I drove home to visit my parents today. While this trip is about spending some time together – an luxury that I can well imagine most families have missed over the past two years – I’d also invited my Dad to record a conversation about wargaming.
Dad introduced me to wargaming when I was around 6 years old and by the time I was 12 we’d played dozens of hex-and-chit board wargames. Sitting down today, we explored how he got involved in gaming and the journey through what Dad was interested in through the years. This was fascinating to me and I hope it’ll make for a good podcast episode in the coming weeks.
Sitting at the dining room table talking, Dad had dug out some of his favourite old games. I thought it might be good to share some of the highlights as today’s post.
Although Dad started with miniature wargames and was inspired by Donald Featherstone’s books on wargaming, he thinks the move towards board wargaming began when he saw an advert in a military modelling magazine for “Strategy & Tactics”. This magazine provided high-quality articles on a particular theme and a related hex-and-chit wargame, once per month.
A couple of obscure but very fondly remembered titles were “Battlefleet Mars” and “Ambush!” – the latter of which we both want to dig back in to. These were typical of the kinds of pretty complex wargames I cut my teeth on as a young teenager. Frankly, roleplaying games like D&D and Traveller were simple in comparison.
I remember Squad Leader most of all for the hard heavy stock cardboard maps that I think might be worthy of revisiting as resources for World War II roleplaying. I can envision military RPG missions based on using these old hex maps as tactical locations for adventure.
“Armor” was one of the games in the “Panzer” line which I have spoken about before. Dad has fond memories of kicking my butt with this game, although I remember things going a little more in my favour as the years rolled by.
Of greatest significance as a roleplayer, at least for me, were the later games we played. “City-fight” has each player set up their own map of the same city block area and emulated the fog of war by having each side scout and spot locations, marking enemy detected on their own version of the battlefield. We played this with walkie-talkies… but it was perhaps the best lesson I ever got on the fog of war.
Overall, connecting back to my wargaming roots has reminded me of many of the steps I took towards becoming a fully-fledged roleplayer. But I also realised the huge gift that my Dad gave me in introducing his son to solving interesting problems through the medium of wargames. I look forward to editing the conversation and sharing it with you soon.
Thanks, Dad. Good times.