Figure Versus Board games
When fighting out battle on the table top generated by board games, I released there are tremendous differences between they way board games and figure gamers see war. These are a few of the differences.
1. Board games use the nebulous concept of zones of control. This implies that units sort of spread out from the hex they are in and occupy the surrounding 6 hexes or cover them by fire. In figure battles, the only way you stop the enemy moving through areas is to be in them.
2. Defenders in figure campaigns always dig in given time. Whether they use stakes, wire, redoubts, trenches or just bundles of sticks, time multiplies the defensive potential of a position. Few board games allow units that do not move to entrench.
3. In figure games, combined arms attacks are crucial. In Napoleonic warfare the ideal attack involves infantry, cavalry and artillery. Some board games use a combined arms multiplier, most do not. It is not just the strength of the units attacking, it is the combination that is crucial.
4. The relative position of the units in the attack is crucial. In board games, the key is usually to get the most strength points into the assault by placing in adjacent hexes in any order. In figure games it is often important to get the units involved to attack from the right direction, in the right order.
5. Some of the combats resolved in board games just never happen on the table top. Infantry armies cannot bring mechanised forces to battle, if the more mobile defenders trade space for time.
This raises some fundamental questions about the nature of figure and board games. Are board games gross simplifications of warfare? Could board games be made more realistic by use of modifiers such as +1 for combined arms, units stationary for two turns get +2 defensive bonus (some do). Why do board games modelling the same campaigns at identical scales all have different modifiers? (e.g. compare games on two of the most popular topics, Battle of the Bulge or Waterloo board games). Are figure games inherently superior?