LEN'S NAVAL WARGAME PAGE
You said what? Well, wargames are basically time machines. Using a set of rules, a wargame lets its players play the roles of military commanders. Many wargames are historical -- they let their players recreate an historical military campaign. But some are set in current times, and others are set in the future. Wargames began as cardboard and paper exercises, played with cardboard pieces on paper maps, but have been revolutionized by affordable personal computers. PCs have been both a blessing and a curse to wargames: a blessing because a game program's artificial intelligence can play both referee and opposing player, but a curse because it's much harder to tweak a game program to your idea of the event being modeled and because computer opponents eliminate much of the social aspect of wargaming.
Why do this? Why play wargames? There are several possible answers. (1) They're there. (2) Don't ask me, ask Freud. (3) There are a variety of very good reasons.
Let's assume that the third explanation is the most compelling. Some folks play for the joy of competition, just as they would any other game. Others are into the intellectual challenge of the thing. Some like the Walter Mitty aspect. Others love the "what if" aspects of playing out the options of an historical situation. And some play the games and think of all the ways that they could better the game design.
What kind of player are you? Like most players, I'm a mix of all of the above, with a strong streak of "I could design a better game than that."
What makes a good wargame? Nobody knows. But there's some consensus on what makes a bad wargame. The worst games are the ones that are unplayable because no one can figure out the rules. Other than that, anything goes. Wildly unrealistic games can be great fun because they offer excellent play value, or they may just seem silly. Superbly realistic games can bog down in a mass of unmanageable detail or present elegant, simple systems that keep players coming back. Immensely detailed games can attract some players and repel others, and the same is true for games that take a high altitude approach to their subjects. There's just no telling what makes a game great, and as quickly as someone asserts that a particular game is great, you can count on someone else to show up and dispute the assessment.
And your wargames? I thought you'd never ask. I design naval wargames. Naval history has been an interest of mine ever since I drew my first ship with my Crayolas, and naval wargames give me a way to explore all of the fascinating "what if's" and "how'd they do that's" that naval history offers. I've read a fair amount of naval history from 1688 on, but the bulk of my game design efforts has been in the post-1900 era.
Why is this web page so primitive? Thag no want to anger vengeful god in small grey box.