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PRO: “Introductory Wargames to revive the community!!!”

Posted by Denny Koch on May 10, 2010

by Denny Koch

a discussion on Alan Emrich’s article “The Fall and Rise of Wargaming”


PRO Alan’s article
CONTRA

Despite the fact that Alan Emrich wrote his article some years ago, I think it is as relevant today as it was then – perhaps even more, because his predictions have come true by now. Especially video games and PC games, which had an explosive growth since the end of the 90’s, finished the job which was started by colorful and easy-to-play role-playing games in the 80’s: lack of new recruits is more than evident these days.

Generation videogame

If you take a close look at today’s consim scene you can easily recognize that the average age is even higher today than it was when Alan wrote his article (and even then the 28-45 year olds were the largest part of the community), while it doesn’t attract players younger than 22 years. The same people who were active in the consim scene in the early days are growing old together with their hobby, while the attraction for younger gamers is constantly diminishing. In my opinion the strongest rival in this race are attractive, spectacular videogames (for example the Call of Duty and Battlefield series), which offer more action and more of the feeling of being “within the game” than perhaps an ASL scenario – or at least this is what the unexperienced newbie may think when comparing these two. Besides this, videogames are always “introductory” and can be learned within a few minutes to a maximum of one hour by every player, no matter how unexperienced he is.

Call of Duty MW2 is one of the most intense and driving front experiences you can get in a videogame

All we can do is promise that learning a complex consim and working yourself through a monster rulebook is worth all the time and effort – because once you get a grasp on the game system, you’ll get a very deep feeling for tactical and strategical situations – deeper than any videogame can offer.

Learning the circumstances of a historical battle, about the importance of a seemingly unimportant island or hill, the importance of securing supply lines, of morale, of leadership, answering “why didn’t they do this and that” and other “what if”-questions gives very fascinating historical insights into war. This doesn’t mean that games like Call of Duty don’t deliver an “authentic” front feeling, but it’s more of a spectacular, roller-coaster, fast-food type which is intense for a few hours, but forgotten when the next game launches. It doesn’t answer any questions or give deep insights into strategical and tactical decisions and problems.

But what is this promise worth? We will get nothing but a pityful look and a patronizing comment that we could enjoy our dusted counters and pages of tables and ballistic calculations if we want to. But why should today’s youth bother with calculating the combat odds for themselves – software and videogames do this superfluous background work and all these little calculations and all what’s left for the player is the mere gaming experience and fun!

Even if you have the rare lucky moment in finding a young person interested in history who is also after simulation and authenticity and a very accurate presentation of a specific event or combat, you will have problems in fighting your “evil rival”: there is no fight, no era, no battle you won’t find in a PC based simulation. By the way, PC games offer a huge advantage over boardgame based simulations – they almost always include a multiplayer modus over the internet which replaces the face-to-face gaming which was typical for gaming groups in the 90’s.

Even fans of roleplaying games tend to switch over to the Massive Multiplayer Online Roleplaying Games which allow them to dive deep into a virtual world without wearing out their fantasy too much and without the need to read heavy rulebooks or to calculate combat effects on tables (the only exception are Live Roleplayers, but this type of RPG cannot be compared to a “boardgame” but more to Gotcha or Reenactment as contrasted to a Wargame).

What was only starting to become evident in the future – as described in Alan’s article -, has grown into a serious threat for the hobby today.

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t want to condemn videogames, especially not realistic tactical shooters: I love to play them myself and we enjoy the cooperative Spec-Ops mode in “Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2” or the Conquest mode of “Battlefield Bad Company 2” together with our friends… the point is: today’s youth – tomorrow’s wargamers – simply don’t know of the existence of different kinds of strategical and tactical gameplay, because the wargaming scene, the games, the magazines, the forums, the mailing lists etc. are not present in the eyes of the potential wargamer.

