Friday, October 21, 2011

Why I am not fond of Re-enactments.

A rather quick post on this topic hopefully(after finishing the article there is no way that this is a quick post, sorry guys).  I decided to comment on the topic of re-enactment gaming for a few reasons.  It explains why I like the periods that I like in WAB and other comperable game systems.  It also explains where I started in the wargaming scene as opposed to going in another direction. 

Personal Background

I was always enamoured with military history ever since I was very young.  Both my Grandfathers were in WWII.  One was at Pearl Harbor when war was imposed on us.  The other was awarded a Distinguishing Flying Cross for downing 7 zeroes in one mission.  I remember their stories even now after both are gone.  Ken Burns came out with his first documentary on the Civil War and that got me really into reading military history.  I subscribed to magazines like "Military History," and while I don't have an extensive library on some of these items, I do add to my collection from time to time when I find a few books that actually bring light to the commentary as opposed to just regurgetating what I already have.  My next item that I want to collect is the Loeb series of books like Polybus, Livy, Caesar, etc. 

Despite all of this information at my hands, I don't see myself as a "History Buff."  In my definition, a history buff can tell you every detail about what they know about in history.  However, getting the reasons why is where I see many history buffs fail.  I call myself an amature historian in that I really try to figure out the reasons why an event in history happened, and determine the cause and effects of said event.  I guess that it is the two years of AP History where I was drilled to do this is still with me.  Even then however I was very good at evaluating events and try to put them into perspective.

Since I am someone who takes pride in knowing his history, why is it that I don't want to re-enact anything in my gaming or even in real life?  Well the answers are below, and yes they do vary based on periods.

Documentation is my Bane. 

The more that I know about the period, the less that I am interested in the period.  WWII and the American Civil War (for anyone outside of the US please forgive me if I switch back to calling it The Civil War, I think it is an American thing) are the worst periods for me personally because I know so much about the periods that I really cant enjoy playing any games in these periods.  For example FOW does not interest me because everything is documentated so well during WWII that I have a hard time separating the game from history.  A little hard to explain, but my personal game gives me more setting questions than I care to ask in what is supposed to be a fun game.  The great thing about playing in the ancient or classical period is that there is little documentation that we still have compared to what we have even for say the Napelonic era of warfare.  Likewise for many parts of the Middle and Dark ages, and I just skip parts that are too detailed for me to play like from Heroditus. 

Hindsight is 20/20 so I know what worked and what didn't

On this one, I have to ask can anyone else not play a Gettysburg re-enactment without the Union Fishook?  If you can then you are a better man that me, because I have a very hard time not doing a re-enactment of Gettysburg without doing some kind of formation like that with Union Troops.  I tried that several times on a computer game to no avail.  Likewise I tried to play The Civil War in a campaign mode and got boored easy for the same reason in that I know what to do and not to do during the start of the war.  Now when I play computer games with opponants on a WWII game, I get a better game, but I do get eventually boored as well.  Also there is at times the inevibility of the game that tends to sour things as well, especially with campaigns.  If you don't have the documentation you can't have any hindsight.  That means that I am not that interested in playing in a game re-enacting Zama for instance but I have no problem in something more obscure.

Personal Attachment to the guys on the table. 

WWII is where I have the hardest time on this issue.  I have a very hard time playing a game with Easy Company of "Band of Brothers" fame in a game of FOW for instance.  I have a hard time playing a game with my Grandfathers Cruiser as well.  Span of time is a very helpful for me to separate myself with the guys on the table.  But if there is someone notable in history even back in the ancient world I still have a hard time.  I am not playing Caesar ever in my WAB games, nor am I ever playing King Leonaideus of Thermopoly fame. 

Ok, what the hell do like to play then?

I dont want to re-invent the wheel I guess and I feel that I am not being creative playing re-enactment games, which is what I see too much in the periods that I dont like.  My Roman army is a good example of what I try to look for in a game of Historical gaming.  I am working on full cohort right now for a 3K game.  I only know of one cohort that is actually noted in any historical context and they ended up in a religious book.  This means that all the other cohorts are fair game basically and I can do anything that I want to them.  Anything from the Ancient world is where I really do like to be right now.  There is where I can squirrel away to a place in history where we know generally what happened but not the details is what I really do like.  Dark Ages, and the Middle ages are also periods where I like as well for the same reason, thanks to the occasional siege that burned out the castle records, no one cares about these bumpkins, etc.  The great thing about these periods for me is that there are holes in history that I can get into and follow my own way.

On another note...

This article also explains why I like Fantasy Gaming as well, but have problems playing LOTR.  LOTR feels too much like a re-enactment game rather than a game that you can go your own path.  Don't get me wrong, there are some elements of the LOTR world that I am interested in and do fit my bill, but too much of it does seem like I am re-enacting either the movie or the book.  Either way it does not work for me. 

To reiterate from a previous post, I started playing WFB back in 1994 and one of the reasons why I was attracted to the game is that there is a lot more that is unwritten about your army than there is in the armybook.  General Fantasy Gaming allows for me to create my own world under a few constructs and general rules.  Playing non-human armies does not allow for much personal attachment for me, and there is absolutely no way that I would re-invent the wheel with this form of gaming since there is no wheel unless I made it.  When you get into something like Mighty Empires that is not with the backdrop of WFB dogma, I can really let my imagination run wild, with our own world.  Thus the reason why and where I started in gaming when I did.

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