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What's the Attraction???

I've been pondering the attraction of imaginary countries, armies, uniforms, and campaigns during the last several days. It seems that increasingly many of us are doing something like this in their respective corners of the world.

The latest person to succumb to the dark side is OSW member Andy Pattison, who wrote in his thread over at OSW that he too will go with BIG batallions and (very probably) rely on 15mm MiniFigs for the bulk of his troops. Bravo Andy! But I'm still left wondering, "Why?" What is it about this particular sub-branch of the wargaming hobby that grabs so many of us by the collar and apparently reinvigorates our efforts and interests?

There must be a host of possible replies out there. For me, I think it goes back to when I played D&D in high school in the early 1980s (the Basic game, NOT Advanced D&D). As dungeon master (basically the person who designs and runs each gaming session/campaign), I always got a real kick out of developing fictitious worlds, characters, situations, etc. This was actually more fun than playing the game with my classmates and friends, who often missed the literary and folkloric references woven into each adventure. But I digress.

About 1984-85, however, I concluded that Napoleonic history was more interesting in the longer term than halflings and orcs, so I put all of my energies and spare time into my 15mm Waterloo Napoleonics for many years. Until December 2005, that is, when I stumbled onto the OSW discussion board, all thought of doing anything else was ignored. Then I was bitten by the bug. . .

So why is my imaginary 18th century corner of Europe so engrossing to me? Well, creating imaginary armies enables me to combine the best of both worlds -- a love for creating characters, situations, and conflicts combined with a love of military history, horse and musket tactics along with a fascination with heraldry and "uniformology". Is there a legitimate term for the study of uniforms? Anyway, it's all about indulging my creative needs and aspirations. So, I guess you could say that I've come almost full circle with the Grand Duchy of Stollen project. Funny, this little journey took only about 25+ years!

But what about the rest of you who develop imaginary armies and countries? The era and type of army don't matter. What is it specifically that fires your imagaination? And why might this approach be preferable to going the historical route and painting up "real" armies that fought at, say, Leuthen, Valmy, Wavre, the Alma, or Koeniggratz for instance? Anyone out there care to supply a fairly detailed answer?


I already responded to this one over on the OSW group. But it's a good question, and you bring out an interesting angle in that it not only indulges the writing side, as I mentioned, but for many may bring back some of the imagination they exercised as kids/youth. Which perhaps brings us back to the "wargaming as organized playing with toy soldiers for big kids".

Also, the Duchy has an emissary over on my blog, as well. :)
Mr. Fox said…
Hmm....the question is a hard one! I believe that those of us who creat our own nations just LOVE history SO much that we feel the need to creat our own worlds...

At least that is the way I feel about it!

Prince Henry of Anthro-Paphburg:
MurdocK said…
But what about the rest of you who develop imaginary armies and countries?

I think that, not unlike your point about 'desire' to express our imagination in a personal matter, it also allow us to place a 'personal stamp' on the nature of the troops 'nominally' under our command. This will, over time, cause them to have more personality (at least that we are aware of).

What is it specifically that fires your imagaination?

The moment of closing my eyes after seeing the tabletop in action and 'seeing' the action that is being simulated on the tabletop, smelling the powder, sweat and horse leathers, tasting the stale bread and jug of wine afterwards!

I have done 'single battle' actions so many times now that they are dull. It takes the 'bigger picture' to bring more to the table, a 'reason' to battle if you will. It is this desire for the tabletop actions to have more meaning than a poker hand...

And why might this approach be preferable to going the historical route and painting up "real" armies that fought at, say, Leuthen, Valmy, Wavre, the Alma, or Koeniggratz for instance?

I have started with the 'real' armies approach, found it interesting and educational, not to metntion fun in learning loads about the period and personalities. That said the concept of fictional countries allows for departure from the historical norms, and this is where the appeal lies I think.

Anyone out there care to supply a fairly detailed answer?

I cannot clearly answer this one, other than the 'personal stamp' idea...perhaps I can go over more of this from my own blog at:

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