The Wargaming Don
Posted On August 5, 2020
The Oldhammer guys are pikers.
Since staring the Joy of Wargaming channel, I’ve been doing a lot more gaming than ever. It has all been solo wargaming, but not because of the 800-pound virus-gorilla in the room. It’s because I prefer my own company to that of the typical specimen of wargamer that hangs out at the local FLGS. No slight against them, they just aren’t my kind of people.
It’s been nice to roll more dice, but something has been off with the experience. It took going back to the very beginning to figure out what was jangling my danglings.
Instead of looking back to the 80s, I turned my attention back to the 60s. I’m talking way back to the 60s.
To 1973 to be precise.
Donald Featherstone is the father of modern wargaming, by way of his authorship of numerous seminal texts that outlined and defined much of how we wargame today. Full of theory and suggestions and guidance, much of what he wrote has filtered down to us through various iterations of wargame rules, and much has been lost along the way. Working in an analog world, he found means to do things on the table that computers now do for us. He also does it in a way that is very inspirational. Here he reminds us of a truth so obvious we tend to forget it sometimes:
No expert on the man here, as it has been more than three decades since I pored over what few texts I could find in the local small town library, but I’m learning more all the time. After a read-through of Donald Featherstone’s Solo Wargaming, he laid out in clear black and white the deeper and more foundational difference between group and solo wargaming.
Solo wargaming can be so much more than merely lining up to forces and slamming them together. He has a lot of thoughts on how to craft wargaming challenges at which the solo wargamer can tilt for a more satisfying achievement. Proto-AI, fog of war, random terrain and deployment, and a host of other arrows lie in wait for the serious wargamer to add to his own quiver.
It’s an engaging read, and it has changed my approach to wargaming in some fundamental ways. In upcoming videos and blog posts, I’ll walk you through some of his more obscure recommendations.
Meanwhile, you can expand your wargaming horizons by reading it for yourself. Go back to the start and see if you can chart a better wargaming path for yourself than what the corporate gaming interests have handed to you in a slick box.
Get a digital copy of Solo Wargaming here for just ten bucks. It’ll be the best ten bucks you spent on wargaming this year: