Wednesday, 18 January 2012

What Do You Look For In A Wargame?


I've been spending some time thinking about what makes a good wargame. Is it the background, the rules, the forces available or whatever?

I'm interested in hearing what you all think makes for a good game!

Over the years I've collected and read literally dozens of rulesets and nearly all of them have had something of merit too them. Some have been unplayable, badly written or poorly explained while others run to hundreds of pages and could be used to beat someone to death with but all of them have had at least one nugget of gold in them that you think, that's a good idea.

I must admit I tend to lean more towards simplicity and skirmish games these days with the likes of Song of Blades and Heroes leading the way. Its a breath for fresh air to be able to simply pick ups few figures you has lying around and play a game in under an hour. The rules are simple yet cover all the requirements for a good game, while keeping both players involved and a fair amout of tactical thinking is I required too.

Bladestorm is a mother skirmish game I found interesting, it has different levels of complexity that is appealing and I like the multiple hits a model can take before being removed as a casualty. Likewise Reapers Warlord is a game where most models can take multiple hits, but with the added interest of their stat line being effected by their wounds, effectively making them weaker as they get hurt.

Games like Warmachine with their over the top powers and giant machines and really unique spell casters have quite a bit of a following too. I like the use of stat cards in the game as it allows for a quicker game instead of having to rummage through rulebooks or notes, all the required information is in front of you on the table.

This was used really nicely in Chronopia where the cards could be used instead of deploying your army which would lend to a more interesting game. Instead of simply lining up ones armies one never new how their opponent would deploy.

Finally there's GWs Fantasy battle. It's gone through so many editions now but is still the same basic system. I must admit the thought of collecting such vast forces as one requires now is more than a little off putting. Surely it would have been better to put it to 15 or even 10mm scale.

I recently picked up a copy of the 3rd editon of the rules and found it to be far more fun which is odd as many veteran gamers seem to be gravitating towards a more retro system too.

It all leaves me thinking what elements form each game are worth keeping and what does make the best sort of game. No matter how many different rules I have, I keep finding my way back to the simplest and more fun, despite the production values of the others I just can't bring myself to send weeks trying to familiarise myself with all the rules.

Leviathan was produced during the early 90s at the height of the Herohammer type game where heroes were the deciding element and a tooled up character could slaughter entire regiments by himself with one hand tied behind his back. Unlike these games, Leviathans characters, although powerful could be killed by even the most lowly with a bit of luck. The monsters and Warmachines were the key to the game.

Unfortunately Leviathan was originally intended as a skirmish game but became a mass battle one and you can see there's elements that just don't mesh properly. As it stands to rules are pretty well suited for a skirmish game with one or two big monsters in them, somewhat like Warmachine used to be in fact, but as a mass battle it just needs too much space to play (who has a 8x4 foot board to play on and dozens of giant creatures or war engines for that matter) its almost a sci-fi game in that one expects to field units of infantry supported by lots of tanks.

Aeroth is a world inhabited by unique peoples and terrible monsters but its a difficult setting to get the balance right. You need to get some big resin stuff into your force as its part of the character of the game and the models are really nice too but the game should be centred more on the individuals who fight in it.

Ive always loved necromunda and think that leviathan could fit into that sort of niche quite nicely with small bands exploring the weird lands supported by one or two creatures. This could also be scaled so that you could have smallish armies such as we're seen in Chronopia where two or three warbands would comprise a force, supported by a couple of characters and a monster or two.

With the way things are these days folks just can't afford to spend hundreds of pounds just to get a playable force. Games see to be moving towards either skirmished in 28mm or mass battles in 15 or 10mm. Take the science fiction wargame for example. Until recently 90% plus of the models and games were intended for 28mm scale mass battles but theres been a renaissance of 15/18mm figures which means that folk can collect a force for a fraction of the cost but retain most of the detail and size of army can be increased too. What If the fantasy market were to go the same way?

For years there's not been much of a selection to choose from but with companies like Ral Patha and Copplestone Castings and Splintered Light producing ever more high quality figures is it possible that fantasy will move in the same way?

Anyhow, enough of my ramblings!

What do you guys think makes a good game and how would you like Leviathan to be developed?

All the best!

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