Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Something I Will No Doubt Repeat And Come Back To

I found this post on Too Much Lead rather interesting.

Having been around the block, in wargaming terms, I found myself not so much wondering what games I would and wouldn't play - but thinking about my favourite wargaming memories.

One I recall was a WWI naval game between a German cruiser and a flotilla of British destroyers. After a couple of crippling salvoes from the crusier the game descended into a game of cat and mouse as the two most battered destroyers laid smokescreens, while the rest the flotilla tried to close to within torpedo range. I don't recall who won, or who lost, I just recall it was a really fun game with ships we hardly ever used.

Another that sticks in my mind was a game set in Medieval Spain. The table had a village in the middle with a flock of sheep nearby. Both players been given secret instructions - I think mine was to collect taxes from the village. However the fun started when I rode my knights through the flock of sheep, which provoked the villagers to attack me - had I not ridden through the sheep apparently the villagers were going to give me the taxes in order to save them from bandits. There were a couple of other random events that occurred. Which ended up with the players never actually fighting each other, and the umpire controlling three factions, who as well as attacking the players, were also attacking each other. Which gave the game an organic flow, with the various factions making and breaking deals.

The fact is I like games that have random events.

I play GW games because I like painting the figures, and I can generally find a game if I want one. But to be honest the way the game has developed - or more perhaps the assumed culture of the game - mitigates against imaginative play. And no amount of finger wagging by Jervis Johnson, in his standard bearer column, that the game is not meant to be a point based tournament game makes much difference to the 'generals' (self described) who 'represent' the 'community'.

Something that has always made me smile is when people say such and a such a game is tactical, and that it is like chess. And often they will further advance this argument by proclaiming that it is 'balanced'. Supposedly these three factors are the epitome of wargaming, and a true way to demonstrate who is the best general.

Which is frankly nonsense.

All it demonstrates is that the game is suited to WAACos with fragile egos who really should grow up.

But hey! I guess we are all a product of our culture.

Another thing the Two Much Lead piece got me thinking about - although it is something I have know for a long time, and one of the reasons I was so late in getting in Warhammer - and it does connect to the creativity point - is this whole notion of buying into the gaming system. That you buy a starter box, and then you buy into the 'fluff', and overtime you become entrapped within the world of the game.

A while ago I played an Ancients game, Romans vs Carthaginians, and it was decided that the Romans hadn't had breakfast and therefore suffered this penalty, and that penalty. And so we played the game, and of course the Romans lost - hardly surprising since they also lost the real historical battle.

Was it impossible for the Romans to win?

Well maybe with better dice rolling is the obvious answer. But then seeing as the game wasn't being played for a row of houses - as seemingly so many people seem to believe (you gotta win to have fun) - it was decided to review the penalties suffered by the Romans for being sans bacon baps.

Of course it wasn't balanced in the modern wargaming sense, but then were Alexander to be a warjack - or whatever - he would not have won the battle of Guargamela, and faced with Darius' army Alexander would have rage quit - and no doubt retreated back to Macedonia to play a different 'boxed game' - that was more tactical, balanced and a bit like chess - and spend his spare time bitching about how overpowered Darius is to anyone who would listen on the interwebz. Oh and when was the last time his Macedonians got an update?

My point is not so much that historical games are more flexible, but rather to wonder why this culture of experimentation doesn't carry over into proprietorial systems. (I fully expect there are thousands of people around the world who play among their family and friends and never go near a club, forum or tournament and just have fun)

I guess what todays ramble is getting at is that I am more interested in the process than the outcome (guess whose be reading child development books? Yes that's right the missus but I have to hear about it).


btw - I still working on my rules. My latest wheeze is using cards - the result of some will allow the placement of terrain, stuff like ditches, mines, traps, etc. I like the idea of your supposed uber unit that you've mathhammered and statisticated into oblivion finding themselves, like the Old Battalion, hanging on the old barabed wire.


No but but it is war, and it is real and it makes terrain count for something.

(don't worry I'm working on scout mechanics and over stuff to 'balance' things out)

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