10/10/2015 at 01:06 #32369
How is it defined, what are its essential qualities, and at what point does a wargame perform an ontological lobotomy and become merely a “game”?10/10/2015 at 01:45 #32370Just JackParticipant
My humble opinion is that wargaming occurs on some form of gaming specific surface (no matter how crude, like mine), has at least two opposing sets of toys (no matter how ugly, primitive, if they’re unpainted, or if they’re counters or beads), and those toys confront each other (whether shooting, stabbing, spitting, or hurling insults) in accordance with some set of guidelines (usually called rules; can be complex or simple, don’t even have to be written down).
I was going to throw in something about ‘implements of chance,’ like dice or cards, but then I realized I’d actually played narrative-style games that didn’t use any, simply had an umpire decide and carry out what he thought best based off the opposing players’ statements (mission-type orders).
Ultimately, I suppose I’m pretty liberal about what actually constitutes wargaming. And even then, when I say wargaming I mean tabletop wargaming with miniatures, not boardgaming ot computer/console gaming (though I certainly see considerable overlap, and I myself have both played boardgames and computer games), so I expect to see some sort of toys ‘fighting’ another set of toys. If you’ve got everything but fighting, that’s kind of where I draw the line, we need to put some war in the wargame.
Regarding backstory to wargames, “Opera Bouffe” or otherwise, I don’t really see that as necessary to be accounted a wargame, nor do I feel having it means it’s not a wargame. Personally, I very much enjoy the backstory to wargaming; I almost never play a ‘one-off’ scenario, mine are almost always part of a linked campaign in which I am following a group of characters. Similarly, I think the setting is irrelevant. That is, the tabletop action can be from an era pre-dating ‘history, up through the present, well into the future, or something altogether made up. But I do believe there has to be conflict of a physical or armed nature. That is, a wargamer could have Slestaks facing off against unicorns in Atlantis, but the occasion for what’s occurring on the tabletop should be antagonistic in nature; at some point I’d hope to see an alien run through by a unicorn’s horn.
That’s my opinion, and I claim no dominion over the title ‘wargaming,’ meaning others are free to lump themselves into it if the wish. If it’s really that important to them…
Mike, I would very much like to hear your opinion on the matter (and I say that with absolute sincerity).
Jack10/10/2015 at 03:15 #32375kyoteblueParticipant
Table top conflict with cool toys….as I can’t play on the floor any more(bad knees).10/10/2015 at 06:11 #32382Alvin MolethrottlerParticipant
…at what point does a wargame perform an ontological lobotomy and become merely a “game”?
When there is a complete disconnect between the rules and the period being gamed. Where, without any knowledge of the period or understanding of tactics, a battle can be won simply by throwing better dice than the opponent – our group calls this “6ing your way to victory”. Because if all you need to do to win is throw more 6s than the other fella then you are playing a dice game and not a wargame, in which case you might as well play Yahtzee.10/10/2015 at 07:58 #32383Norm SParticipant
I think there are two elements. The first is your intention, this needs to have a military basis – so I want to do the right wing at waterloo, I want to have a single T-34 tank engage with the enemy, I want a platoon of tanks to engage with the enemy, I want to attack the ford and take control of the hill beyond with my Celts.
Secondly, I think you can do this however you want, figures, boardgames, computer games. I consider the millions of blokes who are up until four in the morning playing medal of honour to be wargaming …… though I doubt many of them feel the same way.
There are some areas of confusion for me, is role playing with some figures on a dungeon crawl a wargame, I tend to feel not, but then I think of a squad of space marines going down ship corridors blasting at alien forms and I feel that that is a wargame – what the real difference is between those two things are, I don’t know, perhaps none and just my prejudices coming through.
Anyway – who cares, I’m just off to to fight the opening scenes at Gettysburg on McPherson Ridge, I know that is a wargame Yes, today is a wargame fest day – hooray.10/10/2015 at 08:00 #32385MartinRParticipant
…at what point does a wargame perform an ontological lobotomy and become merely a “game”?
