Slate looks into popularity of minis wargames in the military

By Polar_Bear
In News
Sep 12th, 2012

Slate looks into why there seems to be so many American servicemen and women who love miniatures wargames.

From the article:

As an Army officer, Maj. Stephen D. Carey has served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. In his spare time, he fights a different kind of battle, one that rages in the apocalyptic 41st millennium. The distant future would be a terrifying realm for a mere mortal, what with all the Necrons, Tyranids, and Tau on the loose. To survive the war-torn galaxy, Carey enlists the help of marauding, green-skinned Orks. He also presides over an Imperial Guard army, because some days, defending mankind is more fun than trying to destroy it.

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  • Great article. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

  • 4tonmantis

    I was on active duty when I started playing. Some of the more skilled players I have met have been military or prior military.

  • GreenJello

    Interesting article, but I’m a bit bummed by the 40K focus, and not enough info on what the military players get out of it.

    Still, much better than the usual hack pieces of “look at all the geeks in the basement doing geeky stuff” “point and laugh everybody!”

  • Tamwulf

    GreenJello- reread the article again. For a lot of us, it allows an outlet for all the pent up energy and focus the military drives into us from day one. When I step into Ops, I’m immediately jumping onto FPS and calculating an air route and fuel burns, planning down to the last gallon of fuel on a plane that uses upwards of 20,000 gallons of jet fuel. I’m consulting weather charts, forecasts, and known ‘air obstacles’ to flying. I step out to the aircraft and start a preflight inspection of over 4,000 items that have to be done in a linear order, with exact precision, sometimes down to the hundredth of an inch when dealing with thousands of inces. If it doesn’t work, I call maintenance and we fix it. When we finally take off, it’s more checklists, fuel plots, weather forecasts, and monitoring the aircraft. If its a combat zone, you add in a whole new set of variables and rules. Now, it’s what threats are out there, both friendly, enemy, and neutral. What kind of weapons are in the area, what are the ranges, what kind of radar, whats the PK of the weapon vs. my aircraft, what are the tactics in overcoming the weapon, what is the Air Tasking Order for the day, who are we working with, what are they doing, what is the threat to them… it’s all one vast, interconnected web, and when something happens, it pulls on one of the strings, and the whole web feels it.

    My point is, military members are highly trained, drilled, and focused. We are wound tight, because when the crap hits the fan, you need to react, not think about what to do. All our jobs and tasks require insane attention to detail, countless hours of training and practice, and a development of reacting quickly and according to training. Playing a miniatures wargame allows us decompress that tightly wound spring. It affords us the opportunity to use all that training in strategy and tactics on a table top where the only consequences are a lost game and maybe bad feelings.

    You have no idea how much it helps.

  • cybogoblin

    Great article. Especially loved this part: “…because some days, defending mankind is more fun than trying to destroy it.”

    I know what they were trying to say, but the context makes it kinda amusing.

  • WiznardofOd

    Scott, calm yourself please.

    Typical, attack the person not the idea.

    Maybe you should spend some more time learning about the history of our hobby.

    While I am sure their are some liberals who love sport shooting and hunting, they are not the majority. This is a male dominated hobby that embraces ideas that ‘womyn and gender studies’ students would find absolutely offensive. Glorifying violence and war as a past time, how barbaric!

    Wargaming is conservative, that in no way implies all war-gamers are.

    Don’t worry Scott, most conservatives were young and liberal once, so welcome to the fold. Don’t worry we don’t bite, and we are not the villains you have been led to believe we are.


  • Scott

    Are you a mod?

    Did you yourself delete your original note implying that persons who are liberal wouldn’t understand the concept (or whatever the trash was that you wrote)?

    Because that was an attack on persons, AND an attack on an idea, so get off your high-horse.

    Your now-deleted note was provocative nonsense so you got called on it. If you don’t want to be confronted when you type something assinine… don’t type something assinine.

  • WiznardofOd

    Sorry Scott, but why would I erase my post? Wouldn’t I just erase yours? Take a minute and think about it.

    I was merely shocked and (happily) surprised Slate magazine did not portray the military and gamers as knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers. My ‘provocation’ was clearly directed at Slate as a left wing mouthpiece, a title I am sure they would not disagree with. But clearly you don’t even know what I wrote as you openly admit.

    The problem was I said the word conservative, then you saw red and chose to call me a troll and a ass.

    Who was the person I attacked?

    What idea did I attack?

    Do you even know?

    I personally reserve the right to type any ‘asinine’ thing I wish.


    • Scott

      But Wiznard, you DID erase your post showing the silly comment where you indicated that only conservatives play wargames.

