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War Gaming & Sid Meier’s Civilization

McG

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War gaming can be an excellent tool for training, learning, and practice. But a game can also teach and reinforce bad lessons. Designing a good war game to train and exercise military staff is probably harder than designing a game to entertain (harder still would be designing the game that does both). It is okay to misrepresent reality when a game’s purpose is to entertain, but a training game needs to be more of a simulation so that outcomes foster realistic expectations.

All that said, the Civilization series of games are awesome fun. So, I can’t not share an article that links these games (or rather, the insights of their creator) to the design of war games.

 

Brad Sallows

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Combined arms. The more different capabilities in a stack, the harder it is to crack.
 

MilEME09

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Personally I love the war game series for strategy and combined arms tactics. Civ does have its marits though.
 

Eaglelord17

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The Total War series, and Hearts of Iron series I find to both be good strategy games. Hearts of Iron 3 and 4 being much more applicable for a modern context being based in WWII and the amount of stuff you have to process (morale, equipment, technology, resources, production, strategic considerations such as destroying and repairing infrastructure and production capabilities, espionage, etc.).

The problem with those games much like anything else is once you get used to playing them you play by what works not necessarily what is best from a real world standpoint.
 

MilEME09

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The Total War series, and Hearts of Iron series I find to both be good strategy games. Hearts of Iron 3 and 4 being much more applicable for a modern context being based in WWII and the amount of stuff you have to process (morale, equipment, technology, resources, production, strategic considerations such as destroying and repairing infrastructure and production capabilities, espionage, etc.).

The problem with those games much like anything else is once you get used to playing them you play by what works not necessarily what is best from a real world standpoint.
HoI is great for grabd strategy, tactical not so much and I feel it's still a lot of RNG as you can build 40 cruisers and rule the waves unopposed
 

Eaglelord17

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HoI is great for grabd strategy, tactical not so much and I feel it's still a lot of RNG as you can build 40 cruisers and rule the waves unopposed
True enough, you do learn to play to win unfortunately which results in going after strategic points not necessarily what you should actually do when you play. There is a lot of merit to it though just with all the details you need to try and focus on, but there is a lot it lacks. I don't think any game will ever fully be a great tool for the simple reason there will always be some way to exploit it to win.
 

Brad Sallows

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Almost any decent game reinforces general principles of war (aim, concentration, administration, etc). Beyond that, everything hinges on rules and/or code and the "lessons" are filtered through some designers' ideas of what diplomacy and war are. Historical games can be useful if the orders of battle and terrain are faithful; they can provide some insight into why some events unfolded in a particular way.

One insightful comment I came across long ago: a CRT (combat results table) and dice are just a crude solution for a system of differential equations.

The most important, and most often missed lesson, is this: exploit everything possible without setting aside advantages that conflict with social or political beliefs.
 

Brad Sallows

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Civ has the advantage of being tuned to provide difficulty levels that are hard to master.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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The Total War series, and Hearts of Iron series I find to both be good strategy games. Hearts of Iron 3 and 4 being much more applicable for a modern context being based in WWII and the amount of stuff you have to process (morale, equipment, technology, resources, production, strategic considerations such as destroying and repairing infrastructure and production capabilities, espionage, etc.).

The problem with those games much like anything else is once you get used to playing them you play by what works not necessarily what is best from a real world standpoint.
The two best actual Military Strategy games I have ever played have been: Total War Shogun 2 and Rome 2 Total War.

I have 500+ hours of game time in Total War Shogun 2, it is my favorite game of all time. I also love the Fall of the Samurai Expansion Pack for it's mix of samurai warfare, mid-19th century gunpowder and naval battles.

The economic system in the game is very in depth and the different regions and resources give significant advantages and open up a World of different strategies. Want to pump out stronger and cheaper ships? Seize the coal fields in Sapporo and build a coaling station, want more money? Seize this island with a gold mine, want to move troops more quickly? Invest in rail transportation.

The diplomacy system is also very good and realm divide is an excellent feature that makes the game interesting, even at mid game.

I also really like the agent system and foreign troops you can recruit. Want to give your army superior firepower? Recruit a foreign veteran? Want to sabotage the enemies grain supplies? Recruit Ninjas, Want to incite Revolts, recruit secret police.

The game is one of the best designed games I've ever played. The rock-paper-scissors nature of the units is also simple to understand but adds enough variety to make battles interesting and your decisions feel like they matter.
 

Eaglelord17

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The two best actual Military Strategy games I have ever played have been: Total War Shogun 2 and Rome 2 Total War.

I have 500+ hours of game time in Total War Shogun 2, it is my favorite game of all time. I also love the Fall of the Samurai Expansion Pack for it's mix of samurai warfare, mid-19th century gunpowder and naval battles.

The economic system in the game is very in depth and the different regions and resources give significant advantages and open up a World of different strategies. Want to pump out stronger and cheaper ships? Seize the coal fields in Sapporo and build a coaling station, want more money? Seize this island with a gold mine, want to move troops more quickly? Invest in rail transportation.

The diplomacy system is also very good and realm divide is an excellent feature that makes the game interesting, even at mid game.

I also really like the agent system and foreign troops you can recruit. Want to give your army superior firepower? Recruit a foreign veteran? Want to sabotage the enemies grain supplies? Recruit Ninjas, Want to incite Revolts, recruit secret police.

The game is one of the best designed games I've ever played. The rock-paper-scissors nature of the units is also simple to understand but adds enough variety to make battles interesting and your decisions feel like they matter.
I could never get into Rome 2, just wasn't able to really enjoy it. I think it had something to do with Rome being one of my favourites and I was hoping for a bit of a updated Rome as opposed to a completely new game.

Shogun 2 is fantastic though, and extremely challenging. The midway point where the shogunate turns on you and causes all your allies and protectorates on top of everyone else to turn against you provides a real challenge. As opposed to most Total War games where I tend to get bored after the early game because once you have established dominance there isn't really any way for one nation to challenge you.

Medieval 2 is also a excellent Total War game though as since you have to garrison troops in the cities you can't just steam roll your way though every nation in the game quickly like you do in later games. It is also nice having the diversity of units for different nations, you really have to change up your strategy when fighting different armies.
 
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