I recently read a thread on a miniature wargaming site, where several posts were dismissive and insulting of gamers with gaming preferences different from that of the poster. The posts reminded me of the a moment in 1982, at my first gaming convention, when one of the figureheads from a large gaming club/group told me that I wasn't a real wargamer, because I gamed WWII. He said" Real wargamers don't play games with tanks." I ran into this recurring theme several times in the 1980s.
This lead me to reflecting back over the last 33 years, of all of the things that I've been told that "Real Wargamers" don't do. In thinking about this, it struck me as curious that the term "Real Wargamer" or "Real Wargames" was used in so many of these instances. I've never had any particular attachment to the idea of being a "real wargamer" or any other sort of label related to the hobby. Apparently, over the years I've gotten it plenty wrong. And just to help make sure all of you don't get it (real wargaming) wrong, I thought that I'd share these with you:
Real wargamers don't game with 6mm figs. (as I was running a micro-armor game at a convention)
Real wargamers don't game with 15mm figs.
Real wargamers game with 20mm figs.
Real wargamers game with 25mm figs. (while running a 20mm Cold War game at a convention)
Real wargames use a ground scale that is different from the figure scale.
Real wargames use 54mm figs.
Real wargamers always put multiple figures on a base (or stand).
Real wargamers never base figures individually.
On the scope of games:
Skirmish games don't really matter, because they aren't real wargames. (while running a skirmish game at a con.)
Real wargamers always want to command divisions.
Real wargamers don't need terrain, it just gets in the way of the battle. (during a WRG ancients tournament)
Real wargamers game on a colored sheet. (offered in contrast to my 3D modular foam terrain)
Real wargamers game on a wargaming mat.
Real wargamers use terrain to indicate an area of affect, not as individual terrain features. (while running a skirmish game with wysiwyg terrain at a convention)
Real wargamers only play in tournaments.
Real wargamers never play in tournaments.
On Numbers of figures/stand/elements:
Real wargamers never game with more 30-40 stands.
Real wargames never have less than a thousand figures.
On periods and genres:
Real wargamers don't game WWII. (as I was running a micro-armor game at a convention)
Real wargamers don't game Vietnam.
Real wargamers don't game the Cold War.
Real wargamers never play games with tanks.
Real wargamers don't do role playing.
Real wargamers don't game fantasy.
Real wargamers don't game science fiction.
Real wargamers don't game Star Trek. (while playing a SFB tournament with miniatures, at a con.)
Dogfighting is not wargaming.
Middle Earth is not wargaming.
Real wargamers don't play adventure games.
The American Civil War isn't a real wargaming.
Colonials aren't real wargaming.
Real Wargamers only game with painted figures.
The most important thing in wargaming is quality of the painting.
Real wargamers only paint their own figures.
Real wargames use six sided dice.
Real wargames don't use d10s.
And other things:
Real wargamers paint there own flags.
Real wargamers are only concerned with winning.
Real wargamers don't use points.
Real wargamers always use army lists (in this case, he was referring to lists with points)
A real wargame should only last a few turns.
A real wargame should last all day.
Real wargames are only about history.
Wargaming is serious business, there shouldn't be laughing at the game table. (to which I broke up laughing and walked away).
And at a Baordgame convention, I was set straight:
Miniatures aren't real wargaming, real wargames are boardgames.
I'm sure I missed a few, but there you have it. So, get it right people. And whatever you do, have fun.