Anabasis – converging divergence

anabasis
noun
plural anabases
Pronunciation /aˈnabəsɪs/ /aˈnabəsiːz/
A military advance into the interior of a country (with reference to that of Cyrus the Younger into Asia in 401 BC, as narrated by Xenophon in his work Anabasis).

Oxford English Dictionary

In the previous two articles ( the unnecessary divide and the necessary divide ) I tried to present where the various forms of wargames come from and when the crossroad reached the point where the difference was so notable as to become a complete divergent genre of game.

From the format of acting a character, and by guile and design of some gaming groups, the role play as the higher play format became its own. The same way the intricate tweezers perusal of supply stacks and companies in a battlefield as big as Waterloo became its own bubble.

I consider this to be the divergent points of reference. The antipodes that can only find each other through the original game format, in its modern free format, of Prussian Kriegsspiel.

The real “braunstein” is nothing more than Branzoll’s castle, and a model kit was available to be used and be the center piece of a game and a story.

When Castle Braunstein was first played it wasn’t, in true game form, different than a general staff simulation for a game of war, with participants taking on the different roles and, depending on how the game is facilitated, having to play through their own designs, understandings of the setting, and act accordingly to what they want, wish and plan to achieve.

The experimental move from the real world military game into a medievalist fantasy setting was as natural as selecting books from the local library and mixing up ideas into a single box.

What is definitely generous in the whole endeavour is how to go hunter-gatherer for what best can be used in the table as the US-twin-cities crowd and others did just that for the fantasy role-play living realms games.

Start simple and add as needed. Drink inspiration from our world legendary tales, given his setting was high medieval Europe, and throw in Arthurian knightly orders, Merlin archetypes and the more one adds the more interesting the setting becomes.

Adding character stats is, in similar fashion, something that was already done in the kriegsspiel games, where units have strengths, discipline, training, momentum, etc.

It was a stroke of geniality at the right time all across the globe, despite notable differences – very clear when looking to the US and UK scenes, with the latter retaining the absolutely indisputable reign of retaining the military figures as gaming piece, opposed to the “american dream” commercial ventures of “paper wars” of SPI, Avalon Hill and everything after that.


Let us return to Castle Braunstein for a moment and ask a question, which any staff officer playing an exercise would ask.

” Where is this castle in the maps ? “

Suddenly there’s an urgency of placing the said diminutive “universe” of said castle and village in an even bigger game.

And then this game would have more castles and villages, each with its own characters and agendas and strategies and ploys, no different from all the novels and books the creators have been reading where fantastical worlds existed and cross breeding them with the military grade ways to conduct a game of war to generate something new and interesting.

Adding “braunsteins” to a place which contains a thousand more like it is simply world building, an essential format for any setting that is non historical, similar to what JRR Tolkien did for his own mythical places, but in our own much more amateurish form.
Historical gaming on the other hand may require research, research, research, to get details as correct as possible, to the name of the lodge keeper in a certain year in a certain place.

In essence it is still the same game but using different forces names and possibly different types of representations on the table. For the fortunate ones to be able to reach out and buy hundreds of miniatures and for the crafty ones able to make cardboard cutouts, in the end it all converges back to the source.

Prussian Kriegsspiel and how conducting a game of war can be reformed to also rule the ways singular characters may act upon their fictional worlds.

A batallion of Jagers scouting and advancing through a forest uses the same rules as a highwayman checking the best spot for an ambush. A dispatch rider faced with an enemy sentry is no different than an heroic character having to face off a dark lord guard.

While at some point in game evolution there was a willing diverging path from the authentical historical depiction towards the fantastical and once upon a time in fairy land, the convergence of media and methodology of play resolution is yet the same.

No matter if you character is Merlin, the 12th Jagers, the Big Red one, or the leader of a faction in a diplomatic duel.

All those options are “characters” individually and are pieces in a game apparatus, to be moved, to be role played, and to achieve objectives, resolutions, epic confrontations and ultimately to ACT upon the world where they exist.

The more divergent the modern gamer wishes to be – for the sake of “i’m different” – the more it converges to the true format of wargame where the open system ruled by the circumstances as the game develops is what makes it worthwhile and the active players do shape the game world with their decisions.

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