When there is a complete disconnect between the rules and the period being gamed. Where, without any knowledge of the period or understanding of tactics, a battle can be won simply by throwing better dice than the opponent – our group calls this “6ing your way to victory”. Because if all you need to do to win is throw more 6s than the other fella then you are playing a dice game and not a wargame, in which case you might as well play Yahtzee.
I rather thought that was exactly how consular republican Roman armies worked? Line up in the standard formation and then hope for the best.
Anyway, wargaming, to paraphrase AHGC, is bringing history to life. The props and mechanisms used are largely irrelevant, if they succeed in tripping that little switch in your brain which says “some historical verity here”, it is a war game.
"Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke10/10/2015 at 08:33 #32388ShandyParticipant
Anyway, wargaming, to paraphrase AHGC, is bringing history to life. The props and mechanisms used are largely irrelevant, if they succeed in tripping that little switch in your brain which says “some historical verity here”, it is a war game. Cheers Martin
Yep. That’s why I like the motto of WS&S magazine so much: “Playing with History”.
I don’t need any more definition, but then I’m neither a scholar writing on the subject nor am I competing with someones else about who is more wargamery than the other 🙂
EDIT: And of course that includes sci-fi and fantasy for me, as it’s still history, just imaginary (after all, it happened a long time ago in a galaxy far away…) 🙂
EDIT 2: Which, of course, boils down to: Wargaming is what I want it to be.
Sorry for my not very constructive (to say nothing about logical consistency…) contribution.
My blog: http://wargamingraft.wordpress.com10/10/2015 at 11:34 #32393
Wargaming is playing with toy soldiers, telling stories inspired by military history.
Everything else -even the rules- is only there to streamline the activities a bit.10/10/2015 at 12:13 #32395
I agree. It’s playing with toy soldiers, always has been, always will be. Nothing more. From it’s very inception H.G. Wells writes. in “Little Wars,”
“The room in which the game had its beginnings was subject to the invasion of callers, alien souls, trampling skirt swishers,, chatterers, creatures unfavorably impressed by the spectacle of two middle aged men playing with “toy soldiers” on the floor , and very heated and excited about it”
If you read Wells’ “Floor Games” it is entirely about how to play make-believe and create whole worlds and continents of imaginary places. In Floor games Wells goes on the typical War Gamer Jeremihad about the lack of civilian figures and ancilliary figures to people our world with, saying ” even the green-grocer must wear epaulettes.” Ah how Wells would have burned with envy at us today being able to have models of he miller at work, the artisan at his wheel and the others we blithely take for granted.
It’s a game and always has been.
The procedures we use for gauging the fire of a 12 pounder have nothing to do with real life, and as Featherstone said, “We make no little lead widows and orphans.” We are in this for fun. All of the obstacles in the game we deal with are merely erected for the need to have some difficulty to overcome, or some means of chance, which means has nothing to do with the chance in real life of ballistics or surprise.
The toy soldier is king as Phil has noted and the acquisition, painting and organization of the same into something that we think is an army is purely subjective and individual and has nothing at all to do with real life. The “lobotomization” of the hobby comes when people think it means anything more and that if they win a game of Waterloo as the French, they are an undiscovered military genius, a nascent Napoleon, and could, in real life have won as the Emperor of the French..
War games has two major components. “Sense of Wonder” which is the visuals and panoply of the craftwork of the toy soldiers and terrain, or “the Wow! NEAT!” factor, and the second is “Spirit of Play” which is the “Let’s make believe, let’s pretend, lets play that we’re generals and indulge in that fantasy.”
And if the sight of “grown men crawling around the floor playing with toy soldiers and very heated and excited about it” isn’t an Opera Bouffe already, then nothing is. It’s a silly ridiculous hobby with nothing of war about it. It’s playing with toy soldiers and that’s it. As you once said, Phil, “It’s the toy soldiers stupid.”
