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  • Wargamers have abandoned their roots!

    "The essence of the game is constant struggle against an adversary who, by whatever means of deception and disguise, is entirely, relentlessly, unfailingly dedicated to your destruction. It is only a board, but it is a field of dreams for paranoia." ---Charles Krauthammer

    I have been noticing a disturbing trend amongst wargamers. Many of my brethren warriors seem to have completely forgotten their wargaming roots! How can one call himself a wargamer, a master of kriegspeil, when you do not play the oldest of all wargames? A game of war that is as sublime as it is economical? Of course I am referring to the royal game of chess.

    Don’t you know that chess is the first of all wargames? It was developed in India sometime around 600 AD (perhaps earlier as it was mentioned without any explanation in writings by that date, suggesting it was already well-known). The name “chess” is derived from the Sanskrit “Chaturanga” which can be translated as “Four Arms” referring to the four arms (or divisions, if you prefer) of the Indian army--- elephants, cavalry, chariots, and infantry. In this regard, Chess is very much a wargame that simulates what we would now call the “combined arms operations” of the ancient world. It is because of this combined arms approach that both strategy and tactics can be taught by the game (unlike Checkers, which is entirely tactics, or Go, which is entirely strategy). In this regard, Chess is unique. As a result, it is a most remarkably balanced wargame.

    Now, I know some of you are already complaining that it doesn’t look like a wargame. After all, where are the military units? Where is the terrain? They are there, albeit some of it is disguised by the artistic accumulation of over 1300 years. Let’s take a closer look....

    Continued on my blog http://wargamerscott.tripod.com/blogfiles/

    Did I entice you? Comments welcomed!
    Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

  • #2
    i have been a chess player for many years.it can be called,i think,the perfect game.
    i yam what i yam and thats what i yam!

    Comment


    • #3
      Hm... I have Chessmaster 9000 and Fritz 8 on my laptop. I have a portable Kasparov 2100 in my pack. I play with IECG and FICS. I'm currently reading Winning Chess Tactics by Sierawan. I played in a local club about ten years ago. I hope to start playing at the club in this city one night a week soon (working up the confidence to lose with grace).

      Any of that count?

      Does Go predate Chess? I would disagree that Go is entirely strategy. What about Chinese Chess?
      Here's a link to a Chinese Chess primer so that folks don't think I'm talking about Chinese Checkers. http://home1.gte.net/res1bup4/chess_intro.htm
      Last edited by Duncan; 01 Apr 06, 00:12.
      AHIKS - Play by (E)mail board wargaming since 1965.
      The Blitz - Play by Email computer wargaming.

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      • #4
        I can't do chess. Everyone I've seen playing it looks bored. And the graphics? Sheez, don't talk to me about the graphics.

        Best,

        Mark

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        • #5
          I used to play chess and thought I was a fair player until my cousin consistently beat the carp out of me everyt ime we played. I mean, it wasn't even fun. So I gave up on it and went to other games. MechWar 77 anyone?
          "The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time." Abraham Lincoln

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          • #6
            Ahhhh yes. The one wargame my wife really likes to play. Consistantly beats my friends to. She doesn't like to play me though. Says I move to slow. I have to... one slip and she'll gut me. Have to by another chess clock.

            I did abandon chess to a large degree after I discovered military board games. Something about laying the best plans and having chance intervene. Do I attack with just enough or do I commit enough to be sure? Inspite of its roots in warfare a well designed chess board and pieces will not give me any insight into historical conflicts. A well designed wargame can be both a game an a book.
            Come to think of it it was right before Mechwar 77 came out.

            Still there's usually a chess board set up in the game room or the living room for anyone who feels froggy enough to push wood. It's like chumming the water someones likely to come up and take a bite out of your ass. I might not play it a lot but there are sharks in this little pond.

            Its still a good game to start young ones on. The rules aren't that complex but the gameplay is.
            Last edited by Widow Maker; 01 Apr 06, 12:26.
            "Put guards on all the roads, and don't let the men run to the rear."
            Major General John Buford's final words on his deathbed.

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            • #7
              I have to say I was never a fan of chess, partly for what you mention there in that last post.

