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Subject: Deep or Wide: What kind of wargamer are you? rss

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Ptala Oqipo
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Hi there,

I've been thinking about this not only because of my own habits but also because of 1) the number of people on BGG threads saying that there are many games they haven't "gotten to the table" (presumably once) yet, 2) Marco Arnaudo's reviews (he seems to play a lot of games – I'm sure he somehow finds time to play "deep" as well as "wide" (I saw a lot of Dust Tactics videos, a lot of Napoleonics videos, so I assume he does), 3) the person I remember celebrating his 1000th (I think) game of Combat Commander on here a while back.

I suppose whether you play deep (more plays of fewer games) or wide (more games, fewer plays of each) depends on the game's complexity, its "fun quotient," your experience, how much time you have, whether your focus is gameplay or history, etc.

Personally, I'm strongly attracted to the idea of in-depth play, inexhaustible games, games that reward your digging into them. But, really, there are only a handful of games that I've invested much time in, and even those I think I could dig into a lot further. Still, it doesn't stop me from adding new games to my collection.

Anyway, I'd like to know what kind of wargamer you are and—for the sake of conversation—why. Have any games obsessed you for long periods? Have any other than ASL obsessed you? Are you just looking for the right game to come along and then you'll dig in? Are wargames (especially simulation-focused ones) just not made to be replayed? Do you just have eyes that are bigger than your time allowance? Is wargaming more about getting a feeling for a design than play?
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The play's the thing ...
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Wide. My unplayed list would suggest I'm so wide you can see through me in places.

Eyes are bigger than my time allotment, but there are too many interesting games just to play one exclusively.
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A lot of my purchases are aspirational. Unfortunately, my living situation isn't terribly wargame-friendly, so a lot of my more dense games are going to wait until I have a game room. I limit my current plays to games that can go from set-up to finished in a single session.
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Karl Kreder
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Wide, I love the cult of the new (as my good friend calls it). There are some games I play deep, Combat Commander, Wellington, Totaler Krieg. Many of my games I wish to play deeper it's hard to find opponents that have the same list of games they want to play that lines up with yours at the same time.

One friend of mine I play with every Friday we switch off choosing games and make it a rule to play no matter what so that has gotten more games to the table for me.
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I would like to think of myself as 'deep', using your terminology (there is an open question on the number of plays that qualify to be judged 'deep' -- I assume that a dozen plays on average means that you explored the game deeply enough to be regarded a kind of an expert which in turn I qualify as 'deep'; one thousand plays is definitely beyond my scope).

Funnily enough, last year I started a similar thread. Reading what I wrote back 12 months ago, reassures me nothing has really changed in terms of my wargaming habits (even though plenty of things have changes, including birth of our little baby girl).

To answer your question: I would like to be 'deep', but new releases and BGG community makes me more 'wide' than I wish. I'd say a mix of both, then.
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Carsten Bohne
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Oh, I'm wide, for a couple of reasons.

First, having rediscovered the hobby roughly 18 months ago, I started to build a collection without considering both the time needed to play all those games and the need for opponents. Thankfully Vassal has helped with the opponents, but time is still an issue. I haven't been able to get to more than a handful of games played per title, and there's plenty of unplayed left...

Second, the sheer playing time for most titles compared to time available results in few overall plays. Right now my priority is getting a feel for games and systems to find out my preferences. I've found a few games I'd love to explore more in depth - I just don't know when...
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Malcolm Cameron
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A little of both.

Most of the time I spend playing is spent on a few games or series: OCS, 1914: Twilight in the East and Twilight Struggle by email; ASL face to face.

But I am not beyond being seduced by the lure of the new, so I have quite a lot of games that I either have played and enjoyed, or want to play (and enjoy), but can't seem to find the time for.

For me, VASSAL and PBEM has enabled me to move a lot further along the spectrum from wide to deep than I otherwise would have been able to.

So soon enough I will be looking for PBEM games of Carthage: The First Punic War, Der Weltkrieg, Empire of the Sun, For the People ... (you get the idea).

Maybe even Wacht Am Rhein (does it have a VASSAL module yet?) and War of the Suns.