War games is the most enjoyable, most fun, most accessible hobby. It’s inexpensive, (compared to many others) and it yields hours of satisfaction in the handiwork and craftsmanship, hours of excitement of the “What-If” and “If I could only…” lots of vivid imagination in planning and arranging, and many, many pleasant hours of background reading and enj0yment of great things and great adventure. It’s also productive of things (the soldiers themselves) of real value and you’re not just left with ticket stubs. More! unlike coin collecting and stamp collecting, and a lot like model railroading, you get to PLAY with your collection. And the best part is that you get to play a game with a friend and spend many pleasant hours in the society of friends and persons who have the same enjoyments and past times as you.
A little excitement, a little phony danger, a lot of laughs, a big magilla about nothing, some food, some wine, a pleasant evening. That’s it. That’s all there can be.
That’s all it is.11/10/2015 at 03:13 #32420
I suspect the Reiswitz’ (not to mention Moltke) might have taken a dim, not to say contemptuous, view of wargaming as a kind of amicable exchange of brainfarts n’ giggles.11/10/2015 at 08:57 #32425
Which one? “The Elder'” or the one that lost WWI for the Germans? In either case are the war games we play exercises in which the fate of nations hang in the balance. Nor by the way does it really matter what they think as they are not people we can invite over for a game. You have no idea whether they would have disparaged our games or had the time of their lives playing them.
I doubt that such a person as either “Von Moltke” or Reiswitz today would have had much use for any of our games about the Ancient World right up to their own time. with the idea of “realism” in mind. After all, Reiswitz developed his game for the training of young officers for battle, and as a teaching tool for real war. The likes that they (let alone we) were going to actually command an army which used pikes and bows or even muskets and smoothbores varied between slim and none and Slim was last seen leaving town in a hurry with the Nun.
Besides– who cares what they think. It’s our games and our hobby and we only have to satisfy ourselves as to what sort of game we play. When Reiswitz and Moltke put on a game and invite me over then when it’s at their house I’ll play by their rules.”
I require no imprimatur from long dead authorities to determine the fun I have in the hobby, and I have long ago realized that if I win as the Confederates in a game of Gettysburg, it simply means that I have won as the South in a game of Gettysburg.
Otto11/10/2015 at 09:30 #3242711/10/2015 at 11:28 #32429
I suspect the Reiswitz’ (not to mention Moltke) might have taken a dim, not to say contemptuous, view of wargaming as a kind of amicable exchange of brainfarts n’ giggles.
Perhaps. But that doesn’t matter. Although hobby wargaming might have originated from professional wargaming, the goals of both are different. Mixing them up in discussions like this only adds to the confusion.
Apart for a few very atypical examples, there is zero to none crosspolination between hobby and professional wargaming today. Hobby wargaming is either focused on imaginary universes, or – in the best case – trying to gain some insights in military endaveours in our past. Professional wargaming is mostly used as a prediction tool for reallife events. Hobby wargaming is designed as a game to have fun, prof wargaming is designed as a training tool.
Apart from a shared heritage (and we might discuss even that), I don’t see many similarities.11/10/2015 at 13:54 #32435
Wargaming is a simulation of conflict without the use of real violence, for the purposes of studying and better understanding that conflict. Some do it to learn more about the conflicts endemic to a particular period of time and place in history while others do it for a more broad understanding of conflict in general in a non-historical or even speculative setting such as fantasy or science fiction gaming. Some put emphasis on the study of conflict while others enjoy the competition intrinsic to wargaming.
Ultimately wargaming is an organized schema by which participants can make decisions and have those decision’s efficacy evaluated by the mechanisms of rules and a resolution process. If those rules and resolution processes are (in the opinions of the participants) able to accurately demonstrate the ‘correct’ decision-making process, given the limitations of technology and society at a given time and place in history, then the game has been quite successful as a learning or entertainment experience. If the game is more speculative then the mechanisms may be less defensible (having an absence of fact to underpin them) but the simulation can be just as enjoyable. It really boils down to a process of decision evaluation and the ratification or rejection of decisions based on the mechanisms of the game. The ratification or rejection of decisions may take several games to become clear if the wargame mechanisms include chance-driven outcomes, but in time the aberrant results will be marginalized by more normal ones and patterns of success or failure will emerge and become more apparent.
