Wargames and Strategy Board Games

There’s a long thread about D&D, and the various ups and downs potentially associated with the fantasy genre. Personally, I’m approaching a point where I intend to just avoid that whole aspect of gaming because it is such a moral quagmire. There’s just too much to figure out regarding its standing, and that takes a lot of the leisure out of the activity.

I still have a passion for gaming, though, and so my thoughts have turned to other possibilities. I stopped by a local game shop today and perused the historical wargames section. I was quite impressed by the plethora of options for fans of military history. What do you folks think about games like these, where you re-enact historical battles in a board game? Does an activity like this promote a love of violence?

In particular, the one that I’m interested in researching further should I figure out wargaming’s moral acceptability is this one here:


It’s called the Advanced Squad Leader system, currently being printed by Multi Man Publishing. I’d really like to know what people think, and if possible, can you give some sources I could look into on how to sort out my constant questioning of leisure activities and entertainments. I’ve read some portions of the CCC about war itself (5th commandment section), but it didn’t really help me understand if playing at war games would be sinful.

It’s also worth noting that in these types of games, while everyone loves to play the “good guy”, someone has to play the “bad guy” and try to win at their role, too. So in a WWII game, someone has to play the Axis powers, and how should they feel about it if they “win” the game?

Anywho, I do intend to put in a call to my priest, see if I can schedule some time with him to talk about some of this stuff, as I’ve been having a hard time sorting a lot of it out. It feels quite scrupulous, but as a newer Catholic convert (from a fundamentalist Protestant church), I’m having a rough time finding moral compass. I’m hoping a couple of sessions talking about this stuff my help point me in the right direction.

No as long as the game is not excessively violent or pornographic then it’s fair.

A big pro-Catholic film people are promoting For Greater Glory involves war and chess is a game involving war…neither is bad.

As long as the games you play are in moderation and not excessively violent or pornographic in nature then you will be okay.

^This. :thumbsup:
Wait, Advance Wars is neither excessively violent nor pornographic. :slight_smile:

One of my favorite contemporary American two-player board games has one player playing as demons.


Wonder what Portrait’s gonna think of that…

Well, my feelings on it are leaning toward these being a fairly harmless leisure activity. Given that they’re all board games, there really is no actual depictions of violence, although one can certainly imagine them. I guess I’m more concerned with the glorification of war that comes through in these games.

I’m a huge board game fan. Not too much into strict war games or miniatures games, but definitely strategy board games of both American and European design. Fantasy Flight Games is probably my favorite board game company. They make some great stuff.

It’s just a game. If I played as the British Empire in Empire: Total War, that’s not problematic because they’re Protestants because I know it’s a game. And besides, it’s a game based military strategy, so logically you’re going to do military things. Those WWII games focus on military tactics, units, and strategy; you don’t see ideology at all.

Well, I agree that the ideologies are absent from the game. You don’t have to be a Nazi to play the German army :D. Honestly, I admit I’m likely over-thinking this. However, it’s an expensive game to take up, and I’d rather have my “scruples” covered before I spend the money on it. I’ve bought stuff in the past that I later regretted, and I was out the cash :blush:.

Then do the right thing, set aside some money each month for the game and when you reach the amount for the game go buy it. :thumbsup:

If playing D&D is morally questionable because players pretend to cast spells, which can somehow lead to real-life sorcery, then war games are morally questionable because players pretend to fight wars on behalf of totalitarian and racist regimes, which by the same logic will somehow lead to real-life murder, despotism, and racism.

If, on the other hand, war games are okay even when one player pretends to be a Nazi army (so long as s/he doesn’t actually support Nazi philosophy), then D&D is okay even when one player pretends to be a wizard (so long as s/he doesn’t actually support Wicca).

Yes? Am I missing something?

Tabletop wargames are really strategy games about military tactics. I don’t see how they can be morally problematic for a Catholic or anyone else. If you think about it, chess is actually an abstracted wargame, and I can’t imagine anyone raising moral concerns about that game. Do you really think live war reenactments like civil war reenactments are morally problematic? They are a lot closer to the grim realities of battle than any tabletop wargame, but I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that thinks this is immoral.

However, if you are really uncomfortable with war as a board game theme, then I suggest you try Eurogame-style board games. This type of game primarily arises from Germany, where I believe there is a law forbidding violence and war as a theme for a board game. So, they are mostly games with merchantile or agricultural themes, or games about trains, etc. You can find a lot of good titles at boardgamegeek.com. Some of my favorites are Agricola, Puerto Rico, 7 Wonders, Small World, Pandemic, and Ticket to Ride.

