Alexis checks the Allies supplies (Burger King?!) before attacking the Germans (me) in Normandy

I have played board wargames ever since I was a kid in school. I have always loved history. And I enjoy intellectual competition. In high school and college I was on the chess team and played in US Chess Federation tournaments. So board wargaming is a natural pursuit for me. The hobby is not very large though. The games are complex and take a long time to learn and play. There isn't any "action". So there just aren't many wargamers around. As an adult I would sometimes find someone interested in playing and would get involved for a year or two, then we would always fall off. In the last ten years probably Tim was the only person that I played wargames against with any regularity. I used to love to collect them and had lots of them on my bookshelves, but almost all of them went into storage when I moved to Singapore. Well that was a mistake. Fortunately I did bring along five of my favorites, although I only did it because I figured I might be playing them solitaire here in Singapore while Sandy was off on long business trips.

Not long after moving here I found a boardgame group on Meetup.com. And it looked like there were some wargamers in the group. I started to go the meetups and found that there was a small but active group of wargamers here in Singapore. Although there are almost 800 people signed up for the boardgame group, there are only about 10-20 active wargamers. But that is a lot, and the group is a really good one. So now I am playing wargames quite often again and really enjoying it.

When I first joined the Meetup group I filled in my profile. It had a spot for favorite game so I listed "Turning Point: Stalingrad", one of the few games I had brought to Singapore. A few days later I received an email from one of the guys in the group saying that he had noticed a new member and checked my profile. Turned out they were playing Turning Point: Stalingrad at a Meetup that weekend so I was invited to join their game. The rest, as they say, is history.

There are usually two main meetup events every month. Singapore Open Gaming (SOG) is on a Saturday afternoon and usually runs from about 1 pm till abou 7pm. Not real long in wargaming terms, but enough to get a reasonable wargame in (if you hurry). There is also a monthly wargames meetup on a Wednesday night. Since that only goes from 6 to 11 pm we have to choose shorter games to be able to finish them in an evening. But some newer wargames are really good and can be played in a few hours.

Playing the Germans again - at the Battle of Kursk against Siao

Besides the group meetups, we sometimes have one-on-one games or a small group at someones house. I have one regular opponent, Michael, that I play against quite often. Michael is a South African, who lived in the UK for ten years, and who now lives in Singapore. Very international. He is also a really good wargamer and seems to have played just about every wargame ever published. So when I am able to beat him I usually feel pretty good about it. Doesn't happen often enough though.

Here are some of the games I have had a chance to play.

Turning Point: Stalingrad. Hey, I'm an East Front guy from way back and this is one of my favorites. An area impulse game. I've had a chance to play several games of TPS. There are several other games that use the same system for different WWII battles. Michael has Monty's Gamble, a game on Operation Market Garden which I have been able to play once. And another friend, Alexis (shown in photo) has Breakout Normandy, which simulated the Allied landings in France. We have played two games so far and split. We are scheduled to play the deciding game next Saturday.

A game which I have played a lot is Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage. It is about the Second Punic War - one of my favorite periods of history. Who can resist playing as Hannibal and trying to beat the Romans against overwhelming odds? I've played quite a few games of Hannibal. And Michael has Wilderness War, which uses the same game system for the French and Indian War. An unusual topic for a wargame - I've played it twice and split. I do like games that use similar systems. I love to play wargames but hate to learn them.

An exciting game of EastFront - we draw a crowd

I've played a number of other games. Commands & Colors: Ancients is a general tactical system for simulating ancient battles. I've played famous battles like Cannae and Zama as well as some obscure battles. I've played a couple of the Axis & Allies family. Pacific, an old standard that I brought along, and Guadalcanal, a new one that Sandy got me for Christmas. I've played Defiant Russia, a small scale game of a huge war. Exciting and playable in a single sitting, but not too historical. I've played EastFront against Siao, which is the same thing at a larger scale. And I have had a chance to try Hammer of the Scots with Sng. I wasn't too interested at first in a game on the Scottish Rebellion (think the movie Braveheart) but it was a really fun and exciting game. And Michael did get me playing Advanced Squad Leader, a very complex game. But it is very low level tactical, so not really my favorite type of game.

Michael and I have even played a "monster" game, Europe Engulfed. It simulates the entire European theatre in WWII. Just the rules took a long time to read and we played a short game (only a few evenings long) which I managed to lose quickly as the Axis. Then with the rules learned (at least as well as you can ever learn the rules for a monster game) we did a full length WWII game. Michael does have a small room in his flat where he can leave the game set up which was good. It took us three months to finish. We figure that we spent about fifty hours of actual gaming time. And after six years, it ended in a draw. When we were finally done it was like the end of an era.

Even Sandy has started to wargame. We have played a few games of Risk. It's how lots of wargamers start out. Pretty soon they are moving on to "the hard stuff".

UPDATE (May 5): When I posted this I forgot to mention that Sandy and I have played two games of Risk so far, and that she is 2-0. The person who moves first does have a significant advantage in a two-player game of Risk but she is clearly a natural wargamer. Sorry I left that out but hey, it was late when I was writing the post and I was trying to finish. Thanks to Sandy for jogging my memory. With her elbow.