The need for figures or toy soldiers is not a requisite for wargaming. They are needed for miniature wargaming but not all wargames are miniatures games. There is a need for conflict, but not necessarily military conflict, as economic and political conflict can be the basis for good wargames too, where the military conflict is an aside or removed from the process entirely. The motive for playing wargames are manifold, as many as the number of souls involved in the hobby itself, but learning decision making in a peculiar historical milieu and competition are probably the most widely shared motives. Wargaming can also catalyze an interest in military history in particular and history in general. Likewise a love of history can lead to a predisposition to entering the hobby. Finally, there can be an immersive dimension to wargaming where participants project themselves into the game (or the preparations for the game) and have a ‘living-history’ experience, which can be very seductive and even addictive. So that’s my two cents on this topic.
Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Roberyson.11/10/2015 at 14:04 #32436Thaddeus BlanchetteParticipant
I’ll take Rod’s definition.
As much as I like “cool toys”, wargaming can also take place without them. Board wargaming, anyone?
In fact, it can take place with nothing at all except paper for jotting down notes and perhaps not even that. Back when I was a kid and inspired by reading Lord of the Rings (yes, that’s how old I am), my uncle and I would make huge sand COUNTRIES at the beach an proceed to demolish them in make-believe war. All the armies were carried in our heads.
Pretend armed and organized conflict is the sin qua non of the wargame. One on one combat is role-playing. And as much as I am sympathetic to Alvin’s position,myou don’t have to know anything about war for it to be a wargame. Plenty of historical generals have simply “diced their way” to victory and defeat.
So, an organized ludic or entertaining activity to purports to model an armed, organized conflict.
We get slapped around, but we have a good time!11/10/2015 at 14:45 #32440
What is this “loooooo-dick” you speak of, thou disreputable academic! Next you’ll be deploying vile gibble gabble like “liminality.11/10/2015 at 15:06 #32449Just JackParticipant
“Wargaming is a simulation of conflict without the use of real violence, for the purposes of studying and better understanding that conflict.”
Some aren’t studying anything, they’re just playing a game for fun. Not simulating anything either, just playing a game.
And the whole military/professional wargaming vs civilian/amateur wargaming is bunk; TEWTs have precious little to do with what and how do things on our little tables at home. I was going to liken it to Major League Baseball vs 5-year old’s T-Ball, but that doesn’t work, it’s more than that. The issue isn’t simply one of ‘it’s their job,’ it’s mechanically different. So more like comparing Major League Baseball to Children’s Soccer.
Jack11/10/2015 at 15:26 #32452General SladeParticipant
Wargaming is playing with toy soldiers when you are over ten years old.11/10/2015 at 15:32 #32453Not Connard SageParticipant
Wargaming is playing with toy soldiers when you are over ten years old.
Yeah, that 🙂
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.11/10/2015 at 21:43 #32470Mark-no-vistaParticipant
Ah, now you see you’re all off the mark. Wargaming is training for the inevitable proletarian overthrow of the corporate capitalist hegemony over all aspects of our lives…A Situationist Happening.
See the film
Read the Book
Oh and LUDIC is the meme word of the hour, comrades!11/10/2015 at 23:53 #32475
Dear General Slade
That’s about it.
Otto12/10/2015 at 00:29 #32481
I read your reports and you often comment about lessons learned in the course of a battle, so I’m outing you as a student of military history dude! Just because it’s fun doesn’t mean it’s not edjee-kay-shun-al! You’re a closet intellectual dressed in Marine/civvie clothing and you don’t want to admit it.
That was some bizarre stuff you posted there. I have vague memories of some general interest news stories covering Le Jeux de la Guerre back in the day (mid 1980’s IIRC), but had all but forgotten about the game and book. It really is pie in the sky stuff because no amount of training by the proletariat is going to save such erstwhile rebels from the bullets directed at them during the final clash with the spectacular militaries of the bourgeois elite and corporate capitalism.
