Wednesday, June 29, 2011
I've said before -- many times by now -- that I was never much of a wargamer, but I wanted to be, at least of the hex-and-chit variety. I'd played a number of such games over the years and many of the people who introduced me to the hobby were wargamers. I, however, simply lacked the stuff from which wargamers are made, not that that ever stopped me from continuing to try, typically in vain, to turn myself into one. So it was that, one Spring day a quarter of a century ago, I decided that I'd take a swing at the biggest, baddest wargame I knew at the time -- Third Reich. In my addled adolescent mind, if I could play Third Reich, I could play any wargame.
Alas, I couldn't play Third Reich and never did, despite the best efforts of my friend in the back row. Over the course of many weeks, I tried desperately to understand the rules to John Prados's Charles S. Roberts Award-winning game but to little avail. There was simply too much to keep track of and too many nuances of play that eluded me. It's a pity, too, because, from what little I could understand, Third Reich is exactly the kind of wargame that I'd enjoy. You see, I'm not actually all that interested in battles or military operations as such. Rather, what enthuses me is what might be called "grand strategy," which is to say, the politics and economics behind wars and Rise and Decline of the Third Reich seemed to share my enthusiasm. Its primary mechanics, after all, were based around resource points and victory or defeat depended just as much, if not more, on decisions about the production and allocation of resource points as they did on specific military engagements.
Despite this seeming concord between my own interests and those of Third Reich, I simply couldn't wrap my head around the rules and, after several false starts, eventually gave up. I never managed to play a single game and that failure marked the last time I made a serious effort to get into hex-and-chit wargaming. Consequently, Third Reich holds a strange and bittersweet fascination for me, being both "the one that got away" and the game that once and for all killed any illusions I had of joining that fellowship of gamers older and more exclusive than that of roleplayers. There are times, even now, when I think I ought to acquire a copy and again pick up that gauntlet from 25 years ago, but why? Even if the rules now made sense to me, I lack both the time and the fellow players(s) with whom to indulge in a game of this sort. No, I'm not a wargamer and never have been and it was Rise and Decline of the Third Reich that sealed my acknowledgment of this fact.