Homefront Wargame Center

…supporting our hobby!

HFC A-Z

Index A-Z


AREA Rating System

The HFC isn’t a “gaming club” and therefore we don’t use self-developed ranking systems for recording our game results. Nevertheless, we prefer to “rate” and record our played games instead of playing them “just for fun”. The AREA system is founded on a specific formula. The winner “steals” points from the loser and the amount of points stolen depends on his current ranking.

AREA is an American wargaming ranking system, introduced by Avalon Hill many years ago, before widespread internet use, when games were played mostly PBM (by Mail). AREA lists exist for almost any known wargame, and we encourage all players to use this traditional AREA system. We promote this system especially in Germany and in German-speaking countries, where it is almost unknown and unused. We generally prefer a standardized rating system – which allows international comparisons between the AREA members – over single internal club rating systems which don’t allow comparisons with other clubs or players. You will never know if the best player of Club A has better or worse playing skills than the best player of Club B – in AREA, you will always know who the best is.

Becoming a member of the AREA system is very easy and works well. Reporting your games is smooth and safe. By reporting your first game,you get your individual, life-long “AREA-ID” which will be used for all different games you play. Everything you ever wanted to know about the AREA system, addresses, application process, calculations, etc. can be found in our extensive AREA article.


Contributions and Copyright

The HFC depends on support and contributions to fulfill its mission – providing a comprehensive information service for the wargaming hobby. Everybody is invited to support us by sending in contributions in order to enhance and optimize our service. By contributing, you automatically agree to the following declaration:

Everyone contributing something to the HFC service agrees that the HFC is allowed to publish this contribution on the HFC website. (www.homefrontcenter.de / wargamecenter.wordpress.com). There is no time limit for usage of his / her contribution, nor any payment. “Contributions” include (but are not limited to): articles, cheat codes, forum postings, reviews, game ratings, tutorials, player aids, scenarios, FAQs, game guides, etc. The copyright remains with the author, but the author gives permission to publish his / her contribution on the HFC website and to use it for other informational purposes. The HFC reserves the right to change the format and appearance of a contribution in order to integrate it into the service platform, but is obliged to publish the contribution without change of contents – minor corrections of typos etc. do not constitute change of contents. Should a contribution to require major changes (due to grammar or language issues), the author’s permission will be sought before publishing the corrected version. It is not permitted to send in contributions copyrighted by a third person, except with a written permission of the original copyright holder who gives explicit permission to publish his / her contribution on the HFC website.”


Copyright Disclaimer

Please read our Copyright Disclaimer for further information!


Donations

The HFC Website needs server space and traffic, and this is expensive. The main website, up- and downloads cost money. All work done by the HFC members are done on an honorary basis and are strictly voluntarily. In order to support us, you can help us by donating something that will reduce our costs and allow us to carry on and even expand the project. Financial donations can be done via PayPal (contact the HFC staff if you are interested).

We also take material donations such as games (used or new, but always complete!), because this also helps us to enhance our services. The staff possesses only a limited number of games “on the shelf” and has to buy most of the games in order to integrate them into the website and to write and collect contributions about them.


Game Complexity (“HFC-Game-O-Meter”)

Each game in our game listing shows a color-coded “Game-O-Meter” complexity level of A, B, C, D, and E. This complexity rating is based on the general complexity of a given game. In addition, a game gets a Bullet Icon with a number (ranging from 1-6) which shows how easy or difficult it is to get into the game or to return to this game after a longer break.

Of course, the subjective feeling for complexity decreases over the years and with growing experience. This rating is based on the experience of an average wargamer who is neither new to wargaming, nor a hardcore Grognard. E is the lowest, A the highest complexity rating. A comprehensive introduction to the Game-O-Meter, including descriptions of all letters and their distinctive meanings can be found in our Game-O-Meter article!

Examples of game complexity:A (Advanced): Advanced Squad Leader, Imperium Romanum IIB (Brain-Teaser): Totaler Krieg, Squad Leader SeriesC (Core-Games): Up Front, The Russian Campaign

D (Demanding): Circus Maximus, Lock’n Load

E (Entry Level): Axis & Allies, Battle of the Bulge, Memoir’44

Bullet Icons 1-6

In addition to the letters A-E, the bullet icon shows the accessibility of a given game, ie: how difficult it is to get into a game, how playable a game is without looking into the rules and how easy these rules can be memorized, and how difficult it is to return to the game after a longer game break.

