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"Are you fearful of "gamey/movie" historical wargames?" Topic

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22 Feb 2013 11:34 a.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Paragonicnova Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 8:46 a.m. PST

It is no secret a good chunk of TMP is biased against games in the historical department that have more in common with the likes of Warmahordes and Warhammer than their historical brethren, games such as Flames of War and Bolt Action are the most commonly brought up I find.

I am curious to know though if some people here are fearful of this games, often called too gamey or too movie like.

"What do you mean by Fearful? Why not say disliking?"

I say fearful because I'm curious if the disposition is slightly influenced by the unknown future of wargaming. Some questions pertaining to this topic come to mind

Do you think that movie or gamey wargames might keep growing and eventually outnumber more historical based games? Will more games feel more like 300 rather than watching a documentary or reenactment? Will newer wargamers prefer these types of rules? Will the behaviors of these games become more prevalent the more popular they are, such as building lists specifically to win even if it stretches or breaks the historical contexts? Is there a possibility that much like warhammer you'll see more posts talking about X army is OP vs another even if they are centuries apart?

I could go on about these though then I might end up writing an essay full of questions! Thoughts or comments?

MajorB22 Jan 2013 8:51 a.m. PST

Er … no??

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 8:54 a.m. PST

When have wargames EVER been as purely "historical" as you seem to think?
Is HG Wells "historical"?
Fletcher Pratt?
In all of the early games, there was a "willing suspension of disbelief".
How is Flames of War scenario different from a Featherstone scenario?

You seem to believe that "fun" or Horrywood games are inferior to whatever it is that you prefer.

Once again, we have an assumption that people who play with their toy soldiers in a way you do not, are if not Evil, then horribly misguided. Likely we will corrupt and debase The Children while we are at it too.

Play your games, excuse me, your "simulations", and I will play mine. I will feel no guilt, as you seem to think I must.

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 8:56 a.m. PST

Is building an army by "lists" inferior to building one by whatever you can afford to put on the table?

Goober22 Jan 2013 8:56 a.m. PST

I think, like many things, preferences will wax and wane with time, but there will always be various "factions", for want of a word, that will prefer different styles of rules. In my preferred genre, scifi, you have a whole gamut of rules styles from the cartoony, abstract world of WAAAAGHammer 40K right through to the ultra-realism of things like Attack Vector:Tactical to the lumbering behemoth that is Star Fleet Battles (where the paperwork is your enemy).

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 8:56 a.m. PST

"Fearful…" Geez.

Crocus Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:02 a.m. PST

Paragonicnova (catchy!) you pays yer money and you takes yer choice. Its all a matter of preference and pocket at the end of the day, and maybe what your buddies like too.

Any of the entry level games are quite abstract – DBA, Basic Impetus, Saga – but require small outlays and allow induction into more fraught rules as your armies grow.

I would love cinematic wargames, and the closest I get to that is Dux Bellorum/Hail Caesar/Saga/Songs of Arthur and Merlin and lots of imagination. Marvelous.

I would be very wary of joining a pyramid selling uber routine used so successfully by GW in the past – and FoW reminds me of that, with the WI support and all.

This hobby for the bearded and weird is broad enough for all. Hail Eris!

balticbattles22 Jan 2013 9:05 a.m. PST

There are two separate issues: is a game fun, and to what extent does it represent history.
Both being subjective, though the historical being more tangible.

I think that the tolerance for games with complex calculations is dying. Computers are here for that now to speed things up.

I think there is a risk that uninformed players may play games and think them a more accurate reflection of history than they are. But that has been the prerogative of the wargamer for decades.

Spreewaldgurken Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:07 a.m. PST

" Will the behaviors of these games become more prevalent the more popular they are, such as building lists specifically to win even if it stretches or breaks the historical contexts? Is there a possibility that much like warhammer you'll see more posts talking about X army is OP vs another even if they are centuries apart?"

Errm…. hasn't that been the premise of most ancients games since the 1970s? I recall many a trip through the WRG Ancients tournaments, watching guys sweating and fretting over whether their super-Seleucid perfect army list would defeat some other guy's perfect Japanese Samurai list, etc, etc.

Indeed, it was one of the first "new style / cinematic" simple games (Arty Conliffe's "Tactica") that first suggested a more historically-based approach in which armies fought only against their plausible historical opponents.

