Top 4 Reasons Why Wargames Are Better with More Luck

1)  It is more realistic.  Like it or not, that is the way the real world works.  You want your wargame to be more realistic right?  There ya go. 

2) More tense, more excitement, more fun.  People don’t flock to play Chess like they do to the Casinos do they?

3) It makes the wargames more accessible to new players.  Yes, you hate it when you play better and some new guy, that made lots of mistakes beats you because of luck.  Well, so what?  That’s life.  It happens in real war.  So let the new guy enjoy a cheap win.  Why not?  You still had a fun time playing an interesting, historical strategy game and learning a few things.    

Look at this from the new guys perspective.  Would you like to play a new game where you are 100% guaranteed to always lose for the first 40 games while you are learning it?  Doesn’t sound like fun to me.  We complain about shrinking numbers in our hobby.  Why is it so hard to find new players?  Well, gee.  Maybe if the hobby was a little more welcoming to new comers, it would get better.  Even if you are very nice, losing EVERY time is not welcoming.

More luck opens up more opportunity for new guys to actually win.  This is a good thing! 

4) It teaches you good, real world, command/leadership skills.  In the real world, things often go wrong too.  Many things are out of your control.  Murphy’s law.  Do you ever see problems come up at work?  Things that break and go wrong when they shouldn’t?  The schedule gets completely blown out?  Sure.  It doesn’t do any good to complain about the odds or explain about how that should have never happen.

What can you do?  What do you do now?  How well can you react?  Did you have a contingency plan?  Why not?  That is what the best leaders do!  It is a big part of what made Napoleon so fast and devastating.  (Not that he just had a big + combat modifier.)  Plan for things possibly going wrong.  Look for new opportunities to exploit now that things did go wrong.  When one door shuts, new ones open up.  Learning to live with and manage luck, trains you to be a better leader in real life.                      

3 thoughts on “Top 4 Reasons Why Wargames Are Better with More Luck”

  1. 1) It is more realistic.
    No it isn’t. The unpredictability in warfare comes from fog of war, not from an enormous variation in troops’ willingness to move or fight from one quarter hour to the next.

    Unpredictability in combat would feature only in a single hand-to-hand fight. If a veteran Roman legionary faces off against a raw Gallic tribal warrior, the warrior might get lucky – the legionary stumbles on a stone for example. But in most cases the legionary will win.

    However if 1000 legionaries face off against 1000 tribal warriors the legionaries will – all else being equal – absolutely win, every time. There are a few factors that would influence the fight enough to allow the warriors to win – terrain, fortification, flanking manoeuvre, etc. – but these can all be represented as modifiers. No need for dice.

    Fog of war means that both commanders a) don’t know their opponent’s battleplan, which is important because their own plan can’t be substantially changed once the battle begins (no walkie-talkies in BC or even most of AD), and b) can’t see much of the enemy army and don’t know where they are. Most wargame rules make fog of war impossible so they cheat and use dice instead. But dice are a very poor substitute.

    2) More tense, more excitement, more fun.
    Chess isn’t exciting, tense and fun?

    3) It makes the wargames more accessible to new players.
    Chess, checkers and go are inaccessible to new players? You just find a player who is as good as or a little better than you and learn your way up.

    4) It teaches you good, real world, command/leadership skills.
    There’s nothing real world about the effect of dice on a game. A chance-free game makes tactics decisive which enhances the importance of command. Where does leadership come into it? Your little lead men do exactly what you make them do whether you throw dice or not.

    PS: I posted this on TMP as well. Hope that isn’t redundant.

    • This is a great topic. Thank you for your thoughts and insight here.

      Are you arguing for using no luck in wargames?

      Can you give some examples as benchmarks? What games have too much luck? Which ones don’t have enough? Or is that possible?

      What game in your mind has the best amount or balance of luck?

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