Game Within A Game



  • Hello! I am at best an Amateur Axis and Allies fanatic (1940 europe+pacific). I am here to float ideas and crowd source rule changes. Have any of you heard of the Game within a Game theory? You play one game, and within that game you play an additional game? That’s why I’m here. The tabletop miniature wargame known as Flames of War has been around for quite a while, and I would like to find a way to incorporate it into an Axis and Allies campaign. For those of you that may not know Flames of War, I Highly recommend you pursue some amount of research, because it is a splendid, as well as somewhat expensive, hobby/game. For those of you that Do know it, you will probably be of the most assistance to me, as I want to incorporate both games together. Have you ever played axis and allies and thought “Man, this battle would be so much more intense if I actually saw the armored columns duking it out, or if the infantry were Actually storming the beaches”? Well, my first time playing Axis and Allies, I thought the same. And at the time, I had never played Flames of War. However, upon discovery of the WW2 Miniature wargame, I had an epiphany. Now, the time has come for me to assemble a ‘rulebook’ that I can utilize to play “GameCeption”.
    This is where all of you come in. I ask for any input you can provide, because this is an immense task to tackle. I particularly am trying to find a way to make the ‘points’ system in FOW transfer to the axis and allies board.

    On a Very related note, FOW doesn’t have a naval combat system, just naval bombardments. I have accounted for this, and found another tabletop wargame, known as Victory at Sea, that is more of just a ruleset I located online. The game can use any size miniatures, however I found that the miniatures from axis and allies work quite well scale-wise. But, as I am a history buff when it comes to WW2, I use miniature ships purchased from GHQ models, and the ships are 1/2400’th scale and quite detailed.
    Again, I ask for your assistance, as this game rule set has a completely different points value, and obviously it should be balanced. Searching google for Victory at Seas PDF rules, at 4Plebs, it will be openly available for your perusal.

    Any ideas, I am open to all input folks. I love this game, and feel that “GameCeption” is something that should be shared with the world! If there is already a forum or topic for something of this nature, Do please let me know because I don’t want to rob anyone of their idea.

    I wish all of you an excellent day, and happy WarGaming!



  • I have given much thought to doing a game within a game for AA, and have even looked into the other versions of AA such as the miniature model game version. I would love to do a battle for each territory within the world map, however after much consideration i realized that this would make a game of world take an extreme amount if time. I do have a table that is built in such a way that I can save a game at any time and come back to it later, and I often do that with my friends. I will usually take about 2-3 weeks per game because we don’t play long sessions, usually no more than 4 hours of play or so, so it take 3 or 4 meetings to finish a game. With the game within a game concept, this would make finishing a game a much lengthier task.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    I have a similar concern about the time issue mentioned by Requester45, which relates to a broader concern mentioned by Peter Perla in his book The Art of Wargaming: A Guide for Professionals and Hobbyists.  Perla’s book categorizes wargames as falling into three basic types in terms of their scale: strategic, operational and tactical.  Strategic games operate at a very broad scale (potentially as far up as the global level) and cast the players in the roles of high-level decision-makers (generals and/or their heads of state), and have a fairly abstracted combat system.  Tactical games focus on battlefield combat in a limited area, and can be so detailed in terms of their mechanics that they might even depict individual weapons firing at individual targets.  Operational games fall somewhere in the middle.  The book goes on to say that at one point in the history of the hobby (the 1970s, as I recall), a number of hybrid games appeared on the market: strategic-operational games, and operational-tactical game.  In both cases, these games tried to combine higher-level decision-making elements with lower-level combat resolution.  These games seem to have gone out of style, and Perla points out that their fundamental problem is that they create situations in which a player can fall between two barstools.  A player who’s good at strategy may fight the right battles for the right reasons, but may lose the war anyway because of a poor grasp of how to move and fire specific weapons on the battlefield.  A player who’s good at tactics may win all his battles, but may lose the war anyway because he lacks a coherent strategic plan and because of a poor grasp of logistics and economics.  And to get back to Requester45’s point about time, introducing lower-level combat resolution into a game that involves higher-level decision-making is very time consuming; this was true of strategic-operational games, it was true of operational-tactical game, and it would particularly be true (if I understand the proposed concept correctly) of what would be a strategic-tactical game that combines the opposite ends of the strategic/operational/tactical continuum.


