Old School Wargaming

Society Of Twentieth Century Wargamers

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I have been a member of the Society of Twentieth Century Wargamers for more than fifteen years now. I joined it during a period when I was coming back to Wargaming and liked the fact that it published a regular journal covering a wide range of periods, often having special issues devoted to one subject. The reviews were always very good and there were some superb articles on modern Wargaming which should be of interest to FoW players getting excited about Team Yankee for example. All of these older issues are available in digital form via Wargames Vault.

The Society has had its up and downs in recent years, and the gaps between journals have got longer, but a new team are running the society now and the latest journal, shown above, now has a colour cover and better reproduction of images and maps. Things are looking up and they have a thriving SOTCW forum and also a Facebook page.

The current issue of the SOTCW Journal (shown above) is Number 84 and has 56 pages of material covering a wide variety of periods in the Twentieth century and with an interesting piece on WW2 British snipers and a Soviet version of a Bridge Too Far! 

The SOTCW is a great organisation and for The Journal are always looking for copy: from articles to reviews. If you are into WW2 Wargaming in any way then becoming a member for £22 in the UK or just £12 for a digital subscription is well worth it.

Flames Of War As Old School Gaming Part 1

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I describe myself as an Old School Wargamer on my Twitter profile. On the one hand that refers to the fact that I have been Wargaming since 1973, when being a young and impressionable modeller obsessed with military history, I first read about it in the pages of Military Modelling. I was lucky we had an active local Wargames club and the library was well stocked with books by Asquith, Featherstone, Grant and Quarrie et al.
Second World War Wargaming then was quite simple: easy move rates, armour points, penetration points and the emphasis was on historical re-fights which is I suppose is where the second part of being an Old School Wargamer come in. The history is important: it’s not on the periphery, it is the core.

And now more than 40 years later I play Flames of War. ‘Heretic!’ I hear some cry. Well FoW for me has some advantages. Being time poor for the hobby, it’s an easy franchise to buy into with some nicely produced books and a steady stream of good models, especially since Battlefront’s move into plastics. They cost a little more but there are good deals on eBay and the cost side isn’t really an issue for me. There are also a lot of good blogs and Facebook groups which means you can feel attached to the hobby even if you mainly game on your own.

Having said all that, there are sides to FoW that I don’t like. I would never play in a tournament as they have little to do with the history side of the game: platoons of T34s facing Sherman Fireflys just because one list is ‘better’ than another. Nope, go to 40K if you want that. And linked in with the tournament side of it is the dreaded Points System FoW uses. This is is one of its weakest angles: points are irrelevant to any real battle situation and a rule set needs to be able to reflect that. I think FoW does if you let it but players have to be persuaded that it’s a good idea. And as they are often so invested in the points system, they can’t be persuaded! So that’s one of the directions I’m looking at in trying to apply some Old School to FoW.

Incidentally there was an interesting article in a recent edition of the superb Minature Wargames about Point Systems in Wargaming and while it is true several of the ‘old guard’ of gaming were in favour of such a system, making it Old School in a sense, I’m still not sure it can ever apply to a WW2 game.

And that leads into the FoW organisational ORBAT charts… and a subject for another blog post!