Over recent weeks I’ve been fortunate to enjoy a few games against a range of opponents. Each game has provided plenty of challenges and more than a little inspiration. These games have ranged in size from relatively small encounters to some with a couple of thousand figures. Over the same period I have been mulling over various comments and game photos on the internet. These range from the merits of large games with thousands of 28mm figures, to small games using 6mm or 15mm played on small tables. I’ve also read of players considering their return to competition wargaming after experiencing a pandemic enforced break.
As is to be expected clearly everyone has different views on the features of their ideal game. So with such a vast array of options what makes an ideal game for me?
Firstly, I need to feel the game replicates, to some extent, an actual historic battle. With all such goals compromises must be made. I tend to prefer simple rules yet the rules should create a feasible historical narrative that I at least can identify with. I want my games to comparable to the battles I read of in the history books. Therefore my brigade of miniatures advancing or retreating on the table top should replicate those actions on the historical battlefield or, if it is a fictional engagement, provide features discernible in accounts from historic battles.
I am fascinated by different periods of history and therefore my gaming interests are diverse. Yet within these periods my preference is to deploy armies that historically fought each other.
For instance I have a preference to see battles between Alexander’s Successors or against Rome, as I have outlined in these two reports. Equally, I prefer the Yorkists and Lancastrians to deploy opposite rather than campaigning against Biblical Egypt. In some periods this desire for pitting historical opponents against each other is particularly narrow, limited to a particular year or campaign. To enable this I make choices in figure and ground scale to fit my interests, without breaking the bank. These decisions flow into the table dimensions I use.
I prefer my tables to be visually attractive. Of course improving terrain and miniatures is something of an ongoing process I’m certainly not drawn to battlefields with overly stylised terrain such as square hills. Yes, a feature of some 28mm Ancient competition games. Yet, from a storage perspective I accept that compromises with terrain must be made.
I acknowledge that I have a limited time to play games. Typically I can allocate a few hours in an evening to a game. This time element in part influences the rules I use as I need a plausible result within the gaming window. Sometimes I have a little more time allowing larger games, but these are exceptions.
Skirmish wargaming is increasingly popular with some truely inspirational photos of such games on the internet. I can see the appeal of smaller forces with the ability to create some great terrain to support the battles. Yet I am not drawn to skirmish games which, for me, lack the command challenges of larger battles. I clearly prefer the great commanders of history and their battles and campaigns, rather than Richard Sharpe’s exploits. I wonder if I will always resist the lure?
Finally, my games need to be a rewarding social experience. I am not interested in games where the aspect of winning is paramount. This increasingly means I find myself avoiding competitions, despite having enjoyed them in the past.
Well, enough of me, what defines your ideal game?