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The Rise and Fall of Wargaming

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

by Alan Emrich

PRO HFC-discussion on this article CONTRA

[Author’s note: I wrote this article a couple of years ago and just spruced it up a bit for this magazine (i.e. Fire and Movement 67, 1990). I am happy to say that some trends are improving. On the up side, games like GDW’s Blue May and 2nd Edition A House Divided are back in print again. 3W has produced Modern Naval Battles Card Game and, hopefully, will produce other card games. TSR has also produced some introductory wargames, and S&T is starting to move in a smaller, less complex direction with their games. All of these are good signs. Just to be fair though, on the down side, the prices of all these “introductory” products has continued to rise: GDW’s A House Divided is arount $22, Modern Naval Battles is around $20, an iusse of S&T is now $12.50… Well you get the idea. Even with their increased availability, the pricing is still pretty high for a Jr. High School Student, isn’t it?]


We’ve really managed to do it to ourselves since 1972. We walked down the primrose path of wargaming consumerism willingly enough, nominally “looking forward” while losing our peripheral vision. By doing what was best for us as individual wargamers, buying games with more complexity and sophisticated graphics to meet our maturing tastes in historical simulations, we’ve neglected to remember what is best for wargaming as a whole; for our hobby and the future generations of armchair generals who might come after us.

We’ve forgotten about wargaming’s roots; its very history. And about our personal roots and our personal history in wargaming! It’s a shame that, as a group, and of all people, we should be negligent of the lessons of our own hobby’s history! Because we’ve lost our perspective, because we’ve chosen to ignore or done nothing in reaction to the warning signs, much harm will come to our beloved hobby of wargaming. As if some great conspiracy were afoot, there are none by guilty parties involved. No one is innocent in this, the case of

THE SLOW MURDER OF THE WARGAMING HOBBY

Let’s establish the Historical Foundation. Think back ten, fifteen or twenty years ago when you began in this hobby (as the readership polls indicated that’s when you got started in wargaming). In those “good old” days of yesteryear, wargames were often new, exciting and different. Additionally, they were, if not always good, at least interesting games. They were made by designers for whom that wargamer was a labor of love to design and develop (of course, we complained back then, as we do now, that games never seemed to be developed enough). ‘Mere were a few real diamonds in the rough out there, and most were at bargain basement prices, packaged in envelopes or zip lock bags.

One thing you could count on fifteen years ago was a diversity of subject matter in your wargames. In those days, with a 500 copy print run, companies could (and did) sell out of even the most esoteric games imaginable! Wargame collectors know about all of these wargames from the countless smaller and “one shot” companies. Games like Jerusalem 70 AD, Ancient Conquest, A Mighty Fortress, and most of the “Avalon Hill Classics” would never see the light of day if published in 1987. (In case you haven’t noticed, Avalon Hill has cut back tremendously on the availability of their less popular era and older titles, most of which have gone “out of print”).

In those days, virtually every wargame designer was an “amateur” designer and virtually every wargame company was an “amateur” game company operated out of someone’s garage. We were much closer to the hobby then. Closer to being designers, closer to being writers, closer to the dream of starting up our own small wargame company in our copious spare time.

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Counter Clipping: In Search of a Better Solution

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

by Dave King

For some reason the issue of clipping die-cut counters periodically generates energetic debate between those who do and those who don’t clip. But when seen as akin to trimming the flashing off a plastic model before beginning assembly or off lead miniatures prior to painting, one wonders why wargame publishers don’t include instructions on clipping with their games. Clipping should more properly be viewed as a necessary step in preparing a game for play.

When die-cut counters are punched from their frames, the corners inevitably fray to some degree. Clipping largely eliminates the problem of these corners snagging each other in counter-dense games, which can jostle whole battle lines or cause stacks to tumble.

Proponents of counter clipping will tell you their counters are also easier to handle, neater looking, and allow more counters per compartment in sorting trays. Many non-clippers will still use a hobby knife to cut counters free from the frames that hold them, thus minimizing ragged corners. Others simply use the counters as they break free from the frame, no trimming of any sort, considering themselves purists of the hobby.

According to several informal, unscientific surveys, slightly more than half of all wargame players trim their counters as part of prepping a game for play. Of course, that means about half the players do not clip. So where did this counter-clipping thing begin and where is it going?

