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Subject: What is wargaming to you? rss

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p55carroll
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Here in BGG, the broad topic of interest is board games. But board wargames are only part of the whole wargaming hobby. (Indeed, miniatures rules are listed in BGG right alongside board wargames.) In another thread, I called attention to this online article on the history of wargaming. Someone replied, in effect, that board wargaming is our hobby. So, I wonder ...

Would you be a wargamer if there were no board wargames?

Here's a poll, which I hope will generate some discussion:

Poll
Which statement best expresses your view?
If there were no board wargames, I would still be a wargamer and enjoy miniatures wargames or computer wargames.
If there were no board wargames, I would not be a wargamer; I would not be interested in miniatures wargames or computer wargames.
      294 answers
Poll created by Patrick Carroll


And here's another poll:

Poll
Which kind(s) of wargaming do you consider essential to the hobby? That is, which do you consider to be key parts of the wargaming hobby you're into (whether or not you personally play those kinds of games)?
Miniatures Wargames
Board Wargames
Computer Wargames
Abstract Wargames (e.g., chess, go)
Live-Action Wargames (e.g., paintball)
Other
      287 answers
Poll created by Patrick Carroll

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Enrico Viglino
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Quote:
If there were no board wargames, I would still be a wargamer and enjoy miniatures wargames or computer wargames.

If there were no board wargames, I would not be a wargamer; I would not be interested in miniatures wargames or computer wargames


I'd probably have gotten into computer wargames at some point -
maybe not minis though, WITHOUT board wargames. If I found them,
they'd be what I did though.

Still, I consider board and minis wargames, though closely
related, generally different hobbies - people may move between
them, but they generally settle largely on one or the other, in
my experience. There are certainly those who do both, just as
there are people who play tennis AND golf.



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Pelle Nilsson
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I played computer wargames before I knew there were other wargames. You copied whatever games some friend happened to have on a floppy (as far as you could afford to buy empty floppies), it wasn't like you could decide what games (or genres) to play.
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Greg Moore
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pelni wrote:
You copied whatever games some friend happened to have on a floppy (as far as you could afford to buy empty floppies), it wasn't like you could decide what games (or genres) to play.


Sounds like my Atari & TRS-80 days. Used a hole punch to make the floppy double sided.
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Azzarc wrote:
pelni wrote:
You copied whatever games some friend happened to have on a floppy (as far as you could afford to buy empty floppies), it wasn't like you could decide what games (or genres) to play.


Sounds like my Atari & TRS-80 days. Used a hole punch to make the floppy double sided.


Oh man those days... I had a hand-drill in my room for this sole purpose...
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Christopher
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It was miniature (war)gaming (and to a lesser extend RPGs) that got me into the hobby anyway:
that's my evolution:
0. childhood board gaming (you all know the classics)
1. heroquest and advanced heroquest
2. Warhammer fantasy battle
3. Warhammer fantasy RPG
4. (a lot of) Warhammer 40K; Call of Cthulhu RPG; Shadowrun RPG
5. Euro boardgames introduced during RPG session where one player had to go home early
6. discovery of BGG
7. discovery of wargaming
8. playing more (solo) wargames than anything else these days...

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Enrico Viglino
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teufen wrote:
It was miniature (war)gaming (and to a lesser extend RPGs) that got me into the hobby anyway:
that's my evolution:
0. childhood board gaming (you all know the classics)
1. heroquest and advanced heroquest
2. Warhammer fantasy battle
3. Warhammer fantasy RPG
4. (a lot of) Warhammer 40K; Call of Cthulhu RPG; Shadowrun RPG
5. Euro boardgames introduced during RPG session where one player had to go home early
6. discovery of BGG
7. discovery of wargaming
8. playing more (solo) wargames than anything else these days...



Interesting that you'd select fantasy minis alone,
which has actually always seemed a separate hobby
(in terms of people playing) from historical minis
groups even more than the divide between historical
minis and board wargamers.

When you were a HQ/WH player, did you honestly call
it 'wargaming'? I know the historical guys always have,
but it's not a term that I'm familiar with from that
group.
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Christopher
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calandale wrote:


Interesting that you'd select fantasy minis alone,
which has actually always seemed a separate hobby
(in terms of people playing) from historical minis
groups even more than the divide between historical
minis and board wargamers.

