Friday, 20 July 2018

The Case Against Toy Soldiers

One of the benefits of browsing old magazines, is that you come upon opinion articles written a long time ago, but which still seem to be relevant today.

One such piece is "The Case Against Toy Soldiers", written by Paddy Griffith and published in issue 13 (June 1984) of Miniature Wargames. It is shown here below.

It stirred up quite some debate in the following issues. You can still read Phil Barker's response on his website. See also this more recent blogpost discussion on Keith's Wargaming Blog.

The bottom line Paddy Griffith was making is that toy soldiers are not a very good medium to play wargames and/or study military history. They have all sorts of restrictions, and by emphasizing the tactile and visual aspect of the game, they restrict the thinking aspect.

I understand this point of view, and I even concur. I also do think that toy soldiers are not the ideal medium when one wants to study warfare or simulate the tactical challenges of a given period. But, perhaps that is also not what miniature wargaming is all about. For me, miniature wargaming is a very tactile hobby that allows you to play with toy soldiers on a visual attractive table; and which is inspired by military history, but does not necessarily  try to emulate or simulate tactical or command challenges. The game is built upon toy soldiers as a medium - the toy soldiers are not an afterthought. And yes, this brings about limitations, and it's important as a wargamer one is aware of these restrictions. But it doesn't make the toy soldiers games less enjoyable.

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