Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Friday, October 18, 2013

An old friend and a wargame

This week I was lucky enough to have an old friend come to stay for a couple of days. He teaches history at an international school and in making a visit to Taiwan decided to tack on a quick trip to Japan.

He arrived on Tuesday and left this morning, so we spent a few days catching up with what's happened in the ten years since we last met, playing a bit of guitar, reminiscing about old school friends, feeding up on the local tucker and having the odd beer or ten.

It has been a good week for the soul.

At one point we were talking about our teaching experiences and I asked him if he ever used games in his classes. We talked about how they could be a good way to bring history to life for students and I explained that if I go into 'real' (as opposed to EFL) teaching later on, using games in the classroom would be something I'd like to explore.

The conversation moved on, but on his last night here I showed him the hobby room and we chatted a bit about games that could be useful for the classes he teaches. As one of the topics he covers is WWII, he asked if I had any games on that. Of the ones I had, Axis and Allies caught his eye. Although he'd not really played wargames before other than the odd thing on the computer, he was keen to give it a crack, and after the kids were asleep we set it up and got through about five turns before calling it a night.

He threw himself in at the deep end by taking Germany and Japan and while it took him a little time to see how the turn order fitted together, by the end he had that sorted out and had started to devise and implement some strategies.  

It was a really enjoyable evening, and he loved the game. I'm not sure if Axis and Allies would be the best choice to use in a classroom setting, but it has the advantage of being entertaining and reasonably simple to learn while still giving a broad sense of how the various types of units interact and the importance of planning and manufacturing.

The main thing of course was that it was great to spend a bit of time with an old friend, but it's also nice to think that in years to come we might be able to enjoy the odd game together as well.

As I sign off, I will also note that it's always something of a relief to see one less unplayed game on the shelf!


  1. Great stuff, it's lovely when something like that happens - friendship plus an enjoyable game = warm memories.

  2. If my dim recollection of Axis & Allies is correct, doesn't give the 48 states of the US a production output that is maybe twice that of Japan? Which at least gives a decent "game". But since the real life disparity was 10 times, not twice, that would give a decent "lesson". Not a particularly enjoyable one for the person playing the Japanese however!

    Phil Sabin's book about Simulating War makes the point (many times) that if you are to make use of a game in an educational setting, it absolutely must be FAST. Axis & Allies wouldn't qualify on that alone.

    1. Not quite twice, but it increases as the game goes on, so it probably gets to about that level. Phil Sabin has a number of WWII sims that might do the trick, but for a bigger classroom, and with a game 'project' that might last a term, I think it could be done if the teacher was prepared to put in the work. I've heard of people using Diplomacy in the classroom in this way quite successfully, with a team assigned to each country, and further roles within the team.

      But that's getting closer to a game club than a history class!


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