Tuesday, June 9, 2009

If Gamers Were Civil War Generals

Brian Gleichman had a very good post the other day that mentioned as an example the qualities of a couple of U.S. Civil War generals. And, because I am a big Civil War nerd in addition to being a big RPG nerd, I figured it'd be fun to classify gamers by which Civil War general they most resemble. See if you can find anyone in your group (or yourself!) below:

The McClellan: This player buffs and buffs, meticulously plans every possible avenue of attack, and would never dare fight without being at full Hit Points. But they're also easy to bluff and intimidate, and despite their tactical skill, if you can bloody their character, chances are they'll backpedal.

The Sherman: Burn, burn, burn. The moral question of orc babies in the dungeon is no question for this player. When they clean out a dungeon, it stays cleaned. It's brutal, but at least you don't to worry about those orc raids now. Dungeoncrawling is cruelty; you cannot refine it.

The Lee: The player everyone wants. Gracious, a solid tactical thinker, but definitely not afraid to move the action forward. If there's any problem, his battle plans can be a little too hazy at times. Sometimes gets a little too gutsy and pays for it, but without risk, where's the glory?

The Forrest: This guy just showed up at your table. No one in your group particularly likes him, and it's clear he didn't learn gaming from any sort of orthodox boxed set. But man, can he roll the dice. This is the crazy S.O.B. who somehow managed to escape when surrounded by 4d6 bugbears.

The Pope: Arrogant, dismissive of other players, and a bit of a one-true-wayist. You're pretty sure this guy could be a good roleplayer (and he seems to do fine at conventions), but at your table all he's ever done is nearly get everyone TPK'd.

The Burnside: Likeable and self-deprecating, this guy does ok as the quiet backup, but every time your GM tries to give him some "spotlight" time, it all goes horribly south. He's ok being the quiet one at the table, but your GM insists in putting him on the spot. He knows he's not a great roleplayer or gamer, and you wish everyone was ok with that, as it would save your group a lot of heartache.

The Grant: This guy has a crappy job, drinks too much, had to move back in with his parents, and possibly writes bad Star Trek fanfic inexplicably involving Alyson Hannigan. But when he shows up at the gaming table, he's an All-Star. He isn't always the #1 tactician or roleplayer at the table, but he's always there, continually moves things forward, and is generally the type of player every GM enjoys having around.

The Stonewall: You're fairly certain this guy is certifiable. He misses one out of every 4 sessions, and half the time when he's there, you're not entirely certain what he's talking about. But he does some of the most incredible, brilliant things you've ever seen at the gaming table, and that makes it all worth it. When he's on, he's untouchable.

The Butler:
This guy probably plays in your game because a) he's someone's ride, or b) he owns the store you're playing in. No one really wants him there, but you have to admit, he has his uses. When it's his turn, he's brutal, to the point, and likely to cause a spot of trouble for other players. But it seems like you'll just have to grin and bear it.

The Fremont:
This guy tells you he was "huge" in the RPGA a couple of years ago. He's doing you a favor by playing at his table. When you tell him to tone it down, he angrily threatens to have his network of gamers "boycott" your table unto perpetuity. Continually talks about his own game he's writing, which you're pretty sure is just a mix of Naruto and Exalted.


kelvingreen said...

I know it's sort of looking at it backwards, but I love the idea of Ulysses Grant hunched over a notepad, knokcing out some Trek/Buffy fanfic!

Zachary The First said...

@kelvin: Me too, FWIW. :)

Gleichman said...

Very cool Zach.

But you left out some:

The Hancock: The highly capable player who often saves the group when the 'plan' goes south, but is otherwise overlooked at the gaming table in favor of those with a larger personality.

The Reynolds: Another excellent player, but he always comes down sick or otherwise is pulled away from the campaign shortly after it starts. Real Life(tm) sucks.

The Picket: Gung Ho and willing to charge into anything to support the other players, this player can take the a possible resulting serious defeat to- heart- becoming a lackluster player thereafter.

