Table of Contents
For details, see A Brief History of Tabletop Wargaming in Japan.
(Excluding rarely updated blogs and text only photo less blogs)
"Wargaming as a civilian hobby," which is different from military simulations by soldiers, began as miniature wargames in the 19th century England. For example, Jane's Fighting Ships was originally published as a reference book for playing naval wargames and H. G. Wells, who is known as a science fiction writer, wrote books on miniature wargaming: Floor Games and Little Wars. And then Airfix, a UK manufacturer of scale model kits, published Airfix Magazine and carried articles on miniature wargaming in 1970's.
Therefore, in Hong Kong, that had developed as an English port of international trade, wargames have been always played since 1970's. Domestic Model Heaven & Earth (模型天地) magazine also carried articles on miniature wargaming.
The Hong Kong Society of Wargamers (香港戰棋協會, commonly called HKSW) was established in 1980 and still holds meetings every 1st and 3rd Saturday. Official site's news page and official Facebook group show that both miniature wargames and board wargames are played actively.
About 20 to 30 people participate in every regular meeting. In the Annual General Meeting (AGM), that is held every May, about 50 to 60 people get together and take a group photo in matching black T-shirts. After the meeting and AGM, Lawrence Ho, who is in charge of matching and public relations, uploads photos to official Facebook group. In addition, irregular mini meetings are held in members' homes: Tiger Room (虎穴), Panther's Room (豹房), Wolfsschanze (狼穴) and Chu's Home (豬欄).
A member Cheung Kar Fai (張嘉輝) translates many rules of Japanese wargames especially games of Game Journal. Another member Chu Kwok Wah (朱國華) makes many photo albums of the meetings public in Facebook album and sometimes uses his position as a middle school teacher to teach middle school students about wargames by using mini games: Battle of Gazala, Sink the Bismarck!, etc.
On the one hand SNS is fruitful, and on the other hand individual sites are few. Probably there are Jackson Kwan's blog "Hong Kong Wargamer" and Sniper Marco's blog "Under the Fortress Hill" (炮台山下) only.
As to the shops, Wargames Club Inc. Ltd. (戰棋會有限公司) has sold imported wargames since 1990s and localizes some best-selling games of GMT etc. to sell in the 21st century. There was an offline shop, but there is an online shop only.
As to the publication of original games, although its activities were only in a few years of 1980s, a maker Wargames Research Centre Ltd. (戰棋研究中心) published original games: Tank Battle (坦克大戰), Galactic Battle (星球大戰) and China Vietnam War (中越大戰), localized AH's The Russian Campaign, Midway and Air Force and published them (it is unknown whether it was officially licensed or not).
In addition, Wargames Research Centre Ltd. held Hong Kong Wargame Design Competition only once in 1983 and Long Live the Sacred War (聖戰千秋), a strategic game of the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, won. Long Live the Sacred War was planned to be published, but Wargames Research Centre Ltd. soon went out of business and its commercialization was suspended. The designer Leonard To (杜駿聰) was a middle school student then and temporarily moved to the USA together with his parents after the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, but he had continued the game design of the same theme for thirty years and finally published War of the Suns (天無二日) from MMP in 2013.
A physical therapist Wei-Cheng Cheng (鄭偉成), who finished military service and worked at Taipei's Tri-Service General Hospital, studied in the University of Southern California in order to acquire biomechanics, joined a boardgame club in the university, met wargames and aimed to design wargames. In 2009, he went back to Taiwan and immediately established Formosa Force Games (福爾摩莎戰棋社).
At first, Formosa Force Games made some postcard games: Sediq Song, a game of Musha incident, etc. In 2010, Formosa Force Games started a magazine Board Wargame (戰棋) in collaboration with Cang Bi Publishing (蒼璧出版有限公司) that publishes magazines on military history: Der Sturm (突擊) and Battle Field (戰場).
Up to 2013, ten issues of Board Wargame magazine were published. Each issue included games on the Chinese Civil War, the 2nd Sino-Japanese War, etc. It increased Taiwanese wargamers and created a great sensation overseas. In Japan, a-game sells them. In Hong Kong, The Hong Kong Society of Wargamers does group buying. Tanaka Kensuke, a producer of Kantai Collection, said that he purchased a copy whenever he went to Taiwan in an interview by 4Gamer.net. In France, 800 Heroes and Growling Tigers Under Siege were republished as issue games of Battles, an English language magazine on wargaming.
