13 April 2010

I need to make a confession

I have an couple of addictions that I feel a need to confess about. The first one is tough and only through living life in the Navy has it put a dent in this addiction only slightly. That is wargaming.

Wargaming is an very old hobby going back centuries to when chess came into vouge with the common people. It is also used by militaries and nations around the world to plan/teach tactics, tech military theory, plan a national policy for the future. One of the most famous places that I can think of in the US that really started using wargaming to do all of that was the US Naval War College. Which if I ever have a chance to visit Rhode Island, going to Newport and walking around on the campus would be really cool to me. Anyhow, I digress.

My addiction to war gaming started early on in my life. In one of the schools that I went to for elementary school, had a chess club. If you have ever played chess, then you have wargamed. As it was, the chess club didn't last long, but from there I started to learn more about some of the various games. Everything from the basic "beer and pretzel" games like Risk or Axis & Allies up to some of the more complex ones like  Advance Squad Leader or some of the monster games like "Pacific War" by Victory Games. Being that I was young and couldn't afford much from some of the smaller jobs I had when I was younger. So it always seemed as if I was permenately in hock to my parents for some of the money they loaned me for the games. My very first "true" war game, was a game called "Flat Top" by Avalon Hill.
It was a game set in the South West Pacific from the opening days of World War 2 until the final carrier battle for Guadalcanal. At the time I bought it from a local toy store in town called Ted's Toys, the game set me back about fifty dollars. Going through the rules they had all sorts of different litttle rules from things like replenishment at sea up to how to show storms on the game board. I was ten at the time I bought the game and really had a hard time understanding all of the rules. In stead with a couple friends of mine we used what rules we could understand and then made up the rest as we went along, as well as introducing house rules (like letting the Hornet once a month launch B-25s, I know, but we were history junkie kids). As I got older I picked up a few others here and there. Such the "Fleet" series of games by Victory Games and Gulf Strike. As I hit high school though, most of my wargaming fell off to the wayside as more important things seem to rise up. However, that isn't completely true either. As in my junior high time frame I ran across a computer version of a game called "Harpoon". This was originally published by a company called Three-Sixty Pacific. It was being demostrated at a local computer shop to show what the new VGA graphics board and 500mb hard Drive could do for your computer. In the end I asked for it as either a birthday or Christmas present from my dad. Low and behold that next Christmas I had this game unde the tree. I spent the rest of the holiday using submarines to sneak inside a NATO carrier group to put both missile and torpedo into the side of a American carrier or try and defend Iceland from a WARSAW Pact invasion force using only under armed RAF and USAF units and some small escort forces. That is when the hook for war gaming was made even worse for me. I found that I didn't always need to have some on to lay a game with. Rather I could try and see if I could defeat the AI programming.
Since then that has been the primarly wargaming that I have been playing. Though at times I have thought of trying to get back into beer and board gaming. For a while when I was stationed on USS Neverdock I played a few times of the latest boardgame version of Harpoon with some friends. Usually over a duty day when it was after work and instead of sitting around waiting for some drill or watch to come up. We would sit around in a work space and waste time some some scenario. We did ones from scenarios to understand how the rules worked to just plain silly scenarios that never would have happened except for never. Since then I have slowly started to get back into regular war gaming. At times it is still hard since I haven't run across that many people wear I live who play nor that many clubs at my end of the world.
The other half of my addiction to computer wargaming can easily be put in check at time because of the cost at times from ordering some of the wargames that interest me come  from small online only publishing houses. Put two or three games in thier shopping carts and your looking at 200 dollars by the time shipping and handling is figured in. At times though, that itch starts to scratch the back of my head.

At the end of the day, this little addiction can be fun and at times trying on my life. There have been a few times I have been up till the wee hours of the morning living on tea and classic rock while telling myself just one more turn, and there have been times that I start to get going and get my butt handed to me only to try it differently. Only to realize that I have basically dug a deep hole for myself and need to pick the lesser of two devils to get myself out. At which point I only make a few turns before going on to a couple of my other addictive hobbies.

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