Wargaming Idiosyncracies
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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Recently I played a wargame with a friend who although a keen gamer had not played wargames a lot. I on the other hand was a seasoned veteran (despite my tender years). It was interesting to see what I took for granted and accepted and therefore understood, while my friend took a while to grasp some of the concepts (as we all do at first). This led me on to think about what it is about wargames (apart from the war) that is peculiar and can be difficult to understand or "scare" people off.

This is my list of wargaming idiosyncracies. Please add as you can.

(6/4/08 - WOW! I must admit I am stunned by the response to this list. Obviously there is a lot of feeling about the topic! )
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1. Board Game: Lock 'N Load: Forgotten Heroes – Vietnam [Average Rating:7.48 Overall Rank:1605]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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Hexes! What wargame is a wargame without these things. Doesn't all the world have a hex pattern printed on it? Big or small - doesn't matter!
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2. Board Game: The Russian Campaign [Average Rating:7.18 Overall Rank:753]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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ZOC - Zones of control - what are these!! Forcefields? A standard of wargame design.
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3. Board Game: Totopoly [Average Rating:5.98 Overall Rank:4892]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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CRT - Combat results tables. Would wargamers be good book makers? They certainly know the odds.
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4. Board Game: Fortress Europa [Average Rating:6.50 Overall Rank:2422]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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OOB - Order of Battle. Keeps everthing nice and tidy. A pain to set up before you play as you must find exactly the right counter - where did the 2nd battalion of the 3rd Rifles go?
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5. Board Game: Case Blue [Average Rating:8.27 Overall Rank:1518]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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Cardboard chits - 1000s of them. OOOH! the feeling of cold cardboard!
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6. Board Game: Up Front [Average Rating:7.84 Overall Rank:197]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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Wargames are notorious for bad rules. Legalise and lots of clauses! This can often hide a great personality underneath!
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7. Board Game: Clash Along the Psel: The Battle of Kursk 1943 [Average Rating:8.11 Overall Rank:4288]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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2 Player. Most wargames are 2 player. This is highly competitive and someone will win and someone will lose.... but someone (me) has to stop you from conquering the world! I intend to do it!
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8. Board Game: The Devil's Cauldron: The Battles for Arnhem and Nijmegen [Average Rating:8.17 Overall Rank:1024]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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Long. Only word for it. Most wargames are long and require a lot of brain burn and effort. These aint no tiddly winks!
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9. Board Game: Rommel in the Desert [Average Rating:7.54 Overall Rank:630]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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OOS - Out of supply

Wargames often use the concept of supply. Why not? It is a common theme of combat and is very important. Sometimes vast hordes of armies can be fed and supplied through a single hex. When your OOS look out - it spells T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Ask Napoleon. Wasn't he the king of logistics?

(I was thinking what else to add last night and came up with these. My wife tells me I think too much! cry )
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10. Board Game: FAB: The Bulge [Average Rating:7.50 Overall Rank:884]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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NATO combat symbols

You can imagine a non-wargamer asking what they mean and why we use them....

(I'm starting to get a bit thin now!) ninja
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11. Board Game: Rock, Paper, Scissors, Inc. [Average Rating:5.06 Unranked]
Magister Ludi
Australia
Fremantle
Western Australia
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Paper maps seem to be a big turnoff for gamers used to mounted mapboards in the Euros. Unfortunately a mounted map would make a lot of wargames twice as expensive....the solution is to buy a nice sheet of perspex.
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12. Board Game: Revolution: The Dutch Revolt 1568-1648 [Average Rating:7.35 Overall Rank:756]
Hunga Dunga
United States
Portland
Oregon
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Errata!

Whether it's working out a corner-case that the designers forgot to test, or contra-indications between existing rules that leave a larger situation ambiguous, errata have been the wargamers' companion almost since the inception of the hobby.

One of my favorite games, Revolution (yet another area movement game trying to cash in of the popularity of Risk?), started a grass-roots campaign to have the rule book rewritten. The game is very playable - two years after it was published!

What did people do before the Internet? They bought magazines! Avalon Hill and SPI sold magazines that would include the latest errata from their myriad games. So if you really wanted correct rules, you had to pay a subscription fee! (A concept later refined by big box electronics stores - "You want us to pay attention to you if the computer you just bought breaks down? Pay us $50 a year for the next three years.")

The insidiousness of the concept has led some publishers to simply not worry about getting rules - even maps - right the first time. Errata have spawned "Living Rules", informally exemplified by World in Flames, where the designer calls rules clarifications on a whim in Yahoo groups; formally exemplified by GMT, where "Living Rules" has come to mean "We Never Really Have To Finish This Game, Do We?", or more simply, "Life Is A Journey, Not A Destination".
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13. Board Game: Piquet: Les Grognards [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked] [Average Rating:7.20 Unranked]
J.L. Robert
United States
Sherman Oaks
California
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Grognards. Not to be confused with GROGnads.

Wargamers who are unabashed to display their air of authority over the historical subject matter they specialize in. Will mercilessly pick apart any questioning stance that they feel impugns their area of expertise. Rather smug when they overwhelm someone with minutia regarding any particular subject, no matter how insignificant that subject is in the grand scheme of time and history.

Yours truly, not excepted. Totally guilty of all of the above, and more, in my past. And likely to do so again in the future.

Need I elaborate? laugh
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14. Board Game: Paths of Glory [Average Rating:8.04 Overall Rank:45]
Kevin Goodman
Canada
Ottawa
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Ok, sometimes the rules are just plain poorly written but ... how about the sheer size of the game rules? Paths of Glory inspite of its greatness has a 32 page rulebook. This game is hardly alone. You could have the simplest set of rules in the world but if there are 1,000 of them, you'll require a gaming partner willing to put in some serious study. And if you're like me and are playing for the first time in a month or two you'll have to put some study in yourself to get back into it!!

Now... an idea just struck me (somewhat off topic) ... what if there was a handheld computer like a winCE or palm machine that guided you through the rules as you play? (I guess it would be pretty much the same as playing the game in the handheld.)
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15. Board Game: Panzer Grenadier: The East Front [Average Rating:6.23 Overall Rank:3818]
Tom H
Nepal
Anapurna Valley
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Stacking!! (Thanks Cleitus and others )

What good wargame doesn't defy the force of gravity as it seeks to pile little cardboard counters so high that they look like a Jenga tower! With men, officers, weapons and markers wargame stacks can be a beautiful feature of any game. Especially fun when you have to add all the factors up in a stack.

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