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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-13-14, 03:25 AM Thread Starter
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Default What makes a wargame 'exellent'?

This is a very sticky subject of discussion, and while I have a feeling it was brought up somewhere before, I haven't been here long enough to sift through a decade's worth of posts. It also doesn't require a poll because the responses I'm looking for are too specific, and I don't want to beg the question by forcing certain outcomes. Please bear with me.


The question is simple: What characteristics of tabletop wargames or wargames in general place them ahead of the pack?

The nuances are not: Wargames vary wildly in everything from mechanics to aesthetics, and about the only thing approaching a standard is the use of random chance somewhere along the line.

One way or the other there are "winners" and "losers" when it comes to the entire genre. If this can be chalked up to notoriety and positive press, then so be it. But if not, what do you guys think? I ask for opinions, any really, because of my current scratch-built project. (That it's digital is beside the point for right now; were I rolling in dough I'd have built a factory to produce playing pieces already.)

So take for example the roughest possible sketch of this idea:

- Air combat is the primary focus
- Operational/Theater level, meaning each playing piece is a squadron or platoon, not a single aircraft or tank
- Warhammer 40k is the setting
- It incorporates certain realistic/contemporary elements in order to fill in gaps/inconsistencies in lore and will be fairly technical in nature, whether or not that means intricate calculations during play

If this showed up in a hobby shop near you Today, what would make or break it for you? This is taking into consideration basically everything, from the box art to the manual, except for 'cost,' since I consider that a business-level issue rather than part of the overall design. At this point it's all about the game, not the money.


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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-13-14, 09:54 AM
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That's a very subjective question. It all depends on the individual playing. I could want something completely different from a wargame than my mate.

For example, at the moment my group is playing a lot of WWII systems like Flames of War or Bolt Action. Someone suggested we try Battlegroup Kursk, which we were happy to do. It's one of those systems were you roll for fuel in every tank and every shot taken has two or three tables to consult. I hated it. It was really slow and you spent more time with your head in the rule book than looking at the table. My mate loved it. That level of detail really appealed to him.

For me a game needs to be easy to learn but difficult to master, fast flowing and have something unique, like Bolt Actions random unit activation or the Malifaux card mechanic.

Last edited by Khorne's Fist; 10-13-14 at 09:57 AM.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-13-14, 03:42 PM
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Khorne's fist has the right of it, a great game is very subjective, for me a game has to have pace and the ability to build tension and get you emotionally involved in a good way, personally I love the board game Risk, strategy, resource management, and tactics plus pot luck rolled into one but in an easy to manage package. As for what you have described, I could not comment until I gave it a go, there was is/was aeronautica imperialis, but I never played it

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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-13-14, 05:32 PM Thread Starter
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Fair points so far but there's already a 2 to 1 trend of a faster pace and smoother flowing being more important than intricate detail. I would concur with that, but then I have seen people claim that 40k is smooth flowing, and the rules strike me personally as massive and ungainly.

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there was is/was aeronautica imperialis, but I never played it
Curiously enough this wouldn't be a good point of reference in the first place. Aeronautica Imperialis is centered on fighter-on-fighter maneuvering on a small scale, where movement is like a maze of invisible movement cards you have to link together to hit your targets. While non-fighter aircraft and even ground targets exist, they are dealt with in abstraction. To my knowledge, there aren't many, if any, additional rulesets that really flesh out what these other elements are capable of.

By comparison an operational level environment with whole squadrons and platoons would focus a lot more on broad tactics like fuel management, anti-aircraft defense systems in networks on the ground, and the application and destruction of multiple airbases with sub-systems that can be targeted. It's sort of like Epic to 40k, only the scale blows up proportionally, meaning the map is huge. Whereas Aeronautica Imperialis would be hard pressed to have two opposing airbases with all of the involved defense systems, all crunched together due to scale, this game sees all of that, including turnaround of aircraft from individual sorties with reloading and rearming, as bread and butter. The real nuances of it would arise from the judicious use of airpower, not wasting precious munitions on unimportant targets, not overextending your forces such that they run out of fuel and crash, using mobile SAMs as part of your overall plan rather than as a nuisance that can be bombed out in a single turn, and so on. (And since I'm making it myself that means I can pursue any fancy I please, such as stopping a squadron of Titans trudging across several thousand kilometers, or simulating orbital squadron drops and airfield conquest using Valkyries and Thunderhawks, but that's just wankery.)


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Last edited by Warhawk; 10-13-14 at 05:35 PM.
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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-16-14, 02:27 PM
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If you gonna make strategic level wargame there are many things to consider.

How long will be one game? Many older wargames in particular which are strategic level takes so many hours to finish game. Over 6+ hours is simply too much for many players. Some games have option for playing their game for Grand campaign mode or smaller scenarios to cut down playing time.

