Author Topic: Burning Baltics...  (Read 1081 times)

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Offline al_infierno

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #30 on: February 21, 2021, 05:28:14 PM »
I can play a game without really giving much thought to the underlying characters, if they're real characters then by definition they took part so you have to accommodate them in a (realistic) game. I'm playing a game/simulation, not condoning their actions or beliefs.
There's very few good points about war & an almost infinite amount of bad points, so if I was sensitive about the issue I wouldn't play wargames at all.
The other thing that irks me about these debates is that somehow "evil" is time constrained. People often express distaste at playing Hitler or Stalin, yet happily fire up Rome Total War etc. & glory in Caesars machinations & conquests. Genocidal megalomaniacs - Acceptable characters after 25, 50, 100 or 500 years? - discuss  :)

Actually, on a similar note, I think there's something to be said for the argument that wargames set in conflicts that still have living veterans are inherently distasteful.  For example, by playing a scenario set in the battle of Fallujah, you are effectively playing in the graveyard of real living people's friends and family members. 

Personally, I don't think this argument carries so much weight that said games shouldn't be made or enjoyed (this would effectively rule out all WWII games), but it's an interesting perspective that I've heard from non-gaming folks.

I think it depends.  I use wargames partially because of professional interest.  In such cases, I would disagree that my playing a professional-level modern wargame is disrespectful.  Now, if hypothetically, I were to play something like Wolfenstein: Fallujah, then there might be more of a point to the claim it was disrespectful.

I agree with you there 100%, but I don't think non-gamers really differentiate between "serious professional games" and "lighthearted consumer games."  To them, a game is a game.
It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge.  War endures.  As well ask men what they think of stone.  War was always here.  Before man was, war waited for him.  The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.  That is the way it was and will be.  That way and not some other way.
- Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian


If they made nothing but WWII games, I'd be perfectly content.  Hypothetical matchups from alternate history 1980s, asymmetrical US-bashes-some-3rd world guerillas, or minor wars between Upper Bumblescum and outer Kaboomistan hold no appeal for me.
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I guess it's sort of nice that the word "tactical" seems to refer to some kind of seriousness during your moments of mental clarity.
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Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #31 on: February 21, 2021, 06:08:47 PM »
Thoughtful and interesting thread, folks!  My own take:  I land closer to Jarhead or Father Ted.  I'm not comfortable playing "as" any particularly unsavory historical character, even if he's just a personalized asset. 

I don't typically play a wargame to satisfy my RPG urges, but it ruins the enthusiastic immersion for me if I'm ever asked to cheer for a repulsive character.  Then again, I seldom play "dark hero" types in RPG games either, although I'm not above dabbling in that sort of thing from time to time.

I get how some folks are into the accurate historical simulation and I can't fault them as poor human beings for that.  But I myself am less likely to play a game that's designed that way, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #32 on: February 21, 2021, 06:17:11 PM »
Thoughtful and interesting thread, folks!  My own take:  I land closer to Jarhead or Father Ted.  I'm not comfortable playing "as" any particularly unsavory historical character, even if he's just a personalized asset. 

I don't typically play a wargame to satisfy my RPG urges, but it ruins the enthusiastic immersion for me if I'm ever asked to cheer for a repulsive character.  Then again, I seldom play "dark hero" types in RPG games either, although I'm not above dabbling in that sort of thing from time to time.

I get how some folks are into the accurate historical simulation and I can't fault them as poor human beings for that.  But I myself am less likely to play a game that's designed that way, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

You raise a issue that may be a thread all its own: when you play, do you try to play in a moral manner?  If, hypothetically, you are playing Crusader Kings, is your play style more Borgia, or more Cincinnatus?  Personally, I tend to play games according as I try to live life, even if it isn't necessarily "realistic". 

Offline al_infierno

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #33 on: February 21, 2021, 07:07:30 PM »
Thoughtful and interesting thread, folks!  My own take:  I land closer to Jarhead or Father Ted.  I'm not comfortable playing "as" any particularly unsavory historical character, even if he's just a personalized asset. 

I don't typically play a wargame to satisfy my RPG urges, but it ruins the enthusiastic immersion for me if I'm ever asked to cheer for a repulsive character.  Then again, I seldom play "dark hero" types in RPG games either, although I'm not above dabbling in that sort of thing from time to time.

I get how some folks are into the accurate historical simulation and I can't fault them as poor human beings for that.  But I myself am less likely to play a game that's designed that way, and I'm sure I'm not alone.

You raise a issue that may be a thread all its own: when you play, do you try to play in a moral manner?  If, hypothetically, you are playing Crusader Kings, is your play style more Borgia, or more Cincinnatus?  Personally, I tend to play games according as I try to live life, even if it isn't necessarily "realistic".

