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I think it's time that I come clean on one of my more unusual hobbies, especially for a die-hard anti-war guy.

I play miniatures war games.  

Now, that may seem like a contradiction in terms, but when you look at the history of these games, the truth is that it is not quite as bizarre as you might think.

First off, the first true mini war games was designed, published, and played by one of the most anti-war authors of his generation, Herbert George Wells.

(More explanations on the flip.)

That's right, I'm talking about "Little Wars" , one of the first games to have formalized rules.  Although there are a few rather sexist comments in the introduction, the game is surprisingly forward looking.  Thoughts are given to the need for referees and for the potential for manufacturers to create pieces specifically for recreating specific battles.

In several of his comments on the game, Wells put forth the statement "The Tin Soldier leaves behind no tin widow, and no tin orphan".  Indeed, he specifically stated that the understanding of war was truly necessary.  "If Great War is to be played at all, the better it is played the more humanely it will be done. I see no inconsistency in deploring the practice while perfecting the method."  

It was a lofty goal, and as someone who has experienced first hand the horrors of REAL war, the intellectual exercise involved with strategy, looking forward, and understanding the consequences of your orders without actual casualties, is rather exhilarating and a fun social outlet.

In addition, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the hobby aspect.  It takes a great deal of time and effort to paint a figure smaller than your thumb with great detail.  Learning the various techniques of inking, undercoating, dry brushing, highlighting and varnishing take serious concentration.  They cannot be undertaken by the impatient with any degree of success.  For example, I've been working on the SAME army for over 2 years.  I will occasionally find opportunity to put in more time, but the joy of painting is a treat reserved for special occasions.  

I wish I had more time to play, honestly.  The digital world of games is far easier and accessible, but there is a distance from others involved in them.  The real experience of playing against another player is minimized, and the effort involved in your painting cannot be experience in the electronic realm.

And I still am against war.  I have no qualms whatsoever about serving my country, and if I could be back in uniform, I would.  But even in uniform, we need those who will be the voice of conscience.  Honest people, who will still go when called, who would not choose war.  To me, there is no disconnect between being against war, but being willing to fight if needed.  

I just would rather do it, quietly, humanely.  Where the only sounds of war are those of the rattles of dice, and the only casualties return to fight again in the next battle.

Originally posted to detroitmechworks on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:44 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (16+ / 0-)

    I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

    by detroitmechworks on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 10:44:36 PM PDT

  •  I think war games can teach us a great deal about (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    detroitmechworks, GDbot, jds1978

    life.

    At the end of the day, all the pieces (soldiers, generals, kings, knights, etc).  go back inside the same box.

    The lesson is that the ultimate victor is not a king or a general, but life.

    We can defeat and vanquish our enemies, but we cannot defeat mother nature and our own mortality.

    Everything is much more beautiful because our time here is short and because we are doomed. We have one life which we should relish and live to the fullest before we expire.  

    I believe if we human beings focus more on this fact, than the glories of war or the profits made through war, we can finally have peace on earth.

    •  Reminds me of an old Buddhist parable: (7+ / 0-)

      A man, crossing a field, encounters a tiger. The man flees, the tiger pursues. Coming to a cliff top, the man grabs the root of a vine and swings himself down below the tiger's reach. The tiger waits. Looking down the precipice upon which he precariously swings, the man sees another tiger looking expectantly upwards at him. As if this were not sufficient cause for peril, two mice begin to chew the root from which he hangs. As he digests his unenviable condition, the man sees a ripe strawberry within his reach. Releasing the vine with one hand, he gently picks the strawberry with the other. How sweet it tasted!

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 11:09:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Holy crap, a liberal gamer! (7+ / 0-)

    We run in the same circles.  I'm the tourney coordinator for the three HMGS East shows.  Have you ever made it back for Cold Wars or Historicon?  I don't typically go back for Fall In.  I typically drive back with two guys from the St Louis area.  Heh heh, I was painting 15mm Tuaregs yesterday while watching golf.

    I think now you're only the 6th gamer who's librul.  Man, I always knew most were fairly knuckle dragging Repups or really odious glibertarians but with the explosion of the Teatards, well, it's even worse.  Not that gamers talk politics but it's always the guys who insist on playing Confederates or SS units who seem to be the most right, or at least that's the theory of one of the St Louis guys.

    "I'm not writing to make conservatives happy. I want them to hate my opinions. I'm not interested in debating them. I want to stop them." - Steve Gilliard

    by grog on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:44:41 AM PDT

  •  I don't think pulpy exploitation of violence (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    detroitmechworks, OllieGarkey

    is really anything bad so long as we remember that it is a game and not real. While there is a lie to the catharsis effect as such, the notion that we have one space where an activity is acceptable is long-standing to humanity.

  •  Watch this...no really...watch this... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    detroitmechworks
  •  Gamers understand how events CHANGE outcomes (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    paxpi, detroitmechworks, jds1978

    i find that many people lack the imagination to picture how the future situation would be different if a different course had been adopted.

    Take for instance trains. "We need more roads! Taffic jams are already terrible. We need roads, not trains."

    but if we had better trains, there would be ferer autos on the highways. Use that imagination!

    Gamers do not have this blind spot in nearly the same proportion. It is good to see events played out differently and to witness the resultant impact on the course of events.

    •  What If... one of my favorite games. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jds1978, PrahaPartizan

      What if the Carthaginians had been more aggressive in the First Punic War?

      What If The City States of Greece had resisted the Macedonian invasion better?