The weakness of this modern world is its lack of tolerance (engineering tolerance that is) and it’s Achillese heel is unpredictability . The modern political/economic system which dominates Western states is very highly tuned and cannot absorb disruption without rapidly degrading and becoming very inefficient and non-profitable. Gandhi rather than Clausewitz or Fredrick of Prussia is the template for political revolution in the foreseeable future. Unpredictability and chaotic behaviour are the tools of today’s revolutionaries, as predictable behaviour is the cornerstone upon which the modern market economy is built. Take away predictability and markets collapse. Then the elite lose their wealth and their grip on the reigns of power and thus the revolution becomes possible to win. That’s where the vanguards of socialism should be focusing their attentions if they want to change the world, not in 18th and 19th century ersatz military training. Of course every revolutionary should weigh the damage done by their revolution vs. the gains to be won from the overthrow of the established order. I think evolution within the body politic is better than revolution against the powers that be.
Cheers and good gaming.
Comrade Rod Robertson (leader of the Red Tide of Canukistan).
Oh and Just Jack is going to go apoplectic watching that film, I’d pay good money to see his reaction. Now that’s entertainment!12/10/2015 at 05:34 #32495
@PDutre: I’m not sure how possible, or desirable, it is to extricate the hobby from its sober origins. While I don’t regard hobby wargaming as a profound moral act, I do find that the game is at its evocative best when the implications and representations of the toys are respected : if it’s allowed to degenerate into camp it loses its emotive power and becomes an exercise in dice throwing and puns. Perhaps it comes from my perspective as a modeler and designer first and a gamer second; I devote a surprising amount of time realizing even a single 28mm figure, to vivify them as much as possible so that this toy will be allowed at least a ghostly sense of being. If we want a mere abstraction, chits, blocks and bottletops are widely available. We use figures, I think, because we inately sense we are engaged in a meaningful form of theater.12/10/2015 at 09:41 #32513
I am not arguing we should extricate the hobby from its origins, nor that we should let it slide towards the silly. But, I also don’t think we should elevate *hobby* wargaming to something it isn’t, a serious study of war. If one wants a serious study of war or historical conflict, one is better off reading books on the subject, or conduct academic research using primary sources. A hobby wargame – in the form it exists today – is (all in my opinion of course) a very poor tool for studying the history of war. It might add to the number of activities one enjoys in the realm of military history (books, films, reenactment, modeling, …), but I don’t think people can learn useful insights – apart from some broad generalities – from playing wargames only.
Of course, many wargamers are genuinely interested in military history (myself included), and this knowledge and interest spills over in their wargaming. But it’s dangerorous to confuse cause and effect. Are our wargames historically accurate because we know about military history, or did we gain knowledge about military history through the playing of a wargame? Reading sourcebooks or rulebooks containing background info does not count towards playing a game in this respect.
I therefore take the position that wargames should not be considered as a study tool, but rather as a game, an enjoyment, a passtime, *inspired* by military history. Now, the resulting activity can be close to history, or can deviate from it in various degrees. Personally, I don’t care that much for catpeople fighting in WW2 gear against dogpeople using a-historical tactical doctrines, but if others do, why not?
A wargame (again, IMHO) is more about telling stories rather than trying to mimic or simulate some past reality. The action developing on the gaming table tells us a story about an unfolding military conflict. It is therefore not about winning a competitive setup, nor is it about trying to constrain yourself to the point-of-view of a single commander only. The hobby wargame should be a tool to evoke a story, played out using splendid visuals (toy soldiers on stunning terrain).
(And yes, this is all my opinion, my approach to wargaming – not a dogma stipulating how others should play their games).12/10/2015 at 13:12 #32525
If it is as you say that “[you] devote a surprising amount of time realizing even a single 28mm figure, to vivify them as much as possible so that this toy will be allowed at least a ghostly sense of being.” Then your are implying that there is some sort of connection between the form of the lump of lead you are painting and the real life counterpart, and that therefore there is some real or over-arching spirit common to both. This becomes problematic when one begins to model SS or NKVD units, and therefore by your theory, glorifying moral evil. To make that spiritual connection leaves one open then to all the criticisms and calumnies that our detractors of the 60’s slanged at us, being crypto-fascists, kill- crazed war mongers just waiting for the mental snap to grab our guns and go out and start shooting people.
