Some days ago I posted a rather silly meme of the wargames/humour series. As it is my habit, and surely many would say rather stupid one, I like to make fun of almost true things.
The reader may or may not understand the inner thoughts and may even become hyped at a tabletop game that explores the rather truly obscure uprisings during the Akkadian reign but the purpose is not a sales pitch but rather a funny way to say – stick to what sells….
Maybe it is not that at all but rather an ironic pat in the back to all the potential gamers that rather stick to subjects they can argue about, for good and for bad, rather than pursuing a complete new period for a while.
I cannot say which and honestly I do not care. The essence of any historical game is to be able to move pieces in a board while being guided by rules that should reflect the context, for good and for bad.
I am always infuriated that Frank Miller 300 novel is always adopted as a trope for hellenic hoplites.
As a proud owner of the original series bought fresh at launch I totally get the graphic novel motif and not as a tool to complement history learning.
Surprisingly many games do the same as many 300 echo chamberers and repeat unreal tropes over and over again, but that’s a discussion for another coffee.
This brings a conundrum to the designing team as there’s the constraints inherent to being a game – in the sense of physical limitation of space and components and more importantly the time of play to a satisfactory conclusion, which is highly variable, which from many popular polls seems to rest comfortable in the interval of 3 to 4 hours not including setup.
A game that is too simple will be fun and abstract a lot. Maybe the players aren’t that interested in the period, just the flavour.
A game that is too complex may throw off the majority of potential to be found on the players that have a honest interest in learning more about the period – by using the games as an exercise to interact with the context and see it in action.
Undeniably that WW2, Napoleonics and ACW are the top dogs in the business ( yes it is a business, don’t let the influencers fool you ).
About every single wargamer will know something about any one of those and has played at least one title based on those, take your pick. The exceptions are indeed exceptional and disregarded as anomalies that harbing the end of the universe but we can’t be bothered with those special cases jumping in the back wearing a ME! ME! tshirt.
That’s what sells. That’s the military history that sells the most, WW2 and Napoleonics, with ACW a close third due to more than half the demographics hailing from the country of origin of that conflict.
But the question is, do the gamers want more games exploring subjects that until now are confined to books and archives ? You know, such as Lagash uprising and subsequent Akkadian collapse.
( I can hear someone in the back of the room already – “oh but who cares about those weird names…” )
Or it is rather more comfortable to keep engaging with the same subject but with variation of point of view and mechanism approach in new rules sets ?
Truly a non historical history based game could also be a thing, although it would be competing with something far more powerful than history gaming – fantasy gaming – and that’s a titan and we don’t want any business with those, right ?
You look to a lot of historical wargames and there’s so much fantasy as to … ah you know what, coffee cup empty.
Have a good weekend.