Home Forums General Game Design Pre-measurement Reply To: Pre-measurement


A final note about players not being able to judge distances on the table: Some players also cannot process numbers and probabilty and will attack cavalry with infantry without thinking, etc. A game is putting one player against another, using a set of skills. If you want to exclude any imbalance in skill, you should play a game based purely on luck. So again, I do not think this is a valid argument in favor of allowing pre-measurement as such. It somehow reminds of the classic game of Monopoly. Kids just roll the dice, and move their pawns around the board without too much thinking. Once you know a bit or two about probability, you can better assess the relative value of properties in the game. What if one of the players does not realize this, or does not understand that some properties have a higher frequency of getting landed on? And if you’re really serious about Monopoly, you know it’s in essence a trading game, and players with better trading skills will win. What if a player is shy and does not trade well? Taking into account all possible differences in skills of all players would lead to a very boring game …

This argument presupposes that miniature gaming can primarily only ever be a game of skill, not one of storytelling like, say, a pen-and-paper RPG.

I play a fair deal of boardgames based on strategic/tactical skill with friends who are uncommited to miniature gaming, and I lose disproportionately often because I’m just not that good at it, or because I don’t thrive under the pressure of skill-based competition. My friends seem to be somewhat oblivious to my mild despondency over these games because they’re too caught up in the rush of winning more often than they’re “supposed” to (which they might not even have fully realised). One of the things I look for in miniature gaming is an escape from all that.

In my games, the task of the players is simply to interpret the “prima facie” situation on the table in terms of what would be the natural behaviour for characters or commanders, so the story can progress at every decision point. The purpose is to progress the story, not the contest. Therefore, I strive to keep skill-based decision-making at its necessary minimum. If anyone starts calculating odds or eyeballing distances for purposes of “playing the margins” (e.g. staying just barely out of charge range, or moving just barely within range to charge next turn so the opponent doesn’t realise the danger), then they’re not playing by the spirit of the game.

If some basic knowledge of the particulars of warfare for the period or setting is prerequisite for judging what the prima facie natural behaviour ought to be, such as the example of not having infantry attack cavalry, then that should indeed be treated as prerequisite: Some effort should be taken to make sure all players have that knowledge at the start of the game (that’s one reason I don’t like beginner-unfriendly historical rulesets that assume of the reader to not need explanations for what the rules are modelling). Failing that, the more knowledgeable players should be prepared to act as guides, even if they’re playing the opposing side. There’s no reason that shouldn’t work, as my games are not competitions from the players’ point of view; they’re a cooperative modelling of courses of events, with a storytelling/roleplaying slant.

I’ve strayed a long way from the original subject matter, so I’ll stop here.