Does that mean I am moving back to wide?

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Robert Stuart
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Intrinsically deep. However I've discovered myself, over the past few years, getting deeply interested in WWII games & simulations, at the tactical and operational levels. This interest has led me to begin exploring a number of games and systems. So I'm currently in the 'wide' stage of my deep exploration, and it will probably last for the next ten years.

Let me give an example: when a physicist or mathematician wishes to break into a new field, or sub-field, he (or she, of course) first gets a wide knowledge of what's out there, what's been done; and then later focuses in. This first phase could take awhile -- months or years, depending on his current level of knowledge & expertise and the spare time available. (For graduate students in a demanding field, who can focus all their time on this but are starting from a narrow base of experience, this will take about two years.)
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Merric Blackman
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If you look at my purchases, I'm wide with a number of deep games (ASL, Memoir '44, various C&Cs, Combat Commander). This mostly meets my gaming habits as well - although I'm tending for more variety in my gaming as my collection expands.

This is in complete contrast to my role-playing games, where I'm very narrow and deep: a LOT of D&D over the years, and only a handful of other games.

Partly this can be explained by my not having friends who are into wargaming - and the "deep" games in particular - while having a lot of friends who play D&D!

Cheers,
Merric
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I am definitely deep. I would hazard a guess that over 30 years about 7 games have made up for about 90% of my wargame plays. The most prolific are Panzer leader and Ambush which I played before I discovered BGG so many of these plays are not logged.

Apart from getting into a game and enjoying every aspect I think the main reason is holding rules in my head. I can hold a game or two but start putting in more and I get mixed up. Quite often on the simple things like the cover of a certain terrain.

I sometimes wish I had the time, money and brainpower to play more games with the same criteria so I could compare each one. Seeing how a designer models morale or fog of war or any other aspect interests me.
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Deep.

First and foremost, my gaming passion is ASL. I have competed 200+ scenarios in the last 4 years and am continually exploring the system. ASL satisfies my wargaming needs - with the exception of the odd game of Raid on St Nazaire or Tokyo Express, I'm an ASL-only wargamer.

I also play other games, mostly Euros. This year, I've tried to be a little more structured in my Euro play. I've fixed on two recent Euros as 2013 projects, Archipelago and Lords of Waterdeep, and play them a lot. There are several benefits, including that (i) the people I play with aren't constantly having to internalise a new set of rules, and (ii) we collectively begin to explore the nuances and depths of the games we play.

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David Dockter
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whisky_bear wrote:
A lot of my purchases are aspirational.


A great statement for a wargamer...and quite true. My gaming library is about 90% aspirational/reference/or "I just liked the idea of a game on the subject, so I'll support the effort" only. I know I have not played more than 10% of my games....maybe 5%.

I'm in the "Greenwood school" when it comes to play: that if I commit to a game, I like to play it A LOT...minimum 50 hours....probably 40 of those games I've played at least that much....and maybe 20 that I've played 100's of hours each...maybe four check in over a 1,000 hours each... and every hour was worth the experience arrrh
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whatambush wrote:
I am definitely deep. I would hazard a guess that over 30 years about 7 games have made up for about 90% of my wargame plays. The most prolific are Panzer leader and Ambush which I played before I discovered BGG so many of these plays are not logged.

Apart from getting into a game and enjoying every aspect I think the main reason is holding rules in my head. I can hold a game or two but start putting in more and I get mixed up. Quite often on the simple things like the cover of a certain terrain.

I sometimes wish I had the time, money and brainpower to play more games with the same criteria so I could compare each one. Seeing how a designer models morale or fog of war or any other aspect interests me.



I admire you for doing it this way, though. And it's cool that there are games that have been able to hold your interest for that long. I wonder if it wouldn't be, in the long run, a more rewarding experience, really investigating all the complexities, the variety of strategy in a game. But as others here have said, first you have to find the games you want to focus on. And most of us can't resist the allure of the new. It's pretty hard to cut yourself off and just say, okay, I'm going to quit looking at anything new for the next three years and just focus on this one.
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dasher47051 wrote:
Oh, I'm wide, for a couple of reasons.