      That is the gist of what you wrote, so I do know what I’m talking about. If you are not satisfied that I can no longer quote directly from something you have removed from this conversation, then you shouldn’t have deleted it – don’t blame me when you alter the playing field for your benefit.

      Now you are just being dishonest when you act as if you didn’t delete it.

      The point is, you retracted your post when I took offense to an offensive statement, so in the grand scheme of things I’m satisfied.

      To answer your questions, it was not an individual person you “attacked” – I think I would say it’s more akin to a back-handed “slander” of the concept of liberalism which has been the norm for conservative commentators since forever. By implication, your words also indicated that you think no-one of a liberal persuasion has taken part in the last two conflicts, and also seemed to imply that no liberal or Democrat has ever taken up arms to defend this country – which is absolutely preposterous.

      Anyway, I think I’ve addressed all of your questions to me, and it’s true you have the right to be an ass. I have the right to point out to you when you do it. If you don’t want a response when you offend, maybe you should be more thoughful about how your words influence the behavior of others. Freedom of speech does not equal freedom from consequences.

      As a mod, you also have the ability to delete whatever you find offensive, but how you handled this situation (removing your comments, then lying that you did not) shows a lack of character on your part and poor customer service when you think that folks from the “left” side of the aisle don’t look at this site.

      Why would you want to offend “customers”?

      Anyway, have a nice life.

      • WiznardofOd

        Scott, please email TGN.

        I can’t be more clear, I am not nor have I ever been a moderator.

        Not only would I not have erased my post, but quite frankly I would not have erased yours either. Why would I want to? This is a debate worth having, especially when you are losing.

        All I implied was that Wargaming is a ‘conservative’ hobby. Your free to disagree, but wanting something to be true doesn’t make it so.

        The military is by it’s very nature a conservative institution designed to protect our traditions, sorry if you are uncomfortable with that.

        None of this says or means all war-gamers or people in the military are conservative. You are suffering from ‘group think’, a common leftist misconception that all people who belong to an identifiable ‘group’ are identical ie all southern white males are Republicans. Conservatism rejects that assumption and places greater emphasis on the primacy of the individual.

        Please choose your words more careful when you use a term like ‘liberalism’. Conservatives embrace ‘liberalism’, while the Left is partial to ‘socialism’ and ‘communism’. Free market capitalism is the heart of the wargaming hobby, again I am sorry if you are uncomfortable with that.

        Obviously you are uncomfortable with the idea that ‘conservative’ things could be fun, and that you in fact enjoy something which the ‘progressives’ given the opportunity would probably want to ban, you know for all the violence, misogyny and eurocentrism etc…

        Scott, you say have a nice life but ‘slander’ me by calling me an ass and a liar. Wow how tolerant you really are.


  • Scott

    I guess I expected an email or a trace of the original post showing it had been edited, and since I received none of the first and saw none of the latter I assumed you were a mod – my apologies to you for implying you were dishonest in that regard.

    That you continue – as you began in your initial post, in so many words or rather what can be interpreted from what you did write – to make sweeping generalizations about an entire wing of American politics makes you as guilty of the “group think” as you accuse me, but from the opposite side of the coin. Reread what you have written – your own words from your sixth through eighth paragraph could not more clearly indicate you do not realize your own hypocrisy.

    I have no idea why you even mention capitalism in the context of this exchange – that was never an aspect of any response I’ve made to you.

    “None of this says or means all war-gamers or people in the military are conservative” – those weren’t my words, those are yours. They are the trigger for this entire exchange.

    I am as tolerant of your ignorance and evident pig-headedness as I can possibly be – again I type, and sincerely mean: have a nice life.


    • WiznardofOd

      Scott clearly you don’t understand.

      Because I don’t subscribe to group think, I can criticize groups, because they are merely an idea, they don’t in fact actually exist. When we define things, we are forced to become very specific. So specific in fact that they become rigidly exclusive, so exclusive that they end up defining nothing or no one.

      As Margret Thatcher famously said “Society does not exist”.

      Where you take offence, from my perspective none was actually given. I can talk and generalize about groups because they are merely an idea. Because you believe in group think, you believe individuals are less important than the group they belong to, so you are offended. Fair enough.

      Some, such as myself consider personal attacks offensive. They stifle debate, which I can only guess is what you are trying to stop.

      Because I openly acknowledge that some war-gamers are liberal, that is the cause of this whole exchange? Thats a laugh, we are having this exchange because you called me an ass, troll and a liar and have been brainwashed with a hatred of something you clearly know very little about. As you get older no doubt you will experience more of how the mainstream media usually denigrates “men who play with toy soldiers”.

      I mention capitalism because you said “liberalism”, look it up. Libertarianism is a part of the broader Conservative movement.

