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Inaccessibility of Historical Wargaming

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This topic contains 130 replies, has 35 voices, and was last updated by  limburger 2 years ago.

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    Cult of Games Member

    @elessar2590  : I think that is an example of someone with a genuine interest in a historical event/battle.
    At that point you’ve already ‘converted’ him and the community is friendly enough that he dared to ask such questions.

    However I’ve seen plenty of arguments on forums where anyone daring to ask questions about which rules/game to use would result in a holy flame war (never ask which console is ‘the best’ in any forum … ). As a result I’m glad that there are communties out there (and BoW certainly is one of them) where everyone is made to feel at home and where such flamewars simply don’t happen.

    I’m pretty sure more than a few people had to take a deep breath when @warzan did his ‘Nachtwulfen’ when they first started with Flames of War : for the win (excellent series btw).

    As such I see two possible ways one can become a historical gamer :

    1. Traditional method  : start with an interest in history and get into gaming as a way of experiencing the event.
      This is something most historical gaming communities have lots of experience with and probably are at their most friendly.
    2. The gamer first / history as fluff / ‘gaming in the gaps’ approach …
      This is the one that can result in hostile responses in communities that don’t take kindly to ‘stupid’ questions.
      This is also the target demographic that would feel most at home with ‘starter sets’ and all the kind of stuff that non historical wargames take for granted these days.

    I’m guessing that historical groups tend to focus on battle/theme over rule set, so they don’t have this tendency to start flamewars as other more hobbies do where brand loyalty is an actual thing ?


    Cult of Games Member

    @limburger very good points.

    I have to admit I was one of those people who did the cringe when @warzan announced that but I kept it to myself and very quickly changed my mind. Loved the series it’s a shame V4 made it mostly null and void.

    Also when he went to a tournament I don’t think (going from memory) anyone had a problem with his force or with his UFO.

    Historical Groups very rarely have any kind of issues with what Brand of minis you use.

    For example my French and Indian War collection has Warlord Games, Perry Miniatures, Elite Miniatures, Crusader Miniatures and one or two others. There’s no real need to fight over miniatures when they’re all essentially the same thing, although the scale can vary from company to company.

    I think the “Gaming in the Gaps” correlates with the size of game you’re playing.

    It’s very easy to game in the gaps with a Squad or Company Level Skirmish Game but once you get to Divisional Level it’s a lot harder.

    Although I would point out that Games like Black Powder, Napoleon at War and most other large scale wargames do have points systems in them although (with the exception of Napoleon at War) they aren’t super balanced more of a rough guide.

    It can be done though. I’m currently in the Planning Stages of a Campaign about Napoleon’s invasion of Britain in 1805 (inspired by the excellent @oriskany article series on Operation Sea Lion). I figure if I change 2-3 things then I can get the French into Britain and go from there but as I said very early planning stages.


    Cult of Games Member

    I actually believe that there is far more what ifs go on in Historical gaming than actual refights. Which you could argue makes historical gaming more like sci-fi or fantasy gaming than non-historical gamers realise.

    The idea of Napoleon’s invasion of Britain actually being successful is an example. But we have the ability to have fun thinking these things through.



    Cult of Games Member

    When I think about this subject I suppose the upcoming Boot Camp format for Bolt Action is actually one of the best ways to make historical gaming accessible.

    It will give you the rules needed, the correct miniatures for the theatre of operation, like minded people at the event, help to learn the game, often has access to the creators or a dedicated demo/events team and produces a heap load of content for you to watch and learn from as well.


    Cult of Games Member

    I did post this on the XLBS but will post it here to get involved in the discussion.

    Ignoring the perception problems associated with historical wargaming/wargamers, and by that I mean the historical accuracey snobs (and speaking as someone who is not a hostorical wargamer, I really can’t say how accurate that perception is) I think the blocker to historical wargaming is setting definition. when you look at sci-fi gaming, you choose your game and everything you need is laid out and defined for you. Sure there’s “gaps” that you can game in but they’re usually purely aesthetic and don’t really change the rules. This definition has traditionally been less visible among historical games and you may well be required to go and do some research of your own to find out what armies within a given historical time period were like. Even settings such as “Ancient Rome” and “Medieval England” can have huge variations over that time period between the start and the finish (consider the Norman invaders predominantly wore chainmail whereas by the War of the Roses knights were wearing plate). You can’t necessarily choose a game and jump right in.

    I do think that there have been huge efforts over the last few years to improve this with games like Bolt Action and Flames of War taking steps to define some sub-genres within their chosen settings (i.e. Early/mid/late war) and also providing supporting ranges of miniatures for those sub-genres. Also Saga has done something interesting by producing a kind of “historic lite” version of historical gaming which I think is incredibly accessible because it doesn’t focus too much on historical accuracey and is based more on historical legend (the clue is in the name, “saga”).  Saga, like Bolt Action and flames of War, does a very good job of defining the settings via their various setting books, which makes getting into it as easy as getting into something like 40k.

    In summary, I think that traditionally historical wargaming has been less accessible but that many companies have put a lot of effort into making it much more accessible to the point where it is now it is not really an accurate assessment of the genre to say it is inaccessible, because I don’t really think it is less accessible than any other form of wargaming any more.


    Cult of Games Member

    Thanks @elessar2590 .    As long as anyone gets something out of these materials, my work is done.  😀

    Operation “Sea Lion” – Invading England In 1940? [Part One]


    Cult of Games Member

    The name ‘history’ also appears to imply that all you ever do is revisit the same old battles with more or less the same results.
    As such the name of the genre isn’t doing it any favours.

    OTOH … with the way modern documentaries have been making history easier to consume by being less dry and more action oriented that too may help shift the balance a bit. Sometimes I think it is a bit too much action and too little factual as a result though. The bloody commercial breaks (and the repeating of info before/after them) aren’t helping either.

    Southpark has done a brilliant spoof of the style with their “I should have never gone ziplining” episode.


    @oriskany : all of your articles have been interesting to read. It’s kind of like how I stumble upon interesting documentaries on History Channel et al. The title in the guide may not always be the most interesting, but the visuals and presentation definitely help sell it every time.  It’s only the sheer volume of content on this site that makes me miss finishing them at times.

    The projects concept may help link a lot more historical content together with the systems used. Although maybe there needs to be a generic ‘historical/era’ tag to find more stuff as well ?



    Well time to see how it is from the ‘other side’…



    Cult of Games Member

    @piers what is that abomination…😂😂



    Dunno… its all Greek to me!


    Cult of Games Member

    @piers : yes … come join the dark side. We have cookies 😉

    And don’t you dare paint any of them in camouflage or non chapter approved markings, because I will give my next unit of GI’s in hot pink uniforms.

    just kidding …

    I think mixing real world historical paint schemes in fictional settings can be very cool.
    The Imperial Guard (or whatever the heck they’re called these days) is practically made for that sort of stuff (IMHO of course)
    (and Pink Darth Vader just rules … ok? )

    // —

    A lot of the perceived inaccessibility of historic warmgaming may simply be due to (bad) personal experiences.
    I know I’d be terrified of 40k if I had encountered a particularly toxic community or consumer hostile shop.

    When you encounter such a person it always requires a bit of extra care on both sides to make them feel welcome (again).


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