“I know, they are just toy soldiers, but the level of happiness takes you to Pluto!”, says Paolo Paglianti, recently awarded the title of Best Generalor best player of the tournament European Team Challenge, in which the Italian team qualified third, behind Poland and the USA.
Panzer Corps 2 di Slitherine
Paglianti has been working at Slitherine for years, a video game publisher focused on strategy games, founded in 2000 by Iain and JD McNeil, skilled wargame players of the England national team, and by Marco Minoli, an Italian partner. The company now has more than 120 employees between Epsom (London), the Polish studio and the Milan office where 14 people work they manage the marketing of the whole group and are led by the veteran of the local videogame industry Marco Minoli. Paolo Paglianti takes care of the group’s communication, and together with Alberto Casulini he also takes care of the selection of games to acquire.
Slitherine has released video games such as Starship Troopers: Terran Command, Warhammer 40,000 Battlesector and the franchise of Panzer Corps, a wargame that tactically reproduces the battles of the Second World War. Paglianti tells us: “The level of complexity and accuracy of the games is such that in 2017 the Pentagon contacted us to make a professional version of the modern simulators that we already sold as commercial products. Today Slitherine, with its Matrix Pro labelprovides several titles, Command Modern Operations, Flashpoint Campaigns, Combat Mission, to the defense of most of the NATO countries, including the USA, UK, Germany and Australia”.
The strategy and the case
A board strategy game is halfway between chess and Risk, it has the depth and complexity of the former, but then there is the roll of the dice to simulate the uncertainty and randomness of events. You choose your army, create a realistic battlefield and then follow the rules that allow you to simulate the battle, with measuring cups to move units and dice to understand how a battle proceeds. Victory is 70% tactical skill, 30% luck. Paglianti explains: “Obviously, when two expert players meet, the die counts a lot. You don’t win anything relevant or cash prizes, we all play for a passion for history and simulation, it’s above all a great excuse to find each other. A game lasts about two or three hours, more than manageable for an evening with friends.
The Italian team made up of Captain Livio Tonazzo, Giacomo Velini, Flaviano Maggioni, Tiberio Vinante, Antonio Soncini and Paolo Paglianti has been preparing in the last 11 months for the European Team Challenge (ETC), a tournament that also sees the teams from USA and New Zeeland.
The game used in the tournament is Flames of Warby the publisher Battlefront, the most played wargame in the world WWII themedPaglianti tells us: “The ETC is like the Champions League Flames of War, because you meet the best of each nation. Each team features the six best players from their nation, each with their favorite army, and then we go head-to-head as a team.”
The tournament took place in Belgium in Hasselten, saw the participation of 18 teams, more than 100 players, with over 50 tables reproducing World War II settings, from the Libyan desert to Stalingrad, from the countryside of France to Italy.
ETC is played over three days and six games, two per day. Our national team has faced some of the strongest teams in the world, including Poland and the USA, taking third place as a team, Paglianti instead won the title of Best General, best player of the entire tournament, with six full wins out of six. He tells us: “A crazy satisfaction, considering the skill level of the tournament. In addition to the satisfaction for the team podium and the title of best player in Europe, indeed, if you think about it, in the world!”.
The simulated battlefields are almost unknown to the general public, many think of adults playing with toy soldiersyet it is a form of entertainment with an important, long-lived history and a large following, explains Paglianti: “One of the first wargame regulations was written by HG Wells, brilliant science fiction author de War of the Worlds e The time Machine. The text is titled Little Wars and he wrote it in 1913. In fact, chess is also a game of strategy, just think how the pieces resemble military units, such as siege towers or cavalry”.
Wargaming as we know it today flourished in the 1970s and 1980s with a multitude of regulations for both fictional and historical engagements. When computers became personal, the step towards digital versions was very fast: “Today there are PC titles that simulate virtually every battle in history and fantasy.” For Paglianti, the passion for strategy video games was born on the PC Amiga, when the Internet didn’t exist yet: “At the beginning of the 90s I discovered strategy board games and it was immediately love. I started with the classics Warhammer e Warhammer 40,000 of Games Workshop, then I switched to historical games. Playing at DBMM, wargame that allows you to simulate battles of the ancient and medieval period, in 2002 I won the title of World Team Champion”.
A happy moment
Not just video games, too tabletop wargames are having a particularly happy time. To meet players can count on clubs everywhere in Italy and Europe, continues Paglianti: “Thanks to social networks and the Internet, it is relatively easy to find players and people with the same passion. In Milan there are, for example, three or four playrooms that allow people to meet and play. Everyone brings their army from home, collecting toy soldiers and painting them is a hobby within a hobby”.
For those wishing to approach this form of entertainment, at the moment, as Paglianti explains, “there are two titles among the historical simulations, art of warwith an ancient and medieval setting, e Flames of War which simulates battles of the Second World War”.