From the "More Things Change...." department:

OK, OK, I'm not going to beat the dead horse, but I just found a program from the 1984 Origins (in Dallas, TX), and in addition to the usual monster games, historical miniatures tournaments (and ASL, Up front, and various Victory,Yaquinto, and Steve Jackson Games...) is the following seminar:
"Is Wargaming Dead?" "It use to be that wargames, both historical and science fiction, WERE adventure gaming. These days, companies seem more and more to be publishing role-playing material and simple(istic) "mass market: games. Is "wargaming" dead? Has GAMA's adoption of that neologistic monstrosity, "adventure gaming" brought about a self-fulfilling prophecy? Are wargame companies doomed to publish nothing but D&D adventures and mass-market pablum?

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Comment by John Kranz on June 29, 2010 at 9:55pm
Grumpy, which games in particular are you looking to play that you aren't finding opponents for? Are you looking for face-to-face play only?
Comment by John Buck on June 29, 2010 at 10:46am
Grumpy, I'm 58 and have been playing these dang games since the 70’s this is the Golden age for games. You just have to go on CONSIM World to see how gaming is booming right now. Can't find opponents, then Online play is the way to go. There’s three or four different programs you can use to play most games.
Comment by Bill Wood on June 29, 2010 at 10:22am
The hobby is more alive than ever - I have never played so much, acquired so many games, found so many players, nor committed to buying future products before!
Comment by Eric Walters on June 29, 2010 at 10:04am
Tom Cuniff at Old Soldiers and the folks at Camelot Games (especially with The General Project) are doing a lot to keep old games going, breathing new life in them. HEXWAR.COM is another venue. I think there's a place for folks who feel like the hobby has gone too far into the "glitz" to coalesce around--trouble is, you just don't hear about it or you can't find what you are looking for. At least in the internet age, you can gather like minds together and keep the older venues alive.

As far as the remakes go, I've not seen that much "streamlining"--if anything, many of these games are getting more complex/complicated. DELUXE USN is one example, WAR IN THE PACIFIC is another, and the additions to WAR IN EUROPE have been nothing but an improvement. The jury is out on the redesign of WACHT AM RHEIN and the tweaks to HIGHWAY TO THE REICH. WAR BETWEEN THE STATES, STREETS OF STALINGRAD, BEDA FOMM, YALU, and BITTER END are much like they were originally (in fact, YALU gives you the original rules and counters as well as the redesigned version!)

Are some remakes "streamlined"/watered down? Sure. Bomba's remake of BARBAROSSA is to some who liked the 2nd Edition by TSR better. DRIVE ON STALINGRAD, while a far better game, seems to be missing something compared to the flawed original. The magazine game "remakes" in S&T and World At War, thankfully, don't seem to suffer quite so much in this regard from what we've seen so far, although I confess the remake of DESTRUCTION OF ARMY GROUP CENTER felt relatively colorless compared to the original, if that is possible. But for the most part, they remain faithful to the originals. But for some, the GBACW versions that GMT publishes just don't feel the same as the old TSS series--but I have a hard time characterizing them as "streamlined" or "watered down." They are just different.

There are certainly the "simple" games (history-"lite" games that we all know) but gosh, there seems to me to be still a lot of meaty games seeing the light of day. I'm still trying decide when and how I'm going to play a campaign of 1914: TWILIGHT IN THE EAST or Avalanche Press's ALAMEIN! To say nothing of the latest Historical ASL modules! Did I mention Red Sash's latest, REMEMBER LIMERICK!? Clash of Arms's MONMOUTH?
Comment by Eric Walters on June 29, 2010 at 9:03am
Wow, what a blast from the past. Of course, I can see why people thought so back then. SPI had gone away and AH's days were only just beginning to be numbered. D&D/AD&D had spawned so many RPGs--some of them quite worthy (I was a GDW TRAVELLER addict). Boardgame quality wasn't what so many wanted it to be, although there were some very bright lights (Victory Games was mine).

