I have dreamed for many years of being part of a group of war gamers who were all playing the same huge game, but at different levels, yet related. What I mean by related is that the action is interwoven and dependent on what others are doing. A 'Big Picture' game.


Man must always dream for bigger and more than he has.  When I began playing I knew of no other gamers and did a lot of solitaire play. My dream then was to find a player, just one. That didn't happen for a while, so I tried play by mail with opponents found in the Avalon Hill magazine.


Eventually I did find both single and several opponents. There was a club set up in my city that I attended exactly once. Half of the guys were playing a tournament of Napoleonics, which I knew nothing about. The other half were playing in twos with games I didn't own. I found nobody willing to play any game I knew. To me, that was a room full of single players.


What I wanted was a group game like I'd read about. Teams of players all enjoying the same game on a big scale. I'd read a magazine article about a group in the US who had set up a game in various rooms connected by phone or written orders. They had referees in the main map room with the junior commanders. The senior commanders, with their own maps, were in other rooms. They could issue orders and get updates only by message.  It seemed wonderful.


That sort of arrangement is difficult to arrange when you don't know enough people for regular one-on-one play. I returned to play by mail and continued longing for the "Big Picture" game. Eventually, I had to develop my own due to a move.


Six guys playing by mail, snail mail, was what kept the dream alive. We were playing SPI's Global War, designed by Richard F. Dunnigan.  I modified the rules a bit to allow a mail game, and we continued for about 2 years. It was a lot of fun.


It was so much fun that my developing continued and my search for another group to make it happen. That didn't come about until the advent of computers and email. Suddenly we could be in touch and get rapid responses. The snail mail routine was 7-10 days each way, so this was a big improvement. I ran two games over the next 10 years, improving all the time between and during.


Today, I have the rules for recreating WW2 in detail, but even larger and deeper than Dunnigan ever imagined. There is still the problem of finding players. The game is multi-level, meaning Strategic, Operational, and Tactical. There is a need for leaders on all those levels for each combative nation, and there are eight of those. In addition, there are three military types of command; land, sea, and air. To this I've added espionage at two levels.  This all takes people.


To do this minimally will take a of 20 people, with those people in high command and also doing the tactical combat. It has been hard to find more than that number at any one time. People come and go from the game as their lives, work, or time forces them away.


I have a great group of core players who stick it out in the lean times, doing more than they would choose to do. They believe in the system and realize that no other game offers this depth. They are, like me, confident that time will help us find the few special people who are also looking for the ultimate game experience.


If you like working with maps and planning actions that have an impact on the big picture, this is for you. There is no software to install and everything is done via email messages. The name of the game is WW2 The Big One  and it can provide you with a meaningful gaming experience.

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Closest we came were a minis campaign set in age of reason, and an SF-based PBM (without the mail - hand delivered)

campaign that I devised. In both cases, players ran their own strategic side of things, but then a bunch of us would

play out tactical battles. In the AoR game, the commander of the country was in charge. In my space one, I had the 

players write out engagement orders, and the players were supposed to try and conform to them. They were told

they would get bonuses for playing well, and penalties for doing especially poorly.

Not what you're looking for, but it finessed the 'dream' scenario you have, so that we could actually

play it. For the AoR stuff, individual battles would usually have about 3 players per side.

I played a game In England around 1992-3 I think. It was a huge multi player recreation of The Gulf War. There were at least a hundred or so people there. The Syrians had a team of 6 or 8, the Yanks about 15 I think. I was in a team of 2 playing the Kurds. A group of us met at the house of our common contact, the editor of the zine we all subscribed to, the night before. I had never met anyone of these people before. The mass of our group became the Syrian team (people took the parts of various ambassadors, defence secretary, head of state etc) and me and another guy were the Kurds. Turns were half an hour long for negotiation, diplomacy and strategy chit chat. A HUGE map was updated after each turn and the game went all day. I can't remember who won but I do remember that our Kurds came as high as second because we didn't attack anyone, feeling too weak to do anything. Consequently we kept multiplying and increasing our forces which no one else noticed. This was a major VP determinant for us. The next year the rules had to be changed to avoid this ahistorical result repeating itself. Everyone had great fun during this weekend which was quite a sight to behold. The game was run by someone called Marcus Watney, from memory. If he reads this I'd like to thank him wholeheartedly for his efforts, being, at the time, too far down the food chain as merely The Kurds to approach and demand any of his time.

Hi Alan,

I'm touched that Gulf Crisis should appear in a thread labelled 'What Would Be Your Ultimate Gaming Experience?'  Very flattered.

Gulf Crisis was innovative in many ways.  First, it had a peacegame as well as a wargame, and it was entirely possible to win without ever going to war.  It began on 2 August 1990 with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, but that was followed by months of negotiation before the Coalition would be strong enough to counterattack.

The very first game was unique in that it took place in January 1991 just a couple of days after the real air war had started and well before the land-war was launched ... so it was actually modelling events happening at that time and yet to happen.

Anticipating today's browser games, it was played without turns but in accelerated real time, at a scale of fifteen minutes represents one week, with orders being delivered to the umpire's table as and when needed, then adjudicated in the order received.  As a result there was a lot of running to and fro, and plans needed to take into account the time-delay in executing them.

The game accommodated about fifty players and umpires in eleven teams.  Using the mechanic from the Waddington game Careers, before the start of a game each nation secretly allocated victory points to published victory conditions, 100 positive points to achieve, 100 negative points to avoid.  Everybody knew what these aims were in general terms, but not how many points had been allocated to each.  This allowed teams to flavour their governments differently from game to game while always remaining within believable limits, which in turn gave the game replayability.

The first Saddam Hussein was Nicky Palmer (later MP for Broxtowe) who ignored Kuwait and instead moved against Israel ... an interesting What-If.  Another year, Saddam Hussein was played by Andy Davidson who attempted to take out Saudi Arabia as well as Kuwait, and very nearly succeeded: a very believable alternate history.

The game was played annually for six years, which is testament to its success, and each time I managed to make a profit of about £300 (important for satisfying the wife that the hours spent organising it weren't entirely self-indulgent!)

Harry Rowland of Australian Design Group had a look at it but, while admiring it, couldn't see how to market it.  Today I think it would work very well as a browser game.  If anyone has the time and technical skill to convert it, then do get in contact with me.


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