Brant Guillory, 8 February 2024
Back in December, we asked you about your 2023 wargaming and this series has been looking at the results.
We closed the survey with some open-text / free-response questions, including asking everyone
“What do you think the biggest story in wargaming was in 2023?”
Once we filtered out all of the “I don’t know”s and “nothing really”s we ended up with these results, grouped roughly into some topical headers
Specific Company News
A lot of replies talked about specific companies
- Compass Games bought the rights to most GDW and XTR wargames so they can republish them with upgrades.
- GMT Games wargame development
- That is hard to answer, but for me personally, it would be the founding of 10K Publishing a new war game publisher out of Colorado 🙂
- That Precis Intermedia is releasing more reprints of classic Yaquinto titles. Yaquinto was always aa favorite of mine and they were always overshadowed by Avalon Hill & SPI
- The smallest wargame company (GSI) makes the biggest wargames. But I don’t recall that being a story at all.
- The rise of the Blue Panther
- The emergence of VUCA Simulations as a top-tier wargame publisher
- The rise of Vuca Simulations
- VUCA games making a splash
- Vuca Simulations
- VUCA simulations in general; amazing products
Companies in Trouble
Although they weren’t always speaking positively about those companies
- The expense of Axis Empires including shipping to Australia. DG not being proactive and setting up resellers. resellers currently have no idea on historical war games.
- Devil Pig Games going under and the massive increase in shipping costs around the world which is slowing games sales.
- Kickstarter fails – Heroes of the Pacific etc
- D&D licence fiasco
- CSI giving up on boardgaming sales.
- Devil Pig Games disintegration
- Issues with Lock ‘n Load games on Gamefound not being released and no info for months
- LnLPublishing’s horrible communications with it’s WaW85 KS customers.
- Lock ‘n Load funding three GameFound campaigns with no games to show for it and some concerning vapourware-like “explanations”
- Lock ‘N Loads difficulty in releasing their Glory and Empire game First Victories
- The collapse of Lock n Load
- Marquee titles (LnL, Winter’s Victory) having huge delays.
- The decline of GMT and the rise of middle-tier publishers.
Charles S Roberts Awards
The CSRs were a popular topic, and this survey was before the committee released the news about category changes
- Ardwulf and Dan doing Charles S. Roberts awards
- CSR Awards
- Is Votes for Women a wargame? Because amongst other things, it highlights some of the problems with the Charlies.
- The return of the Charlies? The years blur together, was that this year?
- The CSR Awards
- The CSR awards got better.
- The restart of the Charlies! That and Serval’s lazy excuse for his comment.
- Votes for Women categorisation/Charles S Roberts nomination/wargaming making strides to become more inclusive
A lot of replies talked about specific games or game series
- Atlantic Chase getting a reprint so quickly
- Combat Commander’s new P500 options
- Downfall’s development by John and Kai
- Explosion of interest in BCS titles (Gamers/MMP)
- Fall Blau was reprinted. Barbarossa Army Group North was NOT printed yet
- Just how good Plantagenet was, even more so then how we all expected it to be. And just how awesome Downfall by GMT is
- Levy & Campaign. the series has taken off like a rocket, and the quality is so high
- Mr. President (GMT)
- My game was released!!! Hahaha (ed note: respondent neglected to tell us what the game was!)
- P500 appearance of Deluxe Edition of 3 Days of Gettysburg
- Probably that Games Workshop is bringing out a new, old world version of Warhammer – though that is of no interest to me personally.
- Release of Battles in the East and rehabilitation of DG reputation
- The return of Warhammer Fantasy
- The rise of new designers and new takes on historical gaming (e.g. Land and Freedom and Votes for Women)
- The rise of Volko, with the popularity of COIN and Campaign & Levy
- The Russian Campaign 5th edition finally being released.
- The Russian Campaign 5th edition was finally released LOL
The Aging of the Hobby
The hobby is getting older, although there’s evidence that we’ve been getting older for over 40 years now, and we’re still here
- Death of John Prados
- Mark Ruggiero’s journey
- The issue of the graying/aging of players, though this seems to be a perennial topic
- Yet another year … and the hobby didn’t die! 😉
- Old grogs getting older. And sadly passing away.
Sadly, Dan’s toilet made enough appearances to warrant its own category; if you don’t know, you don’t want to
- Dan’s Toilet
- Gonna have to say Dan’s Toilet!
- Dan’s Toilet
Solo wargaming has been around forever, but continues to grow in prominence
- Increase in number of solo bots for two+ player games.
- Rise of the solo bots
- solo gaming taking off and becoming a large part of the gaming community.
- The expansion of solitaire only designs
- The increase in solo options
- The rise in Solitaire systems
Playing online is continues to hold strong post-pandemic
- continued rise of Rally the Troops
- Increase in Vassal play
- Rally the Troops
- Jim Owczarski’s live streaming
People Trying to Pick Fights
Some folks just seem to want to fling poo around the interwebz . . .
