Wegierski: A General Introduction to Board Wargaming with a Focus on Political, Social, and Cultural Aspects of the Hobby — Paleocons vs. Neocons in Board Wargaming

There are in America, Canada, and most European, and some Asian countries today, a large number of what could be called „geek subgenres.” Apart from a more general interest in some of these areas by a larger proportion of the population, they are also followed by dedicated fan communities. These would include science fiction (such as Star Trek and Star Wars); fantasy (which was pioneered by J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings); role-playing games (such as Dungeons and Dragons); comic-books; and multifarious types of gaming, including historical boardgames (also called wargames, strategy games, or conflict simulations). Historical boardgames could be seen as a more reality-based alternative in relation to most forms of gaming and fan identifications today.

Historical boardgames are called by various names: wargames, conflict-simulation games (or simply, conflict-simulations, or con-sims), adventure games, military history games, simulation games, etc. There are a variety of near and distant relations of historical boardgames.

The typical wargame situation places the players at the beginning of major historical battle or campaign, e.g., the battle of Waterloo (Napoleon vs. Wellington), or Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union (Operation Barbarossa). The opposing players have forces corresponding to the historical situation, which they then move around on the mapboard, and engage in combat according to an established set of procedures and rules. The preponderance of historical boardgames deal with land battles or campaigns, where sea or air elements play little or no part, or are rendered in very simple fashion in the game.

Historical boardgames typically include the following components: a map of geographical terrain divided into hexagons („hexes”) to regularize movement and combat procedures; one-hundred to four-hundred colour-coded, die-cut, 1/2″ x 1/2″ „counters”, some of which represent the „units” which fought in the battle or campaign, e.g., regiments, brigades, or divisions, and others which serve as game-markers with different functions; and the above mentioned set of rules. A „unit” will typically have a „combat factor”, a numerical quantification of its strength (e.g., „4”) in comparison to all other units that fought in the battle or campaign, and a „movement factor”, a numerical quantification of how far it can move in a given turn (e.g., „5”). There are a variety of types of terrain, some of which cost extra movement points to enter or cross.

The terrain scale chosen is usually such that no more than one, two, three, or four units can occupy the same hex at the end of the player’s movement, thus rewarding effective dispersal and concentration of forces.

The typical wargame is played sequentially, in „phases”. Generally, one player gets to move any or all of his units and attack eligible enemy units if he wishes, and then the other player moves his units and attacks eligible enemy units, and so forth.

Combat is usually resolved via the Combat Results Table (CRT) and the roll of a six-sided or (sometimes) ten-sided die. First, the player calculates the number of combat factors he can bring to bear on adjacent enemy units. The general objective is to get the best odds possible while making the most effective series of attacks. Combat results usually require a retreat of one or two hexes in a certain direction, an „exchange” (at least one unit of both players is eliminated), or the elimination of all of either players’ units involved in this particular combat. Elimination represents the shattering of the effective operational structure of a military unit, not the killing of every single soldier in the unit. 8 combat factors attacking 3 combat factors makes 2:1 odds (rounding is generally done in favour of the „non-active” player who is „defending” in that phase, regardless of the over-all situation on the board). These are usually fairly poor odds, with some chance of a negative result for the attack. Experienced players can utilize the various capabilities of their units, e.g., the ability of units representing armoured formations to advance 1 hex after combat, to maximum effect, thus creating situations where weaker attacks can achieve better results.

An important feature of many games are the rules for units’ Zones of Control (ZOC’s), the six hexagons surrounding the hex the unit is on, which typically block the retreat paths of the opposing player’s units during combat; as well as forcing the other player’s units to stop during their movement phase. Typically, a unit which is required to retreat as a result of combat, but which cannot do so because it is surrounded by hostile ZOC’s, is eliminated instead. ZOC’s are crucial for constructing successful defensive perimeters because of their ability to interdict opponent’s movement. Sometimes ZOC rules require that all friendly units adjacent to enemy units must attack all of those enemy units, which makes the distribution of units’ attacks crucial to success. (The combat factors of individual units are in most cases indivisible.)

The endless variation and layering on of more complex rules and combat mechanisms (e.g., ranged combat — the delivery of combat factors beyond adjacent hexes; an additional movement segment for armoured units; or in-hex combat, where strong attacking units try to „over-run” weak defenders) requires an increasing level of skill from the players, and increases the demands on making a truly skilful use of the forces and capabilities one has available. (A simple example of such skill is the landing of a German paratroop division in Paris in a game on the 1940 Battle of France campaign, thus ending the game immediately — if the French player has been so careless as to leave Paris open.) Another complicating rule is logistics and supply effects, which means that if units cannot meet certain supply criteria, e.g., the tracing of a line free of enemy ZOC’s to a supply centre (usually a hex on the map representing a city), their combat and movement abilities are more or less severely downgraded (for example, they cannot move or attack).