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The Art of Counter Clipping

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

Carefully clipped counters can look great, if you don't overdo it...

Read the related article “How to free my counters from their frames”  here

What if something happens while you are separating the counters from their frames, or what if you buy a used and punched game? What if you always have to watch these ugly paper remains on your otherwise beautiful counters? Then your only chance is to do some counter cosmetics – and we proudly present a classic flame war theme:

Counter Clipping – yes or no?

Wargamers are divided into three factions here:

  • Group A rejects any counter treatment. Counters are used as they come out of the frame – period. Wargamers of this faction tend to use a very careful counter separating and punching method. In general, no cosmetic treatment is necessary; little paper lappets are accepted. On the other hand, some gamers from this faction couldn’t care less about their counters (in fact, this is only a minority – the average consim player has an almost religious relationship to his games – as it should be 😉 )
  • Group B accepts the necessity of cosmetic treatment if counters are punched out without much care, because untidy counters spoil the aesthetic impression of a game (and, by the way, one could encounter problems when grabbing a counter with tweezers). This is why this type of player cuts the paper lappets with a sharp nail-clipper after punching and gets a satisfying result.
  • Group C thinks counter punching is only the initial act. This act is followed by a religious ceremony: clipping the counter’s edges. The following pictures give a good impression of counter clipping in perfection:

Clipped counters in perfection

On the left, you see clipped counters in perfection: clean and regular. Very few material was removed from the counters, thus conserving its die cut form (if you don’t have much talent or time, counters tend to become hexagonal, in extreme cases even circular). The reason for this radical treatment by the “Total Clipping Faction” is that counters fit more easily into the map board hexes, which enhances the optical impression and allows easier gameplay.

Alas, some problems are related to this counter treatment:

It’s very difficult to provide a regular treatment to all counters – you need time, a quiet hand and sharp eyes. Some games have 2000, 4000 or even 6000 counters – and you can imagine how long it takes to clip them all! This is no problem for the followers of this cult of the nail clipper, though. They are looking forward to clipping the game for months and spend evenings and evenings clipping their counters, it’s really a form of meditation for them.

If you fail in clipping some counters correctly, the final picture will be quite irregular – which spoils the intended aesthetic effect.

Finally, in some games you could encounter rules problems: some games define a LOS being blocked by a counter. If you change the counter’s appearance – the original form intended by the designer -, you could spoil a game. You may also face trouble with your opponents who prefer playing with un-clipped counters.

As a result, we cannot recommend this radical method of counter treatment to an unexperienced player who’s not that good with their hands.

This is how the ideal counter should look like

By the way, don’t be confused: both methods of counter treatment (groups B and C) are called “Counter Clipping”, but – as mentioned above – there is a great difference between only clipping the paper dips with a nail clipper and trimming all the counter edges. Sometimes eBay sellers offer a game with “clipped counters”, simply meaning the minimal treatment which actually increases the game value. On the other hand it can be a bad surprise if you buy such a game, hoping for only minimal treated counters, but getting a game with radical clipped counters. In extreme cases, these counters can have a circular form when someone without any talent tried to clip the counter’s corners…and the eBay seller only shrugs and says: “But I told you that the counters were clipped….”

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Counters, frames, and loud cursing…

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 10, 2010

A situation familiar to everyone who ever bought a new wargame: with pleasure you look at your counter sheets and the appealingly designed counters and markers of your new acquirement, but before playing the wargaming gods have set the punching of the counters.

The ideal case is that the slicer was properly adjusted during the manufacturing process, so that in fact the counters are already separated, but only so far that they can be easily punched out by the customers. However, when this adjustment is not carried out correctly (which is very often the case…), it could happen that the counters are already punched out of the frames and mixed up in the game box or that they can be punched out of their frames only by violence.

The customer doesn’t like either version because on the one hand the counter chaos is a nightmare for a wargamer (counters could be absent, may be damaged, must be assorted with great difficulty, etc.) and on the other hand the counters could be damaged if someone tries to punch them out of their frame “against their will”.

