The Wargamers Are Ahead of the Curve. Again.

You need to spend more time around the wargamers. They’ve been ahead of this curve for over 40 years.

GMT Games publishes a series of games from Mark Simonitich known as the “40-x games” because their names — Ardennes ’44, Stalingrad ’42, France ’40, etc — all have dates from the ’40s. They work off of a common set of rules, layout of stats on the markers, and terrain on the map. This series is not an aberration.
GMT Games publishes the Next War series: 5 games and counting, same concept.
The COIN series: 8 games and counting, same concept.
The Great Battles of History, Battles of the American Revolution, Combat Commander, Great Battles of the American Civil War series have all done this for years.

And that’s just one publisher. The OCS series, the ASL series, the Lock ‘n Load series, the States of Siege series, the Second World War at Sea series, all from different publishers….

“Sure,” I hear you saying, “series do that all the time, but we’re looking for something more expansive.”

Okey dokey. The wargamers work on a pretty standard set of concepts: some sort of firepower/attack rating, a defensive value, some kind of movement factored scaled to the size of the spaces on the maps. All of these basic underlying conventions are so thoroughly ingrained, internalized, and understood among the wargamers that when learning a new game you spend more time learning any exceptions to those underlying standards than you do relearning them.

This isn’t the first place the wargamers have been ahead of the curve. Folks who have no idea that wargames even exist think that campaign-style games started with Descent in the 2000s. Wargamers have been using p500 pledge systems to crowdsource games since the 1990s, when the Kickstarter founders were still in high school. Even today, with more wargames being published than ever, decade-end lists still completely miss innovative and influential wargames, while fawning all over their direct descendants.

The problems you’re describing in the broader boardgame world got solved by wargamers over 40 years ago, when SPI’s quad series, Avalon Hill’s Squad Leader and PanzerBlitz series, and others introduced an underlying shared set of concepts and ideas that persist to this day, and it’s not because wargamers are too lazy to bring new ideas to the table, but because we cracked the code decades before the rest of the boardgamers even realized it was there.

Dad, husband, game commando, veteran, Army brat, writer, teacher

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