Monster Wargame

My hobby of playing historical wargames is an unusual one. When most people think of boardgames, they think of games like Monopoly or Life. These are games that have rules that can fit on a single sheet of paper. Most historical board wargames are complex simulations. A typical wargame can have twenty pages of rules. That is enough to discourage most people from even trying to play a wargame.

Besides the rules complexity, there is the time to play a wargame. A wargame can typically take from four to twelve hours. Again, that can intimidate a lot of people. That's why there aren't many Real Wargamers.

Atlantic Wall - the biggest monster game I own

But once you get into the hobby, when reading twenty pages of rules is nothing and taking an entire day to play a game is normal, there are still monster games. These are games that can be daunting to even experienced wargamers. Usually they are Very Big in some category. They may have very long and complex rules - there are some monster games with rulebooks that exceed a hundred pages. They may take a long time - anything over twenty hours of playing time probably counts as a monster game. They may have lots of counters, the playing pieces that represent the historical combat units that fought in a battle. And they may have very large boards, perhaps multiple mapsheets. Some monster games have all of these: large playing areas, lots of counters, and a long time to play.

There is an annual gaming convention known as Consimworld Expo that I have gone to several times. It is also known as MonsterCon. Because it is a week long, it is an opportunity to play monster games. It is impressive to see games that have two to four guys on a side that take an entire week to play. Often setting up the game takes several people an entire day.

I have played a couple of monster games in my time. Long ago I used to play Rise and Decline of the Third Reich. This is a classic strategic level game of the European Theater in WWII. It usually took about forty hours to play - six weeks of six to eight hour sessions every Saturday. I have also played Proud Monster, a game which covers the first six months of WWII on the Eastern Front. It has just over a thousand counters. That is a lot of pieces to move every turn. And I have played Europe Engulfed, another WWII European Theater stategic level game. I played it with a friend in Singapore and even with weekly sessions it would take us two months to finish a game.

Sadly now I have trouble getting hard core wargame opponents, so I feel lucky when I can line up a three hour wargame session. But I still dream of monster games. I will play them, even if I have to play them solitaire. Since I will be retiring from the University of Idaho soon, I can imagine that I will have lots of time to devote to monster games. Probably not, but I can dream. So in that spirit, I made a purchase recently. I bought Atlantic Wall, a wargame on the invasion of France in WWII. It is truely an impressive monster game. It has seven 22 x 34 inch mapsheets, and with almost five thousand counters, it has twice as many counters as any wargame that I have owned up to this time. Just to punch and trim the counters would probably take me a solid month of hard work. But I got it anyway. And someday, soon I hope, I intend to play it.