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6 words about wargames

According to tweetdeck, one of the trending:worldwide topics on twitter is 6 word stories.

I've asked for 6 words about game designers and 6 about programmers in the past, with interesting results. Now I want to ask about a type of game.

Can you say in 6 words what makes wargames interesting--or not? (And you'll have to decide what "wargames" are.)


A young friend of mine asked me if I was interested in going to a mutual friend's house one evening to play Munchkin. There were several reasons I could not, but one was "it's too silly". Munchkin is a deliberately silly game. This is amusing for a little while, but after that it just gets in the way.

Yet, when I was playtesting one of my zombie games I said to the players, "it's a silly zombie game after all". But the silliness is of a different kind, and I asked myself what made the difference.

November 2011 Miscellany

Miscellaneous thoughts:

There is a longer version of my blog post "Too Many Choices?", called "How Many Choices are Too Many" on

Dragon Rage was recently near the top of "The Hoteness" on Boardgamegeek (#3 that I saw), MUCH to my surprise given the niche nature of the game. I was even more surprised, when I switched to the "Thematic" sub-section, that it wasn't in The Hotness at all. If Dragon Rage isn't a thematic game, what is?

When you start a game design, conceive a game, not a wish list

This is something that should be obvious, yet despite everything I’ve written about beginners designing games I have not said it explicitly. And I know from my teaching experience that to many people it isn’t obvious. It is especially important for people who want to design video games rather than tabletop games.

When you set out to design a game it’s important to know what you want that game to do, what the impact will be on the players. But it’s much more important to know how the game is going to do that.

Too many Choices?

Several people have pointed out that a major difference between wargames and Euro-style games is the number of (plausible) choices presented to a player when it is his turn.

Impressions of the new edition of Ancient Conquest I

The Britannia "game system" has been used in other published games such as Maharaja (Avalon Hill), Hispania (Azure Wish), Rus, and most recently Italia (Phalanx) and China: the Middle Kingdom (Decision Games). Some people categorize these and other games such as History of the World as “sweep of history” games. The original game of this category may have been Ancient Conquest, which was recently reissued.

Ways to Get Started on a New Game Design

There are some typical questions that come to mind in people who want to design games but haven't really done so yet. One of these is "how do you actually start a game"?

I have written about how games originate, what element starts the thought process. This time I want to focus on questions you can ask yourself, lists you can make, techniques you can use, rather than on specific aspects of the game.

Reality Management Important for Game Designers

For a couple decades I regularly taught graduate computer management classes. One of the most important themes of those classes was that a manager/supervisor has to recognize what reality is, not what he would like reality to be or what he thinks it ought to be. If you don’t know what’s really going on, how can you make it work better? Yet a great many managers lose track of reality, and the really poor ones are often in what I call “cloud-cuckoo land.”

You might feel that this shouldn’t matter to game designers but in fact it’s very important. Game design in some sense is project management. Your project can’t come to fruition if you don’t recognize the reality of it, the true state of your game.

What’s important in board and card game design

(I was asked in 2010 to write a brief contribution for the blog of Buffalo Games, a publisher of family games. This originally appeared in January on their Facebook page.)

What’s important in board and card game design

Book contract

As some of you know, I recently signed a contract with McFarland & Co, Publishers, for a book about learning to design (video) games. I have just finished the "next-to-final" draft, which is being commented on by some people, and will need to submit the final draft by Oct 15. With luck it will be available next year. (Keep in mind how long these things can take.)

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by Dr. Radut