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Display: Wargaming
Organization: Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance
Display Location: Large Hangar
Website: www.bmhga.org
Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance

Big Muddy is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to encouraging interest in history through historically-accurate wargaming. We do this through our twice-annual St Louis area conventions, monthly wargame events/demonstrations, and cooperative sharing of historical scenarios and research. Although our focus is on historically-accurate gaming, we welcome gamers of all types, including those that enjoy miniature tabletop games, historical board games, traditional board games, and role-playing games.

What is Wargaming?

Merriam-Webster Online defines a wargame as "a simulated battle or campaign to test military concepts and usually conducted in conferences by officers acting as the opposing staffs" or "a two-sided umpired training maneuver with actual elements of the armed forces participating".

However, interest in wargames and wargaming goes far beyond the military professional. Many amateur historians have turned to wargames to answer the question of "what if", and many more "armchair generals" have turned to wargames simply to understand the challenges faced by the great generals of the past. The bottom line is that wargames and wargaming can be challenging and educational, yet still highly entertaining.

Most computer- or game console-literate Americans would quickly recognize such popular titles as Steel Panthers, Brothers in Arms, or Ghost Recon. These computer or game console titles are usually "first person shooters", or are at most tactical (fire team or squad-level) in scope. Beyond the adrenaline charge and commercial marketing of these games is another type of wargame dating back many centuries. Colonel (retired) Wilbur E. Gray, US Army, wrote in his thesis Playing War: the Applicability of Commercial Conflict Simulations to Military Intelligence Training and Education (DIA Joint Military Intelligence College, Bolling AFB, DC, 1995):

The first of the military games is thought to have been Wei-Hai ("encirclement"), a Chinese game which is usually now called Go. A later, similar game was the Indian Chaturanga, the system from which chess in its various forms came about. Chess itself gave birth to at least one game which more formally depicted armed combat. This was the 1644 design known as The King's Game from one Christopher Weikmann. It included 30 pieces per side of 14 military types, each with a different fixed rate of movement. Like its predecessors, it was played principally for pleasure but differed by its emphasis on the strategic level of war."

Wargames and wargaming continued to evolve and, in 1913, H.G. Wells, the noted British science fiction author, wrote the book that would establish wargaming as entertainment, Little Wars: A Game for Boys from Twelve Years to One Hundred and Fifty and for that More Intelligent Sort of Girl Who Likes Games and Books. Many years later, another famous wargame developer, Fred T. Jane, who was also author of the famous Jane's All the Worlds Fighting Ships, published a gaming system that used ship models and a great amount of detail to provide as realistic a naval simulation (at the time) as possible. In 1953 the first commercially marketed wargame, Tactics, was published. Tactics was a relatively simple "red" versus "blue", operational level, two-person game using standard military unit symbols and a hexagon-based paper map.

With the rise of the personal computer and gaming console, wargames and wargaming moved in a new direction. PCs and game consoles like the XBox have become ubiquitous. But, while not as flashy or popular, paper-based wargaming has stayed with us and has continued to develop in realism and historically-accurate content.

Another aspect of modern wargaming is wargaming with historical miniatures. A historical miniature wargame is played with historically-accurate models of aircraft, ships, vehicles, and troops on a 3D terrain table representing a historical situation from military history. While the principles are the same as paper-based wargames, or even computer-based wargames, the miniature wargamer will usually research and understand the uniforms, equipment, and weapons, in addition to the tactics and historical basis of the game.

Big Muddy Historical Gaming AllianceBig Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance
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