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Thinking Out Loud

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Introspection >> I've Gotten More Out of Wargaming Than I Thought

I just played my first game of the 3rd edition version of A House Divided with my good friend and Civil War buff Phil. Time flew by and we had a blast. The game features some wonderful components, a neat promotion system and offers tough choices and several different approaches to take. I can't wait to try again with some of the advanced rules to introduce supply attrition and leaders. I can see this getting a lot of play, and going more quickly, with familiarity.

Overall, I really enjoy playing American Civil War games -- it is easily my favorite theater for war-based boardgaming. And playing with Phil is always entertaining and educational. As proud as I am to be an American, I know embarrassingly little about American history, geography and politics. But with American Civil War gaming, this pivotal part of our country's story comes to life, and throughout games, Phil and I have some very interesting conversations.

Knowing next to nothing about the Civil War, it's interesting to see when my moves mirror what historically took place, and when they're completely the opposite of what really happened. And Phil can put things into a historical perspective -- this army marched here because they needed to sever supply lines, or this battle was a decided Confederate victory since a small force was able to hold of a larger Union force, etc. I have to admit, after playing American Civil War games, I'm more likely to go read more about a certain battle (like reading up on the Peninsula Campaign after playing Worthington Games' excellent Forged in Fire a few weeks ago).

Wargames with armor and aircraft -- WWI, WWII and more modern warfare from Desert Storm to the present -- don't interest me at all. There's something less personal, less visceral (and as such, a bit more horrifying) about war being waged by people who are so far removed from the consequences of warfare. But in an ever-shrinking world, with 24-hour news channels and non stop coverage of war efforts, I suppose nobody is removed from the consequences.

So even that puts things into perspective for me. I have a profound respect for the men and women of the armed forces who risk their own life and liberty for the life and liberty of others. So if I've learned nothing else from my recent forays into wargaming, it's brought me a greater appreciation for my own freedoms, and a great sense of pride for the bravery of men and women willing to fight for that freedom.

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