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Thursday, September 08, 2005

WOTR

For all pactical purposes, War of the Ring is a histroical wargame, never mind that the events depicted are fictional. Tolkien's world is so richly detailed and "sourced" that it compares favorably with the historical record we have some many eras of ancient warfare.
On the other hand, it has many of the attributes of eurogames, particularly the high production values, neat "bits" and simple underlying game routines (no CRTS, etc.)
As such I think it illustrates the fault lines between eurogamers and wargamers that sometimes make we wonder if ever the twain shall meet.
As a wargame, WOTR is quite an achievement, managing amazing fidelity to the original sources while providing strategic choices. Most of the complaints against WOTR that I have read seem to be the generic complaints nearly all wargames get. To most eurogamers "chrome" is a distraction. To wargamers it's a vital part of the experience.
To me one of the most interesting things that has happened with WOTR is the vigorous debate over game strategy. I don't think anything like that has happened since the early days of Avalon Hill, when everybody was playing the same handful of games. While those early AH games such as Afrika Korps, Stalingrad, Midway, Waterloo and Battle of the Bulge often left something to be desired as games, they were examined in considerable detail and they have an extensive strategic "literature." The flood of wargames that started in the 1970s had many positive aspects, but it also means that very few wargames since then have been played enough by a large enough number of people to have had an examination in any depth.
It's refreshing to see a "historical" wargame provoke this level of interest and debate.