Counters which are fixed tight to their frames tend to rip off their surface or cover paper when being punched. Another problem is that after the counters are separated, some relict pieces of paper may remain. This is not only unattractive – it is even disturbing during play.

So, what to do in this case?

Preparing the wooden board and tools

There are different ways to punch new counters out of their frame and every wargamer has his own method.

For example, you can cut them out with a sharp carpet knife along their punched line – but always keep in mind that this method is dangerous because you might slip off and cut a counter in two – which could ruin the entire game. You should never forget that in a consim often each counter is in use, and, if only one is lost, you have to use a replacement – painted by yourself on a piece of paper, a blank counter or whatever. That is anything but pretty, especially if you spent $150 for such a game.

Roller knifes are very popular too, because they are more easily to handle and don’t tend to leave the punching line, but even here it largely depends on whether you press too much (and slip off from the punched line, too) or to soft (which makes repeatedly rolling necessary – bad-looking counter edges are the result then).

Very careful...!

We have developed a very easy, but effective method and are willing to share our deep secret with you 🙂

You need a wooden kitchen board, not too hard (and of course one you don’t need any longer in your kitchen, better ask your wife before using it 😉 ) and a sharp knife – best if it is triangular formed (a bit wider on the back) and a small hammer.

You put the counter-sheet on the board, put the knife with its blade in one of the punching lines and bash the hammer with a hefty stroke on the backside of the knife’s blade. This separates the cardboard in a very precise way, the counters are still in their frames, while the knife can’t slip off because it finally hits (and sticks in) the wooden board.

The results are nice looking, almost perfectly cut counters

Afterwards, you lift the knife out of the board and continue all along the first punching line. Once all counters are detached out of their frame, you can now separate the single counters bit by bit in this cute fashion.

With this method, you’ll get very nice counters, which will have none to little (depending by the quality of the cardboard and the sharpness of the knife) small pointed corners of paper relics. In most cases the counters don’t even need treatment with a nail clipper or something – so this system is much faster than every other system once you get the hang of using the knife with the hammer in quick routinely strokes.

If you are in need of a treatment for your counters (maybe you have bought a used game with poorly loosened counters or didn’t read our clever advise 😉 than you have to become familiar with the “High Art of Counter Clipping“.

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Review: The World at War (Xeno Games)

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 7, 2010

Publisher: Xeno Games
Published in: 1990
Designers: Frank W. Zenau, William Kendrick
Era: World War II
Contents: > 200 plastic playing pieces, a new map, rules, new set up charts

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 2
Rules: 1
Playability:
3
Replay Value:
1
Overall Rating:
1,75

PRO Perfect gift to enemies and annoying people; educational value as a deterrent
CONTRA Too expensive, too horrible. Horrible rules, miniatures, map. Scary. Terrifying. Highly explosive.

Introduction

A World at War is an expansion to the well-known Axis & Allies game. It was published by Xeno Games and its intention is to bring “more depth and strategic options” to the game. It isn’t too successful, though, because it does everything plainly wrong.

Axis & Allies certainly belongs to the most played games of all time and the game eventually developed into a series of games using the same mechanics and the same WWII background. Today you can play Axis & Allies Revised, Pacific, Europe, Battle of the Bulge and many more offshoots:

* Axis & Allies – the Game
* World at War 1st Edition
* World at War 2nd Edition
* World at War 3rd Edition
* World War II – the complete Game
* Axis & Allies Europe
* Axis & Allies Europe 2nd Edition
* World War II – the Expansion
* World War II – the Expansion 2
* World War II – the Expansion 3
* Europe at War
* Russia at War
* Axis & Allies Accessory
* Central Powers
* New World Order
* Axis & Allies East & West
* Middle East Combat
* Dateline: World War II
* War to end all Wars
* Battle of the Falklands
* The great War in Africa
* Axis & Allies Trade
* Europe 1483
* Africa 1483
* Asia 1483
* North American Update
* Max Advanced Rules 1
* Max Advanced Rules 2
* Spanish Civil War
* Axis&Allies Enhanced Realism Rules
* Game Plastic Pieces
* World War II in the West
* Axis&Allies Pacific
* Enemy on the horizon
* Risk 2042
* Operation Barbarossa
* Axis & Allies von Nova-Games
* Eastern Front
* Modern Units for World at War
* More Units your World at War
* Rise of the Red Army
* Battlecards
* Conquest of the Pacific
* World War I
* WW II in the West
* Pacific at War

and much more. Some of the offshoots are really nice and of a very high quality. Some are plainly horrible – and the worst of all is Xeno’s World at War.