      I have many friends on the left, they would be ashamed that you consider censorship victory, you openly rejoice in posts being erased. So tolerant. Do you see the hypocrisy in what you say?


      • Soulfinger

        Alright, you had your war of words. That’s enough. This is the sort of exchange better reserved for comments on Yahoo News, not TGN. If you are to continue this debate then please substitute “Space Marine” for “Conservative” and “Eldar” for “Liberal,” so as to better tailor your posts to this forum. Arguments about Games Workshop’s pricing and customer service policies are also appropriate. As things stand, your exchange has devolved into something uncomplimentary to both of your respective ideologies.

        • WiznardofOd

          I always thought the Eldar conservative and the Tau liberal.

          In our defence, the discussion was germaine to the topic at hand. Personally I would never have heard about the Slate article had it not been for TGN. You are right though, it was turning into a rather unsightly massacre.

          My humblest apologies TGN.


      • Scott

        Apologies again to the community.

        Wiznard – with the amount of projection you are doing, you might want to consider opening a concession stand.

        “Because I openly acknowledge that some war-gamers are liberal, that is the cause of this whole exchange?”

        No, that your original statement implied that ONLY conservatives have ever defended this country and that ONLY conservatives play war-games was the trigger of this whole exchange.

        Your dishonesty – or self-delusion – is staggering. Seek help while you can.

        • WiznardofOd

          Wow, still with the personal attacks. Lets see so far I’m an…





          Pig Headed

          Self Deluded.

          All because I ‘implied’ something that you disagreed with.

          It has become quite apparent that you are just an angry young man, and really I think you just want to rage. Rage at anyone who would have the audacity to defy you and your special opinions. And you call me self deluded.

          Here is a hint for next time, fight the idea not the person. How simple would it have been to say “Wiznard you are totally wrong, wargaming is a bastion of progressive modern values because x,y,z…”. Convince me, don’t hate me.

          For some reason you won’t or can’t do that. Not surprising from someone who doesn’t even know the difference between a Liberal and the concept of liberalism.

          God help us.


          • Soulfinger

            To put it a little more bluntly, you are BOTH acting like equal and opposite asshats. Neither of you is going to win this pointless debate. You are probably both the same age, same socio-economic demographic, and you probably have three of the same favorite movies in your respective top ten. Were this real life, you would be chatting about wargaming, or at worst arguing rules.

            Ironically enough, here on an Internet gaming site you can instead envisage everything you’ve ever hated about Liberals/Conservatives/Ewoks and spout off a diatribe aimed at this imaginary chimera with each other as mere straw man targets for your vitriol. You aren’t even arguing with each other anymore, this is not an exchange between two human beings, and that is something that should be profoundly embarrassing to both of you as individuals.

  • Scott

    Not angry, just very sad that you want to try to put a bunch of words in my mouth.

    Yeah, I have called you everything you list, because you want to keep this thread going by avoiding the original issue – your silly and provocative statement that conservatives are the only people who have ever served in the military or play wargames.

    Instead of acknowledging that what you said was a very silly assumption, you have doubled-down with your own comments regarding how you believe I view the world, projecting fairly standard conservative talking-points about the liberal boogie-man that has been created by pundits such as Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing talkers. Oh, and your tangent regarding liberalism in regards to economic policy. I’m not going to bother explaining how the term “liberalism” has multiple definitions because your just trying to throw up a smoke-screen… or something. I honestly don’t know what you are going on about.

    The mods dealt with the original exchange where these words were used: Ass, Troll.

    I have already acknowledged that implying you were a Liar – in regards to being a mod – was a mistake, and even apologized.

    Ignorance applies to your continued use of what I can only refer to as conservative “group think” pertaining to the imagined liberal boogie-man created by the likes of Rush Limbaugh, and your belief that only conservatives have served the country or play wargames.

    Pig Headed applies to your constant attempts to accuse me of liberal group think per what you say I believe conservatives are all about, when I have only been concerned with your original misguided opinion regarding members of the armed services and the hobby community.

    Self Deluded that you deny the existance of your continued inability to see that my only comments pertained to your original misguided opinion regarding members of the armed services and the hobby community.

    I would suggest that you reread everything you have written to confirm the veracity of what I have just typed, but what’s the point? You’ll just go off on some other tangent completely unrelated to the statement that initiated our exchange and attempt to put more words I never mentioned into my mouth.

    Why would I not think you are all of the words I used on you previously? You keep confirming them!

  • WiznardofOd

    How dare you bring Ewoks into this,

    That is a line too far!

    Actually I’m not embarrassed. For what specifically should I be? Making fun of an internet bully? Someone who joined this site just to shower me with hate. Someone who accuses me of saying things I never said.

    Sorry Soulfinger but I respectfully disagree.