Atomic Floozy22 Jan 2013 9:12 a.m. PST

Fearful? The only thing I'm fearful of is when one of the 40K or FoW players on the table next to me in a game store goes into a tizzy & starts throwing dice & miniatures. :-)

All war games can be "gamey". I don't think my war games will ever be like 300, my miniatures are better actors.


Duc de Limbourg Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:18 a.m. PST

we play games, don't we?

ge2002bill Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 9:22 a.m. PST

No I'm not afraid or disappointed.
We do historical games, adaptations of historical games and fictional historical games.

Redoing portions of Halfaya Pass, Borodino, Minden and so on as closely as we can with terrain, timing and miniatures. The question is, won't we get bored redoing Borodino this way just so we can do a closely historical game many times? Attacking and defending The Great Redoubt too many times over the years might be a negative experience overdoing it. Also no one has time resources and patience to raise all the exact units unless a battle being recreated is a small one.

Historical Adaptations:
To use Borodino again, set out the terrain, use the miniatures you have whether the right ones or not and allow all kinds of attack and defense options for both sides.

A friend has been raising 1:20 units for Waterloo for twenty years. He's getting there but even he is not done. I doubt he will be but who knows?

Fictional Historical Games:
By fictional I mean paint up your units any you want and design/play fictional scenarios based on history; the 1812 invasion of Russian for example.

I am unable to remark about 40K, Warhammer though I've played Warhammer ECW and so on. We have played some compelling space ship games similar to Wings of War which are fun.

People want to do what they know about. If all they know is Lord of the Rings (which is okay), then adapting it to miniatures would probably be their desire.

For some reason I was interested in history and the desire to find out why things happened the way they did. I wanted to see historical principles in action on the table but not always in the context of an exact historical replay.

I don't know if some of the above answers your inquiry. Hope so.

Keraunos Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:22 a.m. PST

i'm more fearful of excessive cross posting

religon Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:26 a.m. PST


DeanMoto Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:26 a.m. PST

Sharp Practice is/was very popular even to the point of producing figures like the characters in the mini series.

This year's Enfilade! (largest Pacific NW historical gaming convention) theme is games based on "your favorite war movie" or something close to that.

Fat Wally22 Jan 2013 9:30 a.m. PST

Wargaming is a broad church.

Martin Rapier22 Jan 2013 9:40 a.m. PST

wrt the questions raised by the OP, no, none of this stuff bothers me in the least.

People will play the games they want to play, I'm certainly not 'afraid' that people will go off an talk about games I don't want to play, they do that already.

John D Salt Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:44 a.m. PST

I'm not fearful of any set of wargames rules, but I am a bit worried about the number of times I keep agreeing with Martin Rapier.

All the best,


kyoteblue Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 9:44 a.m. PST


Legion 422 Jan 2013 9:46 a.m. PST

Fear ? I don't know the meaning of the word, Sir !!!!! wink

Huscarle22 Jan 2013 9:47 a.m. PST

I too agree with Martin Rapier :-)

Gaz004522 Jan 2013 9:48 a.m. PST

Not at all- I'm more niggled by films that don't portray things right and claim to be historical or are adopted as such………(notice just 'niggled' -you can always edit with the channel changer/off button!)

darthfozzywig Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 9:49 a.m. PST

Man, I *wish* wargaming was more like 300 than a documentary. I love my documentaries, but I want games – even "historical" ones – to be exciting and fun.

Yesthatphil22 Jan 2013 10:17 a.m. PST

I'm not fearful of any set of wargames rules, but I am a bit worried about the number of times I keep agreeing with Martin Rapier.

I agree, John.

Meiczyslaw Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 11:10 a.m. PST

"What do you mean by Fearful? Why not say disliking?"

Because you want to skew your survey to discomfit people who might actually dislike cinematic wargaming. Note that none of them have actually answered this thread.

Not that I care about the topic one way or the other, but geez, way to pollute the well from the get-go.