Graphic Presentation

TWAW contains a new collection of rules, a new game board, as well as additional armies, markers and chips.

see that ugly light blue? Armies with that colour are doomed to lose...

The colors of the partaking nations of the original A&A are similar but not quite the same which is very disappointing (Germany (grey), Japan (yellow), USA (green), England (beige) and Russia (brown)) plus France (blue) and China (white or light green). It is important to mention that there are mainly new armies (France & China) included and only few of the original nations are supported, i.e. without the pieces of the original Axis & Allies game, TWAW is rather useless. So it’s really an expansion and not a stand-alone game.

The contents’ quality is sub par if you want to use a friendly word. Everyone buying TWAW as an expansion for his A&A game has certain expectations about the map graphics or the plastic figures – because these are of a very high quality in Axis & Allies. It’s certainly not too harsh to say that these expectations will be heavily disappointed when you open the game box! The map – made of paper, simply folded four times and carelessly put into the box – looks ugly and obtrusive. The borders between the countries (which have a comic like color) are far too bold and in too loud a red so the map is really hard to look at. As already mentioned in contrast to A&A, the map isn’t mounted but is a simple print on glossy paper and cannot be compared to the A&A Map’s quality.

Without laminating this map, playing on it is also quite difficult since it’s rather thin and tends to tear. The playing pieces are extraordinarily low in detail and not of a good quality, produced in a sloppy way and again their colors don’t even match the original A&A colors. Besides the fact that it doesn’t look that good, depending on the illumination sometimes it is hard to differentiate the colors of the respective nations which is not really increasing fun.

The material of the reference cards for the countries is not cardboard (as in A&A) but they are made of simple paper and lack any color or improvement.   Although the national markers look-alike, those of A&A are much higher in quality (the symbols are often lopsidedly printed onto the markers in TWAW). Also the stacking chips are different in thickness and color compared to those in A&A.

Rules

The map is plain ugly

You will be surprised to hear that the rules are even worse than the presentation of this game… Xeno included a sloppy produced rule”book”, which is intended to be used as an add-on to the original A&A rules. Alas, it is almost impossible to play a game with these rules – inconsistencies, black holes, relevant and basic things not even mentioned etc. leave the player alone in a sheer rules chaos, forcing him to develop house rules in order to make this game playable. Nothing seems to be playtested by Xeno, and the additional rules slow the game down in a very boring manner without enhancing the game quality of the original A&A at all.

Despite these flaws a lot of A&A players swear by especially this extension due to the new political aspects and the slight differences regarding maneuver due to a map with more areas.  The problem of the inappropriate additional rules has been solved by semi-official House Rules within the A&A community. Thus the extension is made playable and allows for an application of some innovative ideas, compared to the limited options you get in the base game. Although it should be mentioned that the A&A series introduces some of these mechanics and units with the later games, so TWAW had some use before the newer A&A games were published, but seems now completely obsolete, at least the version we played.

