29 June 2011

GameTalk - Historical Research

When building games based on actual events, how deep into the research do you go? Lee Brimmicombe-Wood is hell-bent on historical detail. Others sort of wave at it in passing as they focus on the combat model or some other detail.

How detailed do you want your history in your wargames? How do you balance the straightjacket of detailed recreation of events with the freedom for the players to explore alternative outcomes?

By: Brant


ltmurnau said...

Again again again, it depends on the situation. Sometimes OB details are not important and I wave on my way by; e.g. I did not bother with exact unit IDs in a game on Algeria because what was important was troop levels and quality, not regimental numbers, similarly but on a larger scale for games I've done on the Spanish Civil War and Sino-Japanese War.

Sometimes in driving by I get out and use the historical restroom before moving on: I just published a Poland 1939 game that did have divisional IDs and historical corps/army assignments to set up the opening situation and reinforcement schedule, but after that the players are on their own. This made sense because it was a single campaign of limited duration in a fixed geographical area. Ditto for one of my first games, on the Pusan Perimeter battle, for the same reasons.

Sometimes I don't even wave: games that are alt-hist, hypothetical or take an extremely chaotic situation don't need this level of detail at all, besides some kind of ID number to put on the counter to satisfy the curious. I remember someone complaining once that the unit counters in Kerry Anderson's game on Armageddon, the final battle between Good and Evil in the world, didn't have present-day unit IDs! One day I threw in a hypothetical OB for my game War Plan Crimson (US invasion of Canada in 1930s) on CSW because someone moaned for it; I suppose it's more flavourful to feel that you are committing the Pictou Highlanders to the fray, rather than some anonymous 0-2 militia battalion.....

Anonymous said...

IMHO...while I echo many of the above comments, I very much want to see historical research used to create "battlefield" accuracy, including map, unit types and deployment.

As an example...I have played a number of computer versions of the Battle of Aboukir Bay (aka Battle of the Nile). NONE of them included the shoals north of the french fleet (where the Culloden grounded), nor did they enforce the "anchored" status of the French Fleet, nor the unavailability of port side gunfire on the same French ships. I know that these might be considered minor issues...but I'm a grog and would therfore tend to disagree 8-).

Mind you, there are some examples of ahistorical detail that I am willing to forgive in the name of game play. For eg: In AH's B-17 Queen of the Skies, the B-17E has a single forward mounted .50 cal in the nose position. In fact, the .50 cal would NOT have been installed in the lead bomber of each formation, as the norden bombsight would be in the way. For reasons of gameplay (extra book-keeping etc) I readily accept this kind of ahistorical element.

And having said all that...I do want and expect that any game I buy will at least allow me to do create some "what if" and "do it yourself" scenarios...these by definition will denial historical accuracy (but they make for interesting game play). Even though Bradley's were not present in the "Blackhawk Down" mission in Somalia, I would like to see how outcomes might have changed had some Bradley's been on the streets of Mogadishu that day.

yours in gaming,

Jack Nastyface