Sportsmanship vs Gamesmanship – from the Quarantined Wargamer

Big Lee Hadley is the owner of a YouTube channel, the Quarantined Wargamer, that I enjoy visiting, and I must admit, I do seem to agree with a lot of what he says. A couple of days ago he posted a video about Sportsmanship vs Gamesmanship in Wargaming. Have a look at it below.

Watching this brought a few flashbacks to my early years in wargaming, a time when we were all younger and winning was the thing. I recall many wargames – generally those under WRG Ancient an other Rules, where the games broke down, almost to fisticuffs over a rule interpretation or understanding an order. Competition games were even worse where the best efforts of the rules lawyer were to be seen, arguing that as the rules specifically did not rule out Ancient Gauls delivering a tactical nuclear strike on the hated Romans, there was, indeed, no reason why they couldn’t – well except for the fact that there was no way to assess it.

It seemed in those times that when heading out for a wargame, you packed your army, your rules, measuring stick, dice (both D6 and average dice), your army standing orders crafted over many previous games and covering all eventualities including Custer riding over the hill in front of the 7th cavalry and, last of all, analgesics for the headache that you knew was coming. It was in this early period of wargaming that I discovered there was nothing wrong with popping a few aspirin washed down with a beer. Either the aspirin or the beer worked.

In one memorable case, one gamer assisting me with a demonstration game in Hyde Park in Sydney, even cheated then. This gamer was famous, squire, for his 18-inch long 12-inch ruler!

So, what was Big Lee on about? Sportsmanship is assisting your opponent, especially newer members of the hobby, to understand why some moves are better than others, why it is better for your bowmen over there to fire on those naked berserkers than the shield wall and so on. Gamesmanship is doing everything you can to win at any cost, even if this means being a little “economical” with the interpretation of the rules.

Being a sportsman doesn’t mean you can’t get in your opponents head, or at least try. A bit of sledging here, a quizzical look there and second guessing your opponent is not a bad thing, especially against older experienced players who are your regular opponents. All aspects of the game should be fun.

In many respects, I am kind of glad of my current wargaming solitude. I play with myself, so no longer have the annoyance of players leaking gamesmanship all over the table. In this increasingly polarized world, it does make sense to relax, be nice and enjoy your hobby. After all, winning isn’t everything! Really, it’s not!

THERE’S a breathless hush in the Close to-night –
Ten to make and the match to win –
A bumping pitch and a blinding light,
An hour to play and the last man in.
And it’s not for the sake of a ribboned coat,
Or the selfish hope of a season’s fame,
But his Captain’s hand on his shoulder smote
“Play up! play up! and play the game!”

Vitai Lampada by Sir Henry Newbolt

The next post from here will be game based – yes gentle reader, I am planning on playing with myself some more. My target, refight the entire Peloponnesian War between now and the end of January. Well, we all have to dream 🙂


Play nice, roll high, and enjoy the game!

Big Ideas to Grow Historical Wargming

A few days ago I posted a link to a Little Wars video asking the question, Is Historical Wargaming Dying Out? I also added my thoughts to the question as well.

More power to the guys at Little Wars, they released a follow-on video offering some ideas and suggestions (five of them to be accurate) for growing tabletop wargaming.

The suggestions are all quite good and certainly may help to promote the game. The Gateway Product and Curated YouTube channels I think were excellent ideas. To attract those in the 20 to 35 age group, the approach really needs to be electronic to start with. For those in the 15 to 25 age group, the competition is tough as it is mobile phone based games along with XBox, Playstation and Nintendo.

I will admit that having worked in IT for more years than I care to remember, I like the tactile nature of tabletop gaming — research, painting, pushing figures around a table, two out of three parts are unrelated to my day job.

Anyhow, do have a look at the video and see of you can think of something to:

  1. promote the hobby
  2. attract new gamers

Right then, back out with the paintbrushes.

Roll sixes, stay safe, wash your hands!

Wargaming Dying Out?

