Sunday, November 14, 2010

Veteran's Day, Remembrance Day, WWI and Wargaming

Yes, the fact that Veteran's Day (known under other names, such as Remembrance Day) is on November 11 is for a very real reason. The Armistice that ended WWI was signed in a Railway Car on November 11, in 1918. It was signed by the Allied commander in chief, Foch, and also by the German representative Erzberger. Although the signing took place at 5am, the effective time of the ceasefire between Western Front belligerents took place at 11am. So 11th hour, 11th day, 11th month of 1918. Okay, enough history (I had to write this because I recently saw an article on Remembrance Day comparing it Memorial Day in the US, and mentioned that by coincidence it was also Veteran's Day, but never mentioning why the date is important - one wonders if the author of that article knew what was important about 11/11).
Now, on to WWI wargaming.  This article focuses on Board Games, but I may do a similar treatment for Miniatures Rules.  There have been a lot. From some Avalon Hill standards like Guns of August and 1914 to more modern fare like Clash of Giants and Paths of Glory.  The magazine Command had two that were very appealing to me - 1914: Glory's End and 1918: Storm in the West.
There have been some wonderful boardgames on the Naval aspect of the war, again going back to the venerable Jutland from Avalon Hill, Dreadnought from SPI and the more recent Avalanche Press tour de force series, The Great War at Sea.  Once again, Command Magazine also had a great treatment - Jutland, the Duel of Dreadnoughts.  In fact if we limit our examination to just games with the name Jutland in the title (which is not surprising, since it was far and away the single more important naval engagement of the conflict), we uncover the two player card game Jutland from the prolific Lloyd Krassner of Warpspawn Games.
Moving on to the dan of warfare between aircraft, we see a number of titles - from the excellent Avalon Hill title Richthofen's War through GDW's Blue Max, the very clever Ace of Aces published by Nova Games, and in modern times the immensely successful Wings of War.
Finally, there are some very interesting grand scale games that attempt to show the entire war, at a highly aggregated level of detail, but one which gives a great overview. Amongst these, of course, is the revolutionary game Diplomacy, which is about the origins of the war.  But also in this category is the new First World War published by Mayfair and Phalanx.
Lots to pick from, and to make things even MORE interesting, within ODMS we have a new design for the battle of Tannenberg (the 1914 version) based on the excellent Napoleonic 20 series of games from Victory Point games.  At our Nov 11 meeting of the club, John Dent and I got to play the game a couple of times, and it is really enjoyable.  Look here for some interesting additions to the game, and some cool reuse of the same idea for other battles.

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