The toy soldiers we make are but tokens. and have no meaning in existence other than the lead they are created from and the time and effort we invest into painting and mounting them. They have no mythical or transcendental connection with that which they model and as for the game, no meaning outside the game, and inside the game are “real” only in the sense of the mathematical values we ascribe to them. An Old Guard Grenadier figure is, if we ascribe the values we normally ascribe to militia, just militia. They have no “reality” beyond that, and even that reality dissolves when the game is over.
As for arithmetic values and puns, that, I am afraid, is all there is. Featherstone, Bath, Grant, Moreschauser, and of course Brigadier Peter Young all got nowhere past dice rolling and puns and seemed to have monstrously good fun doing it, and for me that’s good company to be in.
Besides having participated in “simulations” and “war games” of the professional type, and in simulations in business, it became absolutely clear to me that the simulations were as rigged as could be. They were designed to slake and support the preconceived opinions of the generals or managers who engendered them and were paying the simulation company and they had no real validity. Like the much quoted and presented example of the Japanese War Games before Midway they were jury rigged and jiggled to give the result desired by the persons signing the check.
Phil is absolutely correct. What we learn of history we do not learn through the game but our reading in scholarly sources, general histories, and analytical studies. It is the work before the game that informs us about history, not the game itself. All games are simply compendia of the prejudices and privileging of the game designer for this factor or that, and excluding others, and what we play is not a realistic depiction or presentation of history but a display of the authors prejudices and opinions.
Otto12/10/2015 at 13:52 #32528GoldwyrmParticipant12/10/2015 at 14:13 #32529
a simulated military conflict carried out as a game, leisure activity, or exercise in personal development.
I quite like that definition as found via Google.
Leaves enough to account for preferred styles, methods of play, setting etc.
It is not perfect but does the job for me.
I guess it is a bit like cooking, making toast is cooking as is preparing a Michelin starred meal.
Depends what you want from it, as to what it is for you.
As such I think there can be no definition that will fit everyone’s idea of a wargame.
To some it is a conflict game, to others a showcase for their pretty models, to others something else..
Playing a basic game with counters and paper terrain, or indeed a My Little Pony game is as much a wargame as some excellent WWII Piers Brand looking affair.12/10/2015 at 18:20 #32547
There is another part of war games that cannot be unstated. This is the “art” of the thing. By this I mean in every sense “art” as in “fine arts”- the classic arts of painting, or drawing, or visual depiction or sculpture. It is not merely in the game, or the pieces in motion in a contest, but also in the visualization, creation, and ornamentation of the soldiers, terrain, game materials and table tops. This is where Mike Largarita’s attention to detail and his pains-taking painting in an attempt to faithfully render the prototype in miniature comes in.
War Games is inseperable from “Art” and it obeys a coda and a set of rules and disciplines like any other “art.” These need not be rigorously historical, and they can at times verge o the caricatures or cartoon, but more often they do not, and the conventions of faithful representation (more or less) of the real life is a large part of what we do. But the art that we put into our games is in no small way an attempt to evoke an emotional rather than an intellectual response, and it is in the passions, and emotions that the real life of a game exists. Danger or awe, admiration or aspirations, honor or dread, fear or exultation, all of these are brought into play or attempted to be brought into present experience through the art of the game.
Just as art has many styles and “genre’s” so too a gamer will paint his figures as he wishes, and I believe that in virtually ALL cases a player paints a figure to the best he can do, not necessarily to the same degree as to what COULD be done. Are some paint jobs better than others? Yes. But that depends on what you want and what the standard of “better” is. I think players do their best, and it may not mean anything if Mike can paint better than I so long as I am satisfied with the paint job. I may hanker to do better and most often I do, and I most often WISH I could do better, but just like in art sometimes we might want to do certain stylistic things to make appoint or emphasize a look differently .
It is this connection with art that I think makes War Games as a hobby quite different from most hobbies because it requires the participant to put his own work into it, and put a large part of himself into it- his own sweat and blood if you will.
Anyone who paints pikemen with piano wire pikes will definitely put his blood into it!
