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"So What's Wrong With Imaginations Games?" Topic

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Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP08 Feb 2019 9:38 a.m. PST

From time to time we find a blogger windging about Imaginations – those fictional historical little countries such as Ruritania and the Duchy of Grand Fenwick oft-found during the 18th Century, emulating the little countries of the Holy Roman Empire.


I have posted my take on the topic on my Der Alte Fritz Journal blog:


79thPA Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2019 10:15 a.m. PST

Why, nothing, of course!

willthepiper08 Feb 2019 10:24 a.m. PST

Hear, hear! Excellent blog entry.

Given that in the overall wargaming/tabletop gaming world, historical gaming appears to be dwarfed by those who favour fantasy and science fiction gaming, and even within the historical set there is widespread enthusiasm for topics such a Very British Civil War set in the 1930s, and of course the point you make that almost every wargame sets to change history (could you do better than Napoleon?). Add on top of that the often necessary level of speculation when attempting to recreate armies from eras where there are limited historical resources, and ImagiNations just fall right into place. Do you want to mix hussars (or whatever) into your army but can't justify it historically? You've got a great colour scheme for uniforms you want to try out? Your two favourite countries never actually went to war with each other, or at least not in the historical era that interests you the most? ImagiNations are the way to go!

Long live Ruritania! La Republica de los Bananas! Borduria and Sylvania! The Princely State of Jhamjar!

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian08 Feb 2019 10:24 a.m. PST

name and shame whoever said they were

miniMo08 Feb 2019 10:35 a.m. PST

They have done great imaginary wrongs perhaps?

Freedonia will go to war if insulted!

Jeffers08 Feb 2019 10:41 a.m. PST

To answer your question: nothing! It's the ultimate Old School and something I would love to do.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2019 10:46 a.m. PST

And let us not forget the triune monarchy of Scythia-Pannonia-Transbalkania! Gentlemen, His Imperial Majesty Ignatz Louis!! And another for The Heir!

If you wanted to make a case against, I would say that
--The concept is stressed when the armies are substantially different and the game is not solo.
--It deprives you of the nitpicking over flags and uniforms which is one of the joys of historical horse and musket wargaming, and
--You have to fight historical battles with historical armies to get that warm glow of having outperformed Frederick or Napoleon.

But none of this has kept me from raising imaginary armies before, and I'm salting away castings for another couple as I write.

Winston Smith08 Feb 2019 11:47 a.m. PST

In the 70s, I was heavily involved with a play by mail Diplomacy variant called Slobbovia. I briefly "edited" the zine, the Slobinpolit Zhurnal.
It was basically Imaginations grafted on to Diplomacy. Bear in mind that Diplomacy was a very serious game indeed. So much so that I was roasted over the coals for announcing that I would not be sending copies of Slobinpolit Zhurnal to Hoosier Archives because as an impoverished grad student, I couldn't afford the postage. grin
The editorship was ripped from my hands because I was not being serious about my duty to The Hobby.
It occurs to me now that….

Dynaman878908 Feb 2019 11:48 a.m. PST

Nothing wrong. I still have no interest in them for the most part however.

Winston Smith08 Feb 2019 11:49 a.m. PST

What is Ancients tournament gaming, but Imaginations?
When Vikings fight Carthaginians…

Pan Marek08 Feb 2019 11:52 a.m. PST

Hey- If you have the time and the resources, do what you want. For me, however, I became a wargamer due to my interest in history. And time and money have always made me limit how many wars I seek to game in any given era.

That said, I would certainly play in an 18th century imaginations game!

KSmyth08 Feb 2019 12:02 p.m. PST

I don't see the purpose. There are tons of historical projects for me to take on.

But what I think isn't important. If you enjoy them or find fun or meaning in them, have a blast with your project.

22ndFoot08 Feb 2019 12:03 p.m. PST

I don't think that I have the imagination. An enormous part of the fun of historical gaming for me is the research – trawling through books and trying to work out what were the defining tactical and political factors of a period. For this reason the concept has never really appealed to me but I have no issue with those who are more imaginative and creative just getting on with it.