Victory conditions need to be clear. Many wargames have problem that when other player has clear upperhand, rest of game losing player just sits there waiting him to be totally destroyed. Also if game is only about destroying opposing forces there isnt much variety on strategy. Only tactics matter.

How clean and elegant are rules. Nothing worse than having 30+ pages manual with so many tiny little rules that you have to check and argue with opponent everytime. Better games come with easier to learn rules that every gets after 1-2 games that takes time to master. Also rulesbooks on many companies are not very clearly written.

Strategic level games. These normally cover map of hundreds of kilometres which in turn bring needs for logistics system in games. Manevering on grand scale is also another needed component. You said air combat is one focus of game. Will there be like in other wargames, strategic bombing instead of just bombing his military units.


Wargame as whole is rather a big term. To some its light wargame like Memoir 44 and their type. Another might think wargame is miniatures tabletop wargame like warhammers are. Some like strategic wargames like Europe engulfed or Eastfront. And some still like old Squad leader system with squad level gameplay. Some wargames are just dice fests while others clearly cut random factor by making lots of meaningfull decisions. Ive played maybe about a hundred different systems past 20+ years and there is so many times during these days for different games to choose from. Just go and check bgg 77 pages ranking list on wargames:

http://boardgamegeek.com/wargames/br...664&rank=29#29


You might wanna check airwar over hanoi or some other games simulating strategic level air combat.

Last edited by Roninman; 10-16-14 at 02:29 PM.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-16-14, 06:02 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roninman View Post
How long will be one game? Many older wargames in particular which are strategic level takes so many hours to finish game. Over 6+ hours is simply too much for many players. Some games have option for playing their game for Grand campaign mode or smaller scenarios to cut down playing time.
I'd need play testers to figure that out, but so far the system is rather rapid-fire when it comes to each squadron or platoon's activities. There's a bit of bookkeeping with squadron strength, fuel, and weapons but you don't have to roll dice every 5 seconds. I can't imagine it lasting longer than a game of 40k.

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Victory conditions need to be clear. Many wargames have problem that when other player has clear upperhand, rest of game losing player just sits there waiting him to be totally destroyed. Also if game is only about destroying opposing forces there isnt much variety on strategy. Only tactics matter.
Again, play testers, but thus far I'm rolling with a point value system that can account for every single unit, structure, attachment and payload. There are a million different ways to break this, of course, but that's where objectives will come in later. Since this is on such a large scale, anything is possible: You could start with "total battlefield dominance" and work your way down to individual missions or even skirmishes, such as destruction of enemy air defenses, blunting an armored assault, hitting a critical command center, strategic bombing of hive cities (or Tyranid hives for that matter!), and so on. And even though most combat is based on skillful application, there are dice rolls and the element of chance involved. It's entirely possible for a squadron of rookies in outdated equipment to butcher a squad of aces who aren't paying attention.

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Originally Posted by Roninman View Post
How clean and elegant are rules. Nothing worse than having 30+ pages manual with so many tiny little rules that you have to check and argue with opponent everytime. Better games come with easier to learn rules that every gets after 1-2 games that takes time to master. Also rulesbooks on many companies are not very clearly written.
I would say that the rules have been streamlined to the point of being too basic in some areas. The catch will involve races other than the Imperial Navy which is my starting point: While the vast majority of mechanics carry over, some simply must be changed otherwise things don't make sense. Tyranids flyers are mostly winged beasts, for example, that should be able to land and rest anywhere, making fuel consumption a moot point.

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Originally Posted by Roninman View Post
Strategic level games. These normally cover map of hundreds of kilometres which in turn bring needs for logistics system in games. Manevering on grand scale is also another needed component. You said air combat is one focus of game. Will there be like in other wargames, strategic bombing instead of just bombing his military units.
Yes, there are provisions for targets of every conceivable stripe, soft and hard, military and civilian. Ground units are even permitted (really slow) movement in some cases. If you ever wanted to bomb an approaching Titan to death, now's your chance. As for logistics, that's all coming from fuel and munitions consumption which must be replenished at friendly airbases. And maneuvering is a piece of cake: In my experience people 'dramatically' underestimate the actual range and speed of combat aviation, even without 41st millennium shenanigans. It will be a matter of course to divert squadrons half way across the map, and get there in short order using afterburners and gravity assist through a shallow dive.

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Originally Posted by Roninman View Post
Wargame as whole is rather a big term. To some its light wargame like Memoir 44 and their type. Another might think wargame is miniatures tabletop wargame like warhammers are. Some like strategic wargames like Europe engulfed or Eastfront. And some still like old Squad leader system with squad level gameplay. Some wargames are just dice fests while others clearly cut random factor by making lots of meaningfull decisions. Ive played maybe about a hundred different systems past 20+ years and there is so many times during these days for different games to choose from. Just go and check bgg 77 pages ranking list on wargames
I understand. There's just this nagging feeling that there are a constant set of "things" that 'must' be there to make it likeable, regardless of the genre or the scale. Thanks for the link and the suggestions. I'll be looking into those.


