The Case for Tabletop Video Game Crossovers

Gears of Wargame

With the recent announcement from Ubisoft developers during their Eurogamer expo that they used real life models of Assassin's Creed characters, soldiers and citizens to sell the concept of AC3, and my own interests in wargaming as well as video games, it got me wondering: why don't we see more tabletop crossovers with video games? I've already argued about what I think the video game industry could learn from board games, but what about wargames learning or being inspired by video games?

Seriously. Why isn't there a Gears of War wargame? Why can't I fight across a city with an army of Cog marines, fighting against another player with his forces of stampeding Locust? Perhaps a third player could come along and fight it out with a hybrid Lambent army.

Where's the Halo Wargame? The Red Alert tabletop game? Ruse could be an interesting adaptation, Homeworld another. All of these games could be fantastic with tabletop miniatures and their own unique ruleset that's inspired from the video game source material.

Why haven't these been made yet?

Part of the reason I think is because despite the growing acceptance of video games as an every-man’s activity – even if some genres are still seen as cooler than others – specialist board games and wargaming are still seen as pretty nerdy activities. While gamers might roll their eyes at the idea that they are all sweaty teenagers, many are still happy to point their fingers and laugh at those that paint little 28mm characters as part of a growing army.

It could also be argued that often in video games, there's one protagonist and one antagonist and an army of inferior minions in the way. But if you believe that a clever writer couldn't expand or adapt what the original game had into multiple gameplay units you're dreaming. Clever writers can do anything. Just look at this article.

Another argument that they haven't appeared yet could be that a video game developer should focus on what it does best, making games. And it should. But who do you think writes the companion novels for every big franchise? Who's set to direct the movies based off of game characters? The studios license their franchise and that's what they should be doing with wargames too.

Find an established tabletop game maker and license your franchise. Look at the Lord of the Rings series of movies? Games Workshop made that one of its flagship model ranges and it's about to receive another boost thanks to the Hobbit movie. I see no reason why we couldn't have something similar for any of the great RTS games available at the moment. Every time a sequel is released, a host of new units could be unveiled, along with a rule update or refresh of the line.

Of course they'd need to be converted into a turn based system, but if Warhammer 40,000 can go from a turn based tabletop game into something as nuanced as the Dawn of War RTS series, then surely it can go the other way too.

It's not like we don't have the middle ground already covered. Board games have adapted certain video game gameplay onto the tabletop, but not in the same way as a wargame could. There have been ones for World of Warcraft, Starcraft and Gears of War, but where's the wargames?

It doesn't have to be restricted to strategy video games either. I already mentioned the Halo and Gears of War universes that are ripe for the miniature reproduction taking, but plenty of other genres would be amazing on the tabletop too.

How about any of the big MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) games? Riot games should have jumped on this long ago with League of Legends, or Valve with DotA 2. This would be more of a hybrid board game/wargame, but you could equally have one player per team with multiple characters as you could several players with one each. Make it a turn based grid game where players fight across the classic forest map, buying items and using abilities based on their speed, toughness. I'll leave the rules to the professionals to figure out, but can you start to see the possibilities here?

So this is my argument, to you the player base as much as game developers and tabletop gaming companies. Please give us wargaming experiences for some of our favourite games. The reason we love them so much is because the universes are so rich and the characters so meaningful. We love reading books about them and we're eager for movies to be made about them, so why not a wargame?

I'm not the only one here, right?

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