Wargamers are prone to excessive pessimism or the exact opposite. I used to play with a man who had an unnatural fear of bridges, because once he’d been caught in march column crossing one, and been charged with disastrous results. After that, any bridge threatened catastrophe for him.
Howard Fielding has a tale of pessimism.
“I played in a game of Pony Wars one time. Never played it since so I don’t know if we used house rules or “straight up”.
Anyway, at one point I was playing some settlers in a wagon train. The referee said 1) you always had to reserve ammo for the “last bullet” to save yourself and the women and children from a “Fate Worst than Death” and 2) you had to roll to see how bad your ammo supply was. (And it always seemed to be bad for the settlers.)
So I am running this wagon train in, trying to get to the fort and encounter a large band of Indians. I roll for ammo and it’s pretty bad. So I say: “I shoot the women and children and fire the rest off at the Injuns” (Preparing to go down fighting…)
The referee says make a percentile roll and I roll really really extreme – 01 or 99 or 00 (I can’t remember which). He looks it up and says you killed some, including the chief. Then he has me roll again for the Indians morale (or response?) and again I roll an extreme number.
And they ran away…”
Jay Arnold, however, has a story of wargamer optimism in the face of sensible judgement:
“Playing 2nd edition Warhammer 40,000 with my Tyranids (aliens like in the movie “Aliens”) vs. an Eldar (think Space Elves) force. The Eldar player had a brand new Warp Spider unit he was awfully proud of. At the time, Warp Spiders could warp into an area, shoot with a vicious, but short-ranged attack, and then warp out after shooting.
Well, he warped in front of my prime hand-to-to hand combat unit, the Genestealers, shot, didn’t hit any of my guys and then stayed. Well within charge range of my Genestealers.
He finished his shooting, did his psychic phase and declared he was done with his turn.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
He replied in the affirmative.
My turn. I declared charges. “The Genestealers charge into the Warp Spiders.”
His jaw dropped.
The Genestealers, being basically Cuisinarts on legs, did what they do best. After the slaughter was complete, he lost interest in the game and sulked for the rest of the evening. “