Wednesday, April 13, 2005

I don't know if I am losing my stomach for wargames - not the moral dilemmas of sending piles of cardboard to a certain death, that has never given me more than occasional twinges of conscience - the problem seems more that I am losing my appetite for mastering 20+ page rulebooks, punching hundreds of counters (that don't want to be punched, they want to tear, tear!), and assimilating a constant trickle of errata. As a result I have a growing backlog of brand-new wargames that I haven't played or even punched yet, sitting on my shelves and at the back of my mind like an accusation of bad faith. Here is the litany of shame:

Grand Illusion Ted Raicer's latest work on the Great War, this looks very innovative with its enormous hexes and battle board. In my mind at least though Ted is getting a reputation for shipping unfinished work. Barbarossa to Berlin was a major example of this tendency - it has been hugely revised since it was published and can now only be played with yellow stickies on just about every other card to remind you of the changes. But worryingly Grand Illusion has already had one fairly major rule change since release. This sort of thing puts me off making the effort - maybe I should stop reading ConsimWorld?

This Accursed Civil War I have yet to find a tactical wargame that I really enjoy, they are usually fiddly with lots of markers on the map and lots of exceptions in the rules. This one has one big advantage going for it though - Richard Berg was not involved. I have high hopes and would love to refight Naseby, Marston Moor etc. And those double-size counters look so cool. This also has the draw of being the first of an ongoing series so learning the rules could pay off in the future. Must get punching!

Von Manstein's Backhand Blow If tactical is not my thing then I have loved some operational games in the past - Breakout Normandy for example. I was drawn by this game's reputation for simplicity and elegance, and I like the big counters and low counter density. Another one I would love to play but just haven't had the time for yet.

Rommel in the Desert This doesn't quite count as backlog. I have already put a significant effort into learning the rules, and set it up solo a couple of times (although this one is a favourite with the cat - I found a half chewed German AT unit under the armchair the other day). The problem here is finding an opponent - it's a complex game and I'm a bit short of experienced wargamers in these parts. Maybe I can entice Dave over for a day....

Empire of the Sun Alright I haven't received this one yet but it's coming any day. And this game is *complex*, I'm sure of it. The whole Pacific Theatre in card-driven format, by Mark Herman no less. Couldn't resist the premise - having owned and drooled over but never played Pacific War for about a decade - but have I got the stomach to actually play this one?


Chris Farrell said...

I dunno if I'm losing my appetite for wargames, but I find I have a lot less tolerance these overwrought, unfinished projects. I played Grand Illusion recently, and while it's a kinda neat game, it has an absolutely horrid rulebook that makes the game much too hard to learn. Then, Empire of the Sun comes along and has a rulebook that is arguably worse.

I think some wargame publishers just hasn't grasped that most people these days do not want to put in huge up-front investments just to play, so if the rules are reliably incomprehensible, the playing time is 8+ hours, and the developer obviously spineless, the game isn't going to get a lot of airtime.

I do love Rommel in the Desert though. The rules are not that complex, and the game is quite playable.

Peter said...

I agree Chris. GMT are really churning them out these days, so maybe the development process is getting skimped as a result.

Two Euros that I bought recently made a huge contrast with my recent wargame purchases - Yinsh and Knizia's Samurai - both highly polished, subtle, fascinating games that I was able to set up and play through within about 10 minutes of opening the shrinkwrap.

But a good wargame is still an experience I don't want to miss out on, but I think I could afford to stop preordering them for a while and concentrate on some of my existing favourites - Europe Engulfed, Hammer of the Scots, 30 Years War, Breakout Normandy - and maybe add Rommel in the Desert to that list as well.