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I keep everything in a spreadsheet. Works for me. I have columns for a description, number of figures, manufacturer (if known), link to a photograph if I have one, and some notes for use in games or painting. What I do not keep track of is game-specific information. Several years from now rulesets will have rotated out and others in, but the miniatures will still be there.
For something like this, you also have to keep an eye on maintainability. You want something that’s easily accessible and of which you’re sure it will still be accessible 10 or 20 years from now. Writing a web app yourself is the best guarantee it won’t work anymore 5 years from now 🙂
It also depends how many figures you’re talking about. A few 100? A few 1000? More than 10000?
And it also depends what you want to do with all that info. For me, it’s a help for writing up scenarios. What I do not are database-like queries. It’s not I have to ask myself “Let’s see if I have some WW2 Russians in my collection”. I know I have them. But I don’t know exactly how many. So that’s what I want to know, and how I keep my info.
There is of course also Otherworld, they sell new miniatures, “producers of 28mm fantasy gaming figures inspired by the iconic imagery of the early role-playing games.”
And there was the “Pantheon of Chaos” kickstarter, for new Realm of Chaos Oldhammer miniatures in the old Realm of Chaos style.
I try to be consistent within a single period. E.g. for fantasy I still use the basing system that was the norm for WFB 3rd., and I guess for most of the editions after that.
But size matters less than a coherent visual look for the bases.
And since I prefer hex-gridded (house) rules, actual basing sizes are not that important to me.
Twitter is the wrong medium for a “slow” hobby such as wargaming.
Twitter is at its best for discussing, reporting, reading, … current events. Twitter is not suited for content that you might as well read tomorrow, next week, or even several months from now.
I think blogs are much more suited for reporting about your hobby.
A game might contain random elements – as seen from a player’s perspective – without randomizers being present.
E.g. if you would use a paper-scissors-stone mechanic (many games have variations of this mechanic), I have to pick one of three options. However, I have no clue what option my opponent might pick. I could guess, or try to out-think him, or use my intuition. But in essence, from my point of view, to determine my optimal move, I have to assume my opponent is making a random choice. He might pick deterministically, using a procedure unknown to me; but to me, that’s as good as random. Game theory was developed to make decisions based on such uncertainty in knowledge. At it’s most basic level, it boils down to a decision table. See also the seminal “The Compleat Strategyst” (http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/commercial_books/2007/RAND_CB113-1.pdf).
If each player would secretly assign different strength to various units (e.g. Stratego, or as I understand it, AWE 10), that introduces a random element in the game from the point of view of the other player. The secret information might reveal itself during the game, hence reducing the amount of hidden information (or perceived randomness), but that doesn’t mean initially there is no random element present. Actually, an optimal tactic might be to assign the strengths of your units randomly yourself, to prevent the other player from outsmarting you. That’s a common strategy in game theory, preventing a bias in your decisions that could be exploited by the opposition.
Anyway, the point I’m trying to make is that the division between random and deterministic elements is a grey zone. Hidden information is essentially a random element in the game if I have no or limited means to acquire that information, and it is at least random for as long that hidden information has not been exposed.
That doesn’t mean that all game mechanics are perceived as equal, or are as much fun. Some mechanics (randomizers, hidden info, …) might work better than others in certain game engines. And often, randomness is perceived differently when you change the mechanic. E.g. the simple exercise of letting a player draw any random card (“I am in control!”) vs drawing the top card of a stack (“This card is forced on me!”), can make a psychological difference. But that’s a different discussion …
One of the most popular myths in wargaming is that the more dice you through in a single game the more the stochastic effect (randomness) is minimized. Therefore skill prevails.
I think you are misinterpreting the myth. This statement is usually applied in the context of specific gaming mechanisms, such as buckets of dice to resolve combat.
Suppose I have a game that works as follows: we both roll a D6. High roller gets a +1. Highest score after 100 opposed die rolls wins. BUT! The 100th roll counts for +500 points … !