Jovian1 Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 11:22 a.m. PST

You've not played Raiding Aces in Flames of War have you? None of those forces are built to "win" and I seriously doubt that any of them would win except against another force from the same period and with quite a bit of luck. As for your comments on "historical games" versus "gamey historical games" I find that any rule set which allows "list building" susceptible to being gamed. Any game is potentially gamey if you find the right people to "break" the rule set. No system of historical rules gets it any more "right" than the "gamey" systems out there. They are games, NOT documentaries or re-enactments. If you want a re-enactment, that's all fine and good, but most gamers want a chance at winning – even when historically it would have been very difficult. If you want to just watch a documentary, find a good documentary, pop it in the DVD player and watch it, or find one on Netflix, or similar. Why do it on the table top?

Andy ONeill22 Jan 2013 11:22 a.m. PST

Too much reality can be a bad thing.

Dark Knights And Bloody Dawns Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 11:23 a.m. PST

Are we talking about miniature historical reenactment or war"games"?

I like both equally as much.

richarDISNEY Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 11:29 a.m. PST

I personally like more 'Hollywood" than "history" in my games…

M C MonkeyDew22 Jan 2013 11:39 a.m. PST

I am fearful of clowns.

Games not so much.

EDIT: Unless they involve clowns.

(Phil Dutre) Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 11:40 a.m. PST

Wargamers play what they think is fun. Your fun is probably different from my fun, but is that a problem as long as we don't play together?

OTOH, it is useful to have at least some rulesets in the wargaming universe that adhere closely to the historical background, and can act as a sort of "ground-truth". Then at least, when you're using cinematic rules, you know where and how you're deviating from the "truth" – although I readily admit that the "truth" in this respect is something very subjective.

Spiffy Iguana Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 11:47 a.m. PST

Honestly, I think its a false dichotomy. Some 'historical gamers' are concerned with warhammer creep. They see glossy books and pre-packaged armies and are concerned that they, or their way is going to be pushed aside. Personally, I enjoy a fairly wide spectrum of wargames, though I find I enjoy games with super-heroes or super weapons less enjoyable than those with more down to earth power levels. But, to each his own.

The reason you see threads like this one is how targeted the 'anti-cinematic' crowd seems to be. They seem to specifically dislike Bolt Action and FoW. Yet games like Black Powder get a pass. BP is full of 'Hollywood-type' stuff and wild over-generalizations, but it gets relatively little flak from TMPers-at-large. The same is true with the entire class of rules 3000BC-AD1500, which not only assume that a Roman Legionary is functionally the same as a Viking warrior, but lets them fight each other.

Maybe old-school WW2 gamers feel their hobby is being overrun by outsiders who will change it forever. Like when your favorite watering-hole is discovered, declared to be cool on twitter, and taken over by swarms of hipsters. I don't know, but I think wargamers worry too much.

Rallynow Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 11:52 a.m. PST

Fearful? No. I don't do point based games or tournaments. Rules like FOW, are primarily design for tournament play. But fearful? No. We do on occasion a TSTAF game that we call a "B" movie game based on "Four Feathers" and "Beau Geste" etc. But other than that we stick to historical scenarios whether they are model on an actual battle or a "what-if."


You used the term "Fictional Historical Games" I prefer term "Hypothetical Scenarios" I believe it to be a more accurate term. It is a scenario using a historical set of rules in a historical context.

It can be a "what-if" of an actual historical battle or a new situation. But even if you just put some figures out and go at each other you are still using a historical set of rules. It is still in context. As much as a set rules can provide.

Dynaman878922 Jan 2013 11:57 a.m. PST

> Do you think that movie or gamey wargames might keep growing and eventually outnumber more historical based games?

Since that happened long ago (if including fantasy and science fiction in the mix which I do) so nothing to fear there.

As long as I have gamers interested in the kinds of games I like around I don't give a rip what the rest of you do.

Strangely enough this is the second "inferiority complex" thread about popular games in a week or so, you guys really need to feel more comfortable about your hobby choice – do the rest of us really have to like your game in order for you to accept yourselves?

daghan Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 12:09 p.m. PST

I think there's an irony here: It seems, on TMP at least, that most people's notion of "History" is derived from The Cinema.

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 12:24 p.m. PST


Milites Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 12:48 p.m. PST

Realistic? I thought I played games. Stuff realism I have enough of that at work. It would be interesting to play my job though with WRG's 'Teacher 2013: Classroom conflicts in the 21st Century". It would have only a basic resemblance to reality, but it would be fun to play.

kevanG22 Jan 2013 1:12 p.m. PST

..perhaps it is just that historical gamers think those sort of games are just dreary rubbish and would rather watch the video

Personal logo John the OFM Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 1:15 p.m. PST

..perhaps it is just that historical gamers think those sort of games are just dreary rubbish and would rather watch the video

Do you claim to be speaking for ALL historical gamers?