Similarly, even when you deal in game materials OTHER than soldiers and terrain, like cards, or notes or pieces, the more evocative and the more “beautiful” they are the better we like them. There is no need for this on say a chance card, but we desire to use the prettier ones because there is a visual and tactile pleasure in doing so. This designation of art therefore caters to the emotions, the passions, and the sensory gratification.
Much can be made of the literature surrounding it, the battle reports players create, the back stories, and the battle reports, and so forth. Much could also be made if one was to compose marches or music for the game. That is, anything which extends the enjoyment of the hobby through the senses which is beyond the narrow times and duration of the game. While a war game is still and always will be “just a game” it is so much more than just the iteration of that game. It is multi-media sensory experience.
It is above all a thing to give pleasure.
Otto13/10/2015 at 00:49 #32566
It’s a Latin term meaning playful and is the root of the modern English word ludicrous.
Well said, sir. A very eloquent argument for the artistic dimension of wargaming.
Cheers and good gaming.
Rod Robertson.13/10/2015 at 00:49 #32567Guy FarrishParticipant
What is wargaming?
It is making and playing games about warfare.
(You can apply the same ideas/rules to diplomatic conflict, business, sports and no doubt many other human interactions but if its a wargame it has to be about some facet of warfare).
That doesn’t necessarily mean the combat end, the sharp end. You can play wargames about logistics (and if you can be bothered it will tell you a lot about the historical wars you are interested in, probably more than games that concentrate of the armour thickness of a tank and the brochure penetration of a particular AP round). You can play games about the politics of warfare (and if you are playing post WWII games at least- probably all periods) without a political input to your activities you will almost certainly be in a fantasy game). You can play games about the design and cost of military millinery and tailoring and the effect on morale. You can play games that enter and explore the socio-economic make up of military castes without ever playing out the battles they were involved in except in the most abstract way and gain great insight and have a great deal of fun along the way.
But most people do think of wargaming as involving toy soldiers. Do these pieces of metal alloy or plastic really have totemic power? Symbolic power of representation of the thing that interests us? Or are they just tokens? They are no doubt all those things and none of those things for different people at different times. Does it matter? To some of them at some times no doubt. In an objective all seeing way? No of course not. They are arbitrary objects assigned a value for a temporary purpose. A lead guardsman is no more a guardsman than I am even should I put on a bearskin and stamp my feet.
Art? Not required. You can play wargames entirely in the mind, as Macunaima intimated with his phantom armies on the beach. I have commanded Divisions on the Western Front from a bunker under the stairs, a desperate air assault (and dramatic extraction) in Vietnam in a classroom in a college, and decided the bombing strategy for 1944 in a Further Education College, all without benefit of toy soldiers, let alone beautifully painted ones. If the painting and uniform becomes the main aim it probably ceases to be a wargame and becomes animated military modelling. Not a criticism, but certainly a distinction.
It becomes merely a game when it ceases to be about warfare (ontological? and you criticise ‘ludic’ as ‘academic’? Really! ) and becomes a vehicle for gameplay of itself devoid of relevance to a particular facet of warfare. When the interaction between the players is all and the relationship to war so tenuous as to be irrelevant. Chess. Wargame or not? Possibly but probably not. It began as being an abstraction of war but the game as a competition became everything. Winning the game as oppose to playing a game about warfare became the end of itself. Sure, we almost always play to ‘win’ a wargame but ‘winning’ may not mean we have to beat the other player. The situation may be such that ‘winning’ a battle is irrelevant to the game or impossible and to win is to do better than the original participants or to understand why the situation made people do what they did even though it means they, and you, lost.
So wargaming? Simply a game about warfare. Lots ways of doing it, lots of ways of becoming merely a game.13/10/2015 at 01:58 #32568Sam MustafaParticipant
at what point does a wargame perform an ontological lobotomy and become merely a “game”?
When it doesn’t involve war?
And before anybody says, “What about chess?” I don’t have any problem considering chess a war-game.
I suspect the Reiswitz’ (not to mention Moltke) might have taken a dim, not to say contemptuous, view of wargaming as a kind of amicable exchange of brainfarts n’ giggles.
Why should we care what other people – especially dead people – think of how we spend our leisure time? Or what we choose to call it?
