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Sunday, 17 February 2019

Some of my imagi-nations

Every so often I see an online discussion about whether or not wargamers should create imagi-nations as locations for their armies to inhabit, protect, and fight over. There are some wargamers who are heartily in favour of imagi-nations (I am one of them), and others who loath them.

Over the years I have created and used quite a few imagi-nations, and amongst them are three African colonies or countries: British Dammallia, German Mankanika, and the Sultanate of Marizbar. They owe there origins (and inspiration) to the late Eric Knowles, and I was looking at the maps of each of them recently. It struck me that I have never shared them via my blog ... so here goes!

British Dammallia


German Mankanika


The Sultanate of Marzibar

All the maps shown above can be enlarged by clicking on them.
If the opportunity arises, I will share some more information about these imagi-nations.

These maps were originally featured on my now-defunct COLONIAL WARGAMING website, along with some battle reports and other information about these countries in particular and Colonial wargaming (and military forces) in general.

10 comments:

  1. Bob,
    Yes, Imagi-Nations is a great way to spend the hours drawing up Fictional Maps and thinking out interesting countries with interesting and gaming features...I have done this several times over the decades. Imagi-Nations too is at times harder to devise and imagine than copying History - and this challenge adds to the excitement. At present I am thinking of an Imagi-Nations type Campaign -though it could all be classed as simply 'Fiction in the 1920s'. All the Best. KEV.

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    1. Kev Robertson

      You are absolutely right. Creating imagi-nations isn't as easy as some detractors think.

      One big advantage is that you can set up your imagi-nations so that they are similar to real countries BUT do not include some of the darker and more unpleasant aspects of those countries' backgrounds. For example, my imagi-nation version of Soviet Russia (SPUR, the Soviet Peoples' United Republics) doesn't have gulags, slave labourers, and the other excesses of Stalin's regime.

      Good luck with your interwar imagi-nations campaign.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  2. "others who loath them"
    I cannot comprehend this attitude in the least. I love imagi-nations!

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    1. Kevin Kearney,

      Neither do I ... and our hobby is supposed to be one that stimulates the imagination and our creativeness!

      All the best,

      Bob

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  3. I love the idea of Imagi-Nations and have seen many superb examples over the years. I have several kernels of ideas kicking around, based upon my travels in Austria over the past few years. I really should firm these up this year to help kick start several projects that I have planned. So many ideas, so little time!

    Your Portable Wargames rules are giving me plenty of fun games, so with the small forces required, this could be a perfect starting point. Time to go and dig through my lead pile me-thinks...

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    1. Steve J.,

      It sounds as if you have done the groundwork necessary to create your own imagi-nations, and I strongly urge you to start the process ... you'll really enjoy it!

      I'm very pleased that you enjoy using my rules, and I hope that you continue to do so.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  4. Bob,
    I assume it is Jim Purkey's blog (Altfritz) that's prompted this post.
    Imaginations have a long pedigree in war games from Stephenson onwards yet still produce mixed reactions from gamers. The main objection seems to be the lack of "seriousness"; a historical gamer who researches the cuff buttons of the 45 Ligne and the EXACT shade of puce worn by the Fourth Footandmouthmonshires object to things like lilac coats, and the "wargames are a simulation of real war" brigade object to the lack of "realism". There's also a horror of "making things up" as this will lead to being able to field "super armies".

    Sadly these people seem unaware that "real" armies went around in dysentery stained greatcoats (if they were lucky) a lot of the time or that many modern interpretations of armies are educated guesses, especially the further back you go in history. I also find it ironic that some can sneer at imagination armies while fielding King Tigers and other such German Uber kit (which never breaks down or runs out of fuel) or consider that their recreation of Waterloo with 36 figure battalions is "realistic" or a "simulation".

    Historical research can be very rewarding and enjoyable, but don't confuse the GAME you are playing with real life; it's based on it but it's not a simulation.

    Imagi-nations do however require that you have an imagination; while that sounds obvious, I have seen lots of Prussian armies with funny names or obviously thinly disguised historical armies fighting over a supposed mythical country. There's nothing wrong with that, but I suspect people find it hard to suspend disbelief enough to go the whole hog when they do this. My issue with it is it's just more of "a typical hypothetical battle based in the SYW" or whatever.

