Friday, 1 February 2013

The Tao of Wargaming

It can not be hard to notice that we wargamers are a fickle bunch. Constantly changing periods, rules sets, figure scales etc. In the constant pursuit of that mythical perfection that can be obtained from the latest set of WW2, Napoleonic rules, or the latest in vogue game whether that be historical/fantasy/steampunk(?) the list goes for ever on and on.

A tour of blogs, forums, websites all dedicated to the many varied aspects of the hobby are full of reports of the latest new big thing. The new big thing could be that great set of Dark Age skirmish rules or that wonderful new set of figures for that obscure conflict which took place in some part of the world I have never really heard of and may just be able to find it on a  map!

Now before I'm lynched as some pessimistic naysayer, I'm as guilty as the next man for falling in to the trap of being swayed by the pretty cover on a rule set or the superbly sculpted range of figures. Without the dedication and commitment of the figure sculptors, rules writers, etc over the years this hobby of ours would not be a such a cornucopia of delights. Over the past thirty years or so I have been a wargamer (say it with pride) we have gone from A5 rule books with card covers and pencil drawings, to hardback sets filled with bright shiny colour photos of superbly painted miniatures. From using soft plastic figures, to metal ranges and now back to hard plastic figures with a quality which match the many metal ranges. So whats the problem?

Well the problem lies not in the quality and vastness of the products of what is out there but in what I want to get out of the hobby. I have found over the past few months I have been re-thinking the direction I want to take with my hobby. I no longer want to be chopping and changing periods/rulesets/figure scales but concentrating on what I enjoy and want to game.

Angus looking cool
I have for a while now be drawn to the idea of gaming only one period. Stop! ONE WARGAME PERIOD! Impossible? Probably not. There are several blogs I visit which are dedicated to a particular conflict. But it was the following post on Edinburgh Wargames concerning the Austro-Prussian war of 1866 Journal- August 2012 (its the second entry) which caught my eye and really made me re-think my wargaming strategy. (I can highly recommend the Edinburgh site full of interesting articles. I may not agree with Mr Angus Konstams views on what constituents a good wargame, but at times I don't think he does either!)

Taking a long hard look at the various periods of history I'm interested in (and have figures for) it was not hard to identify which one one held the most interest for me. That would be the Second World War. Narrowing it down further that would be the war in North West Europe in 1944, i.e. D-Day and just after.

Now I began a project a few years ago when I decided to move to 28mm WW2 figures (having previously gamed with 1/300th and 1/72nd). That project as sputtered along for a while and particularly over the last twelve months it  took more of a centre stage with me concentrating on building up my collection of terrain for the Normandy campaign. I have been painting US Airborne and Fallschirmjager to represent the conflict/skirmishes primarily between the 101st Airborne Division and the 6th Fallschirmjager Regiment. So how could I develop this?

I was looking at the period from 6th June 1944 to 13th June 1944. But could I narrow this down further? Whilst doing some recent research for suitable scenarios it quickly became apparent that the answer was yes. What about the engagements between the 506th PIR, and elements of 6thFJR et al. in and around St. Marie du Mont on 6th June 1944? So rather than build generic WW2 forces, so beloved by certain points based games, develop forces more aimed at what was actually there. Now where does that leave me?

Over the last couple of weeks I've been doing some research and making a few purchases in preparation for my next endeavour. Yes I'm staying with 6th June 1944. Yes it will centre around the airborne drop. What I've decided to do is concentrate on what has now become a very famous small unit action concerning elements of the 2nd Battalion, 506th PIR. So with out further to do I will for the forceable future be documenting progress to see whether or not it is possible for me to concentrate on one period or rather a much smaller time capsule of a much larger event.


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