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Friday, January 15, 2010

Why Wargaming?

For anyone who missed it, this is from Big Red at Bell of Lost Souls.  I actually mailed the article to myself, and am thinking about printing it up to go up on the wall.  I think it concisely covers all the things that make our hobby great. 


So this one has been a long time coming...

As I embraced the wargaming hobby, I never really pondered the why until I bumped into Phil Kelly at Adepticon 2 years ago and he posed a question to me:

"Why Wargaming?  Why that over board games, video games, or any other types of games?"  

At some level I blame the LEGO space-men.  When I was very young my parents took me to the Galleria in Houston, TX (a big fancy place for a country kid like me) and I got one of the first LEGO space sets ever made. I started the adventures with the little plastic men right then, and over the year, the play led to invented rules, then simple games, then more advanced games, and look where I am decades later... *help me*

It was a good question Phil asked. A really good one and it got me pondering the things I feel bind me to the hobby and how the hobby enriches my life.  In a nutshell here is my list:

1) Its a Physical Hobby - No pixels, or ephemeral experiences.  I get to lay my hands on awesome real world TOYS and play with them for years.

2) Its a Visual Game - To this day few things stop me like a beautiful table with 2 well-painted armies on them.  No cardboard chits, or save-games for me. (I'm also a sucker for giant battle dioramas at museums)

3) The Worlds - Whether you play in the Imperium of Man, the Old World, the Iron Kingdoms or anywhere else, there is something about those rich fleshed out universes that wargaming gives you a window into.

4) The Depth of the Hobby - This is a big one. From the painting to the reading, to the converting, to the army building, not to mention the playing, the hobby can support as much effort as you can throw into it.  Like any grand hobby, it can last a lifetime, and not leave you high and dry after a few days of playing.

5) Math - At some level wargaming teaches math, statististics, and probability.  Some players are calculators and can figure the odds in their heads instantly while others are instinctual and "feel their way through the odds" after a lot of games under their belts. Utilizing math in your everyday life is a good thing in the long run.

6) Its Social - I get to actually hang with like-minded players and have a great time rolling some dice and moving toys around, not virtual people in far away lands.

7) A Touch of History - Regardless of genre, there is an underlying ribbon of historical warfare and command implicit in wargaming, and it touches something grand inside all of us.

8) The Painting - Yes its always been a love-hate relationship, but few things bind you to a hobby like the pride of a fine collection of handpainted models under your belt.

9) The Psychology of Play - Few things these days let you really try to understand your fellow player, and outwit him on the tabletop in a display of pure light-hearted competition (and a bit of dice-luck). 

10) The Hidden Gifts - From attention to detail, eye-hand coordination, focus of thought, color theory, and countless others the fringe benefits of the wargaming hobby are myrid, and often not overt at first glance.

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