Sunday, 27 June 2010

Paddy Griffith: War, Wargames and Strong Drink, Wargamer's Newsletter 195, June 1978

I am indebted to the Unfashionably Shiny DC for pointing me to the right number of Wargamer's Newsletter for the Paddy Griffith article I really wanted to post.


4 comments:

littlejohn said...

Reminds me of the 2AM pickup games at Historicon .... whiskey, a cloud of cigar smoke, and the clatter of dice...try to stay focused...

MSFoy said...

Excellent - I can hardly claim to have known Dr Griffith, though I am a big fan of some of his work, but this seems a worthy monument.

The article reminded me that back in 1970-something I and a small group of friends fought a series of Peninsular campaigns, and it was necessary to contribute a bottle of something appropriate to the occasion. One early effort was a bottle of Mateus Rose, justified entirely by its Lusitanian origins, which was rightly derided, though I recall we did drink it.

From then on, this sub-plot of the wargames evenings became an end in itself, with the players scouring the lower shelves of Peter Dominic's looking for odd things with strange or amusing names, or appropriate origins. I recall fondly that one night the French general (whose name, necessarily, was Dave) turned up with a bottle of black French rot-gut called 'Le Clape'. We were confident that, if there was one thing the French army was certain to have carried with them, this had to be it.

A la votre

Tony

The Old Metal Detector said...

Tony

as I mentioned, sort of reminds me of the draughts (chequers) game in Graham Greene's Our Man in Hvana, where the pieces are miniatures of whisky and bourbon, and when you take a piece you have to drink it. Thus, as the game proceeds, any advantage of skill may be cancelled out by higher levels of alcohol - now, there would be a set of wargame rules.....

Archduke Piccolo said...

Interesting article, but Paddy Griffith is (was) in error if he thought that chess pieces are totally within the control of the player. As a chess-player myself, I'm here to tell you that such is far from the case. Those seemingly inanimate bits of wood or plastic often have ideas of their own, by Jupiter.

I rather think he flatters the players themselves, too, with descriptions of minds whirring with calm, intellectual detachment seeking out the best strategy or tactic. When you find your King coming under direct assault from the enemy pieces and pawns, calm detachment is likely enough to fly out the window, pursued by blind panic...
To my mind, the character of ne's army lies in the character of the player. Much is lost by attempting, therefore, to subsume that player's character in arbitrary die rolls to simulate some supposed imperfection in command, communication and control of the wargaming army. That imperfection already exists...
OK, that's just another point of view. But I recall a comment made by a well-known wargamer - it might have been Peter Young, but I stand to be corrected on this. His take on elaborate morale rules was this: 'If I lose, I don't want to blame my army.'
Hard to go past that...
Cheers,
Ion