Of course such a game only depends on the last die roll …
Plus, there are scientific studies that prove that human anticipation for the results of a random draw are above the random average: those studies were done with card drawing trying to guess what color, number ,etc.
Sure, those studies exist. But those studies are also flawed.
There is no such thing as being able to predict a pure random event without having some sort of information advantage.
Isn’t this whole debate why Game Theory was invented – i.e. to deal with uncertainty when making a decision, and trying to derive the best odds for what decision to make?
In a wargame, a randomizer (dice, cards, whatever, …) is not necessarily there to add randomness in the system, but rather to add uncertainty, that is otherwise difficult to model in a 1 player vs 1 player setup with no hidden information.
Whether you like your games having more or less or no randomizers is a matter of taste, and has nothing to do with the wargame or its portrayal of a military battle as such.
Currently, I do not like figure removal. I want to have the figures on the table. At a very basic level, wargaming (for me) is about pushing toy soldiers around. So manipulating the toy soldiers is the key activity. Moreover, it’s a bit odd to spend time painting your soldiers, then NOT use them on the table.
To avoid clutter – and depending on game and rules:
- I use casualty figures, but also other figures to indicate status. E.g. a kneeling figure, or a running figure, etc.
- I use dials flocked to match the terrain
- I use pebbles with color codes or numbers
But most importantly, to avoid clutter, you need some space to put your junk on – whether it’s a glass of beer, the dice, reference sheets. If you do not have little side table, or reserve part of the main table, of course people will put all their trapping on the battlefield.
One aspect that has been overlooked is that many rulesets are not bought to be played for a long time, but to be read and to played at most 1 or 2 times.
The frequency of playing actual games vs the frequency at which new rules are published is out of sync for many groups. Once a gaming group has tried out a new ruleset for the first or second time, a new shiny ruleset is already available. That makes that many players feel as if they’re always having to catch up. Most players therefore don’t have the time to play a game for a significant number of sessions in order to really appreciate the finesses (or flaws) of any ruleset.
I bought Frostgrave in August 2015. Our gaming group still hasn’t managed to play a game, although there is interest. By now, a number of supplements have already been published, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a 2nd edition will already be available before we play our first game.
I bought Maurice 3 or so years ago. Managed to play 1 game so far. Etc.
It’s one of the reasons we switched to house rules. We develop our own rules, which we develop at our own pace, in sync with our gaming schedule. We look at new rulesets for inspiration, but we don’t feel the need anymore to slavishly follow whatever ruleset is hot this month.27/09/2016 at 13:39 in reply to: There very well is a fantasy/sci-fi gaming community #49396
I’m coming a bit late to the discussion, but want to comment on the OP’s original question whether there is a SF/F community.
I indeed think there’s balkanization in SF/F games, more so than historical games. The balkanization is not manifesting itself as disjunct player communities, but disjunct game systems. I see relatively few crossover effects between SF/F games, as there are between historical games. This effect is reinforced by tighter commercial products, in which background, rules, and miniatures are tightly interlinked.
Thus, it is easier to publish an article about “How to play the 30 Years War?”, and give some sound wargaming advice on how to approach the period . But how would you write something similar for a SF/F game with a self-invented background? Same for scenarios or campaigns. Most articles I have seen that cover SF/F usually are linked to a very specific game system, so much that it becomes more difficult to use it for a different setting. Historicals suffer less from this, because there is a shared common ground. WW2 is one period, and a scenario for WW2 can be translated to many different WW2 rulesets. You can discuss things such as what rule system better reflects infantry tactics. But how can you do that in SF/F? Historical wargaming is driven by the corresponding historical period. SF/F wargaming is driven by a specific gaming engine (with perhaps an added self-invented background). That’s a big difference in outlook. Perhaps if GW would allow other rules writers interpret their WH40K universe …
If there ever was a SF/F gaming community, I think it was during the heydey of roleplaying games during the 80s and 90s. Then, you could find generic articles published in the magazines on how to include new ideas in your sessions, and scenarios were very much system-independent. The reason was that roleplay scenarios are inherently about story, not about rule mechanisms. That’s the difference with (current) SF/F miniature gaming.
