Home Forums General General Is Wargaming Dying in the US? Reply To: Is Wargaming Dying in the US?


I think historical wargames are dying out in the U.S.   I think wargaming may be ok if you only consider fantasy, GW, and sci-fi.  Boardgames seem to be doing quite well, as are RPGs.

The overall hobby has changed from a historically based, larger scale figure, mass army gaming accent, to nonhistorical, smaller scales, and largely skirmish level gaming. It has done this for many reasons, but among them are vastly lowered barriers to entry.

No need for a library and extensive reading, less gaming space required for smaller scale figures, less storage required, and coupled with skirmish tactical scales only needing a couple dozen figures vs several hundred means that BIG barrier of cost is kept very low.

The joy in the playing of the games is not that much different.  So you get a similar payoff for less time, space, effort, and cash!  No wonder!

Americans, in general, have never been as interested in history as most Europeans, and we have a long history of being far more interested in the flashy, new, trendy, and recent, than we do in historical subjects and concerns.  What history many Americans learn is pretty much word of mouth and repetition of movie versions.  ( just listen in to conversations around historical wargames tables at any convention and you’ll hear some very imaginative history.)

The historical Wargames that are played in the U.S. Are dominated by WWII, and very tactical and “movie inspired”.  WWII land wargaming and sci-fi gaming are pretty interchangeable, blasters instead of machine guns, and a lot of space warfare is generally simply WWII naval ships moving in three dimensions rather than two.  Not much of a jump.

Really problematical now is the total lack of a U.S. historical wargame press.  It just doesn’t exist.  Gone. There are several European magazines of high quality such as Miniature Wargames, Wargames Ilustrated, Wargames Strategy and Soldiers, and the beautifully produced French language magazine, Vae Victis.  The main outcome of all the press moving to Europe is American voices are heard far less frequently, and the coverage of American Historical Wargames is very slight in print.

It is somewhat better in the Internet as blogs, forums, and a wide range of sites provide a number of U.S. outlets, but they are not a common “Watering Hole” and scatter interests instead of focusing them.  The only U.S. widely viewed forum is not always the best representation of wargaming, and certainly not historical wargaming, as it has some instrinsic “problems” which are hard to always ignore.

Forums also lack a true form of the extended article, which historical gaming absolutely needs.  Exploring history, as well as discussing historical wargames and their designs, are not served well by Internet to and fros and two sentence reviews and listings of best and worst of this and that.  It is particularly difficult for anything meaningful to break through the clutter of “comments.”

In Denver, wargaming has widely fractionated between groups .  Those groups tend to form and remain together over extended periods.  The people in the groups self-select for everything from the politics, to which periods, fantasy or historical, the figure scales, etc.  They remain islands and there are very few canoes.  Right now a very few are historical and even fewer venture beyond WWII, ACW, and  Napoleonics( simply because they are so readily available and “Codexes” which simplify history, tactics, and uniforms are cheap and also plentiful).

All this means is that the hobby has substantially changed in the last 50 years.  That happens.  In the U.S., the historical scene is much diminished and is likely to remain a niche within a niche.  The caravan has moved on.

That does not mean that those of us that enjoy the exploration of history, and are fond of some of the less played periods (mine is the War of Spanish Succession) need not enjoy our gaming intensely.  We just can’t kid ourselves that we are the “Normal” ones. 😜

  • This reply was modified 5 years, 4 months ago by repiqueone.