Monday, February 8, 2010

Two Countries Separated by a Common Hobby

My French line troopers just before they were gunned down.
A crusades DBM game. I wish I would have gotten more closeup pictures.
I finally remembered to bring my camera to club night. Here are a few highlights of last weeks meeting of the Durham Wargames Group. I was really pleased that Durham had such a robust gaming community. All the club members are a great bunch of guys and the clubhouse is packed to the gills with terrain.

I played (technically I'm still plaing it) a game of Sharp's Practice(SP). SP is a blackpowder skirmish game that is about the same number of figures that an average game of 40k. There were three players a side, each getting about two units of troops. Our objective was to take the fort pictured above. I was playing the French. I failed.

I'm not sure how I feel about the rules. On one hand I'm a big fan of rules that use card driven activation and random movement such as the Sword and the Flame. On the other hand, it just doesn't feel right when Sharp's Practice does it. I think the difference lies in how SP does its unit activation. TSATF uses a simple mechanic where black cards are natives, red cards are British. It doesn't matter what unit a player moves, so long a unit doesn't move twice before every other unit moves. SP assigns a specific card to each unit. The deck is shuffled and units act as they are drawn. In addition there is a 'tiffin' card that immediately ends the turn and reshuffles the deck. Units that have not acted when the tiffin is drawn can select from a limited list of actions, but may not move. I feel that this mechanic puts too much randomness in the game and makes it a bit too hard to plan for my taste. It also make multiplayer games a bit dull, since a player can go a few turns without doing any meaningful actions, particularly at the beginning of the game. The rest of the mechanics are pretty standard and really are not not worth mentioning. I was really excited to play a Two Fat Lardies game. Unfortunately, I was somewhat disappointed.

Id like to take the time now to share some of my observation on the differences between American and British wargming. I have noticed that there are some definite cultural differences between the two countries. Not that I cannot speak for both countries as a whole. I'm mearly stating my observations, having gamed in Durham and Pennsylvania. I feel that I am reasonably qualified to comment, since I have gamed in several clubs, groups, and stores on both sides of the pond.

1. Game size: I have noticed that the British tend to like bigger multiplayer games. I credit this it the fact that the centre of British gaming culture is the private club , rather than the FLGS. The British love to have loads of lead on the table, while Americans want a smaller relatively quick game that they can set up, play and pack up in an evening because their main gaming venues have a definite closing time. Even when Americans play in a club, where they could keep something setup from week to week, they choose to play a one evening game.

2. Rulesets: It seems like Americans prefer lighter, faster rulesets that are a little less detailed, whereas the British prefer slower more detailed and accurate historical reulsets. Of course, the major, rulesets like DBM and WAB are common in both countries.

3. Genre: It seems to me that a lot more adult gamers in America play Sci-fi and Fantasy rulesets. The historical rulesets that Americans play tend to be lighter ones closer to fantasy rulesets than serious simulation. The British, on the other hand, play rulesets that are more 'granular' and by extension, slower.

Note that these are my opinions, and like a certain part of the human anatomy, everone has one. I may revise these as I game more in the UK. I just thought people might be interested in the viewpoint of someone who has lived and gamed in both countries.

Stay tuned for WIP progress pictures of my girlfriend's super secret valentines day gift.

1 comment:

  1. Joe

    It is very difficult to draw these type of conclusions based on the information any one of us can glean. We can't even be sure how many gamers there are in the two countries, let alone what they play.

    Enjoyed your comments on SP.