In addition, Formosa Force Games published a box game The Everlasting Glory (英烈千秋) in 2012. The game designer was Leonard To in Hong Kong, the graphic designer was Itakura Sawshun in Japan. It was the first Asian collaboration board wargame. Originally, it was designed as a light version of War of the Suns, but the publishing of War of the Suns was postponed many times (because the components were huge and the manufacturing costs were high), so The Everlasting Glory was published earlier than War of the Suns.
Wei-Cheng Cheng got married and had babies, so Formosa Force Games suspended publication for two years after the publication of Board Wargame #10, but in 2015, Formosa Force Games rebooted and published Board Wargame #11. Information about future publishing plans and games under development is posted in official Facebook group.
Besides Formosa Force Games, 2Plus, that publishes many casual board games and card games, develops games for children's study of history in collaboration with Academica Histrica, an official institute studying Taiwan's history. They published The Chinese Civil War of 1930 (中原大戰) in 2010, The 1911 Revolution of China (辛亥革命) in 2011. And a group had planned to publish Far East War 1592 (壬辰之戰) since 2012. In 2015, they crowdfunded the money and pre-sold a trial version at Game Market in Japan.
Taiwan has more population than Hong Kong and has the freedom of speech, so many Taiwanese wargamers promote exchanges in SNS actively and have blogs: 大男孩 の 生活 ○ 瑣事, Robin's WarGame Room, 13 Foxtrot, 繁星．若塵, Command & Caffe, DVE's log, etc.
As to the clubs, in Taipei, Maraxus Ann established a wargame club in 2009 and holds a meeting every month. Formosa Force Games' new games are sometimes playtested. Miniature Wargaming Dojo (微縮戰棋道場) meeting is also held every month since 2016. In Kaohsiung, Mike Yuan (袁子健) established Kaohsiung Wargamer Club in 2015, holds a meeting every month and holds a three-day camp every April. In Hsinchu, meeting for beginners is held.
One more funny thing, a Taiwanese wargamer Fraser chang was inspired by a Japanese wargamer's blog including a manga on wargaming made with Comi Po! So he has used Comi Po! to make Genius Wargame Girls (天才戰棋少女), a manga on board wargaming for beginners, has posted episodes to Bahamut since 2014 and made official Facebook page.
Yang Nanzheng (杨南征), who had developed military simulators for maneuvers in the People's Liberation Army for a long time and had developed PC wargames after retirement from PLA in 1993, established Oriental Flagship International Technology Co., Ltd. (远东旗舰国际科技有限公司) and published a board wargame Storm over the Taiwan Strait (台海风云) in 2006. In 2007, Yang Nanzheng published a guidebook on wargaming from PLA Press. Oriental Flagship International Technology Co., Ltd. also published The Nanchang Rebellion (南昌起义) and Four Crossings of the Chishui River (四渡赤水).
On the other hand, three board gamers began to play Diplomacy in 2005, bought to play Axis & Allies in 2006 and established "Beijing Board Game and Wargame Club" (北京桌上游戏和战棋俱乐部). Up to summer 2006, regular members became over ten and a collection of games became over ten.
Beijing Board Game and Wargame Club held the 1st Oriental Flagship Cup Wargame Tournament in collaboration with Oriental Flagship International Technology Co., Ltd. in October 2007, established "China FOW Club," an official group of Flames of War in November. Many media came to interview them and a collection of games became over fifty.
In 2008, Beijing Board Game and Wargame Club was divided into two groups: "Beijing Board Game Club" (北京桌游社) and "Beijing Wargame Party Club" (北京战棋党). Members of Beijing Wargame Party Club became over twenty and many people out of Beijing came to join official BBS. And the members came to make localized DTP components of imported wargames.
After that, although Beijing Wargame Party Club faced some trouble: closing down of a cafe as their meeting place, breakdown of web server, etc., they still hold meetings every weekend and holiday. Over fifty rules are translated. The president David Han (韩肇鹏) had written articles for Board Wargame magazine from 2010 to 2011.
As to online community, a forum "The Art of War Forum" (战争艺术论坛) took on an important role. Originally, it was a forum for players of a PC wargame The Operational Art of War, but there was a BBS for tabletop wargaming. Many people actively posted reviews, AARs, translated rules, self-made games, introduction to English sources, etc., but the server was unstable and some logs were lost; therefore it was closed in 2014 (tentatively revived in 2016).
They established Baidu Tieba's "Wargame Institute" (兵棋研究所) in 2013 and "Velonica War College" in 2014 as substitutes for unstable "The Art of War Forum," especially they still post to "Wargame Institute" every day. According to regular members' self-introduction thread, their places of residence are nationwide: Beijing, Shanghai, Harbin, Dalian, Guangzhou, Guilin, Wuhan, Chengdu, etc.
