Wargamers are a different kind of people. They have been around for a loooong time…before computers…before modern times even.
Since the dawn of time, there has been warfare of some kind. It is part of human nature whether we want to admit it or not. What wars have been fought over may have changed but why they were fought has generally stayed the same. A proper discussion on the whys and what fors of warfare is a very deep topic that a simple blog post cannot possibly cover…not that I could do the discussion justice anyway.
Wargaming, in one form or another, has been around almost as long as war itself. Sometimes war is necessary but it is irresponsible and immoral to take the waging of war lightly. Sun Tzu states that combat should not be implemented unless victory can be perceived. Now, perceived does not mean guaranteed. Wargaming has long been used to perceive results that can be reasonably expected from proposed actions. Committing forces to battle before you have some idea of how it might play out is not wise to say the least.
Wargaming can also be used to learn from past actions. Historians would game past battles to reason for themselves where those commanders went wrong, or whether those commanders should have even been commissioned to wage a particular war or battle. Military officers regularly game previous conflicts to learn from the mistakes of those who went before them as well as to teach them how to make the decisions necessary in a command role. We had an adage that we used in the ammunition/explosives field in the marine corps.
Learn from others’ mistakes, because you won’t live long enough to make very many of them yourself.”
Wargaming has become the hobby of more people in the last fifty years or so. Chess and checkers are war games if you really get down to it and have been around for centuries. But we are talking about accurate, detailed simulations. Back in the 60s and 70s, there were companies that specialized in boxed war games. With the advent of better processing power in computers, war games, naturally, were adapted to this medium. Using computers, you didn’t have to occupy your whole garage with map boards and hope the cat didn’t scatter the pieces on a paused game between gaming nights.
This is where I entered the whole war games world. Back in 2002, a guy by the name of Gary Grigsby put out a game called Uncommon Valor: the Campaign for the South Pacific. This game is a grand strategy game in which the game play area is the east coast of Australia over to the Solomon Islands, Southern tip of New Guinea down to just south of New Caledonia. I spotted it on a store shelf and, me being a WWII history buff, I bought it. I loved the game but it got to where it wasn’t a challenge against the computer opponent. The game advertised play against other people via e-mail so I started looking into that. That led me to the forum community at Matrix Games.
Once I joined the forums and started talking to the guys, I learned a few things right off. One being that this game I had been enjoying was a sort of test by Gary to see if something much bigger was possible. That ‘something much bigger’ was actually being designed at that time. It was a grand strategy game that was an outright amazing concept. Imagine a command simulation where you are, essentially, Chester Nimitz in WWII. The games scope was to cover the Pacific Theater of Operations during WWII, stretching from the west coast of the United States to the west coast of India, the northern polar icecap down to Australia and New Zealand. On the map, you would be in command of all the ground units, bases, naval assets, air assets and logistical elements during the war against the Japanese army and navy across the Pacific. How incredible!
The other thing I learned right off was that I didn’t know near as much about WWII than I thought I did. These guys are an amazing wealth of knowledge and are very patient with noobs when dumb questions are asked about the game or the history surrounding the game. They are from all over the world, geographically, and from many different walks of life. Matter of fact, my first human opponent was located in Auckland, New Zealand.
Now, if you are interested in something like this, holler at me. You need to realize though that, this caliber of game is not cheap but…if you get immersed and continue to play, it will be, by far, the cheapest in regards to cost per minute of play that you have ever known. The first turn alone after the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor takes me about sixteen hours to work through. Once the game gets going, you will still be taking about an hour per turn to play and it will take as long as it took to fight the war in real life to play this game at a turn per day. War in the Pacific was released in 2004 and is still being improved and enjoyed.
Anyway, I could go on forever but I won’t…lol. If you are a Call of Duty kinda guy, you may not get into this kind of gaming much but you never know. Drop me some feedback if you are curious. And click the logo below to check out Matrix Games.