Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Variations on a theme

"If a theme or idea is too near the surface, the novel simply becomes a tract illustrating an idea." - Elizabeth Bowen

That may be true of novels, but surely the inverse is true of boardgames. When discussing wargames with Chris - experienced boardgamer, novice wargamer -  I tried to place the two types of games in juxtaposition to each other. One definition that I've seen (I can't remember where, so sincere apologies for the lack of attribution) a definition of the difference based on wargames being only those which are based on a free form approach to movement and range. In other words C&C would always be a board game even when played with miniatures.

My own take on it is that wargames should be considered a subset of boardgames (remember that the latter term actually covers many games without boards at all), one of whose membership criteria is that theme is very important. In historical wargames (I'm afraid I have no personal experience of fantasy or sci-fi gaming) the mechanics have to give both a game and a representation of warfare of the period which accords with the views held by the gamer. If that isn't the case - even to small degrees - then players will swiftly complain about or tinker with the rules as written. In many (most) boardgames the game derives from the mechanics and the theme is relatively unimportant. Players may suggest that house rules are introduced because they think it will make a better game, but not because it will bring the result closer to the way that people really build railways, collect property portfolios, carry out heroic quests etc. In my analysis C&C moves firmly back to being a wargame.

As ever, the truth is probably somewhere in between and the subset defined above should be viewed through the lens of Fuzzy set theory rather than in terms of Cantor's original version that we all learned at school.


Changing the subject, I was very sorry to hear of the death of Joy Beverley, eldest of the sisters of that name and widow of Billy Wright the former England football captain, and who, like me, came from Bethnal Green. No doubt there will be plenty of chances to listen elsewhere to their (not unpleasant) music, so I'll take the chance to link to some Sista Beverley instead, a track from back when two 7s clashed.

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