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<   No. 4836   2022-10-17   >

Comic #4836

1 Ishmael: So I’m thinking the complexity of planning a Martian invasion of Earth would best be simulated by an epic level war game, like World in Flames.
1 Martian 1: I wouldn’t go quite that far.
2 Ishmael: Twilight Imperium?
2 Martian 1: Not quite.
3 Ishmael: The Awful Green Things From Outer Space?
3 Martian 1: Try a little bit simpler.
4 Ishmael: Candy Land?
4 Martian 1: Now we’re getting close.

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I wanted a series of games descending from "extremely complex and epic in scale" to "slightly less complex but still pretty intricate" to "middle of the range" to "super simple".

I locked in Candy Land pretty quickly. Even though I've never played or even seen a copy of this game, it's notorious online as a children's "game" that honestly doesn't even qualify as a game. You move pieces in a race around the board, but the movement is entirely controlled by drawing cards from a deck. Once the deck is shuffled, the outcome of the "game" is determined. You can work out who "wins" just by looking through the cards - you don't actually have to go to the bother of moving the pieces around. Nobody makes any decisions at all during the play. And there aren't even any dice to roll to give you some illusion that you're doing something. I believe the reason I've never seen this game is because it's never been sold here in Australia. I've never met anyone here who's ever seen it.

For the other games, I searched through BoardGameGeek's extensive database of games. Games are rated by complexity (or "weight") and length of play, among many other factors. I did a search for games satisfying the search criteria of "war games" and "science fiction", which led me to Twilight Imperium. While this rates a respectably hefty 3.49/5 in weight, I know there are games that rate much higher. So I slotted this into second spot and widened my search for more complex games by removing the "science fiction" stipulation.

I briefly considered The Campaign for North Africa as the first game, with weight a massive 4.73/5, but that's already been used in these comics. My next candidate was Advanced Squad Leader, which is also known for being extremely complex, and in fact beats North Africa with a weight of 4.74/5. However, both of these games had the disadvantage that they are relatively local in real world scope of the conflicts they simulate. I felt that something involving the whole world would be a more sensible fit to the idea of Martians invading Earth. This led me to World in Flames. At a weight of 4.64/5, that seemed complex enough.

For the third game I kept searching with "science fiction" as a criterion and reducing the complexity range of my searches, until at weight 1.88/5 I found The Awful Green Things From Outer Space. This is actually a game about an alien invasion, albeit on board a spaceship, not of an entire planet. And I remember it fondly from having a first publication copy that was included as bonus content inside Dragon magazine #28.

I'm hoping at least somebody reading this comic knows enough about all four of those games to understand the progression without needing to have read this annotation.

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