I've been pondering....
There is a noticeable number of gamers doing "imagiNation" armies, campaigns, etc. While I admire their creativity, I find myself asking "why"? That question is really the topic of this post.
I think there are 3 categories of games, and gamers. I limit this purely to "historical" miniatures, not SF or fantasy. In broad terms:
Historical Fiction gamer
The Fiction gamer is the realm of the guys with imagiNations. There isn't really historical context, other than very broad strokes such as tricornes and muskets, horse and musket armies, etc. I also put ancient tournament gamers in this category. These are the folks that play Persians against Normans and it doesn't bother them. I guess another way to categorize this group is that the game itself is the most important thing to them.
The Historical Fiction gamer is most likely the biggest category. These are folks that don't necessarily follow exact troop ratios, or use historical scenarios, or require that every game be exactly based on an historical incident. I fall squarely in the group. For example, my French Napoleonic army sports early period flags and uniforms. But I also have an 1813-1815 Prussian army that they fight. Oh No!!! It can't be!! Yes it can. I rarely play games based on historical scenarios, rather choosing to create situations that are interesting. My Confederate army all sport the Army of Northern Virginia flag, but have fought in western theatre based games. Guard units show up in games with historically too high of a force ratio in some games. The constant through this thread is that the games feature historical armies fighting other historical armies of roughly the same time period (only Napoleonics vs. Napoleonics, for example - regardless of whether they are early or late in the period. My Austrian Napoleonics all have helmets, but I'm sure I'll be adding later uniforms in shakos to the army. Why? Because they look cool, and I'm not going to duplicate an entire army for a trivial difference.
The Non-Fiction gamer is where you find the button counters, the debaters, the boardgamers, the guys that only play a game that is straight from history. I don't have any problem with this, I just find it limiting. Doesn't it get boring playing Gettysburg for the 53rd time? I find it interesting that boardgamers value the scenario and not the rules. To me, that is the exact opposite of miniature gamers - who tend to be Historical Fiction gamers. Boardgame companies regularly give away their game's rules for free. The value of the game is its replayability and the game scenario that it presents. The rules are just a means to an end.
So, what's the point of this rambling post?
Not much of one, really. I just find it interesting to see how different we all are, yet we all share a passion for military history and wargaming in all of its different variations.
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Playing Gettysburg for the 53rd time? Of course that is unreasonable. But playing only 52 times, completely reasonable.ReplyDelete
I think there are a few ImagiNation players who'd object to being lumped in with the tournament players! :)ReplyDelete
I think for a lot of ImagiNation players there is an historical context. It just isn't the same history as every one else! And again, with ImagiNation, it's not just about the 'game'. There's as much thought and 'research' goes into the uniforms etc. as your third category...
But - if it's "imagination", that is fiction. Creating your own uniforms, or flags, is fiction. It's not science fiction, as their is historical context for the arms the forces use, but it is still fiction. I can't see an army with pink flags sporting a dancing pig crest as historical...I just don't get ImagiNations. There's way too much in the way of historical forces I'm interested in to divert energy to ImagiNations. Just my opinion and preference.ReplyDelete
Yes, I agree it is fiction. I think my opposition to the proposition was more about the last sentence and implying the 'game' was what mattered. I think there's far more to ImagiNations than the 'game' and often a serious historical interest in a period underlies the ImagiNation anyway.ReplyDelete
But as said. Each to their own! :)
True - "the game is the thing" is really the realm of the tournament gamer.ReplyDelete
I like your post and it gives one things to chew on while painting. I do agree with you but just to play devils advocate a little. While I fall fully into the Historical Fiction Gamer section and I do tend to take situations from other parts of history and apply them elsewhere that could fall into a ImagiNations style of game. Taking something out of history and placing it into a new section of history would bump up the Imagination part of the hobby. Its the "What if's" of history that could fall out of the "history" part and into the "imagination" part.ReplyDelete
Interesting topic - but perhaps we all have different ideas as to what these categories ought to be and what they mean. I am emphatically not a tournament player. I've never really seen the point. Yet I do like building imaginary worlds, which is really what imagi-Nations is all about.ReplyDelete
but they aren't just 'any' worlds. My Wholly Romantic Empire world is modelled pretty closely - at least the armies are - upon the 18th Century world of Prussia and Austria; Severia and Austeria the 30YW armies of Sweden and the Empire; and the Latin Wars have a distinctly WW2 look.
The point of these is to play out campaigns up to and including whole wars without necessarily being shoehorned into historical actions.
At some point we all have to depart from history. This can be before we even start (Fantasy), or we can select some other point of divergence.
Whatever we do, though, has to hang together more or less plausibly, however much we have to suspend disbelief. Even were we to adhere as close to history even unto refighting Gettysburg 53 times, at some point we have to depart from strict reality - in the makeup of our armies (playing pieces, scales), the playing surface, the game mechanics, time scales, rule sets, conventions, and overall playability. I knew one guy who felt that all the figures and other impedimenta of the table top were mere toys, no more than visual aids for the real serious game of the mind. Well, chess can be like that.
It seems to me that categorising is really an arbitrary exercise, and maybe (at least this is where my discourse has led me to conclude) doesn't really tell us all that much about the disparate interests, attitudes and practices of wargamers at large.
I've done all the above - Historical scenarios galore, created scenarios with historical troops, "imaginations", usually in the setting of a campaign, thus freeing one form the restrictions of the actual terrain, strategic situation and army strengths,etc, but still using historical troop types, etc (and often with one of more countries obviously inspired by historical prototypes, and limited tabletop Fantasy gaming. They're all good, IMHO! Some I certainly prefer more than others.ReplyDelete
I never said any of the approaches was "wrong", I just think that they're different. While overwhelmingly gamers will claim to be primarily strongly historically focused, the Fiction and Historical Fiction segments seem to be the largest segment and have more fun! I myself value the history a great deal (maybe a future post will show my bookshelves....), but I enjoy a fun game more than game full of button counters and "that would never have happened" players.ReplyDelete
Of course a historical boardgame is more "limited", but you cannot imagine how deep you can get in history.ReplyDelete
In this perspective, chess should be considered a very "limited" game, but it has very stood the test of time indeed...
I have to agree with much of what was said in regards to button counters as well as uniform style hystericals who cant seem to allow any variance if the army or units aren't "exactly" in the right helmet or headcovering for the period even if its in the period from 1792 - 1815. I used to be that way a little but hey as long as it looks french or prussian or russian you can use it and Spanish look way cooler in the pre 1808 uniforms with the cool bearskins with the cloth bag, Once they get the British uniform well then they look pretty ordinary. Now of course painted properly and with decent figures this may be ab understatement. (PS played way too many tournament type renaissance battles that were just that samuri or early muscovites doing parade ground manuevers that they had no idea wht to do. or 1450 mongols versus 1692 austrians - never happened so why do it?) Finally settled on the Rules Black Powder for at least AWI )Not sure about using it for Nappys' but still havent found a truly Napoleonic set i like except the old school CLS, But Black Powder at least has some interesting things it. Cant wait for your posts on making terrain. Also your Napoleonic rules might be interesting where would I find them?ReplyDelete