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"Historical Gaming in the Classroom" Topic

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Gonsalvo08 Jul 2019 3:17 a.m. PST

Yesterday we had a great day of gaming, hosted by Jared at the Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY, where Jared teaches history (and runs a game club). The first game on the agenda for the day was a play test for Franco-Prussian battle using Field of Battle, 2nd edition rules.

One of Jared's students had done a senior project focusing on the Franco Prussian War, and he and Jared will be giving a presentation at the Historicon War College on Saturday at 10 AM. I will let Mr. Fishman speak more about it:

"Each year, Hackley seniors are asked to complete a culminating project, usually lasting about 4 weeks or so. When the project is over, they are then asked to go in front a panel of Hackley teachers to complete a final presentation. They must also choose a mentor teacher (me) who will guide them through the process.

In Dillon's case, he chose to create a gaming project centered around the Franco-Prussian War for use in Hackley's game club for years to come. He had a hand in all decisions, including scale, figure manufacturer, rules, etc. Dillon researched the period, helped paint figures, rated units, thought about and designed the scenario, and assisted in playtesting.

Finally, and this is a real testament to who Dillon is as a person (and a huge nod to the benefits of this hobby and the kind of motivation it creates), despite having already graduated, he is devoting a huge chunk of his summer to playtesting, culminating in our game at Historicon. We will then, together, run the game for Hackley students in July.

If you're at Historicon and want to see the project on action, our seminar is on Saturday morning and the game itself is at 3 pm."

Here are the relevant event listings from the Historicon PEL:

"Historical Gaming in the School Classroom: A How to Guide from both the Teacher and Student Perspective" Speaker: Jared Fishman Location: Conestoga Room Description: Since 2008, the Hackley School in Tarrytown, NY has been a model and leader in terms of historical gaming both inside and outside the classroom. This seminar will focus on how the game club started, why it is valuable, and more importantly, the benefits of other schools adopting a similar model. Teacher Jared Fishman and student Dillon Schaevitz will share their experiences and run a game based around the Franco-Prussian War later in the day.

S15:327 Pickelhaube and Kepi- A Franco-Prussian War Clash Saturday, 3:00 PM, 4 hrs, Players: 5, Location: Commonwealth: CW-13 GM: Jared Fishman Sponsor: None, Prize: None Period: 19th Century, Scale: 10mm, Rules: Field of Battle 2 Description: The time is September, 1870, with two of the great European powers clashing to see who is the new needle mover on the continent. Will the Prussian advantage in artillery rule the day, or will the French elan and fighting spirit be able to carry the day? Rules are Brent Oman's card-based Field of Battle, with scenario designed by members of Hackley School Game Club.


For more pictures and write up:



Fitzovich08 Jul 2019 3:21 a.m. PST

Superb! Thanks for sharing this information.

Personal logo T Callahan Supporting Member of TMP08 Jul 2019 8:57 a.m. PST

Gonsalvo you post reminded me of a game I ran for a class in 2007.

In January 2007 I was asked by a friend and fellow gamer who taught history to seventh and Eighth grades at a school in Omaha, NE, to run a Civil War game for his 7th Grade history class. The Hornets Nest scenario lent itself to a large number of players 8 each side and was played by his two 7th grade history classes. Each student commanded a brigade and through the judicious modification of entry times all the first period students were playing within three turns of the start. Each class would get about 90 minutes playing time. A couple of days ahead of the game date I sent Bill a set of beginners rules for Johnny Reb 2, the classes had to read them as an assignment. With that pre-class work done we did not have to go into a lot of detail explaining the rules.

The game progressed about like the previous games I had run for this scenario. The Union regiments with longer ranged rifle muskets held off the Confederate forces. It was when the Rebel artillery showed up that the problems started for the Union side. The artillery began to reduce the Union regiments and routed a couple away. At first the Confederates sent in a couple weak charges that were repulsed handily by the Union defenders. It wasn't until a coordinated charge by several Rebel regiments they were they finally able to gain a hold in the Sunken Road on the Union right flank. Three or four Confederate regiments dislodged a similar number of Union defenders. The result was a real cluster of disordered units. The Confederate players were the first to sort out their units and continue the attack. They were subjected to an abortive counter charge by a Union regiment that failed. It was thrown into disorder and it disordered three other Union regiments as the unit retreated. On the next turn a Confederate regiment charged the flank of the Union Line straight down the Sunken Road. The player rolled a charge distance of about fifteen inches. A Union regiment trying to protect the flank was caught changing formation. It had been one of the units thrown into disorder earlier by the routing Union regiment. After its formation attempt it failed its fear of charge, inflicted minimal casualties on the charging unit and lost the impact roll. Its retreat back down the road disordered three of five units and left two with shaken morale. The Union was in trouble and as the Confederate Regiment with two more in support charged down the sunken road it left routed units in it wake. By the end of the charge five Union regiments were routed an equal number disordered or shaken. The Union Line broken and in full retreat.

We ended the game at this point. The students all had a great time. The boys and girls were very enthusiastic about the game and the results. It was clearly evident in the after game discussion that the Union was in a bad way and needed to reform a new defensive line to the rear. The Confederate break through would make that task very difficult.

Using a wargame is a great way to illustrate history.


Gonsalvo08 Jul 2019 5:58 p.m. PST

Thanks for the story, Terry, and I would certainly agree with you!

TGerritsen Supporting Member of TMP10 Jul 2019 7:41 a.m. PST

This looks great and I applaud the efforts to teach in schools. I live in an ultra PC part of the US (though there are a lot of gamers here, too, to be fair). How do you deal with the nattering class who decry 'teaching war and death'? Has that been an issue for you to deal with? Where I live, I can already hear the parental outcry of such a n effort, though I'd love to do something similar and would love to know if you had to navigate that at all?

Snowshoe10 Jul 2019 10:58 a.m. PST

Peter and Terry,
Very much enjoyed your reports. I'm close to retirement and moving to the Winchester, VA area. Often thought that I'd like to use my hobby interest to introduce students to a bit of history through gaming. Thanks for the encouragement.

jfishm198112 Jul 2019 3:36 a.m. PST


Jared here- great question- and something always pressing on my mind given the club I run.

My short answer, based on my experiences at the school I work (which is in Westchester, and fairly left leaning), is that all of the positives that gaming brings to students and community in general, including collaboration, appreciation of history, critical thinking, math/probability work, research, etc tends to overshadow any negative associations with war. Personally, Ive always felt supported from all facets of my admin, parents, and students. Im sure not every school would be like that, but I surmise more would be supported than not.

Also, its worth pointing out that student game clubs definitely depend on how things are rolled out so to speak. I am very transparent with my school about how and why being in a game club helps with all facets of life in a classroom setting in the same way thar debate, Model UN, or STEAM programs are helpful. So, for example, dovetailing a wargaming scenario about Borodino like I did in 2018 with research about commanders, geography lessons, team building, collaborative planning, and empathy building (what was it like to be on that battlefield and those redoubts??) goes a really long way, and Id argue is just as important as the game itself just like all of the buildup to the debate, math tournament or Model UN Conference is.

Thanks for the question, and thanks for taking an interest in the club!
If you want to see some of our game pics, go to:

Thanks again!


Yesthatphil14 Jul 2019 2:17 a.m. PST

Well done everyone involved thumbs up!

I could not support this sort of thing more strongly.


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