I am Disenfranchised with my Current Setup
I spent a wonderful portion of my teen years playing wargames with coloured paper or books under bedsheets for scenery, and risk figures for troops. It was wonderful because there were basically no start-up costs. I could pick up a ruleset (free, off the internet) with confidence knowing I didn’t need to spend $200-400 on armies and hours painting them before even discovering if I liked the rules or enjoyed the period or particular army I had selected. For a solo player with no chance to experiment with a friend’s army of choice, and who needs to field both armies (double the expense) that was very beneficial.
But now, this cheap and very fake look is leaving me dissatisfied. Moving blue figurines over green paper is not capturing my imagination. They don’t look like French voltiguers clearing the woods any more, they look like risk figures on a piece of paper. I’m a bit concerned that answering to this disenchantment will create a kind of ascethic arms race in my head, as I always seek a prettier and prettier game. But it is the reality. My games are unappealing to the eye, and that’s made them unappealing to the will.
I am Spoilt for Choice
As I said, using risk figures gave me a superb flexibility as a teenager. I could field Japanese samurai one week, Napoleonic battalions the next, Roman legionaries on Saturday, and then use them for Parthian levies on Sunday. But now, with my collection of rulesets spanning from DBA to the French Wars of Religion to Napoleonic warfare in about three or four different scales to the Russian Civil War to World War Two to modern warfare to Lord of the Rings, it takes me a really long time to actually settle down and choose a period, choose combatants and build an army. I vacillate between multiple choices, and often start setting up for one ruleset but end up either packing it up and not playing at all, or playing a different period.
Computer Games are Easier … and Worse
Given all these problems, it becomes much easier to just open up a computer game like Mount and Blade, Battle for Wesnoth, or the Total War Series, all of which give me the same strategy, tactics and sense of story which I seek in a wargame. The problem is I don’t want to only play computer games, and in fact, it causes chaos in my life. Both are good recreational activities, but one takes at least two hours, includes some set-up, and has a couple of disincentives I’ve already mentioned. The other can be opened and modified with the click of a button. So I choose the computer game.
Given how quickly it can be set up, I can choose to play a computer game at any time of day, even during a study block. It’s accessibility makes it more distracting than a tabletop game. And I have learnt in the last couple of weeks that studying hard for an extended period, and then playing hard for an extended period, is better for both play and study than constantly alternating between the two. I get into a good study flow, and when I do get a game in, it’s a lengthy reward for hard work. That’s much more fulfilling.
Now to formulate a plan addressing all three to resurrect my (still beloved) hobby!