Great fun here :)

ckutalik said...

Awesome. I havw a McClellan at my table and just like his archtypical namesake he passes up perfectly normal combat risks in his cautiousness.

You forgot the Pickett though. You know the guy who insists on that suicidal frontal attack.

ckutalik said...

Wow Gleichman made the exact same comment about Pickett in the time it took me to type it out. So-called great minds do indeed think alike.

Zachary The First said...

Good call on the Pickett!

The Hancock could also be the Thomas (“Rock of Chickamauga”).

Shame about Reynolds, because when he’s actually there, he’s fantastic, right?

Gleichman said...

Indeed, if only The Reynolds could make very game- the players would rock!

Anothe one.

The Stuart: an able and skill player, but is often off doing his own thing when most needed.

This could go on for some time :)

Zachary The First said...


The Stuart’s the guy who’s goes on “side quests” in the middle of the games when everyone else is trying to kill the dragon.

“Where’s Stuart?”

“He’s back in the town, still trying to haggle over the loot, and spying on that temple we saw”.


Gleichman said...

Few remember his Civil War career, but...

The Custer: A glory hound with luck, a combination that leaves him often disliked at the table. This player has yet to meet the battle he can't win, but he'll keep trying...

ckutalik said...

What about the Longstreet? You know the guy that's a pretty decent tactician in his own right, but gets the blame when the Lee's plans unravel.

Zachary The First said...

Ah yes, the party scapegoat. :)

Bonemaster said...

I have to say this is one of the more brilliant and inventive category systems that I've seen in a while. Good Going. I just hope I never have to decide which one I am ;)

Zachary The First said...

@Bonemaster: Thanks! You need more examples, let us know. :)

Helmsman said...

Nice analogies. I don't know the slightest bit about the American Civil War other than Lincoln was on the north side, but I certainly dig the gamer analogies. Interestingly my best friend and the guy who basically mentored me through most of my gaming days is a spot on Fremont which I'm ashamed to admit has rubbed off on me a little, though I've never been to a Con so I don't have any names to drop... yet. ;)

Zachary The First said...

@Helmsman: *wince*

Fremont's actually an interesting character. I'm afraid here I have painted him in somewhat of an ungenerous (if still no less accurate overall) light, but his career, pre-Civil War, is engaging in its own right.

Helmsman said...


Hey if I didn't believe both my friend and I had certain redeeming qualities I wouldn't have mentioned it. The fact is yes we can be opinionated bastards (he more than me ;) ) but I wouldn't be here if I didn't see what you guys have to offer, and that hopefully I can bring something to the table as well. Which I'm sure Fremont did in his own right, otherwise he wouldn't be a noteworthy general.

Zachary The First said...

@Helmsman: Well put!

Interestingly enough, Fremont’s nickname was “The Pathfinder”. Clearly a Paizo fan. ;)

Here’s a pretty even-handed treatment of the fellow:


kelvingreen said...

The Cromwell: Bitches and moans about the GM until he leaves the table, then takes over and introduces his own ruleset which no one likes nearly as much as the old one.

Oh, sorry. Wrong Civil War. ;)

John Stephens said...

The Chamberlain - quiet but competent, a good party member but nothing special. But then comes that one time when it counts the most, and he becomes DA MAN!

Zachary The First said...

@Kelvin: Yes, wrong Civil War, but awesome. :)

@John: Chamberlain is likely my favorite Civil War general, thanks to Little Round Top. I wanted to include him in the list, but couldn’t think of a good way to express it. Nice work!

Anonymous said...

You forgot the Farragut: plays a dwarf or some other high-hit-point character. Immediately attacks upon encountering an opponent, without making any effort to coordinate with other party members.

Anonymous said...

The Armistead: Always charges into battle as a one-handed sword wielder, has shouts to encourage nearby players, and also cares deeply about the Hancock players.