When you were a HQ/WH player, did you honestly call
it 'wargaming'? I know the historical guys always have,
but it's not a term that I'm familiar with from that
group.


I was 13-14 when I started playing WHFB and it simply started because those mini's were the ones that were "easily" available: there was a shop carrying GW products in the town where I went to college. We didn't call it wargaming at all, we were just having fun fighting with miniatures

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Mark Humphries
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
Here in BGG, the broad topic of interest is board games. But board wargames are only part of the whole wargaming hobby. (Indeed, miniatures rules are listed in BGG right alongside board wargames.) In another thread, I called attention to this online article on the history of wargaming. Someone replied, in effect, that board wargaming is our hobby. So, I wonder ...


In the other thread (SPI or AH: which is best and why?) some posted that they were thankful to AH for starting the hobby. It was pretty obvious from the context of that thread that the hobby in question was board wargaming.
 
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Pete Belli
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If there were no board wargames, I would invent them myself.
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I did try miniatures for a very short while (Fantasy-style), but came to the quick conclusion, that I had nothing in common with the other players (at the time at least).

Being interested in history drew to board wargames (BGG was big factor as well), and other Board Wargamers seem to be much more "my kind of people".

So if Board Wargaming was to end, Wargaming in general for me would probably end.

Cheers, Haring
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Wendell
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So far one person has NOT voted that board wargames are essential.

Patrick?
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Pelle Nilsson
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0. childhood board games
1. computer games
2. RPGs
3. more RPGs
4. board wargames, but no one to play with really (ca 1990)
5. solitaire board wargames and computer wargames
...
...
6. board wargames, found some people to play with! (ca 2002)
7. PROFITweb forums about wargames
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p55carroll
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wifwendell wrote:
So far one person has NOT voted that board wargames are essential.

Patrick?

Not me. But I have to acknowledge that I'm a likely suspect.

Some of my thoughts are these:

Each of us has his own set of experiences in wargaming, and all those experiences add up to what wargaming is to us individually. But meanwhile, wargaming has its own history, and that history encompasses far more than just our personal experiences.

So, when someone mentions the wargaming hobby, I don't immediately think about that person's involvement in the hobby. Nor do I think just about my own involvement in the hobby, or even that of all living wargamers. All those things together add up to just a thin slice of what wargaming is.

Instead, my mind shifts to what's covered in the online article I mentioned above--to the entire history of wargaming.

The article begins with mentions of games like chess and go. And I'd have to say those are quintessential wargames--the roots of all wargaming really, despite the fact that most wargamers today don't see them as wargames at all.

After that, the article goes into a long discussion of wargames as used by the military, leading up to the likes of Kriegsspiel, which today would probably be classified as a block wargame.

Then commercial, civilian wargaming begins with miniatures and Little Wars in 1913. It thrives for forty years before 1953, when Charles Roberts came out with Tactics.

So, we're talking about centuries of history. Yet some wargamers don't seem to see past the board wargame on their own tabletop.

I saw my first board wargame in 1968. In my mind, I compared it to other games I had played--checkers, chess, Risk, and Stratego. But Waterloo was different. Not entirely different, though; I could see some connecting threads.

I saw my first miniatures wargame in 1972. Soon after, I learned that miniatures wargaming had a much longer history than Avalon Hill wargames. Wargaming was thus already well established by the time hex-and-counter wargames came along. I was part of something bigger and older than I had realized.

Back then, miniaturists and board wargamers sometimes disparaged each other. There were plenty of people who'd play both, but there were also hardcore miniaturists who wouldn't touch board wargames, and there were boardgamers who wouldn't have anything to do with "toy soldiers." Even though I had only played board wargames, my heart was more with the miniaturists--just because they were here first. My dad knew about miniatures and sand tables before I was born--and before Avalon Hill was born.

Today, I have what I think is a broader view, though. If chess, go, and Kriegsspiel are all board games, then board wargaming actually predates miniatures wargaming. In that sense, if no other, board wargaming is clearly essential to what wargaming is.

