Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Paper Romans in Germania, Part I

Quinctilius Varus, give me back my legions!”


In my last post I mentioned my recent interest in wargaming ancient Roman conflicts, specifically those on the Germanic frontier, to find some temporary respite from the pandemic and my own internal issues. The journey grew into one of the more satisfying diversion strategies to keep my mind off various anxieties and help me relax. Like abandoning one’s self in a good movie for two hours or getting absorbed in a good book, immersing ourselves in an entertaining activity can help us escape so we can face life’s woes with renewed energy and a fresh perspective. Goodness knows I have plenty of diversions at hand – roleplaying games, board games, miniature and chit-and-hex wargames, plus books both fiction and non-fiction to read and re-read – but I have many interests to tempt me into new endeavors, even among these existing forms. So I embarked on a journey back to ancient Rome, on the frontier with Germania Magna along the river Rhenus (Rhine), perhaps at the fortress town of Moguntiacum (Mainz, which I’d visited long ago on a family vacation), preparing my Roman soldiers to sortie into the dark Teutonic forests.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

WEG Memoirs: The Interview

In my futile attempts to find solace from the pandemic and my own internal issues I’ve immersed myself in wargaming ancient Roman conflicts, specifically those on the Germanic frontier. I’ve always maintained an interest in ancient history (among numerous other historical periods). The Roman Empire remains one in which I’ve dabbled on and off over the years to varying depths. Though I’ve never been to Rome I’ve visited several sites on travels in my misspent youth, including Trier, Germany (ancient Augusta Treverorum, capital of the province of Gallia Belgica), the Christian catacombs in Salzburg (Iuvavum), and the reconstructed auxiliary fort Saalburg in Germany. As a pandemic diversion I ordered several books to set me on a path to wargaming engagements from this period: Peter Dennis’ Wargame: The Roman Invasion, AD 43-84 (supplemented by some PDF downloads from his wonderful Peter’s Paperboys website), Daniel Mersey’s A Wargamer's Guide to the Early Roman Empire, and two Osprey books (also illustrated by Dennis), Teutoburg Forest AD 9 and Roman Soldier vs Germanic Warrior: 1st Century AD. So between history, paper miniatures, and game rules (including Bob Cordery’s The Portable Wargame and Developing The Portable Wargame and Neil Thomas’ One-hour Wargames) I’m all set up to fight a few ancient battles defending the borders of Rome from the Germanic barbarians.

But all this evokes an episode from my roleplaying game past. In this case, oddly enough, all this focus on ancient Roman history reminded me of my interview for an editorial position at West End Games way back in the spring of 1993.

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Why We Wargame

 Explain to our boys in the Army why we are fighting, and the principles for which we are fighting.”

General George C. Marshall

This week Worthington Publishing is wrapping up a Kickstarter campaign to fund its latest game, Tarawa 1943, a solitaire wargame of the US Marine Corps invasion of that Pacific island during World War II. Although I’m not a huge fan of the war in the Pacific, I was tempted by several factors: it offers me a chance to explore an aspect of WWII I’ve not dabbled in before; Worthington games have high production values; and I enjoy solitaire games. It brings to mind the numerous reasons why I – and presumably others – play historical wargames. These games also remind me of the turbulent times in human history when ordinary people were called (voluntarily or otherwise) to make courageous sacrifices.