Playability

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Posted in Historical Games A-Z, Misc. Histor. games, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Review: Totaler Krieg (DG)

Posted by Denny Koch on May 6, 2010

Game: Totaler Krieg

Publisher: Decision Games
Published in: 1999
Designers: Alan Emrich, Steve “Kos” Kosakowski
Contents: 560 mounted, full color die cut counters; 153 Strategic Option cards; 10 assorted Player Aid sheets; 2 Books (Rules, Examples, Dice of Decision, Scenarios & Notes); 2 two-sided 34″ x 22″ maps; 2 dice d6 & Storage bags
Era: World War II (ETO)

HFC Game-O-Meter: B


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 8
Rules: 9
Playability: 9
Replay Value:10

Overall Rating: 9

PRO Great rules, very interesting card mechanics, smart politics system, entire PTO, what if-scenarios
CONTRA Boring box design

A massive Russian front

Introduction

“Totaler Krieg!” is a strategic-level consim designed by Alan Emrich. The game is based on the older game Krieg!” (1996) and is an interesting combination of a hex and counter consim with a card-driven mechanic, similar to Empire of the Sun. Politics, air- and naval combat are abstracted in a very elegant fashion. The game is meant to be a ‘panzer pusher’ that means it concentrates on land warfare in the entire European Theatre of War (including North Africa) and therefore it doesn’t have a detailed air and naval sub-game.

Despite the fact that the complexity level is quite high, the game itself is very accessible with a good (‘living’) rulebook. It’s possible to play the Standard Campaign (=the entire World War II), a historical campaign where the Option Cards are played in historical order, and alternative scenarios with communist Germany or czarist Russia. In addition, the game offers scenarios which are ranged from short tournament scenarios to very long and complex scenarios, for example Operation Barbarossa which depicts the war in Russia from 1941-1945.

Graphic Presentation

The game box

Unfortunately, the box design is somewhat boring – in contrast to the well designed map and attractive counter artworks and Option Cards. The card board box is large and functional, printed with some black-and-white-pictures from World War II. I would have preferred a more modern box design, this one looks somewhat retro and distracts from a very modern and very attractive game inside.

The counter artworks are clear and informative

Components

The two large maps are looking great and offer much detail, for example terrain depictions with lots of information (names of rivers, reference locations or small towns). The counters are printed with informative clear symbols and are very well done and the whole concept seems to be well-thought-out by the designers.

The same is true for the other components of the game box, such as the Force Pools and Player Aid Sheets. All important boxes, the turn track and charts are printed on the map, making it possible to play the game without ever making notes on paper or without being forced to remember any past events of the game. This allows a very comfortable and smooth gameplay and the concentration on strategies and the game itself.

Despite the boring box cover design, I really love the graphic presentation of the game.

Rules

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Downtown (GMT) HFC Report #1

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 6, 2010

Game: Downtown (GMT)
HFC Report # DT 01
Scenario: AUG 1967 FROM TF 77, YANKEE STATION
Game Type: FTF
Reporter: Andy Fairnie
Date: unknown

AUG 1967 FROM TF 77, YANKEE STATION

Radio Transcription of Alpha Strike Launched 1310 local from CVA-43 Coral Sea
Target Hai Duong Railroad viaduct between Hanoi and Haiphong N.Vietnam
Weather Clear, wind calm

Strike Composition:-
2 x 2 ship F4B MigCap Showtime, Old Nick (CAG) flights
2 x 2 ship F4B Armed Escort Tempest, Killer flights
2 x 2 ship A4E Iron Hand Silverfox, Clansman flights
4 x 4 ship A4E Main Strike Force Bulldog, Diamond, Dogear, Redcock flights
2 x 2 ship F4B TarCap/Escort Switchbox, Taproom flights

NVA initial forces and setup and USN flight plan all as briefed in Downtown Scenario Book Example of Play. USN Strike Rally Point Grid Ref 3217.

MAIN STRIKE FORCE TIME ON TARGET 14.39 LOCAL TIME


TIME ON TARGET MINUS ZERO NINE MINUTES

Showtime and Old Nick flights report feet dry grid ref 3011 heading 315 true followed in line astern by Tempest and Killer all medium altitude.
Red Crown reports MiG activity warnings: Bullseye (Hanoi) and Kep.
Old Nick lead (CAG) orders Showtime to provide TarCAP between Kep and target area
Old Nick lead (CAG) reports heading 270 to counter Hanoi area MiG threat.

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Consimworld

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on May 6, 2010

You need some information about a certain wargame?

You have some free time and want to talk with fellow wargamers?

You are interested in making new wargaming friendships?

