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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Perspectives on Wargaming: The Rule of "Why?"

Hi all,

This week, back to basics. A quick explanation- the 'Rule of "Why?"' is a Management tool to help people plan, and deal with upsets. It boils down to this: I have problem "A". Why? Because of "B." Why B? Because of "C". So let's fix "C". Many people fix "A" without ever bothering with why it happened- meaning they get to tackle the same problem again and again.

What's this got to do with wargaming? Well, I believe that this is a useful rule for battlefields, and it has also proven useful for- well, just about everything (especially when choosing what to write on All Areas!) Some examples- well, why does your battlefield look as it does? Why, for example, is there one building in the middle of the table. What is the building?- A Refinery- so where are the roads? The storage tanks? Oh, it's more like an illegal 'Still'- so why is it in the open?

In the picture at the top of this article, the answers are pretty easy- the table looks the way it does to represent a historical engagement- everything is already laid out for them. Take a closer look- that's a village, with roads, a rail network, even the woods make sense. Clearly one way to have a battlefield which makes sense is to base it on a historical engagement. Here's a few more tables to look at:

What... Is that a Village? A town? Hamlet?

GW Lenton- take a look at the tables in the foreground.
The Premier Wargaming venue in the world.

'Why?' is my key rule when setting up a table for gaming. My force has chosen to fight here- Why? If the terrain is massively unfavourable, then I would just retreat. Why is this place better than somewhere else? Does it fit the scenario? Can my forces even fight here?  When both players go through that process, some great tables can be created, and that increases your chances of having a great game.

That's the point of asking "Why?" really- it is the only reasonable rule I have ever been able to implement to improve the way I set up tables. If a building is on the table, what is it doing there? Does it require a road? Further buildings? Rough terrain? The key to it all is to completely ignore the armies fielded by your opponent and yourself. Let the battlefield evolve by itself, then it will provide a challenging game for you both. Just a quick word of warning however:

Warhammer table- looks great, but how do Regiments move through that?
I have gone on a fair bit about scenery here, mainly because that was the article I was writing when this one evolved by itself. However, I would just like to quickly explore a few other places to implement the Rule:

When building army lists, ask yourself- why is that unit in the list? If the answer is "because I love using them" that's fine- as long as there's a reason.

If you are going to introduce a house rule, or change some rules to a game, why? What's wrong with the rules the way they are. (It will come as no surprise to regular readers of All Areas that this question is pretty much tattooed onto my right hemisphere.)

One for all the Widows out there- I expect you already ask "Why?" whenever your other-half makes a wargames purchase.

To finish, this is probably the second most important rule for me in wargaming. (The first is, of course, have fun. If the first rule has been broken, refer to the second to rectify! ) Why do the rules work the way they do- What are they trying to represent? How can I interpret and re-interpret them? Why are my forces fighting here- Who is my opponent? What should the table look like?

I hope that at least some of this has made a degree of sense. Comments, as always, are welcome.

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