First, having rediscovered the hobby roughly 18 months ago, I started to build a collection without considering both the time needed to play all those games and the need for opponents. Thankfully Vassal has helped with the opponents, but time is still an issue. I haven't been able to get to more than a handful of games played per title, and there's plenty of unplayed left...

Second, the sheer playing time for most titles compared to time available results in few overall plays. Right now my priority is getting a feel for games and systems to find out my preferences. I've found a few games I'd love to explore more in depth - I just don't know when...


Same here. Started only 3 years ago with this hobby and bought a lot of games to see what I like. It seems I don't like card driven games although I do enjoy Hannibal (must be the topic). I also found out that I prefer operational combat in stead of squad based combat.

As I'm planning to start building a house next year... I believe time and money will be going to other things than games for the next years. So now that I still can, I'm trying to get a good collection to endure these dark times.
It also might be that I'm becoming an addict and I'm looking for excuses in stead of seeing the truth
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Confusion Under Fire
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Eioua wrote:
whatambush wrote:
I am definitely deep. I would hazard a guess that over 30 years about 7 games have made up for about 90% of my wargame plays. The most prolific are Panzer leader and Ambush which I played before I discovered BGG so many of these plays are not logged.

Apart from getting into a game and enjoying every aspect I think the main reason is holding rules in my head. I can hold a game or two but start putting in more and I get mixed up. Quite often on the simple things like the cover of a certain terrain.

I sometimes wish I had the time, money and brainpower to play more games with the same criteria so I could compare each one. Seeing how a designer models morale or fog of war or any other aspect interests me.



I admire you for doing it this way, though. And it's cool that there are games that have been able to hold your interest for that long. I wonder if it wouldn't be, in the long run, a more rewarding experience, really investigating all the complexities, the variety of strategy in a game. But as others here have said, first you have to find the games you want to focus on. And most of us can't resist the allure of the new. It's pretty hard to cut yourself off and just say, okay, I'm going to quit looking at anything new for the next three years and just focus on this one.


Oh I love to look at new games and some have been tempting, but the last few purchases have been regrettable. Along with the fact that learning several rulebooks for similar games would just become a jumbled mess in my own head. I wish it wasn't like that, but it is and it is something I have to live with. I would love to own every WW2 tactical game ever made but I also know that they would never get played. There is a dream and unfortunately there is the reality too.
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Carsten Bohne
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durchske wrote:
As I'm planning to start building a house next year... I believe time and money will be going to other things than games for the next years. So now that I still can, I'm trying to get a good collection to endure these dark times.
It also might be that I'm becoming an addict and I'm looking for excuses in stead of seeing the truth


Well, I started wargaming _after_ the dark times of two babies and purchasing/moving into a house. Looking back I wish I'd had something to keep me sane during that period.

But let's face it - man is a gatherer. I'm just following nature's call. No, I'm not getting away with that excuse when a new package arrives... whistle

And stating 'I'm buying so much to find out what I like, so that I can buy less and more focussed later' has been declared an invalid argument...
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Wendell
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It used to be I was deep - I owned a relatively few games that tended to get played over and over. Then I discovered BGG and a gaming group in Canberra and new game horizons opened.

Now I'd say I'm wide with one significant exception - World in Flames. Where I'm in very deep.

Second the concept too of some of my purchases being aspirational...
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Eric Walters
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Definitely wide as I love to take a small portion of the smorgasboard of historical board wargaming. It's both a blessing and a curse--blessing because I enjoy such incredible and rich exposure to so many eras, scales, systems, and more...curse because I don't get the depth of understanding that only repeated (and exhaustive play) can produce. I love all periods of history--ancients to hypothetical future (even science fiction), all scales (very tactical and grand strategic).

However, there have been games that captured my attention for long periods of time over the years--these are those games and the rationales for them:

Diplomacy. It's easy to be deep into this game when it's the one your high school game club plays constantly. So I'd say going deep is easy with a group encouraging you to.