              I like uncertainty.

              In my younger days I used to swear that games avoiding the trappings of dice or other forms of random luck were poor games compared to those that were "purely skill." I've done pretty much a 180 in that regard.

              While I appreciate the complexity of Chess and the skill it takes to be very good at it, I feel like it lacks something.

              There's nothing to model that one pawn that stands against all odds against the knight. And as such, there's no need to factor in contingencies for your plans failing - ultimately you know the direct result of every move you'll make (and a truely good player can see the result of his move several turns down the road).
              “To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Duncan
                Hm... I have Chessmaster 9000 and Fritz 8 on my laptop. I have a portable Kasparov 2100 in my pack. I play with IECG and FICS. I'm currently reading Winning Chess Tactics by Sierawan. I played in a local club about ten years ago. I hope to start playing at the club in this city one night a week soon (working up the confidence to lose with grace).

                Any of that count?
                Umm...just barely.

                BTW: Check out http://www.letsplaychess.net
                Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

                Comment


                • #9
                  One response that is proving real interesting is how a lot of wargamer's are decrying the lack of chance in the game of chess. I didn't expect that. In fact, I always found the lack of randomness in chess to be one of its strengths. Sure, a little uncertainty can be fun, but when you win a game of chess, you win because your battle plan was superior to the other guys. That is why, as that one quote I used stated, you really feel a wound when you lose a closely played game. Likewise, you feel an incredible thrill when you beat a tough opponent. After all, he can't blame the dice, or the terrain, or the lack of proper units---all he can blame is you! YOU won the victory...completely. I think that is why chess players are so obsessive about their ratings---it really means something.
                  Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Tredegar
                    I used to play chess and thought I was a fair player until my cousin consistently beat the carp out of me everyt ime we played. I mean, it wasn't even fun. So I gave up on it and went to other games. MechWar 77 anyone?
                    That is true...chess can be merciless. But today, what with the internet and Chessmaster, there is always some opponent you can beat.
                    Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by markhwalker
                      I can't do chess. Everyone I've seen playing it looks bored. And the graphics? Sheez, don't talk to me about the graphics.

                      Best,

                      Mark
                      Graphics? You realize chess is a boardgame, right? Jeez, get away from your PC for a little bit.

                      Only kidding!

                      I think a lot of people don't like chess because they haven't been properly exposed to it. I assure you chess is not boring. In fact, I bet I could get you engrossed in a game if given the chance.
                      Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Overseer
                        There's nothing to model that one pawn that stands against all odds against the knight. And as such, there's no need to factor in contingencies for your plans failing - ultimately you know the direct result of every move you'll make (and a truely good player can see the result of his move several turns down the road).
                        That is interesting. I understand your point, but I think it misses the bigger picture. Sure, the outcome between a pawn taking a knight (or vice versa) is known with 100% certainty, but the implications of that move are only known with partial clarity. That is why EVERY chess player, at least those worth their rating, has at least three contingency plans in the back of his mind. If this wasn't the case, every game could be played with complete confidence as to the outcome. Needless to say, that NEVER happens. Instead, you find the same ebb and flow in chess that you have in any wargame with a greater degree of chance. One side, then the other gains the advantage. But as to the ultimate outcome---few players can see that beyond a handful of moves...and then only in known endgame positions.
                        Burke's Joystick: Because Edmund Burke would have been a gamer.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Wargamer Scott
                          That is interesting. I understand your point, but I think it misses the bigger picture. Sure, the outcome between a pawn taking a knight (or vice versa) is known with 100% certainty, but the implications of that move are only known with partial clarity. That is why EVERY chess player, at least those worth their rating, has at least three contingency plans in the back of his mind. If this wasn't the case, every game could be played with complete confidence as to the outcome. Needless to say, that NEVER happens. Instead, you find the same ebb and flow in chess that you have in any wargame with a greater degree of chance. One side, then the other gains the advantage. But as to the ultimate outcome---few players can see that beyond a handful of moves...and then only in known endgame positions.
                          Warning: I ended up writing and rambling far more than I meant to, if you want just jump to the end.