Once a person has grasped the basic dynamic of the sequence of play (you move as many of your eligible units as you wish; you set up a series of attacks on your opponent’s units; you execute those attacks and carry out their effects — then your opponent moves their eligible units; they set up a series of attacks; and then they carry out their effects — before passing the baton to you again as a second game-turn begins) play follows easily for the ten or so turns an average simple game lasts.

One of the interesting aspects of the game is that movement, generally-speaking, is never compulsory (and attacks on adjacent enemy units are not usually compulsory either) so a player is open to try a wide variety of strategies in a game where forces are more-or-less evenly balanced. In a game of unbalanced forces, for example, on the September 1939 invasion of Poland by Nazi Germany, the Polish player’s skill would consist in an adroit placement (if playing with a free-deployment rather than strictly historical scenario) and fall-back of his army, rather than on making a large number of successful attacks. Victory in game terms would be theirs if the Germans failed to achieve their historical result of a complete victory. There could also be “alternative history” scenarios – for example, assuming the Poles had managed to mechanize all thirteen of their cavalry brigades; or, the French actually beginning their promised major offensive in mid-September; or, Stalin at the last moment deciding to intervene against Nazi Germany.

However, many historical boardgames are designed so that both players get a chance to make big attacks at some point in the game, for example, where a large force is attacking a small force which is quickly being reinforced. Some historical conflicts which correspond to such a situation are the Battle of the Bulge, the Battle of Gettysburg, and (to some extent) the Battle of Waterloo, which is yet another reason why there have been so many games on those topics.

The interweave of different unit capabilities; different aspects of warfare simulated (such as supply, morale, and command control considerations); and a plethora of different historical settings (e.g., World War II; Napoleonic; etc.), as well as different levels of war (tactical, operational, and strategic, to name the main three) allow for an enormous amount of variety in the atmosphere, flavour, and particular stratagems or tactics used to secure victory in these games.

However, if a person finds these games difficult even at the most introductory level, or lacks interest in history, or vehemently feels that conflict-simulation is immoral, or simply views these games as a useless waste of time, they are not likely to find much enjoyment in the hobby.

Here are some “closer cousins” of historical board wargames:

— „pure-air” and „pure-naval” boardgames can be said to constitute separate subgenres because of the large differences involved in simulating air and naval, as opposed to land, combat;

— near-future/contemporary, science fiction, alternative-history (such as, “What if Napoleon invaded England?”), and fantasy boardgames are often very similar in basic look and mechanics to historical boardgames, except for the different milieus, but are often played by different audiences — near-future/contemporary and alternative-history generally played by the wargame crowd — science fiction and fantasy boardgames might sometimes be played by the Dungeons and Dragons crowd;

— wargames that are specifically designed to be played solitaire, i.e., without a human opponent;

— historical miniatures (often a bit snidely called „toy-soldiers”): small, die-cast, painstakingly hand-painted representations of soldiers, usually from the Napoleonic period — hundreds of them are lined up in rows on a geomorphic representation of battle-field terrain, marshalled and engaged in combat according to an established set of miniatures rules;

— science-fiction or fantasy battle miniatures: similar to historical miniatures, except that a different milieu is involved (e.g., the very popular Warhammer 40,000 A.D. (or 40K) and Warhammer Fantasy systems);

RISK (by Parker Brothers), an abstract, „conquer-the-world” type of game, has given birth to a whole subgenre of similar global games, often involving quasi-fictional alliances and countries, like „Canarctica”, in the Supremacy game — these are usually simple „geopolitical” games;

Diplomacy, a multi-player political-interaction game loosely based on the World War I Great Power conflict has attracted a large following, and given birth to a number of such games, e.g., Cosmic Encounter, Machiavelli (politics of Renaissance Italy) — though historical boardgames tend to be two-player, there are also ones designed especially as multi-player situations;

— „mass-market” wargames are those produced by major „mainstream” game companies, often having expensive components and very simple mechanics — an early example is Stratego, and its derivative, Admirals – there was also the Milton Bradley line of wargames, including, among others, Axis & Allies (World War II), Conquer the Empire (Romans), and Fortress America (a hypothetical future invasion of the U.S. by European, Asian, and Central American powers) – as well as the Shadowlord sci-fi/fantasy game (Parker Brothers);

— the famous Sandhurst Military Academy in Britain produced 5 games that originally sold in an album-book for $20  — apparently, despite the low price, the publication failed to sell successfully – even in earlier decades, there seemed to be no truly mass-market for wargames.