A “1 bullet” is a game which can be played fast, needs few or next to no rules study before or during the game and which can be brought back to the gaming table after a gaming break without the need for re-learning the rules. A “6 bullet” game is a game which cannot be played without a rulebook at hand, a game which demands significant work and rules learning before it can be played, a game which has to be played repeatedly and on a regular base in order to remember the rules and mechanics and which requires extensive rules study after a longer gaming break.

The bullets are intended to be helpful for new players; while the letter and color-code symbolizes the general complexity of a game, the bullet informs about how easy or difficult it is to learn the game in the first place or how difficult it is to return to a game after a longer game break. For example, some games are not very complex (Level E or D) but because of their special mechanics or a poorly worded rulebook, they are hard to learn (“4” Bullet). Once you learned such a game, they can be played without much more struggle.

In addition you can find these two categories:

N/A

We don’t rate some types of games (for example: video games) because there are no objective means of measuring the starting difficulties for all players alike. In the majority of these games, players need additional skills (for example motoric skills for handling the controller) which differ depending on individual experiences and talent.

TBA

Games which are currently in the “HFC Test Lab”. We are still learning or playtesting these games and don’t want to suggest any Complexity Rating yet. This will be done once we test the game and came to a conclusion about the complexity.


Horror games are VERY off-topic, but we can’t resist Lovecraft…

Games: Off Topic

First and foremost, the HFC is a Wargaming project – that means, we usually don’t support Role Playing Games,  Euro Games, other types of strategy games such as Settlers of Catan, simulations mainly concerned with developing your own civilization (for example Anno 1503) or  economy simulations etc.. In order to be supported by the HFC, the game’s main topic must deal with a war or conflict. If a game deals with a different main objective (building, diplomacy, settling, horror…), only supplemented by certain military aspects, it doesn’t match the definition of the games that the HFC website is dedicated to and so it is unlikely that you find information about it here… unlikely, but not impossible!;)

Check out our HFC Wargame Definition for more information about the games we ‘automatically’ support. And please also check out the Off-Topic…but Great! section concerning games that seem to violate this wargame definition. We are dedicated gamers, Marvel and Lovecraft fans, so sometimes, we are looking over the rim of our tea-cup ;).

Some of our Off-topic games can be found here!


Most of our games deal with the American Civil War, World War II, Ancient Rome, and the Vietnam War

Games: On Topic

The HFC supports all kinds of wargames, no matter which era they deal with or which platform they use. We are playing historical based wargames and conflict simulations (games based on historical conflicts and events, and simulating them to a certain degree), Fantasy and Space Combat Games, Board Wargames, Card Wargames, PC games, and even video games on consoles (all generations). All these games fit into the HFC concept! At the moment our emphasis is on World War II which is based on the HFC Staff’s personal preferences. But don’t worry if you are interested in the Vietnam War, Napoleonic Battles, Ancient Rome, Middle Earth, the Clone Wars or feudal Japan!

The degree of complexity doesn’t matter, you can read and write about “fun wargames” such as Axis & Allies all the way up to the “king size” class such as ASL. Whether you prefer area- or hexbased games, counters, tabletop or plastic miniatures, tactical or strategical level – your kinds of games are equally supported. We want to honor all these games as part of the great wargaming hobby. If you want more information about our definition of a wargame and which games are supported by the HFC, read our HFC Wargame Definition!

Some of our On-Topic games can be found here!


German website

Wasn’t there a German HFC website once, with tons of stuff, four different portals, player aids, reviews, articles, photo galleries, micro sites, game libraries and useful links? Yes, there was. But in 2010 we decided to shut down the German section because writing and maintaining this website was completely out of proportion compared to the success and impact we had on the German wargaming community. We had lots of clicks, mostly from countries outside Germany, and the majority of emails we got were a rephrasing of: “you are playing cool games, great review, sounds really interesting… is the game available in German?” or “I can’t speak English, but I want to learn ASL. What’s the best way of getting into the game?”.

Promoting a hobby which requires solid knowledge of the English language in Germany became a death sentence for us, so it was very frustrating to write all those reviews, After Action Reports and articles about games for a non-existent target group, while our anglophone friends regretted that they couldn’t read any of these.

We then launched a small English section, but translating all our articles while maintaining two websites in two languages wasn’t manageable at all. Instead of leaving the German section online, we decided to shut it down because it would become outdated and inconsistent as soon as we launched our new English project.


HFC History

Playing ASL on one of our famous game meetings

The HFC was founded in 2001 on a Game Meeting where three gamers decided to promote The Hobby in Germany by creating a central information resource website in German. As a side effect, we hoped to find new opponents and interested  gamers in Germany. We also hoped  to offer other gamers a chance to get in contact with others from their region or to find PbEM opponents. We also reported our games to AREA, and our game records grew and grew, so we decided to publish our information pool on a German website in order to share what we collected, wrote or produced over the time with other gamers, and, in addition, to keep track about our current game ratings.

