Introduction to Wargaming
To start with, a definition.
Wargaming is the hobby(?) of recreating physical conflict.
I've put a question mark after hobby as the hobby probably originated from "Kriegspiel" (war play) used by the Prussian army in the mid to late 19th century. This modeled supply and communications as well as the movement of the armies. Similar systems are used in training and planning by professional armies today.
Wargaming now covers conflicts ranging from Afghanistan today to Ancient Greeks, from Star Wars space battles to Japanese myth inspired snake monsters. Many people know about Warhammer, that is just one fantasy universe which creates the background for conflict games. The scale of battles can be huge, like Waterloo, or very small. Skirmish battles where each figure represents one person can involve Samurai, Gunfighters of the Old West, Gangsters or anything else that can be researched or imagined. At a recent exhibition I saw battles involving Orcs, Romans, Irish Rebels, Garibaldi's redshirts, Napoleonic ships, Steampunk gangsters and one game so abstract that it seemed to use flowers.
Wargaming does not glorify war, violence and suffering. The more one knows about it, the more one understands the scale of suffering and, in many cases, the futility of it.
"In Flanders fields the poppies blow,
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place."
John McCrae, In Flanders Fields , `Ypres Salient', 3 May 1915
There is no doubt that war exercises a great fascination for many, (mainly males). It is possibly significant that three of the current group have some form of "real" military experience but were wargamers first.
Speaking personally, my interest is in real military history. War illuminates the way people and nations act under pressure and a study of military history provides a fairly comprehensive framework in which to set historical, technological and social development.
"War is hell."
General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1879
"Nothing except a battle lost can be half so melancholy as a battle won."
The Duke of Wellington after Waterloo
"In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers."