Friday, March 19, 2010

Eye candy? Yes, I'll have some

A post over on Boardgame Geek asks if wargamers these days NEED "eye candy" to play a wargame, comparing these unfavorably to the classic games of yore such as Afrika Korps or Panzerblitz. The unspoken assumption is that real wargamers don't need fancy graphics and certainly don't need plastic soldiers.

Well, I have to admit that I am easily seduced by "eye candy," and that nearly all of my recent wargame purchases involve toy soldiers, blocks or full color counters. Visual impact has always been big part of the allure of miniatures games and I don't see any reason why board games shouldn't tap into it as well.

But in a larger sense, the writer misses the point because when they came out games like Afrika Korps and Panzerblitz WERE eye candy. It's easy to forget now, but that large yellow desert in AK was a step up from the bland white boards used in previous AH games such as D-Day, Gettysburg or Chancellorsville. And Panzerblitz, with its vehicle silhouettes and Redmond Simonsen-style graphics was a big leap up from the hobby state of the art. It wasn't just the rules that made Panzerblitz a runaway success.

So I think eye candy is not only necessary for wargamers but it has always been necessary.

1 comment:

  1. If eye candy weren't important, we'd all be content to play with black and white pieces on a black and white board. Even Tactics II and Kriegspiel were a step up from this.

    Now, there would be an argument that only color necessary to efficiently use the game are necessary, but even in the effective conveyance of information, aesthetics plays a role. The world is beautiful (well most of it), so why not wargames. Why not even art with your wargame?