Monday, 29 February 2016
The Realism Paradox - a thought for today... and yesterday
In yesterday's post I made reference to some siege game rules which appear in Appendix 3 of Christopher Duffy's wonderful Fire & Stone - The Science of Fortress Warfare 1660-1860 (Peters, Fraser & Dunlop - London, 1975). I've been re-reading this book recently, along with its "prequel" for the period 1494-1660, which was published some 4 years later.
At the beginning of this same Appendix 3 there is a paragraph which made me chuckle. Nowadays the views expressed would not be regarded as reactionary or even particularly controversial, but the loss of direction within the wargaming hobby which is described here has a lot to answer for - for me, certainly. In this paragraph is the very thing which forced me into a 10 year sabbatical, which explains my periodic ebb and flow of enthusiasm - maybe even why I have mostly done my wargaming on my own, away from fashions and from know-alls. I wish I'd read and understood this around the time it was published - I shall certainly keep it handy as a reminder now. All those games which would not and could not ever end - how much would you like the time back now?
The original, recreational spirit of wargaming is preserved among civilian and military enthusiasts who have devised rules which enable them to re-fight battles and campaigns of any period in the past. Unfortunately the codes of regulations even in the amateur game have become so elaborate that the participants spend more time in making their calculations and arguing among themselves than in moving their pieces. Thus a re-fought Waterloo or Gettysburg often proves to be hardly less acrimonious than the original version, and the sense of the rapid passage of time - one of the most vital elements of "realism" - is frequently lost altogether.
Christopher Duffy 1975