Grognard Wargamer Thread!
Figured there might be a few old grogs here who enjoy the more cerebral (and very much less pretty) sort of games, ie. Wargames! Figured a thread to discuss the games you're looking for opponents on, upcoming games, and other bits and pieces might be handy.
Just bought Conquest of the Aegean myself. I'm somewhat daunted by the documentation. A 90 page basic intro manual, a 70 page 'advanced tutorial' manual, a 20 page 'hot tips' guide and the full manual is 207 pages! Thankfully I enjoy reading it all and the game itself doesn't require 400 pages of absorbed knowledge. I'd probably be keen on a multiplayer game of this sometime.
Any other grogs on this here forum?
World's End Supernova
Troy Goodfellow's link to RPS's Rod Humble interview makes me wish I was still a grognard, since Defending the Reich sounds pretty dang cool.
Last edited by TomChick; 04-25-2008 at 07:30 PM.
Reason: A word was wrong. Stupid word.
Pretty much every time Stone posts something at RPS, I'm kind of tempted to that Dark and hex-based place.
I love the history and concept of wargames like you mention, and enjoy talking to those who like to play them. Unfortunately, they were just never my cup of tea and I never really got immersed in one. Any game suggestions for a wargaming n00b?
Sid Meier's Gettysburg/Antietam is a great wargame introduction. It's real time but it's a blast.
Panzer General was a great beer and pretzels game as well but I think you might have a tough time finding it and DosBox would probably be needed as well.
If you are into board gaming then Memoir '44 or Battlelore is something you should definitely give a try.
Cubit - I sort of fall in the same position. I really like the idea and the slow-time strategy and planning, and seeing it work (or not!), but rarely do I find a game that grips me enough to really enjoy it. Not that I try that many wargames, mostly because I know what I don't like.
I don't like:
- Hexes (we're not playing with cardboard any more people)
- Turns (as point above)
- Any mention of combat tables and whatnot (as above)
- Chits (tho I forgive CotA for that as it makes sense on an 'operational' scale)
I think we're finally entering an age when we're seeing less of the above, and more wargames trying to develop to the strength of the PC, thank god.
I'd rather play a board game like Memoir '44 than a computerised version of a board game.
So what does that leave you with? Well I highly recommend Combat Mission, which you can try a free multiplayer demo of over from http://www.battlefront.com . One point tho, I've really started to dislike Battlefront (the developers). It's a point of pride for them to have a god-awful website and to be arrogant cocks about it (and other things). FFS people, you're operating in a niche! At least you could try and encourage people to look around and not figure they've landed in some fanbois abomination from 10 year ago!
Mutliplayer CM is extremely rewarding, challenging and infinitely varied. I must have had 3 or 4 games going at any one time for about a 9 month period. I love the competitive nature of a good wargame.
Other than that, I'm enjoying CotA, but it is pretty hard core (not because it's hard, but you need to put your head into that of a competent military planner or it will all go very wrong!)
You could also check out the Close Combat series, which is extremely fun and pretty simple. I've had some memorable gaming moments in that. Eg, played as Germans in the very first mission of CC 1 and destroyed the attacking Americans. MGs in layers hiding up until the Yanks crossed into the open, then BAM, ambush. Then as they would move, another one opens up from hiding BAM! Anyway, you get the idea.
And yeah, the Sid Meiers stuff is fun too.
(oh, interesting RPS entry. Lots of unique games in there. There's actually a board game of bombing Germany now, similar feelings are evoked by the look of it!)
Last edited by Calistas; 04-25-2008 at 08:06 PM.
Those are great suggestions guys. I'll have to check them out. The very first wargame I ever played was probably in middle school or early high school. It was my friend, his dad, and myself playing this tabletop civil war game that I now forget the name of. I just know there were a lot of hexes, and a lot of combat tables and the like. Not a bad time though if I remember right.
Last edited by Cubit; 04-25-2008 at 08:18 PM.
Reason: homophones get me every time...
Originally Posted by Calistas
Defending the Reich is great, mostly because it's so damned simple and focused - a rarity in an HPS game. I don't think it's nearly as ethically interesting as Rod does, but there are some nice tactical trade offs on both sides. You can neither bomb everything, nor defend everything, so it's all about priorities.
Originally Posted by TomChick
Wargames come in many shapes and sizes, so a lot depends on what you already know and what you want to learn.
Originally Posted by Cubit
Sid Meier's Gettysburg is good because it's real time, teaches basic things like forced marches, facing and quality and is pretty to look at. Not sure how well it runs on modern systems.
If you want a good hex based starter set, you could do worse than SSG's games (Battlefront for some small scenarios and Korsun Pocket for major action.) They are a little garish, but the mechanics are all out in the open. Read the manual though.
For a good theater based wargame with supply lines, weather and terrain, try AgeOD's Birth of America or Napoleon's Campaigns.
As far as a modern Panzer General - a beer and pretzel wargame that teaches the basics - I guess Commander: Europe at War will do. The AI was pretty weak on release, but I've heard that there have been some improvements.
Originally Posted by Calistas
You're unlikely to find many people who call themselves grognards and also share your feelings about the above. ;)
Originally Posted by Calistas
Generally my feeling is that "cardboard" games are better designed than computer games, because the restrictions imposed by the form and the relative quickness and cheapness with which one can play around with the design and investigate the results encourage both creativity (because facing all kinds of things you can't do encourages you to think about what you can do) and "tight", "balanced" design. Partly because boardgames are inherently designed to be played by human players which means that they need to feel "fair" for all involved and they should (ideally) offer something interesting to think about even to players in weak positions, or ways to turn weak positions into winning positions. Whereas computer games often include creativity in the form of "adding more stuff".
(see excellent articles by Bruce Geryk here and here:
...and the design is often predicted on the idea recently articulated by Soren Johnson that the player should always win, but with a degree of opposition calibrated such that they "only just" win. IMHO, this approach works well for lots of genres of computer games, but it doesn't work well in wargames. Some of the most interesting play in wargames I find is when you're in a terrible position and it feels as though you *must* eventually lose and yet you keep struggling to hang on for one more turn... and one more turn... and then you lose anyway. This sense of genuine struggle and the reality of the possibility of losing add enormously to the sense of drama and tension in the game. If you take it out... what you're left with is... well, just a kind of hollow "processing" of a situation. I suppose the thing it makes me think of is in Monopoly, where one player is certain to win and the thing is to just keep rolling the dice and moving the pieces so you can get to the end where this inevitable result will occur? Except the game is like that from the very start.
Sorry, I seem to have rambled at great length... this is clearly a hobbyhorse of mine. ;)
I actually don't really think of myself as a grognard, although I have enjoyed playing quite a few different wargames. But... I suppose the thing that troubles me is this idea that stuff like turns and hexes and whatnot represent some terrible limitation from the "dark ages" of computer gaming, and that naturally everything that has moved beyond them will be better for having left them behind. Well, of course, some things work very very well without them: I think Rise of Nations is a fantastic game, hexless and turnless as it is. But I also think the fundamental problems that were being worked on with those tools haven't actually changed much, and we can still get a lot out of those earlier attempts, and indeed, keep making new attempts with the old tools. Maybe this analogy will seem a bit stretched, but I think it's sort of like pianos and electronic synthesizers; you can do a lot more on the latter than you could on the former, but obsolence of the piano (and piano music) is going to be a long time in coming, if it ever does.
I really like both those games, but they don't feel very wargamey to me -- they're more war-themed abstract strategy games. But Commands & Colors: Ancients (which uses the same basic system, but adapts it to classical battles) really does feel like a war game, and is to my tastes better than either M44 or BL.
Originally Posted by Vic Davis
My personal boardgame recommendation is Combat Commander: Europe, which magnificnetly combines a sort of clean gamey elegance with a very narrative/simulationist feel. Plus, nothing says "I AM SRS WARGAME" like a WW2 squad level tactical hex combat game.
Was about to agree with lesslucid, I'm not sure you can say about discussing wargamer grognards in one hand and then not like anything to do with traditional wargames. It just don't fit.
Found it! Duel in the Dark.
I would have probably picked it up myself but the subject matter is a bit esoteric for my fiancée.
Oh, and I like chits and boards and turns when I'm playing on a table, with other people. I don't like it on PC. I don't see the point. This is my personal preference and I'm not too attached to being considered a grog. I'm hardly one, but I'm hoping those with better grogy street cred will come along and recommend various wargames available and I'll find some new content to consume.
At home I have a small wargame collection (due to who I have a chance to play with) but it includes an old Battle of the Bulge game, Memoir '44, Europe Engulfed and at one time Flames of War. I also have euro-style wargamess, such as Wings of War and Shogun (re-released Wallenstein) because I can break those out and people don't scream and run away :(
Last edited by Calistas; 04-25-2008 at 10:38 PM.
what is good in life
How can you not like hexes?
World's End Supernova
I like hexes. Hexes aren't a limitation or a artifact of board gaming--they are just a way of abstracting movement. A pretty effective way, too.
Too many sides.
Originally Posted by Unicorn McGriddle
Perhaps what I meant is I don't like abstracted movement much. That and you-go-I-go turn systems drop me out of the immersion and realism I'm looking for in a computer wargame.
Hadn't bought one in years.Picked up American Civil War:The Blue and The Gray a while back on a whim.The tutorial kept telling me to do stuff which just did not work. Shelved it....
How To Go
Let's see. The last computer wargame I played that even vaguely resembled an actual hexmap board wargame was Operation Crusader from, I think, Atomic Games. Now that was a while back.... I mean, a great long while back. The game sucked too, the AI was as sad as anything could be after the first turn or so of scripted movement -- a pity because the scenarios were detailed and fairly interesting, with a fair amount of research done for the units and strategies.
I don't think I've played a cardboard hexmap wargame for at least that long.
But I did play the first couple of dozen scenarios of original Squad Leader back in the day, (yay for the Russian engineer assault in scenario 1) and also once set up and played a full turn of the awesome Drang Noch Osten until it became obvious just how imbecilic deploying and moving 100 NKVD border patrol units was whose total combined strength along 1000 miles of border was about equal to a single German Panzer division. They just made that first turn to be cruel to the poor Russian. And then you'd have to play a dozen more multi-hour turns of just losing and losing and losing until finally some tanks showed up from the Urals.... Sigh. But those were the days all right.
How To Go
I'd say the General series can't be counted as grognard games. They are just too silly and lightweight. I wouldn't say they are good preparation or training for other wargames either. Rock-paper-scissors rules may be OK for RTS, but not for hexmap TBS games. So they made the units, rules and maps look superficially like they might be from a standard wargame, but really the actual play bears very little resemblance.
Of course they were kind of fun, despite the sillyness....
Please post after you have played it. I have been looking at it for a while and I am curious how it fares.
Originally Posted by Calistas
Yeah I really liked Defending The Reich, whether or not you find its ethical aspects powerful as I do, its a great game regardless.
Right now I am looking forward to Lock ‘n Load: Heroes of Stalingrad published by Matrix. Enjoy Lock N Load publishings approach and I hope it goes over to the PC nicely.
My inner carboard grog keeps calling me, every now and again I see the box of The Gamers OCS series Tunisia staring at me from the shelf reminding me of my failure to dare approach its lofty slopes. I have just about convinced myself the Burma reprint is when I will really jump into OCS which by all accounts is THE system for supply build up based warfare.
OK, I'll post some initial impressions.
Conquest of the Aegean
First up. My pedigree so you can perhaps work out how my comments might apply to you:
- Enjoyed Close Combat series a lot
- Enjoyed Combat Mission
- Not a fan of the Panzer General series, or hex computer wargames in general.
