An exchange on my #wargame Twitter feed got me thinking…
I (mostly) agree with Mike Siggins when it comes to publishers, and designers. I usually follow publishers only enough to see what their schedule is. I sometimes track designers just to see what they are working on…if I am interested. As far as “content creators” go I tend to look at boardgame reviews more than wargames. More often than not, I end up looking at a review of a game AFTER I play it.
I also generally agree with Mike S. on historical notes. I too try to be well-read, and very often if I’m going to play a wargame I will already have some historical background. Like Mike, if I don’t have any background I will seek it out elsewhere; any historical notes in a game rule book should be the LAST place I look! I used to read the historical notes in wargames first and every time, but as my library and knowledge grew I do it less often. Many times I end up not enjoying the historical notes as it often tells me less about the history and more about how deep (or not) the designer actually explored the topic. It can be very useful for revealing any biases and assumptions behind the design, which I would rather read after I experience the game so I make my own judgments without them being clouded in advance.
What I do like to read, after my first play, is Designer’s Notes. The most enlightening designer’s notes are those that explain how they are trying to use the game to show/model/simulate/evoke an idea, concept, or event. I really enjoy seeing how game mechanisms work to create the story. The games I like most are like a Cirque du Soleil show—a combination of circus acts (game mechanisms) assembled in a creative way to tell a story (game). Above all else, like Mike I recognize that games are games; while some may border on simulations they should not be.
Feature image courtesy AZ Quotes