11 April 2012

GameTalk - The Bad Guys

Playing the bad-guy:  Cops and robbers.  Cowboys and Indians.  Someone has to play the bad guys...but do we sometimes do so because it is fun, challenging, contentious or educational?  Granted, most wargamers probably don't have a vested interest or point-of-view when choosing to play either the Swedes or the Polish in a 30 Years War game...but what about modern ops?  Are there some OPFORS you don't want to play for personal or political reasons (the SS, Vietcong, Taliban, Hamas, etc.)?  Or do you consider the OPFOR role as a useful tool to expand our understanding of wargaming (and dare I say military operation) perspectives?

By: Jack Nastyface


Matt Purvis said...

I always had a blast running as OPFOR out at Ft. Hunter-Liggett. It was always fun to pop an little two man ambush on an unsuspecting squad then watch them scramble trying to figure out what to do.

Brant said...

When were you at FHL?

I spent 2 years there assigned to TEC.

Brian said...

fun, challenging, contentious or educational... yes, people play OPFOR for all of those reasons.

If you set up a game design that has no more depth to the "bad guys" side than the characters in an Ayn Rand novel, you're really not learning very much, about Them or your own side's capabilities.

That is, if you think of one side as "your" side, or explicitly the good side... I don't have any particular personal or political reason for not wanting to play a certain side (though the guys who never want to play anything but Germans or SS worry me, that's always been a not-so-secret secret side of the hobby), I think it's necessary to learn their motivations and thnking behind their often-reprehensible methods.

Matt Purvis said...

While stationed at DLI, it is where we did "field training", such as it was. We trained at FHL several times a year between 2002 and 2004.

Curt said...

A good post that poses a good question - and not an easy one to come to grips with. Personally, when I design/host a wargame scenario I very consciously don't declare one side as being 'Bad Guys' or 'OPFORS', as they would undoubtedly think the exact same of their opponents. Nonetheless, there are some conflicts that many would consider distasteful to 'play'. For example, contemporary African wars which prey/use child-soldiers. Perhaps it is largely dependent on how close we are in time to the conflict. I'm sure that in the 1950's you would have a hard time finding players who wanted to game Waffen SS as there were so many people alive who had first-hand experiences. It can be a complex issue for sure!

Brian said...

Good point Curt, time does diminish the psychological impact of these conflicts and the image of the adversaries... case in point, I see plenty of Confederate kepis perched on top of balding heads at wargame conventions!

But when we're exploring a contemporary conflict, we come up against a situation that's perhaps more "learn" than "play". And what we often learn is that, now more than ever, many conflicts are ones where only one side shows up with guns.

Rex Brynen said...

When I used to play WWII miniature games a lot, I was always rather creeped out by those players who seemed to have a Waffen SS fascination. On the other hand, it did make it much more enjoyable to beat them.

Oddly, I have no such issues with modern conflict. I'm not sure why.