It looks like the army and RAND Corporation are bringing back tabletop war gaming again. After the invention of the atomic bomb, tabletop miniature war games were seen as largely pointless for real military strategy training. They had been in use since the late 1700s in Prussia (and subsequently spread worldwide) for that purpose. They were created through slowly evolving chess to be more and more realistic. But after the atomic bomb, miniatures wargaming was consigned to the tabletop hobby world alone. Hobbyists continued playing tabletop war games simply because they were very fun and extremely challenging. Meanwhile RAND came up with the idea of "role playing" games as the best way to simulate modern warfare for the purpose of military training. Participants would now play the roles of leaders of countries with nuclear weapons at their disposal. Then the participants would basically negotiate their way to victory. No table or miniatures were required. The most popular hobbyist tabletop game to come out of this idea was Diplomacy.
In 1974, Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson applied the role play idea to miniatures medieval wargaming rules Gygax had developed earlier (which included Tolkien (Lord of the Rings) fantasy creatures as options for combatants). They also added in the idea of characters improving through experience (which had already been in miniatures wargaming in somewhat embryonic forms). And boom! Dungeons and Dragons was born, changing hobby tabletop gaming (and the electronic gaming that arrived soon after) forever.
And now the circle is completing itself as tabletop wargaming, with role playing involved, is going to be used once again in the military. Contrary to the predictions after World War II, the world still does conventional war these days, and thus tabletop wargaming is still applicable in a nuclear world for strategic modeling and training. Of course this new generation of tabletop wargames the military is doing will be highly advanced compared with the games they were playing pre-WWII, and will have computers sitting nearby crunching numbers... History is fascinating in how it so often follows spiraling paths.
Here is an article about it: link
Here is a cool graphic made by fun.com which shows an overview of the history of board games in North America,
Here's another graphic showing sales of the entire hobby board gaming market versus the sales of mass market game maker Hasbro.
Here's an interesting article in The Atlantic on the shift from humanities majors to STEM majors. Students entering college are much more interested in degrees that they think will get them a job these days. I think the emphasis on STEM in the K12 public school systems is overdone right now. Yes there are jobs in STEM, but not enough for all the young people being funneled into the field. STEM jobs are becoming highly competitive.Article Link
The consumer product safety comission is once again updating it's age rating guidleines. The new guidlines are in draft form right now and are located here.
The age ratings on tabletop games can be highly confusing and misleading to parents, however. This is due to the fact that they bear no relationship to the ratings on video games, movies, and television. Today’s parents have been raised under the mindset of the content ratings applied to electronic entertainment, and naturally assume that tabletop game ratings should work the same way. Unfortunately, they don’t. Age ratings on tabletop games have little to do with issues like violence levels or “adult situations” in the games themselves. Instead the ratings are controlled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission which oversees the ratings on all toys.
Crucible Con 2018 was the first miniatures gaming con I have attended. I spent the weekend taking painting classes. Here are some pictures of the gaming tables at the con, though. There was row after row of tables with battle fields to play on.
The painting classes were done by Rick Casler. He is a local firefighter who does miniatures painting commission work and teaching on the side under the business name of Firestorm Miniatures and Painting. He has won international painting competitions in the past, but no longer competes. The classes were outstanding. We had classes, Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. On Friday night we learned about air brushing, pin washing, and edge high lighting while painting an Infinity miniature. Saturday, we didn't even touch a miniature. We spent the day painting boxes of white and black on little poster board pieces as a way to learn the different techniques of blending colors into gradients. We progressed to painting 3D images of first a cube and then a soda can on our poster board pieces. With those we learned how to make use of light and dark colors to shade images to produce a 3D look. I thought of this day as kind of a Mr. Miyagi wax on wax off day. Then on Sunday we got to apply the techniques we had learned on Friday night and Saturday to a miniature bust of Iron Man. Finally, all the techniques came together, and we saw what we were able to do. Although my miniature ended up looking nowhere near as good as the teacher's example piece, it did show marked improvements over anything I've done before. But most importantly I now have a lot of new techniques to practice on over the coming year that I would have never learned by just watching YouTube videos like I have been doing for the past year. The class was inspiring, and Chris did a great job. He was patient and always positive and complimentary to his students. I have taken two other miniature painting classes from people in the past and they were fun, but there was a tremendous difference between those experiences and the experience of taking a class from a truly world class painter. I'd highly recommend anyone in the Central Florida area, interested in painting, that has the opportunity, to take a painting class from him.
Here are the two example pieces the instructor did, which we learned the techniques from.
Here are some other miniatures painted by the instructor that were on display in the room. They come from the game Blood and Plunder, which is a historical miniatures game set during the 1600s during the age of piracy.
Here are some other miniatures painted by people at the con that I thought looked cool.
The games that had tournaments running during the con were Warhammer 40K, Age of Sigmar, Warmachine/ Hordes, Bolt Action, Kings of War, Infinity, Blood Bowl, and Aristeia. People were also playing Monsterpocalypse and Shadespire casually.
I didn't see any children or women competing at the con, but I may have missed them if they were there since I spent the majority of my time in the painting classes. The demographic seemed to be men from college age up through the 60s, however. My children are determined that they want to attend next year and compete. So perhaps they will be the only children competitors there.
In my opinion the hobby is an untapped arena for a positive family hobby. Children naturally love painting and building things. And the mental exercise involved in the game part of the hobby is wonderful as well. My children and I have a great time playing the games and painting our miniatures. I would highly recommend it to any parents.
Here’s hoping this hobby continues to come out of relative obscurity and gains the patronage it deserves.
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