They post reviews and AARs mainly. They buy huge board wargames via personal import or Taobao.
For example, they have posted reviews and AARs of SPI's The China War, Berlin '85 and Fulda Gap; S&T's back issues; VG's games; AH's GCACW; GDW's Fire in the East; ADG's World in Flames; GMT's EFS, Next War: Taiwan and A World At War; MMP's OCS: Korea, War of the Suns and ASLSK; Hexasim's Liberty Roads and Victory Roads; Decision's Wacht am Rhein; Compass' Bitter Woods; CoA's La Bataille de la Moscowa; L2D's Streets of Stalingrad; Epoch's Feudal Lord, Sun Zhi and Romance of the Three Kingdoms; CMJ's back issues, Asian Fleet and Panzer Vor!; GJ's Xiang Yu and Liu Bang and Nobunaga Successors War; Six Angles' Panzerkrieg and Assault on Leningrad; Sunset's Fleet Battles; Tsukuba's Sengoku Gunyuden Series and Legend of the Galactic Heroes Series; Ad Technos' SDF Series; Technical Term's Dojin Fleet Series; Board Wargame magazine's games on the Chinese Civil War; etc.
In addition, they sometimes post general information about wargaming. It increases the knowledge level on wargaming.
And such online communications make offline meeting of wargaming. For example, TianChen Xiao has held meetings of "Shanghai Wargamers Party" every weekend and uploaded photos to Facebook since 2015.
Not a few people can use not only English but also Japanese; therefore they upload PDF files of translated rules to BoardGameGeek and Baidu Cloud. Besides translated rules, Dare-Death, a free magazine on ASL, has been distributed since 2015. In addition, overseas students in Japan sometimes post reviews of games bought from a-game, Chrononauts Games and Game Market and participate in meetings.
New makers are also established one after another: War Drum Games (战鼓游戏) in Shanghai, 2014; Kilovolt Design (千伏工作室) in Dalian, Liaoning Province and The Later Han Games (后汉家游戏工作室) in Foshan, Guangdong Province, 2015; Banner of War Studio (战旗工作室) in Beijing, 2016; Kuro Neko Design Workshop (黑喵制造总局) and Artisan of Games (棋匠游戏) in Shanghai and Aurora Game Studio (极光游戏工作室) in Tianjin, 2017; Banana Games (香蕉桌游) in Tianjin, 2019. They publish original games and republish licensed foreign games. By the way, these makers generally raise a fund for making games on "Modian" (摩点网), a crowdfunding platform in China.
At the beginning of the 21st century, South Korea's (poor) environment around tabletop wargaming was not very different from Taiwan and China, or rather there was a nationwide board game cafe boom in South Korea, 2003. Not a few cafes had Axis & Allies; therefore South Korea's condition to spread full-scale wargames was relatively favored, but there has not been noticeable progress in South Korea. Neither full-scale wargame nor guidebook on wargaming nor magazine on wargaming is published yet. Neither wargame convention nor wargame bootcamp is held yet.
As to board games themselves, board game clubs and board game cafes take root in each district. In addition, a community site BOARDLIFE, so to speak, South Korea version of BoardGameGeek, was established in 2013 and the members promote exchanges actively, but speaking of wargames, players are very few. In BOARDLIFE's list of wargames (basic information about each game is made by using BGG's open API), many figures in cells of 플레이 (play) and 보유 (own) are still zero.
Basically, in South Korea, some board gamers, who play relatively heavy games, only occasionally play part of wargame. In 2016, Dice Tree Games, a game publishing division of a game shop Boardpia, published Twilight Struggle Korean Edition, but its position is not for wargamers but for the whole board gamers.
As to online communities specialized in wargames, in Naver Cafe, "Board & Strategy" was established in 2009 and "Schwerpunkt Wargame Club" was established in 2013, but their posts are far inferior to Baidu Tieba's "Wargame Institute" mentioned above in both quality and quantity.
To begin with, as BOARDLIFE's list of wargames shows, South Korean wargamers do not buy enough games. Generally, they buy GMT's games only. As to MMP's games, they buy neither TCS nor GCACW. They barely posted a review on ASL from 2015, a review on SCS from 2016, a review on GTS from 2019. As to OCS, they buy Korea: The Forgotten War only. They hardly buy Decision's games, Compass' games, Columbia's games VPG's games and CoA's games. As to magazines, they buy neither S&T nor WaW nor MW nor AtO. They do not buy games in 1980s or before: AH, SPI, VG and GDW. In addition, they mostly buy land battle games. They hardly buy naval battle games and air battle games. Their purchasing power is poor; therefore domestic shops, BoardM, Divedice, etc., irregularly purchase wargames.