Today is far better than 1984, at least at seems to be to me. Gamers are a much more sophisticated bunch, whether you are a competitive "player," a social gamer, or a history buff. We have a richness in the genre we never dreamed of having back then. Consider the following:

-- Wargame magazines with games in them. Back then, we had S&T and The Wargamer...and the short lived GameFix. Today, we have S&T, World At War, Against the Odds, and Battles magazine, with a host of smaller efforts and "one-time shots" (like MMP's Operations Special Editions). And the games seem better as a whole than what we got back then. Sure there are a few that aren't good, but they seem to be fewer and fewer.

-- Depth in series games. Whether you play ASL, ATS, FIGHTING WINGS, PANZERGRENADIER, the ADMIRALTY TRILOGY, LockNLoad "Heroes" games, Zucker's Napoleonic campaign games, EUROPA, OCS, TCS, SCS, GMT's East Front Series, Miklos's American Revolutionary War games, Red Sash's Lace Wars series, GMT's Musket and Pike series, all those CDGs, GBACW, GCACW, GBOH, Battles of the Age of Reason games, and so very much more--we have such richness is systems treatment like we never had. If you want to be a systems devotee, you can and never get tired of it.

-- Historical Coverage. GMT just released NOTHING GAINED BUT GLORY in the Musket and Pike series, a set of battles on the Scanian Wars. I don't think I even knew what the Scanian Wars were until this game. And I would have laughed in 1984 had someone even suggested that something like PATHS OF GLORY was going to be huge hit. What are you talking about--a game on World War I? To say nothing of it's Mediterranean spinoff, PURSUIT OF GLORY.

-- The Reprints. I've said it before in other fora and I'll say it here--we never thought we'd see our favorite old games come back in 1984 like we're seeing now. Decision Games has done good service in bringing back our favorite SPI titles, some in complete redesigns, but other companies are doing a lot as well. BEDA FOMM is back and Compass Games brought back YALU and BITTER END. L2 redid STREETS OF STALINGRAD in a 3d Edition. Some of them seem to be doing quite well, some not so (e.g., PANZERBLITZ: HILL OF DEATH redesign, sadly, for reasons I can't fathom).

--The Internet. CONSIMWORLD, all those gamer websites, the podcasts, online game stores, P500, VASSAL and CYBERBOARD plus much more. We didn't have that back then. I wouldn't trade this for anything.

-- Game Quality. Even the DTPs are pretty doggone good in this department. But the companies are putting a great amount of care--most of them--into the games they put out. Not just in graphics, but in systems and playtesting, scenarios and gamer support. Of course, there are the exceptions. But they seem to be fewer and fewer.

Seems to me the more things change the more things change. The only thing staying the same is the grousing--which I will not begrudge anyone. You like what you like...but the market moves the way the market moves. So far, I don't think that's been altogether a bad thing. For the folks that don't like it, there's still room for the niche crowd doing something completely different. Anybody check out Camelot Games' CAESAR IN GAUL? Now there's a throwback to the past kind of game--reminiscent of AH's CAESAR'S LEGIONS (the counters look almost exactly the same!) but far more gorgeous!
Comment by John Buck on June 29, 2010 at 7:22am
Your looking at the wrong companies. None of the new releases from the companies that I mentioned are publishing,"mass-market pablum"! Not only are there new games coming out, but old classics like GDWs Beda Fomm are being redone. Lots of good stuff out there, GMTs Combat Commander, LnL World at War and GMTs Command Colors Ancients. Yes there are less people coming into the hobby, but its still alive and well. And now it's picking up steam in Europe and Asia.
Comment by John Buck on June 29, 2010 at 6:37am
GMT, Compass, Legion, MMP, Columbia, DG and many others are still coming out with many new war games. If you look around the photos section and page back up a little, you'll see young people playing war games. It's not a dead a hobby as you think. I think Origins is considered dead by the war game community for the most part, with very few deciding to show up.

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