Wednesday, 6 March 2019

What's the point of game reports?

From my refight of Gettysburg using Bloody Big
I played the Union and got walloped. It was

an interesting exploration of alternative history.
I've published a few detailed game reports (AARs) and I have a few more in the pipeline, but I'm wondering just how interesting or useful they really are. They are certainly very time-consuming to write in comparison with other posts.

I can think of the following positive justifications for game reports:

1. They show what a particular set of rules is like to play. This is especially relevant for relatively new rule sets. They may extend to discussion of detailed rule issues, like the problems I had with Dux Bellorum.
2. They relate to historical scenarios which may interestingly be compared with the outcomes of the real battles or the experiences of other gamers. This is particularly relevant to games like Bloody Big Battles!
4. They illustrate good or bad generalship.
5. They have attractive photos which are nice to look at. Don't knock eye-candy!

Maybe there are other positives that can be suggested.

I'll try in future to make sure that my own game reports can be justified on one or more of the above grounds, and are not merely blow by blow accounts for their own sake.


  1. This is a good question and one I wrestle with too. Battle Reports are hard work to produce and very time consuming. I often wonder how closely any of mine are actually read. Still, I am not deterred.

    Your five justifications are solid!

  2. I value them for the first reason, but also the fourth!

  3. An interesting question as they do take time to write. I would add to the list of reasons - they provide ideas for scenarios.

  4. My old group was happy to have a place where they could see pictures of (and show off to other people) their games.

  5. One of the reasons I like them is that they provide a record of games played. Later on you can go back, read them over, and remember the experience!

    1. This is the reason I blog. I like to read other's battle reports for reason # 1 and also for scenario ideas.

  6. Game reports, for me, range in form and purpose. I like your list, but I would suggest that they can be an extension of the game experience, and as such playful and/or for their own sake. Perhaps a bit self of indulgent “show and tell”—sort of like blogging. Seems that game reports garner the most comments of my blog posts, so I think they are generally well received as a genre. I know I’ll read them when I see them.

  7. They are without doubt a time consuming affair, under appreciated by some and valued by others. I think in the first place you just have to enjoy writing them. Mine tend to be a bit long and windy, which may put people off. I try not to go blow-by-blow, but highlight those moments that are important and / or that highlight specific aspects of what the system s doing. The posts will often give an example of process and then at the end there is a sort of evaluation section.

    So overall, one hopes the reader gets an entertaining read, while actually getting some insight into the system itself, enough for them to make a buying decision.

    A first post on a system can really take it apart and then future posts can have a link back to that and instead can concentrate more on the story telling.

    But primarily, I think you have to like doing them in the first place. A typical browser is just stopping by after visiting other blogs and more ahead to get through in the time taken from real life to sit and browse. I think one has to accept that and not be too precious about one's own work.

  8. Worth the effort - if done well. The key is to help the reader understand both the flow of the game and get an insight into each side's tactics. Secondly it should help the reader understand a little of how the rules work (just simple stuff like 'I rolled to activate the leader but he failed and so he couldn't get the cavalry to charge'). Nothing more annoying than reading something and asking yourself, but how did that happen? Game Reports are the first thing I look for when researching new rules and yet so many reports are lots of pictures, no explanation and nothing to help the reader understand what happened (or why).

  9. Thanks to everyone for your comments and, indirectly, your encouragement. It seems AARs are, in general, more appreciated than I realised.

    I wasn’t planning to drop them altogether, but in future I will certainly try to ensure they have a point (or points) and, if only for my own sake, will be making them more pithy.

  10. When well-written they can provide a fascinating story in their own right. Personally, I like it when they give some insight in the rules, but especially in the decisions the players made, why, and how they turned out. I like reading AAR's and I do appreciate the time and effort that goes into them!

  11. One thing I sometimes encounter are game reports that don't say what rules are being used. Very annoying and generally worthless IMO.

  12. Good point, one useful function of a game report is to demonstrate how a rule system actually works.

    Story telling too, I love a good story.