Friday, 20 May 2016

Miniature Wargames no 398

  Chaps who write for magazines are a funny lot. I know this as I am one of 'em! MW no 398 dropped on the mat yesterday and well since I'm all over the issue like a rash I have to be a bit careful.So leaving aside anything in it with my name on it here goes.
 The thorny issue of the ageing of the hobby comes up more than once and various solutions are proposed all of which seemingly forget that this is not one homogenous hobby but many different ones these days- some of which are not even  wargaming as their bits have no war in them. This is especially true of Brad Harmer-Barnes piece on Boardgames wherein he reckons that the way to get new blood into the hobby is to play fantasy and sci-fi games only, as what he calls VHS gaming is what drives the younger gamer- ie games inspired by videos and Cinema and he also opines that its all driven by Marketing. Now who am I a mere purveyor of models soldiers to argue with the might of Marketing. As it happens I think he paints the scene rather well though I object to  his solutions.It will be a cold day in Hell when I play a game with Zombies or Ghostbusters or Thunderbirds or Time travelling Nazi Robot Vampires or indeed any of the current crop of what Neil Shuck calls warband games. They are simply too limited in scope for my taste. Indeed of that whole crop of recent pulp games only Star Wars X wing even vaguely piqued my interest- until I saw the price for an even half decent set up. So no - although I suspect his overall premise may be correct and childishness abounds . I'll stick to wargaming with some War in it and not a Marketing man's wet dream..
 As always Neil Shucks column has interesting stuff in it and I can see I'm going to have to get a copy of Sharp Practice on Sunday at Partizan if I have time. However in point of fact - at least as far as Blue Moon are concerned 15mm Metal are cheaper that Perry Plastic Mr Shuck opines that metal 15mm are more expensive- not at My shop or indeed at several others His baseline is 3 boxes of Perry- so 60 quid from their website which gives you - in his example about 80 foot (Depending upon which boxes) and 12-14 cav. Now using Blue Moon your same 60 quid would get you 90 foot (3bags at 12quid each)and 15 cavalry-1 bag at £13.00 and still have £11.00 left over for some fiddly bits such as command or Rifles if you needed them. This as well as giving you many more pack options than the plastikrap  and not having to spend half your life assembling the bloody things. Now correct me if I'm wrong but more soldiers and 11 quid left over is hardy "more expensive"  than plastics ... not that I'd use my own cash on plastikrap anyhow ...  But having said that maybe Mr Shuck's 15mm  price examples were from AB/Eureka which would be more expensive,
Mind you the rest of the column is rather good especially the piece entitled "What attracts you to a game?" Despite the fact that Mr Shuck is far more "gamesey" that I will ever be I found myself agreeing with much of this.
 The Eastern Front in WW2 is not my thing. But the continuing series on wargaming its battles should be meat and drink to those chaps whose thing it is.
The Salute report was dammed useful as even though I was there I didn't see any of it so the report gave me a taste anyhow ....
 Another piece on the ageing of the hobby- by Clemmet and Davidson- I've known Tom and Dave for years. They have been part of the NE wargaming scene for  longer than I  by far so their thoughts and opinions are worth a read. I like their idea of the all inclusive show. I hope it works. Good Luck lads.
Fancy making an Eindecker or a sci- fi thingy- two articles show you how.
 There is also an article on skirmish gaming- Hmm not sure about this one. I've played enough assorted skirmish games in my time but somehow this article felt decidedly too general. Worse it just seemed a bit simplistic to me but perhaps that is becoming the way. "Leave your Brain at the door- become a Wargamer !!! "
Finally we come to Arthur Harman's piece- when Robbie Roddiss reads it he'll go spare !
Mr Harmans contention is that the emphasis on  high quality modelling   in some rulesets, books and Magazines puts people off joining the hobby therefore such is neither necessary  nor possibly desirable. He harks back to the early badly painted Airfix days and uses  mass produced 19th century engravings of Napoleonic battles to show us the way.
Talk about selective. Now his basic premise is right- fine artwork is not AND HAS NEVER BEEN a prerecquisite for enjoying wargaming but to fudge the issue this way is to say the least a little misleading. Also I don't accept that being good at something puts other off. By that train of thought there would be, for example,  no Sunday league Football because the small amateur teams would be put off by Manchester United. There would be no amateur photographers because they couldn't be David Bailey. I know plenty of wargamers who can't or won't paint or model.. That is their choice. There are plenty of other who paint and model to standards acceptable to themselves. That is their choice. I'm afraid "Lets all be crap to get the kiddies in" simply does not wash' as much as anything else its so bloody patronising.
 The only reason I used Airfix back in the day was because I could afford no better. The only reason my painting was truly crap was because I hadn't learned how- and yes I'm still learning!.
 That some modern rulesets are eye-candy heavy is true but that is the God of Marketing to which we must all pay Homage its not automatically a wargaming thing.For period inspiration why not try Baron Lejeaune Napoleonic battle painting  or perhaps some Victorian Genre artas well as  the "penny plain tuppence coloured" of Mr Harmans world?
 Of course the big difference is technology -we didn't have any- today you don't need models to play wargames you can do it on your phone without engagement of brain. So you'd have to actually like the models to engage in this hobby. If you like the models specifically you are more likely to want them to look goodand they will be an important part of the game to you so I'm afraid lets all be crap falls down on another level too.
When it come to new blood for God's sake stop obcessing about children- you'll get arrested !!!  New blood trickles in all the time though more of it tends towards Mr Harmer-Barnes end of the street than mine. So be it.
Nevertheless SOMEBODY is buying shedloads of soldiers. I'm busier than I've been for years
 Oh by the way- See you at Partizan on Sunday.
 Andy

