Thursday 21 October 2021

Reflections on wargaming

The BBBBlog is now over 200 posts old. Most of these are routine reports of tabletop battles. While I try to make them entertaining and informative, I don't go in for much eye-candy, so they don't have particularly wide appeal beyond readers interested in the conflict in question. However, occasionally I have mused on more general wargaming topics. Some of these general posts have attracted very high readership and generated lots of fascinating discussion among fellow wargamers. Until now, though, whereas a battle report would be easy to find by means of the blog labels (either the name of the war or the year of the battle), the general interest posts would not.

I have now rectified this by adding a label, 'Reflections on wargaming'. Here are the topics I've addressed to date under that label. I hope you'll find something among them to interest you:

Reasons NOT to refight historical battles. Arguing against my own preferred format produced tons of really good comments on multiple forums. The updated blog post links to these.

On the virtues of IGO-UGO. Prompted by having spent too much time sitting around doing nothing in big multi-player games where only one player acts at a time.

Wargaming one-sided wars. An attempt to counter prejudice against gaming conflicts perceived as one-sided walkovers.

Changing situations mid-game. Remarking on how scenario designs that include some significant change in battle situation tend to present more interesting decisions than more straightforward line-out punch-ups. (This was illustrated yet again recently with our Hegyes and Gitschin refights.)

Studying classic battles. Some thoughts on different ways of approaching history to obtain insights and understanding of the events.

V-E Day games ... and granularity. On the need to represent time, troops and terrain in due proportion.

Get out there and wargame! I am regularly saddened by wargames forum members who state that they wargame solo (or rarely, or never) because they have been put off going to clubs.

Airing some prejudices: on one-dimensional vs 2-dimensional games. Oh, this was a good one, really set cats among pigeons. Basically explaining my prejudice against any pre-Napoleonic games.

Wargames: how much "war", how much "game"? A nice thoughtful post that hasn't had as much attention as I think it deserved. Discussing how people's choice of game is influenced by the different things we want from our games.

Victory conditions in wargames. I think this might be the all-time most popular BBBBlog post.

The appeal of miniature models. A snippet about why models rather than just cardboard counters.

The Quest for the "High Quality Gaming Experience". Or, "life's too short to waste playing lame games with jerks".

It's not about winning - it's just losing I can't stand. One year I kept track of how many games I won or lost, but really that's not what it's about. (See "Wargames: how much war, how much game" above.)

Further reflections - added since this post was first written:

In praise of looong games. Musing on the virtues of large, protracted, all-day or even all-weekend games, versus my usual diet of compressed 3- or 4-hour evening bashes.

"At that point we called it" - who cares if we don't finish the game?  One of the most popular RoW posts to date, debating whether and why it matters if a game isn't fought to a conclusion.

Replaying scenarios: pros and cons? On why it's worth fighting the same battle again and again.

On rules for committing reserves. What are the best ways for wargame rules to represent why and how real-life generals maintain and commit reserves?

The value of playing 'What-Ifs'. Based on a game that explored an alternative strategic mission from the historical one, some brief musings on what we get out of such 'what-if' games.

Stolberg's Death Ride: pivotal moments in wargames. Prompted by a crucial (failed) cavalry charge, I ponder three different shapes wargames can take, of which the 'pivotal moment' is one.


  1. Nice selection of posts. Thanks!

  2. Great posts, perfect reading for those endless dull work video conferences. Brought back happy memories from the early years of this century of playing Arc of Fire and Warring Empires at Wolvercote and your place.

    Plus, I had no idea you'd been translating Clausewitz! All three volumes added to my wish list. If they were available in Kindle I'd probably be reading them already.



    1. Richard G, I'm guessing? Nice to hear from you! Actually the Clausewitz books are all available in Kindle - but I think only in US. Probably less trouble to get the hard copy than to migrate ...


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