Joan C. Artés
I AM A WARGAMER
What is it a "wargame"?: A wargame is a board game to be played by two or more players (there are also solitary ones), which portrays a battle (real or fictious), a complete war, or other kinds of struggles among different factions.
Are there different classes of wargames?: I would classify them in different classes
Are Wargames the same as Role-Playing games?: No they are not the same. While wargames have existed since many years, role-playing games were born quite recently. A role-playing game does not imply a board but needs a master or dedicated player who prepares an scenario or situation embedded in a concrete period of history (past, present or future). The rest of players represent a concrete character in that scenario and they must try that the character survives the situations (s)he will face and do it in the best way possible.
What do you need to play wargames?: You only need to purchase one, learn the rules, and meet some people wishing to play with you. These people will need to read also the rules, or either you must explain the main ones to them. While playing the first test games they will end learning the rest of them. However, my advise is that before buying one game you should get in contact with other people owning them. This way you will save your money from buying a game which maybe you will not like. Moreover, in wargames it is not compulsory that every player must own a set of the game. The most usual is that a group of friends owns several games splitting among them, or in a cooperative. Then they meet and play any of them.
Is it expensive to play wargames?: As explained before, a group of friends may own several different games among them. So, with the expedienture of, let us say 40 US$, you have a game which can be played many times by several people simultaneously. I have averaged the money I have spent in wargames and the hours I have played in my life. It goes around 0.1 US$ per hour.
Tell me one problem with wargames: Most of them are very long to play. They last several hours, usually more that an evening. Many people gets descouraged if they know that a game may last, let us say, 8 hours. Others do not mind. So, sometimes you must frozen the game and continue in another session, or you may prefer to get dinner and continue until late in the night. Before entering a game you must be sure that you will like to play until the end. Otherwise, the game may be ruined if one player leaves it before its end.
Aren't board games for childs or youngs? There are board games for childs and youngs, and there are also board games for adults (and this does not mean sex). In fact, the first wargames were created in the military academies of the last century. Their objective were to teach the students different battle situations and practice the tactics to employ.
Don't these games encourage violence among the players?: I am not a psicologist to answer it, but from my experience, all the players I know are the most pacifical people I have ever met. Their usual comment is that all the battles should be fought in front of a board. Let me put you an example: During the war of Texas, Coronel Curtis was defending the Alamo in front of General Santana. Curtis's objective was to delay the mexicans until a bigger army was prepared, but he knew that such army would not arrive in time to save him. Even Santana tried an assault with minor forces, he was defeated and he had to wait until the full force of his army was in front of the Alamo. At that moment every side knew what was going to happen. So a treaty like: a) Alamo defenders surrender and never fight again the mexicans (as if they were death); b) A certain number of mexicans soldiers are demilitarised; c) The Alamo is never again used for military purposes (as if it had been destroyed). That is, the exact conditions that finally occured can be pacted from a beggining, and many people saves his life. This is not so strange. This kind of agreements have been achived several times in history.
What can I do if I do not know anybody to play with?: Many of these games can be played by mail, specially by E-mail. Some of them seem to be done to be played in this way (even Internet did not exist yet when created). Some games can be played directely between the players (as chess). Others need a master. Internet is full of people mastering games and others playing. Then you need to get in contact with such people and you need to own the game. It is very difficult to get the rules of the games through Internet. They are copyrighted and the players are very respectful with this.