Monday, 9 May 2016

Carronade- best Club show of the year ?

 A fine day on Saturday 7th May saw the crew and I up before the Larks (does that make us Pill-larks !! probably) to drive to Falkirk for Carronade with a van stuffed with soldiers. Fog in  Northmberland and the borders slowed us down more than a bit- visibility in parts down to 10 metres- Jim was driving using the force!
 However be that as it may once there and unloaded - fortifies by 'orrible coffee and a fine bacon and egg buttie the day began.
 I really do like this shiow. It is usually busy and friendly with lots of different stuff happening- this year was no exception and indeed perhaps better than last year. Considering how similar it is- in terms of  the heritage and condition of the cachement area ( lots of one time heavy industry and years of economic depression) it is amazing how different it was from a show of similar size in a similar area- to whit Battleground in Middlesbrough. You couldn't have to more different events.  Especially as a couple of the attending clubs were present at both.

 Carronade is a little cracker. I already have my name down for next year.
 As for the games - despite a rash of "boutique games" on tiny tables of 4 feet square or less there (and again those put on by "companies" I never saw beibng played)were still enough proper wargames to awake my interest- including at least 2 naval games . One a tiny scale Jutland and the other a fine 1/600th scale Russo- Japanese War game  using ships by none other than Old Glory - so yes I'm biased but nevertheless the models had been beautifully finished. It seemed to be a co-operative effort  between the Border Reivers Club and the Contemptible Little Wargames club - since chaps I knew from Both outfits were playing.
 There were plenty of other games too  a rather large Ancients game and best of all Westerhpoe Wargamers splendid Battle of Assaye,
 Check out their clubs report on the event here .
 http://westerhopewargames.blogspot.co.uk/
 Also I do by Gum like their attitude- historically based games played by blokes who read the actual books.. Bloody Well done lads!

 So yes I'll be back to Carronade next year.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Carronade- Falkirk this coming Saturday.

This coming Saturday the crew and I will be up at quarter to Oh God it's Early  for the trip to Falkirk and the Carronade show. Now last year this was a little cracker. The best of the smaller shows I did so I'm looking farward to it despite having to be up before the sparrows.
 We'll be taking all our usual show ranges in 10mm 15mm 18mm and 25/28mm- yes I'm being deliberately pedantic here since that seems to be the "modern way" - you have to "express your 3 millimetre angst"  rather than simply buy some soldiers ....
 Funny old world ain't it where blokes agonise over 3mm but have not the foggiest idea of what actual scale  they mean. Of course what they really mean is "a scale of convenience"  to follow the current fashion.

 Anyhow back to the plot - yes we'll be taking a shedload of soldiers- be warned though we have not had a re-supply since Salute so there may be a few holes in our stocks. This even though we stocked up for Salute and then added a bit more.
 Any how we'll see.
 See you in Falkirk.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

WAR gaming -war GAMING and mere gaming. .

 Having read Robbie Roddis's recent rant (and hows that for a bit of alliteration on a Thursday morning) on the Club Focus piece in the current WI. I find myself sympathising with his ire but  on the whole not giving a toss.
 Having read the whole piece now I find I tend to agree with the club's organisational principles- similar to the T.W.AT.S as in less is best-  love the adults only policy but find the pushy advertising a little over the top . They may - just- take themselves a bit too seriously but then with a memebership in the 30s or more they might have to .
 However when is and adult an adult- many of the "games" listed in the article  did not attract me in any manner being games rather than periods and -for me- seem just a tad peurile. 
 So to the cogent point perhaps is wargaming  now an obsolete name for our hobby. Well for many yes it is.  Now I play War  games i.e  games which have as large a basis in actual historical warfare as I can get into them. This is the main thrust of my hobby. I don't- often- play "games"  that may be termed "adventure games"- such as 7TV- wouldn't touch Bolt action or Frostgrave with a long stick or indeed most of the other  off the peg  retread skirmish type  games that are such a feature of today's supposedly "broad church" that actually isn't any such thing  but is rather a fragmentary collection of often conflicting ideas with a common root - so yes a bit like religion then !! 
 Suffice it to say that their kind of gaming is not mine- there doesn't seem to be enough actual WAR in it for a start but they do seem to be clued in to the "modern way" - quick and easy for the knowledge free. That's the way this hobby has been going for decades and  despite some wonderful and successful rearguard actions and even the odd victory this trend will continue. 

