Saturday, 2 May 2015

Love hate relationship ?????

 I've sort of got my breath back after Salute- not that I've had a day off or anything wimpish like that! Not a chance, nor even a hope in Hell. Monday morning straight back at it with well over a hundred business emails to deal with. Some of course were twaddle but more than a few were from blokes who hadn't gone to Salute. There IS life outside Ex-cel ! 
 So come Tuesday the 28th another bundle of orders off to the post office.
 Wednesday morning, more orders, more parcels for Carole to wrap up for despatch  with Thursdays postbag- plus a couple of larger orders that will need a courier. However as I was pulling orders and trying to sort out my next  order to the USA it has to be admitted I was feeling just a tad tetchy- not least from reading sundry blogs about how wonderful  all the games at Salute were. Well I wouldn't know thinks I .... all I saw as usual was the kharsi . But that is the price of  the popularity of our ranges.
 But all the fole-de -rol  and the arrival of the latest WSS did cause me to think 
 so here are 
"5 things I hate about Wargaming " and "5 things I love about Wargaming " In no particlar order of either malice or approval - just as they arrived in the brain....

The 5 things I hate first....
1/. Wargaming newspeak-  Magazines no longer speak of "periods" and "figures " but of "games" and "miniatures"- this has leached into the populace especially those who come from the sci-fant background,the accent is less on a given periodand all that is associated with that elastic concept but more on a  limited set of games rules or evn a single limited game.
This in turn has lead to the idea that this hobby is ALL about daft games for children and leads me on to
2/. Games Designer geekspeak. You know the sort of twaddle "This is an innovative gaming system"  or "Simple yet challenging mechanisms"  . The sort of patronising crap that is handed down from on high  by the demi-gods of Game Design because the poor sods who who buy their games apparently can't do thinking " like wot they can". "When I pick up a new set of Wargaming rules the first thing I want to know about is the basic combat mechanism ......... if the mechanism that is used for fighting isn't interesting , why am I playing?"  Now to me the forgoing- from  the article "Designing Frostgrave" in WSS 78   is the epitome of this kind of  tripe . Forget period or tactics - its about the dice rolling how many and what shape they are ... How very narrow how very very pointless  .

3/. Use of the word "scale" when there is no concept of the term  or it is simply wrong. - We all do it  15mm is not a SCALE but a size  the nearest scale to "15mm" is 1/100th and "18mm" around 1/87th . Scale is a very very elastic term and much  misused in Wargaming. 
 Perhaps the worst is "28mm" - spoken in hushed tones by the Figure-fascists as if it were part of some ancient rite  millennia old- whereas in fact it didn't appear until the early 1990s. We now have a plethora of added "scales"- especially in the sci-fant arena . I've seen models advertised as "Heroic 28mm" "32mm" "33mm" and "35mm" - all "scales" of course to con you into buying ONLY that maker or that game- which of course was the reason for "28mm" in the first place.

4/. Figure Fascists-'nuff said really I and others have covered this one- though personally I might add "28mm hard plastic" - I lose the will to live building the bloody things and they are so sodding fragile .... with added "ping" - when a bit pings off  and you spend a measurable part of your life searching for it- usually to no avail,  you also might want to add the "Miniatures Range"  which is there to "support" a "game"  and how the lazy minded fall for it ....

5/. The "personality cult" that has arisen in recent years. None of these dudes are any "better" than any of us- merely louder or richer or more able to kiss the appropriate bum at the appropriate moment.  The small rash of pretty rich boys showing off books  is the result of this load of cults .... snd worse the drooling sycophancy of their fan- boys  which is nauseating in the extreme.
40mm British Peninsular Infantry advancing - taken at Derby some few years ago-" It's about the figures Stupid" ...

 5 Things I love about Wargaming 

 1/. Toy and model Soldiers- as "The Irregular "says in WSS 78 "It's about the figures Stupid" . But then for many of us it always has been. Nothing new here - except that to counterbalance the increasing tide of gamesey crap that it needed saying at all . It doesn't really matter what figures you use- that is a personal choice.

