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A great question suggested by

Robb Minneman
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RPGs have a long, historical root in wargames. Have you ever played a wargame?

Have you ever used wargame-like experiences in your RPGs?

Has a wargame ever influenced your RPG?



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I'm not a wargamer, so I might not be right with some of thse, but they felt kind of wargame-like to me. Hoepfully someone can tell me if I'm wrong.

Back in the day we played a lot of Kingmaker. I'm not sure it's a wargame, but it kind of felt like one. It looks like BGG calls it a wargame and it's ranked 595. I eventually got tired of it because it seemed like it nearly always ended in a stalemate.

We also played a lot of Car Wars which is ranked like 742. I definitely enjoyed Car Wars more and we've recently talked about dusting it off.

Finally, a friend and I played his dad's copy of Bismarck. Apparently someone in their family had something to do with the sinking and so many of them owned it but none had ever played it. After learning that I played D&D, he felt like maybe I'd have the chops to help him play Bismarck. I remember we spent several afternoons figuring things out and playing. It was an interesting game and probably the first boardgame I'd played where the powers and objectives of the two players were so different.
I do remember that I tried using the weather chart from Bismarck in my D&D games just because I thought the idea of weather making a difference was really cool.

None of those pre-date my D&D addiction though; I played them all after playing RPGs.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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I've played Twilight: 2000 (1st Edition) if that counts.
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I became a wargamer several years before I got into RPG 's. Got started with Ambush! when it came out in 1983 and went from there. It was perfect for me as it was designed for solo play. Got all the expansions as well as the Pacific Theater version. I haven't played in quite awhile, but the game still holds up well.

I've gone in stages over the years with them. Played Twilight Struggle for awhile along with some other hex and counter wargames as well as a good number of tabletop miniatures games.

Can't think of an instance when those games consciously influenced my RPG experiences.
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I've played some stuff, not sure if all these are wargames?

Ogre(pretty fun, want to play again)
Warhammer Fantasy Battles (8th Edition) as well as 40k (have read the rules and painted stuff, never played)
Battlesuit(fond memories of this but lost it in a move)
Advanced Squad Leader: Starter Kit #1(maybe will try this over vassal some day)
Axis & Allies(first board game the wife and I played together!)

Stuff that falls farther away from what I'd define as a wargame but maybe?
Twilight Struggle (have read the rules and own the app but have never played, this game looks like fantastic fun on every level)
--> i've seen debates over at BGG whether this is a wargame or not. I feel like this is really not. It's in that category of "I know it when I see it".
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game also Star Wars: Armada
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USP45 wrote:
I've played some stuff, not sure if all these are wargames?

Stuff that falls farther away from what I'd define as a wargame but maybe?
Twilight Struggle (have read the rules and own the app but have never played, this game looks like fantastic fun on every level)
--> i've seen debates over at BGG whether this is a wargame or not. I feel like this is really not. It's in that category of "I know it when I see it".
Star Wars: X-Wing Miniatures Game also Star Wars: Armada


If you follow those links, Tsilight Struggle is apparently number 1 for war games and the Star Wars games are 24 and 25.
Maybe you won't know it when you see it
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I had a copy of Chainmail, since it was related to D&D, and used some 40mm plastics a friend had to play a medieval battle. I remember making lego fortifications for it.

Traveller (Classic) had many wargames related to it like Mayday and Snapshot. We sometimes used those to game out things in the campaign.

I played Melee and Wizard more like skirmish wargames than an RPG. We would track experience to up their stats, but we would usually just put them into combats without and kind of adventure context.

In an early D&D campaign I ran, the players nearly managed to start a small war. I started making a wargame to fight the battles (had a map and counters), but they managed to broker a peace before I got to try it out.
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I started out a wargammer. The formal rule set I was using was War Games Rules 1000 BC to 1000 AD. But I eventually started trying out Chainmail. Which led to Dungeons & Dragons (Original Edition). I never had any of the miniatures for the ancients and medieval wargames. For my non-miniature wargames, I was playing Panzer Leader, and then added Advanced Squad Leader later when it came out.


Needless to say, my role playing is influenced by my wargaming as I tend to use a tabletop and terrain for visual support, especially encounters. My groups prefer a more combat heavy RPG than a social encounter / theater of the mind RPG.

When Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Battlesystem came out, I was initially fairly excited, but it did not go over well with either my RPG group or my wargame group.
However, I found Warhammer in the late 80's and that seemed to go over well with both groups. I eventually left it and returned to 15mm scale ancients and War Games Rules 3000 BC to 1485 AD, Tactica: An Historical Approach to Ancient Wargaming, De Bellis Antiquitatis. I also play Flames of War: The World War II Miniatures Game. And I have dabbled in a number of other 15mm WWI and WWII wargames over the years. On the non-miniatures side of the wargaming table, I still play Memoir '44 and Commands & Colors: Ancients. I have not returned to the chit and map wargames for many many years.

