Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Daniele
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Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by Daniele »

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!
lerugray
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by lerugray »

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.
martxyz
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by martxyz »

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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rico21
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by rico21 »

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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Newsoft75
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by Newsoft75 »

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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mussey
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Post by mussey »

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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Mini_Von
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by Mini_Von »

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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vettim89
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by vettim89 »

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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wings7
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by wings7 »

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).

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DeriKuk
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by DeriKuk »

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!

Post by solops »

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.
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Jagdtiger14
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by 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.
Conflict with the unexpected: two qualities are indispensable; first, an intellect which, even in the midst of this obscurity, is not without some traces of inner light which lead to the truth; second, the courage to follow this faint light. KvC
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Macclan5
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by Macclan5 »

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
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Russell Osterlund
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by Russell Osterlund »

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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hellfish6
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by hellfish6 »

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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warspite1
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by warspite1 »

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!

Post by Mobeer »

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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Max 86
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Post by Max 86 »

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.
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kevinkins
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by kevinkins »

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.

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gunny
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RE: Attention Wargamers! This post is for you!

Post by gunny »

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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