Monday, August 14, 2023

Postcards of war

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I’ve found Battle Card Market Garden an interesting little work. The game really plays itself but it’s an interesting to show Operation Marker Garden on a post card.

Looking into it a bit more, I quickly learned it was from the Postcards From the Front game design jam. (Not a contest!)  ( It’s a collection of almost fifty postcard war games. They range from small scale hex-and-chit games to much more abstract interpretations of conflict.

While I am not really a war gamer by any stretch of the imagination, I still find this collection fascinating. Honestly , that’s just because the printing effort is one page per game and many of them are either solitaire or have solitaire options. 

I can’t decide if my interest in these small scale games is a compliment or an insult to war gaming. War gaming’s roots are in historical simulation and I assume post card games fall short of war college standard.

But I also have to admit that I’m not being fair to postcard games. Tactics and Strategy Magazine has been including a complete war game since 1967. And magazine inserts are clearly a step between World in Flames and postcard games.

Looking back, the first time I heard about postcard war games was Postcard From The Revolution, which came out in 2004. As a format, it may not have taken the world by storm but it’s stuck around for at least twenty years.

More than that, many of both the postcard games from the jam and other places I’ve seen are focused around specific historical events. Heck, one of the non-historic games about ants and termites was designed by an entomologist.

In short, if an educational component is something you are looking for in a war game, this jam has that. I have learned about the Great Emu War of 1932. I learned that Jose Garcia saved the Alhambra from being blown up. I found out Germans impulsively sacked Rome in 1527. Even if I never play any of the games, I’m learning stuff.

I don’t know if I will play any games from the Postcards from the Front jam but I have gotten plenty out of looking at it.

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