Category Archives: History

Perspective in Wargames: Who Exactly Are You?

When you’re “playing” the game, who are you “playing”? ~

Derek Croxton, 07 May 2016

You are Napoleon. You have a chance to remake the map of Europe with your Grande Armée. You are Robert E. Lee, trying to fend off the Union until foreign aid arrives. You are Patton, dashing through France with your Third Army.

These statements are typical of the sort of advertising used to sell wargames, and are indicative of why gamers play: they like assuming the role of an historical figure and get a vicarious thrill out of making the same sort of decisions, only trying to make better ones. pers-6Gaming is thus a form of role-playing, and a lot of the pleasure hinges on what historical figure one plays. Some people would never play the Union in Civil War games, others refuse to play the Confederacy: they are identifying with the historical actors in more than an intellectual sense. There are, of course, games that are entirely or almost entirely abstract, such as chess, which are also fun to play. While they provide the same sort of intellectual challenges, however, they do not provide the same kind of fulfillment as a chance to remake history.

The fun of gaming, then, is in part based on accepting historical limitations. There is always a desire to transcend these limitations – to have Napoleon win at Waterloo, for example – but certain restrictions have to be accepted. If one wants to be Napoleon, one has to accept the fact that France’s navy will probably not be a match for Britain’s and that one will be fighting a whole coalition of forces, just as one will benefit from having a nation in arms and well-disciplined, loyal, and courageous soldiers. History consists of a virtually infinite number of forces, of which an individual – the player – can only control a very few. This is precisely what drives a game: deciding how to act within the constraints of the historical situation. This article investigates the problems of trying to put players in historical roles: first of identifying proper historical figures to simulate, and second of creating the possibilities and limitations that those figures historically faced. I contend that a game is usually more fun and more realistic where a designer has given thought to these issues.

Scourge of War: Waterloo

Boggit returns from his own exile on the 200th anniversary of (arguably) the most consequential battle in Western History to conquer Scourge of War: Waterloo.

By Boggit, 18 June 2015

Developed by NorbSoftDev and Published by Slitherine


I was intrigued by NorbSoftDev’s Scourge of War: Waterloo. I had played some of the earlier iterations of the game engine (1st Bull Run, and 2nd Manassas), which had been good. With that in mind, and knowing that the development team had worked on several other titles in the meantime, it would be interesting to see how far they had advanced the game, and how well it captured the flavour of Napoleonic combat, as hitherto all their games were from the American Civil War.

The Menu and loading screens all use contemporary art, which adds a nice period feel.

The Menu and loading screens all use contemporary art, which adds a nice period feel.

Scourge of War: Waterloo is a pausable real-time representation of small to very large actions (including the whole battle) of Waterloo. It comes with 20 historical scenarios ranging from small brigade size actions to the ‘full Monty’ at army level. In addition there is a sandbox campaign, a sandbox mode (in which you can take any units from the order of battle (OB), and fight on eight different battlefields), and modifications, which include the OB for the entire French Grand Armée (i.e. with Marshal Grouchy at Waterloo), and a Grog mode for extra realism.


Here are the French scenarios, rising in complexity from clearing the woods at the Chateau of Goumont (aka Hougoumont) to the full battle (shown here).

Here are the French scenarios, rising in complexity from clearing the woods at the Chateau of Goumont (aka Hougoumont) to the full battle (shown here).

Memorial Day 2015


GrogHeads History: WWI Tankers’ Gear


Lloyd delves into the historical archives to dig out an interesting bit of TANKSgiving history.

Lloyd Sabin, 28 November 2014

I struggled for a while this year to come up with something for TANKSgiving. In years’ passed I have done bits on rare WWI armored vehicles, early tanks…you know, the usual awesome stuff. This year for some reason I could not come up with an appropriate topic. Until I found the below picture during some online research.



Why Shadow of Mordor is a Good Choice for Halloween

Lloyd Sabin, All Hallow’s Eve, 2014

How Do I Look at the World?

I am a seasonal kind of guy. I read books that are indirectly connected to what’s going on outside my window. I listen to music to put me in a weather-appropriate mood. And I game the same way…linking what I play to my perceived notion of whatever season I’m in. I’ve written articles about this before, dating back about 10 years when I wrote a review of one of my favorite PC titles ever: Rome Total War – Barbarian Invasion (BI).

I remember starting my first campaign in that game in the fall, which felt so damned perfect it was palpable. The apocalyptic tension of the barbarian hordes slugging it out across a dynamic map of Europe and Asia blew my mind as the leaves on the trees outside my gaming room yellowed and fell to the ground. As a matter of fact it may have been BI that cemented this seasonal thinking in my brain. It may have started with books and music when I was a teenager, but PC games made it an official way of thinking, or some kind of disorder, as an adult. (Ed note: we’re voting for “disorder”).

Fast forward ten years and I’m still posting threads on what games are best to play in October, to get really juiced and jazzed for Halloween. I still listen to Type-O Negative tracks, the Cure and old U2…of course the album October by the Gaelic music gods is on constant rotation for me this time of year, despite the album being over 30 years old. But what to game?

Yes, the Uruks you encounter are pretty fierce...but there are worse things lurking.

Yes, the Uruks you encounter are pretty fierce…but there are worse things lurking.