If I had a dollar for every time some asks who’s behind Strategy and Wargaming this venture could probably pay for itself and there would be enough money to go around and pay actual writers. At the request of many families and their loved ones, here’s everything a pair of shoes about your 5th or 6th favorite gaming website, from how it all came to be and where it’s going.
Let’s get the formalities out of the way, shall we? So, who am I? Am I an actual stormtrooper and that’s why all my reviews miss their due date? Or am I just another Tim Stone bootleg? While you could answer both questions with “yes” and I wouldn’t be mad… I am in fact neither. My name is Nuno and I’m from Portugal (no, not a province of Spain). Born by the ocean 31 years ago, I’ve lived all my life here and have little intention of going elsewhere. The cold mornings and foggy nights of Porto are a sight seldom seen anywhere else in the world and provide the perfect atmosphere for house-dwelling wargamers and book-guzzling historians. As for my day-to-day job I work as a communications manager in one of the world’s largest retail companies and that’s how I can manage to sustain Strategy and Wargaming absolutely for free for everyone to enjoy.
With the boring stuff out of the way, how did I stumble into wargaming? I kid you not when I’m saying the first PC game I’ve ever played was Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings– The 1999 Ensemble Studios classic came to my Pentium 4 supercomputer well into the early 2000s and as with many others it was love at first sight, for the game and most importantly, for History. I sincerely believe video games can have a massive influence on your upbringing, same as books, movies or music, or any other kind of entertainment- “These are milestones for people, they use them to live with”, said Mark Knopfler, my favorite songwriter, and guitarist.
Age of Empires II might have sparked my interest in history but the truly pivotal moment in my life came around 2002 or 2003, my father gifted me a copy of Medal of Honor: Allied Assault for my birthday, and I was absolutely hooked on the point of obsession. Soon, 12-year-old me was munching all World War II books he could find, buying all copies of national geographic and plundering local libraries for every bite of information on the conflict. It’s fair to say this healthy obsession continues to this day. Other important games during my “formation” years were Red Alert 2, an RTS classic that’s in dire need of remastering; Rome: Total War came at a moment in time when the History Channel was exploding in popularity and I fondly remember sitting by the computer every Friday and boot up another new game of Rome while listening to the latest episode of Modern Marvels on the Atlantic Wall. Firefly Stronghold and Stronghold Crusader showed me how RTS games can break away from the formula popularized by Age of Empires and go more in-depth in some aspects (castle building, defensive structures, economic system granularity). Other than World War II: Frontline Command, by the time Company of Heroes arrived in 2006 (I’ve only played it in 2007), the real-time-strategy genre was mostly dead: things have grown stale and innovation ground to a halt, with CoH marking the last rebel yell of a generation. The dominion of consoles had begun with the unparalleled success of the Playstation 2, so naturally, all eyes were on the new generation of consoles, the PS3 and Xbox. Reluctantly, I mostly abandoned all pc gaming by 2008 and it wouldn’t be until my first year of University that my interest was rekindled.
From 2011 or 2016, I went on to study History and Teaching at the University of Porto (eventually finishing with a master’s degree in digital communication). It was during my major that I leaned more into medieval military history and medieval institutions and law and ended up specializing in those subjects by the time I was done, so if you’re wondering where did most of my ramblings come from when I’m reviewing medieval games… Also, being surrounded by other people with the same interests as myself eventually led to me getting to know other games I had missed as a child and going back to try them out, mainly the Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron franchises. In 2014 I started studying digital communication and had a brief stint (not even a year) as a journalist before starting my professional career in management and communication, something I continue to do to this day. Coincidentally, those 5 years at University are also the same time period that marks the resurgence of PC gaming with Steam’s increasing popularity.
The widespread usage of the internet and the advent of Youtube as an entertainment platform were instrumental in opening new horizons and it was during 2013 or 2014 that I came in contact with my first true wargame writer, Tim Stone, at the time writing The Flare Path for Rock Paper Shotgun. I can’t remember which game was my “first” wargame but I would dare say Hearts of Iron III and I’m not going to lie, I struggled to play that, eventually giving up on it because it was too complex (now it’s easy to see I just lacked understanding on the basic principles that guided the game in the first place and after dabbing in way more complex wargames, its a funny thing to look back at). So yeah, after reading Tim’s column I got to know a couple of games that served as an entryway: Battle Academy and Battle Academy 2 and Combat Mission Battle for Normandy. The rest, as they say, is History.
