Table Top Wars and Warriors: Between History and Fiction

A little while ago Battlefront posed a link to site called Beasts of War were a player talked at length (and by that I mean more than 45 minutes) about the ahistorical army he planned to make for Flames of war. I only watched the first few minutes, enough to know I would not be entertained by the presentation (many others do seem to like this production judge its own merits not my say so), but I have found the debate on the merits of the idea in the Flames of War forum to be very interesting.

Like many I did not appreciate this fellow dismissal of  the historic aspects of the game out of hand.  World War Two is a serious subject and deserves a certain degree of reverence even in a game.  Unlike some other how ever I have no real issue with the idea that some one create a fictional ‘army’  or character to fight in a historic war game.

Fencing Frog readers will recall my friend Mark brought Captain America into one of our games.  This added some fun to the game and I don’t think it hurt the historic nature of the game (such as it was).  Had Mark brought this figure into a scenario based game portraying a real battle that would be a very different story.  But in a randomly generated battle no harm was done and in fact much fun was had.

Flames of War is not a strictly historical game. Most of the games are not based on historic battles, but are randomly generated missions, on a map that is not based on a historic battle field, and are between forces built based on the player’s taste from list provided by Battle Front in its campaign books.  These lists even when based on historic units rarely reflect what a World War II company would have with it going into a specific battle. For one no company commander in any army in nay war gets to pick and choose his support options the way a Flames of War player does.  The books are Campaign not Battle books after all the assets available to a division, Battalion, company etc will change over time.

Flames of war is focused on tournament play not the gaming of historic scenarios.  As such players have the expectation that games will be fair and balanced were as real war is almost never fair and balance.  In real war most generals won’t attack an even force (if they know its even), if you have the option you attack were you are strong and your foe is weak.  Playing that weaker side most of the time is not much fun (most of the time) so war games are balanced so both players have a decent chance to win.

War-games are more historical fiction than historical fact I think its reasonable to allow people to indulge their fantasies as long as they make it clear they are fantasies.

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