Maybe fire forces growth, and stabbing them only stuns them

Monday, February 5th, 2024

Back in August, 1979, issue #29 of Dragon magazine included a game called The Awful Green Things From Outer Space. I never played it, so I didn’t realize it included this interesting game mechanic:

Scattered around the ship are various weapons. However, alien physiology is weird. Maybe fire forces growth, and stabbing them only stuns them.

At the start of each game, the Weapons Display is empty, but the first time a weapon is used, a token is drawn to determine its effect on the aliens for the remainder of the game.

This is a silly sci-fi game, but a similar concept was used by the Naval War College in the years before World War 2, so officers could learn how to learn to fight the expected war against the Japanese:

Naval War College students certainly wanted to win their big “capstone” wargame at the end of their school year. As students have always done, they asked those who graduated before them for advice, or in the vernacular of the US military, “gouge.” Graduates were happy to provide advice: “Try to engage the Japanese at night, they are blind; watch out for their torpedoes though, they are killers; fortunately, though, their ships sink like rocks after the lightest of battering.” However, when they talked to someone who graduated in a different year, they learned “Avoid night engagements, the Japs are incredible; and their ships are so rugged they can really close in and slug it out; at least you don’t have to worry about their tinker toy torpedoes.” Slowly it dawned on the students — the faculty was giving the Japanese different strengths and weaknesses in each wargame!

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