#MemorialDay 2020 – A #Wargame Grognard Perspective

AS A LONG TIME WARGAMER I OCCASIONALLY HEAR CRITICISM OF MY HOBBY. One common criticism is that we are a heartless bunch who have no problem sacrificing hundreds, thousands, even millions of little cardboard counters all the time while never thinking about the human cost. There is some merit to this argument. How many times do we casually flip a counter to its reduced side, or remove a block, or take that dude off the map? When we tally our score it’s not ‘number of dead’ but ‘Victory Points.’ Wargamers often forget that conflict has a human cost. Which is why Less than 60 Miles (Thin Red Line Games, 2019) made me pause.

No, it’s not Rule 15.6 Combat Results. They actually are what many wargamers expect:

15.6 Combat Results

  1. Combat Result is expressed in terms of Attrition Points increase. The number on the left applies to the attacking Unit, while the number on the right applies to every Defending Unit contributing its Defense Strength to the combat.
  2. Any Ground Combat result inflicted on a HQ Unit is doubled.
  3. If the Defender has suffered an Attrition Point increase and decides not to Retreat, all the defending Units are considered Engaged.
  4. If the Defender suffered no Attrition Point increase and decides not to Retreat, all the defending units are considered Half-Engaged.
  5. If the Defender chooses to Retreat After Combat, its Engagement status and Attrition Losses will depend on the Disengagement result (see 15.7, Retreat After Combat).
  6. If all the Defending Units are destroyed, and remaining Defender’s Unit must Retreat After Combat.

No, what sets Less Than 60 Miles apart is the Attrition Markers.

Little dogtags.

C6F5DC71-8468-4141-96BB-792E75A89992

Dogtags, symbolic of those removed from around the neck of a dead soldier on the battlefield. Dogtags, symbolic of the human cost of war.

So, as we wargamers sit around the gaming table this Memorial Day pushing our little cardboard or block or miniature armies around, remember that war has a very human cost. No wargame can ever capture the reality of that human cost.

But some can remind us. A reminder that those who sacrificed it all deserve to be remembered.

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