I was never able to get into miniatures because I hated collecting and painting the things and I didn't care about the visual effect on the tabletop. Yet I've always been embarrassed about paper-and-cardboard wargames; they look really cheap, no matter how well they're produced or how pretty the artwork is. To my mind, a great game has solid, weighty components: picture nice chess, go, and checkers sets.

As to computer wargames, I guess they're just board wargames ported to electronic media. Some may have complex algorithms that would be far too much to manage in a board wargame, but from a player's point of view there's not much difference.

As Pete Belli said, if board wargames didn't exist, I'd invent them. I'd probably start with chess variants. And if we glance at the history of wargaming, that may be just where wargaming did start.

So I do think board wargames are essential. But at the same time, I wish board wargames weren't just mass-produced paper-and-cardboard affairs. I've always considered them cheap and ugly and been a little embarrassed about that.
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Mark Humphries
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

So, we're talking about centuries of history. Yet some wargamers don't seem to see past the board wargame on their own tabletop.


You seem to have trouble coming to grips with the fact that Board Wargaming is a hobby in its own right.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
But at the same time, I wish board wargames weren't just mass-produced paper-and-cardboard affairs. I've always considered them cheap and ugly and been a little embarrassed about that.


Fair enough, but be aware this isn't a unanimous opinion you hold. The Avalon Hill bookcase games, with the mounted mapboards, slipcase boxes, and what I consider some of the most 'elegant' (to borrow from another thread currently running) box top designs, set a high standard of production design. I'm proud to display the boxes in my library. Conflict of Heroes seems to have attempted to carry the ball forward with regards to this kind of quality component.

I wouldn't disagree that there are some very unattractive boxtop designs over the years, and the trend has been towards flimsy mapsheets - and the new style of counter art with its multiple watermarks and "cute" fonts does nothing for me - but to suggest that mass production = unattractive doesn't compute for me, nor I hope for most. Beauty, elegance and attractiveness is where one chooses to find it.
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I realize I'm in the minority on this, but I consider Chess to be the original wargame. Thats where it started for me when I was about eight years old. I've tried out all other types of games in the past five decades, but for me it all comes down to anything that is strategic requiring critical thinking skills. My reading or a TV program often drive what period of history I may be interested in at any given time. About the only thing that does not appeal to me are futuristic or fantasy battles. I'm not knocking those kind of games, but for me they just don't inspire imagination. I enjoy those genres in movies (Lord of the Rings, Star Wars), but strictly as passive entertainment.
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Mark_WH wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:

So, we're talking about centuries of history. Yet some wargamers don't seem to see past the board wargame on their own tabletop.


You seem to have trouble coming to grips with the fact that Board Wargaming is a hobby in its own right.


This thread was created, from what I could understand,
in some attempt to disprove that very point.

Unfortunately, it didn't just ask the question directly.
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jeff miller wrote:
I realize I'm in the minority on this, but I consider Chess to be the original wargame.


Leaving alone the stance I'd take that Chess isn't a wargame,
why not Go, which predates Chess significantly (especially
modern Chess - you know, without dice).
 
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calandale wrote:
Mark_WH wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:

So, we're talking about centuries of history. Yet some wargamers don't seem to see past the board wargame on their own tabletop.


You seem to have trouble coming to grips with the fact that Board Wargaming is a hobby in its own right.


This thread was created, from what I could understand,
in some attempt to disprove that very point.

Unfortunately, it didn't just ask the question directly.

Yes. I do have a hard time being direct (I just don't think that way, so I can't very well speak that way; my wife, for one, finds it very annoying).

Board wargaming can be considered a hobby in its own right. But only by disregarding the whole history of wargaming and the fact that vast numbers of wargamers don't play board wargames. Furthermore, I don't believe most people who primarily consider themselves board wargamers would draw bold boundaries around that one kind of wargaming and seek to make it a hobby entirely separate from miniatures wargaming or computer wargaming.

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This should gross Patrick out laugh

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p55carroll
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Michael Dorosh wrote:
Patrick Carroll wrote:
Here in BGG, the broad topic of interest is board games. But board wargames are only part of the whole wargaming hobby.

