Granularity in Wargames

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?

Scale

IMG_0245First 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.

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Do I need more Eastern Front? Conflict of Heroes : Awakening the Bear

My son asked me, “Dad, why do you like to play games with guys in grey jackets fighting guys in brown jackets?”

Which I thought was pretty observant for a 6 six year old. And I really didn’t have much of an answer. So I explained it that he likes to play trains, I like to play wargames. Simple enough I guess, but it kind of stuck with me.

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Total War : Warhammer Formation Guide

Total War : Warhammer drops you into a realm of magical and martial violence without much of a tutorial on how these units actually fight. That Orc warband should be easy, those undead should die, hell, the little orange bar says so. Then, lo-and-behold you get stomped.

Well we’ve got some options. Lets go over the hows and the whys of using your formations.

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State of the Strategy Games Market

2016 Strategy Games

How exactly are Strategy Games doing? How many people are actually playing these games, right now? This very moment? Steamspy and SteamDB both offer us some unique insights. All in all, it’s pretty good. Plus we’ll look at some of last years titles, and then on to the niche of niches, Grognard games! Yes, people actually play them! (Just not many)

We’ll be looking specifically at how many people are actually playing these games every day. For some games we can actually see how many people own them, however other developers have chosen to have this information hidden so it’s not fair to compare as a metric.

All tables come from SteamDB.com which are derived from Steam’s API. 

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Hexes, Counters, and Death Defying Slot Cars

The track is a monstrosity, each section is roughly three foot by three foot, dense MDF, routered lines and copper wires. At each joint is a meticulous melding of wood and slots. I’m staring at the largest slot car racing track I’ve ever seen. Sweat pours off of us as each piece is carefully positioned into a basement. The man overseeing it all, John, is in his early 60’s, a bit plump, and man, he’s really into slot cars.

I’m, well, not. We work side by side for hours but never really seem to click. This guy is into his slot cars, like REALLY into them. So after awhile we talk about the disconnect. Why am I not into them?

Video games.

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Let’s Play Decisive Campaigns : Barbarossa AKA Time To Piss Off The Train Nazi

Decisive Campaigns : Barbarossa is VRDesigns take on the War in the East. Actually, it’s not, it’s just Barbarossa. That’s a huge distinction we need to get out of the way right now.

This is not War in the East.

2016-05-20_1655_002

This is a different game on the Eastern Front. It models not only the movement of troops and supplies as we’d come to expect but more interestingly it models the political in-fighting and clash of personalities that nearly crippled the German Army in 1941. I recently read Brian Fugate’s book on Barbarossa and I was amazed at how often the Germans almost tantrumed themselves right out of the war. Literally like a bunch of angry school children. There were egos, prejudices, and of course rivalries.

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War in the East : Support Units

Support units are essential in the War in the East. They are your artillery, engineers, rocket battalions, and anti-aircraft. By abstracting these units it saves you a ton of time shuttling them about. But there’s still some things to know in order to maximize your effectiveness.

“Nebelwerfer and Land Mattress”. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nebelwerfer_and_Land_Mattress.jpg#/media/File:Nebelwerfer_and_Land_Mattress.jpg

Support Units come in two flavors. One is Combat Support Units like Artillery or Pioneers (Engineers). The other is straight up support, or Construction Units. We won’t cover much on the Construction side for right now. But on the Combat side there’s a lot going on.

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War in the East : Supply Basics

Supply in the War in the East at first seems incredibly complicated but is actually much simpler than it seems. Though like almost everything in WitE, it’s as complicated as you choose to make it.
In Road to Minsk, a 3 turn scenario, you don’t have to worry about supply at all. You can get a decisive Axis victory without ever thinking about it. But in the other Road to scenarios, and the full campaign, it becomes much more critical. But the good news, it’s not that bad.

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