Ask David Wesely

David Wesely, author of Braunstein, has joined us (@weseld1) and has invited us to ask him questions.

The 50th anniversary of Braunstein just passed recently, I believe.

Comments

  • I don't want to tread too much on well-covered ground. The Secrets of Blackmoor project is already delving deeply into Arneson's contributions to D&D, for example, and I assume they've talked with you at length.

    I'm curious how you would compare Braunstein to different evolutions of our hobby: Arneson's Blackmoor games, Gygax's early Greyhawk games, AD&D, and now story games like Dungeon World.
  • Wow! So cool!

    I have heard a rumor (in Tresca?) that you originally considered Braunstein as a sort of failure but some of the players really enjoyed the game experience. If this is true, what was your original purpose with Braunstein? what were you trying to achieve or innovate with it? What kind of result did you hope for?
  • Glad to have you here, Major Wesely!

    Have you ever thought about codifying the rules or procedures of a Braunstein game? I've read a lot about it, I've listed to you on at least one podcast, I've played wargames and RPGs, and I still don't really understand what a Braunstein looks like or how I'd run one.

    I'd pay good money for a book of rules, procedures, and advice. And I think it would be a boon to the hobby to save this sort of knowledge for history!
  • What a pleasure to have you here, David!

    I won't add to the other questions just yet, but I wanted to extend a welcome, as well.

    I believe we had an extended thread about the Braunstein at some point on this forum...
  • edited January 5
    It's certainly been a repeated topic!

    I would like to pick apart how to functionally plan and execute one of these big multiplayer, multi-sided affairs.

    I've heard accounts of them, as well as more modern, similar concepts, but they seem to be way more art than science, so if you don't know the designer/organizer personally where you can chat them up at length, these kinds of games and the methods behind them seem very mysterious.

    Of all the subjects I want to ask about, the single biggest one is this:

    How in the heck do you keep a game moving and everyone taking turns with a really large number of players?


    I can think of a few things that would help this, but I'm curious how you did it, especially in that first Braunstein, when people kept showing up and getting added while the game was being played!
  • edited January 6
    Did any of the players other than Arneson go on to host games inspired by Brunstein?

    I think the modern "Mega-game" (such as Watch the Skies) format are very close to Brunstein in actual play, what do you think about them? Personally I often found them chaotic and unsatisfying, similar to what you are alleged to have thought of Brunstein!
  • @chirinebakal still runs Braunsteinish games.
  • I know at least one other designer who is known for it as well.
  • Okay, @weseld1, we have a few questions for you!
  • Hey, while we're waiting to grill Dave, any of y'all try to build one of these thingies or run one, or both?

    Howabout play in one someone else made ? Krippler mentioned Mega-Games, and not having that much fun. Anyone else?
  • Yup. Run them pretty consistently. I roll back to a Totten-style of this sort of thing.
  • I have no idea what Totten-style means, but I am deeply interested in finding out.

    Care to share?
  • Charles Totten wrote Strategos, which was a big influence on Braunstein.
  • Oh, had forgotten that. So how do you do Totten style? How is it different from the way Verdi did kriegspiel?
  • I am sort of familiar with Verdi but would love to hear more about these styles
  • I'll start a new thread!
  • I'll start a new thread!
    Yes please!
  • Hey, while we're waiting to grill Dave, any of y'all try to build one of these thingies or run one, or both?

    Howabout play in one someone else made ? Krippler mentioned Mega-Games, and not having that much fun. Anyone else?
    I played a watch the skies-esque mega-game and had a great time, it was a good kind of chaos for me. My only issue was that we ran out of time at the venue, so the russian military player decided to bring things to a finale by nuking the aliens which ensured we would all lose. We tried to bargain and persuade him not knowing he was doing it just to wrap the game up and it felt really tense in the moment, but it felt fairly dissatisfying after finding out it was just a "go out with a bang" result and there was no real rhyme or reason to it.

    Perhaps ending in a satisfying way is just generally difficult for these kinds of games though, since there is so much chaos. Overall really enjoyed the experience regardless.
  • edited January 10
    We tried to bargain and persuade him not knowing he was doing it just to wrap the game up and it felt really tense in the moment, but it felt fairly dissatisfying after finding out it was just a "go out with a bang" result and there was no real rhyme or reason to it.

    Perhaps ending in a satisfying way is just generally difficult for these kinds of games though, since there is so much chaos. Overall really enjoyed the experience regardless.
    Together, those two bits make a really fascinating and thought-provoking combination.


    Edited to add:

    The way that player tried to bring everything together in a bloody ending, really just to push for any distinct ending, reminds me of something one of the designers said about Universalis. In that game, which tends to be very open-ended, they noted that new players tended to almost inevitably have one " Crazy" game where everything really went off the rails and the whole concept of the mechanics and implications were pushed as far as you could take them.

    Then, having gotten that out of their system, the players then seemed to calm down and embrace the possibilities, but in a voluntarily more limited way.

    Maybe folks just need to get that apocalyptic ending out of their system?

    Maybe these kinds of games really benefit from having an apocalyptic ending of some sort assumed, and written in/planned for?

    Or, alternatively, assumed and planned for, but them mitigated and re-directed in some fashion? ( Campaign play seems obvious here, or some implication of campaign play).

    Or, as an even further afield alternative, but one that would be familiar to folks in training exercises, a recap and debrief period of some sort, actually held to ( not ignored) and considered an important part of play, not merely an after thought.
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