10mm Arabs painted by and from the collection of Dan Johnson of Lancaster. It doesn't matter what size the figures are

2/. The knowledgeable and  erudite chaps I meet . Despite the above there are still plenty of blokes out there who have not succumbed to the rising level and stridency  of gamespeak. These lads still know their stuff and want to learn more about their chosen periods. On the whole, despite  Richard Clarkes mildly disparaging remarks abouit geeks and old blokes with tape measures, I don't find actual knowledge  of your subject either old or geeky. - Games bores mind .... another matter ... 

3/. Umpiring - running a game. Often better than playing  as you can see the whole picture. For me a good Umpire is an essential part of the process. Without an umpire to add  period flavour and style the whole  thing become mere dice rolling and rulebook grubbing..

4/. Figure painting and modelling- the "arty-farty" bit as Jim the Builder  would  have it- though he's pretty good with a brush himself. Its this and the  3 above that turns the hobby from mere games play into "Compleat Wargaming " . Much much more than a mere dice roling contest.
"28mm"- they were 25mm when we relased them. Just to show the enormous levels of total crap that the corporate duses come out with - and many of you fall for ! I always try to tell it like it is.  

5/. The TWATS- surely the most laid back bunch of wargamers you will ever meet. Arguments about rules- nil. Arguments and discussions about military history - zillions  - thats the point. 
 Throwing teddies into the corner- nil 
Pandering to some mythical youth market of impatient thickies - none
 Beers drunk - more than a few. 
Beef Butties eaten - more than a few
. Different ways of running games- as many as there are members.
 Reptitive samey -gamey crap NONE.
 Satisfaction level- when all goes well very  high.

So there you go . I could have added the history - but I'd do that without the wargaming part so its not DIRECTLY relevant. Though without doubt it is very important. But then surely there is more than the mere dice rolling for Sci- fant chaps as well ? If as Henry once said- "Its all about the game"  then all the other stuff- the best bits are being ignored. I hope I've shown that they are not.


  1. No quarrel from me on these! When I read a rules review, I am less interested in being told the game maechanics are 'interesting' or 'innovative', but whether the thing gives you a playable game whilst retaining a sufficiency of period 'feel'. Balancing this dichotomy is a tall order, of course, and a balance that satisfies me might not satisfy you. But your opinion at least gives me something to go on.

    Oddly enough, as i get older (and this probably has to do with dodgy eyesight, I am getting less finisky about paint jobs. Locally there are some very fine painters of troops, and I admire their work. But I tend to look more into the imagination going into the presentation of a game. I find 'rough and ready' often more engaging than games showing the hours of painstaking effort gone into every figure, terrain piece and playing surface. There seems to me to be a point at which admiration for the artistic skill becomes accompanied by a feeling that the whole thing looks a little forbidding.

    it's all about the game - but of course, there is often more to the game than meets the eye.

  2. Ion - speaking as a chap who is registerd as "visually impaired" I still find the painting and modellng important- perhaps more so since I can do less of it than formerly.. I suspect its my fine art training ... . Now there are cveats however- the look of the thing does not always have to be the same - in the same way a Monet is not the same as Titian or a Degas the same as a Grimshaw.
    I find the "recieved style" " idea just as tedious as you do in some cases. A different look or style can be jusst as arresting. But often you don't know it until you see it.

  3. Glad you liked my opinion piece in WSS78 ;-)

    1. Certainly did Phil- many samey-gamey dudes seem to have forgotten about the toy soldiers

  4. Haven't we always had personality cults in wargaming?
    Wells; Scruby, Grant etc.? Some may have been based on rules others books and articles but where does being held in high esteem end and the start the start of a cult begin?

    1. Peter- Good point Wells probably had a cult- of women who he seduced-! but it does somehow seem a bit more strident now and a lot more sycophantic and one suspects that- at least in some cases the "object of desire" encourages it rather more than formerly ....

  5. Loved this post! I am a member of a game club here in the States whose members are mostly new gamers or experienced gamers who have fairly recently emerged (escaped) from the tournament-dominated gaming mindset here in the US. By embracing many of the "loves" you mention we are rediscovering our passion for miniature wargaming and having an absolute blast "breaking the rules that need breaking."

    1. Steve- Many thanks
      The Resistance Lives On !!
      The dominace of the "game first everything else nowhere" mindset is pretty prevelant over here too . As you might gather from reading my blog I'm not a fan of that narrow approach. Potentially there is so much more to our hobby that that