The Bearded Bastard is a fifth category of wargamer.
Depending on your circle of wargamers, you may know him by other names. Mostly expletives.
Discussions about the Bearded Bastard often turn into group therapy sessions, as each wargamer commiserates their losses to that $#^!#3@).
Because the Bearded Bastard represents everything wrong and right with the wargaming hobby.
He’ll only game with players whose miniatures are painted to a decent tabletop standard. But then he’ll field some of the worst painted miniatures you’ve ever seen, giving “eye sore” a new definition.
With newbies, he can get them excited about wargaming with his font of experience and knowledge. But then he’ll stomp them right out of the hobby with a crushing defeat.
Given how the Bearded Bastard always seems to win, you might suspect him of cheating. And rightfully so.
But upon closer inspection, he isn’t cheating. And, in fact, as he might point out (in a way that would make the most ardent Rules Lawyer blush), you’re the one not following the rules to the letter.
He plays like a Grand Master, somebody who’s really good at wargaming. Yet when you face a Grand Master, you’ll probably lose, but you’ll still be able to pick up your miniatures and leave the table with a certain amount of dignity.
Against the Bearded Bastard? Hell no.
He’ll trounce you. Or worse yet, get you to hang yourself by your own tactics. And when its over, he’ll smirk and point out what “you could have done” to maybe win.
In others words, he’s the Devil.
And too many defeats by him will send you to Wargaming Hell.
Not all Bearded Bastards have beards. But The Bearded Bastard I faced off against did.
And he’s always a guy.
Sorry ladies, but you’ll be hearing about the Bearded Bastard soon, if not already, from the lamentations of your husbands and boyfriends.
From my experience, women have the most common sense when dealing the Bearded Bastard. They don’t game with him and they’ll ask their dejected significant others:
“Why do you bother gaming with him at all?”
The short answer: the’s the Devil, and its hard not to be seduced by his wily ways.
The long answer:
The Bearded Bastard is a mix of contradictions.
Away from the tabletop he’s a gentleman. He might even be a close friend or acquaintance. Somebody you could ask for help from time-to-time. But at the tabletop he’ll do everything he can to beat you, no mercy.
He’s also that good. If you pay attention, you’ll learn a lot about wargaming from him. The Grand Masters of wargaming have a tendency to be tight-lipped about their strategies and tactics.
Most importantly, The Bearded Bastard wants you to win.
Yes. Even though he takes great delight in making you wail and gnash your teeth, he secretly wants you to beat him. He’s waiting for somebody to stand up to him.
It took me almost a decade to finally have a decisive victory against the Bearded Bastard. And when it finally happened, it was a turning point in my wargaming hobby. Before the victory, wargaming had almost ceased being fun. Afterward, games with the Bearded Bastard became some of the most enjoyable I’ve ever played.
The Art of Wargaming is being written, in part, to help wargamers everywhere defeat their own version of the Bearded Bastard.
As mentioned in the first post, wargaming is a social beast. And some wargamers are more beastly than others.
In time, you will face the Bearded Bastard, and armed with the lessons from Sun Tzu, you will be ready to crush him.
(And perhaps smirk and say, “here’s what you could have done…”)