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Entertainment

September 14, 2012

Marines love space Marines, Warhammer 40,000

(Continued)

WASHINGTON —

Elements of gaming are still present in modern warfare. In Iraq and Afghanistan, Carey served as an operations officer (an S3, to be exact) for an infantry battalion. His responsibilities included developing battle plans from the tactical operations center. "In the movies when you see the room/tent with all the maps, projection screens, and radios with guys moving icons around on a map board — that's the TOC," he said in an email. "In a way, running a TOC is as close to hobby war gaming as it gets in the military."

The hobby side of war gaming didn't really begin until 1913, with H.G. Wells' publication of Little Wars, a plan for "a game for boys from 12 years of age to 150 and for that more intelligent sort of girl who likes boys' games and books." In it, the English author lays out rules for a strategic version of toy soldiers — the number of moves required "to pass a fordable river," "to embark into boats," and "to unlimber guns." Over the course of the last century, more tabletop war games sprouted. In January 1965, Sports Illustrated devoted a lengthy feature to men who waged war with historically accurate miniature troops. "We think the war game is superior to chess," one of the dedicated hobbyists explained. "After all, chess is played on a board that never varies, with the same amount of men every time. But the variations on war games are limited only by your imagination."

The iconic Dungeons & Dragons entered the fray in 1974 and shifted traditional war games in the direction of role playing. D&D players choose characters and go on adventures together. Games are open-ended and participants gain experience points that carry over to future sessions. Warhammer Fantasy Battle, which came out in 1983, borrowed from D&D's Tolkien-esque imagery but focused more on one-off, army-against-army clashes. Warhammer 40,000 built on its still-popular predecessor's aggressiveness but added a darker futuristic setting, advanced weaponry, and more violence. Consider Games Workshop's description of "the tabletop battlegame of the far future":

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