Here are some less or more “distant relations” of historical boardgames:

—  role-playing games (RPG’s) or fantasy role playing (frp) games, especially Dungeons and Dragons (D & D) — some prominent non-fantasy role-playing game milieus include science-fiction, occult-horror, cyberpunk, Medieval Japan, Star Trek;

— Sherlockian role-playing / detective games;

— in earlier decades, there were „campus-craze games” like so-called K.A.O.S. („Killing as an Organized Sport”) – “staking out” and “shooting” people with rubber-tipped darts from toy-guns;

—  the „survival” or „adventure” game — two large teams with goggles, rough clothes, and paint pellet guns, chasing and “shooting” each other in a large, fenced-off, rugged outdoor area;

— traditional games with military or strategic aspects, e.g., Chess, Go, and Chinese Chess;

— tabletop or electronic sports games and simulations.

A large area of interest is historical/battlefield re-enactors, especially those focussing on the American Civil War/War Between the States; the American Revolutionary War; the War of 1812; and Medieval/Renaissance eras.

There is also military and government wargames and analysis:

— mock-up terrain models of the German countryside shown some decades ago in the media;

— computer simulations of tactical combat;

— elaborate computer gaming / modelling of nuclear exchanges and strategic conflict;

— board-based simulations used as teaching devices (e.g., SPI’s FireFight) (SPI – Simulations Publications, Inc. — was the major game company of the 1970s);

— „live-scale” mass military maneuvers and training exercises;

— „gaming” or „playing-out” of operational military plans.

There is also a branch of social science called “game theory and analysis”. This is the

scientific study of probabilistic situations and paradoxes, e.g., „the Prisoner’s Dilemma”.

Finally, there is computer gaming in general. All the various genres above are available on different types of computers and the Internet, and there are, of course, arcade-style military games.

There was an intermediary period when wargame style mechanics continued in electronic formats, before the so-called “First Person Shooter” games took over. For example, there was Conflict: Korea (1992), by SSI (Strategic Simulations, Inc.).  That highly effective game could have been seen as revolutionizing paper wargaming. The regiment and division-sized units were calibrated down to the individual man and individual rifle or piece of equipment. Fantastic detail was possible – for example, when units move in the game, they automatically lose a slight amount of strength due to stragglers and equipment breakdown. Many of the time-consuming and difficult functions of paper wargames were handled by the computer, which also provided an effective AI opponent. For example, there was no need to add combat factors, one simply directed by cursor which units attacked where, and the computer applied the results.

Two renowned computer strategy game series are Sid Meier’s Civilization – which combines military conflict and economic/technological development, with diplomacy and variable geo-strategy (and effective game AI) —  and Total War — which combines turn-based strategic conflict, with tactical “real-time” resolution of individual battles (and elaborate game AI on both the strategic and tactical levels).

However, in future years, there wasn’t much of a flowering of computer games with wargame style mechanics. The videogame audience usually preferred the more personalized and more graphic FPS-type experience.

The term in the hobby which committed wargamers most frequently call themselves, is probably “grognards” – derived from the name of Napoleon’s veteran soldiers.

Here are some examples of popular formats of wargames:

— mini-games / microgames – small-format, quick-play games, e.g., Steve Jackson’s Ogre — human armour, mech, and infantry against a huge cybertank in the 21st century;

— „beer & pretzels” games — quick, easy-to-play games dealing with popular topics, e.g., World War II battles, that can be finished in an afternoon;

— „serious simulations” — games with intricate rules to simulate in-depth aspects of a battle or campaign;

— „monster-games” — e.g., Terrible Swift Sword (regiment-level Gettysburg);

— heuristic, manual-intensive simulation games — only one produced, Campaign for North Africa (World War II) (on a battalion/company level);

— multi-player power politics games, e.g., Diplomacy;

— both naval (and especially modern naval) and air games should probably qualify as separate genres, because of the large differences involved in simulating these types of combat.


Here are some suggested main types of historical gamers (overlap of categories possible in one person):

— „beer & pretzels” gamers;

— „power” gamers;

— game, service/branch, or period devotees, including „national” gamers;

— „historians”;

— collectors;

— amateur game-designers.