I have on occasion include war and battles in my RPGs. Think the epic battles in Lord of the Rings. However, I have not made the RPG characters figures on a battlefield. Instead, the characters conducted their RPG activities in a battlefield setting, with other soldiers engaging the enemy around them. I have not made a wargame a mini-game of an RPG campaign, mostly because I do not have enough interest my gaming groups to do both (or more precisely, I have a few in both groups who refuse to participate in crossover activities) .

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I started out wargaming. My dad was a wargamer but had nobody to play with so as soon as I was old enough, out came the wargames. (I think I asked him to teach me, and he waited until he thought I was ready, which was very wise on his part.) When I first saw an RPG, I went to my dad because he knew wargame rules but he didn't get RPGs. I tried GMing but I didn't get RPGs either and didn't play again until high school.
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sdonohue wrote:
Maybe you won't know it when you see it


Haha I guess not. Then Summoner Wars: Master Set should be on the list too. I've played the physical cards as well as the app and both are pretty good.
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Dave Terhune
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I've played many wargames. It's my second passion after RPGs.

Rise and Decline of the Third Reich
Advanced Squad Leader
Star Fleet Battles
Car Wars
Several of the COIN games
And more...
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Although I don't play wargames anymore, I have played quite a few wargames over the years. From quick and easy Ogre, Stratego and BattleLore to middling The Russian Campaign and Imperium to lengthy multi-session epics like Empires in Arms and World in Flames. I've never managed The Campaign for North Africa

I don't remember consciously trying to merge RPGs and wargames but I've no doubt that, for me, they've influenced each other. I do have various wargame/RPG cross overs like Striker and War Law.


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Clark Timmins
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I've played a ton of wargames. Everything from Battlesystem Fantasy Combat Supplement (lightweight) and a couple Gygax games (Cavaliers and Roundheads, Don't Give Up the Ship) to the board/hex/chit style. WW II has always been my favorite era; I prefer tank/squad level. When wargames jumped to computer games I played them a ton, too. Only wargame I've played in the several years, though, is Armati. Wargames just take too much time and too much space for me these days.

Ambush! was mentioned (above) - that was a great game. B-17: Queen of the Skies was another great solitaire game.

I know it doesn't count as a "real" wargame (to wargamers) but I played the heck out of Federation & Empire, too. I think I was in one game or another of F&E for most of the 1980s.
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I haven't even heard of wargames before joining BGG less than a year ago, and I'm still not sure I know what they are. Is BattleLore (Second Edition) considered to be a wargame?
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Volfield wrote:
Rise and Decline of the Third Reich


Oh yeah, I've played that! I think it was my first actually.
Great game.
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Robb Minneman
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Jackasses? You let a whole column get stalled and strafed on account of a couple of jackasses? What the hell's the matter with you?
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If you follow the wargames forum over on the BGG side of the house, there's a constant, running argument about what is and isn't a wargame. There are the strict constructionists, who only believe in hex-and-counter (or maybe a really good game with territories or point-to-point), and then there are folks with more expansive definitions, who include miniatures, sci-fi settings, or even the card-driven stuff like Twilight Struggle.

I have a fairly expansive definition of wargame, and I've got stuff like all of this in my collection. I've got a few old Avalon Hill hex-and-counter games, which is what I grew up on. I've miniature gamed, both in Warhammer and Flames of War: The World War II Miniatures Game. I play a lot of stuff that would be covered in an expansive definition of wargaming, like Twilight Imperium (Third Edition) or Runewars, and also some obvious wargames like Asia Engulfed and Europe Engulfed.

I think the best definition of wargame revolves around "conflict simulation." So things like the GMT COIN Series totally count as wargames to me. Ask: Is this game trying to be a serious simulation of a conflict (real or imaginary)? If "yes", then it's a wargame.

I'd like it if more of this stuff made it over to my RPG sessions, but the guys I game with don't really have a taste for it. These days, my sons are my most common boardgame opponents, and I use games, and especially wargames, as teaching tools here in our homeschool.

I'm thinking very seriously of adapting Midway into a double-blind team game and turning it loose on my sons and some of their friends as a learning device for teaching about this bit of World War II.
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William Hostman
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I have played both counter-on-map and minis on table wargames, in a variety of scales.

I played counters-on-map wargames before RPGs...

Anyway, yes, I've used wargame integration in all of the following RPGs:
Traveller (Classic)
MegaTraveller
Twilight: 2000 (1st Edition)
Star Wars (WEG 2nd Edition)
Star Wars (WEG Original Edition)
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (2nd Edition)
Prime Directive (1st Edition)
GURPS (1st & 2nd Editions) (Man to Man)
Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (1st Edition)
MechWarrior (1st Edition)
MechWarrior (2nd Edition)
Legionnaire

The following are inherently a combined boardgame/RPG, and I've used them:
Mekton Zeta
Mekton II
The Fantasy Trip
Car Wars

@Ted: Kingmaker is a wargame...
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Clark Timmins
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bxrrr wrote:
I haven't even heard of wargames before joining BGG less than a year ago, and I'm still not sure I know what they are. Is BattleLore (Second Edition) considered to be a wargame?


I am unfamiliar with that exact game, but it looks quite wargamish based on the photos and description.

As it is fantasy-themed, it might not fall into a "strict" definition of wargame; these borderline types often are called something like "miniature battles" type games so the hardcore dudes don't start pontificating.

