Thursday, April 14, 2011

Burn after reading

[...] Far from seeing the decline of wargaming, the 1980s should have been its golden age.

Why didn't it happen? What went wrong?

One theory is that wargames just got too complex. The earliest Avalon Hill and SPI games were simple; a gaming novice picking up STALINGRAD in 1964 could have taught himself to play it, perhaps with a little difficulty, since even that was far more complex than mass-market offerings like MONOPOLY. But a novice picking up WAR IN EUROPE in 1980, or ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER in 1985 would be completely at a loss.SQUAD LEADER is perhaps the ideal illustration of the trend; the original John Hill game was simple enough to be accessible, and sold in excess of 200,000 copies, making it the best-selling wargame of all time. Over time, Avalon Hill published expansion upon expansion, turning it into a game of rococo complexity, culminating with the release of ADVANCED SQUAD LEADER, a game so complex than one could teach college-level courses in its play, so convoluted that its developer, Don Greenwood, felt compelled to include such minutiae as the Kindling Availability Table and the Sewer Emergence Chart. —"SPI Died for Your Sins"



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