Wargame (video games)

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Strategy video games

Wargames are a subgenre of strategy video games that emphasize strategic or tactical warfare on a map, as well as historical (or near-historical) accuracy. [1]

A strategy video game is a video game that focuses on skillful thinking and planning to achieve victory. It emphasizes strategic, tactical, and sometimes logistical challenges. Many games also offer economic challenges and exploration. They are generally categorized into four sub-types, depending on whether the game is turn-based or real-time, and whether the game focuses on strategy or tactics.



Computerized version of the Avalon Hill classic, Squad Leader Vaslforsl.jpg
Computerized version of the Avalon Hill classic, Squad Leader

The genre of wargame video games is derived from earlier forms of wargames. The games thematically represent the wargame hobby, although they tend to be less realistic in order to increase accessibility for more casual players. The amount of realism varies between games as game designers balance an accurate simulation with playability.

The wargaming community saw the possibilities of computer gaming early and made attempts to break into the market, notably Avalon Hill's Microcomputer Games line, which began in 1980 and covered a variety of topics, including adaptations of some of their wargames.

Avalon Hill board game company

Avalon Hill Games Inc. is a game company that specializes in wargames and strategic board games. Its logo contains its initials "AH", and the company is now often referred to by this abbreviation. Before its takeover by Hasbro, it was known as The Avalon Hill Game Company and the initials TAHGC. It has also published miniature wargaming rules, role-playing games and sports simulations. It is now a subsidiary of the game company Wizards of the Coast, which is itself a subsidiary of Hasbro.

In February 1980 Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) was the first to sell a serious, professionally packaged computer wargame, Computer Bismarck , a turn-based game based on the last battle of the battleship Bismarck. [2] [3] It and Strategic Studies Group (SSG) were computer game companies that continued the genre by specializing in games that borrowed from board and miniature wargames. The companies enjoyed a certain popularity throughout much of the 1980s and into the 1990s. TalonSoft started in 1995 with a similar focus, until purchased and later closed down by Take-Two Interactive in 2002.

<i>Computer Bismarck</i> naval computer wargame

Computer Bismarck is a computer wargame developed and published by Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) in 1980. The game is based on the last battle of the battleship Bismarck, in which British Armed Forces pursue the German Bismarck in 1941. It is SSI's first game, and features turn-based gameplay and two-dimensional graphics.

Last battle of the battleship <i>Bismarck</i>

The last battle of the German battleship Bismarck took place in the Atlantic Ocean approximately 300 nmi west of Brest, France, on 26–27 May 1941. Although it was a decisive action between capital ships, it has no generally accepted name.

Strategic Studies Group, commonly known as SSG, is an Australian software development company that makes primarily strategy wargames.

Game design

The primary gameplay mode in a wargame is usually tactical: fighting battles. Wargames sometimes have a strategic mode where players may plan their battle or choose an area to conquer, but players typically spend much less time in this mode and more time actually fighting. Because it is difficult to provide an intelligent way to delegate tasks to a subordinate, war games typically keep the number of units down to hundreds rather than hundreds of thousands. [4]

Units are usually scaled to be disproportionately large compared to the landscape, in order to promote effective gameplay. These games usually use a much faster time line than reality, and thus wargames often do not model night time or sleep periods, though some games apply them, they can be time-consuming. [4]

Comparison with traditional wargames

Many contemporary computer strategy games can be considered wargames, in the sense that they are a simulation of warfare on some level. The mechanics and language have little in common with board and miniature games, but the general subject matter is popular and provides a thematic link.

Tabletop wargames are usually categorized according to the scale of the confrontation (e.g., grand strategy wargame, strategic wargame, operational wargame, tactical wargame or man-to-man wargame). The qualifiers "real-time" and "turn-based" are not taken into account as all tabletop wargames are, by necessity, turn-based. However, sometimes video wargames are also described according to the scale of conflict.

Grand strategy wargame video game genre

A grand strategy wargame is a wargame that places focus on grand strategy: military strategy at the level of movement and use of an entire nation state or empire's resources.

Tactical wargame type of wargame that models military conflict at a tactical level

Tactical wargames are a type of wargame that models military conflict at a tactical level, i.e. units range from individual vehicles and squads to platoons or companies. These units are rated based on types and ranges of individual weaponry. The first tactical wargames were played as miniatures, extended to board games, and they are now also enjoyed as video games.

Man-to-man wargame

A man-to-man wargame is a wargame in which units generally represent single individuals or weapons systems, and are rated not only on weaponry but may also be rated on such facets as morale, perception, skill-at-arms, etc. The game is designed so that a knowledge of military tactics, especially at the small unit or squad level, will facilitate successful gameplay. Man-to-man wargames offer an extreme challenge to the designer, as fewer variables or characteristics inherent in the units being simulated are directly quantifiable. Modern commercial board wargaming stayed away from man-to-man subjects for many years, though once the initial attempts were made to address the subject, it has evolved into a popular topic among wargamers.

