Coffee Break #33

Year of Our Lord 2021, November, the 24th day of the month.

A while ago I posted a meme in the #wargames #humour which denoted the rating of Napoleon in wargames.

This came after a conversation with a colleague about games. He mainly play console and computer games, flashy combat and real time strategy born out of command and conquer types, star craft and such and has not the inclination to sit at a table and push miniatures or pieces of cardboard across and throwing dice and pulling cards.

His interests aren’t even close to History and mostly reside far away, in distant galaxies and space travel odysseys with tons of strange aliens mixed. He knows names of eminent figures in history but that’s it, so the common ground to discuss games of war was effectively reduced to the experience of the player aside from the setting, no matter if historical or sci fi. A game that places Napoleon versus Julius Caesar is perfectly acceptable for him if both have the same chances of acquiring the same tech level. A very common theme in certain computer games that make use of history just to have better marketing.

While the media types are the very opposite, analogue and digital, there are certain aspects of games one might explore and one of them was exactly that he pointed out that in most real time strategy games he plays there’s no leaders, the player is the leader which results in either the Commander is good enough to beat the opposition or isn’t good enough at that point to beat the opponent. And he added, in glorious digital warrior perfection, that many aren’t any good at all.

This isn’t a strange thing. Suppose I am playing a flight simulator about world war 1 in the air. Obviously there’s good pilots, bad pilots and fellows that were made to never leave the trenches. And there’s others that are just pure wonder to watch flying and making their digital kills.

In a wargame portraying a historical battle we expect to see the Leaders modelled in, like Napoleon at Austerlitz, Alexander at the Hydaspes, Pompey at Pharsalus.

They should have a certain measure of historically accurate value to their generalship…and…

Oh… why should they ? Actually why should they be represented in the field with any value ? A simple piece representing their position in the battlefield should be enough, maybe !?

The players are conducting the battle, suppose one is Napoleon and the other is Pompey. Why should one have a commander rate 5 and the other a commander rate 4 and why should that rating influence anything in the battlefield ?

Yes, it is just a game rule but as I see it, through the interesting approach of “player is the commander”, why don’t simply have the players conduct the battle without the benefit of having a higher rating general ? Or having to compromise certain decisions because they have a lower rating so such and such decisions will weight heavily against a higher rating commander ?

Is the player conducting Napoleon at Austerlitz or is the player conducting the battle at Austerlitz as Napoleon would ?

Or maybe the rating is not a measure of how good and bad a general is but actually how efficient the staff is ?

Obviously the conversation crossed to the digital games and how many factors also influence how good or bad a player is with player aids, shortcuts, macros, and so one and so forth, so in a sense all that competitive paraphernalia will end up rating the tournament players from 1 to last.

Maybe the number 1 is rating 5 because it has “good staff” ( the gear and what not ) and also because it is good ( like Alexander ).

It left me thinking about how many wargames crutch on historical leaders in battle rating rather than player brilliance.

Have a good week !

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