Another option would be to stick with the paper and dice roleplaying genre that DnD is in, but switch to a gaming universe that is devoid of the fantasy elements that you find objectionable. There are roleplaying games set in the Star Wars universe, in the (non-fantasy)ancient/medieval world, and many other genres. There are also roleplaying games set in Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Since Tolkien seems to be acceptable to most Catholics, would a roleplaying game in that universe also be acceptable?

I think it’s a shame that the posters here have led you to such uncertainty that you’re ready to give up gaming. If gaming was that fraught with moral peril, I would think that some Roman Curial congregation or bishop somewhere would have written some pastoral letter on the great dangers of gaming. I have never come across any such letter.

Playing a strategy board game seems highly unlikely to incite a person to follow dreams of actual world domination.

We need to use our common sense. Yes, we need to holy people of prayer. But that doesn’t mean we are mindless automotons who are going to get swept up into immorality at the slightest provocation.

A strategy war game is just a strategy game. If it contains graphic pictures of violence and asks you to perform literal acts of violence as part of the game play, then that would be cause for concern. If playing the game incites in you desires towards violence, then that would be a clear indication that you (personally) should avoid the game, even if it’s okay for others. Other than that, you’re probably just fine.

Does anyone really believe a game like Risk is “of the devil” because the goal is to “conquer the world”? What about chess, then? In chess, the goal is to capture the opponent’s King. in real life, that could be construed as immoral unless the qualifications of Just War Theory are each met. :rolleyes: Things quickly devolve towards the ridiculous when you follow this train of thought.

If you are over-thinking it then watch some videos on it on youtube and see if you like it. If it fits to your standards then get it, if it doesn’t then don’t. But personally, I would just focus my money on pc strategy games instead because they tend be cheaper and have less pieces. Lol.

although its not really a board game, civiliaztion 5 is a video game made in the style of a board game. i love that game and none of my friends play it, is anyone here into it?

also, there was this expantions called Gods and Kings which added religion and spys. i dont have it yet (waiting for a sale), if anyone else did get it then can you share your opinion of how they portrayed religion in that expantion.

Even though Advance Wars is not technically a board game, it is based off it.
The soldiers in the various factions in that game resemble historical armies.

I liked to play a game call Hearts of Iron and basically you could pick any nation from 1936-1946 and play through WWII. I don’t think during the course of the game…

I was a Nazi or supporting the Nazi regime or Nazi philosophy when storming through Europe as Germany
I was a Fascist or supporting of Fascism when creating Mare Nostrum and taking Ethiopia as Italy
I was a Falangist or Francoist when playing as the Nationalists in Spain
I was an anti-Catholic when playing as the Republicans in Spain
I was anti-Serb/anti-Orthodox when playing as the psychotically evil Ustaše regime in Croatia (though never did)
I was Communist for playing either Communist China or Soviet Union
I was a Japanese Militantist when playing as Japan

Though even then I would always force myself to lose in the end (even if the US or UK were the only nations left on the map), I’d just simply switch the AI to nuts and ruin my own economy (couldn’t let evil triumph over good) :thumbsup:

Anyone who says RPGs are not fine is talking crazy. The Church very obviously does not condemn them, otherwise She would have condemned them.

What do you folks think about games like these, where you re-enact historical battles in a board game? Does an activity like this promote a love of violence?

That is not something anyone but you can answer. If playing wargames is a near occasion of sin for you, do not play them.

It’s also worth noting that in these types of games, while everyone loves to play the “good guy”, someone has to play the “bad guy” and try to win at their role, too. So in a WWII game, someone has to play the Axis powers, and how should they feel about it if they “win” the game?

Why should they feel bad?

I play tabletop games at our local wargames club, using 15mm figures.

Tabletop or board gaming does absolutely nothing towards creating a violent streak in players, in fact it does the opposite, since a fair amount of goodwill is needed to resolve issues of gameplay (unlike chess, tabletop gaming is not an exact science). The wargamers I know are as harmless a bunch of people as you can hope to find.

PC games are another story, especially the first person shoot-em-smash-em-ups that seem to dominate the market at present. I listen to kids who play hours of those games - they acquire quite an abusive way of talking and seem to have a pseudo-violent outlook on life. They find tabletop/board gaming way too tame - there is no ‘feel’ of destroying things as in the virtual reality computer games they are addicted to.

Tabletop/board gaming is also a very social hobby - one communicates a lot with the other players. In our every-man-to-his-screen age, that is a big plus.

I think this kind of attitude among FPS gamers is really unhealthy, and it’s one aspect I’d like to avoid. I don’t have a whole lot of exposure to tabletop and board gamers, so I can only guess, though the folks at my local gameshop definitely seem to be the tame type you are suggesting.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.