This is a real interesting point I hadn't even thought of.  When I play Decisive Campaigns: Barbarossa, I tend to follow the moral path and avoid or prevent war crimes as much as possible, despite those choices actively hampering my military goals.  But when I play Crusader Kings II, I tend to play absolutely monstrous characters who would make modern dictators blush, merely because it advances my goals more effectively (and because it's fun Game of Thrones style roleplaying  >:D).

Aside from the basic gameplay differences, the only real differences I can think of that would adjust my perspective are: (A) The amount of time between my life and the lives of the characters in question, and (B) That my CK2 characters tend to be custom-made, fictional characters and not historical people (although the victims in question are generally historical or descendants of historical people).  My justification for doing horrible things in CK2 seems like it would equally apply to going all-in on war crimes in DC:B, yet I play each game completely differently.
It makes no difference what men think of war, said the judge.  War endures.  As well ask men what they think of stone.  War was always here.  Before man was, war waited for him.  The ultimate trade awaiting its ultimate practitioner.  That is the way it was and will be.  That way and not some other way.
- Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian


If they made nothing but WWII games, I'd be perfectly content.  Hypothetical matchups from alternate history 1980s, asymmetrical US-bashes-some-3rd world guerillas, or minor wars between Upper Bumblescum and outer Kaboomistan hold no appeal for me.
- Silent Disapproval Robot


I guess it's sort of nice that the word "tactical" seems to refer to some kind of seriousness during your moments of mental clarity.
- MengJiao

Offline Phantom

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #34 on: February 22, 2021, 03:32:08 AM »
Decisive Campaigns Barbarossa did come to mind when posting, its a really good game - one of my favourites - but it does also challenge you to make those difficult decisions. I like that it doesn't shy away from realty, as I think in general that's a good thing, and serves to remind us that there was much more than just a conventional war going on.
Whilst, as my earlier post demonstrates, I'm quite laissez-faire about playing wargames but I must confess to being uneasy about a game I've recently played - Labyrinth, War on Terror. Its a challenging game, but I couldn't imagine myself playing the Jihadis', and one of the "victory conditions" for them is particularly worrying, though again mainly for the unpleasant & scary reality it brings home.

Offline Jarhead0331

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #35 on: February 22, 2021, 04:36:35 AM »
With respect to the RPG element...Iíve tried playing various games as ďevilĒ and even in instances where doing so rewards the player, I simply cannot bring myself to make decisions or take actions that go against my core morality. If an action strikes me as morally corrupt, or against my inherent sense of what is right, I typically will not take it and if I do I do not feel comfortable and it detracts from my enjoyment of the game. This has been a factor in how Iíve played games like the Mass Effect series, Star Wars titles, and other games in which morality plays a role in character development.

Being evil or making evil decisions in a fantasy setting is just not something that gives me enjoyment when I game. That is not to say that I canít take morally gray options, or options that may have negative consequences, but those options have to make sense, be logical, or achieve some positive or meaningful outcome.
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Offline Tripoli

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #36 on: February 22, 2021, 06:09:36 AM »
With respect to the RPG element...Iíve tried playing various games as ďevilĒ and even in instances where doing so rewards the player, I simply cannot bring myself to make decisions or take actions that go against my core morality. If an action strikes me as morally corrupt, or against my inherent sense of what is right, I typically will not take it and if I do I do not feel comfortable and it detracts from my enjoyment of the game. This has been a factor in how Iíve played games like the Mass Effect series, Star Wars titles, and other games in which morality plays a role in character development.

Being evil or making evil decisions in a fantasy setting is just not something that gives me enjoyment when I game. That is not to say that I canít take morally gray options, or options that may have negative consequences, but those options have to make sense, be logical, or achieve some positive or meaningful outcome.

I tend to play more like you, JH.  However, Phantom's comment about Labyrinth gives me pause.  I play it fairly regularly against a veteran friend of mine, as we both spent a significant part of our adult life involved in the GWoT.  Our conversations during Labyrinth always begin reminiscing or analyzing about some of the incidents portrayed in the game.   I usually play the Jihadi, and I have no problem with trying in the game to get a WMD, despite my strong Real World moral convictions against such an action.  However, Labyrinth is more of a "Grand Strategic" level game, and very abstract at that, so such moral decisions become more attenuated. Additionally, my professional interest in the subject allows me to play such a role. 