In the beginning there was the idea of creating a website – but then we decided to found a  wargaming club (HFC, Homefront Club), following the inspiration we got from American  clubs. In Germany it’s a little bit problematic to attract new club members once you founded a club because people are afraid of being obliged to engage themselves or to actively participate in the club’s projects and works. People prefer to be a member of something and then wait to be entertained, but this was something we learned then…

First we were quite idealistic and there were very few requirements for becoming a HFC member in order to allow our members to participate in the club life according to their personal needs and wishes. This was why we defined the HFC as an open project in which each member could do whatever he or she desired – by writing something, by playing solitaire exclusively and posting some AARs, and they could become members whether they were preferring simple wargames over complex ones, living next door, or in Montana. We met many who claimed to be “interested”, welcoming the information we had to offer and stating that our website enriched the German wargaming community. By getting so much positive feedback, we dared to hope that HFC would flourish and grow. But these “interested” people tended to disappear or didn’t want to join in regardless of their “deep interest in wargaming”. Some were even overtaxed by the Axis & Allies rulebook. One of the major questions we encountered was “is there a German rules translation for this or that game?”. Others expected wargames to be something like short and simple family games and claimed that games with more than 2 pages of rules would be some kind of a full-time-job. And most people simply had “no time” when there was something to do for the club project.

Two of the founding members playing Squad Leader on one of our first club meetings

We quickly learned that it wasn’t easy to bring people into the wargaming world and that even people who claimed to share the hobby with us had other priorities or wanted us to entertain them without doing anything in return. The “Homefront Wargame Club” was open to new members for some years and eventually we were 7 people  in the Homefront Club and we hoped that this would be at least a good basis for more growth. But then we recognized that most of these members didn’t develop any activities and that the project was managed by two people alone. These two people (today’s HFC staff) decided that it wasn’t possible to organize a dynamic club life without any support from the members.

We had long discussions with our third founding member about how to deal with these problems because club management started to choke our time for the hobby itself. We eventually realized that we had different opinions about the club business. Two members didn’t believe in the club concept anymore and wanted to refocus on the initial idea of an online information resource, but the third member preferred the process of gaming and competing with others rather than the informational aspects of the HFC. By majority vote we eventually decided to restructure the project from scratch and to drop the club concept because there was no chance to mesh this aspect with the new ideas. The final phase of the HFC project was the change from the “Homefront Wargame Club” into the “Homefront Wargame Center – The Wargaming Service Online” in 2006.

We relaunched the HFC website and founded the HFC Team. In order to motivate others to contribute to the HFC, we invented the “Team Rating“, illustrated by individual ASL Counters besides the Team member’s name (with a free choice of nationality). The Counter Rating provided information about the amount of contributions. In addition, a green, yellow or red hex background informed about the member’s activity. The new HFC was open to all kinds of contributions (even the smallest ones were welcome) and we offered various jobs to interested wargamers (from the time consuming job as a general author up to the playtester, the tutor or webreporter for your favorite game, review author or “contact” for a certain game, requiring almost nothing of your valuable time).

The HFC team rating icon – a nice idea, but it didn’t solve the basic problem

First, the team was quite enthusiastic and we quickly recruited some more members – even one member of the “old” HFC decided to re-join us. The project became widely known so that some day an American joined us who helped us building the English section by proofreading our translations. Two years later, in 2008, things had changed again. The team members’ icons became “yellow” and “red”, signaling inactivity for more than 6 months. It became quite unnerving to chase the members in order to get even the smallest information about their status (even whether they were still alive and how they did). Eventually, the two remaining founders were facing the same decision again: The German wargaming / consim community (wherever it may hide) doesn’t need – nor want – nominal members, an alibi team and an open, low threshold platform rewarding people for supporting their hobby and their favorite games.

This sobering and cynical insight led to the final “Operation Clear Cutting 2008” where we decided to stop chasing our members or rack our brains about how to motivate people playing wargames and consims to share their thoughts and experiences with the community. In a radical cut we kicked the team concept, shut down the dead forum, fired the  inactive team members, and deleted the job offers. Instead of being annoyed about  what seemed to be the phlegmatic German wargaming community who only wants to be entertained without giving anything back, we decided to spend our time with playing games, writing more reviews and contributions again. In this moment, the HFC Staff became the HFC. This doesn’t mean that we don’t want any reviews about games, books or movies or any other contributions regarding the wargaming hobby in general – these are always welcome!

