A wargame widows diary, life in the trenches Posted on 12 Oct 07:06 , 6 comments
Dateline: Hofgeismar, Germany, 11 October 2016
Well this trip to Europe has been full of firsts for me. It was my first time in Portugal (which I loved), first time in Barcelona (which I loved), first time in Prague (which I loved), and now, the first time ever at a WIF conference. (Which I ... - hmmm let me think about it. Maybe love isn't the right word here). But it certainly is an eye opener.
So I arrive at the conference which is held - not at a conference centre (as one might expect), but at the local shooting range. So that whilst the WIF gamers are deep in thought and strategising their next brilliant manoeuvre, there is the soothing background noise of rifles going off. OK...
Inside the hall, there are 5 tables set up with the huge WIF maps.
And thousands of pretty little coloured counters which almost look like you could eat them.
I wonder what would happen if I tried, but I decide not to, as I suspect the gamers would object. I'm struck by how neatly they're stacked in little piles, sorted into various sections of numerous plastic boxes, lovingly tended to like precious jewels.
The next thing I notice is a lot of beer bottles. And wine bottles. Most of them empty. These guys are obviously having a good time!
So it's time to meet these chaps and see what makes them tick. First up, I speak to Terry.
Terry lives in Somerset, UK, and in this game he's playing as Germany. He's played WIF hundreds of times, but considering the scale of the game, this means only around 20 complete games. He's won around three of them. He loves the scale of WIF, and the size. So size really DOES matter, I think to myself. He then adds, "Harry's genius is that in a game of this scale it could turn out to be plodding, but this is a bit counter intuitive which makes it more fun. His wife Sue, (happily back home in England) has two views on the game - the first is that she is happy it makes him happy, and the second, well, let's just say she thinks it's basically a whole heap of guys sitting around playing with each other!! I think I'd like to meet this Sue.
Terry has a final comment about WIF before I move on - that the funny thing about it is that someone inevitably makes a terrible mistake at some point in the game - and it's oddly always in their favour!!!
Next I talk to Holger, who allegedly built his entire house around his enormous train set.
Holger is from Berlin, and is playing the Commonwealth in this game. He's completed around 50 WIF games, and although I've heard he is a very good player, he claims the number he has won is not so great, because many of his games have been against the world's best player, Kai. He is less of a beer drinker than most of the other punters and is probably the best dressed person in the room.
Now I move onto Michael, who lives in Hanover and works in banking.
He is also playing the Commonwealth in this game.. He loves WIF and enjoys the element of luck involved with the dice roll, and the way you must use your head to play (like soccer I wonder?) and the logistics involved. "You must always build for the next four or five turns. Although there must be skill - luck is definitely a factor". Favourite drink at the conference - you guessed it - beer!
Chanel lives in Bristol UK ,and claims his wife Caroline is happy for him to come to WIF conferences.
She feigns interest while he explains his strategies, and let's face it, who can blame her? And also, what trouble can he really get up to here in a shooting hall with a whole heap of men in track suits playing board games? He likes the fact that WIF will keep Alzheimers at bay, and that it takes him into an alternate reality, keeps him totally focussed and out of trouble. He loves playing Italy, because you have very few units, so you have to maximise your cusps of decision. This is his first time at a Euro WIFcon, and hopefully not the last.
Tobias is from Sweden, and has been playing WIF for around 16 years.
He loves he size of WIF, and the way that you get to have fun playing whether or not you win or lose. He's also playing the Commonwealth at his table. He loves coming to the conference and playing on the large tables - at home he plays only by Vassal. Favourite conference drink - beer!!! He's anticipating either a win or stalemate in this game.
Well there's heaps more to say from the front, but since it's been a heavy day in the trenches for me, it's time to say Guten Nacht - and I'll be back with more tomorrow.