You have to say something about anything?

Then the place to go is……

Wargamers feel the need for some social sharing because they belong to a rather small community beyond which nobody seems to understand their emotional and intellectual bond to this hobby.

Meet other friendly players...

So it’s quite unlikely that wargamers find an enjoyable table talk about their addiction among non-wargamers – quite the contrary: annoying those folks with talks about war, simulation, rules, counters and AARs is a good way to end the day alone…

...from all over the world!

Luckily the internet offers lots of opportunities to share any interests you may have with others doing the same things – and wargaming is no exception. Besides this, it seems that these special places on The Net have a good deal to do with letting this elite hobby survive, as there are a lot of usenet groups, fora, chats, mailing lists etc. out there covering the hobby of wargaming in one form or another.

ConsimWorld is certainly one of the best (or even the best!) of these internet places where you can find communication with other fellows and talks about  The Hobby – but also about everything else.

Consimworld was given to us by its Sysop John Kranz who started supporting the wargaming community many years ago. He began with an e-mail newsletter called the Consim Connections, even before everybody could easily have his/her own web site, then there was the Virtual Wargamer Headquarter’s Discussion Board, where folks could share their thoughts and after that the webzine SPI Revival. After these first steps John created CSW…

So, what is Consimworld (also known as CSW) all about?

Well, it’s certainly one of the most lively discussion fora out there and it’s also a regularly updated news center, where you can learn everything worth knowing in the wargame universe in a very user-friendly style. Almost every existing game has its own discussion folder where you can talk with other gamers about this game, their personal strategies, their experiences, how to interpret a certain rule correctly and so on. You can partake if you have signed in (CSW was once free of charge, but nowadays asks for an annual fee of 18 Dollars since August 1st, 2004, because John wasn’t able to provide a free service anymore because of the sheer extent of this large community), and this allows you not only to read the posts and write your own, but gives you enough space to tell folks who you are and to give some personal information or even set up a blog. So you are more than just a name on the screen. There are about 20.000 gamers from all over the world registered and it’s still a growing community, so it seems that everybody who plays wargames lurks around at CSW, too.

The CSW main page

One interesting thing is that the discussions have a chat-like realtime style because the people who are posting there, log in more than once a day – and because you can manage your own subscriptions of folders you are interested in within your personal message center, you always have new postings popping up right there on your screen – no manual search etc.. is necessary, no missing answers on your questions and you can “control” several discussions simultaneously.

CSW has an archive to browse through older discussions and besides these debates you can also find reviews, game replays, announcements from the publishers (who give much support to CSW as they know it’s a good place to see what people want in their games; many publishers even offer support folders), a wargame calendar with all the minor and major wargaming events over the year, clubs that present themselves and/or have their own forum, etc. pp.. CSW also organizes the most popular annual wargaming Convention – the famous MonsterCon/CSW Expo, where gamers come together for 6 days to engage in tournaments and play even the biggest monster games. Take a look at the photo section of the last Cons and you’ll see what you are missing if you ain’t part of this great festival of a hobby incomparable to any other.

But CSW is not limited to wargames, or even games and there are folders about history, religion, science, movies, internet, computer, consoles …whatever. If you have something to say, CSW offers you a place to speak. It’s the Wargamer’s Speaker’s Corner….

So, here’s a brief overview of what the CSW Forum provides you:

  • Access to nearly 5 Gigabytes of information accumulated over seven years from gamers around the world covering virtually all conflict simulation games published. An invaluable resource to gain insightful tips on all games ranging from the old Classics to the newest game releases
  • Special topic and folder subscribe-to feature and Message Center permits you to automatically view new/unread messages that interest you with a click of the mouse
  • Two-way, immediate access to game designers, developers, and publishers
  • Learn about the latest projects in development
  • Discuss new products with others and obtain quick answers to your questions
  • Gain the ability to influence future game designs/game events
  • Create your own game-related folder for a game that doesn’t already have one
  • Ability to have Q&A addressed by authoritative sources on historical OoBs, games, and other areas of historical interest
  • Ability to run your own BLOG and participate in BLOGs belonging to others
  • Exchange strategies/issues/points with other members
  • Enjoy live chat with members online
  • Communicate on items of personal interest/benefit (Marketplace, Opponents wanted, Convention roommate needed, etc.)
  • Ability to post or view images inline with messages, including links to other helpful resources

You get full access to literally hundreds of gaming-related topics to choose from, while also enjoying a direct connection to many of today’s leading publishers and game designers. No where else will you find a centralized resource of information pertaining to historical conflict simulation gaming.