A hobby is something you select for yourself. As has been discussed multiple times, though, there is a wargame industry whether individuals accept that it exists or not. One doesn't get to decide on an individual basis whether industries exist or not. They're simply there, whether or not there is an overall organization or heirarchy.

You're not talking about the hobby of board wargaming, you're talking about the industry. The comment later in the thread about making board wargames one's self if they didn't already exist commercially - seems to me to be a perfect illustration of the hobby vs. industry relationship.

I agree with the gist of what you're saying, but I think the word "industry" is completely wrong, and I intend to continue using the word "hobby" until I find a better one.

"Industry" implies (at least to me) that some company out there is producing stuff, and the whole process of producing and consuming constitutes the "industry." What kind if "industry" existed centuries ago, when wargaming consisted of people casually getting together to experiment with chess variants or play versions of Kriegsspiel? Or just push toy soldiers around (maybe toy soldiers they made themselves)?

A hobby is not necessarily just something one chooses individually. It often goes beyond the individual and what he privately does. Hobbyists form clubs, and those clubs sometimes turn into national or international organizations. The ACF (American Checkers Federation) exists to promote the hobby of checker playing. It's organized, and it goes beyond any individual member or nonmember, but it's not an industry.

Decades ago, a book on wargaming was published. I don't remember the title or author, but it identified several types of wargamers. One type was the Hobbyist--and he was described as someone who didn't necessarily play wargames much but who put a lot of time and effort into promoting the hobby, writing articles, putting out newsletters, etc.

When I speak of the wargaming hobby, I'm speaking of this big collective thing we're all individually participating in, simply by identifying with it in some way.

I'm not speaking of an industry, because as far as I'm concerned, wargame publishers are an incidental part of the hobby. They happen to have been around for the past five or six decades, but not all wargamers consume their products. Wargaming, as a hobby, would continue to thrive without them.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:

Board wargaming can be considered a hobby in its own right. But only by disregarding the whole history of wargaming and the fact that vast numbers of wargamers don't play board wargames. Furthermore, I don't believe most people who primarily consider themselves board wargamers would draw bold boundaries around that one kind of wargaming and seek to make it a hobby entirely separate from miniatures wargaming or computer wargaming.


I think you're 40 plus years too late to claim that Board Wargaming is not a hobby in it's own right.
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p55carroll
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usrlocal wrote:
It's worth noting that Jim Dunnigan has said numerous times that he never considered board wargaming to be the be-all and end-all with respect to conflict simulations. For him (and here I'm paraphrasing), paper/cardboard wargames were to be a stopgap measure until computers were powerful enough to efficiently run a conflict simulation.

I myself have always taken issue with Dunnigan's stance, and I think the fact that board wargaming is still alive and well in this age of powerful computers shows that I'm not the only one.

There's a certain something about a board wargame that computer wargames just don't have.

I agree, and I'd say it's an aesthetic something.

If you're intent on refining wargames into extremely accurate and detailed simulations (as Dunnigan apparently was and maybe still is), computers would be the way to go. They can process a lot of data quickly, and the programmer can create some very complex algorithms to process.

But if your intent is to just sit down to the table with your best bud and push some cardboard around over beer and small talk, a computer would just get in the way.

My intent has always been to experiment with abstractions of warfare, gaining a better understanding of war while entertaining myself with a game. So, as wargames get more detailed and complex, there's a point of diminishing returns; I don't want an accurately detailed simulation necessarily, but just a credible and interesting abstraction. I don't really care if that manifests in the form of a miniatures game, board game, or computer game.

I guess I am something of an aesthete, though, and my taste runs to the likes of a fine chess or go set. The more paper and cardboard there is in a wargame, the less I tend to like it. Images on a computer screen don't do much for me either. As to miniatures, most of the time they're too detailed, realistic, or cartoonish for my liking; I'd rather see something more abstract--more like block wargames, I guess. The Simmons games look very nice to me, for example.
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Mark_WH wrote:
I think you're 40 plus years too late to claim that Board Wargaming is not a hobby in it's own right.

And I think you're hammering that point a little too hard. I get it. You like to think Board Wargaming (with capital letters) is a hobby in its own right. It's still just your opinion.
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