- Honestly I can’t point to one big story but I do find the use of the term wargaming to refer to boardgames really confusing
- Strong, visceral, and highly negative reactions from segments of the gaming community on increased use of AI-generated imagery in games.
- That painting youtuber who called us all fascists lol
- The controversy over The Other Side of the Hill
. . . and plenty of poo was flung at Ridley Scott
- napoleon movie being the worst piece of crap
- Ridley Scott’s Napoleon movie
- the reaction of wargamers to the new Napoleon movie
Current / Modern Conflicts
With a largely-conventional shooting war ongoing, there were clearly some hooks into the world of wargaming on current conflicts . . .
- A wargame on a current conflict.
- Explosion of modern/near-modern indie wargame projects
- Gaming the Russo-Ukrainian War
- Mark Hermann making a game about the war in Ukraine: this raises important ethical questions about whether or not there need be any distance between historical subject matter and its representation.
- The sustained success of WWIII wargames – with the zenith being Red Strike
- Ukraine conflict
. . . which is, of course, highly relevant to the practitioner world that we also support
- Boom in professional gaming–all things Sebastian Bae
- 2 actually: Littoral Commander, and NATO Wargaming Initiative
- The brief burst of public attention when CSIS ran that China-Taiwan wargame early in 2023
- Continuing rise in professional use and “ultra-modern/contemporary games”. Eurogame style wargames.
Clubs & Conventions
Plenty of people thought that wargame gatherings were worthy of mention
- MilleniumCon being priced out of the usual venue
- The explosion of the Wargame Headquarters at Origins
- San Diego Hist Con
- The Cardboard Emperors (UK wargame club) moving to a new pub venue in 2023
- The first ever Armchair Dragoons-Con (ed note: it was called the “Fall Assembly”)
- The last Unthirl. It will now be Unfurl.
And others wanted to talk about wargaming content online
- The decline of several wargaming podcasts (not MiD)
- We Intend to Move on Your Works podcast beginning
- For me: People like Pete who offers a platform on Mastodon to those who are doing Videos and rules explanations for free – even if they have to face anger or mockery by some weirdos. Thank you guys.
- The continued huge growth in youtube wargamers – SO much good content
Scale of the hobby
A lot of comments wanted to discuss the state and scale of the hobby today
- The explosion of non-traditional wargames with more focus on politics and society
- The fact that we seem to be in a Golden Age of wargaming
- Great thematic and mechanically rich games that play quickly
- A wargaming group I play with grew, and added a couple under-30s
- The continuing (again) rise in popularity of non-traditional war games (which I’d define as hex-and-counter)
- Continued diversification of game mechanics and types of historical games.
- That there are still almost no women in the hobby, and that my crowd is unusual.
- Continued innovation and improvement in production across publishers
- Board wargames continue to be a quality product and resist becoming highly commercial, dumbed down or political like video games.
- Continuing quantity of high quality war-games being produced each year. And, an expanding hobby (more buzz in mainstream press, more players, expanding number of high quality produced games).
- Creative designs, new subsystems, CDG completely accepted as a wargaming mechanic.
- It became easier to get European wargames
- Just an amazing number of companies doing this w/ an amazing number of new titles and mechanics, etc. Really the hobby is as dynamic as I remember it being since I started in the early ’80’s.
- Last 5 or 6 years rather than 2023 alone, but the success of games like Undaunted and Root in making more board gamers willing to consider wargames (even if those might not be considered true wargames themselves)
- Older titles getting new/updated revisions
- Quality and value of the games released (Deluxe Editions, better components)
- Still going strong in 2023 – yaay! Most designers/developers still haven’t figured out how to make games meaningfully more accessible – boo! Almost every new game is still about WWII – boo!
- The literal glut of wargames available
- The number of new games continually being produced, and these games being of quality comparable to or better than games of the past. By “quality” I don’t mean quality of components — that steadily improves — but a tetrarchy of (a) game strategy, (b) simulation accuracy, (c) rules innovation, and (d) variety
- The proliferation and market success of “non”-wargames (e.g. Votes for Women) that might actually attract the interest of wargamers given the mechanics and consim topics.
- What was once old is new.
And finally, there were some catch-all comments
- 3D printing and the availability of fantastic miniatures. New paints and the speed with which you can get minis on the table for your board or war games.
- Dungeons and Dragons is a Wargame
- Getting games off the P500
- How good is some of this 3D printing stuff?
- Not sure story, but what has interested more is the debate about ethics in wargaming
- Return of Epic scale tanks
- The continuing rise of 3D printing.
- Too many Games and not enough time….
So what do you think was the biggest story in wargaming in 2023? Any early bets on what it’ll be for 2024?
As we mentioned before, these articles are not trying to describe “the wargaming population” but rather “what our survey respondents said”.
You can skip through the other articles in this series with the links below.
We’re happy to have your thoughts either below in the comments, or in the 2023 year-end research thread in our forums
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