There are forums for existing games, for upcoming games, playtesting, tournaments, publishers, player blogs, general topics ("wargaming and religion", "on the table")...

Besides the forum CSW also offers a kind of  Facebook community for wargamers, CSW SocialThe official social networking platform of ConsimWorld, based on Ning .

There you can have your own blog as well, upload pictures, videos, music etc., create and join specific game groups or groups that discuss certain eras or topics, create your own buddy list and simply get much more personal about yourself, your interests and your hobby. It’s a great opportunity to get to know those even better who you already know from their postings on the CSW forum (most members do have a personal pic as their avatar so it’s nice to put a face to a name this way) and it strengthens the bond of the wargame community. Not every CSW member is registered on the social site so it’s a smaller community of about 2000 people, but it’s highly recommended to join there as well since it provides such a great service with no additional fee.

CSW Social is a friendly Web 2.0 community where you can join groups, share your pictures, videos, favorite music, and talk to your friends

So, simply click HERE to be part of the international wargaming community and introduce yourself!

See ya there…. 🙂

Great tutorial videos: How to use Consimworld:

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Game Netiquette

Posted by Denny Koch on May 5, 2010

Wargame conventions and game meetings are a combination of some appealing factors – an exciting scenario, many hours which are exclusively dedicated to  The Hobby without everyday stress disturbing your concentration, an easy-going atmosphere determined by victory and defeat and the inspiring exchange with others who share your hobby.

These maneuvers, battle days, cons, game fests (or whatever name you may choose) are events promising a good time – and most likely will keep this promise! But sometimes, in the heat of battle, things may happen which disturb the good atmosphere. Maybe different, incompatible behaviors collide with each other.

In order to avoid such things and to guarantee good time for everyone, some advice for having a good time together – the “HFC Netiquette“.

Before the game starts….

If you select a game you already played before, tell your opponent. Tell him about your experiences with this game and your opinion about the balance. Despite the fact that both players face the same situation, being familiar with a game can be a huge advantage, for example in an ASL scenario where you know important LOS questions etc.. This isn’t a problem if your opponent knows about it and is able to judge the situation. Not to tell him isn’t fair.

If a game was selected which is slightly unbalanced for one side, inform your opponent! So-called dogs are very interesting for some players who love this challenge (“playing the underdog”) or who are interested in the historical accuracy often portrayed in these games, while others dislike them as unfair. If you know that a game is a dog, give your opponent the chance to know what to expect.

In games requiring a set up which is done one after the other, allow your opponent to do his setup alone. Even if you don’t watch him, your presence could be quite disturbing. Some games even require to do the setup out of sight (for example games where counters are hidden or concealed).

A game with almost no setup time: Up Front

Try not to extend your set up time. You should find an acceptable compromise between the necessity to create the optimal set up and the fact that a long setup is quite unnerving for your opponent. It is not polite to let him wait for 2 hours, until he can do his setup. If you know in advance which game will be played, work on your “perfect setup” at home (maybe with the help of a VASSAL module or on a sheet of paper), so that you can avoid long considerations. But tell your opponent if you use an already worked out set up!

Whichever game you play, you will soon realize that there is one phase in each Sequence of play-system which isn’t explicitly named in the rulebook, but which belongs to the old wargaming traditions: the TaPPh – Taunt and Pose Phase, the pre-game phase in which mocking comments should inspire your opponent… this is okay, but you should take care of not overdoing this and always respect the thin line between friendly mocking and insulting. The wrong words could destroy games even before they began…

During the game…

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