I would love to see articles addressing fantasy wargaming, not from a rules-specific perspective (“Here’s a new force list for Frostgrave!” — such articles are useless for anyone NOT playing Frostgrave), but from a background-driven perspective: “How to best include Mumakil in your battles?” “How to evoke Vancian magic?” “How to include Harry Potter-like spells?” “What ruleset is best is to play battles in the Hyborian universe?” Etc.
Back to articles in magazines: for me, a good article in a wargaming magazine is about a topic that transcends a specific game system. It might be described against a specific period or setting or ruleset, but the ideas or concepts should be usable in other periods or settings or rulesets as well. That is harder to do for the current SF/F commercial gaming landscape than it is for historicals.
(I play both historicals and SF/F, and I’m not a “youngster” – hitting 50 a few months from now. I started playing fantasy miniature wargaming during the early eighties (WFB1!), and only discovered historicals afterwards).
To come back to this discussion, what I really want in rules is interesting decision points for players.
Combat resolution by itself usually does not involve any decisions. It’s merely working through dice rolls, tables, cards, whatever … without any input from the player. The mechanics can be fun or entertaining or yield surprising results, and that’s good, but by themselves, they don’t involve any decision making.
Decision making *during the game* is usually at the level of when you want what troops to do what. That’s exactly why activation-driven rules (whether it’s with dice or cards) appeal to many players. They force you to think what’s more important to you, and what units should activate first before the turn switches. Classic IGO-UGO does not have this element of decision-making, and must depend on troop placement. Some games are constructed in such a way that after initial deployment, there are not many decisions left if all units can move every turn. Hence, IGO-UGO must allow for manouevring room in terms of movement distances to offer interesting games. SInce many gaming tables are smallish, this is difficult to achieve. Hence the popularity of activation-based turn sequences.
Some games allow for decision making pre-game, in the form of selecting a force from army lists. Those do not appeal to me at all. I feel the decision-making element of the game should happen on the table, during the game, not beforehand.
When I was younger, I tended to buy the newest versions of whatever rules we were playing.
After so many years, you realize it doesn’t really matter. Most changes between editions are smallish: a few modifiers here and there, but usually nothing that truely affects gameplay. So now I usually do not upgrade to a newer version, and just keep on playing the old version.
Unless of course you are a follower of the cult of the sanctioned army lists. But even then, does it really matter if you only play in your own gaming circle? I can imagine if you play in tournaments all over the country, you want to play by the agreed rules; but if you only play with your local friends, what’s the point?
Thanks for the nice comments, and thanks for following my blog.
but starting with the practical activities like putting figures in a hex is such a great way to start thinking about actual game play.
That’s how I usually develop my rules. I tend to think about practicalities such as hex occupancy first, and then I build the gaming engine around that. Another example: for our scifi skirmish games, the entire game system was build around the idea of using a firing mechanism in which you had to roll a die, and exceeding the distance in hexes. That was non-negotiable. Most other things flowed from that.
The advantage is that you end up with a coherent gaming engine, instead of a hodge-podge of different rules and procedures. The disadvantage is that the original ideas might prove to be too limiting, and you have to adjust the initial core principles after a few games.
And some more pictures:
I tend to look at unit activation and C&C and turn sequence – anything but the classic IGOUGO.
Army lists and “shopping lists” don’t interest me at all. If the game seems to be build up around that, I am not interested.
Always go with what looks right. Vehicles and buildings can be made to true scale. Wargaming figures usually are not (too bulky) for a lot of different reasons.
Look at the bottom 2 photographs in this blogpost: http://dspaintingblog.blogspot.be/2007/11/m4-sherman.html
BTW, it is common practice to use buildings at a different scale to the figures to make up for vertical/horizontal scale discrepancies. 20 or even 15mm buildings often look better with 25mm figures – depending on game scale.
I don’t worry about this at all. Naming characters in the game and using puns, or movie themes, or whatever, is part of wargaming tradition 😉
If it really gets silly, and one player is milking it such that it becomes annoying, someone usually says “Ok, we all get the joke already.”Among friends, that solves “the problem” if there is one.