                          No, I do agree. Chess is a complex enough system that you don't see a transparent solution per se. The fact is chess is a great balance. The more simple the system the more obvious the optimum play is at any given point (great example is tic-tac-toe the system is so great that the result is going to be a tie because the optimum play is so clear). Too complex a system and it's just annoying to deal with and not worth the time. Chess combines a good balance of the two.

                          In case my avatar and past posting hasn't made it abundantly clear, I could happily spend 40 hours a week playing poker - a system that is ultimately buying and selling probabilities. It has ridiculous amounts of strategy and complexity involved that all can go out the window because of a single card coming against all odds. It can be the most frustrating experience in the world, everything going completely right, and then the only card in the deck that can turn everything against you falls. But ultimately, that's what makes the game successful. If it was a perfect game of no chance (ignoring the fact that it couldn't be) it would ultimately be like chess. No one would want to sit down against a much better player (at least not for money). The complexity allows for superior players to come out on top over time, while keeping less skilled players coming back.

                          Looking at it from an "academic" standpoint, on the one hand chess is an interesting game because it's purely skill based. On the other hand, that means it's pretty much the least effective model of the real world in anyway whatsoever. Nothing works that well in real life! You know that piece of paper you drop will fall to the ground, but figuring out how it will is so exceedling complex it's ridiculous. In my opinion, using the comparison of poker to chess again, watching a poker table is a great abstraction of the real world (a capitalist economic system specifically). Chess in my opinion is too abstract and ultimately too simplistic (even for its vast complexity) to be a great model of anything. Yes, it's clear that in principle is an example of combined arms tactics, but I feel it does little to relate to the same principles in real life (again, that's only my opinion - I know some people will argue just the opposite).

                          Now all that said, it's a game. It is a great game (obviously, it's been around so long). It doesn't need to be a model of anything whatsoever to be a great game (and yes, it is to some extent a model of warfare arguments to the accuracy of it aside). And seeing as I wrote entirely too much and probably rambled while doing so, I'll wrap this up...

                          From the one standpoint, I can see it being a valid argument that Chess is the greatest game design ever made. It's just my opinion that the removal of chance from the system spoils it in some ways as a competitive game (as paradoxical as that sounds). The more skilled player in a chess game should technically never be behind in the game (assuming he's playing to the best of his ability). In another type of game, the more skilled player might have something so ridiculously stupid happen to him that's he setback significantly - and then has to pull himself back out for the win - that to me is real skill (besides it makes for great excuses when you lose).
                          “To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

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                          • #14
                            Because apparently I don't feel like stopping being long winded:

                            I just read through some of the points you made in the full blog entry and the mention of studies of chess to warfare. They're good points, and obviously I won't claim to have a better answer than the experts (but maybe I'll stick to my differing opinion anyway).

                            I think looking at it from a game theoretical point, in my opinion the game of chess is only a game of imperfect information due to the limitations of the player rather than the system itself. In one respect, that means its fine, between people it'll always be a timeless game. However, and we are seeing this with the computers already, because it is an ultimately finite system, I think eventually we could see it reduced - between to computers - to the situation of tic-tac-toe.

                            It's out of reach right now, and it's too complex for the human mind ultimately, but I think it'll ultimately be found that there is a "solution" to the system.
                            “To discriminate against a thoroughly upright citizen because he belongs to some particular church, or because, like Abraham Lincoln, he has not avowed his allegiance to any church, is an outrage against that liberty of conscience which is one of the foundations of American life.”

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Wargamer Scott
                              Umm...just barely.

                              BTW: Check out http://www.letsplaychess.net
                              Thanks for the link. I'll check it out when I get home next week. Always happy to be beaten by a different crowd.

                              When I played in a club ten years ago I used to get quite upset at losing 2/3 of my games. I thought I was good because I could beat all my friends. I got frustrated at my errors. Now, I understand the game better. I understand it well enough to realize that I could best my friends because what they played could only barely be considered chess. I also understand the game well enough to realize just how bad I am. Losing isn't so painful now.
                              Last edited by Duncan; 02 Apr 06, 00:49.
                              AHIKS - Play by (E)mail board wargaming since 1965.
                              The Blitz - Play by Email computer wargaming.

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