Relaxing with strategy wargaming?

Well, I can think, but I just can’t gather the concentration to really write anything. Sometimes you need to push yourself through that, and other times you need to listen to your mind – it wants a break from thinking! I’ve had a wonderful weekend with my partner in life, love and lockdown. So I’m going to read a little, relax, play a little strategy wargaming.

Toy Soldiers, advance!

Yes, I love a strategy wargame. Ever since I started playing with toy soldiers as a kid, I’ve been interested. I used to set them up and make forts, then destroy them with marbles (I had a big marble sized steel ball bearing which was awesome and something I’d never give my kids now because I’m pretty sure I dented the skirting boards with it).

Then as I grew older, I started trying to add some realism (if you can call it that, maybe simulation is a better word) to the games by letting each soldier represent a company, and rolling dice to see who won. It was fun, but cumbersome.

The next step was computer based games, but I had limited options for my well-loved Sinclair Spectrum, mainly whatever came free or as a demo on the covertapes of Your Sinclair and Sinclair User magazines. But then I got a PC, and a copy of Panzer General, and I was hooked. It was great, easy to get into, lovely graphical maps of Europe to play on, and endlessly replayable. I still play it from time to time, some 25 years after it was released, which is testimony to either how much I like it or how good it was.

But Panzer General (and it’s successor Allied General, and Panzer General 3D which I remember having once now that I think about it. I never found the follow on titles to be as good as the original) didn’t quite have enough, well, detail. (I love detail, it’s why I liked making model aircraft and tanks. It’s all about the little details). So, fast forward a lot of years and a mate put me on to Paradox Interative’s Hearts of Iron series.

Now we’re talking detail! I played Hearts of Iron 3 for *ages*, and, I’ve just started playing HoI 4 (4 years after it’s release because hey, I don’t have the time anymore and because I don’t have the time I was waiting for it to go on sale, 9.99 is a sweet price). This is grand strategy. You can take control of any country in the world in 1936, manage it’s diplomacy, trade, research priorities, type of armed forces you build, then take them to battle! You need to take care of the civilian population, deal with supply and equipment production, develop defensive and offensive battleplans, it’s pretty awesome in scope.

I’m trying it out by playing Ireland. I’ve developed an interventionist foreign policy and a tiny navy. Playing a small nation is a good way to get used to the game without being swamped with options (Germany starts the game with 25 divisions or so, I’ve got two!). So, let’s see what happens. Maybe I can ferment a coup in Germany and get them to ditch Hitler to alter history. Fun 🙂