It’s a variant of names for characters in roleplaying campaigns. As a GM, you have created a fantastic world. Then, a player insists on calling his character “Mickey Mouse” …
We always end with a glass of whisky while debriefing/discussing the game we just played.
Scale only makes sense if you have a well-defined real-life specimen. Such as a vehicle, or tank. Then you can say “This is a 1/72 scale model”.
But for human figures? Humans vary in size (these days) from 1m50 to 2m10. So you have to settle on an average. Moreover, this average changes over time …
As has been pointed out, size for a human figure is more a label rather than something that should be interpreted as a scale. At best it describes the actual size of the figure. But we all know a “25mm” figure these days can be anything between 25mm and 35mm.
I have backed 10 or so gaming-related projects, and most of them have delivered so far. But you have to do your homework. I have mostly pledged with established companies (although not all), but even then, you have to be patient sometimes 😉 Longest delay so far is 2.5 years and counting. But since this is an established company, they will deliver. Beware of KS projects from unknown companies which promise a lot of stretch goals. If the company or person does not have a proven track record, I only pledge for small amounts in projects that are very honest and fair (i.e. only promise a single thing for your money without promising you lots of free stuff).
I have a limit on the amount of money I pledge in KS projects. If one project delivers, it “frees up” some money I then can “invest” in a new project.
It’s not that different from investing some money on the stock market. Do it only with surplus money (i.e. money you can afford to lose in a worst case scenario), and put a limit on how much you want to have out there. Works for me.
In the UK I woud guess …
Ok, but I sincerely hope the wargamer who claims to be interested in history knows a little bit more about history than what he has read in the FOW books.
Statements such as “The Germans were the bad guys and the Allies the good guys” are true at the kiddie-level, but I do expect some deeper insights from wargamers.
Most people know Germans were the “bad guys” and the allies were the good guys and that a Tiger tank – even if they don’t know what it actually looks like – are scary.
Ok, but I would not call that history. That’s comic-book-level-stuff.
I sincerely hope that most Europeans who are alive today know that WW2 was fought between what countries and why.
I use regularly Kallistra hexes (10cm across).
For some games I use smaller hex sizes.
It really depends on the rules framework and the unit footprint. I found that rules are kept simple if 1 indivisible unit game-wise (whether that’s a full regiment or a single figure) occupies 1 hex and vice versa. If you allow multiple units per hex, or multiple hexes per unit, you need to start taking all sorts of things into account. Hex size then usually follows from that.
BTW, look at my blogpost for converting the Lion Rampant engine into hexes. Some useful insights 🙂
Historical vs fantasy is an antiquated and artificial division in wargaming that stems from the early seventies when people started using fantasy miniatures in their games and a name was needed for this ‘new’ period. The amount of gamers that play both historical and fantasy indicate that gamers tend not to subdivide themselves along these lines.
A much more significant genre division would be scenario-based gaming vs point-list based gaming. That expresses much more a difference in attitude and approach than the distinction between history and fantasy.
Does one need to now history to be a wargamer? In principle no, but if you’re not at least interested in the history, then what’s the point?
Frankly, no, I would not be interested in a generic fantasy system.
In my opinion, a good fantasy game should be able to evoke a specific atmosphere. This does not mean the game rules should be linked to a fully fleshed out world setting, but the rules always do inspire a certain flavour of fantasy through the choice of troop types, monsters, spells, etc. E.g. a ruleset might – although not linked to a specific world – inspire a Dark Ages fantasy setting, or High Middle Ages, or Greek&Roman Myhtology, or Horror, or Planes of Existence, etc. Good rulesets make a particular choice and then built their gaming engine around those assumptions native to that fantasy genre.
Another approach might be to assume a certain style of game, e.g. dungeon exploration, but that in itself draws heavily on a number of world assumptions.
I fear that a generic fantasy system as you describe it (if I understand it correctly) will always be a bit bland. Will it be anything else than the usual mix of humans, elves, dwarfs and orcs?
