Monday, December 29, 2008

My Introduction To Historical Wargaming: Part 1

A while ago, I took my first tentative steps into the world of historical miniature wargaming. I thought I would share with you all some recollections of the beginning of that journey. For those who are not already historical wargamers, it may serve as a guide for getting started. For those who are, perhaps it will bring up fond memories of how you started out in the hobby.

Though I didn't realize it at the time, my desire to do historical wargaming actaully started a long time ago. You can kind of see its genesis in some of my other blog posts. When putting together my Warhammer Fantasy Empire army, I was drawn to having lots of cannons and lines of handgunners and units of pistol-armed cavalry. I realize now that what I was trying to do was to simulate what I really wanted to have, which was a civil war style army. I had long been fascinated by that style of warfare; maneuvering long regiments into lines of battle, blazing cannons, devastating volleys of fire, interesting personalities of the commanding officers. It just didn't occur to me at the time that I could actually play what I really wanted to play: a historical wargame set in the American Civil War.

Then came the spark that ignited the powder keg. While browsing an online gaming forum that mostly catered to Games Workshop stuff, I came across this link: Warlord Games Announces Black Powder.

It was an introduction to an upcoming rule set called Black Powder, which would contain rules for miniature wargaming in the "horse and musket" period, roughly 1700 to 1900. It was being written by Rick Priestley and Jervis Johnson, who had worked on a lot of stuff for Games Workshop that I liked. And I really liked a lot of what was said in the introduction, especially the intentionally non-competative nature of the game, since I had been getting sick of the competetive nature that Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000 had moved towards. It sounded like exactly the kind of thing I had been wanting to play, and had been trying to approximate with my gunpowder themed Warhammer Fantasy Empire army.

I wasn't sure if anyone else I knew would be interested in historical wargaming, but I have a friend who I have had several discussions with about the interesting style of warfare in the Civil War and Napoleonic wars (my interest being primarily in the former, his the latter). So I sent the link to him, and he also thought it sounded like fun. Unfortunately, that particular set of rules had not yet been released, nor was there any kind of expected release date listed. So we had no idea how long we'd have to wait to play this game. In the meantime, I decided to to search around on the internet for other similar rules. I figured there were probably already other rules for playing Civil War or Napoleonic battles. I had no idea. So, down the rabbit hole I went.

My Introduction To Historical Wargaming: Part 2


  1. Thanks for writing all this down. I have had very similar feelings about GW games, and I also have just begun to give thought on historical games. Lets see what I'm coming up with, and meanwhile I'm very interested to read more about your thoughts about the "new" direction! I'm sure there's a lot of WHF/(insert any GW game here) players, who have got enough of magic and monsters, but would still like to keep on doing miniatures. Keep it coming!

  2. To echo mvpfin's comment, I came to historical gaming in much the same way. I had built 40K armies of massed infantry and heavy support, all the while wishing it represented ACW and AWI. The armies I created were not only not satisfying, but not competitive in a field that was heavily so. Later, I dabbled in various SciFi and Pulp games for a bit. When I thought about historical gaming, rooms full of bitter old grognards arguing the minutia of uniforms in the Peninsular campaign came to mind. It wasn't until Black Powder came out and I saw that you could have fun while playing genuinely interesting games. The glut of beautiful and affordable historical plastics put me over the edge. My local shop carved out a section of their GW area for Black Powder and the Victrix and Perry figures. How could I resist?