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Using PG and digital games together = fun!
#1
Wargamers have tended to view themselves (and be viewed) as falling into two mutually contemptuous and irreconcilable camps: the counter-pushing grognards and the twitchy, thrill-seeking digital gamers.

But that was always a stereotype -- most board wargamers seem to have some PC games they like, and vice versa. And with certain historically accurate and complex computer games like Combat Mission, the playing community is filled with old Panzer Leader and ASL enthusiasts as well as newcomers.

Some of us even experiment a bit further in mixing the cardboard and digital gaming worlds -- by using a traditional wargamers and a digital wargamers together to make one amazing supergame.

This appeals to me because I spent a lot of my youthful gaming years staring at hex maps and straining to imagine what the maneuvers I'd just played might actually have looked like. Now, with Combat Mission, I can see those troops and vehicles come alive. But when playing digital games alone, I often miss the depth and context that traditional wargamers usually bring to the table: Issues of logistics, command and control, fog of war, the bigger picture of strategic and operational considerations that govern why a particular battle gets fought with X forces in Y location at Z time.

When you pair the right board game with the right digital game, it's a match made in gaming heaven. But it's not for the faint of heart or those with a short attention span -- it can take months, maybe even a year or more -- to play put an operational board game and then fight the more interesting or critical battles using the computer game. It can be hard to find an opponent interested enough to take the journey in the first place, let alone complete it.

In my limited -- but fun -- experience with this so far, I have:

1. Played 7 of the 8 day-turns so far in the board game Saint-Lo (http://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/6976/st-lo) as the operational layer for battles in Combat Mission:Battle for Normandy. You can read an exciting AAR of our most recent battle here: http://www.battlefront.com/community/showthread.php?t=104104

2. Begun the "War in the Hedgerows" campaign for PG: Beyond Normandy (which is in The King's Officers supplement and includes rules for using leader characters in PG) to run an Operation Epsom campaign and play out selected actions using the Commonwealth Forces module for Combat Mission. I'm only a few turns into the first day of the campaign, and at 15 minutes per turn I'm still not sure if the PG scale will be feasible for this. But it's fascinating stuff so far.

The point of this thread is just to share what I've experimented with, proclaim how fun and rewarding it can be, and encourage others to try it.

I think the digital world and the board wargaming world have finally reached a point in their development that makes this type of hybrid gaming easier and more technically feasible than ever. For example:

*Google Earth and Google Street view make it a breeze to take a jpeg of your favorite board game hexmap, place it in Google Earth as an overlay, and see exactly where in the real world your counters are located. Many computer games have map editors that let you either import jpegs of source images, and other tools that let you re-create your board game experience in authentic 3D.

*Historical source imagery is available online now in amazing detail and quantity, from 1:2500 scale WWII maps to aerial recon photos.

*The board games themselves are easier than ever to find on the used market for decent prices, and Vassal/Cyberboard/Zun Tzu mean you don't even need a physical table to play them on.

*The digital games -- a select few of them, at least -- have gotten so good and so realistic now. I'm not sure how many board wargamers realize this, because (like me) they know the vast majority of the digital games are superficial, commercial junk with no relevance for the dedicated historical wargamer.

Oh and by the way...since I started playing Combat Mission, I've actually bought more board wargames than I have in years. So much for old stereotypes...
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#2
During a period of my misspent youth when I was "disinclined" to pay for software I downloaded one of the Combat Mission games. The concept really appealed to me but it was far too hardcore for the limited attention span I had at the time.

Man, I haven't thought about that series in years! Has it modernized at all or is it still chugging along with the same graphics and interface it had in the early "aughts" ?
...came for the cardboard, stayed for the camaraderie...
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#3
(06-02-2012, 08:20 AM)Shad Wrote: During a period of my misspent youth when I was "disinclined" to pay for software I downloaded one of the Combat Mission games. The concept really appealed to me but it was far too hardcore for the limited attention span I had at the time.

Man, I haven't thought about that series in years! Has it modernized at all or is it still chugging along with the same graphics and interface it had in the early "aughts" ?

Visit the AAR link I posted above, and you'll see what the CMx2 engine looks like in action, with all the best terrain and vehicle and uniform mods running. Huge improvement over the 2000 era game, with an entirely different engine that models the soldiers 1:1.

It's nothing like the super-slick commercial games and first-person shooters that today's younger and digital gamers are used to -- so only grognards and history buffs and real wargamers tend to appreciate Combat Mission and it remains a niche game...albeit one with a fanatical and growing following.
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