Otoh, it is possible to publish a generic fantasy system, but then you have to present it based on its merits in the gaming mechanics. E.g. Dragon Rampant has a certain popularity right now, based on its elegant and simple rules system. Rather than it being fantasy, its rules are the main selling point. HOTT also did know some popularity, because it was strongly tied to the DBX gaming engine. Same goes for SoBH: very generic fantasy, but an elegant ruleset.
So, either a good and unique ruleset, combined with generic fantasy; or a not-too-special ruleset, combined with specific fanatsy. But a ruleset that is nothing special in itself, for generic fantasy, is not a good idea, IMO.
I was simply interested if people really thought of their relaxation time hobby as something best described in terms ripped untimely from a management consultant document.
I think you are looking too deeply into this.
Saying “I am working on my medieval project” is easier than saying “I am working on painting my 500 French and Flemish 28mm figures so I can stage the battle of Courtrai 1302 by the end of 2016”.13/02/2016 at 12:29 in reply to: Tabletop Wargames Builder. A universal rules system #38204
Have these rules been playtested already?
It seems they depend strongly on exact positioning, facing, and exact movement paths of individual figures.
In my experience, rules that focus so heavily on individual placement only work really well with maybe 10 figures aside maximum. Is that the intent?
I must say your graphics for explaining the rules are really well done!
Figures move and fight in blobby units of 6-12.
That’s one of the reasons we are playing it on a hexgrid:
Yes and I apologise if I seemed critical.
No offence taken 🙂
The numbers are not an endorsement of any sort to proof that period x or y is the most “popular”. It’s just the raw data as I typed it in. Everyone should interpret any way they see fit … 😉
I full agree you have to take the numbers with a grain of salt. Although they do reflect the entries in the database, there are some things you might want to take into account when doing a more detailed analysis:
- multi-part articles in subsequent issues are only counted as one. Some “articles” ran for 5 issues or even longer;
- weighing the numbers by page-count would reflect “popularity” perhaps better, but I am not going to count all the pages in all these issues!
Wars of the Roses fits into medieval. Napoleonic is…Napoleonic, whatever the theatre. WW2 and WW2 Market Garden, why single out one campaign?
Yeah, well. Typing in the complete index took me roughly 3 months, adding a few issues every day. I (sub)divided in categories as I went along. If I would start anew, I would probably redefine some of the subdivisions, but life is too short …
The numbers are exclusive. Every article is only counted once and not in multiple categories. So, Vietnam is seperate from Modern.
As for classifications being questionable, I refer to my blogpost:
Of course, I might have mislabeled some, and sometimes I subdivided (or did not!) a period into several subgenres for no good reason except my own illogical judgement.
It is not a scientific experiment. It’s just a nice little byproduct of my effort of indexing my whole collection of Wargames Illustrated …
All my orcs are brownish, and goblins have an orange-flesh tone.
Attrition rates increase exponentially with force concentration though, it isn’t a simple linear relationship. Excessive force concentration also reduces mobility. Both of which make Benedeks manoeuvres in 1866 even more incomprehensible…
An eye-opener for me was reading about the concentration of units when assembling the Grande Armée before crossing the Niemen in 1812. The density of soldiers in a very wide area was huge, and combined with the “living of the land” doctrine, this meant attrition started right then and there.
I tend to look at these things from a procedural point of view. When you have a classic to-hit to-save die roll mechanism, with die rolls normally made by the player controlling the vehicle that takes the action (i.e. to-hit is rolled by player controlling shooting vehicle, to-save is rolled by player controlling the target vehicle), I think the modifier that depends on the status of a vehicle should be applied to the die roll made by the player controlling the vehicle.
So, if the target is hull-down, that would be a modifier to the to-save roll. Anything that depends on the status of the target should be applied to the to-save roll. Anything that depends on the status of the attacker (incl. weapon ranges) should be applied to the to-hit roll.
