A Very British War Game

According to Sir Alec Issigonis, the designer of both the Morris Minor and the Mini “A camel is a horse designed by committee.”, so it follows how a wargame created along similar lines would be little more than a glorified form of “Snap!” but with alabaster playing cards twelve foot high printed with invisible ink. If the committee seldomly actually met, preferring to discuss it openly over a web forum while encouraging input from anyone interested in playing you’d expect it to sink into immediate oblivion only to surface again in a thousand years mistakenly identified as some Polynesian-like oddity such as the moai of Easter Island.

Yet should you pay a visit to the Gentleman’s Wargame Parlour you’ll find just such a game in development, and generating an enormous amount of interest which not only dwarfs the rest of the forum but also reveals one of the most fascinating games around for a long time. Aside from this you’ll likely spot the incredible amount of enthusiasm which has infected all those who go there, myself included.

The oddest part is how, unlike all good wargames, A Very British Civil War isn’t a ruleset. It’s a big “What-If?” based around the idea of Edward VIII not abdicating his throne in favour of asking Oswald Mosley of the British Union of Fascists to form a government for him which results in a civil war by 1938. This grand scenario is supported by two source books, with a third enroute, which give you a feel for both the period and the factions involved, and the rest is down to you the player. You’re encouraged to play the area you live in, which makes period research a lot easier as well as using your knowledge of the local geography, and report back on any developments with a possibility of it becoming “fact” in a future source book.

Now I’m generally not a fan of “What-Ifs”, but VBCW has focused on a very interesting period of history not least for the UK, and the manner of the forum, “All gents together.”, helps distil the whole project into something far greater in total than the sum of it’s parts. Frankly it simply shouldn’t work- it’s hard to tell who, if anyone, is in charge. Folk are piling in ideas left, right and centre but it’s this chaos which is part of the fun, just as if we’d actually decided to pick a faction to fight our corner in a civil war.

The opening battles of the war are still being organised as big games which you can go play should you choose to, and folk are madly adapting anything they can get their hands on to supplement their forces. If anything drives this relentlessly onward it’s the simple truism “Gents have more fun.”.

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