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Salute 2016- in the Horses mouth .. almost

 So back from Salute after a very busy weekend. Oh, and a busy Monday catching up with the hundred or so emials and orders.- Not everyone goes to Salute it just seems that way ..
 Only a 2 man crew this year and we almost didn't make it thanks to the horses on the A1. Missed us by inches- seriously I could have strokes its bloody ears if I'd had the van window open. I could certainly see its teeth. Poor buggers- all 3 of them were scared witless- not that horses have many wits to start with.
 We avoided 'em by inches.
 The rest of that Friday was mostly  uneventful- Got to Ex-Cel unloaded and set up. Drove to our hotel checked in did the  SSSS thing as you do  then went for a pint and some dinner- first pub- where we have eaten previously- Kitchen closed. Second pub - where we have eaten previously- kitchen closed. Not only are we having no fun we are starving to death Jim and I . Finally found an Indian restaurant so staved of the pangs... eventually
Next morning Dawns so giving ourselves almost an hour to drive the 8 miles or so to Ex-Cel off we set... first half no worries then we find the Bloody idiots who  organise this sort of thing have closed the A-13 or at least the bit of it we need. so it takes 40 minutes to travel the next mile.
 THEN many of the approach roads to Ex-cel are dug up  with blokes in hard hats moving very slowly  so the time we set ourselves is ebbing away and finally we make it to the stand ith abouit 10 minutes to spare... PHEW!
Of the show I've little to say since I saw NONE of it far far too busy. My overall impression was that there seemed to be fewer games that past years but this may simply have been due to the fact that my route to the Gents  didn't pass many games. The only "trade" I spoke to were the delightful ladies on the Miniature Wargames stand whose appearance made a very refreshing counterpoint to the hot and sweaty masses .....
By the end of the day with all that physical activity lifting bins and  leaping from customer to customer Jim and I knew we had put a shift in . So, back to the hotel - more traffic mess- by 7 pm the dinner etc  and Drive home on Sunday.... Nice.
 There were apparently complaints form some traders about the Warlords organistion this year.
 I'd like to go on record that  as far as I was concerned it all ran like a swiss watch No bother ...

Friday, 8 April 2016

Games at Salute

Perusing the Salute guide in the current MW I've already mentioned the 190 traders- now to the games- there are 86 listed.
 Of those some 40 are loosely historical. with a good number of periods represented including 2 battles of Hastings ....  and games in various scales though 15mm is a bit under represented out side WW2 and modern.
 Again we have the minor phenomenon of many of the sci-fant games being run by companies rather than clubs.
 I think this speaks rather to the limited nature of sci-fant gaming than anything else as - from the list only the Warlords themselves seem to have got out of the samey-gamey mould with their  sci- fant games- not unusual for them at all. They do  put the effort in .
Perusing further we find a game basedon Wacky Races- the 1970s cartoon- well late 60s when I watched it. - How is that wargaming? Now don't misunderstand it has a place at Salute which has not been a WARGAMES show for a good few years but rather a gaming event with some wargames in it.
 Why does this bother me I hear you ask?
 Well it doesn't- except that I won't get to see any of the games as I'll be working.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Gearing up for Salute.

 Dusting off the casting talc for a moment I sit in front of the keyboard to pen a little missive. Salute beckons.. See us on stand TB11
 There are something like 190 traders at Salute this year according to my copy of the guide, well over half of them being Fantasy or SCI-FI. I am, its true, assuming this, simply given the fact that many of them have very silly company names often with the word "games" attached. or indeed given the other fact that I have never heard of them. Of the couple I looked up  both were EDRM  outfits (that's Effin' Dear Resin Models) with some very nice sci-fant type gear at prices that might even make GW blush.

However back on the ground its a bit different. with our prices remaining much the same. True there have been a couple of recent rises -the first in about 8 years but only sufficient to cover rises in costs.
Most prices are however still as they were so you can still get for example 3 metal Shermans for a mere £17.00 or 50 Modern British inf of £12.00.
 See you at Salute Dudes.