On the other hand, this same friend and I have a regular board game of Churchill.  I am now relegated to always playing the USSR in that game, because I frankly can't work with the USSR if I play either the UK or the US.  I basically break the game, because I can't "play along" with one of the core game mechanics.  So when we play,  I have to always play the USSR.  So, despite Churchill being abstract and   "Grand Strategic" just like Labyrinth, my morality won't allow me to work effectively with the USSR, despite such action being far less morally ambiguous than playing the role of a Jihadi seeking a WMD.  Even worse, I am now forced to play a side (the USSR) that I despise in the Real World, yet  in the game, I happily do so, and effectively attempt to establish Stalin's control over Eastern Europe :crazy2:

Offline Phantom

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #37 on: February 22, 2021, 07:50:40 AM »
With respect to the RPG element...Iíve tried playing various games as ďevilĒ and even in instances where doing so rewards the player, I simply cannot bring myself to make decisions or take actions that go against my core morality. If an action strikes me as morally corrupt, or against my inherent sense of what is right, I typically will not take it and if I do I do not feel comfortable and it detracts from my enjoyment of the game. This has been a factor in how Iíve played games like the Mass Effect series, Star Wars titles, and other games in which morality plays a role in character development.

Being evil or making evil decisions in a fantasy setting is just not something that gives me enjoyment when I game. That is not to say that I canít take morally gray options, or options that may have negative consequences, but those options have to make sense, be logical, or achieve some positive or meaningful outcome.

I tend to play more like you, JH.  However, Phantom's comment about Labyrinth gives me pause.  I play it fairly regularly against a veteran friend of mine, as we both spent a significant part of our adult life involved in the GWoT.  Our conversations during Labyrinth always begin reminiscing or analyzing about some of the incidents portrayed in the game.   I usually play the Jihadi, and I have no problem with trying in the game to get a WMD, despite my strong Real World moral convictions against such an action.  However, Labyrinth is more of a "Grand Strategic" level game, and very abstract at that, so such moral decisions become more attenuated. Additionally, my professional interest in the subject allows me to play such a role. 

On the other hand, this same friend and I have a regular board game of Churchill.  I am now relegated to always playing the USSR in that game, because I frankly can't work with the USSR if I play either the UK or the US.  I basically break the game, because I can't "play along" with one of the core game mechanics.  So when we play,  I have to always play the USSR.  So, despite Churchill being abstract and   "Grand Strategic" just like Labyrinth, my morality won't allow me to work effectively with the USSR, despite such action being far less morally ambiguous than playing the role of a Jihadi seeking a WMD.  Even worse, I am now forced to play a side (the USSR) that I despise in the Real World, yet  in the game, I happily do so, and effectively attempt to establish Stalin's control over Eastern Europe :crazy2:

Good points - and interesting to hear about your view of Labyrinth & your dilemma on Churchill! - Have you played Twilight Struggle?

Offline Tripoli

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #38 on: February 22, 2021, 08:28:34 AM »
With respect to the RPG element...Iíve tried playing various games as ďevilĒ and even in instances where doing so rewards the player, I simply cannot bring myself to make decisions or take actions that go against my core morality. If an action strikes me as morally corrupt, or against my inherent sense of what is right, I typically will not take it and if I do I do not feel comfortable and it detracts from my enjoyment of the game. This has been a factor in how Iíve played games like the Mass Effect series, Star Wars titles, and other games in which morality plays a role in character development.

Being evil or making evil decisions in a fantasy setting is just not something that gives me enjoyment when I game. That is not to say that I canít take morally gray options, or options that may have negative consequences, but those options have to make sense, be logical, or achieve some positive or meaningful outcome.

I tend to play more like you, JH.  However, Phantom's comment about Labyrinth gives me pause.  I play it fairly regularly against a veteran friend of mine, as we both spent a significant part of our adult life involved in the GWoT.  Our conversations during Labyrinth always begin reminiscing or analyzing about some of the incidents portrayed in the game.   I usually play the Jihadi, and I have no problem with trying in the game to get a WMD, despite my strong Real World moral convictions against such an action.  However, Labyrinth is more of a "Grand Strategic" level game, and very abstract at that, so such moral decisions become more attenuated. Additionally, my professional interest in the subject allows me to play such a role. 

On the other hand, this same friend and I have a regular board game of Churchill.  I am now relegated to always playing the USSR in that game, because I frankly can't work with the USSR if I play either the UK or the US.  I basically break the game, because I can't "play along" with one of the core game mechanics.  So when we play,  I have to always play the USSR.  So, despite Churchill being abstract and   "Grand Strategic" just like Labyrinth, my morality won't allow me to work effectively with the USSR, despite such action being far less morally ambiguous than playing the role of a Jihadi seeking a WMD.  Even worse, I am now forced to play a side (the USSR) that I despise in the Real World, yet  in the game, I happily do so, and effectively attempt to establish Stalin's control over Eastern Europe :crazy2:

Good points - and interesting to hear about your view of Labyrinth & your dilemma on Churchill! - Have you played Twilight Struggle?

