D-Day by e-Mail

I’m preparing to begin play of The Mighty Endeavor (Multi-Man Publishing/The Gamers, 2005), an operational level treatment of the Allied invasion of France in 1944 featuring mostly Divisional units. I’ll be playing against my opponent via e-mail, sending turn logs back and forth using VASSAL, a free Java program designed to facilitate online play of paper-based wargames.

The Mighty Endeavor is a series game, one of the more recent in the long-standing Standard Combat Series (SCS) designed by Dean Essig. According to the Designer’s Notes from the v1.7 rules (.pdf), SCS

was designed to be a basic—read FUN—game which can be played at times when the others seem like too much of a good thing. These games are made for the ‘break out the beer and pretzels, and here we go’ type of evening.

And indeed, I find myself gravitating towards SCS games less because of subject matter and more because I already know how to play the game.

Series games play an important role in contemporary wargaming, because they allow the time-pressed gamer to simulate different conflicts using the same basic rules structure. Once you’ve acclimated yourself to the series rules in SCS, which cover all the basics of wargaming in seven pages, you just familiarize yourself with the specific game rules and dive in. Learn once, play often.

For this “ease of play” to function, though, designers of the specific game situations must respect the basic structure of the game rules. Too many exceptions to the basic rules—too much “chrome” added to the mix—can create an unplayable game. If you’re constantly remembering the series rule then having to substitute a game-specific rule, the whole point of having a single set of rules is lost.

The specific rules for The Mighty Endeavor (.pdf) come in at fifteen pages. Scenarios occupy a third of the booklet, denoting where each unit starts and the objectives for each player. A large chunk of the remainder deals with the rules for the invasion itself, with which the generic series rules do not, with their much broader scope, concern themselves. On the whole, the specific game rules look to leave the series rules intact, a promising sign for this busy gamer.

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