    Taking the step to create a whole imaginary world takes a lot of effort (which perhaps puts people off) but is very rewarding and is very liberating. You have no fear of painting a unit in blue only to find out they wore brown or that such and such a vehicle only existed as a prototype.
    As long as you work within the boundaries of historical knowledge (no C18th machine guns or jets) and have internal consistency, a creation can seem as real as any historical nation if done correctly.

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    1. Neil Patterson,

      It was the reaction to the whole concept of imagi-nations on 'The Miniatures Page' (which I think may have been sparked off by something that Jim Purkey/Altfritz had written) that inspired me to write this blog entry.

      Your comment sums up the reasons why I love imagi-nations, and refutes the case put forward by the so-called 'serious' wargamers. The latter also forget that really serious wargamers - the military - use imagi-nations for many of their wargames. They have to for political reasons, and I can well remember seeing tables of organisation and equipment that were obviously WARPAC, but which were referred to as 'the generic enemy' because actually identifying them as being Soviet forces and their allies was politically inconvenient.

      Thank you for your excellent contribution to this discussion. You summed up my thoughts much better than I could have done.

      All the best,

      Bob

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  5. I am relatively late to the hobby of wargaming (3 years now), but Bob's blog is where I find the most useful information and interesting discussions. I had never heard of Imagi-nations, but the discussions looked interesting, so I've been probing around here and there. I realized that when I was a kid, I used the Imagi-nations philosophy of made up "countries" and heroic figures, and such. Recently I've been playing around with the old Risk boardgame and came up with my own crude, simple version of what I think the Imagi-nations idea is all about. Now I know it wasn't all that far-fetched. As a solo wargamer in the Covid era, one's sanity comes into question a fair bit of time. My dog still loves me though. I've been able to create countries, and campaign scenarios, with home-made rules to suit them. The one thing I was struggling with was the battle mechanics. What kind of armies should I have, what weapons would they use, what period of time would be best to sort of model them after, what battle rules would I use? Bob made a good suggestion, which many of you are probably following already, to use the colonial period (late 18th century) as a starting point. A good variety of armies and weapons to use, as well as means of transportation, without getting too modern or too much into the world of fantasy. I appreciate all Bob's suggestions, as well as the many interesting contributions from his followers, as I plunge into this new area of wargaming creativity.

    As an aside, it seems some wargamers in other camps have looked down on this whole concept, or so I gather from some reading. Yet many wargamers game totally in the fantasy world of goblins, wizards, and such. Not my thing, but I don't criticize them for it. Also, I don't want to rerun one of history's famous battles. But I can understand why someone might. This hobby has so many variations it is hard to grasp them all. Find what you like, have fun with those aspects of it that you really enjoy (terrain-building, miniatures-painting, game-design, whatever), try new things, and just enjoy.

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    1. Dalethewargamer,

      Thank you very much for sharing your experience of being a newcomer to the hobby.

      Imagi-nations have been around for a very long time (one only has to think of the Brontë's and their ANGRIA, GLASSTOWN, and GONDAL imagi-nations to justify this contention), and even the modern military uses imagi-nations for its wargames (e.g. AGRESSOR/TRIGON, ATROPIA, LIMARIA, and ARIANA are or have been used by the USA). So why shouldn't wargamers do the same?

      I suspect that the answer is that they want to be thought of as 'serious' ... and using imagi-nations sounds a bit childish. At the same time, they seek to call the figures that they use 'military miniatures' ... but the truth is that they are really adult toy soldiers.

      Over the years I have seen battles and campaigns involving imagi-nations that had a greater foundation in the real world that some supposedly 'serious' wargames. For example, I have seen World War II battles that featured German forces that were stronger and better equipped than any that actually saw battle, and French Napoleonic armies that had Imperial Guard units forming 75% of their strength ... but I was told that these were 'realistic' whereas my imagi-nation army - which contained all sorts of odds and ends of units - was just fantasy.

      I am glad that you have found my blog helpful, and I look forward to continuing to write about my ideas and to share those of other people.

      All the best,

      Bob

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