Here I stand... Andy's Theses of War Gaming

Here is some thoughts on war games - and what I like and don't like. Think of it as my Theses... Remember these are my thoughts and not everyone's... Please make suggestions!

Art is as important as the rules, there is simply no excuse for a professionally published game to have poor artwork.

Today’s war game publishers are not yesterday’s publishers. BE PATIENT! These people have day jobs. They might not be able to respond to questions for days and sometimes weeks.

Computers are a games friend. No game will ever need to be lost to history again.

Computers are a games friend. Rules books should be printable. Watermarks for an owner of these are OK.

After a game has been out of print for a year and won't be reprinted for at least two years - an electronic version of the game should be published.

Rules need to be clear, consistent and usable. So unless the designer indicates that only the most experienced players need apply and everyone else can go …, then time should be taken to create a "tiered" system introducing concepts on a gradual basis

Euro games are not the enemy of war games.

Miniature games are not the enemy of war games

Computer games are not the enemy of war games

Old games are not necessarily good games - DAMN a lot of older games were bad and holy cow the artwork sucked!

World War II is not the only war that people would want to game.

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Comment by Jon Compton on February 17, 2009 at 2:29am
"Art is as important as the rules, there is simply no excuse for a professionally published game to have poor artwork."

I'm a little sketchy on that one simply because artwork is so subjective. For instance, you mention older games as having bad art. I think they have great art since they were clear and concise. Much of the art in today's games are cluttered with superfluous things that add nothing to the game except obfuscation. I'm also not certain about it being as important as the rules. If you're referring to clarity, then I agree. If you are referring to the game's design, then I disagree. No amount of good art will rescue a bad design, while a brilliant design can overcome a lot of bad art. I think wargame art, like so many things, is best approached with the KISS attitude.
Comment by Andy Brown on January 7, 2009 at 12:02pm
This weekend I will try and update - I appreciate the input - it looks like I need to clarify some things as well.
Comment by RockyMountainNavy on January 7, 2009 at 5:37am
I like these rules, and feel compelled to comment...

Art is as important as the rules, there is simply no excuse for a professionally published game to have poor artwork. The exception may be print-n-play games. At the very least, they should have a greyscale (if not true black & white) version. My printer is rated at 5 cents/page B&W, 11 cents per page color. That assumes average page coverage; the cost skyrockets with full-color backgrounds!

Today’s war game publishers are not yesterday’s publishers. BE PATIENT! These people have day jobs. They might not be able to respond to questions for days and sometimes weeks. Couldn't agree with you more. That said, a good web presence (like at least a CONSIM World forum) helps too!

Computers are a games friend. No game will ever need to be lost to history again. Try as I might, I just can't get comfortable with a screen replacing my chits....

Computers are a games friend. Rules books should be printable. Watermarks for an owner of these are OK. WHOLEHEARTEDLY AGREE. I like the drivethrurpg business model. But see my comments about print costs above....

After a game has been out of print for a year and won't be reprinted for at least two years - an electronic version of the game should be published. Not so sure about this one. Some games deserve an update or retreatment, or just simply another print run!

Rules need to be clear, consistent and usable. So unless the designer indicates that only the most experienced players need apply and everyone else can go …, then time should be taken to create a "tiered" system introducing concepts on a gradual basis Programmed learning approaches are definately popular with Grognards but most other gamers may find it too time demanding.

Euro games are not the enemy of war games. Like you can see in my profile on BGG, I am a wargamer that is now an admitted gamer. As much as I love wargames, it is games that I pay with my family, be it Eurogames or Ameritrash. I'll bet this describes most of us....

Miniature games are not the enemy of war games With the rise of plastic minis, the cost is not so excessive. I have even played Federation Commander with LEGO ships of my own design. My boys took one look and wanted in right then!

Computer games are not the enemy of war games But board wargames are so much more fun. I enjoy the social aspects most (which also explains my family gaming drive).

Old games are not necessarily good games - DAMN a lot of older games were bad and holy cow the artwork sucked! The real test is to separate BAD games from GOOD games that just had poor art. We are spoiled by today's DTP capabilities.

World War II is not the only war that people would want to game. I would argue it is the LEAST desired war...so much more is out there and the newer territories are so interesting!

Thanks for the list!
Comment by Eric Walters on December 17, 2008 at 4:38pm
I must say I agree with these rules. I particularly like the comment that when a game is out of print that an electronic version should be made available (I think of the old DG computer WAR IN EUROPE that we played before the 2nd Edition was published in a board game format). I think VASSAL versions or CYBERBOARD should be a "must," although Aide De Camp versions are okay too. I also have a few rules to add to Andy's:

-- Designer's notes, whether included in the rulebook or online, add a lot to the game experience as they typically answer a lot of "why did the designer/developer do this or that?" questions. Bibliographies are much appreciated as well. I am particularly interested in the "thesis" of the designer--what aspects of the situation did he hope to portray the best? What did he decide merited the least or most abstracted treatments?

-- Players hints are also wonderful things, even if they end up being superceded. I still remember my complete puzzlement when first playing PANZERGRUPPE GUDERIAN out of my STRATEGY AND TACTICS magazine way back when. It took a lot of playings to figure out what both sides should do in the first few turns. That's time most of us don't have anymore--at least not the kind of time I had when a high school and college student!

-- The best games for some will not be the best games for others. Know the kind of audiences there are and tailor the box ad copy/online blurbs for those the game will appeal to most. This is mostly applicable to new situations/new systems that people haven't been exposed to before.

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