Tuesday 16 May 2023

The BIG PROBLEM with historical wargames

I've just watched a video on YouTube, I am not going to mention who it is because I don't want them getting any more traction. As limited as that might be from this page. If you are that desperate, look at the title of the post. It's made me so angry that I am posting for the second time today. I have never seen such a judgey, self righteous video on YouTube. By a wargamer, about wargamers.

Just to cover some basics and tell you a bit about me. My politics are left of centre. I support equal rights. I am, in general, very egalitarian. I've even been on anti Nazi rallies in the past. Is there something I feel passionate about fighting against, it would be the far right.

So...This video has just told me that the big problem with historical gaming is that there are Nazi armed forces being played out on the table top. That some of the people that play them are Nazis. This is why historical gaming does so badly and GW does so well. Did I mention the fact that whilst painting a couple of tanks they were schilling for a WW2 computer naval warfare game, which has Nazis? I have some WW2 Russian troops. Does that make me a communist? I wonder?

The guy that got me into wargaming was a WW2 veteran. I have mates who a serving soldiers that play WW2 games. I was brought up on war stories by relatives who fought in the war. One of them asked me about running a Dieppe game as it was someone who had been there and had been wounded. I played with a guy who wanted to be on my team because we were playing the Parachute Regiment. A Regiment I have some personal affinity for. This was so he could connect with his grand dad, who had been at Arnhem who had died the month before.

I own some German figures. Nothing I would call an army. Mainly stuff that the the good guys could shoot at in a WW2 RPG I ran. I have known plenty of Germans too in the real world. I recall one of them being extremely upset by the Death Corps of Krieg. Mostly annoyed by the poor history and the critique of the German people as a whole.   

Even if you accept the criticism about using Nazi forces, the title smears all historical wargaming. Real war is not good. Nobody in their right mind would argue that it is. I would argue that from time to time it is necessary. But this is rarely the case, WW2 and the defence of Ukraine being two example in relatively recently history that I think of as just. Gaming links us to that history. It allows us to learn from it. 

Just recently I have seen all sorts of attempts to change our view on history. Don't get me started on the subject of bankers in the recent, ish Mary Poppins film. This video feels like an attempt to airbrush out certain elements of history. That feels like the kind of thing that authoritarian countries do. I can see it happening in Russia now, a Germany during the rule of Hitler. Pulling down a statue of a man who made money off slavery, does not change history. It deprives us of a reminder of how bad things can be. There was an exhibition space in Leeds named after Jimmy Saville, They didn't  pull that down but they did rename it,

Apparently GW does so well because it has no got any Nazis in it. But apparently as long as the Imperium of Man is a fictional entity, it's fine. Nazism is bad, end of story. But suggesting it should not be played because of its fascist history? Right now, GW is doing more than any other company to justify fascism. Which is in itself a meaningless statement. It's just a game. An amalgamation of books. Having played a fair bit of Warhammer FRP I can comment on what a fascist, violently religious, bigoted state that most of it is too. I cannot think of another game where I have seen people burned at the stake.

I'm not a big fan of GW. Not sure is anybody I know is in doubt of that. 40k is not about fighting the good fight. It might have been back in the rogue trader days. Now its mostly about power gaming. All sides are bad. Some are worse than others. Well ish. They are all pretty bad, but at least they are preaching at me from a position of ignorance. If some of the people that play Nazis in historical games are Nazis, because why would they be anything else, are not some of the people who play 40k also Nazis? I cannot think of any book I have ever read that has glorified Nazis. I can think of many that glorify it in 40k. Both are just games,

So, apparently historic fascism is bad (which I think most would agree) but fantastic fascisum, that goes beyond anything that has ever happened in reality is fine, Yet I recall a school kid who was reported to the police as a potential terrorist because he had a British Union of Fascists force for A very British Civil War. Which is fiction with some historical elements. I can draw parallels between VBCW and 40k if you like.

The author of this video should take it down. I mean according to him its not going to be monetised anyway. But what the hell, I am sure the sponsorship will help him out. 


  1. Time to take a break from social media, Frank.

    Here's a link, because I doubt you will, explaining why social media makes us stupid.:

  2. Having now watched said video, I will repeat here what I said there.

    There is a saying in science from Wolfgang Pauli, "That is not only not right; it is not even wrong."

    The claims careless and incorrect, wronger than wrong, this video is dumber than a very dumb thing.

    1. I would normally say I don't discriminate. It just never seemed right to me. But over the years I have come to realise that I do discriminate but only against people to dumb to justify their allocation of oxygen. These two are definitely oxygen thieves.