The folks over at Little Wars TV posed the question, “Is Historical Wargaming Dying Out?” I know this is something that has been often discussed in the wargames press, in forums, at shows and when just sitting around and chatting at the club. The greying of the hobby is apparent from the results over a number of years from the Great Wargames Survey.

If you haven’t seen it already, have a look at the YouTube video below, produced by Little Wars TV.

This video spoke to a couple of US wargame “dignitaries” as well as many UK ones. The mix was rules writers, figure producers and so on and one of the premises was that there has been very little in the way of new rules releases from US rules writers, although the English rules producers have been having a field day over recent years.

Some lively debate has followed on Twitter about this. Some of it has suggested that the responses were biased. I don’t think that there was a deliberate bias, the guys just spoke to the folks they knew at a show in the US and via other arcane means of communications in the UK.

Storm of Steel Wargaming, in his YouTube channel also discussed this topic, offering an alternative view:

To the actual question posed, here are my thoughts, written here as it is too long for Twitter 🙂

The first thing to note is that the feeling of the future from the folks in the UK was positive. More figure ranges being produced in more scales, many more rules written and released and, apart from the current plagues, clubs well attended as are shows.

Compare that to the US where they make the point that apart from Sam Mustafa’s Honor series, there has been little in the realm of new rules releases. Most of the rules systems being played are, in fact, systems that were written many years ago.

I’m not sure that I would describe this as dying out, rather I think it is a product of the times and the way wargames are played in the two areas. With a couple of notable exceptions, clubs in the US tend to be few and far between with most gaming occurring in gamer’s homes. Shows are organised by the various societies and generally run for 2 to 4 days with game masters running games for the attendees, often running a game many rimes. The objective of the show is to play games. It seems sensible then to stick to rules that folks know for that reason.

In the UK, the shows are mainly for shopping, and looking at lots of eye candy. There may be wargames competitions on as well but the shows are generally one or two days maximum, and the largest, Salute, is a one day show with many traders and demonstrations games.

Europe also seems to have a healthy scene as well with large shows (Antwerp for example) as well as manufacturers and publishers. APAC also has a healthy scene, and wargamers in the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand and Hong Kong seem on average younger than those grey heads in the UK and US.

Where are all the youngsters playing wargames? Mostly on their mobile phones, Play Stations or Xboxes, playing Mobile Legends or Fortnite. These gamers will age, and eventually at the ripe old age of 28 or so, their reactions will have slowed, the ability of their thumb to hit a key at about 200 times per second will have diminished and they will start to look for other entertainment.

Enter the recent spate of “all-in-one” sets. These are boxed sets and are new scales and warames periods with all the new items being released with rules, models/figures, and painting instructions in one box. Verily these are starter sets and like them or hate them, they do provide an entry for folks whose interest has been piqued. Cruel Seas, Black Seas, SPQR Victory at Sea and other Warlord games provide complete packs, an easy entry for new starters.

The wargame shows, once the Plague passes, provide a means of showcasing the hobby and these days, with YouTube channels, podcasts, not to mention books and magazines providing support for the new starter, I certainly think that while the future the future may look a little dim in the US at the moment, in the rest f the world it appears vibrant and bright.

Inclusiveness in Wargaming – Women

Back in September this year I wrote a post about Inclusiveness in Wargaming and Tastelessness. This week the guys at Little Wars TV along with Jasper from Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy looked at one of the items from the Great Wargaming Survey, made more interesting as now there is five years data available for comparison.

This YouTube video looked at Women in Wargaming and less than perfect attitude of some male gamers. It is a short video and well worth the time to look at … and maybe if more folks see this, we may also see an increase in the umber of women involved in Wargaming.

I hope we have come further than the comment from H. G. Wells on wargames, in that they were “a game for boys from twelve years of age to one hundred and fifty and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys’ games and books,” and now, wargames are now a game for people who ust like to play with toy soldiers and all that entails. Do watch the clip below.

Thomo gets Dumped

This happened in Maui a few years ago. We were there attending a friend’s wedding and decided to head to the beach … where I learnt a new respect for the Hawaiian shorebreak. Interestingly, this video was also blocked by YouTube for breaching community standards. Took about two weeks to get it back up again. I am not sure whether to be annoyed or proud 🙂

Little Wars TV – D-Day Wargame – Rommel Rules

I do love the Little Wars TV YouTube channel, the guys are like so many of my mates from various wargame clubs over the years and in different countries, where winning is not as important as the game and fun was the target of the game. Little Wars TV recently decided to re-fight the first couple of days of D-Day, given that it is the 75th anniversary this year. The re-fight was controlled using modified Rommel rules (thanks guys, I am now considering getting yet another set of rules). For previous World War 2 games they have used Fistful of TOWs.

Part 1 of the two part video covers the objectives for each side, the landings and the drive inland from the beaches.

The second part covers D+1 – where the Allies will attempt to consolidate and meet their objectives and the Germans will attempt to both prevent the Allies reaching objectives but also achieve some objectives of their own.

Well worth watching these and as I mentioned, this has reawakened my interest in trying out Rommel as a set of World War 2 wargaming rules. I would also strongly recommend a visit to the Little Wars TV website to both see what’s new and interesting, grab some free stuff and check out their other videos. Thanks guys, love your work!

A Parcel from Baccus – 6mm Napoleonics – Dutch-Belgian and Brunswick

I received some Napoleonic reinforcements recently and I now how wargamers like to live vicasiously, looking at others toys so here I the unpacking of the Baccus 6mm reinforcements – Dutch Belgians along with a few Brunswickers. Just what I needed, more figures in the lead pile. At this rate I will live forever.

Early Days of Wargaming

A YouTube video turned up in my “Recommended Viewing” box the other day so I viewed it. It basically covered the early days of wargaming and in particular wargame figure manufacturing. I had pause to think then about my early days of wargaming and what was available then. I started gaming in the early 1970s I think. I can’t recall the exact date and time but I am certain it was after I left school and had cash in my pocket – that would have been 1972 for being out of school but I guess 1975 when there was cash in the pocket. So, around that time, a mate, Jeffrey, called and said, “come around home and let’s have a wargame?”

“Great” says I, “er, what’s a wargame?”.

Rolled up to Jeff’s and he had set up, on a Masonite board, Plasticine hills and a number of Airfix Union and Confederate soldiers and a copy of Donald Featherstone’s War Games. Jeff took the Confederates and whupped my boys good! It was great fun.

The following week we played again, this time Airfix Romans and Ancient Britons (oh how good those Roman Chariots looked). Jeff took the Romans and I the Britons. Let’s just say that the result was Boudicca’s revenge! Both games were probably the most fun I had playing in the early years. Simple rules, two people who did not know enough about the rules or the history to argue the finer points and unpainted plastic figures on the table.

Later we became more mainstream and started frequenting a shop, Models and Figurines, firstly at Naremburn in Sydney and later in Crows Nest where it eventually changed its name to the Tin Soldier.

In those heady days of pioneering wargames in the 1970s (back then it was “War Games” now we refer to “wargames” regardless of the failure of spell checkers to recognize the new fangled spelling from world wide usage) we were somewhat restricted in the figures available. Leaving aside the “flats” (German manufactured historical figures, moulded as flat figures), at the start there was HO/OO/20mm or 1/76 scale (Airfix) and 25mm size figures. The main suppliers we had access to at the start were Airfix (plastic figures and the subject of much conversion work); Hinchliffe (Frank Hinchliffe and designer and wargame figure painter extraordinaire, Peter Gilder); Lamming Miniature (from Bill Lamming); and Minifigs (owner Neville Dickinson and designer Dick Higgs). The clip below shows a news piece from around the mid to late 1980s I think about the setup of Miniature Figurines, the production of figures and wargaming in general. Worth a look for the history of it all.

YouTube – Navwar Parcel #02 Arrives

I received my Christmas gift to myself from Navwar. Seven fleet packs were included (World War 2 Argentinian and Brazilian and Dutch, Italian, French, UK and US modern). Here we have a brief look at the contents of each pack.

I will show more as I prepare each pack for painting … but first I need to finish Anthony’s 20mm World War 2 Brits.

Watch it here: