Sometimes it’s a bit strange being Australian and reading wargaming blogs and sites. Most writers are American or British, and there are some things that are often taken for granted about world-wide gamer culture that don’t tally with my experiences at all.
For example, I don’t think it’s controversial to say that in terms of point sizes, American games tend to be on the large end of the spectrum. In the heyday of 5th edition Warhammer 40,000, the bigger US tournaments were normally arranged around 2000-2500 point games. That is HUGE by Australian standards. I’ve never participated in a Warhammer 40,000 tournament with games larger than 1850 points. 1500 or 1750 is standard.
Likewise with other games, such as Infinity. The Infinity wiki mentions the pros and cons of different sized games, yet it’s not uncommon to see US-based gamers take 300 points to be the standard. Craig on the D6 Generation pod-cast recently referred to a 300 point game as a “full size” game, as if smaller games are lacking somehow. Here in Australia 300 points is more the maximum than the standard. I actually find it hard to build a 300 point list for Infinity that is still focused and works together well. There is just too much space.
If you’re expecting hard science to back up these claims, tough luck! But I did do a quick Google scan. US Infinity tournaments seem to range from 200 to 300 points, but with significantly more 300 point ones. In the UK the spread is pretty even. In Australia we tend to play 200 points as the standard.
Why is this? My guess is that cultural factors cause players to lean towards certain sizes. In Australia we have a frugal approach; we like to see how well we can do when we don’t have the option of taking whatever we like, and we want to limit “no-brainer” choices. That way, not only are the games quicker (which is a sweet mercy in the case of some systems), but designing your army is an exercise in cunning.
Larger, American-style games push the limits. They let you take pretty much anything you like, and thus become bombastic and exciting arms-races that test each faction’s elite against the others.
I don’t want to draw any major conclusions, but I’d like to share this: my dad told me a funny Vietnam war story, of a US soldier with a defective M-16 offering to swap a tank(!) for an Australian self-loading rifle. The US Marine Corps (“the Few”) is larger than all three arms of the Australian Defence Force put together. Perhaps that says something about our respective cultures, and the way we approach even games about war?
All the best,