Shut down the club and kick the inactive team!

In 2009, we launched the German HFC blog in order to modernize the HFC, to speed up writing of our articles, and to offer our readers a chance for feedback in the comments section. Despite the fact that we got many clicks, there wasn’t much response or activity. The only mails we got were: “Sounds great, cool game, are there rules in German available?”. We then had to face the fact that the German community simply doesn’t need a German resource website. Producing articles and reviews in German for a small group of people who are interested in wargames at all, wasn’t very effective if this group of people is unable to play the reviewed games due to their lack of knowledge of the English language. Those few German wargamers who CAN learn games in English are already active in the anglophone community (Consimworld, Boardgamegeek…) and those who cannot play wargames with English rules don’t need our website. In addition, all our friends and contacts were from the US or UK anyway, and they often regretted that our website, our reviews, and our articles weren’t available in English.

In 2010, we came to a radical conclusion. Our attempts to target the German wargaming community were in vain. Our target group simply didn’t exist and writing articles just for ourselves was too frustrating. We decided to shut down the German website and to launch the HFC in English in a blog format. We translated many of the German articles and revised many of our older reviews which were written in 2001-2002.

The HFC is now a dictatorial project by the two staff members. 😉


HFC Maneuver Days: Wargames, German beer, funny hats!

Maneuver Days: HFC & Friends!

These are our game meetings with other players (members of the former HFC team and friends who don’t participate in the Homefront Wargame Center).

They usually take about 3-5 days and are held on special occasions such as Easter or Pentecost. This allows people (especially those who are living far away and who are lacking local opponents) to meet other players and play all games live, face-to-face, while drinking the famous German beer, eating our equally famous noodle salad and wearing funny hats 😉

Because the HFC isn’t a gaming club anymore, these game meetings are now merely private appointments without a fixed program or schedule, but we use them to present new games and play introductory games.


We like board wargames as well as card wargames

Micro Sites

Some of our favorite games (both on- and off-topic games) have microsites where we collect interesting articles, stuff, and links in addition to our articles and reviews. Not all games get microsites, though. Sometimes, we post news, announcements, or information regarding games we don’t play at all (but which are interesting for the wargaming community nevertheless), so we don’t add microsites for them. Sometimes, we write a review or a single article about a game we own and play, but we didn’t publish a micro site (yet), due to lack of time or lack of interesting stuff or links. This may change in the future.

We own many more games than are listed in our Games A-Z section (check out our games collection here), and hopefully, over the time, all of them will get the attention they deserve! So be patient with us and visit us from time to time; if there’s enough material, chances are good that a game will get its own microsite one day, or at least a review or an introductory article.

And please abstain from writing us emails such as “what about game XY” or “I’m missing game AB on your website” ;). We are NOT a central source for all wargames ever published (if you are after that, check out websites such as Boardgamegeek, Web Grognard or ConsimWorld), but we collect  (and produce) all kinds of information about “our” games. This is our personal gaming website, with our games, and we write our own reports, AARs, articles, reviews, and check out all new games in our HFC test lab until we have come to a final conclusion about a game.


Netiquette

Some facts and advice you should keep in mind when playing with others! Caring for gaming etiquette helps you to guarantee the most important thing in wargaming: having fun! Basic rules tell you how to behave in FtF games and how to omit stress and arguments!

Read all about the HFC FTF Netiquette here!


Off Topic… but great!

Although the HFC is a Wargaming Service, we are avid gamers. Thus sometimes we try out games that may not fall into the strict categories that we use to define the mission of the HFC project  – say because we are in a certain mood for the theme or we just want to know why others consider it as that great or for whatever reason – and when we think they are fun to play, we keep playing them, wargame or not!

This way these games became part of our personal gaming hobby and since the HFC is not only an information website for those looking for tips, aids and reviews, but is also used as our personal game info archive, we support all games we consider worth playing. Because of the simple fact that we are wargamers by heart, these games will always be the minority of games we play and therefore you won’t find that many of such non-wargames on the HFC site. But the few we consider good games are supported in the same way we do support the wargames.

In order to differentiate these games from the ‘on-topic’ games and to avoid confusion among our readers, we use a “stamp” as a kind of identification mark that these games are not part of the wargaming hobby.

Some of our Off-topic games can be found here!