- Enjoy the usual range of blockbuster games.
- Have enjoyed sims like WW2 Online and Wardbirds in the past.
So, first impressions? Well, I'm digging through the main manual after completing the first tutorial last night. And I'm liking it so far. You end up really feeling the role of a regimental or divisional (or corps!) commander. One has a very strong sense that carfully studying the ground, opfor, your orbat and your objectives is important. From there, you formulate a plan and set it out for your men. I find this initial process very rewarding and clearly had an impact as I played through the rest of the game.
This seldom seems to be the case in other games, where mass-and-march seems about all that matters. In CotA there seems to be more room for subtlety and planning and trying to get inside the opponents decision cycles and to feint, trick and out-think the enemy. Quite rewarding, although I haven't played enough to see how that goes with another player (or AI).
Graphics are fine, although contours are a touch harder to read than I would like, and I'd love it if someone reworked some of the textures for forests, towns, rough ground etc. Functional I guess is how you describe the look.
Sound. Not much of it, but not a lot is needed I guess. Was able to have itunes play happily in the background and alt+tabbing to the manual was easy. Which is a blessed relief.
I'll play through a scenario later without guidance and let you know how I go. Perhaps a small AAR would be pleasant? Might save that until I know WTF I am doing.
I wouldn't call myself a Grog, but there are a handful of games i install on every single pc/laptop i own/format.
Forge of Freedom - The American Civil War
Steel Panther's World at War
The Operational Art of War
Combat Mission Series
A few dozen others also but the above are the only ones i was able to really get into. I mainly prefer the WWII stuff, but have a liking for the old American Civil war stuff, especially if i can help rewrite history as it should have been, ie. The English kicking arse ;)
Im not particulary good at them, but i have spent countless hours playing the odd turn here and there.
If you are in to real grognard board games, do not forget that you can also play Advance Squad Leader with others over VASL:
There is also VASSAL, which lets you download other game modules besides just ASL (I know that VASSAL is the general engine, and VASL is a derivative of it):
This is a nice take on the Combat Mission style:
It's a bit raw still, but coming along nicely. It actually taught me how to play the game, unlike Combat Mission. It actually generates readable briefings for the random campaign missions, which is a neat touch.
I'd rather play a real wargame face to face though.
Kharkov looks pretty good. But it also looks extremely similar to CM, which for now I've had my fill of. How does it compare? How is the multiplayer?
Wow, that Lock and Load PC version looks pretty cool. I've been waiting a long long long time for someone to do a port of Squad Leader to the PC. Looks like I finally might get something close to my wish.
I'd settle for an online version of M'44 or Tide of Iron myself. I love both those games in person but logistics make it very difficult for me to ever play them -- all my boardgaming friends are either not into wargames or not into 2-player games.
How is the AI?
Originally Posted by Calistas
Why do you say (not you Calistas, the original poster on the subject) that it is still a bit "raw but coming along nicely?" It has been released.
I don't expect I'll be able to pick it up for another couple weeks as I just spent an arm and a leg on two ASL Modules, but I'm dying to get C&C:A. What makes it more war-gamey? I've played and enjoyed M'44 and would absolutely love a heavier game with similar mechanics.
Originally Posted by mkozlows
If you like Conquest of the Aegean, you should look into Panther's earlier game on the same platform, just not as evolved: Highway to the Reich. It covers the Market-Garden operation (Bridge Too Far and all that). Most exciting to me though is the Battles from the Bulge that they are finishing up; it's a, duh, Bulge game using the same system. It won't have a huge overall campaign, but it should be a killer Ardennes sim nonetheless.
Personally, I have no issues with hexes, turns, et al, but as much as I love the HPS games I find I never really finish them. Battles that take 300 or more turns just take too long, and even shorter ones don't unfold very rapidly at two to four hours a turn on that scale. But I love that scale, operational/grand tactical, and very few continuous time systems have proven workable there. Panther's system works pretty well, thankfully, but it's fairly limited in scope.