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"What Matters In Wargame Reviews: A Checklist" Topic

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Leftblank22 Sep 2019 7:55 a.m. PST

(summary of blog) As a preparation for my first real ‘serious' game review I try to collate a topic list with subjects that the reviewer has to cover. A checklist. Even Han Solo and Chewbacca use checklists in the movies, so why not a simple miniature wargamer? I based this preliminary list on the writings of Nikolas Lloyd, useful comments in a discussion thread on Lead Adventure and the Deltavector game design blogs. This checklist is a follow-up to my earlier blog about do's/don'ts.

link here: link

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2019 8:53 a.m. PST

Not bad. The obvious thing not mentioned is basing, which is usually the first thing I check. But that's me: I need to know whether I can play the game with my existing armies. And the single word "scale" does not assure me that the review will mention the intended/preferred figure scale, the ground scale and the figure ratio--that is, what exactly does a figure or a base represent?

Beyond that, I think there is a certain confusion of descriptive and prescriptive. I need to understand the turn sequence: I don't need to know how you prefer turn sequences to be. Much the same on information available to the players. But this is a good start.

Blutarski22 Sep 2019 9:27 a.m. PST

It will be worth viewing the Rules Review videos periodically posted on YouTube by the Little Wars folks. I consider them intelligently approached, well organized and pretty comprehensive.



Leftblank22 Sep 2019 11:44 a.m. PST

TBH I'm critical about LWTV, check my blog ('What LWTV is doing WRONG')
Their talkshow gives a good impression of a game and they talk intelligently about the rules. The review rating system is a nice attempt but not good enough
1) they review the games they like, so all games are average good or very good
2) the final 'score' appears to be objective, but is quite subjective and influenced by a few high marks
3) they appear to reward 'innovation'. But why is new always better? And what is innovation? Card activation is as old as Charles Grant. The TFL and Bolt Action activation mechanics are thus firmly rooted in older systems.

I will not rate a game, I will just give my opinion what the positive and negative points of a game are, in comparison with other games, after thorough playtesting.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 Sep 2019 12:02 p.m. PST

I don't write reviews, per se, but summaries. I detail the basing, mechanics, scales, etc. You can see my format here:


UshCha22 Sep 2019 1:51 p.m. PST

To be honest for me a lot was missing in your check list.

Most critical bits missing for me:-

1) Ground scale what is it and is it linear. It it linear.
2)How is command and control modeled.
3) Does it cover basic engineering/defenses.
4) Do the weapons model the real thing or are they designed for the "game" rather than credibility.
3) Does the figure basing have credibility in frontage compared to what it is modelling.

Clearly I depends on what/who you are aiming the review at.

Personal logo Dye4minis Supporting Member of TMP22 Sep 2019 6:17 p.m. PST

LeftBlank mentioned on Lttle Wars TV subject:

1) they review the games they like, so all games are average good or very good

They have said that if they don't like a rules set, it's better to say nothing. I agree. Sometimes it's not what is said that counts….

Old Contemptible23 Sep 2019 8:07 a.m. PST

Oh, RULES review. I thought you were reviewing a wargame that has been played.

1. Unit scale (Brigade or Battalions)
2. Ground scale
3. Command
4. Basing
5. Morale
6. Complexity
7. Does it adequately represent the period.
8. What you like and what you don't like.

Can't just say nice things. That is the point of doing a review. Otherwise you are just providing free advertising. I like it when two sets of rules are compared.

UshCha24 Sep 2019 12:03 a.m. PST

I am confused, A wargame is fundamentaly a model of reality( or perhaps a specific pseudo reality. That means its based on assumptions and interpretation of that reality. Ergo rules are the most fundamantal part of any wargame, not something diffrent. Who played what is not part of the wargame. Perhaps the media its presented on, hardback, soft back book,PDF and whether you have paid too much for the pictures may be relevant, althouh irelevent pictures are nothing to do with the actual game.

Leftblank25 Sep 2019 1:26 a.m. PST

Must say I like the Extra Crispy approach, although my personal style would be more 'review' and 'opinion' and not a simple 'summary with short player's note'. But that's just who I am.
UshCha: I've abandoned all my 'simulation' ideas over the years. In the end, tabletop miniature gaming is just a dice game, with interrelated tables. The dice stats and ranges are not a 'model or reality' anymore, not more than Stratego is a model of 19th century battle, or Monopoly a model of capitalism. So my main point of view would be: 'is it a nice game that is better/worse than similar games? Which aspects are different?'

Leftblank25 Sep 2019 1:42 a.m. PST

Dye4minis: If you don't review – or at least compare – with the market leaders, readers who (probably) know the leading system but not the alternative system you blog about, have no clue why the rules are good, apart from your opinion that it's innovative and that you like it. Flames of War might be a better written ruleset than IABSM but IABSM might have a better hidden movement system. Your opinion is sharper and more specific if you compare it with something well-known.

UshCha25 Sep 2019 7:02 a.m. PST

Leftblank, its just our own opinion. If I can't try out real world tactics and get some idea of what and why they work or don't work there would be no fun at all for me. To me there are better games than wargames if its just die rolling (and far cheaper).

To me a better evaluation of a game would be to take a stock situation, for Moderns it might be a Company attack on a platoon defensive position and look at the optimum attack and defense strategy for the game compared to the real world standard. I am sure for any historic period and level an equivalent would be possible.

Fantasy games are so far out of my bailiwick I could not offer any sensible opinion.

To me the mechanism will never normally to me be an issue, It simply needs to do its job in as simple and efficient a manner as possible. Why would it matter if it was cards or die if it achieves its objectives?

Personally FOW would be an almost the worst of all worlds standard, but its not really aimed at simulation. Barkers 1925 to 1950 at least has some merit.

What it does show is that there is no one gold standard for a review, it depends on the readers requirements which vary massively.

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