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Tabletop Wargaming Abstractions

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BlueRift's picture
Joined: 04/01/2012

Have you ever played a game that distilled another game down to it's strategic components? A game that took the meta-game of a popular franchise and made it an game of its own? Or have you noticed how some games simplify portions of on game to amplifies the strategy of other portions?

I think about games like Dominion which made the deckbuilding genre explode with popularity when it gamified the deck-building strategy of CCGs and simplified the "play" portion. Or games like Combo-fighter that abstract the mechanical components of console fighting games and makes a compelling board game.

What I want to do is take a similar treatment to tabletop wargaming. I've always been fascinated by the meta-game of tabletop wargames like Warhammer 40k. There are definable metrics that you could evaluate an army and a huge variety of builds that could be considered competitive in everything but a tournament. For each of those builds, you could theory-craft an effective counter. It's this high-level strategic-spatial-competition that I hope to someday capture.

I'm attempting to heavily abstract the "play" portion of tabletop wargames to dig into the meta-level strategies. I've also taken a lot of inspiration from auto-battlers like Dota Underlords, Autochess, and Hearthstone Battlegrounds. Those are a form of competitive composition builders that rely on poker-like luck of the draw systems.

I've tried a lot of things that haven't worked out for a number of reasons. What are your first impressions? How would you proceed?

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
Combining mechanics

I think that an important aspect of wargames are the combinations of mechanics.

A wargame isn't just a combat mechanic.
It is a constant loop of construct, combat, concequence.

If you simplify the construct, there isn't much combat either.
If you simplify the combat, there isn't much concequence either, OR the concequence is very severe.
And if the concequence isn't really there, OR very severe instead. The construct needs to be simplified.

I have noticed this in the 3 variants of the same game that I Always work on.

The main aspect is the combat mechanic in my games. It relies heavily on a RPS mechanic that is unique to my game.

The hobby game is stable but complex and super slow for the taste of 99% of the players.

The ( wishfull thinking ) public variant would be 100 times simpler. But so is the construct and concequence. And the RPS mechanic is hardly noticable. In other words, I hate it myself.

The card game goes even further. But is somehow more stable in RPS than the public variant. I like this one more for several reasons.


Better to see what you have and work on that from time to time. Then when you are out of options to test. Go back to get inspiration from other games. Rinse and repeat.

lewpuls's picture
Joined: 04/04/2009

"A wargame isn't just a combat mechanic.
It is a constant loop of construct, combat, concequence."

In some wargames it's maneuver that dominates, and combat is simple and quick. The same is true in many wars.

I'm working on a video (screencast) that discusses what counts in wars: military, economy, time, technology, will to fight. Will be several months before it's released.

X3M's picture
Joined: 10/28/2013
"A wargame isn't just a

"A wargame isn't just a combat mechanic.
It is a constant loop of construct, combat, consequence."

- Build up forces/defenses
- Combining forces/defenses
- Maneuvers, thus:
-- Taking a favorable position
-- Tactical moves eg. retreat etc.
-- Planning ahead

It is a grey area. Not sure if you quoted me by understanding or misunderstanding me.

Pardon me for the lack of grammar correction this time and last time.

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