While it has been argued that computer wargame video games lack the realism of traditional games, they may include features that are impractical for tangible games. One such approach is using fog of war, whereby players are unable to see the landscape beyond the simulating viewing distance of their units. This is made practical in digital games by the fundamental difference of competing against artificial intelligence or remote competitors with their own view of the playing field.

Notable computer wargames

See also

Related Research Articles

Wargame Strategy game that represents warfare realistically.

A wargame is a type of strategy game that simulates warfare realistically, as opposed to abstract strategy games such as chess. A wargame does not involve the activities of actual military forces, which is better called a field training exercise. Likewise, the term "wargame" should not be applied to sports such as paintball.

A turn-based strategy (TBS) game is a strategy game where players take turns when playing. This is distinguished from real-time strategy (RTS), in which all players play simultaneously.

Strategic Simulations Video game developer

Strategic Simulations, Inc. (SSI) was a video game developer and publisher with over 100 titles to its credit since its founding in 1979. The company was especially noted for its numerous wargames, its official computer game adaptations of Dungeons & Dragons, and for the groundbreaking Panzer General series.

<i>Wizards Crown</i> video game

Wizard's Crown is a 1986 top-down role-playing video game published by Strategic Simulations. It was released for the Atari 8-bit, Atari ST, IBM PC, Apple II and Commodore 64. Its sequel, The Eternal Dagger, was released in 1987.

<i>The Eternal Dagger</i> 1987 video game

The Eternal Dagger is a 1987 top-down role-playing video game published by Strategic Simulations as a sequel to Wizard's Crown, which was released in 1986. Players can transfer their characters over from Wizard's Crown, minus whatever magical items they had on them.

War Game or War Games may refer to:

Turn-based tactics (TBT), or tactical turn-based (TTB), is a computer and video game genre of strategy video games that through stop-action simulates the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics in generally small-scale confrontations as opposed to more strategic considerations of turn-based strategy (TBS) games.

Real-time tactics or RTT is a subgenre of tactical wargames played in real-time simulating the considerations and circumstances of operational warfare and military tactics. It is differentiated from real-time strategy gameplay by the lack of classic resource micromanagement and base or unit building, as well as the greater importance of individual units and a focus on complex battlefield tactics.

<i>Wargame Construction Set</i> 1986 video game

Wargame Construction Set is a video game builder series published in 1986 by Strategic Simulations. It is also the name of the first application in the series. Developed by Roger Damon, it allows the user to construct, edit and play customizable wargame scenarios. It was released for the Amiga, Atari 8-bit family, Atari ST, Commodore 64, and MS-DOS.

<i>The Cosmic Balance</i> 1982 video game

The Cosmic Balance is a game designed by Paul Murray and published in 1982 for the Apple II and Atari 8-bit family by Strategic Simulations (SSI). It was later released for the Commodore 64. A sequel, Cosmic Balance II, also designed by Paul Murray for SSI, was released in 1983.

<i>Great Naval Battles</i>

Great Naval Battles is a series of computer games by Strategic Simulations which simulate combat between naval vessels. It consist of five separate games, four of which depict various phases of World War II. Each game combines a wider view of the action on a fleet scale, as well as controls for individual ships. SSI covered similar themes in another naval game, Fighting Steel, which was released afterwards, in 1999.

The Savage Frontier is a region in the Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting the Forgotten Realms. The Savage Frontier video game series, developed by Stormfront Studios and published by Strategic Simulations, Inc., is the series that precedes the Neverwinter Nights series, with the introduction of the city of Neverwinter in its games. The first game in the series was Gateway to the Savage Frontier. It was followed by two sequels after this, Treasures of the Savage Frontier and Neverwinter Nights

<i>Bismarck</i> (video game) 1987 video game

Bismarck is a turn-based strategy video game developed by Personal Software Services and published by Mirrorsoft. It was first released for the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum in 1987 for the United Kingdom. It was ported to Amiga, Apple II, Atari ST and Atari 8-bit home computers in both the United Kingdom and the United States the following year. The game is the tenth instalment in the Strategic Wargames series. In the game, the player can choose to control either the German battleship Bismarck or command the pursuing fleet of Royal Navy ships.

<i>The Great Battles of Alexander</i>

The Great Battles of Alexander is a 1997 turn-based computer wargame developed by Erudite Software and published by Interactive Magic. Adapted from the GMT Games physical wargame of the same name, it depicts 10 of Alexander the Great's key conflicts, and simulates the interplay between Ancient Macedonian battle tactics and its rival military doctrines. Gameplay occurs at the tactical level: players direct predetermined armies on discrete battlefields, in a manner that one commentator compared to chess.


  1. Walker, Mark H. (February 2002). "Strategy Gaming: Part III -- Strategy Gaming". GameSpy . Retrieved 2009-06-28.
  2. Proctor, Bob (March 1988). "Titans of the Computer Gaming World / SSI". Computer Gaming World. p. 36.
  3. "This is why we play war games". Plarium . Retrieved 2018-03-29.
  4. 1 2 Rollings, Andrew; Ernest Adams (2006). Fundamentals of Game Design. Prentice Hall.