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World at War - Solitaire Games

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18 Jun 2019 00:00 #298606 by barrowdown
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Strategy...

My family was out of town this past weekend so I got in several plays of solitaire wargames from World at War magazine. World at War is a spinoff of Strategy & Tactics published by Decision Games and is all World War II, all the time. I recently picked up a lot of issues spread throughout the publication's run so I will be able to look a bit at the development over time.

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19 Jun 2019 08:09 #298607 by jason10mm
Great article. I loves games like this but they inevitably fall afoul of the "historical accuracy vs playability" maxim. So they look better sitting on my shelf so that I feel like a wargaming scholar while I go play some ameritrash dungeon crawler or a mechanically perfect but narratively soulless euro. Wargames at the "beer and pretzels" level (Axis and Allies, Command and Colors, etc) are more my speed as well since they set up and play much faster.
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19 Jun 2019 08:32 #298609 by fightcitymayor
I've always wondered about the efficacy of magazine games. It feels like Grognards likely already have a "proper" boxed game relating to whatever historical subject these magazine games represent. And as was said in the article, the churn-em-out aspect of so many magazine games means the polish isn't there for most casuals, which stands to turn off as many non-diehards as they attract. Which leaves mag games as basically a collector experience, and a reason to subscribe to a magazine, even if the games themselves don't ever get played.

I've always thought wargamers/Grognards were the original "acquisition syndrome" boardgame consumers.
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19 Jun 2019 09:53 #298621 by Gary Sax
A pretty frequent niche for magazine games to take is really rarely gamed situations. That makes them kind of tantalizing to me, but then I remember that at most one person they knew play tested them and I shouldn't play games where I may end up playing the game more than any play tester.
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19 Jun 2019 10:18 #298622 by barrowdown
I picked up a lot of World at War games at about $10-15 per issue/game including shipping, which is about the value I would place on most of them. They are kind of the Cheapass Games version of wargames (worth a few plays, maybe some interesting mechanics, but not deep enough to keep going back to). I cannot imagine paying the MSRP of $40 for these games. That's within $10-20 of GMT stuff like No Retreat and Simonitch's place-year series. That is the same price as MMP/The Gamers' SCS series, which also tends to cover very niche topics with better quality components and far superior playtesting.

The first two of these are totally extremely niche areas that are only lightly covered by any other wargame. I cannot think of a single other game that covers Army Group Center's operations in Russia during this time period and I certainly do not own any (*pushes OCS Smolensk and Guderian's Blitzkrieg out of sight*). East front is entirely underserved by wargames [/sarcasm]

I do think Panzers East Solitaire is an interesting design, but I cannot see playing it past the point where I have beaten it. As shown above, I am apparently terrible at it as I cannot even take Smolensk. Strike & Counterstrike is a bad design and the broken structure should have been easily caught in playtesting. Commandos: Europe on the other hand is a very solid design that is doomed to go unnoticed because of how it was released. Very rarely do games break out of the magazine trash bin.

Decision itself is not great at releasing bug-free games, so stepping further down to magazine games means you get an errata prone style of game from (IMO) the most errata prone company.
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19 Jun 2019 11:35 #298630 by fightcitymayor

barrowdown wrote: Decision itself is not great at releasing bug-free games, so stepping further down to magazine games means you get an errata prone style of game from (IMO) the most errata prone company.

Yeah, I tried giving DG the benefit of the doubt a few times, but even the small folio games have a disturbing amount of unanswered questions, errata, and questionable design decisions. Which becomes even more bewildering when they decide to reprint old SPI quads... and somehow make them worse.
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19 Jun 2019 11:43 #298632 by fightcitymayor

Gary Sax wrote: A pretty frequent niche for magazine games to take is really rarely gamed situations. That makes them kind of tantalizing to me, but then I remember that at most one person they knew play tested them and I shouldn't play games where I may end up playing the game more than any play tester.

True. Although it seems the notable mag games inevitably end up being the equivalent of entry-level boxed games for various well-trodden wargame territory (Stalingrad, Thermopylae, Gettysburg, etc.)

Recent example: Mark Herman did a Gettysburg mag game for a recent c3i issue, which was apparently received so well that GMT are now planning an entire boxed game series around it called "Rebel Fury."
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19 Jun 2019 11:59 #298633 by barrowdown

fightcitymayor wrote: Recent example: Mark Herman did a Gettysburg mag game for a recent c3i issue, which was apparently received so well that GMT are now planning an entire boxed game series around it called "Rebel Fury."


I feel like GMT and MMP magazine games, while technically a “magazine game”, are generally normal releases that for some reason they decided to do without a box (eg. Sicily II, Gettysburg, Autumn for Barbarossa) released one per year. Decision is releasing 18 games per year as magazine games and really only uses 2-3 designers.
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19 Jun 2019 13:02 #298635 by fightcitymayor

barrowdown wrote: I feel like GMT and MMP magazine games, while technically a “magazine game”, are generally normal releases that for some reason they decided to do without a box (eg. Sicily II, Gettysburg, Autumn for Barbarossa) released one per year. Decision is releasing 18 games per year as magazine games and really only uses 2-3 designers.

I feel like there is an opening in entry-level wargaming for something akin to VPG's Napoleon 20 series, but for the American Civil War. Make it like a magazine series, $15-$20 a pop, ziplock bag, and just start going through ACW battles with the same sort of scaled-down idea. I liked knowing that there was always another Nappy 20 game around the corner, it wasn't expensive, the rules didn't change other than some chrome, and the kids love subscription services these days. I would totally be on the hook for something like that.

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19 Jun 2019 20:35 #298650 by Hadik
Mark Hermann - like a number of once aspiring designers - first carved a niche in small publisher games. I did the artwork for his Mars La Tour game at White Dog, which could be considered- like many small publishers - as sort of a farm league for the “bigger” game companies. He is a very creative guy, and I’m sure getting something published at a small company gets you noticed and into a shortlist of new potential designers.

There are some magazine game gems. I’ve been chasing after Command Magazine’s “Midway” on eBay. It is considered by some to be the best take on the battle period. I just lost an auction for it today. Ah well.
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