      What if...  it's so much fun to play, and something that I don't think modern strategists engage in enough.  Seems to be always "What IS" which is a lack of imagination, IMHO.

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:21:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  War and Peace share the same essential root (3+ / 0-)

    That root is sacrifice.

    Kenneth Burke in "A Rhetoric of Motives" is discussing the request God made of Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. In the context of sacrifice and "ultimate sacrifice" Burke comes out with this:

    "By that time, things have become quite reversed; and whereas sacrifice is the very essence of peace, it becomes the essence of war, with men piously persuading themselves that they are never so comforted as when contemplating a blood bath."

    War and peace become a dialectic whose transcendent ground of shared terminology is that of sacrifice.

    Also, I am an old school gamer. Played many many Avalon Hill games, Steve Jackson (currently have his deluxe Ogre kick-starter on order), and many others.

    "There are two kinds of truth, small truth and great truth. You can recognize a small truth because its opposite is a falsehood. The opposite of a great truth is another truth." -- Niels Bohr

    by paxpi on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 07:57:13 AM PDT

    •  Aaaah, Steve Jackson games... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      paxpi, LivingOxymoron

      Remember many a fond hour with Beer, Pretzels and a copy of "Deluxe Car Wars".

      Course, ya gotta love any company which comes out with a  game that is essentially "Fuck You, Government" after they got screwed over by the Secret Service.  (Hacker)

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:23:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Flying Buffalo's Ultimate Beer'n'Pretzels Game (0+ / 0-)

        Flying Buffalo's Nuclear War always seemed to entrance anyone interested in playing a board wargame.  Who couldn't appreciate the cynicism in the game designer's having made "Population" the currency in the game, with the winner being the last player holding ANY population cards.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:07:34 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Where's the fun - (0+ / 0-)

    If nobody gets hurt?

    •  Although I think this is snark... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jds1978, mythatsme

      I'll answer it honestly.

      The fun comes from the intellectual process, the social environment, and the artistic process involved.

      Colorful uniforms and masses of troops marching are very awe inspiring, but the idea of every one of them coming home to wife/husband and family afterwords is very appealing to me.

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:25:12 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  "If you wish for peace, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jds1978, detroitmechworks, fuzzyguy

    understand war."

    Sir Basil Liddell-Hart

    •  Good quote. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jds1978, fuzzyguy, PrahaPartizan

      And something that I fully believe.  Had many discussions with my Captain in Iraq with regards to why a Liberal like myself would study Military History and conflict.

      I recall that I used the phrase "By studying war we can minimize its impact as much as possible.  You can't fight a disease by pretending it doesn't exist."

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:27:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm a Hex and Counter guy (4+ / 0-)

    .....who plays the old Avalon Hill/Victory Games box games.

    Currently setting up the old GDW 'Third World War' game on vassal (all theaters.)

    Before HG Wells, the Prussian officer corps made table top gaming mandatory in the 1860's

    Just a hunch:  The only reason we didn't go to war with Iran during the bV$h era was that the war games played out by RAND/the Pentagon kept getting out of control....everyone loses

    The Romney campaign is a extra-tough Tie Fighter following the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid belt, bouncing from impact to impact in a random manner. - blue aardvark

    by jds1978 on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 08:27:46 AM PDT

    •  I feel like I'm coming out of the closet... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jds1978, detroitmechworks, Cephme

      I'm a long time gamer, starting with Avalon Hill & SPI.  I'm currently big into 15mm WW2 playing Flames of War.  

      The default assumption when interacting with other gamers is that they are somewhat to the right of Attila the Hun.  I'm very glad to see other progressive wargames on here!

    •  Heh, Still love "Time Agent" (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jds1978, PrahaPartizan

      and Advanced Squad Leader...

      Oh, man, I'm showing MY age now,  eh?

      I don't blame Christians. I blame Stupid. Which sadly is a much more popular religion these days.

      by detroitmechworks on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 11:27:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  If you like ASL..... (0+ / 0-)

        .....check out Battlefront's Combat Missions series for PC.

        WW2 in a complete 3D environment.  Either RT or turn based.

        The scale is from Company to Battalion level (anything bigger makes my PC crawl....plus it's entirely unwieldy.)

        There are currently 4 base games (with add-ons)

        Overlord, Sicily, Soviets in Afghanistan and hypothetical NATO vs. Syria.  Coming titles include the Soviet 1944 offensive (Bagration) and the Battle of the Bulge.

        Like any good war game this is about planning and execution....it is not a Red Alert style point and click fest

        The Romney campaign is a extra-tough Tie Fighter following the Millennium Falcon into an asteroid belt, bouncing from impact to impact in a random manner. - blue aardvark

        by jds1978 on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 12:11:54 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Only If Playing "Tactics II" (0+ / 0-)

        I suspect that a grognard can only show their age if they start reminiscing about Tactics II games they've played over the years.  The early editions sported weather cards affecting movement and combat, with one in particular which always stuck with me.  It specified that movement through a heavily wooded area of the board suffered double movement point penalties due to leaves on the road in the fall.  Whenever I drive in wooded locations today and see the heavy leaf fall of mid-autumn, that card's effects always resurface in my memory.

        "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

        by PrahaPartizan on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 02:18:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Liberal wargamer here (0+ / 0-)

    I game 15mm American Civil War. Great hobby.

    Conservatives want to shrink the size of government until it will fit in a vagina.

    by rmonroe on Mon Sep 24, 2012 at 03:48:05 PM PDT

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