Life is short, break the rules. Forgive quickly, kiss slowly. Love truly, laugh uncontrollably and never regret anything that makes you smile. - Samuel Longhorne Clemens (Mark Twain)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Wargaming? Are you some kind of warmonger?

I have at various times been accused of being a warmonger because I like to play wargames or perhaps more politically correct military simulations. I really think liking or disliking war itself has nothing to do with my enjoyment of playing these types of games. I don’t like war, I’m not a veteran, I have not had someone shoot at me. I don’t know what’s like to hear the scream of an artillery shell coming, followed by an explosion that rocks the ground around me. I may not agree with my government’s decision to go to war but I will always support the brave men and women who have volunteered to do just that when so commanded. None of that has anything to do playing wargames, whether it’s a board game or with miniatures.

I play because I like history, I like the challenge of seeing whether I can do better or something different that brings me a victory on our cloth covered fields of battle. There is no noise, there is no blood spilled, at the end of the game counters go back in the box or troops go back into their storage trays ready for my next foray into the desert of North Africa, the fields of France or the islands of the Pacific. Mostly it’s the history that I enjoy, researching uniforms and orders of battle. I like to dive deep, to discern the causes of a given conflict or action to give a bit more meaning to the actions I have chosen to recreate. I love to paint miniatures and the research that goes along with that. At times there is frustration with that kind of research like trying to get any information on the flags used by Denmark during their period of heavy involvement in the thirty years war (at which time I found out that the best information on Danish flags from that period was in Swedish museums). I can’t even count the numbers of troops I have painted over the course of 30 years but it has to be pushing close to 10,000 when I think about the armies that I have bought, painted, sold and started over again.

Although I have not served myself, I am a Marine Corps brat and probably spent more time in the base hospital at Camp Pendleton than your average Marine. My father was a Marine Corps Officer and I was but a signature away at one point of joining. My oldest son’s best friend is a Marine, my girlfriend’s oldest son is a Marine. I have friends and acquaintances that were in the Marines, the Army, the Navy and the Airforce (the one that served in a boomer is a little weird though ;-) ). A number of them served in Vietnam, Panama, the Gulf War, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq. I have not lost a friend in combat though and I hope not to. I have three great uncles that served in WWII, one in the First Armored Division in North Africa and Italy. Another was in the 8th Air Force, 390th Heavy Bombardment Group flying into Germany in the nose of a B-17 as a bombardier. The youngest was in an infantry division in the Pacific and fought and died during the re-invasion of the Philippines. Obviously I only knew two of those uncles, but I have Uncle Stanley’s Wings and Uncle Donald’s purple heart. Those are things that remind me that what I do is just a game and will never be more than a game. I fully appreciate that at times real people have to put their lives on the line so that I can continue to do what I do. I’m pretty sure that does not make me a warmonger.


  1. I know why you gentleman do this. It's for the history and the love of learning. People don't understand why I admire General Rommel so much and have a love for the Panzer. He was such an honorable leader that it transcended the idea that he was a commander of "the enemies" armies. My son just moved out (I'll stop crying soon) and now I'll have a room to paint figures in when I can scrape the money together to buy everything I need.

  2. You are far more understanding than most. I'm guessing because you actually use your mind, unlike the majority of my co-workers.

  3. This is very well written Kris. I agree 100%. Though it hasn't come up before, if/when it does, I'll remember what you wrote and try to respond similarly.


  4. For me it's all about the miniatures, and the people I play the game with.