I’m not doing this to please anybody other than myself.13/10/2015 at 02:24 #32569
Editor Ludic is employed part-time as an editrix/enema nurse at another wargaming site when not fighting for gender fluidity at Señor Högglutscher’s Kozmik Kolobotek und Chicken Ranch, Manila’s premiere destination for hairy jungle plums and the morbidly obese Americanos who crave them.13/10/2015 at 02:52 #32570
Any chance you could leave the blood feud at the door and respect that some here don’t care what others think of other websites and their editors? It’s really a downer and is harshing the mellow of TWW. Thanks in advance for your consideration and cooperation in this matter.
Cheers and this is a really interesting topic you started here, so thanks!
Rod Robertson.13/10/2015 at 04:35 #32577paintpigParticipant
It is what it is and as diverse as those that wish to partake.
I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel
Slowly Over A Low Flame13/10/2015 at 07:46 #32584Not Connard SageParticipant
I’m not doing this to please anybody other than myself.
Yeah, that too.
People who infer that I’m doing it wrong really hack me off 🙂
Obvious contrarian and passive aggressive old prat, who is taken far too seriously by some and not seriously enough by others.13/10/2015 at 10:23 #32593Sane MaxParticipant
I am firmly in the ‘an excuse to waste my time painting and collecting the things.’ camp. I wargame ‘cos I like Toy Soldiers. There can be no other resonable claim from me, as I am quite capable of using what is, when all is said and done, the same basic set of rules for ‘Assyrians v Israelites’ as I am for ‘NotTyrannids V Martians’
The whole ‘but it’s not proper like a kriegsspiel’ argument leaves me cold. If anything, kriegsspiel is the one with the wrong name. It wasn’t a game. It was an attempt to simulate real war as an exercise, and that is not, not what any wargamer I have ever, ever met is doing, however hard they try to claim otherwise.
If Moltke and Schlieffen had had a few beers during the game I might cut them some slack. Given that they took what they learned from their beard-stroking, medal caressing KriegPraxis and then tried to do the bloody impossible with the German Army, I am not giving the concept much credit. In all honesty Schlieffen went ‘Hmmm the silly game suggests it’s not possible to get this many soldiers using these roads to their destination in the time I need them to – sod it, I will just hope I roll a ‘6’.13/10/2015 at 13:22 #32605Guy FarrishParticipant
I’m pretty much of the opinion that ‘wargames’ are anything you want them to be. I’d be happy to include the siege of Stalingrad portrayed through interpretative dance as long as there was a ‘game’ element somewhere.
Kriegsspiel is obviously wargaming – the Manchester Tactical Society played it for fun as well as education and I think a lot of others have and still do.
Chess – not in my book (reason above) but I don’t mind if others think it still is.
Where does an activity stop being a wargame – when the participants (not snotty commentators) no longer think it is.
As for being a wargame the other bit is ‘game’= ‘A form of competitive activity or sport played according to rules’. Does that allow for cooperative games? Does it allow for Free Kriegsspiel where the rules exist only in the umpires head? Course it does. Note that definition means it doesn’t have to be ‘fun’ however.13/10/2015 at 13:26 #32609
Editor Ludic is employed part-time as an editrix/enema nurse at another wargaming site when not fighting for gender fluidity at Señor Högglutscher’s Kozmik Kolobotek und Chicken Ranch, Manila’s premiere destination for hairy jungle plums and the morbidly obese Americanos who crave them.
No more of this name calling/ruining the site for others.
Last warning.13/10/2015 at 17:32 #32620
Dear Sane Max
You say “I am firmly in the ‘an excuse to waste my time painting and collecting the things.’ camp. I wargame ‘cos I like Toy Soldiers.
I can’t figure a better and more pleasurable way to waste time either.
And that’s the joy of it.
It’s our time to waste, and we do it entirely for ourselves, because we like to do it, and we don’t do it for our kids, our family, our wives, jobs, country, faith or even God. We do it for ourselves where we can enjoy existence just for itself.
And if you work it right, it can be the three things we all want the most! Illegal, sinful, and fattening.
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