Introduction to “The Wargamer” Column.

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September 20, 2012 by raconteurmagazine

By Ian White

In this series of articles I hope to specifically inspire, amuse and provoke response from any and all you readers who have been, are currently, or else hope to be wargamers. However, if the wargame is not your thing, please continue to read anyway; there may well be something in here that is relevant to your particular ‘baby’, as the hobby in general has quite a lot of overlaps.

I will split my literary undertaking into a number of more easily manageable bits, to aid both writer and reader. The main four broad subjects (again, there will be overlaps) to be covered are as follows.

Genre: From Fantasy, through Earth’s many Historical Eras (fought on land, sea or in the air), to Sci-Fi (with spaceships!)

Command Levels: From Skirmish, through Battalions and Brigades, to Corps and Armies.

Rule Systems; From Multiple-dice, through Single-die, to Card-driven.

Figure Scales: From 2mm (yes, 2mm!), through 15mm and 25mm, to 54mm and beyond.

As you can see just from the above four topics, there’s a lot to cover. In addition, some subjects will require special mention in an article all of their own, such as Figure Painting & Basing (DIY and commissioned), Model Terrain (DIY and Commercial), Complementary Resources (books, websites, etc), and anything else I think of – or the reader remind me of – as I go along.

But why wargaming? Tough question. I enjoyed playing with my plastic toy soldiers, as most young boys do, and it just progressed from there. I read a bit, watched war movies at the cinema and on the TV, found a book of wargame rules at the library, bought some metal figures and commandeered the dining table.

The closest I came to ‘real’ war was participating at a couple of English Civil War re-enactment events, and doing some drills and weapon practice with a medieval re-enactment Society. The dressing-up was fun and I must admit there’s something exhilarating about facing off against another bloke, each wielding a wooden pole with a lump of metal on the end of it – even when there are ‘rules’ of engagement.

Being the commander of armies, rather than a soldier within one, brings more abstract challenges for the wargamer. Some wargamers are quite satisfied with fighting one set-piece tabletop battle after another; others crave the connectivity and continuity of a well-developed campaign system that examines strategical issues in addition to tactical ones.

You can’t deny that real war is definitely not fun; people die in wars. Wargaming can allow you to see warfare in different, more peaceable and entertaining ways, such as researching the development of tactics, weaponry, uniforms and equipment of soldiers. Wargames still remain a way of examining tactics for real-life engagements, but hopefully in doing so, modern generals will learn how best to utilize their resources to best limit the loss of life – on both sides. Most of my fellow hobbyists treat it as just that – a hobby, and don’t go any deeper into the psychology of “why”?

So, overall, I see wargaming as a fun way of spending time with friends in a relaxed environment where we can exchange views and ideas, show off our modelling, painting and tactical skills, and just simply socialize and chill-out.

It is a fantastically huge hobby once you start looking at it and breaking it down. This might turn out to be a long-running series of articles. I’ll try my best to do it justice.

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