Wargames are simulations of military battles, campaigns or entire wars. Players will have to consider situations that are analogous to the situations faced by leaders of historical battles. As such, war games are usually heavy on simulation elements, and while they are all „strategy games“, they can also be „strategic“ or „tactical“ in the military jargon sense.
Traditionally, wargames have been played either with miniatures, using physical models of detailed terrain and miniature representations of people and equipment to depict the game state; or on a board, which commonly uses cardboard counters on a hex map.
Popular miniature wargames include Warhammer 40,000 or its fantasy counterpart Warhammer Fantasy. Popular strategic board wargames include Axis and Allies and Diplomacy. Advanced Squad Leader is a successful tactical scale wargame.
Wargames are a subgenre of strategy video games that emphasize strategic or tactical warfare on a map. Computer wargames are generally classified based on whether they are, a) turn-based or real-time, and b) whether their focus is upon military strategy or tactics. These distinctions divide computer wargames into four categories: real-time strategy, real-time tactics, turn-based strategy, and turn-based tactics.
The primary gameplay mode in a wargame is usually tactical: fighting battles. Wargames sometimes have a strategic mode where players may plan their battle or choose an area to conquer, but players typically spend much less time in this mode and more time actually fighting. Because it is difficult to provide an intelligent way to delegate tasks to a subordinate, war games typically keep the number of units down to hundreds rather than hundreds of thousands.
Units are usually scaled to be disproportionately large compared to the landscape, in order to promote effective gameplay. These games usually use a much faster time line than reality, and thus wargames do not model night time or sleep periods.
The computer gaming industry generally evolved with minimal reference to board games, so the term „wargame“ is not traditionally used in the context of computer games. However, the wargaming community saw the possibilities of computer gaming early and made attempts to break into the market, notably Avalon Hill’s Microcomputer Games line, which lasted from 1980 to 1987 and covered a variety of topics, including simple adaptations of some of their wargames.
The popular direction of the current market is towards real-time strategy games exemplified by Starcraft and others. It should be noted that these games are „strategic“ in the gaming sense, but „tactical“ in the military sense. These are generally high-action games that include a number of conveniences that enhance gameplay, but ignore reality.
Sources: Wikipedia Modified by Fanterazzi