How did Strategy and Wargaming come to be, you ask? Oh. You don’t? But I’ll tell you anyway. Inspired by many of those that studied alongside me to use my knowledge of video games to explore history through a different pair of lenses. My first attempts came in 2015 and I created OneHexAway in 2017 during a small medical leave after severely injuring my knee. Curiously, my first review on the website was of Hearts of Iron IV and a review of Steel Division: Normandy 44. I had about 300 views in the first year, quite disheartening. In 2021 I decided to change the name of the website from OneHexAway.com to Strategy and Wargaming in order to reflect what it’s all about and because, in all honesty, it’s way easier for people to get here. I loved the name of OneHex but a sacrifice was needed for the SEO Gods and they heard me calling them. In 2021 Strategy and Wargaming exploded in views and popularity, now reaching the thousands of views per month after a couple of years of barely surviving. As of 2022, Strategy and Wargaming is well on the way to double the number of views from 2021, and my goal for 2023 is to reach 100.000 monthly views.
Is Strategy and Wargaming a fruitful venture? Of course not! I’m fortunate enough to have a job that allows me enough financial stability to host the website and work on it during my weekends. The ads displayed are barely enough to cover the costs of the domain, much less to support a profitable and sustainable business. To thank for the success of Strategy and Wargaming are also the countless number of companies that provide me with review keys free of charge, I have to rank Slitherine atop all the others as they were the first to support me. Now I’m at the point where I’m getting a lot of games to review it’s almost impossible to get to them all. It’s obvious I’m not aligned with any company and my opinions are mine alone.
What does the future hold?
I think I can safely let everyone know right now that I’m currently working on a digital magazine that’s going to be completely free that’s supposed to feature exclusive and in-depth content (longer interviews, more focused reviews, and a pinch of academia sprinkled in for good measure) and have a clean and modern design, a total of 60 pages dedicated to the genres of Strategy and Wargaming. If you’re wondering how do I plan to sustain this? Well, instead of begging everyone for a “couple of coffees” I would rather sell full-page advertisements to publishing companies. If this ever comes to be, the money will be reinvested into paying other writers, instead of having me write everything all the time. We’ll see about this one in the following months.
During my interviews with other people from the industry, I always bring them up against a firing squad of questions and usually end up the whole affair by asking what games they would take into a desert island, so it’s only fair I face the same fate.
- ARMA 3 – The sheer amount of content and mods the third iteration of ARMA has on display would be enough to keep me entertained to the end of my days, this paired up with a very robust real-time editor would be distraction enough to keep hunger and despair at bay.
- Gary Grigsby War In The East 2 – The magnum opus of the eponymous game designer is not only a vast and ocean-deep war(video)game but also a learning tool as every time I’m brave enough to boot it up I end up learning something new about the Eastern Front.
- Cities Skylines – The best city management sim of all time is also chock full to the brim with content and mods that would be enough to ensure entertainment during the harsh nights of the Pacific.
- XCOM (2011) – The best turn-based-tactics game of all time and one of my favorite games ever.
- Mini Motorways is my current go-to comfort game.
- Field of Glory II: Medieval – It’s my favorite medieval game of all time and the amount of content it has could keep me busy for decades trying out new tactics, armies, and tactical situations.
Of course, normal people don’t play a single genre of game to exhaustion so there are a couple of genres I dab with, but primarily I don’t stray too far from the crowd when it comes to these. If not planning another invasion of the Soviet Union you can find me in Hell Let Loose and Rainbow Six-Siege lobbies with my friends. I also dab in a lot of simulation and management.
Offline, you’ll find me collecting Star Wars Black Series and, most recently, Lego.
Before I get emails asking what kind of keyboards I’m using here we go:
On the top is a GMMK Pro with holy panda switches and GMMK grey keycaps set for that pure thocky sound.
On the bottom is a Miya Pro 69 with a mix of keycaps from the Miya and a Traitor Ukiyo-E with red linear switches for that fantastic marbly sound.
Thanks a lot and if you have any questions, let me know!