There are imported games only; therefore it is necessary to pay attention overseas, but South Korean wargamers do not make a detailed link collection of makers, online shops, news sites, portal sites, etc. Some people buy Japanese edition games because Japanese is easier than English for them. Naturally, they are making hardly any progress in translation of the rules. Some people buy Next War: Korea without confirming complexity, get frightened by many rules and chicken out of cutting off counters. Although four years have been spent in order to translate OCS's series rules, it was unfinished and abandoned after all. Moreover, they do not upload translations well. GMT's official site has multi-lingual living rules page, but they do not upload translations to such a page. Some translators give translation only by request e-mail (after 2013, such a circumstance has been improved somewhat because some people came to upload translations to BOARDLIFE). Moreover, some people use damn local Hangul Word Processor format instead of generic format such as .txt, .pdf, etc.
In addition, some blogs are removed suddenly and some blogs are abandoned and infected with a malware; therefore the information is not readily accumulated. Moreover, some blogs are set non-copyable to prevent the spread of information. Moreover, in Naver Cafe, many members have set their post closed to prevent a new member from joining since 2016.
Originally, there are few wargamers. Moreover, most of them do not buy games very much, do not spread information very much and do not share products very much. Probably they will get nowhere for the time being. "Hell Joseon" is also the worst environment in East Asia about tabletop wargaming.
An American veteran wargamer Mark W. Humphries, who married a Filipino and lives in Manila, established The Philippine Historical Boardgamers Club (a.k.a. Philboardgamers) in 1995. The activities still continue. His own game list in BGG is over 1600. This huge collection helps young Philippine wargamers to make their knowledge and skill progress. Although official Facebook group is closed; therefore outsiders can hardly know their actual activities, photos taken by the members are sometimes shown in C3i Ops Center. In addition, some members of Makati Marauders play wargames.
One of the characteristics of Filipino wargamers is that some of them usually live in the USA for work or study abroad. These Filipino wargamers in the USA sometimes return to the Philippines to play games and participate in Origins, GenCon, Consimworld Expo, etc.
In addition, the 2nd Asia-Pacific ASL tournament "Mayhem in Manila" was held in 2016.
Singapore had developed as an English port of international trade, just as Hong Kong had done; therefore wargames have been always played in Singapore, but the population of Singapore is less than Hong Kong. Moreover, Singaporean men are required to perform military service, and so there is a miniature wargame club NapNuts, but board wargames are played by individuals only. In 2004, old-timer wargamers since 1980s made a site "Singapore Wargamers," but it has not been updated since 2005. They move to Facebook group and sometimes post, but it is hard to confirm that they actually play wargames.
As to the shops, Leisurecraft, a shop dealing in games and comics, sold wargames in 1980s, but the owner changed, the name was changed into Paradigm Infinitum (commonly called PI). Miniature wargames are sold, but board wargames are not sold.
But there are some good topics. In 2009, WorldsForge published Field Command: Singapore 1942. In 2014, the first Asia-Pacific ASL tournament "Malaya Madness" was held. At that time, the participants were not only Singaporean but also ASL players from Hong Kong, Philippines (above mentioned Jackson Kwan, Mark W. Humphries, etc.) and Australia. Similarly, in "Mayhem in Manila" mentioned above, some players from Singapore participated in.
Some members of Indoboardgames play wargames. There is a BBS for wargaming in official site's forum since 2008. Online activities have moved to official Facebook group. Photos of wargames are sometimes posted.
Particularly, Adhika Widyaparaga, who participated in GiF's meeting when studying in Kyushu University, and Agung Waspodo, who is sometimes introduced in C3i Ops Center, are the motive power of tabletop wargaming activities in Indonesia.
Some members of Boardgames Saigon play wargames.
An Englishman Chris Sanderson manages Battlefield Bangkok. Miniature wargames are mainly sold, but ordering board wargames is allowed. Some people play them in the shop. Meetings of Here I Stand and Virgin Queen were held. Miniature wargames are played at Phuket Strategy Games Club too.
In addition, a blog "TABLETOP THAILAND" sometimes posts review of miniature wargames.
Some members of Dubai Board Gamers play wargames.
Some members of Qatar Boardgamers play wargames.
Some members of Istanbul Board Game Enthusiasts play wargames.