The reason is that players know the status of their own figures best, and by keeping modifiers as described above, there is no need for cross-checking (and tis speeds up the game). E.g. when I am shooting at your target, I don’t need to ask whether you are hull down, or in cover, or whether you moved etc. That’s for you to factor in in your to-save roll. Also, the defender doesn’t need to ask the attacker about type of weapon etc. That should all be factored in the to-hit roll.
I realize this goes against a too literate interpretation of the to-hit to-save mechanism. I know some people prefer to think about the to-hit roll as really modelling the chances of the attacker hitting the target, and the to-save roll as the representation of determining damage. But the to-hit to-save mechanism is a very abstracted way to look at the whole process, and what counts in the end is the overall probability of inflicting damage on the target, not the individual probabilities of subsystems or subrolls. Hence, I prefer to go for optimality in procedure, rather than optimality in what some players think the rolls represent.21/12/2015 at 17:40 in reply to: Index for Warg.Illustrated; MinWargames w Battlegames, Battlegames #35892
I haven’t reread every single article, but did browse the intro for most of them, since it was needed to properly mark them (scenario, history, …).
I acctually was surprised at how much good stuff appeared in the magazines over the years. It certainly feels to me that if you have a decent magazine colelction, you do not need much extra in the form of scenario books, potted histories, etc.
Another update: Wargames Illustrated done up to issue 150.
Got some replies that basically “you’re playing pretend soldiers wrong.”
That’s the nature of discussion. Of course people don’t mean that literally. It’s a condensed statement that actually means “You play your way, I play my way, I think you way is less fun for me and therefore I don’t like your way.” There’s nothing wrong with that, and you have to take all that with a grain of salt.
And if someone really believes that – i.e. really thinks his way is the only possible way to correctly play wargaming – you basically ignore that person, right? Why would such a stupid opinion influence how you enjoy your wargaming?
I always consider it very strange why any wargamer would care how others outside his gaming group play, or wat others think about your style of play? I couldn’t care less what others think that I might never meet in person, or won’t play a game with during my lifetime. The only thing that matters is whether you and your gaming buddies have an approach to wargaming that works for your little slice of the wargaming universe. Which of course does not prohibit you from sharing ideas , good practices, hints and tips, with others outside your little gaming circle.
Move on and don’t waste time with the hobby gestapo …
Update: Wargames Illustrated has now issues 1-99 entered.
I am not arguing we should extricate the hobby from its origins, nor that we should let it slide towards the silly. But, I also don’t think we should elevate *hobby* wargaming to something it isn’t, a serious study of war. If one wants a serious study of war or historical conflict, one is better off reading books on the subject, or conduct academic research using primary sources. A hobby wargame – in the form it exists today – is (all in my opinion of course) a very poor tool for studying the history of war. It might add to the number of activities one enjoys in the realm of military history (books, films, reenactment, modeling, …), but I don’t think people can learn useful insights – apart from some broad generalities – from playing wargames only.
Of course, many wargamers are genuinely interested in military history (myself included), and this knowledge and interest spills over in their wargaming. But it’s dangerorous to confuse cause and effect. Are our wargames historically accurate because we know about military history, or did we gain knowledge about military history through the playing of a wargame? Reading sourcebooks or rulebooks containing background info does not count towards playing a game in this respect.
I therefore take the position that wargames should not be considered as a study tool, but rather as a game, an enjoyment, a passtime, *inspired* by military history. Now, the resulting activity can be close to history, or can deviate from it in various degrees. Personally, I don’t care that much for catpeople fighting in WW2 gear against dogpeople using a-historical tactical doctrines, but if others do, why not?
A wargame (again, IMHO) is more about telling stories rather than trying to mimic or simulate some past reality. The action developing on the gaming table tells us a story about an unfolding military conflict. It is therefore not about winning a competitive setup, nor is it about trying to constrain yourself to the point-of-view of a single commander only. The hobby wargame should be a tool to evoke a story, played out using splendid visuals (toy soldiers on stunning terrain).
(And yes, this is all my opinion, my approach to wargaming – not a dogma stipulating how others should play their games).