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Wednesday 6 July 2011

In Search of Reality? part 3

The Gentle Art of the Active Umpire

Funny chaps wargamers - at once very broadminded and incredibly narrow in outlook. Now I'm long past the time where I expect my opinions to influence another. Almost 40 years a wargamer has taught me that rarely happens .
The ongoing discussion on the OSW has revealed little except entrenched opinions- at least in the more wordy cases. Its not really a matter of "wood for the Trees" but rather more often - "this is what I want and all others are wrong because they are not me" - these are the more vociferious you understand - by no means everyone
So it once again strikes me that perhaps I'm not a "true" wargamer in that sense at all but rather a historian who plays with toy soldiers in as historical a manner as he feels like at the time.
One of the surprising things has been the way quite a few chaps simply ignore or dismiss the Umpire as either totally unnecessary(because their chosen rules are perfect?) or merely a scorer or if present limit his role to simple adjudication.
By Gum they- and especially the Umpire himself- are really missing a trick there.
Perhaps Umpire is a poor word.
Borrowing from Role players perhaps he should be the "Gamesmaster" In India he would be "Janghi Lat"- the Lord of War .
In our group his job is to organise the game set up the scenario provide the toys- other chaps help of course- and then run the game to his rules his way. We all take turns.

"The Umpire is ALWAYS right - especially when he's wrong"

is the only rule we have in the T.W.A.T.S. We find we work better that way. Any printed rulebooks is almost always secondary to the Umpires knowledge. In essence the rules provide the mere statistics the Umpire provided the "reality" - period colour, fog of War - general military Friction basically all the stuff that a mere rulebook just can't do the stuff you can't legislate for unless you want a rule set that's like Britannica.
A computer can't do it its too impersonal and it won;'t work with "win at all costs" or "gamey" players.
However we find it does work with chaps who have a sense of period and who would rather play to period than to rulebook.
We've been doing this for years- certainly since the mid 90s if not before ands=d see no reason to change though there are fellas out there who find our approach a bit odd.
What it means is that we tend not to be stuck in a rut. We'll play lots of different games in many different ways- depending upon who is running the show .
For instance - our last game was the Durham show game.- see the earlier post. Our next will be a WW2 Naval affair run by Floating Jeff most likely in the Pacific. Jim the painter wants to do a FOG based ancients game - we haven't tried these yet so the first few games will probably be "by the book" . But we'll see - thank God we are not predictable.
As for the pictures- they simply show that I've dug out my Indian collection and am adding to it. The white background shot shows a recently completed unit of Matchlockmen- from the Old Glory Muting range . Then another shot of my small Dikh wars group and also a shot of WSR Hodson - Rugby school boy - cavalryman and possible purloiner of Mess funds - setting about the mutinerrs with some of his troopers.

It takes all sorts...

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