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""Is This a Hobby or a Military Exercise?"" Topic


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Tango0130 Aug 2023 8:31 p.m. PST

"The quote is from Donald Featherstone. He wrote the words in 1960, during a dispute over editorial policy in War Games Digest, the pioneering historical wargaming magazine that was at that time being published in alternating British and U.S editions. You can still source the full article here. Don wanted the magazine to stick to strictly recreational wargaming articles, whilst Jack Scruby (the U.S. editor) was happy to have general discussions of military history published as well as articles tending towards attempts at simulation – in fact he was happy to publish anything relating to military history or wargaming that he could get his hands on.


The dispute ended in WGD winding up, and each side of the pond producing their own magazine – Don's Wargamer's Newsletter and Jack's Table Top Talk. The full exchange of views is also preserved online here. Who was right? I have sympathy with Mr Featherstone's view, but you can understand where Mr Scruby was coming from. He was short of articles, and was happy to have his magazine reflect whatever was being sent in. But who was right in this instance is not the point of this post. The point is the question posed by Donald Featherstone…"


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Armand

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP31 Aug 2023 7:07 a.m. PST

I play like a hobby but I want it to be a kriegspiel.

Tango0131 Aug 2023 3:21 p.m. PST

Ha!…

Armand

UshCha01 Sep 2023 1:43 a.m. PST

To be honest I gave up reading the article, it was too me a sad affair from a guy who was obviously obbsessed with toy soldiers, cared nothing for history and had utter and complete ignorance of wargames that can and do teach.

To claim we are mostly folk like himself is downright rude. There is no problem him extoling his view of only wanting to play with toys, but to cast us all in that mould is unacceptabble and to denigrate simulation, just shows his lack of understanding and unwillingness to research his subject.

You only have to look at the massive amount of history posts on TMP that wargamers are interested in history and simulation.

To be honest it was as daft as the Games Workshop saying they represent all wargamers.

As to Featherstone, I had his first book at about 14 years old and it's hopelesnes as a wargameer soon became apparent even to a 14 year old. Featherstone was an excellent publasist but as a wargamer I would rate well to the bottom of my personal pile. I have not changedd my opinion an I am now 69 years old.

Ther is room for us all in this hobby but this sort of article is just misleadeing and incompetent being polite about it, balanced it was not.

Tango0101 Sep 2023 3:37 p.m. PST

Glup!


Armand

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP01 Sep 2023 8:05 p.m. PST

This 'issue' really is a non-starter for me. It is obvious as it is to many of the comments following the article:

It is a rather restrictive, either/or dichotomy that is antithetical to a lot that goes on in the hobby.

This comment: "And, to be frank, you can learn a great deal a lot faster by reading than playing a wargame. The latter really is a very time consuming and cumbersome way of acquiring information that everyone who's interested already knows."

If that was true, then simulations and wargames would have died out ages ago as learning platforms. Everyone one knows the limitations of 'book learning.' Wargames provide the dynamic decision-making environment, personal experiences that books can't provide.

What one would learn reading about the 'power' of an MG42 in combat from a book is quite different than playing a game where one faces a MG42 with tabletop forces. If done well, in many ways the game provides a deeper understanding because of that 'decision-making' aspect in a simulated environment.

That is why the Military is increasingly turning to simulations/wargames in training. It has something over book learning, regardless of how much information books provide.

UshCha01 Sep 2023 11:59 p.m. PST

+1 McLaddie

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2023 9:35 a.m. PST

I treat my wargames as TEWTs.
Tactical Exercise Withoout Troops.

After each game sit down and do an After Action Report.
Doesn't take long.
What was the plan or intention?
What actually happened?
Why?

Then maybe a simpe thing for improvement ask yourself what two or three things did not go well and equally what two or three things did go well.

If you can do this honestly, you would be surprised how your gaming will improve next round.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2023 9:43 a.m. PST

Likewise I have used my wargame toys for teaching my troops as well.

Once I set out a thirty foot by thirty foot section of floor down with hills, roads and such and then added a bunch of Indian, Pakistani, Taliban figures in platoon size batches and then used MRAPS, LAVs and traucks for a convoy to get through.

Now with all the young troopers at teams all around I gave them their grid coordinates of their Observation post, marked the grid markers around the floor for theuir use and had them calling in contacts and artillery, mortars and corrections for the rest of the day. It actually did very well.

Not the only time or occasion.

troopwo Supporting Member of TMP02 Sep 2023 9:53 a.m. PST

You can't really have the game without the history.

Only time I get really antsy is when the game rules are divorced from the tactics and reality.

EG: "Assault" where the importance of missiles against anything is totally outweighed for 1980s.

Tango0102 Sep 2023 3:14 p.m. PST

Thanks!


Armand

doc mcb03 Sep 2023 3:44 p.m. PST

Featherstone's NAVAL WARGAMES is quite good; the other, meh.

Games teach BETTER than books when it is anything involving a map. Play DIPLOMACY and you KNOW European geography in ways you'd never get from book study.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP03 Sep 2023 9:51 p.m. PST

I found the same thing was true with Risk and by young sons. They knew world geography, were Asia was or Indochina.

Games and simulations are learning tasks, learning the rules, learning how to 'win.' And among all that is learning the game environment. IF that environment matches real world or historical events, then players pick that up too.

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