Lately I’ve been getting my gaming fix away from prodigious hexes and even more prodigious spreadsheets. My evening reading has been Mary Beard’s excellent SPQR, and Bernard Cornwell’s the Last Kingdom. So I sought out games to cover me between pre-republican Rome all the way up to the the reign of Alfred the Great.
With a touch of Christmas Magic and a 1914 style truce between the dogs and cat, we find a very Grognardy Christmas here in the Great White North. Lest you think Santa just brings me games from Matrix and Steam, here we have some fresh new offerings!
TL;DR – The goal is to create a carless city in the game Cities : Skylines. It happens, but not like you’d expect. Blame it on the bouncy houses.
Calville has a traffic jam that stretches nearly 2 kilometers. Delivery trucks wait patiently next to sports cars. The psychodelic flashing of police cars and ambulances pepper the route like some sort of funfetti cake gone wrong. And, to top it all off, buildings are burning down while my firetrucks wait in line.
This will not do.
My daylight gaming lately has been spent playing a lot of Cities : Skyline with my son. When I haven’t been watching graveyards fill up, or buildings burn down, I’ve been alternating between Combat Mission : Black Sea (CMBS) and Graviteam Tactics : Mius Front (GTMF). At first what seems like two similar games, and a totally unrelated city builder, all share some interesting features, and are all also totally different. Are they a simuation, a puzzle, or a game? (Parent note, my son found it terribly funny when people catch on fire and run about like mad in GTMF so due to mom anger he doesn’t watch that one anymore)
In a game with imperfect information threats seem… extraordinarily threatening. Especially this game, we have no drones, our forward recon element is only about 100 meters ahead of some tanks, and an entire US armored column lurks on the other side of the treeline. We can hear them. Our recon dudes have taken some fire (Sorry DecoyBadger!). Our ElInt is picking up something…
Like monsters in the mist, there could be a company of Abrams tanks… Or just a couple of trucks.
We finally have our first contact in the cooperative Let’s Play of Combat Mission : Black Sea (From now on – CMBS). Read more about it here : http://thestrategygamer.com/2016/10/04/combat-mission-black-sea-double-blind-game/
A brief recap, our entire Russian Motorized Brigade is moving into position to block an incoming NATO force. This isn’t just me and an opponent, this is a cooperative team of 20 individuals each in command of a Platoon or combat asset. On the other team is another 20 or so individuals. There’s a Brigade CO, Company Commanders, and Platoon Commanders. Some of our specialty forces, like Engineers and such, also get a commander. What’s it like? Well, like herding cats. The first turn is under our belt and we have the first kill!
One of the greatest problems with wargames is the perfect knowledge issue. I see the entire battlefield while you also see the entire battlefield. The fog of war is, for the most part, non-existent. Card Driven Games add a new element as you may not know what abilities your opponent has or whether or not he can activate a unit. PC games are able to act as a moderator, a referee of sorts, and give you that blind issue. But still, you are (usually) an omnipotent commander who relays orders.
Lately I’ve been working on a few new games that are pushing my strategy gaming boundaries. Yes, the Decisive Campaigns Barbarossa campaign is done. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I binge played through to the end of the war. I had a few sudden breakthroughs and, well, I kind of ended the war. So I took a brief hiatus, played a few less groggy games, and at the same time beefed up my boardgame collection. Like, seriously beefed it up.
But first, Command.
Rimworld In-Process Review
I’m a sucker for a game where I can lay the groundwork and watch the chaos run. In years past I loved making a stable SimCity and then watching as it slowly grew from one disaster to the next. The pace was nice, it was my pace, I could control the growth, and at some level, the chaos.
Lately I’ve been thinking about wargames. Particularly the design of wargames, not so much layout, but how we actually receive the information from the game. I’ve realized that a great deal of what we deal with today is simply an effort to use the hex-and-counter of the 1970’s and 1960’s. Is this ideal or is it just a relic from when the granularity of the information was relegated to cardboard?
First it’s a matter of scale. At the top end we have a game like Risk that models scale on an almost continental level. Russia for example is one space. The United States is two spaces. Maneuvering of any sort is out of the question, you’re shifting assets on a global scale. Who cares if you can envelop that flank, it’s abstracted in the scale.