Why own more than one title on a given topic?

Indeed why do we own more than one game on a given topic?

Perhaps you are the thinking mans gamer and you wish to apply Abductive reasoning (also called abduction, abductive inference or retroduction) which is a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, ideally seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation. By playing many games on the same topic you can arrive at  a synthesis of the many systems and see, learn and experience so much more….right…..BORING!

The first thing that comes to mind is scale! Dont we want to see the context at different levels of detail!? For instance with the 1939 Finnish War titles above; Supply impacted the Soviets more than the Finns, in Arctic Storm an Operational [with political aspects] view, where as in Red Winter, while supply is a factor the discrete unit capabilities of these two forces drive game play at a company scale versus Battalion scale. While a Frozen Hell flawed as it is tries to examine at the platoon per unit scale, with 20 minute turns the command and control challenges of both sides for a given slice of the war that was critical. All are very relevant and interesting titles.

More likely, perhaps you are just a die hard fan for one general or another? A specific battle? A period in time…you get what I mean. You need at least 3 different treatments at a similar scale!!

OR as a cranky, past his due by date, fat finger typing old designer once said “Games are like good history books, you don’t just read one book on a topic” . I tend to agree. First time for everything ‘eh Cranky Grognard!!

Of the 3 Austerlitz titles above, 2 are fabulous and the third I have yet to play. In fact the others are so good that I am almost irrationally afraid to play the third. Each of the three has a very different level of detail at a very similar scales, and choose to focus on certain elements of Napoleonic warfare that the designer deems to be the nub, the crux the critical elements of a very challenging topic to model.

However we tend not to read the same book more than once or twice, yet favorite games will often see the table many times.

When you find a favorite do you discard the others?

I’m not sure what my answer to that question is yet!

Nostalgia plays a role here too. We often keep a so-so game for longer than needed even when a new version comes out.

However to me the primary reasons for keeping or exploring more than one title on a  given topic are;

Designers intent is the biggest factor. What does he see, what does he/she want us to learn, and what will be the take away with me from that experience?

Then the currency of historical fact. What did we know when the game was designed about the historical facts? What do we know now? How is that applied to the game overall, doe it impact game play?

Is Panzergruppe Guderian a historically accurate game? Probably not now with the hindsight we have today. We know design for effect drove placement of rail lines, impacted distances between cities, and the history from the Axis point of view was very different from the Soviets point of view.  Future titles would take this innovative system, and evolve or turn it into a system called Victory in the West that would drive production of SPI magazine wargames for quiet a few years. Often regardless of whether the system was correct for the battle or not. oops..but I digress.

Scale matters too. For sure, exploring different systems implementation of Grand operational, Operational and the wide variety of tactical scales really does present us with a superb ability to view from 30000 feet down to the tiniest of scales if we include miniature wargaming! What a rich set of experiences to have at hand!

The damn fun of it! If a given title is not ‘the best in its field for historical accuracy’, but is playable, fun and gives you a taste for more then by golly yes we want that in our stable!! I seriously question the way Supply/Trucks and rail all work in EFS. It spoils the game for me and feels like a real bit of broken gaming. BUT…. If you can get past that aspect which occurs mainly in the early game, then the bloody monster is a LOT OF FUN. Even as the poor bloody Soviet player.

So what moves you to buy, keep and hopefully play titles that are about the same topic?


9 thoughts on “Why own more than one title on a given topic?

  1. Different scale is one key for me. I could fight the same battle at company, battalion, regt / brigade scale and enjoy it.

  2. A bout a year ago,I decided to go ASL only for my WWII tactical fix, figuring that once I learned the rules I’d be all set to play any infantry battle from WWII that ASL could throw at me. I cleared my shelves of all other tactical systems…and haven’t had the time to even touch ASL since. Bah. Stupid, as I love a quick tactical game. So, recently went in on a CoH bundle from the FB Wargame Marketplace and will be giving that a “go” here shortly. So, long answer for me, but yeah it’s totally fine to have games which cover the same battles/campaigns…each offers a myriad of opportunity for study, especially if they’re at different scales.

  3. Great piece, Kevin! Really enjoyed it. Makes me think about my obsess…, err, interst in certain subjects and the large number of games I have on each. Like why I didn’t buy Enemy Action Ardennes on sale and whether that was a ressponsible decision or a mistake. 🙂

  4. Space. Living in a very small house has forced me to focus. I used to have a room filled with plastic shelves and games. Now I have two shelves worth of games.

  5. I almost never buy a game because of the topic. Rather, I generally buy a game because I want to play it.

    Grand strategic PTO WWII Games seem to be an exception. I once owned Fire in the Sky, Dai Senso, Pacific War, Asia Engulfed, Pacific Fleet and Empire of the Sun – at the same or very nearly the same time. Also I owned The War, Unconditional Surrender, Supreme Commander and Axis Empires at that time. To my sort of credit, I played A LOT of FiTS and Asia Engulfed, played a whole Dai Senso (linked with axis Empires) Campaign PBEM (six guys began, 2 of us finished), and an entire EoTS Campaign PBEM. So I did at least tend to play those titles.

    And now, despite having virtually zero chance of playing them, I want to try Across the Pacific and the reprint of Pacific War. And do another Dai Senso game PBEM.

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