More power to your elbow!

irishserb08 Feb 2019 3:38 p.m. PST

Curiously, I find myself doing as much research for my imagi-nation gaming, as I do for historical projects. The difference is that when I hit a void, it doesn't shut down or detract from the project. I can fill in the blanks, without feeling like I've compromised the integrity of the game or project.

Old Contemptibles08 Feb 2019 3:46 p.m. PST

Agree with 22ndFoot. Playing historical wargames is just one tool I use to study history. I also derive enormous fun from doing the research and assembling the correct figures etc. I try as hard as I can to recreate the actual battle. Never will be able to, but the fun is in the pursuit. I don't agree that every hypothetical scenario is fantasy. It depends on the hypothesis you want to test. Is it plausible?

Imagi-games takes it to a different level. It's not for me, but I have absolutely no problem with someone perusing this genre. I say if that is what you like, then go for it!

Old Contemptibles08 Feb 2019 3:53 p.m. PST

Agree with 22ndFoot. Playing historical wargames is just one tool I use to study history. I also derived enormous fun from doing the research and assembling the correct figures etc. I try as hard as I can to recreate the actual battle. Never will be able to, but the fun is in the pursuit. I don't agree that every hypothetical scenario is fantasy. It depends on the hypothesis you want to test. Is it plausible?

Imagi-games takes it to a different level. It's not for me, but I have absolutely no problem with someone perusing this genre. I say if that is what you like, then go for it!

Personal logo Yellow Admiral Supporting Member of TMP08 Feb 2019 5:19 p.m. PST

+1 KSmyth

I find history an endless source of fascinating battles, almost-battles, and plausible "what if" battles. I just can't get excited about other people's fantasies anymore, unless there's an interesting tie-in to history, or sometimes a shared fantasy based on a body of fiction. I admit some of the "what if" scenarios I invent verge really close to outright fantasy (especially with pre-dreadnoughts), but for me part of the interest lies in tying the whole thing to real history somehow. My wargaming starts from a desire to put myself into the shoes of an historical counterpart, but I can't do that if my counterpart never even existed.

Most of my gamer friends are just fine with fantasy, and play GW games and VSF and Cthulhu and other genres with gusto. I don't have any reason to denigrate those games, they're just not interesting to me. (Although I admit a slight weakness for VSF creations. Colonel O'Truth is by far my favorite scratch builder. I love reading his blog.)

- Ix

carne6809 Feb 2019 2:56 a.m. PST

My position when I see someone being shamed on one wargaming forum or another for heresy:
They are your toys, play with them however you want. If someone doesn't like your way of playing, they won't play with you. It's their loss. C'est la vie.

langobard09 Feb 2019 4:02 a.m. PST

+1 22ndFoot.

I love doing the research on historical armies, uniforms and campaigns.

That said, I am quite well aware that the vast majority of Age of Reason games are pure fantasy!

But the idea of taking up the awful responsibility of naming and running states, designing uniforms, and building armies is way beyond my pay scale :)

Whirlwind09 Feb 2019 4:12 a.m. PST

If I were to start again from scratch, or had my time again, I think that I would only do imagi-nations for all periods. IIRC Conrad Kinch came up with the motto "make the game fit the figures": I would run with that and make up armies as I needed them to refight the scenarios and periods I liked.

Striker09 Feb 2019 5:03 a.m. PST

I love imagination games, especially modern. I also love to read and research historical topics, but if I want to just play historical battles I'll either get a board game or just read a book. There's nothing that prevents an imagination force from being modeled on the actual force (from colors to tactics), just change the background and locale.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2019 7:44 a.m. PST

While I enjoy doing historical research, I also enjoy letting my imagination soar with my 18th Century Imagi-Nations gaming. So I can have my cake and eat it too!

Long live the Margraviate of Carpania!


21eRegt09 Feb 2019 8:52 a.m. PST

Anyone who knows me personally knows my love of Imagi-Nation gaming. Our group has a huge collection of 15mm SYW historical figures for "serious" games but thanks to Imagi-Nations and old school gaming we have a ton of 28mm figures painted up, campaigns running, rivalries developed, etc. The industry is enhanced by our purchases and we're kept young by our excitement.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP09 Feb 2019 9:10 a.m. PST

I would add that probably 90% of my SYW figures are painted as historical armies of Austrians, Prussians, French, British and Russians and these are the figures that we use in many of our games. We simply give them stand in names such as Gallic, Germanic, Britannia, Russie and Empirium.

