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What is the value of a wargame versus a historical book?

 
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What is the value of a wargame versus a historical book? - 3/15/2008 4:42:45 AM   
Custer1961

 

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Often wargames ignite a passion in me to explore a certain historical period further with books. The reverse is true too. The original computer wargame Highway to the Reich led to many books on the topic of Market-Garden. And for me, the best “book” on the topic was not a book at all. It was a download written by some guy associated with Highway to the Reich game and was available on the Battlefront website. IMHO, that short Osprey sized article was better than any of the books I had read.

Which of course leads to the next question………. Are wargames capable of being used to supplement or even replace historical books? What is the value of a wargame to a person that wants to find out about the history of a battle or campaign? Is it more or less value than reading a book?
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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/15/2008 4:46:47 AM   
Terminus


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They can certainly supplement them, but I don't know about replacing...

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/15/2008 5:37:18 AM   
mikul82

 

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Definitely to supplement would be effective IMO at bringing the whole concept "alive", and also getting other people interested in the subject since they can take a hands on approach to whatever is being learned.

My history study obsession was ignited with the original Red Baron computer game when I was 11 or so with its' campaign that pulled you in well enough to cause me to want to learn more about the WWI air war, as I must have read EVERY book I could get my hands on about early air combat, WWI pilots, WWI aircraft, etc- to make a long story short, I got into more and more computer wargames and historical flight sims that then saw me reading more and more into the actual history behind the games' time period, and over time turned me into the history nerd that I am today

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/15/2008 6:25:28 AM   
Rooster


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I think, in the next 20 years, you could see a bit of a merger.  Digital books featuring prose, images and games that illustrate the key points of the historical battle. 

BBC is alread dabbling in this direction:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/empire_seapower/

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/15/2008 6:38:47 AM   
Adam Parker


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Custer

Are wargames capable of being used to supplement or even replace historical books? What is the value of a wargame to a person that wants to find out about the history of a battle or campaign? Is it more or less value than reading a book?


It's value is immense Custer.

Until you try a war game that's played on a board though, you'll never truly know the value this hobby has. Unlike nearly every PC war game I know, you only get to experiment, evaluate and study - with a map spread before you and gaming your own hypotherese on them.

As for which comes first, the chicken or the egg? The most well known incidence of a war game (PC in fact) leading to a book, is James Dunnigan's "Victory at Sea".

Yes, a good war game with copious designer notes, OOB and TO&E can go miles into the study of history and the military art.

< Message edited by Adam Parker -- 3/15/2008 7:05:50 AM >

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/15/2008 4:38:10 PM   
Erik Rutins

 

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Personally, to really understand a conflict I find a good wargame on the subject indispensible. Reading is also essential to get a good background, but wargames really help me _understand_ the choices and difficulties in a way that a book can't usually bring across.

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/15/2008 4:48:50 PM   
Terminus


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Puts it at your fingertips, so to speak...

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/16/2008 1:23:44 AM   
reg113


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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/16/2008 2:16:45 AM   
Warfare1


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For me, the following is "The United Field Theory" for enjoying history:

1) Reading a good book on the subject (say Stalingrad)

2) Watching a good movie about Stalingrad

3) Watching some good documentaries about Stalingrad and the Eastern Front

4) Playing a good computer game about Stalingrad and/or the Eastern Front

Doing all of the above for an historical subject is a real education.

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/16/2008 2:19:51 AM   
Valkyrie


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Erik Rutins

Personally, to really understand a conflict I find a good wargame on the subject indispensible. Reading is also essential to get a good background, but wargames really help me _understand_ the choices and difficulties in a way that a book can't usually bring across.


Definitely... that is the source of my own game simulation fascination as I'm really not a competitive enough person to be interested in "gaming" as such.

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/17/2008 3:15:48 PM   
HansBolter


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Warfare1

For me, the following is "The United Field Theory" for enjoying history:

1) Reading a good book on the subject (say Stalingrad)

2) Watching a good movie about Stalingrad

3) Watching some good documentaries about Stalingrad and the Eastern Front

4) Playing a good computer game about Stalingrad and/or the Eastern Front

Doing all of the above for an historical subject is a real education.


We model builders have to add another line.

Buy up every last available model in every last available scale on the subject to add to one's already immense model stash.

Example:

I started playing UV and WitP last month.

Since then I have read a half dozen books on the Pacific and put my tank builds on hold while I started collecting and building 1/700th ship models.

I've built 3 Jap destroyers and am currently working on the Zuikaku.