  • Customizer

    I tried something like this when I first started playing Classic A&A back in the late 80s/early 90s.  I enjoyed the game but after a while felt I wanted more.  Basically, I thought it was silly that you would fight one battle for a territory like Eastern United States.
    So, I started researching maps to further break down these territories.  I got the US and Canada and a good part of Western Europe done. I made separate game boards for each larger territory.
    Then I had to figure out how many of each unit (infantry, tank, fighter, bomber) represented the units on the global map.  This was mostly done by a lot of guess work.  I came up with the system that each infantry on the global map was 20 infantry on a smaller map.  Each tank equaled 10 tanks and planes converted to 5 of each on the smaller maps.
    I kept the same A&A combat style and values for the smaller maps and had to introduce a unit limit of 10 units per territory on the smaller map per side (planes did not count toward this limit). 
    This seemed to work well but took a long time just to capture a single territory on the global map.  For example, the territory of Western Europe includes France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Holland.  These (except for Luxembourg) were broken down further into smaller territories, similar to the D-Day or Fortress America maps.
    Another problem that arose was my conversion system.  Once you commit to a battle for a certain territory, whatever forces you have there are all you have.  There are no reinforcements for that particular battle.  So, once you captured a certain territory, how do you convert the units back to their global equivalents? 
    For example, say you attack with 1 bomber in the global map.  That changes to 5 bombers on the smaller map.  During the course of fighting for all the territories in the smaller map, say 2 or 3 of these bombers get destroyed.  So, when you go back to the global map, how do you represent 2/5 of a bomber?  Infantry and tanks were even harder to figure out due to their higher conversion rate.
    So, I soon abandoned this project because it started taking the fun out of the game.  I still think it’s an interesting idea, but you would need a dedicated room where you could leave everything out and set up to play this really long.  After a while, I think a single game might take as long as the real war did.


  • 2020 2019 2018 2017 '16 '15 '14 Customizer '13 '12 '11 '10

    And to follow up on knp’s post: the time problem which he describes would probably apply to any game that involves switching back and forth repeatedly between an overall war and the specific battles which are used to fight that war.  Probably the only type of “hybrid” game which is practical to play is the following very specific type of two-phase game; the concept can be applied both to land warfare and to naval warfare, but it’s better suited to naval warfare so that’s the example I’ll use.

    In a two-phase game, the first phase takes place roughly at the operational (or theatre) level; a concrete example would be the Midway / Aleutians campaign of mid-1942.  Each side controls a number of forces, which are represented as markers moving across a map.  Some of the markers represent real forces, and some represent dummy forces.  The real forces are also represented “off the board” by groups of miniatures, which everyone can see.  Each player knows which of his forces on the map are real and which are fake, and knows which of his forces on the map corresponds to which of his groups of miniatures; this information is recorded on paper (so that it can’t be changed) but it’s initially kept hidden from the opponent.  In the first phase of the game, players maneuver their forces (both real and fake) on the map until enemy forces make contact.  When forces make contact, the identity and composition of those forces is revealed by each side to the opponent.  The game (for the forces in contact) then switches to the tactical scale, and the forces in contact engage in battle if both forces are real; if one or both forces is a dummy force, then nothing happens.  The process is repeated for the other forces on the board until all of them have been revealed through contact.  The winner, depending on the victory conditions, could be the side which has the most surviving units after all the contact battles have been fought, or whatever else has been decided by the players ahead of time.


  • Liaison TripleA '11 '10

    Great comments all around!

    I agree time is what would kill this.  That said I’ll contribute two suggestions

    1. Only play out the tactical battle if there is more than 100 IPCs a side and use a conversion system as discussed.  Or only have it happen for certain territories like Berlin/Moscow

    2. We live in the electronic age! Pair A&A armies to any number of electronic WW2 video games, where maybe you can control army sizes with points or whatever. and add some controllers and some screens to your basement!  Then when its battle time - switch to a real time tactical simulation!  Winner takes all!  % Amount of points over enemy determines casualties or something like that.  It would be the only way to keep things moving


  • TripleA

    You are probably better off creating more tactical rules on the main board rather than a separate game within a game. Probably the most common example is Civ 5/6 model (which you can argue how well they implemented it but I think it does begin to merge tactical concerns on the main strategy map). In order to achieve this though, you do tend to need fairly large maps (space to maneuver) and they won’t really be playable as a true board game.

    You could do more things similar to ‘strategic bombing’ to allow bombing/bombardment outside of direct battles. You could also consider having more advanced concepts like different types of terrain, weather, counter units, etc (see maps like Total World War in TripleA).

    Just my opinion though as almost all game within a game models I’ve seen aren’t successful.


  • 2018 2017

    One idea I had that is similar to this is to play each of the Theatre games (Guadalcanal, Battle of the Bulge, D-Day) and then have the winner of those sub-games gain some advantage the following Global Session, at the appropriate juncture in the game.

    So if Japan wins Guadalcanal, you put Japanese units and ships there, either at game start, or later, and if the US wins, vice versa
    The winner of Dday gets bonus units before/after first atl landings
    b o b winner gets help defeating/protecting Germany

    Only problem is these games are sorta wonky and I don’t have B.o.B.


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