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War Games progressive learning

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privateraw
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Joined: 12/31/1969

I was just recently introduced to war games. I am 26 years of age and have really enjoyed playing the games. I have slightly introduced war games to a number of my friends and they, also, have taken to the concept. I have mainly played Russia Besieged and ASL starter kit 1 and 2.

My girlfriends father is the one to thank for introducing me to the war game community and teaching how to play the games. He has an extensive collection and he has helped design and play test many games.

He is also working on designing a few games himself. I have been trying to help him as much as I can. We both feel that there is an untapped market for war gaming. Many of the war gamers out there are 40 years of age and beyond.

What I find with war games is that the rules for the game are complicated and hard to decipher certian actions of play. I have got lost trying to teach my friends how to play. I would like to help design a game that would be progressive learning for beginners.

For example, have 4-6 games in total. The first one using minimal rules so that any person could pick it up and within 20 min. be able to enjoy the game. You could use a popular war theme like WWII to envoke interest for newbies. The first map could just be a few of the beaches.

The second box would contain an extension to the first map. It would also begin to introduce a few new rules and pieces. New pieces would inlude planes (for example). The person would already have knowledge of the past rules and only have to apply a few more rules to begin enjoying the game once again.

I think you can see where this is going. By the time the new comer buys the 5th or 6th box set, it would include all the normal rules of war gaming. they would have all the pieces and a huge WWII map to play on.

As stated earlier, I really do think that there is an un tapped market out there. I have never heard of war games before I was introduced, same with all my friends. I think that there are many others like myself and my friends out there that just need to be introduced to the games. But at the same time not to be overwhelmed at the start by the rules.

I just wanted to get others thoughts on this that are more experienced than I am on the subject. I look forward to hearing your replies.

NetWolf
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Joined: 12/31/1969
War Games progressive learning

What if you released rules sets and units based on battle size?

The basic set would be the Skirmish Set and would include the basics on unit-to-unit combat, a small number of units, and a map.

Next would be the Battle Set. It would contain the basic rules, new units to expand upon the Skirmish Set, new rules for the use of those units, and a larger map.

For the more advanced set, the gamer could purchase the Siege Set whick includes a new set of units (most likely vehicles such as tanks and bombers), rules for those units, and a HUGE map in which one force must conquor fortified resistance.

Fianlly, you could release the Campaign Set which demonstrates how to utilize all the rules and rules sets to form a large, ongoing "War". There would be set goals for each side as well as ways in which to accomplish those goals. A final result would be needed because one side would have to ultimately 'win', but the battles between is what makes the game, so this would be a minor thing with the exception of organizing a set of goals to accomplish in the big picture.

soulbeach
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Joined: 12/31/1969
War Games progressive learning

I can see the interest, but ONE major problem that I see is marketability.

Too many products might bog down the development: have one SOLID basic set that can be enjoyed by itself with some extra rules and pieces for the more “hardcore” gamers included with it. If it works well, additional smaller specialized sets can be produced and sold as advanced components.

soulbeach

filwi
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Joined: 12/31/1969
War Games progressive learning

If I remember correctly one of the big name wargames had this (may have been Squad Leader (not ASL but the "easier" version) or maybe MBT). You'd play through a number of "tutorial" scenarios where each scenario introduced new situations and rules. If I remember correctly the first one was about Russians and Germans and there was only infantry, flat terrain and some houses (and a machinegun). And with each following scenario there were more different types of units and terrain.

Sorry for my bad memory, it was ages since I played the game in question.

TheReluctantGeneral
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Joined: 12/31/1969
War Games progressive learning

Many wargames come with a basic rulset and an advanced supplement. Typically, there are two problems with games like this.

Firstly, the 'basic' rules would only be considered 'basic' by seasoned wargamers expecting a high level of complexity. This is because the whole game is based upon a foundation of a large number of complex rules and mechanics. Advanced rulesets often introduce new unit stats (invalidating unti counters and so on from the basic game), or 'exceptions' to the basic ruleset which rapidly become impossible to hold in memory.

Secondly, the advanced rules sometimes displace the basic rules in whole or in part by, say, replacing all the basic combat resolution charts with new ones.

These problems carry a number of implications for beginning players:

- the investment in learning the fundamentals of the 'basic rules' is lost
- the way that units interact with each other is fundamentally changed, so not only is the basic ability to know the rules required to run a game comprimised, but also the knowledge built up about which strategies and tactics work well is also invalidated.

In my view, the only way to design the extensible ruleset you are after to is to begin from the point of view of the finished game - all the rules, expansions, maps etc. Then work back from there to create succesively simpler games such that the design of the entry level games are compatible with the final expansions in a way that make the 'progressive learning' experience truly 'additive' rather than 'substitutional'.

larienna
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Joined: 07/28/2008
War Games progressive learning

In my game club, we have a lot of old war board games. I took a look at them and they are simply too much complex for nothing. Many of them requires to keep track stuff on a sheet of paper. This make the game totally unattractive. The most complex war game we played so far in the club is Axis & Allies.

I would say that time is an important factor. When I see that Twilight imperium has a playing time of 4 hours, I am not sure if I really want to play ( one of our game in the club has a playing time of 4h to 24 hours). It has to be really interesting to keep me in the game. The longest games I played are inBells of war, but I played multi-session games.

Most old games are too complicated for nothing. With the evolution of games and technology, game tend to be more simple but generally more playable. In the past, the original goal was to create a simulation of the actual war, this is what made these game complex since they have to consider all factors to make a perfect simulation. With the arrival of computer, people don't want to calculate stuff anymore when a computer could do it instead.

To make the game shorter or more simple, you can always divide your game in scenario. A scenario would be a simple battle in a certain area. By allowing to possibility to play scenario and campaign, you can play 2 different kind of games according to the players and time you have. In one of my war game, all games are scenarios that could be played withing 30 minutes. Of course, I could make a 4 or 6 player game with 4 maps to make it a bigger game but it is optional.

For progressive learning, this is the technique I have used for one of my war game. I have 2 rule book : The first is the reference book containing all the rules according to the phases and logic of the game. The other book is a tutorial. I start with something simple : Combat between tanks. Then each additional tutorial scenario add additional rules and unit : Infantry, Air craft, Cities, Initiative, Morale, etc. This way, the player can easily assimilate the rules without having to learn them in a whole block.

This is something that I realised when reading the rules of some games in my club. I tried to learn the rules of a game called "DragonLord" which seemed cool, except for the combat resolution, but I could not clearly assimilate the rules because I had to read the whole book to start playing. Which was simply too heavy. The best solution would have been to play and read at the same time and add new rules and concept progressively.

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