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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-23-14, 03:34 AM
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if your wanting us to provide feedback for a ruleset YOU have created, I would suggest to present us the actual rules in a PDF format.

----

Otherwise I think a "wargame" that is designed as a pickup game / lazy afternoon should last 2-3 hours from start to finish (including cleanup)

Rules and keeping informed of info must be at a minimal or with clear to understand markers (provided for me, either as a download or as a cut/punch out - for example X-Wing) for the actual game play.

HAVE AN INDEX!

Keep like items with like items; for example at the 40k night a small group of us were playing the alpha/beta/play test version of Bolt Actions 28mm game that they are preparing to release in Q1 of 2015 - the "rule book" is a cluster f*ck trying to find where X is the rules for weapons of Y type are on page 30, Z are on 35 with pages about something not about shooting the weapons in between.

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if you squint the Sigmar stuff doesn't all look like the love children from a Necron and Blood Angel orgy.
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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-23-14, 03:44 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Fallen View Post
HAVE AN INDEX!
Excellent advice. Looking back on the rules I've already written up, I try to explain it in chronological order of events, but it still becomes a bit disjointed due to "technicalities" unique to different factions. An index would do a lot to alleviate that.

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Rules and keeping informed of info must be at a minimal or with clear to understand markers (provided for me, either as a download or as a cut/punch out - for example X-Wing) for the actual game play.
I'm not quite following with this one... but would an index of point values, "data cards" detailing each unit sorted by faction and role count? Or is there something else you were referring to?


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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-23-14, 05:01 AM
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Theres's a lot of things that make a game good. A good theme/background; game mechanics that fit the theme; tight, well written, clear, concise rules; and simple gameplay that is still very tactical. Also, luck should be incorporated very carefully, often it becomes a crutch to support poor game design *cough 40k*.

Essentially everything that X-wing does.

PS: These are just my opinions.

EDIT: Also the game should be pretty quick to play and designed for competitive tournament play. It's easy to take X-wing's 100pt tournament rules and turn them into a fun, casual, bear and pretzels mass 500pt trench run/battle for Endor/escape from Hoth; it's much harder to do the opposite. Hedge your bets.

When I was a young boy, I dreamed of being a baseball...

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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 10-23-14, 08:08 AM
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Originally Posted by Warhawk View Post
Excellent advice. Looking back on the rules I've already written up, I try to explain it in chronological order of events, but it still becomes a bit disjointed due to "technicalities" unique to different factions. An index would do a lot to alleviate that.

I'm not quite following with this one... but would an index of point values, "data cards" detailing each unit sorted by faction and role count? Or is there something else you were referring to?
Edit: Not quite that route, although having an "army list" at the back for each faction for stat lines would be nice to have - look in the back of the book to find stuff easily, instead of in the random parts of the book.

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Originally Posted by ChaosRedCorsairLord View Post
Also the game should be pretty quick to play and designed for competitive tournament play. It's easy to take X-wing's 100pt tournament rules and turn them into a fun, casual, bear and pretzels mass 500pt trench run/battle for Endor/escape from Hoth; it's much harder to do the opposite. Hedge your bets.
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Following up ChaosRedCorsairLord, if you have ever played a game that requires a lot of tokens, or situational happenstance (if you have ever played Dystopian Wars or Firestorm Armada by Spartan Games then you know what I am referring to), say a "out of ammo" situation happens in your game, I would expect as a gamer that you have some piece of artwork, that looks more legit than "no ammo" written in crayon, or token or symbol readily available for me to make use of.

Think of all the situations that happens in 40k that are not of the norm, fleeing, pinned, running - these are rather simple and can potentially be rather easy to keep a mental check on.

but if you make that chart of "extra" things exponentially bigger where one has to keep track of EVERYTHING, of which everything all started out easy (say a fighter plane), 1 is on fire, and at half speed, 2 is "in the clouds", with no ammo, along with the "ace" upgrade and 3 is being "harassed", on low ammo, and low fuel.

I just went from a game where I needed to know only one thing really (my planes stat line), to my planes + 7 rules that effect each plane differently -

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Edit #2: On a side note provide examples of how things work (pictures tend to work REAL well with this) in a clear ABC format.

Also if needed put in a brief sample battle report that teaches how the game worked - a la White Dwarf write up that is very simple.

I remember reading that you had mentioned tyranids are flying creatures not vehicles so "fuel" is irrelevant; simply write the rules with the mention that tyranids do not use "fuel" but it is instead their energy meter, they simply need to land in a "safe" zone (see pg x for rules on safe zone) and that it works the exact same otherwise. TA-DAH!!!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by neilbatte
if you squint the Sigmar stuff doesn't all look like the love children from a Necron and Blood Angel orgy.

Last edited by Fallen; 10-23-14 at 08:26 AM.
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