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"Why Are Wargames Rules Complex?" Topic

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FatherOfAllLogic17 Jan 2013 6:58 a.m. PST

I've played simple rules where troops are differentiated by type, poor, average, elite. Starting at avg vs avg needs 7 or better to 'hit', poor vs avg needs 9, elite vs avg needs 5. Simple and can be used for close combat, shooting and morale. But after a while, you can't remember whether you're gaming ancients or Napoleonics or wwii. So you add 'complexity' to bring some life to the game.

Or maybe you decide that weapons matter (in ancients). Then you have to add 'complexity' to show how short swords, pikes and chopping weapons interact. And close and open order formations. And pre- and post stirrup horse. And etc. "Complexity".

Gaming Napoleonics? At what level? Does each base represent a battalion, brigade or corps? A marching battalion may need rules covering it's evolutions, a marching corps not so much. How about tactical doctrine? Some folks think the British were not the same as the French, so do we need to consider that in the rules?

Complexity is related to the basic assumptions and factors and desired results that the rules writer thinks important. Morale? Shooting? Cohesion? Doctrine? You can just have two blocks of troops smash against each other, then pick a card from a deck, higher card wins. Very simple, easy to remember and fast. But satisfying?

Driving a car safely is complex, yet most folks manage without putting much thought into it. Wargaming is the same. If you play the rules a lot, they will soon seem less complex.

It all comes down to what you like: simple fast play without too much historicity, or detailed slower playing with historical shibboleths.

Bill N17 Jan 2013 9:11 a.m. PST

The wargame rules I bought several decades ago when I was first starting out would frequently start with a set of relatively simple rules for a basic "fun" game and then would have more complex additional rules for those who wanted greater realism. I think there is a fair amount of wisdom in this.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP17 Jan 2013 9:17 a.m. PST

I agree with Bill; I've not played Impetus much but that model, with a free basic set and a slightly more complex advanced set you pay for, is very nice.

El Jocko17 Jan 2013 6:00 p.m. PST

Complex != complicated.

A well-designed, well-written game may be complex (i.e. detailed) but not be complicated (i.e. difficult to understand/play).

I think this is a valuable distinction. Chess is a really good example of a game with enormous complexity, but the complexity springs from a very simple (uncomplicated) set of rules. A seven-year-old can learn the rules of chess in half an hour, but spend the next seventy years playing and never exhaust the subtleties of the game.

DBA isn't in the same league as chess, but it has some of that same nature. The rules are relatively simple, but give rise to a rich and complex game. I wouldn't argue that is has a strong resemblance to real ancient warfare, but that's never bothered me. It's fun and challenging and that works for me.

(And since several posters have taken pot shots at The Unofficial Guide To DBA, I thought I'd mention that it's 72 pages not 100, it's a tutorial not a rules book, and it's been downloaded thousands of times and translated into three other languages. So there!)

- Jack

AussieAndy17 Jan 2013 6:33 p.m. PST

"Bogan" is an Australian term (perhaps NZ too). Bogans tend to be characterised by tattooes, children named Brittany, Crystal and the like, bling, foul mouths, dubious visible underwear, flannelette shirts and hotted-up cars. The American equivalent would, I guess, be "trailer park trash".

Tarty2Ts17 Jan 2013 11:56 p.m. PST

And don't forget the "Mullet" Andy…….the mark of the true blue blooded Bogan.

Keraunos18 Jan 2013 2:21 a.m. PST

IIRC 'bogan' was used in Dunedin, possibly elsewhere in the South Island, but 'Westie' was the term in Auckland.

I forget what Christchurch or Welly used, but in general, culturally abusive terms for undereducated young white men do tend to be local to a city rather than nationally.

e.g. Chavs in London are Neds in Glasgow, etc.

I'm surprised to hear only one term apllies for all of Austrialia – but eschew the chance for a cheap shot at australians on the back of it.

Craig C18 Jan 2013 12:24 p.m. PST

Yep, Bogans in CHCh and further south as well- can be usually spotted by wearing:
AC/DC or Metallica T shirts, mullets and driving clapped out (though occasionally supped up) holdens or fords.

A Bogan in Wellington (I think) did his PHD on the Bogan subcultuure a couple of years back- he's an educated Bogan and proud of it.


Patrice18 Jan 2013 3:40 p.m. PST

Very interesting course of Australian language :-)

If you'd asked me, not knowing the word I'd probably have answered it perhaps was some local sort of bogeyman?

So… can Bogans understand complicated wargame rules?

Craig C18 Jan 2013 6:29 p.m. PST

Not sure, down here they seem to gravitate to 40K


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