasn't come out after several years, and now it will be a new game rather than a DLC. Not sure if I'll even buy it now, at least until the engine does WWII. Battlefront is another example--seven years between release of CMRT and its first module. I could go on and on... I understand that most dev teams are very small, but the best way to kill a promising game system (at least for me) is to starve it of content. If the dev team can't handle it on its own, they should figure out a way to outsource it--after all, DLCs shouldn't involve much/any programming, just new models/skins, etc.

Re ASL: I played a bunch SL back in the day and bought ASL when it came out, but didn't play it for many years. Finally getting back into it, but sold all of my boards and counters last year to focus on VASL. The sheer breadth of the game is staggering...I chuckled when I read the rules governing how artillery fire should be resolved against infantry climbing cliffs...surely not an every day occurrence, but I love that it covers it.

(in reply to MrsWargamer)
Post #: 14
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 2:43:31 PM   
jmlima

 

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Joined: 3/1/2007
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quote:

ORIGINAL: MrsWargamer
...
Hmm some days I feel so isolated and out of the loop :)
That design looks very nice too.


Another cool SL-into-ASL is Retro from Minden Games. It's quite interesting because you can use it with ASL or SL components. It shrinks ASL rules to a bare bones system akin to SL.

(in reply to MrsWargamer)
Post #: 15
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 2:58:26 PM   
RFalvo69


Posts: 1372
Joined: 7/11/2013
From: Lamezia Terme (Italy)
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quote:

ORIGINAL: MrsWargamer
Personally, I'd love to have Squad Leader re released as all the counters from CoI CoD GI Anvil, all done to Squad Leader details only. Maybe with a new set of usable anywhere boards. I'd buy it. It would be nice, if they re released the ASL starters as just one starter too. Maybe called it ASL Basic.

When MMP created the Starter Kits the one thing they didn't expect was... success!! So, today we have the three basic SK + SK:PTO + various expansions, campaigns included ("Decision at Elst").

Of course the ASL crowd is running around in circles with their clothes in flames. "People who play the SKs are not playing real ASL!" "A minute devoted by the developers to another SK is a minute not devoted to the next module!"... The only thing they don't do is to STOP and think "How comes that once they published a more accessible version of the game the interest surged?" Maybe there is some clue buried there.

quote:


Offered a mix of the most cliche of units. For Germans, the Panzer 2, 3 and 4. Sure the other tanks are sexy, but the war was mainly fought with the basics. And at base Squad Leader level, you don't need nauseating levels of detail.


No Panthers and no Tigers? I think there is a reason why we never had a game called "Steel PanzerKampfWagen IV H"


_____________________________

"Yes darling, I served in the Navy for eight years. I was a cook..."
"Oh dad... so you were a God-damned cook?"

(My 10 years old daughter after watching "The Hunt for Red October")

(in reply to MrsWargamer)
Post #: 16
RE: When is a recreation, not a recreation? - 2/28/2021 3:03:47 PM   
MrsWargamer


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Really liking the mention of designs I clearly was not aware of. Ah, 20 years ago I was a very informed pro, now, I feel like an uninformed fossil :)

_____________________________

Wargame, 05% of the time.
Play with Barbies 05% of the time.
Play with Legos 10% of the time.
Build models 20% of the time
Shopping 60% of the time.
Exlains why I buy em more than I play em.

(in reply to RFalvo69)
Post #: 17
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