The Art of War
For my tenth birthday, my dad gave me 1914, a game published by Avalon Hill. When I opened the box, I was amazed. Here was a way to fight the opening campaign of World War I—all on a detailed map showing France, Belgium, and western Germany, with cardboard counters representing infantry corps, cavalry divisions, and brigades of heavy siege guns. In the blink of an eye—or at least after you read the rules—you could find yourself commanding vast armies as they tried, or failed, to capture or defend Paris. Soon I learned that 1914 was only one of many published wargames, each depicting a different battle, campaign, or conflict from the dawn of time to the far future.
The old ads for these board games promoted them as "paper time machines"—and the ads were right. Triumph as Julius Caesar? Sure thing. Try to stave off defeat as Robert E. Lee? Why not? I was hooked. And I've never looked back.
Artwork © Rodger B. McGowan 1994 (from the GMT game Caesar)
Here are some great links for those interested in military history gaming:
* GMT Games is one of the best wargame publishers in the world—producing a wide range of military simulations by some of the most talented and prolific designers. Whatever period of history you're interested in, at whatever level, the odds are that GMT has the right game for you!
* ConsimWorld.COM is the world's premier website for wargame news, information, and military history gaming talk. The site's incredibly dedicated sysop, John Kranz, has created a forum with more than 15,000 members from around the globe. Need a rules question answered—often by the designer himself? Want a review of an upcoming game? Curious about some facet of military history? Then this is the place to go.
Around the time I started college, I discovered yet another aspect of historical gaming: Miniatures. These games often involve maneuvering hundreds of small, intricately painted, miniature soldiers—usually no more than 15mm or 25mm tall—across tabletop battlefields covered with the models of hills, rivers, towns, orchards, wheat fields, and forests. They're a wonder to behold, and a lot of fun.
Deployed behind a screen of peltasts, Athenian hoplites prepare to defend a sacred grove.
Photo © Warwick Young
Interested in learning more about miniatures wargaming? Check out The Miniatures Page.
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