These are the main levels of games (most games will fall into one or another of these categories):

— low tactical (man-to-man; squads or individual vehicles);

— tactical (platoons or companies);

— grand tactical (battalions or regiments) on one battlefield, especially, Napoleonic or American Civil War/War Between the States;

— operational (basic units — battalions, regiments, brigades, divisions, corps) (especially in World War II) — also regiments, brigades, divisions, corps on one battlefield, especially, Napoleonic or American Civil War/War Between the States

— strategic (basic units — divisions, corps, or armies, covering up to a theatre of operations);

— high strategic (units could be divisions, corps, armies, army groups, or abstract “points”, simulating entire theatre of operations and above).

These are some of the favoured periods and genres of games:

— „Nato, Nukes & Nazis” themes, i.e., Nato-Soviet conflict (hypothetical), Nazis vs. Soviets (WWII), Allies vs. Nazis (WWII) – there was actually a game produced by the XTR game company with that title, which was set in an alternative-history where the Third Reich survived in Germany and most of Eastern Europe, into the 1990s;

— „land-games” (as opposed to air or naval) generally preferred;

— World War II by far the most popular period;

— American Civil War/War Between the States;

– contemporary (including Vietnam; hypothetical Nato-Soviet; Arab-Israeli wars);

– Napoleonic;

– „Ancients” (such as Greek and Roman battles and campaigns).

There are some enthusiasts of the science fiction, alternative history, and fantasy subgenres.

There have been some examples of wargames in popular culture. Many villains in James Bond movies are portrayed as “wargamers” or “armchair generals” – with miniatures as well as electronic simulations. Many “right-wing” or corporate villains in various productions have been depicted as interested in historical miniatures. Some decades ago, I happened to see, in a daytime soap-opera, a villainous general of a fictive military dictatorship playing a historical miniatures game with the American hero, as part of a psychological-pressure process. The prominent movie with the title Wargames is not about board wargames, strictly speaking.

In more traditional societies, male children, particularly children of important figures, were given „toy-soldiers” in order to stimulate their interest in the martial ethos. For example, there is the scene in Young Churchill where he is playing with a large army of toy-soldiers. Since toy-soldiers have declined in popularity (as toys for children), there was a time in the 1970s when wargames could be seen to have taken their place, at a somewhat later age in the child’s development. However, board wargames have now been largely swept away by electronic games, especially of the FPS type.

In contemporary society, the phenomenon of wargaming could have been linked to a discernible type of individual — the white or Asian male North American geek. This type was the usual wargamer in the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Wargamers have often been considered as „right-wing”, with some hysterically accusing them of being „young fascists”.

Sociologically speaking, wargaming could be considered a „community” of a sort, with its own forms of „standing”, for example, ownership of very many or rare games; acme of skill at a single game, e.g., the Soviets invading Germany by 1943 in Avalon Hill’s Russian Campaign; or, a person generally having a level of skilful play, whatever the game, with clever tactics and maneuvers. Obviously, it should be realized that wargaming is only one of many „communities”, and one should not become immersed in it to the point of excluding almost everything else. The number of wargamers who can become professional game-designers and make their living that way, is actually quite small, especially in today’s world.

After the early Eighties, historical gaming lost much ground to RPGs, and went into a general semi-decline (a lot of older collectors now). An interest in history and military history is now somewhat „pejoritized” by prevailing social trends, although World War II documentaries, books, catalogues of military hardware, etc., are very popular. The high point of wargame pop-culture visibility was probably SPI’s ads in „men’s magazines” (Playboy and/or Penthouse). SPI – Simulations Publications, Inc. — was the major wargame company of the 1970s.

Computers have enormously impacted the level of appeal of historical boardgames (i.e., downward). A good meshing of computer and boardgame is not easy as one might suppose. It could be argued that the disadvantage of computers is that, even today, a paper map is probably a bit easier to properly comprehend than a computer-graphics map; some people feel a better sense of „concreteness” moving counters around on a real map; most computer-games are either „arcade-style” or fantasy role-playing games.

The more committed board wargaming population probably reached about 110,000-150,000 in North America (U.S. and Canada) in the 1970s (with about ten percent of that in Canada), and has been dropping over the decades, perhaps getting as low as 15,000 by now.  It could be argued that wargaming requires a fairly high level of intelligence; an interest in history and military history; and considerable patience. These games can take an inordinately long time to play, and are not easy to learn at the beginning. It is not something that would appeal to someone with a short attention span.