Sometimes we play games with the figures being the historical armies and sometimes they are stand ins for Imaginations armies, whichever seems to strike our fancy for a particular game or day.

I have a smaller force of Hesse Seewald troops that I sometimes break out of storage and play a game with a completely fictional army. Somthere are several ways of doing this even with existing historical armies.

Much of the fun comes from the campaigns and the personalities of the recurring characters that pop up now and then.

Winston Smith09 Feb 2019 9:44 a.m. PST

My Hessians have happily (or grumpily; with Germans it's hard to tell) substituted for Brunswickers, and Vice versa. Is it really that far a jump to an Imagination?
And my jaegers know no nationality.

Garde de Paris09 Feb 2019 10:30 a.m. PST

I have never had enough time to paint, and still work full-time at 82, but I often thought of adding an occasional "Imagination" Regiment to my armies. the Legion du Midi (former Piedmont troops) served with the 26eme de (French) Ligne and the Hanoverial Lefion infantry, to who not add the "Battalion des Pyranees" made up of Basque troops, brown uniforms faced whatever! Allows on to create one's owen drummers as well.


custosarmorum Supporting Member of TMP09 Feb 2019 10:57 a.m. PST

Thanks for that blog post! My first true wargaming was with Peter Young's (and, to be fair, J.P. Lawford's) Charge! or How to Play Wargames using mostly Airfix Washington's Army, British Genadiers, with French Cuirassiers and French artillery (with tricorn, and for one unit bearskin, head swaps). I painted them in light blue as faux Bavarians.

I very much enjoyed those imagi-nations games for more than a year when we moved into Napoleonic gaming with CLS rules which saw me transition from Airfix figures to metal ones.

I have fond memories of my early days of wargaming, now nearly a half a century ago!

Personal logo COL Scott ret Supporting Member of TMP10 Feb 2019 2:18 p.m. PST

I have and gladly will play both history and imagined wars.

If offered a game I will gladly cross plastic or lead swords with any. C.S.Grant was my start into miniature war games, so I will gladly use the same rules for historical or imaginary battles. As long as my opposition is a "gentlemen" we will likely have a pleasant experience, the key is to have fun with our hobby.

Aethelflaeda was framed10 Feb 2019 2:43 p.m. PST

Imaginations is one of the best ways to get past hindsight and it's effects on a historical scenario. Not every one is a Browne or Frederick and you need not create weird rules to ensure one side wins or has an advantage for balance, because "that was the way it ought to be". Learn your tactics in past games and apply it to a novel situation and you are actually simulating the mindset of an actual commander better than replaying Kolin for the 80th time. Add some fog of war, both in the OoB and some hidden deployment, and coup d'ouille becomes a real thing that garners victory.

tkdguy10 Feb 2019 8:06 p.m. PST

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Imaginations gameing. It's a lot of fun, and making up your own nation and its forces is part of that fun.

Maxshadow14 Feb 2019 6:58 p.m. PST

I turned to Imagi-Nations for the practical reason of wanting to use all the scenarios I've been collecting these decades past with my WSS armies I was building. Needed to have light regiments you see. Then you realise how much fun it can be.

Russ Lockwood14 Feb 2019 8:45 p.m. PST

Agree. Imagi-nations let you use troops without the, um, um, … 'judgments of history', um, 'constraints of history', ah, 'preconceptions of history' -- bah, Aeth said it best:

get past hindsight and it's effects on a historical scenario

Or in a campaign set up, see what an alternative strategy might do if somebody made you king. :)

Old Contemptibles15 Feb 2019 10:03 p.m. PST

I can do non-historical scenarios with my historical armies.

arthur181516 Feb 2019 1:41 a.m. PST

And vice versa!

oldjarhead16 Feb 2019 8:00 a.m. PST

I don't know if it is truly ImagiNations, i just changed history to set up the campaign where I wanted it.

pbishop1219 May 2020 1:22 a.m. PST

I'm with whirlwind. I've been gaming Napoleonics for 45 years, but if I could start over, it'd be tricorne horse and musket imaginations. Big battalions. Lots of colour.

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