Wargaming has been around in it’s modern form for quite a while now (blame it all on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle) and we are all familiar with the way games are played. Generally players A&B have armies built with the same number of points and will fight some sort of head to head battle or maybe a take and hold style game. There are of course a few variations to this but in reality not that many.
The reason for this is that people want games to be fair (any why not?). Well lets face it, anyone who has been gaming a few years will know that a lot of games have certain army combination biases. Sometimes you just know that when your opponent announces what army he is using you feel your chances of winning either slipping away or the euphoria of certain victory. In reality this is not a failure in a game system (mostly) but an artifact of trying to make armies different so that we all have a choice that fits our play style, figure preference or whatever (usually figure preference with me I must admit, I’ve ended up playing some awful armies on occasions as a result). Even with the move to more skirmish style games this same emphasis on unachievable balance still persists.
So what is wrong with this? Everyone plays wargaming for fun (ignoring the ego trip junkies out there) which means it must be fair right? But we’ve just established that they often aren’t and rarely can be fair, so what do we do?
Stop being fair and concentrate on the fun. Think for a minute about the Battle of Thermopylae as depicted in the movie ‘300’ (if you haven’t seen it, rent it), the Spartan’s were horrible outnumbered, the Spartans were all killed, but I bet given a chance to play that battle we would all rather play the Spartans. And anyway just once in a while you will win the impossible battle or escape the inevitable and pre-scripted death of your commander, and that is not just fun but very cool (at least among gamers, it’s not so cool when you explain it to your next door neighbours over dinner). So go with it, and if being unfair bothers you that much simply replay the battle another day with the sides reversed.
To see an example have a read through my Gold Rush scenario for Dead Man’s Hand. It’s definitely not an even scenario, one side or another will almost certainly be outnumbered throughout the entire game, but that’s where the challenge and the fun lies.
So break out of that being fair and even mould, be unfair, be uneven, have fun.