Yep.  In Twilight Struggle, I usually play the US, although I can play the USSR.  It doesn't seem to bother me as much in that game, although my preference is the US.  Of course, aside from the occasional coup,  Twilight Struggle really doesn't have too many moral dilemmas, and what it has are pretty abstract.   In contrast, the following is a cut and paste (I'm not the author) from a recent review of CKIII on Steam:

 "I declared wars on children, executed their parents, slept with my vassals' wives, got caught, then did it again, had at least 8 children with women that weren't my wife, on top of the 8+ kids that were with my wife. Murdered my rival, two of my wives were assassinated(I never found out why) In between assassinations I started another affair and had 3 more kids. I switched from catholic to some other Christian religion and proceeded to falsify claims and throw more wars in an attempt to create Ireland."

While CKIII sounds fun, and the role-playing aspect definitely has its good points, I couldn't play as the author of the above review did.  The moral issues are too clear: If I were to play as this reviewer did, I would no longer be doing a historical study of an issue, this is me role playing for fun, and quite possibly enjoying myself in the process.  At its core, I fear that if I were to role playing too much in the vein of what the above reviewer does could be corrosive to me in the real world.  With that said, I was one of the Beta testers for ICBM, where the game requires you to engage in a nuclear war and destroy the planet.  Yet the violence there is cartoonish, a bit like the old Road Runner cartoons.  And that is a large part of the difference.   I'm okay with engaging in abstract violence and examining moral issues.  After all, I'm an avid amateur  historian.  But to actually do role play in this vein strikes me as being morally a "bridge too far,"  at least for me. 
« Last Edit: February 22, 2021, 08:33:49 AM by Tripoli »

Offline Phantom

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #39 on: February 22, 2021, 01:17:07 PM »
"I declared wars on children, executed their parents, slept with my vassals' wives, got caught, then did it again, had at least 8 children with women that weren't my wife, on top of the 8+ kids that were with my wife. Murdered my rival, two of my wives were assassinated(I never found out why) In between assassinations I started another affair and had 3 more kids. I switched from catholic to some other Christian religion and proceeded to falsify claims and throw more wars in an attempt to create Ireland."

In fairness to the original poster, this sounds fairly standard for a medieval monarch, indeed at first I thought it was a quote from Henry VIII's biography  :)



Offline Tripoli

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #40 on: February 22, 2021, 01:32:03 PM »
"I declared wars on children, executed their parents, slept with my vassals' wives, got caught, then did it again, had at least 8 children with women that weren't my wife, on top of the 8+ kids that were with my wife. Murdered my rival, two of my wives were assassinated(I never found out why) In between assassinations I started another affair and had 3 more kids. I switched from catholic to some other Christian religion and proceeded to falsify claims and throw more wars in an attempt to create Ireland."

In fairness to the original poster, this sounds fairly standard for a medieval monarch, indeed at first I thought it was a quote from Henry VIII's biography  :)

If there is a point to the debauchery, I can live with it.  For instance, the game mechanics require you to have a male heir, so your family stays on the throne, then it becomes a way of understanding history, and I can play the game that way (or at least try to).  However, if the purpose of the debauchery is simply to see how many societal norms the game allows you to break, then I can't or won't do it.  The quote above makes me think it was more of the latter that was causing the writer to play the way he was playing.

Offline Father Ted

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #41 on: February 22, 2021, 03:48:07 PM »
FWIW I'm not judging how anyone else plays games (or indeed judging anyone who judges how anyone else plays games) - my posts in this thread are purely about how I feel when I play games.  The bottom line is that if you choose to play CKIII as an absolute word-that-Billy-Butcher-uses-a-lot-in-The-Boys you're not doing anything to affect the real world, so no harm no foul.

Offline Tripoli

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #42 on: February 22, 2021, 04:42:16 PM »
FWIW I'm not judging how anyone else plays games (or indeed judging anyone who judges how anyone else plays games) - my posts in this thread are purely about how I feel when I play games.  The bottom line is that if you choose to play CKIII as an absolute word-that-Billy-Butcher-uses-a-lot-in-The-Boys you're not doing anything to affect the real world, so no harm no foul.

To be clear, I'm not judging anyone IRT how they play their games.  I'm speaking only for myself in this thread.

Offline FarAway Sooner

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #43 on: February 24, 2021, 10:19:11 AM »
I have a hard time getting into games where I have to make morally repugnant choices to feel like I've played the whole game.  I've found one or two dark fantasy or apocalypse RPGs where I could go along with it as "the lesser of two evils" and even admired the way the story telling evoked such grit and realism.

I role-play as more of the Ranger type than the Paladin type, but that's just the way I'm wired.  One of the reasons I like 4x games is because you are TYPICALLY able to avoid such things.  I had fun dabbling with being a Dark Elf Death Mage back in the days of Master of Magic, and I had some fun playing Blood Priests in Dominions II, but that's about the extent of it.

I'll admit, I enjoyed playing Plague, Inc.  Until I started living it IRL.    :timeout:

Offline Gusington

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Re: Burning Baltics...
« Reply #44 on: February 24, 2021, 10:39:52 AM »
^Heh me too with Plague Inc.
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