Gaming the Great War often begs the question: why? Why would you game such a wasteful, terrible conflict? All war games are based on conflict of some sort, and all armed conflict is, by its very nature, wasteful and terrible. Are some wars ‘better’ than others? Probably not, in reality. All have different images in the popular imagination; take the standard perception of WW2 – which killed around 50m people worldwide – as a necessary crusade against Nazism, but the pervading vision of WW1 – which killed around 20m people – as a futile slaughter.
I came to WW1 gaming fairly late, but was lucky enough to have some great recommendations to get me started. Aly Morrison of Great War Miniatures suggested that I should have a look at ‘Mud, Blood and Poppycock‘ by Gordon Corrigan, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading alongside the Two Fat Lardies rules Through The Mud And Blood, both of which helped me to frame the Great War in a different context and see the military and social developments that drove things forward. Much of the tactics and equipment that became standard in the 1939-45 war had their origins in the earlier conflict. David Olusoga’s book and BBC TV series ‘The World’s War’ also opened my eyes as to the sheer scale of the contribution of different ethnic groups to the battlefields of the Western Front. As well as these recent publications, I was able to travel to the battlefields (as many have done before me) and piece together stories of my own family history and that of my friends on the very ground where these terrible events happened.