Grognard Wargamer Thread!


Those sorts of things are nearly impossible to balance right, I think. You either have a roflstomp or it feels very artificially “balanced,” neither of which are terribly fun.


Concur. I just meant, would it count as a “Historical Board Wargame”, hypothetically (if it existed), in @Brooski 's data journalism vision quest.


Couldn’t be any worse than Turtledove’s crappy books, for sure.


Guns of the South. Actually one of my favorite Turtledove books. I agree, though, that this particular book probably would not work well as a game. One side using muzzle-loading single shot rifled muskets…the other has Uzi’s and Ak47’s…



I think Turtledove has some good ideas for books/series, but fails miserably on the development of said stories. His idea of ending a series is to jump ahead 20 years and kill off a few main characters and start over.



I finished the count. It came out to 129 games out of 680. That’s not even 20%. If you add in the foreign stuff I excluded and get a bit more generous with the criteria than I was, you can maybe get back to 30%. That’s not a lot.

Whole thing is here:


There’s probably a whole conversation or in-joke that I’m missing here, but it seems weird to include Next War: Poland and not include Ty Bomba stuff - both of which would be “what if?” games?

Not that I’m complaining - you were very clear on the definition you were using and even owned up to how you weren’t always consistent with the application, so I’m not challenging your conclusions or anything, just trying to understand a bit more.

Was the sticking to “historical wargame” (bar exceptions) definition a deliberate thing to focus the data-set, or do you generally just think wargames have to be historical in order to be wargames?

Thank you again for doing all this though - really cool stuff! Thought a Quartermaster General game would’ve been on the list as I was interested in what your verdict on it would be, but there either wasn’t a 2017 release or it’s not listed in the wargames category. Nevermind!


As you say in your piece, Brooski, 129 is still way more wargames than I can buy or play in a year. Or two years. Or three. How many wargames a year did Avalon Hill release back in the mid to late 70s? One or two? And that was considered “The Golden Age of Wargaming”. From my perspective, we’re enduring a wargame glut right now with a nearly unconscionable number of wargames – strictly defined or not – being put on the market each year.


The difference, as a friend helped me articulate, is degree of speculation. A game that takes an existing (or historical) situation and makes a plausible extrapolation (Warsaw Pact attacked NATO in 1985) is ok. A game that extrapolates the situation out before the game (Soviet Union defeated NATO, now attacking China in 2020) is not.

Yeah, I’m glad to explain! I wanted to be very clear that this was my personal opinion about what was a wargame and what wasn’t, which is why I made sure the file was available for people like @Juan_Raigada who might want to see what happens if you change the definition. It’s totally fine with me - I don’t have any trademark on the word “wargame” or anything :)

Both. I wanted the dataset to be as clear as possible in reflecting what I consider a wargame. And that is very much a product of what I played as a kid and how I grew up thinking about “wargames” versus “fantasy games” and the like. I wouldn’t consider a very complicated game with hexes and counters about the Chinese fighting the Zorians on Zorian III a wargame. Others would. Totally fine.

The thing I was really most interested in directing attention to was all the junk (individual minis, unreleased games) polluting the BGG database. I think we all knew to some extent that this was the case - but at least for me, I didn’t quite realize the extent.

Quartermaster General is a great game! I played it with @tomchick and was impressed by how well it is designed. But it wasn’t a 2017 release so it wasn’t in the database. (It is in the BGG database under “wargames” in 2014.) But it would fail the “wargame” test in my list on the basis of mechanics.




Great article and data!

Curious @Brooski , in your article did you mean “Historical/Modern Wargame”? Or just “Wargame”? And are we glued to that wishy washy “means whatever you want it to mean” term because that is the BGG category?



Great stuff. I have no real help around definitions, yours seems as good as anyone’s and as you rightly point out language sort of fails in the detail when it comes to setting boundaries in the creative world, which makes sense as creativity can be about escaping language or more specifically bringing new ideas which may add to our language.

I dont find the numbers high (surprise!) :) But then again I have half a toe in the world of painting and music where the numbers are so high and so niche and yet there is still a hunger for more. And whats great for me is this is a prime time for a new wave of critics and curators.

Indulge me for a moment?

So I went over to deviant art and narrowed my search to most recent landscape paintings. This is the latest one when I looked and it was released a few hours ago.

Now this also is a first time artist according to her/his notes and you know what? I like it. I got something out of this. All I had to do was look into the daily releases. The anon artist calls it “spring landscape”, why? Where does she/he live? is that Australia? How does that tree fit the landscape? Is it unfinished? It seems not, so are we to take the central landscape as a representation or something more? Incidentally I do like her/his colour work of the green to parched yellow. Is this a painting actually about creativity? It reads like that to me , it may just have been a landscape from a first time artist trying to draw what he/she saw. Is the artist a man or woman? What race and age? Does that matter?

I am being half silly but this is the kind of thing that interests me and I would like to see more of in wargames. I like seeing my art “form” (again language as this makes no real sense in the 21st century) evolve and it seems to me small private artists like Lou Coatney working away to a tiny audience is just the kind of thing I want. I also love big budget wargames of course, but I appreciate the small works too.

I dont really have a point here, it just pleased me to muse over what you were doing by counting wargames Bruce, thanks!


I just say “wargame” because (a) another, more specific term is too long, and (b) that’s what the BGG category says. I’m actually not too hung up on definitions: I tend to find playing games much more interesting than trying to taxonomize them. For an interesting stream of logic, I do recommend the video by calandale I linked in the article. Very entertaining. And very calandale - some interesting insights presented through unpredictable digressions.

@Rod_Humble So you’re looking for more info about authorial intent from your wargame designers? I direct you to the authorial fallacy of New Criticism and to Roland Barthes which established decades ago that this is irrelevant ;)
I tried to arrive at some authorial understanding with a designer in a podcast about his work, and it didn’t go too well!


We could also discuss the Philosophical fallacy of Semiotics and Post-Structuralism. But now I must go erase these pollutants from my brain, again. Thanks, Brooski!


I am VERY familiar with Barthes. I have had him rammed down my throat for years (I am looking at you Chris Hecker!). You wont be surprised to learn I find his arguments unpersuasive :)



High five! Whats the word for when someone commits a fallacy while trying to establish a fallacy? Lets call it a “Barthes” :)


“Barthes” added to my “Archaeology of Knowledge”.



Eh, anything overdone is crappy, and post-structuralism/deconstruction was overdone by over-eager lit crit grad students for years. But the core of those ideas has some merit. Personaly, I don’t give a rat’s ass what the creator of a text intended, it’s only what people get out of it that matters. I see creative work, or art, as the intersection of creator, artifact/text, and audience, and thus a dynamic not a static thing.

But Derrida and Lacan can suck it; Foucoult is passable in small doses. Of the French, my fave is Baudrillard.


I just imagined Roberto Bolaño hosting a gaming session of Third Reich for musty dead French philosophers.


Can you imaging the rules lawyering? With Foucault, Derrida and Baudrillard? Mother of Pearl! The game wouldn’t move past Winter '39!