As a father of five daughters I have grown resigned to the fact that all my daughters love to play board games but none of them want to play a wargame.
That's okay, I have become quite adept at playing wargames by myself.
But just the other day, out of desperation, when my five year old asked to play a game, I promised that next time we will play a game about Alexander. This was said with big eyes, open mouth, and all the excitement of a trip to see Santa.
She was thrilled. She didn't know who Alexander was but it must be exciting.
"Does it have girls in it?" she asked.
"Hmmm..., kinda" I said. Thinking this was going to be interesting.
Two days later, as we drove home from school, she asked, "Is today the day we get to play Alexander?"
"Sure" I said. Mom was out of town and it was a perfect chance to practice teaching my daughter the finer points of wargaming.
Dice are used to attack. Each die has a colored symbol that is represented on the front of the blocks of the soldiers. Role a red square against a red soldier and the unit takes one hit.
It is a very simple game with layers of complexity.
We played the battle of Leuctra - 371 BC.
If you don't know the battle, let me paraphrase quickly. Sparta gets walloped by the Thebes. They lose their horse in the middle, and then are crushed on their right flank. End of battle.
I took the Spartans and my five year old daughter took the Thebes. She liked the color of the blocks.
"Are the girls on the horses?" she asked.
"Yes, the girls rode the horses" Maybe it was not true but it was a satisfactory answer for her.
She was able to easily grasp the concept of Right, Center, Left on the board and the cards that corresponded to moving troops.
The counter-attack by the Spartans had her horses evading without damage.
The next turn she did it again, eliminating a second unit and then dancing back with an evasion when the Spartans counter-attacked again.
She loved rolling the dice and counting how many blue triangles and crossed swords she was rolling as my units were whittled down.
Next, she pulled a double-time card, allowing her entire left flank to advance in mass, blasting the Spartan right.
Now, she doesn't read completely, so I had to explain what the card meant. That she got to move four guys two spaces each. She understood immediately and moved up the entire flank. Her rolls were devastating again, capturing a third unit. The Spartan counter-attack finally eliminated a unit, but it was too little too late.
Her final turn was another cavalry rush in the middle against a single figured unit pushed up against the back of the map. She dispatched the unit easily, ending the game, 4 flags for the Thebes, 1 flag for the Spartans.
History had repeated itself.
"That was fun," she said "I'm going to go watch Veggie Tales" and off she skipped into the other room while Dad sat and looked at the remnants of the battle.
Be careful what you wish for.