What is the possible sense of satisfaction to be derived from historical wargames? One could say it is getting caught up in the grand sweep of history – of being an „armchair general”; of being able to change the course of history through your own actions (in a fictive sense); of the visual and aesthetic appeal of the maps and counters; of the feeling of being a great commander of men on the battlefield, or of entire nations in war. To a certain extent, it is a „voyeuristic” exercise and „power-fantasy” and „compensation” of intelligent, „socially-maladapted” male adolescents (especially of the 1970s).  But, apparently, a lot of the great men of history amused themselves in their youth by planning great imaginary military campaigns. Some decades ago, I read an article that Conrad Black and Hal Jackman were both miniaturists. When playing the Battle of Waterloo, Black usually played Napoleon, and Jackman, Wellington. Conrad Black had claimed his miniatures campaigns offered him strategic insights into the business world. One also recalls the quote from Sun-Tzu’s Art of War which occurs in the original Wall Street movie.

Having attended the same high school — University of Toronto Schools (UTS), a rather unique „model” school affiliated with the University of Toronto — in Toronto, Ontario, Canada as David Frum in the mid to late 1970s, I knew him to be a fairly avid wargame player. Among the games popular at that time was Invasion: America, a wargame portraying a hypothetical future invasion of the United States and Canada by three hostile powers — the „European Socialist Coalition”, the „South American Union” and the „Pan-Asiatic League.” Another very popular game was Sinai, a depiction of the major Arab-Israeli Wars of 1956, 1967, and 1973. There was also a game called Oil War, which portrayed a „near-future” attempt by the United States to seize control of virtually the entire oil supplies of the Middle East (in the wake of a new OPEC embargo) — by the launching of a simultaneous attack against Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and the smaller Gulf countries. The play of the game usually resulted in easy American victories, as the swarms of „nifty-looking” counters representing air force and naval aviation units — supported by airborne infantry and amphibiously-landing Marines — blasted away the curiously weak Arab and Iranian armies. There was no inkling that massive guerilla resistance to the American assault might occur. The Soviets were also conspicuously absent.

While there certainly was an element of gamers who enjoyed playing Nazi Germany in World War II East Front games a bit too much, there were also many young neocons who were drawn to the hobby. As a young, traditionalist-leaning student, I was repelled by what could be perceived, in its most pointed form — the „Nazi worship” elements of the hobby — but the main concerns of the young neocons also were, to some extent, remote to me. However, I appreciated their willingness at that time to confront Soviet imperialism.

Looking back at a shared interest in wargames by persons of varying outlooks (most of which would be conventionally considered as being „on the Right”) I must say a number of contrasts have emerged today. Under the Bush Administration, David Frum was briefly one of the most important persons in the United States, who, it could be sharply said, was „playing wargames for real.”  It could be asked, however, if his interest in the hobby ever actually imparted a genuine historical sense to him — or of any sense of the real suffering entailed by war. Perhaps it is subliminally just a feeling of pushing colorful cardboard counters around on a finely designed map, in search of „the perfect offensive.”

Persons of „paleo” persuasions usually have their understandings of war leavened by a more careful study of history and culture. They understand, for example, that the program of a „global democratic revolution” cannot be considered as any kind of „conservatism”; and that the defense of America’s heartland „base” is actually more important than imperial engagements half a world away.  So, an adolescent interest in wargaming can lead one along various paths.

The interest in historical board wargames can, nevertheless, be seen as among the most „conservative” of the „geek subgenres” mentioned above. Indeed, one can highlight the contrast between historical board wargames vs. role-playing games and electronic shoot’em-ups. Historical wargamers and players of Dungeons and Dragons are often considered as „mortal enemies” in the broader gaming hobby.

Historical boardgames have been commercially marketed in the U.S. since the late 1950s. Codified rules for playing with historical miniatures (i.e., so-called „toy soldiers”) are one of the origins of historical boardgaming. Abstract military boardgames such as RISK, Tactics II, and Diplomacy are also close cousins. Diplomacy was one of the favorite pastimes of some university students, especially those studying political science.

Avalon Hill pioneered the genre in the late 1950s, with its 1958 game on the battle of Gettysburg. The company moved through decades of varying success, bringing out such titles as PanzerBlitz (World War II tactical armored combat), Third Reich (strategic WWII), and the Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) system of tactical WWII combat. The firm has been acquired in the late-1990s by toys and games giant Hasbro, resulting in the abandonment of nearly all of its game lines, deemed far too complex for the current-day audience.