In a very strict wargame you will typically see only "real world" style units and situations - and very, very often you will see actual events being recreated or recreated with modification. When Gygax was developing D&D there was a very heavy interest in "Napoleonics" era wargames which (some) believe is the basis for the nouveau-pseudo-medieval setting of the first games (Greyhawk).

Wargames traditionally are played out in one of two styles -

1- The cadre of like-miniatures on sand table style, which is visually stunning and obviously quite appealing, but also really expensive

2- The cardboard-chit on hex-board style, which is visually boring (to most people), but also quite affordable

A lot of chit-on-hex wargames have been ported over to computer gaming where the PC handles the heavy math (and sometimes opponent AI), leaving the player to focus on strategy. For example, V for Victory.

Wargaming is (IMHO) a dwindling hobby. The drain into RPG, more-casual strategy board games, and computerized wargaming makes it fairly difficult to find opponents. In my area, there are a couple established groups that do Battletech miniatures battles. I envy their budgets.
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William Hostman
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ctimmins wrote:
bxrrr wrote:
I haven't even heard of wargames before joining BGG less than a year ago, and I'm still not sure I know what they are. Is BattleLore (Second Edition) considered to be a wargame?


I am unfamiliar with that exact game, but it looks quite wargamish based on the photos and description.

As it is fantasy-themed, it might not fall into a "strict" definition of wargame; these borderline types often are called something like "miniature battles" type games so the hardcore dudes don't start pontificating.

In a very strict wargame you will typically see only "real world" style units and situations - and very, very often you will see actual events being recreated or recreated with modification. When Gygax was developing D&D there was a very heavy interest in "Napoleonics" era wargames which (some) believe is the basis for the nouveau-pseudo-medieval setting of the first games (Greyhawk).

Wargames traditionally are played out in one of two styles -

1- The cadre of like-miniatures on sand table style, which is visually stunning and obviously quite appealing, but also really expensive

2- The cardboard-chit on hex-board style, which is visually boring (to most people), but also quite affordable

A lot of chit-on-hex wargames have been ported over to computer gaming where the PC handles the heavy math (and sometimes opponent AI), leaving the player to focus on strategy. For example, V for Victory.

Wargaming is (IMHO) a dwindling hobby. The drain into RPG, more-casual strategy board games, and computerized wargaming makes it fairly difficult to find opponents. In my area, there are a couple established groups that do Battletech miniatures battles. I envy their budgets.


Battlelore is VERY much a wargame - both war themed and combat focused. The minis simply replace counters.

The "Non-fantasy" element hasn't been part of the mainstream for wargaming since the 80's.

the cardboard on maps is suffering, but minis wargaming seems to be doing just fine...

As do some of the lighter wargames (including the block games by Columbia Games).

I don't think Advanced Civ would sell well now, but Battlelore does.
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I've played a lot of wargames (still do) -- absolutely love them. The very first wargame I ever played, and my introduction to them, was Blitzkrieg. A friend and I saw it on the shelf in History class and convinced the teacher to let us play it for extra credit.

That game led to many others, like Ogre and Axis & Allies. Then we discovered RPGs -- though it was not via wargames that we discovered them.

The only wargame-like experience in RPGs I've had was the brief period we were into MechWarrior after playing a lot of BattleTech. I suppose that's the only time a wargame influenced an RPG for me, as well. We rarely even use minis in our RPGs.

I still play wargames, but these days it's usually mini-based rather than hex-and-counter. Mostly Warhammer 40,000 (Eighth Edition)


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Thank you, Clark and William! Really nice of you guys to explain all this to me. Thanks!
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Mavis101 wrote:
RPGs have a long, historical root in wargames. Have you ever played a wargame?

Oh, man, absolutely. I played wargames well before I played RPGs: my first was Rommel, and my current favorites are the GMT Next War Series and MBT (second edition).
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I started wargaming about at the same time as I started roleplaying in the nineties. My favorite game was an American Civil War game for which I forgot the title (it had Lee looking right on a field), but I also played a wargame centered on Glorantha and the War of Heroes (also forgot the name of the game).

Since my come back into boardgaming almost twenty years later I also re-started wargaming, with Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! (second edition). My most recent acquisition is Rommel in the Desert, but I did not yet have had the chance to play it.
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Oh yeah, and I also play Twilight Struggle, but tend not to think of it as a wargame, just like I don't consider Pax Renaissance a wargame (not trying to convince anyone, just explaining why I don't mention those games while speaking of wargaming).
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RPGs have a long, historical root in wargames. Have you ever played a wargame?
Yes. But only the miniature and ruler kind. The hex and chit type doesn't appeal to me.

Have you ever used wargame-like experiences in your RPGs?
I played in a few Hero System sessions that used hex grids and minis. I didn't particularly enjoy them

Has a wargame ever influenced your RPG?
I set a few sessions of Werewolf in a war-torn African republic because I'd been playing a lot of AK47 Republic. But mostly it's not the wargame that influences me, but the stuff I learn tangentially about the period or setting that makes it into the RPGs I run.
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