Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Why I wargame

Why do I wargame?

Well, that is a question a wife and a couple of former girlfriends have asked me, but never a bloke. I would like to say it is because such attractive young ladies as pictured above are thrilled to play such games themselves but, more importantly, they also like to hang around aging, slightly pudgy, graying, gentlemen, but I can't. Instead, read below for the more mundane answer the question

The answer is both simple and complex. Simple, in that I enjoy the collecting miniature "armies", I love the history (even science fiction and fantasy wargaming have some sort of history as fluff), the banter between players is amusing, and it brings together folks who might otherwise pass by each other on the street without so much as a "good day."

On the other hand, my answer is also very complex. The nuances of game design serve to "push my buttons" so to speak, depending upon the game. I like games which are strategy > twitch, decisions > luck of the dice/cards, and those which especially put me into a critical decision loop without having to be shot at in real life. The span of history is rich with social and political developments which were rooted in military achievements and outcomes. It is this interaction with real human history that inflames my passion for historical gaming, but also provides a foundation for my keen interest in science fiction and fantasy gaming as well.

Games which inspire the imagination really get to me. So much so that I have small notebooks, loose papers, and binders full of game ideas and designs from nearly thirty years ago to the present. In fact, I am currently in the process of developing rules for a miniature game, a boardgame, a card game, and an online miniature wargame campaign. Aside from the latter, I may not actually publish these embryonic designs, but it is the process of design, the critical thinking evolving into a logical play experience, which provides further fuel for my passion of gaming.

Like many of my generation, the original Dungeons & Dragons certainly filled the niche of which I am apart. Not the same niche as that of this group of freaks below (admittedly, the elfin chick in the back row, second from left, would not be kicked out of my bed for eating crackers, but her friends need to be institutionalized).
But more like this:
My parents were very much against D&D, almost from the start, as they heard anecdote after anecdote of how "satanic" and "deviant" the game was. Most all of those stories, both published and not, were pure hogwash. However, as game design progressed and meshed more and more with the use of miniatures, my own love of gaming fully embraced miniatures of the non-historical genres, in addition to the tried and true Napoleonics and WWII wargaming I was then starting to participate in.

Such games as Warhammer Quest, Battletech, GURPS, Traveller, and Twilight 2000 saw me playing as a bold adventurer, either deep within the lairs of sinister necromancers, as a pilot of a 20 meter tall warmachine, or even as a post-apocalyptic survivor trying to find enough food to last me the winter while evading the encroaching communist soldiers.

These are not the imaginings of a sedentary and disinterested proto-male, but rather the temporary realities of an escapist who ventured forth, for brief moments of time, into other realms and dimensions. Such adventures continue, if not with the same frequency as that of my youth, while I get in the odd miniature wargame once or so a month, alongside the weekly boardgame at the local game store. Still, these excursions are not the limit of my current gaming experiences. On the contrary, my mind is often occupied by unwritten stories of daring-do, political options plotted on a matrix of stimuli and outcomes, or just what color would "go best" for facings and socks on my War of the Spanish Succession miniatures.

Were time not a valuable and perishable commodity, I would continue to write on, but alas, I must needs get back to work. Pray tell, why do YOU play wargames?


  1. An intellectual exercise. An extension of my historical interests. A release for my creative urges. The chance of a crack at either the mysterious one in blue or the dark haired on on the right . . . .

    1. At this point in life, I would not turn away the blond in the middle, either. But your selections have merits indeed.