Wargaming’s Golden Age was the mid to late 1970s, the heyday of its second major company, SPI (Simulations Publications, Inc.). It has been argued that historical boardgames were heavily undermined by the Dungeons and Dragons company, TSR, which took over SPI in the early 1980s, and let historical games languish, in favor of building up the fantasy role-playing games (RPG’s) market. Mostly arcade-style electronic games, as well as collectible card games (CCG’s) (now called trading card games – or TCG’s) (such as Magic: The Gathering — and, most spectacularly, Pokémon — both controlled by Wizards of the Coast) challenged what remained of board wargaming in the late 1980s and the 1990s. TSR was itself taken over by WOTC, which in turn has been bought out by Hasbro.

Today, board wargaming (as well as playing games of the wargame type in electronic format), might be seen as a more reality-grounded alternative to currently prevalent gaming genres. Fantasy RPG’s (especially of the newer, darker variety — such as those in X-Files-type settings), might tend to encourage an excess of florid and disorienting imaginings in some people. The mostly arcade-style electronic games (typically, the so-called First Person Shooters such as DOOM) are centered around grotesquely individualized, very graphic killing, and are in most cases entirely history-less. While there are of course more abstract, electronic, arcade-type games (typified by the 1980s PAC-MAN and TETRIS) addictive videoplaying conditioning is certainly present in most of them. In CCG’s, one finds, apart from the commonly-seen occult aspects, a combination of collecting and gambling impulses. (Mainly because of the way the cards have been marketed, with only a few “strong” cards randomly included in larger packets which are purchased unseen, like in a sort of lottery.)

The facts of the concreteness — of the historical situation, the game-board, as well as the counters representing military units — may help a person playing such a game avoid falling into the overwrought fantasizing sometimes found in RPG’s, and the sometimes too addictive aspects of FPS’s and CCG’s.

Even when playing ahistorical board wargames (such as those based on near-future, alternative-history, or sci-fi situations, or those set in Tolkien-style fantasy worlds), or when playing strategy games electronically, there might be a certain residual concreteness, a distinct tempering of what is in other cases the often lurid „virtual reality” of the game. This concreteness is also present in historical miniatures, but the financial costs of these elaborately-painted historical „figures” are clearly much greater, particularly if one wants to play out such great battles as Waterloo. One should mention, also, the rather lurid subgenre of miniatures gaming represented by the Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 A.D. systems; as well as the existence of other fantasy and sci-fi miniatures systems.

Chatham Hill Games produces a number of small, simple, inexpensive games, suitable for children (not all of which are strictly wargames), based on American history. Gamewright Games produces a series of mostly young children’s games, most of which are not military-related. The main Internet portals for wargaming are www.grognard.com and www.consimworld.com. There are also a lot of wargames featured at www.boardgamegeek.com .

The major printed historical gaming magazine (which includes a game with each issue) is Strategy & Tactics (published by Decision Games, which has acquired what remained of the old SPI). They have also launched spin-off magazines on World War II and Modern game topics.

In December 2001, the other major gaming magazine, COMMAND, and its parent company, XTR, declared bankruptcy, after having produced fifty-four issues packed with military history (with one or two games in each issue) and several games outside of the magazine. A new magazine with a game in it is Against The Odds.

Some other extant boardgame companies include GMT, Multi-Man Publishing (MMP), Avalanche Press, Clash of Arms, Columbia Games, Critical Hit/Moments in History, L2 Design Group, and Eagle Games. There have also arisen companies that produce, through desk-top publishing, games on sometimes-obscure topics, such as Schutze, Microgame Design Group, and Victory Point Games. One should also mention the family-oriented boardgames imported from Germany (the so-called “Eurogames”) such as the very popular Settlers of Catan. These games, which typically have very high-quality components, are also less explicitly military.  In Europe, there are also, among other enterprises, Azure Wish, Phalanx Games, and the French gaming magazine Vae Victis. The Australian Design Group (ADG) is known for its massive World War II games. There is also a fairly large and vibrant Polish wargaming community.

While they, too, can sometimes be very obsessive, historical boardgames could be seen as more grounded in reality and in somewhat useful knowledge (about military history, strategy, and real geography), than role-playing games and most electronic-based games. It could be argued that most board wargames can usually harness some fairly commonly-occurring „armchair general” desires to relatively positive ends. In some cases, however, the impact of the „wargame mentality” may be less salutary.

Mark Wegierski

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