I'm already starting to eye the 1/350th scale ships.....

It's amazing what "immersion" does for a subject.....

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/17/2008 3:27:56 PM   
Grell

 

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Yes, books can lead to me playing a game and it's the other way around as well.


Regards,

Grell

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/17/2008 6:45:15 PM   
Kuokkanen

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Custer

What is the value of a wargame to a person that wants to find out about the history of a battle or campaign? Is it more or less value than reading a book?

Wargames are FUN!

Seriously though, historical wargames alone won't be enough for history lesson. At least not without extensive descriptions of scenario to be played and how it historically happened. Many historical scenarios in SPWAW are detailed quite nicely, and I consider them detailed enough. If I want to know more, I'll look it from Internet, starting from Wikipedia (greatest WWW innovation since AltaVista). Yet understanding information on said scenarios require some general knowledge of WW2, like who were fighting what and when. So my opinion about it: if you don't know about it already, then you'd better study some documents about Winter War, Continuation War and Lapland War before you start playing SPWAW, HoI or anything else with Finland (Wikipedia is good place to start).

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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/18/2008 1:09:16 AM   
Warfare1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: HansBolter


quote:

ORIGINAL: Warfare1

For me, the following is "The United Field Theory" for enjoying history:

1) Reading a good book on the subject (say Stalingrad)

2) Watching a good movie about Stalingrad

3) Watching some good documentaries about Stalingrad and the Eastern Front

4) Playing a good computer game about Stalingrad and/or the Eastern Front

Doing all of the above for an historical subject is a real education.


We model builders have to add another line.

Buy up every last available model in every last available scale on the subject to add to one's already immense model stash.

Example:

I started playing UV and WitP last month.

Since then I have read a half dozen books on the Pacific and put my tank builds on hold while I started collecting and building 1/700th ship models.

I've built 3 Jap destroyers and am currently working on the Zuikaku.

I'm already starting to eye the 1/350th scale ships.....

It's amazing what "immersion" does for a subject.....


Don't get me started....

In the past I used to build tons of models...

One of my favourite hobbies: I used to spend hours listening to music while I pieced together planes, tanks, etc and dutifully painted them with great care...

Alas, I simply have no more room for this hobby... plus moving over the years has led to an attrition of their existence...

Model building has become a lost art, and young people today simply don't know what they are missing...

(in reply to HansBolter)
Post #: 14
RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/18/2008 5:24:43 AM   
Trigger Happy


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Custer


Often wargames ignite a passion in me to explore a certain historical period further with books. The reverse is true too. The original computer wargame Highway to the Reich led to many books on the topic of Market-Garden. And for me, the best “book” on the topic was not a book at all. It was a download written by some guy associated with Highway to the Reich game and was available on the Battlefront website. IMHO, that short Osprey sized article was better than any of the books I had read.

Which of course leads to the next question………. Are wargames capable of being used to supplement or even replace historical books? What is the value of a wargame to a person that wants to find out about the history of a battle or campaign? Is it more or less value than reading a book?


You know, the Airborne Assaults games are truly one-of-a-kind games. Not only because of mechanics and gameplay which brings you closer than you'll ever get to leading real WWII troops, but because the amount of the research necessary to produce one iteration. Not a lot of books have as much details as these games and none present it in a more inclusive and intelligible manner. Force structure is seen here in unprecedented details and maps are based on historical topographical maps of the area that are usually not easily accessible. All this in one package. You can see that the production of such titles has required an exhaustive, academical review of the litterature and in some places a knowledge of archival documents too. As such, a project such as these games could very well be presented as a Masters thesis, if it wasn't for a game after all...
Actually, you'll see that for the first eastern front game, the level of research will by FAR exceed anything you've ever seen on the subject in any books, whether in German, Russian or English.



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RE: What is the value of a wargame versus a historical ... - 3/20/2008 1:31:48 PM   
Kuokkanen

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Warfare1

Model building has become a lost art, and young people today simply don't know what they are missing...

Now that is exaggeration. Many people, who play miniature wargames (BattleTech, Warhammers etc.), paint their minis which often come in pieces.

[edit]
Me? Not yet, but I'm looking forward to it. 8 tin BattleMechs and 24 plastic ones are waiting to get some paint on them. Graduation work is my top priority right now.

< Message edited by Matti Kuokkanen -- 3/20/2008 1:33:22 PM >


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You know what they say, don't you? About how us MechWarriors are the modern knights, how warfare has become civilized now that we have to abide by conventions and rules of war. Don't believe it.

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