May 26, 2022

On-Ramps for New Wargamers – #TuesdayNewsday 3/15/22

Every week, #TuesdayNewsday comes back around to keep you abreast of what matters in the strategy gaming world

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“I’m a new wargamer, what’s the best place to start?”

Man, we’ve seen that pop up a lot online over the years, haven’t we?  And we can all probably script the same answers we see over and over, right?  Memoir ’44 or something from the Borg family of games.  The ASLSKs.  Something card-driven.  Plenty of valid suggestions, like War at Sea are all out of print.  Does Axis & Allies count?  What about Twilight Struggle or the COIN games?  Heck, people are suggesting Root and not ironically.  Just ignore the asshole that always thinks he’s1 being funny and suggesting Case Blue.
What doesn’t get asked?

“Hey, what conflict or topic are you interested in?”

Someone whose grandfather was a paratrooper in WW2 and who wants to learn more about those battles might start off with a greater affinity for something featuring airborne ops in Normandy, Sicily, or Holland than with a game about Shiloh.  Someone who just visited Patriot’s Point in Charleston and is now interested in carrier ops in the Pacific might not be as interested in Rome vs Carthage.

New wargamers are going to have the greatest positive experience with a combination of 3 things: a topic they’re interested in, a good way to learn the game2, and an enjoyable opponent.  You can downgrade one of those two things and probably still have a good time.  You take away 2 of them, and it’s an uphill struggle.  Take away all 3, and you’ve got a one-and-done gamer.
Note, this advice applies to any kind of game, not just a wargame; but the topic of the game is more intricately tied to the game system, scenario, and mechanics in wargaming than in most other kinds of general tabletop games, which is why there are 837456293478 different kinds of Caracssonne games using the same mechanics.

Find a topic that new wargamer is interested in, and the on-ramps get much easier.  Once that topic is narrowed down, we’re now looking for an easier-to-learn game within that topic, and unless you’re looking for something on pre-Cambrian siege warfare on the Indian sub-continent, there’s going to be options to choose from.  Find that new wargamer a good way to learn the rules of the game you’ve chosen.  Again, there are some great YouTube videos out there for learning wargame rules, from Patrick to Gimpy to Justegarde and more, if you don’t have a good in-person teacher.

The last one is also huge.  It can be overcome, as even new wargamers can intuitively understand that one yutz shouldn’t be representative of the entire body of wargamers.  But you’d like a new wargamer’s first experiences in the field to not be with an opponent that makes you grate your teeth just to get through the game.  It’s one reason we can be so particular about how we ask our Origins GMs to approach their game sessions at the convention.

So there you have it – three keys to getting new wargamers on board.  But that all-important first sign of interest “I’m a new wargamer, what’s the best place to start?” should not immediately be met with a hail of titles being launched like Ukrainian Molotov cocktails at a Russian BMP.  Instead, take a moment to further refine the interests of the new wargamer, to make better recommendations that are more likely to appeal to our budding grognard.

And don’t be a dick.

 

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  • By the time you read this, Draco Ideas should’ve launched ONUS! Traianus, which covers the Roman Empire in their ONUS! card-based game that feels a lot like minis (top-down views, etc) and is reminiscent of the older Battleground game.
  • Compass Games have that whole “last-minute pre-orders through Kickstarter” thing going again.  This time it’s for Barbarians at the Gates which should start shipping next month or so. Ardwulf has an unboxing of the game, too.
  • Small Samurai Empires is getting an expansion, and you can get it all, or just what you’re missing, from their latest Kickstarter.  And who doesn’t love Samurai meeples?!
  • Tiny Tome, the companion to Tiny Library, is now on Kickstarter, with a whole book of one-page RPGs.  Not RPG adventures, complete 1-page RPGs
  • Mantic Games have two big-ass bundles on pre-order, in support of the upcoming 2nd edition of their Firefight sci-fi minis game: a 2-player set, and a “mega-bundle”

 

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Planning continues for Connections Online, being held from 18-24 April 2022, with the Core Events being held 19-21 April from 10am-4pm EST.  As the Armchair Dragoons are the co-sponsors of this event, you’ll get regular updates each week in Tuesday Newsday between now and launch.

  • Core events are largely set, but exact times are being confirmed.  They’ll include
    • Recent Innovations in Wargaming
    • How Wargamers Get Hired
    • Designing a Professional Wargame
    • Methodologies for Designing Cyber Wargames
    • Wargaming Outside the NatSec World
  • Extended events will occur across all 7 days, at a variety of hours that do not conflict with the Core Events.  Current planning includes, but is certainly not limited to
    • Wargame Bootcamp (multiple sessions) for VASSAL / TTS usage
    • Moderated panel, and a seminar game for the 40th anniversary of the Falkland Islands War
    • Wargame Design Workshop, where participants will actually design the broad-strokes mechanics of a wargame
  • Registration will go live in March
  • All Core Events will be streamed through YouTube, but using unlisted URLs, which will limit live interaction to registered attendees.  After Connections is over, streams will be made public.  Some – but not all – Extended Events will be streamed.
  • If you are interested in volunteering with Connections Online, please drop a note in our forums or contact us at armchairdragoonsevents – at – gmail – dot – .com

 

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CSW Dallas is coming up imminently!  12-15 May, in… well, c’mon now – it’s in Dallas

The other wargame industry headlines

  • It would be nice if wargame publishers would quit putting “coming soon” on their game listings on their websites, if it’s at least 6 months away; it’s more accurate / realistic to just put “working on it” or something that doesn’t generate false hope that you’ll see the game within the current ongoing sports season (and there’s a LOT of you that are guilty of this!)
  • Dark City Games have some freebies you can download on their site, which give you a taste of their gamebook adventure format
  • Here’s another preview of the new ESR minis from The Wargaming Company; we talked with David about them here and here in a two-part interview
  • There’s a nice Flames of War video with the battles in Tobruk that shows off the new desert war boxes in action
  • Avalanche has a nice historical look at the Austro-Hungarian cavalry in WW1
  • Here’s a very interesting, and math-heavy, look behind the curtain at how Fort Circle Games choose to price their upcoming Votes for Women game, due in any day now; read the whole thread

 

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  • Brant also crashed the ETYWTKAWBWATA with Gary & Dan, and Jess from Noble Knight Games

 

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Don’t forget we’ve got a dedicated area of our forums for the professional wargamers.

 

 

That’s all for this week!
Be sure to drop by our forums and join the fun, and next Tuesday we’ll drop some more news on you.


We appreciate you visiting the Armchair Dragoons and hope that you enjoy our weekly news dumps!
Please leave us your feedback in our discussion forum, or in the comment area below.
You can also find the regiment on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and occasionally at a convention near you.

Footnotes

  1. it’s always a ‘he’ doing it
  2. could be another person, could be a good rulebook, could be a YouTube video

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