Conflict simulation, peacebuilding, and development

Review: Hyde, The Wargaming Compendium

Henry Hyde, The Wargaming Compendium (Barnsley: Pen & Sword Books, 2013). 517pp. $60.00 hardback.

HydeWargamingI would have killed to have had this book in 1974. It was then, as a teen, that I made my first steps into wargaming after being given a sample wargaming magazine that had been sent to my parents’  hobby shop. Within a year I was buying Airfix figures, scouring the library for Donald Featherstone and Charles Grant books to learn more about the hobby, and writing my own rules. Shortly thereafter we all moved to the UK for a few years, at a time when it was easy to find fellow wargamers at school and in the community—and I spent the next several years gaming regularly with the rest of the Lymington and District Wargames Club. The rest, as they say, is history.

Despite its title, the Wargaming Compendium is not a compendium of all wargaming. Rather, it is very much focused on miniature gaming. In it, Henry Hyde provides an overview of the history and basic concepts of the hobby, discusses wargaming different periods, offers advice on how to paint figures and construct scenery, reviews battlefield tactics and organizing campaigns, and even discusses photography and blogging. The book also includes sample rules for gladiatorial combat, a Wild West skirmish, and horse-and-musket era battles, all rather fondly old-school in inspiration. The book is written in an engaging style, and lavishly illustrated throughout. Moreover, unlike some lavishly illustrated and even more expensive wargaming books—almost anything by Games Workshop comes to mind—the illustrations are almost all quite useful. The book also features colour-coded tabs marking each chapter for quick reference (hear that too, Games Workshop?)

This is a great book for would-be hobbyists, and for hobbyists who (like myself) like to read, reflect, and write about their hobby. You won’t really learn anything about professional, educational, or policy wargaming. You could learn something about game design and mechanics. You might even end up with lots of dice and tape measures, a closet full of scenery, hundreds of painted miniature figures, and a wargaming table in your basement.

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