21eRegt Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 1:28 p.m. PST

Games that have a lot of goofy "Hollywood" rules will greatly lessen my enjoyment of the social experience. Which should not bother anyone a fig. The proponents of the "it's only a game" thought process seem to feel I should be guilty of some sin because I don't like the notion of my game resembling the old Sgt. Rock comics. When/if FoW lets me kill a Tiger tank with a bayonet (as Sgt. Rock did), then I quit.

So long as the social experience remains fun I'll keep playing anything. At least three times.

Lion in the Stars22 Jan 2013 1:51 p.m. PST

Daghan for the win.

Let's not forget Audie Murphy's decision to tone down his exploits for the film, because 'nobody would believe it'.

We already have too many troops crammed in one scene like the movies do, why not more 'cinematic' events? For that matter, the best line I've seen on the Infinity forums is, "when I make a decision on what to do, I ask myself 'what would look coolest in a movie'"

kevanG22 Jan 2013 2:30 p.m. PST

..perhaps it is just that historical gamers think those sort of games are just dreary rubbish and would rather watch the video

Do you claim to be speaking for ALL historical gamers?

where did I say that?

striker822 Jan 2013 2:50 p.m. PST

How can you fear a game? I just don't get that. Sounds a bit like someone complaining that others don't want to play their pet game.

I've played "historically accurate" games that were fun accept for players who either tried to game the system or tried to impose their ideals of accuracy on the other players. I've played "gamey/movie historical" games that were fun fun until other players tried to impose their ideas of accuracy or who were more worried about winning than if everyone enjoyed playing. See the common thread there? It's the people who only care what they may get out of playing.

There are no bad games, just players who make them un-fun to play.

Condottiere22 Jan 2013 2:57 p.m. PST

Wargaming is a broad church.

Mega church?

Milites Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 3:02 p.m. PST

I don't think I've ever played an historically accurate game, to be honest. Elements of games have come close by producing individual 'realistic' outcomes, but no rule set could even begin to reproduce all the factors that influence real operations.

The older I get the more I like larger scale games, that way all the mutitude of factors can be roughly approximated. I also like games that allow a final outcome in a gaming session, which mitigates against too much realism, as this means critical time 'wasted'. Gone are the days of gaming buddies close by and time and space to revist conflicts.

Norman D Landings Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 3:20 p.m. PST

Forty years ago, Donald Featherstone was writing 20-point Fighting Assessments of different historical forces, so they could 'engage in table-top warfare without it appearing anomalous, incongruous or unworkable' – even when those forces existed centuries apart.

Forty years later, you're worried that kind of thing might be the future of wargaming?

Got your finger right on the pulse there, haven't you?
Thanks for alerting us to this worrying trend.

Personal logo The Tin Dictator Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2013 3:48 p.m. PST

Do you claim to be speaking for ALL historical gamers?

Its OK if you are.
Lots of people make lots of claims around here.
There's no requirement that you defend yourself or actually back up any claims.

I'm fearful of "games that seem too gamey". Especially if they're based on videos which I could watch later.

I'm fearful of "historical games with too much history". Especially if I might learn something. Its not SCHOOL for crying out loud!

But mostly, I'm fearful of dorks showing up on my doorstep on game night. Especially if they're LARP'ers.

Socalwarhammer Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 3:56 p.m. PST

The minute you crossbreed history with game…you get 'Historical Wargame'. A unique species which is neither truly historical and in the same breath not exactly whimsical.

Who was that insightful and intelligent guy? Don't worry, it wasn't you…LMAO

vtsaogames22 Jan 2013 4:26 p.m. PST

I'm going into my bunker with MRE's and a load of ammo.

Fatman Inactive Member22 Jan 2013 4:50 p.m. PST

Norman D Landings "War Games through the Ages: Vol. 1 3000BC-1500AD" still has pride of place on my shelf and is one of my pick up and browse favorites. Which is a bit weird as I don't wargame anything before the 20th century! ;-P


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