The historical trend in games has shown that when a new genre of game is invented, it follows a trajectory where increasing complexity is added to it, until eventually the games on the market are so complex and advanced that newcomers can’t get into them—the barrier of entry is too high.
I think it is easy to see where the miniature hobby is in that pendulum swing at the moment.
The downfall of Empire was that love it or hate it, it indeed created “the priesthood” of those who had studied the rules intently and could play and those who couldn’t navigate the game. As the hobby reacted to that I’ve personally felt that we’ve swung too far away from the game’s connection to history. I don’t think going back to lots of charts, innumerable details, and representation of all command levels makes sense as a solution but I am also critical of designing often highly functional game mechanics that aren’t a corollary of any historical driver.
The challenge to me is how to bring these two things together, how to unite the low-cost-of-entry that is “beer & pretzel games” with the faithful-represention-history “simulation games” aspired to, and how to do it by capitalizing on the strengths of them rather than suffering from the negatives of each.
My attempt to bridge this gap is sort of a “design through restriction” approach, by heavily restricting the amount of detail and complexity, I feel my simulation friends will be more disappointed in ESR while the non-simulation crowd will be more open to it. The funny thing is I’m hoping to bring some of the characteristics of simulations to a broader audience in a way the broader audience likes. Which has always been a need if not desire of the simulationist.