Note to Visitors - Many of these pages are really just rough notes the webmaster has hastily thrown together for personal future reference. These pages are often not proof read for grammar, correctness, completeness or for safety. Also keep in mind that these pages are not "up to date" and that information, the web and the world changes over time.
As most of these pages have also "aged", many the links listed on them seem to have died away. If a link is dead, you can try web.archive.org. Copy and paste your URL in question on the web.archive.org site and see if they have archives of that page. You may need to look through some of the older archives of each page to find what you are looking for.
Disclaimer - The webmaster takes no responsibility for injuries or loss of life, property, money, marriage or time as a result of visiting this site. Information is presented for educational purposes only.
A wargame is a strategy game that deals with military operations of various types, real or fictional. Wargaming is the hobby dedicated to the play of such games, which can also be called conflict simulations, or consims for short. When used professionally to study warfare, it is generally known as a military exercise or war game. Note that hobby wargamers have traditionally run the two words together, but the military has generally kept them separate; it is not a hard and fast rule, however. Although there may be disagreements as to whether a particular game qualifies as a wargame or not, a general consensus exists that all such games must explore and illuminate or simulate some feature or aspect of human behavior directly bearing on the conduct of war, even if the game subject itself does not concern organized violent conflict or warfare. The business wargames exists too, but in general they are only role playing games based on market situations.
Wargames are generally categorized as historical, hypothetical, fantasy, or science fiction. Historical games by far form the largest group. These games are based upon real events and attempt to represent a reasonable approximation of the actual forces, terrain, and other material factors faced by the actual participants. Hypothetical games are games grounded in historical fact but concern battles or conflicts that did not (or have yet to) actually happen. Fantasy and science fiction wargames either draw their inspiration from works of fiction or provide their own imaginary setting. Highly stylized conflict games such as chess are not generally considered wargames, although they are recognized as being related. Games involving conflict in other arenas than the battlefield, such as business, sports or natural environment are similarly usually excluded.
The modern wargaming hobby has its origins at the beginning of the 20th century, with the invention of miniatures games in which two or more players simulated a battle as a pastime. During the 1950s the first large scale, mass produced board games depicting military conflicts were published. These games were at the height of their popularity during the 1970s, and became quite complex and technical in that time.
Wargaming has changed dramatically over the years, from its roots in miniatures and board wargaming, to contemporary computer and computer assisted wargames; however, both miniature and board wargames maintain a healthy, if small, hobby market with lighter games being popular with many 'non-wargamers'.
Like all games, wargames exist in a range of different complexities. Some are fundamentally simple—often called "beer-and-pretzel" games—whereas others attempt to simulate a high level of historical realism. These latter games may produce long rulebooks that encompass a large variety of actions and details. These games often require a considerable study of the rules before they can be played. Wargames also feature a range of scales, from games that simulate individual soldiers, to ones that chart the course of an entire global or even galactic war.
Wargames are generally a representational art form. Usually, this is of a fairly concrete historical subject (such as the Battle of Gettysburg, one of several popular topics in the genre), but it can also be extended to non-historical ones as well. The Cold War provided fuel for many games that attempted to show what a non-nuclear (or, in a very few cases, nuclear) World War III would be like, moving from a re-creation to a predictive model in the process. Fantasy and science fiction subjects are sometimes not considered wargames because there is nothing in the real world to model, however, conflict in a self-consistent fictional world lends itself to exactly the same types of games and game designs as does military history.
Because of these attitudes, there are many games and types of games that may appear to be a wargame at first glance, but are not accepted as such by members of the hobby, and many that would be considered debatable. Risk could be considered a wargame; it uses an area map of the Earth and is unabashedly about sending out armies to conquer the world. However, it has no readily-discernible timeframe, and combat is extremely abstract, leading many to not consider it as an actual wargame, or only tangentially as one.
The highest percentage of war-themed games that are not wargames come from the video game industry. Most markedly real-time strategy games (such as StarCraft) deal with combat nearly exclusively, but the gameplay-enhancing conventions of the genre also destroy realism. For example, in actual combat, vehicle armor is generally a binary proposition. Either the round penetrates and the vehicle is knocked out, or it does not and the vehicle is unaffected. RTS games make a habit of giving a vehicle a "health bar" that generally allows it to survive even powerful single shots, but each hit reduces its health by some amount, allowing a high volume of rifle fire to knock out a well armored tank. Other notable genre conventions include the construction of buildings and vehicles within the timeframe of a battle (i.e., hours, if not less) and a lack of any command and control, supply, or morale systems.
A major determinant of the complexity and size of a wargame is how realistic it is intended to be. Some games constitute a serious study of the subject at hand, whereas others are intended to be light entertainment. In general, a more serious study will have longer, more detailed rules, more complexity, and more record keeping. More casual games may only bear a passing resemblance to the subject, although many still try to encourage the same types of decision making as the player's historical counterparts, and thereby bring forth the "feel" of the conflict.
Wargames tend to have a few fundamental problems. Notably, both player knowledge, and player action are much less limited than what would be available to the player's real-life counterparts. Some games have rules for command and control and fog of war, using various methods. While results vary, many of these mechanisms can be cumbersome and onerous in traditional games. The "edge of world problem" raises the issue of what to do at the artificial boundary of the physical edge of a board game, in contrast to real life where there is no "edge" and units off-board can have a tangible effect on a scenario. Computer wargames can more easily incorporate these features because the computer can conceal information from players and act as an impartial judge (even while playing one side). However, due to interface issues, these can still be found to be as frustrating to the player as traditional methods.
Brikwars - plastic-brick wargaming system that throws the peaceful worlds of your favorite construction toys [Legos] into wanton chaos and destruction!
Brickquest - a Lego combat system based on HeroQuest
StarQuest - an out of production Games Workshop boardgame with fun and simple rules. Has a cult following in Europe.
WarHammer and WarHammer 40,000 - a popular set of miniature wargaming system and allows for battles between humans, orcs, elves, dwarves and such. WarHammer 40,000 is a sci-fi version of this which allows you to battle your favorite fantasy races with futuristic weapons. Plastic and lead miniatures are detailed and expensive.
Junior General - Large catalog of simple printable soldiers and items of war (tanks, helicopter, etc) from many time periods and many examples of battles with rules.
Freewargamesrules.co.uk - there is no shortage of wargames available in the modern world.
See our Star Wars Gaming Page for more information about Star WarsRole Playing and Table Top War Gaming.
See our StarQuest Page for more information regarding Space Crusade/StarQuest.
See our Paper Miniatures Page for more information regarding Paper Miniatures.
See our Blood Bowl and All Things Fantasy Ball Page for more on Fantasy Ball games such as Blood Bowl.
See our Boardgames Page for more on other games.
Please feel free to link to this site so that others can find it. It's easy to link to this site, just copy one of the texts below onto your web page:
Zen Kid Page
Copyright © 2000-2013