Wednesday, July 15, 2020

When Will You Return To Live War Gaming?

Last weekend on the Virtual War-game Club ("VWC") on-line forum we had a discussion about how and when we would return to live person to person wargaming. One member had a game scheduled for that very weekend. Hello Mr. Canary; how safe is that coal mine? Others were on the fence of yes and no a couple of people were not ready for person to person contact, due to health issues in their families. 

So that sort of runs the gamut of all possibilities and I suspect that the majority of us are sitting on the fence at this moment in time. I was in the fence sitter camp, but a day or so after the VWC meeting, my thoughts started turning in the positive direction; and here's why:

Since the pandemic lock down began in mid March and basically ran through the end of June, I have been making regular trips to the grocery store, gas (petrol) station and the pharmacy. I take great care when I am out in the public domain, wearing a face mask, wearing disposable latex gloves, carrying a pocket sized bottle of hand sanitizer, and being mindful of keeping social distancing.

At the risk of karma going bad or my being jinxed by saying this, I have not contracted the Covid-19 virus. That got me to thinking: "if I can make a trip to the grocery store and be safe (mindful that there are a good number of other shoppers in the store), why not give person to person war gaming a try?" When you think about it, it seems that one would be relatively safe, or at least as safe as being in the grocery store, in a group of four to six people who are wearing masks and following all of the other protocols of virus safety. Wouldn't the grocery store be riskier than playing a game set up in the garage, or outdoors?

In the VWC meeting last week, members came up with a number of ideas that could help make group war games safe:

1) the obvious one - following the established protocols (masks, gloves and distancing)

2) each player only moves his own figures in his command

3) each player has his own set of dice, dice are not shared

4) each player brings his own beverage refreshments and snacks, no sharing of snacks.

5) wiping down surfaces with disinfectant spray, as needed (this would not include giving your first battalion of the Prussian Winterfeldt regiment a heavy spritz of disinfectant after each handling).

6) keeping six feet distance among players.

7) limit the number of participants to four to six people.

8) possibly set up the game table outdoors provided the weather cooperated.

I believe that the implementation of these protocols would make for a low risk war gaming event. Are there any other ideas that you can think of? If so, please make a comment in the comment section at the end of this blog post.

My garage can accomodate a rather large wargame table, being that it has three car stalls, of which one is not in use. My wargame tables are those 2.5ft by 6ft "school cafeteria " fold up tables that you can buy in stores such as Staples or online at ULine and other similar suppliers. I have enough tables to set up a single 6ft by 20ft table, or a smaller length of table, but with two parallel tables and a virtual aisle. Airflow should be good with all three garage doors open.

Another idea is to set up the tables in the drive way adjacent to my garage. The air breeze and circulation would be even better than that inside the garage. I could purchase one of those portable "flys" or open sided tents that you see at local farmers' markets or outdoor craft show. This would provide needed shade on a sunny day. 

I think that this idea is doable. Now all that I have to do is convince my regular group of gamers that an outdoor game would carry less risk than a visit to the grocery store.

What do you think?


  1. As per our NHS guidance, masks serve to protect others, gloves are a waste of time, as they only act as an extra layer of skin, and are difficult to remove without infecting your hands. Distancing, and limiting contact time, together with 20 second hand washing before touching your face are the most efficient ways of keeping safe.

    Thanks for posting your ideas on safe gaming! Its something we will all have to deal with down the line!

  2. HiYa Fritz!

    Those are all good, sensible suggestions. If everybody exercises a modicum of care and makes a conscious effort to follow the guidelines... it sounds like it would be worth running up the flag pole and see who salutes! While solo wargaming is nice... I have missed the interaction of a real, breathing opponent.

  3. I think you need suitable character masks, so your's would obviously be Der Alte Fritz rather that just the usual blue mask. It would add the period feel and really entertain the neighbours.

  4. Even with the precautions mentioned, I would still feel uncomfortable with a FtF game at home due to the restricted space of typical UK houses. I fear it will be a long time before I get to game with friends again:(. Better safe than sorry though.

  5. It’s really a judgement call on when to start gaming. It’s also one that will change as the pandemic works it’s coarse. I do think you’ll need to understand there is some risk in choosing to game and not all club members have the same tolerances. I think it’s important to be respectful of every club members viewpoint and not ridicule members who choose a more cautious path. The only other point I would add to the precautions (and these come from my Dr wife) is that the space needs to be well ventilated - ideally outdoors.

  6. The suggestions all sound feasible, although you might be better with just one person being responsible for moving all the figures and throwing the dice. The main thing is keeping apart and avoiding confined, poorly ventilated spaces.

    The death rate is still a bit too high here for me to think about trying this sort of thing.

  7. Use of the bathroom is another thing to consider as well. For a two hour long game maybe not an issue but longer definitely a factor.

    Each player will need their own ruler and QRS. A designated area to keep their stuff.

    Maybe limit the first try to something small and short to get a feel for it. We've had friends over for dinner a few times and have adjusted each time to reduce anything that could be a problem or cause stress. Each time gets a little more relaxing, enjoyable and safer.

    You're definitely thinking along the right lines.

  8. I have my first evening game scheduled for the week after next. It'll be 1-to-1 with my regular wargaming opponent in his shed - we have worked out our 'safe-gaming' scheme - we can keep sufficient distance across the table 6ft+, own dice/ruler etc.

  9. We're not making any plans ......yet? Hopefully as soon as possible.

  10. We had a wargame some weeks ago, wearing masks and generally being careful not to do "stupid" things. None of us got sick so far. I have to say since neither of us wre used to wearing facemasks for several hours, it became uncomfortable after a while.
    Pictures (amsing to see wargamers wearing facemasks):