Panzer Leader and PanzerBlitz. This was the tactical game system we played continuously in high school, at least until I found:

Tobruk: Tank Battles in North Africa 1942. We had no exposure to miniatures gaming, so this title absolutely fascinated. The oodles of die rolling never bothered us. It just seemed so realistic to us at the time and we played it to deeth, at least until:

Squad Leader and it's progeny, all the way through the various series and systems. I'm still not over it. And I love playing Advanced Squad Leader Starter Kit as well as the full game. The system just demands mastery (not that I could ever achieve it, but it makes me want to try) and there's so much variety, fun, and story-telling involved.

Rise and Decline of the Third Reich. My fourth edition is pretty well worn--we played this to death in high school and college, ditching our old marathon games of Blitzkrieg for good. Given it was the only game of its kind for so long, that's no surprise. Another club favorite.

Close Action. This is a current favorite game that I can never stop playing, especially multi-player. Our local club does a lot of this game. Once again, this is a social reason.

Grand Tactical Series. We keep playing those Market-Garden games in the GTS every year, particularly at WINTER OFFENSIVE in Bowie, MD. When we're not together doing that, we're doing it solitaire to get better at tactical applications--plus the narrative of these games is just so compelling.

Panzer Grenadier. My favorite after the ASL system. Satisfies my hankerings for a good platoon-level tactical game and there is again so much variety and fun that it's easy to go deep and still feel the freshness of each and every play experience.

Games I want to get deep into (but haven't yet):

Birds of Prey: Air Combat in the Jet Age and Fighting Wings. Air Combat games just fascinate me and both these systems are incredible. It's just too easy to find opponents for other games so that's what I play instead. But I'd love to get at least competent in both these systems.

Operational Combat Series. I only need to say one thing and all will become clear: Case Blue

Battles from the Age of Reason (BAR). Loved this system as soon as I played it, given the realistic treatment of drilled formation movement. Just get distracted by other players playing other things.

Lace Wars. The ultimate 18th Century monster-game series. I have only begun to plumb the depths of this amazing system.

I keep telling myself that in my next job I'm starting this fall I will have more time to wargame and get into some of these titles/series/systems in far greater depth. We all have our illusions/delusions!


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Ted Spencer
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Deep or wide? Right now I'm playing one series (CC) 90% of the time. I'd like to reduce that to 75%. There's other games and series I want to try, specifically Ardennes '44 and Panzer.

Plus, I see playing CC coming to an end in a year or so, or me getting to the point I don't want to play it anymore. So, when the end comes, I'd like to have a game or series ready to dive deeper into.

So, I'm looking to become 3/4ths deep and 1/4th wide.
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Wide once upon a time until I got to the point where I realized that vast majority of the games I was playing were perfectly fine but only a few were ones that really drew me in.

So now I am focusing on playing those, not exclusively, but preferentially to trying something new.
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I'm wide but definitely trending to deep as I somewhat ruthlessly thin the herd and drastically curtail those aspirational purchases.
 
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Wide by choice. I don't ever want to get to know a wargame too well, because then it loses for me some of the magic of the unknown. I never want to get to know a game so well that I fall into "by rote", programmed play ("ah, it is turn three on the Western Front using the Advanced Game rules. As always, I take my reinforcement from hex 3456 and move it directly to hex 3567, which sets up an exploitation move on turn four") When I play a wargame I do, in part, do it to role-play the historical situation. The historical commanders didn't get to refight the same battle over and over again, and much of history is made by armies blundering about the battlefield. I prefer my wargaming the same way!
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David Dockter
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desertfox2004 wrote:
Wide by choice. I don't ever want to get to know a wargame too well, because then it loses for me some of the magic of the unknown. I never want to get to know a game so well that I fall into "by rote", programmed play


Good/great wargames have a sooooooooo much variability, that won't happen. Take something like Paths of Glory (short playing time at 8 hours); yes, there are a limited set of decent moves every card play, yet, the decision tree seems fresh even having played it a 100 times. Probably why I prefer the monsters and/or longer games since it seems I always encounter something new.
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Honestly it's a complete mystery to me how many people here don't have a life outside of wargames.

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Enrico Viglino
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I'm spread about as far as I can.

There have been a few times in my life when I really played something regularly,
but they have been pretty rare, and usually a part of a campaign.
Most of the time, I don't want to see a game for a year or so after
I play it.
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