I was originally going to call this Post, “What Makes a Perfect Wargame.” It quickly became obvious that is silly. It is different for everyone. So instead, I look for what makes a perfect wargame for me, and if you apply the same metrics, I am curious what would a perfect wargame look like to you? Please let me know in the comments below.
My perfect wargame would start with a military atlas map. You know the kind, simple terrain features with all kinds of rectangles denoting the military units in their positions. For the game, the map would lay out on the table, the pieces would be wooden blocks, and the rules would be pretty straight forward.
I imagine sitting with a friend around a heavy wooden table, talking about the battle and moving our troops, trying out strategies that we think our historical counterparts would have tried. Combat would be resolved with a simple dice roll. The rules would fade almost imperceptibly into the background, as the narrative wills out. There would be no charts, tables, and endless hours spent perusing rulebooks. Just one person shelling the opponent’s line all morning, then unleashing his assault.
My perfect wargame would cover the romantic old world black powder battles. The glorious cavalry charges, the thunderous cannonades, and the thick smoke obscuring everything. Real war is none of those things, but I can imagine it thus, this is my fantasy, after all.
A note on complex rules and realistic simulations. I have played super complex games with layer upon layer of detail. The problem I have with those kinds of games is they leave me feeling removed from the battle, not immersed in it. Every time I have to stop and consult a table, or check a rule, it takes me out of the simulation. It becomes less enjoyable. The trick–the art, of wargame design, is to make it feel as authentic as possible, it is not as simple as making it super detailed.
The closest I have ever found to this is Pub Battles.