Friday, July 8, 2022

Vacation Blues & What do you want from your games?

 An odd title for a wargaming blog post I know, but my wargaming funk followed me all the way into my first week of vacation.  I had BIG plans for this week.  Literally BIG plans because I started painting up more 28mm figures - this time El Cid Spanish - as well as planning for a big Gettysburg MEGA game - but try as I might - I have not been able to get past this dreaded wargaming funk.

A young Disgruntled Fusilier, pondering the imponderable - the lead mountain

Like usual, though, I was able to spend a bunch of time thinking about wargaming.  And if thinking about wargaming counted for hobby time, I could look back on a life of complete fulfillment 😊

Before I go any further and take you all down a rabbit hole with me, I should mention that I was able to get in a single, solo, game in this week.  I finally broke out Hold the Line: The American Civil War boardgame from Worthington out and played their Gettysburg scenario (Little Round Top) solo. 

Sickles' III Corps holds the Peach Orchard salient in my first ACW "Hold the Line" game played sans miniatures

This got me thinking further about Grand Tactical gaming and playing out BIG battles, and leads to an even bigger question which essentially drives all other questions - what do you want from your games?  

I'm not sure if I've ever properly reflected on this topic.  Sure, I've reflected on a "mission statement" for horse and musket rules, and even WW2 gaming, but what do I want, that is what do I mean to get out of, my gaming?  What do you expect to get from yours?  Why does this question even matter?

For me it's an important question because there is an endless list of projects, scales, and games on my "to do" list.  Murphy's Laws of Wargaming dictate that any project plan can become modified the moment you discuss it with other wargamers, so depending on the games you want to play, your prioritization of effort in an age of extremely limited time, bandwidth, and availability is key to successfully assaulting the lead mountain.  

The last few years, joint project plans with gaming pals have been the driver for purchases and project plans - some came to complete fruition, while others have not.  The games and their scope ranged wildly from Viking Skirmish battles, Cold War tactical battles with tank companies and mech infantry battalions, massive Napoleonic battles in search of the right rules, Seven Years War battles, and World War II tactical battles.  

With an eclectic choice like this, one should never hope to be bored or unfulfilled right?   My gaming has ranged from a commanding handful of Viking Warriors, all the way up to complete Army command at Aspern Essling or Antietam.  If I really think hard about it, while I love tactical games played at Battlegroup's "platoon" or even "company" level, I've always strived to play games that have been about Army command.  The Corps-on-Corps fight for landmarks, villages, river crossings, the destruction of the Army across the field in the Horse and Musket era, or the successful integration of all-arms against an operational or tactical problem in the more modern era.  That's tough to achieve for a miniatures gamer who still wants to push miniatures as there are scores of board wargames that foot the bill nicely for a broad mission statement like that.  You can bathtub your games and call everything a brigade and still get to roll to-hit, to-kill, and to-stand, but does it still serve the purpose?  If it's fun for you and your pals, then yes, it's worth it.  If it's boring to do solo and your pals might not accept that level of bath-tubbing - then what's the point?  I think this is where the purpose is so important to games - because for my purposes, playing at this big scale means:

  • using smaller minis to create the desired effect.
  • the mini terrain  is hugely important to creating authenticity and scale in your mind's eye.
  • you're going to need minis - alot of minis to achieve the look you want.
  • you're going to need the right rules to accommodate playing a game like this.

So for me, what do I want to get out of my gaming?  I want to recreate the fight at the Corps or Division level when it comes to my historical gaming.  I want to see the clash of brigades for a ridgeline, or the untimely arrival of a flank-marching division where I did not plan for it, and I want to do so mostly on a 6 x 4 table.  Impossible?  Maybe - but at least it gives my project planning purpose.

My purpose for gaming - what I want to get out of the affair - is setting foot into the commander's boots - looking through his field glasses and be confronted with the tough decisions he faced.  I'd prefer to do this at the Corps or Divisional level - so Army command is really what I want to get out of my miniature gaming.  That's the purpose of all of this work - so where does that leave me?  Still unsatisfied?  Adrift at sea?  Ready to hang up the gaming spurs and retire?

What do you want to get out of your hobby?