Dudes on a Map Board Games: Chess to Root

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05 Feb 2019 00:00 #291504 by Jackwraith
"Bishop to King 7. Checkmate, I think."
That was the shy...

Expressions of self through unchanging simulacra.
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05 Feb 2019 09:32 #291513 by hotseatgames
Fantastic article, thank you!
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05 Feb 2019 11:18 - 05 Feb 2019 15:28 #291538 by Ken B.
*Removed non-helpful comment* *I'll just be off now.*

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05 Feb 2019 15:18 #291561 by GorillaGrody
Great article! I can totally tell you from the communist/capitalist hybrid called China, and appreciate the personal approach you’ve taken. Thanks.
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05 Feb 2019 16:35 #291563 by quozl
Excellent article, Jack!
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05 Feb 2019 16:53 #291565 by DukeofChutney
Fantastic article.

I agree there is something unique about true dudes on the map games embodying something about the player. I play hex and counter and block games etc, but in those games i never really feel like the pieces are me/my dudes. In games with plastic wee men i always feel like they are an expression of my personal will a lot more. I'm not sure why. Although perhaps it is that they are fictitious/non historical and not the pieces themselves. In the Ares project, which isn't a DOAM i feel like my chits are an expression of my will.


two other thoughts;

-The articles on this site are really knocking out of the park as late. I always loved the Fortress but TWBG is really ace.

-I don't think this a political article as it does not read to me as grinding axe or pushing the writers political angle. Rather it is a personal piece that Jackwraith has put part of his personality and background into. I don't see any value statements on Maxism in the article. I guess you could argue it is very mildly pro pacifist in the observation about the origins of chess.
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05 Feb 2019 17:10 #291569 by Jackwraith

DukeofChutney wrote: In the Ares project, which isn't a DOAM i feel like my chits are an expression of my will.


That a good point about Ares. The factions play so differently that you end up getting that "identity" feeling because you're playing the same game in a different fashion, like so many more modern DoaMs (Root, etc.) Man, it's been way too long since I've played that. I should go dig it out.

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05 Feb 2019 20:59 #291587 by san il defanso
Great article, and I think there's something to explore here about what role games serve in allowing us to explore stuff that would otherwise not be good. One of my favorite mechanics in a game is gambling, but I'm emphatically not a gambler in real life. In situations like that I feel like games provide a way for me to satisfy an urge that might otherwise be destructive.

Violence could certainly fall in that category, but I will confess some concern about its effect broadly. Does it change outlooks and attitudes, etc.? I'm not sure that's the case in board games at any rate, because by nature they are a lot less immersive than a video game or a movie. Still an interesting question to me.
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05 Feb 2019 21:18 - 07 Feb 2019 10:44 #291589 by Jackwraith
I think that's a great point and something I tried to touch on when I mentioned the people in my group that don't tend to like wargames or other kinds of direct conflict. A lot of people don't even enjoy fantasy violence, but I think you're right in that there's a line somewhere between what happens in one's imagination on a piece of cardboard and what is more vividly depicted on the computer. I don't tend to believe in tracing a line between what's seen and what's acted upon by kids or anyone else, but I do believe that the saturation of violence in entertainment has had some impact on the culture, in general. It's a fair question as to whether board games are part of that.
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05 Feb 2019 21:31 - 05 Feb 2019 21:32 #291590 by san il defanso
I do think immersion is part of the equation there. I love table games where I get to kill me some monsters, and I like video games where I do that too. But I don't particularly love first-person perspective because past a certain point I find it too immersive to be fun. My favorite first-person shooter is still Unreal Tournament because it is very clearly a video game on every goofball level. Removing the HUD, making physics more realistic, those things have all made me enjoy the genre less. Compared to something like Warcraft III or Starcraft (to take two games from my youth) I don't have any problem killing way more dudes than I ever would in an FPS.

Then again, if there was a board game about methodically killing a person it would probably be viewed as really tasteless, and justifiably Maybe that violence is a matter of how zoomed out it is, and board games have only ever been able (or chosen) to zoom in so far.

I don't know where I'm going with this exactly, but it's a fascinating thread to tug at.
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05 Feb 2019 21:48 #291592 by Shellhead

san il defanso wrote: Then again, if there was a board game about methodically killing a person it would probably be viewed as really tasteless, and justifiably Maybe that violence is a matter of how zoomed out it is, and board games have only ever been able (or chosen) to zoom in so far.


I suspect that the modern popularity of zombie movies/tv/games/etc is a collective and subconscious response to human overpopulation. It isn't acceptable for people to fantasize about committing mass murder, but swap out the people with zombies and the idea becomes appealing. Most zombie concepts emphasize that normal humans can be turned into zombies, so that makes everybody potentially fair game for the zombie-killing fantasy.
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05 Feb 2019 21:53 #291593 by Jackwraith

san il defanso wrote: I don't know where I'm going with this exactly, but it's a fascinating thread to tug at.


Which is exactly why I wrote what I did and how I did. I like tugging at those threads, too. Gaming is a culture thing. It's entertainment just like books, movies, and music are. It's fair to look at them, from both a design and play standpoint, and ask: Why?

That a good question about human-to-human violence. At what point do the realities of war become too detailed? I know some grognards who'd love to have rules detailing specific effects of trench warfare and the psychological effects of being in the killing zone. There are some games that address those types of things, albeit obliquely. At what point does it pass "cool game mechanic" and become problematic? Hard to tell. Even more directly, at what point would you stop enjoying the faction you're playing if they became too brutal? Like I said, I love the Uthuk. In Battlelore, 2nd Ed, there is no more thrilling unit to me than the Uthuk Obscenes because they're so good on the battlefield. Their lore is also extremely visceral and savage. There's a detachment when dealing with the fantasy elements, but if you look at the Daqan Lords- those are humans, pretty close to you and me. I can see where that would be problematic to some game players. It's not, however, for me.
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05 Feb 2019 21:56 #291595 by Jackwraith

Shellhead wrote: I suspect that the modern popularity of zombie movies/tv/games/etc is a collective and subconscious response to human overpopulation. It isn't acceptable for people to fantasize about committing mass murder, but swap out the people with zombies and the idea becomes appealing. Most zombie concepts emphasize that normal humans can be turned into zombies, so that makes everybody potentially fair game for the zombie-killing fantasy.


That's a possibility. I've long had a bit of a pet theory that humans still have a lurking dependency on conflict. Not necessarily violence, but conflict of some kind. You see it in relationships that need conflict for the excitement of one or both parties. You see it in the attachment to sports teams as a replacement for the tribalist instincts that aren't being fed by warfare or survival. I think there's some of that buried deeply in the human psyche that just needs some kind of expression for most people. That brings us back to the whole apocryphal chess story...

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06 Feb 2019 07:22 #291610 by ThirstyMan
More offended about him being a Liverpool fan than anything else.
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06 Feb 2019 09:13 #291620 by RobertB

Shellhead wrote: I suspect that the modern popularity of zombie movies/tv/games/etc is a collective and subconscious response to human overpopulation. It isn't acceptable for people to fantasize about committing mass murder, but swap out the people with zombies and the idea becomes appealing. Most zombie concepts emphasize that normal humans can be turned into zombies, so that makes everybody potentially fair game for the zombie-killing fantasy.


My take is that zombies have floated up from contemporary politics. Zombie horror isn't just that random people turn into zombies, it's that your neighbors, friends, and family turn into zombies. In real life you see it and live it on both sides of a highly-polarized political spectrum. "My mom turned into a libtard!" "My dad watches Fox News 24/7 and has lost his mind!" So what floats up out of the depths of our collective id? Zombies.
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