War Games

History came alive with a roll of the dice at the U.S. Army Women’s Museum on Saturday. The 5th annual Flames of War Tournament brought 24 competitors with thousands of World War II miniatures to battle across France in epic battles of French and British Forces versus the Germans.

Flames of War is a World War II tabletop game where two opponents, armed with miniature armies, move, shoot and fight in any one of several scenarios such as “River Crossing” or “Free-for-All.”

Visitors touring the museum were invited to observe the action, as the competitors explained the game and provided historical perspectives on the battles being played.

Ron Bingham, museum technician and event organizer, was happy with the interaction between guests and gamers.

“This is a great example of how history can be fun,” said Bingham. “There’s all kinds of ways we, at the museum, can show how history is exciting, and this is a good way to learn something new.”

Flames of War is a game complete with dice and a rule book, but for most players who spend hours assembling and painting the miniature armies, it is much more.

“I would say that Flames of War is 30 percent game and 70 percent history,” said Bob Everson, who has been a historical game player since 1985. “There’s a lot of realism to this game and you can see history.”

Everson said that most gamers have a passion for history, but even novice players can enjoy the game with just a rudimentary knowledge of the war.

“You’ll actually have those moments where you say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m learning something,’” said Everson.

During a lunch break, the participants toured the area where dozens of ordnance artifacts await the construction of the new U.S. Army Ordnance Museum. Photographs were taken and discussions ensued as they marvelled at the rows of tanks and artillery pieces.

“That alone was worth the trip,” said Everson. “Going out and seeing that was an experience, especially for those who’ve never seen it up close before.”

After two rounds of battle and 24 games completed, 14 German wins claimed victory over the 1940 campaign. The Allies fell short with 10 wins. Everson was named “Best Winning General” and Jeff Kautz earned “Best Losing General.”