Gentlemen (and Ladies),
There are those among us who are younger than I am. But, as anyone who plays wargames knows, it is a hobby that taps into the young spirit inside of all of us. Who doesn’t have those distant childhood memories of playing cowboys and Indians in the tall grass of the back yard or helping G.I. Joe (the 12 inch, articulating arms and legs version) navigate the rough terrain of the family den to complete his dangerous mission.
It was the classic childhood for many young boys (and some girls). It became the ‘gateway drug’ for many of us for harder things, like board games and painted miniatures.
Graduating from childhood games
As for me, I graduated from my G.I. Joe to the Avalon Hill games of the late-60’s and early 70’s, and SPI board games in the 70’s and early 70’s. I was in love with the Kriegspiel style, Chess-like maneuvers of the pieces around the board. Even if I could not find a partner to play against, I could spend hours playing a solo game.
My favorite board games of that time period were Avalon Hill games like Gettysburg and Waterloo. Most were of the hexagon board format, except for the unique square grid of Gettysburg.
I always wondered what it would be like to play out these battles with three-dimensional soldiers, marching across fields of wheat and tree-lined lanes. Because I lived in a rural, southern part of the country, there were not many resources to connect with for information on how to build out a tabletop wargaming hobby. I’m a bit envious of those that I have heard that grew up around a gaming club.
In my teens, I discovered ALNAVCO, an outfit out of Virginia that produced and sold beautiful warship miniatures from the wars of the 20th Century. They were 1:1200 scale models with moving gun turrets. I built a small fleet of U.S. ships and a fleet of Japanese ships and would use the large floor of the family den to recreate the battle of Iron Bottom Sound (Guadalcanal) on a long Saturday.
But, when I left for college in 1975, I left much of that behind. My friends and the college dorm life did not seem to be conducive to wargames, except for the occasional Risk or Diplomacy game night.
It was while I was in college that Dungeons & Dragons came out and began to get traction. I missed that wave and have to admit that I never really crossed over into the fantasy genre. I see a lot of Warhammer gaming that seems to use similar rules that I now use.
How computers brought me back to tabletop games
But, it wasn’t really until the PC came along in the mid-to-late 80’s that I became excited again to explore the gaming options again. Of course, most of the early computer wargames were not much more complex than Pong.
Since then, we all know how the computer has progressed and how the computer gaming industry has exploded. I am in awe of the current state of computer graphics and the game realism and enjoy playing many of the current games, like the Total War Series and the Call of Duty games. They are truly immersive experiences.
But, I always come back to the idea of tabletop gaming. Because my wife and I have lived in a condo in an urban environment for the last 20+ years, my living situation hasn’t allowed me to explore tabletop gaming.
You can imagine my delight when I discovered that the computing power had developed to such a degree that it was now possible to play a VIRTUAL tabletop game! This has helped me to realize a long-held dream.
There are a few platforms in the market that are exploiting the computing power to enhance the tabletop gaming experience — allowing for people like me to play the classic tabletop game without the game play and storage space requirement of the traditional tabletop gaming environment. One platform is Tabletopia. And the other platform is my favorite – Tabletop Simulator. Both of them are available on Steam.
And I know that I am not alone in this feeling, indicated by the subscribers to some of these platforms. And bringing all of the Grognards together to share and discuss the opportunities that these tools and resources provide is what we hope to do here.
Have you ‘enlisted’ already? We need you.