The Wargamer

23 July 2017

Letter to the Editor: Mailbag, Issue #12

The Wargamer's Editor-in-Chief Jim Zabek answers our audience's questions, comments and site suggestions in this twelfth edition of our Letters to the Editor feature.

Published on 27 NOV 2004 12:00am by Scott Parrino
  1. public relations


From time to time we receive email from readers on a variety of topics. The Letters to the Editor is our column in which we take a selection of those emails and publish them. If you have something to say, write us at

Rome: Total Play


I thought your review on rome total war was excellent.....but do you play the game from start to finish or do you just play sections of the game. I have played all the total war games and have found that since shogun the makers of medieval and rome create unreal scenarios as the game proceeds to what should be an inevitable end. I won't bore you with the details but would be interested in any comments because it seems to me they move the goal posts just to satisfy their desire to have a game that is hard to beat.

Ross Hunter

Hi Ross,

Thank you for the compliment. I was only able to briefly play the Julii and then complete a short scenario for the short campaign (which ended up lasting much longer because I enjoyed it so much). As a result I haven't been able to clearly judge how the game might move the goalposts, but that's an interesting observation and I'm curious to know more about it.

Jim Zabek

Buying Knights of Honor?



Hi Steve. I’m not sure where you’re located, but I’m assuming you’re in North America since the game is not for retail sale here. However, it can be purchased. Check GoGamer; they had some copies about a week ago.

Jim Zabek

Halo 2


Steve Ronin here again. Just wanted to congratulate you on another excellent game review. Yes, my sweat hands are itching to get wrapped around a copy of Halo 2. Your review helped to exasperate the condition.

I also enjoyed your self description "About the Author." It was a good laugh. But may I suggest twin Tippman SL68-2 paintball guns? More accurate, better felt recoil, and longer range. Needless to say, I hafta pick up my mail at the P.O. nowdays.

Have a great day, Aaron & keep up the awesome work.

Steve "Ronin" Scarlett 

Buggy Hearts of Iron 2?

In your Hearts of Iron II preview, you didn't mention game stability and, as the owner of several Paradox Entertainment titles, I can say that it is an important issue. Many of their games are buggy and are only playable after months of patching. I would have appreciated it if the issue had been addressed in the preview.

Chuck Oliveros

Hi, Chuck.

Thanks for your email. Previews aren’t the proper place to address issues of stability. By definition they are based on buggy, unfinished code. Therefore it is impossible to know or predict how stable the finished product might or might not be. As a result, we reserve judgment on a game’s stability until it is finished.

Jim Zabek

Wild Bill’s Back

Dear Sir,

I wanted to say that I really enjoyed Bill Wilder’s column on the Russian tank divisions. It was interesting to read and very informative. More columns like this!!

My respects,
Nathan Beard

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?


On your faq page for Rome: Total War, I notice the date is referred to as "14CE". I was wondering why this is so, as it bears no significance to the Roman Empire as it was then... or as Rome is now. Technically, as the game is based on Rome, it should be referred to using "AD", as the Roman Empire at that point in its history was a Christian-based empire. 

Additionally, probably for the majority of players "CE" will mean nothing. Indeed, I personally, I had to do a search on the Internet to find out what it meant and even then, I had to convert it to AD to comprehend its significance. 

I see no point in you using "CE" therefore, as it would indicate that you are trying to make some sort of anti-Christian statement to please a minority, which goes against all politically correct principles just for the sake of doing so. Admittedly, there are different calendars used in the world, but as present day Rome is part of the EU, I feel it is more politically correct to use the Christian calendar, based on BC and AD.

I would politely request, therefore, that you modify the date (and any others like it) to reflect the game's idea, i.e. a game based on Rome.

Thank you. 
Mr. A. B-Walker

Sorry, Mr. Walker. It’s not our game. We just write about them.

Jim Zabek


Dear Editor,

Your editorial on “realism” in wargaming struck a chord with me, as it always does when the subject invariably comes up. I have been playing wargames and their bastard stepchildren role playing games for over a quarter of a century now and realism is a word that is so abused by both communities I expect to see it with whip marks whenever the word comes up.

Many of the same arguments seen in wargames pop up in rpg’s as well. This is especially true with games that take into account modern day (R.Talsorian’s Cyberpunk, Palladium Games RECON, etc…) or a well-established previous era (like the Middle Ages). People argue incessantly over ammunition consumption, what one can and cannot do in plate Armor, how powerful the crossbow was compared to the Longbows and all manner of other things. Realism also often gets caught up in arguments with Game Balance, where realism is sometimes sacrificed to make a given game or aspect of the RPG “more balanced.”

Yet the one thing that has troubled me in my years of wargaming is the abstraction of casualties. I do not mean the rules for casualties but the abstract nature of losing men (and women) that is just not very present in these games. In the FPS genre the “team” you are saddled with is often more a hindrance then help and more then one gamer delights in “friendly fire”. In the RTS genre it is even worse, grinding down infantry and vehicles in brutal slugfests that would quickly deplete “real” world nation’s fighting force. It all hit home to me back in ’86 with Microprose’s NATO Commander (for the Apple). Once I got the game to work right, I was prodding along, sending half dead divisions on attacks to stop the Soviet advance, retaliating with Nuclear Weapons to one of their attacks. I looked down and saw that I had inflicted over a million casualties in about 6 days. My own casualties were about half that but I paused the game and thought “wow, that’s a lot of dead people. I wonder if people think about that when they play these games.” Partially because of that I for one have always wanted 'more' realism in wargames, not to kill people's fun but so that more realistic tactics and thinking would go on. That is to make the games more challenging. I think that is the best use of realism in general.

Most people never consider the casulties and I imagine they don’t want to. Those are just bytes, after all, just pixels on a screen. For myself, although I love wargaming I can say it has not quite been the same for me since that day in '86. 

Thanks for your time,
Sean Hillman

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