PbEM: Play by Email

In a community as small as ours you rarely find any opponents in your home town – playing by email or online-live with tools such as VASL or Cyberboard becomes your method of choice then. By the way, PbEM allows contacts with people from all over the world, to participate in international tournaments or playing in ladder systems. In HFC we mainly use VASSAL, a great Java tool (thus independent from a specific platform) which allows comfortable PBG (“Play by Graphics”) – the modern evolution of the classic email game. With VASSAL you can watch your opponent’s moves in a playback file, together with his comments and use an integrated dice program or even a dice server online. Besides this, VASSAL makes online live realtime gaming possible by connecting players over a server which is very similar to a FTF (Face-to-Face) game. Lots of modules are available for VASSAL, for example VASL for ASL, and VSQL for SL and the latest Totaler Krieg module. In addition we use Cyberboard, which also offers good game modules, for example Totaler Krieg.

Cyberboard allows a very comfortable PBG and uses an appealing user interface. HFC created some scenario setup files ready for download so interested players can start right away with gaming.


Portals and Navigation

Our former German website was divided into 4 different portals, dealing with specific games – a historical portal, a hypothetical portal, a Fantasy wargames portal and a futuristic / Sci-Fi portal. General articles and stuff could be accessed from all portals, but any specific information was strictly separated from the other portals. By dividing our games into 4 portals, we ensured that no visitor who was interested in historical consims would be bothered with Fantasy stuff, while futuristic visitors wouldn’t be unnerved by information about World War II.

Initially, we planned to divide our new website into 4 portals as well, but then we decided to dismiss this idea. Instead, games fall into one of the 4 categories but are otherwise listed together, separated only into “wargames” and “off-topic games”. This is a website about our personal collection, our games, our hobby and our interests, and it would require too much work to maintain 4 different portals. The website should become navigation-friendly and not too complicated with tons of sub-sub-sub-divisions.

We hope you like our new concept; if you have any suggestions which would help us to improve navigation friendliness, let us know and leave a comment!


Reviews-on-demand?!

Our reviews are unbribable. We play the game several times, we take notes, we compare notes, we write down our experiences.

The HFC is independent from any wargame publishers or relevant magazines. Our information is founded on our personal gaming experiences and we report strictly from the gamer’s point of view. We offer all necessary information to allow our visitors to get a good impression of a game and to help them with their decision to buy it (or not to buy it).

If a publisher is interested in having his game / magazine reviewed, he can expect an objective review which will name the advantages and great aspects of a game as well as its flaws and problems and a subjective summary (résumé).

In order to ask for a review, the publisher is invited to send in a free copy of the game (which will remain in HFC possession afterwards, contributing to our game pool). Besides an objective review we guarantee that we will learn the game, spend much of our free time with it and will write our articles and reviews only after a good amount of playing time and practice.

We try to keep a good balance between publishing the review in time and learning and practising it – which could take longer when dealing with a more complex game. An ordered review will be published in English and announced in relevant forums, on websites and mailing lists.

Please note: To send in a game does not mean that we will automatically publish a review! In the past that was the case and we had to learn that with more and more games arriving in our test-lab as review copies we didn’t have the time anymore to play the games we wanted to play but were forced to work off the games in the pipeline. So the HFC changed from a fun project as part of our gaming hobby into a kind of job we had to do – we didn’t like that and so we changed it. What does this mean for you as a game publisher/designer? If you think it would be cool that we write a review about a game by all means send it in! Chances are quite high that we are curious and will check it out and if we like it chances are even higher that we will publish an in-depth review – if we don’t like it at all and find serious flaws chances are also quite high that we write a review…but a game sent in as a review copy does not guarantee you a published review! If you are ok with that, feel free to send us the game you published/designed.


Review Reset

If you are familiar with the old HFC, you will probably wonder what happened to many of our old reviews… and if you are a first time visitor, you will think that we don’t have played many games yet. Or so it seems… read the full story of how things came to be what they are today and what happened to our reviews in our Review Reset article.


Team

Who are the people behind the HFC? All you ever wanted to know and never dared to ask: the HFC staff!



Wargames

Wargames, as defined by HFC (only), must meet the following requirements in order to be a “on-topic” game:

  • the game must deal primarily with a combat, battle, or military operation
  • the combat or military operation must be situated in a realistic (historical, current or hypothetical) or alternative (fantastic or futuristic) setting
  • the rules and mechanics must be based on historical, current or hypothetical data which support the setting
  • tactical and strategical behaviour will result in a representation of events which are congruent with the setting
  • two or more opposing parties must participate in the setting (historical, current, realistic, fictional, abstract)
  • by conducting the military operation the game will eventually result in a winning and a losing side

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

 
%d bloggers like this: