Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Commando Comics - a holiday read





A little holiday reading...I grabbed a copy of this from our school library shelves just before we adjourned for the summer holiday, and it was quite a trip down memory lane. I grew up with the occasional read of these comics, hiding them in my wardrobe because my parents didn't approve.

But it has left me thinking about our war-gaming hobby and the perceptions of some of our colleagues. I wonder how many 'gamers, and rules writers for that matter, shaped their perceptions of battle on this sort of literary diet? When I think about some of the rules systems I have read, some of them bear an unerring likeness to the Commando Comic view of battle. On the other hand some don't, some are indeed based on good evidence, and some on hard core academic research.

A good friend showed me a copy of 'Lost Battles', written by Phil Sabin ("Philip Sabin is a British military historian who is currently a professor in the War Studies Department of King's College London. He specializes in air power studies and ancient warfare. He is a member of the CAS Air Power Workshop, a small working group of scholars and other theorists convened by the Chief of Air Staff." - Wikipedia), this is a good case in point. The rules are an afterthought in some ways to an analysis of a number of ancients battles, and are therefore firmly evidence based.

For quite some time I have been a fan of the Spearhead stable of rules, and have been closely involved with the Great War Spearhead set in particular (Shawn Taylor). The original development by Shawn, the discussion of these rules since publication, and their further evolution into GWSHII (currently underway) have been very largely evidence based.

All great stuff, and a long way from the Commando Comic inspired ideas of war-games rules.

Of course, war-games are just that: games, and I guess regardless of their basis, if they inspire hobbyists, then it's all good stuff. Just don't try to tell me that they represent an accurate simulation of command and control in war.

In the meantime, I must hunt out another set of these comic reprints; they are a great holiday read.

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