Wargames on the Web

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Introduction to Wargaming

Wargames are games dealing with wars or battles. But a wargame is much more than just a reenactment of the event; it is dynamic: it re-creates the situation and underlying conditions of the event, show ing the major factors which influenced the outcome. It is also competitive: two players vie against one another to win the game, creating a drama and intensity in game terms which echoes that of the real battle. The combination of the two--dynamic and competitive--results in a game that is both exciting to play and representative of the event.

People play wargames for many reasons. They enjoy playing highly competitive games. They have an interest in history (either in general or in military history specifically)--an interest in the events that shaped the world we all live in. Wargaming is a hobby, and, as in other hobbies, sharing your interest in wargaming with other gamers in the hobby is fun.

A board wargame is a wargame that uses a map-board and counters as its basic elements. Although board wargames come in many forms, most have four common features: a map, counters, rules, and charts.

The map shows the area where the battle was fought, depicting important terrain, roads, or other features that influenced the course of the battle. A map usually has a grid superimposed on it. Hexagonal grids are most common because they are efficient and easy for players to use, but other grids (squares, irregular-shaped areas, and so on) are possible. Whatever the form, the grid helps to position the playing pieces and to regulate their movement and combat.
The counters represent the historical forces involved in the battle and are usually square, die-cut pieces of cardboard. The printing on them specifies the type of military units they represent, their nationality, and their combat and movement abilities.

Diagram showing map and counters: the arrows show possible movement paths for a unit
Movement diagram

The rules tell how the counters move and engage in combat, what the victory conditions are, and any other information needed to play the game. The rules to all good wargames try to show the situation covered by the game in realistic terms: what was and was not possible on the battlefield is or is not possible in the game. Consequently, wargame rules tend to be more complex than those of other games (such as Chess or Risk), but players are rewarded with an exciting and challenging game situation.
The charts summarize often-used game information for quick reference during play. Most wargames have a terrain effects chart, which specifies the effects of terrain on the movement and combat of the counters, and a combat results table, which is used when resolving combat between the counters.

Example chart: Combat Results Table
Combat Results Table

Battle for Moscow is your introduction to just this type of game.

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