I always want to write late at night, I get so many ideas flying through my head but then I come to write them down and they disappear so here I am, at 11pm, hoping to write something coherent. Of course I enjoy writing reviews and about the games I love but, I get my true joy when I’m writing about the things that make me happy in a different kind of way. I am going to write a series of blog posts describing why I love wargames and here is your first instalment.
I often think about why I play the games that I play and I guess you could say that about anybody but my tastes have gotten pretty specific over the last year or so, and I wanted to talk a little bit about wargames and why they have a special place in my heart. Now you can say the same thing about boardgames in general, they are so full of theme, full of exciting stories and adventures but there is something that’s just a little bit different when it comes to wargames for me.
Learning about Historical events and Military history
Growing up, I wasn’t really into history at all. I studied it at school, because it was mandatory but beyond that, it didn’t really grab me. Looking back, I feel like maybe the history lessons at school were a bit crap in the first place and I was focused on other stuff but fast forward quite a few years and I am obsessed. My love of wargames did not start out due to my love of history, it was in fact the other way round.
The more wargames I discover, the more I start learning about history and the more excited I am to do research on the different events or wars that I may be playing a game about. Playing wargames also let’s me do more with historical events than just read a book or watch a movie. I now love doing those things too, but playing a wargame is a highly thematic and immersive experience. Does that mean I love war? not at all. I get asked sometimes if I do and the answer is simply no, but do I love learning about history and getting to know events, what happened and why things are the way they are now? of course I do. Like a lot of other boardgames, wargames tell a story.
There’s something so extraordinary about a designer telling an elegant story, as well as highlighting important parts of history.
I intially discovered wargames through GMT Games, I had played and fallen in love with Twilight Struggle and needed to find more games that would excite me the way that Twilight Struggle had. So I did a bit of research and played a couple of COIN games, Fire in the Lake and Cuba Libre to be exact and I was hooked. I didn’t really understand the COIN system back then but there was something about it, I knew I loved it and wanted to learn more.
Strategy and Mechanics
I love the strategy that is often involved in wargames. Yes, they do include the usual mechanics that I love including area control, hand management and so on but after playng heavy euros, 18XX games and all of the games I still love, I wanted something new to obsess over and wargames were that for me. I see it as a challenge, learning new stratgies and new ways to play games.
I also find it so interesting to discover other strategies that we might have pursued and how that could have changed the way a lot of these historical events played out.
I know that other boardgames can be played solo and I do that occasionally, but I learned to play a lot of wargames by playing them solo and it’s something I really enjoy and actively do these days.
I talk alot about mental health and boardgames and the relationship between the two and this is a perfect example. There’s something so theraputic about playing a solo boardgame when I’m feeling anxious or struggling with my mental health. I can sit down, focus on the game and the tough decisions that I am going to have to make during the game. Sometimes I want the experience of sitting down and playing a heavy game but being an introvert, sometimes I can’t socialise and need my own space so being able to do something I enjoy, on my own, in a safe space is so valuble to me.
It’s not always that way though, sometimes I just want to play something because I’m bored, or want to learn a new game or nobody else is around to play a game or because it’s fun. It’s great to have that option and a lot of wargames do.
There’s just a few reasons I love playing wargames, keep an eye out for part two, thank you for reading and let me know why you love playing wargames.
Thank you for reading.