Sunday, 3 July 2011

The Search for Reality- part 2


The ongoing debate on the Old School wargames Yahoo group which started as my poor first impressions of "Black Powder" has expanded beyond all recognition into dicussions of scale, battlefield Casualties and weapons effectivness. Some of it is pretty esoteric and basically boils down to the differences each of us has when we examine what we do. As an debate it's interesting but unlikly to change opinions. I've learnt a few things so its not been a complete waste but as ever I'm mildly surprised by - in what is a history based hobby - how many apparent "history haters" there are out there. Now that's deliberatly a bit strong and its probably truer to say that its the "empiricists" vs the "gamers" with perhaps a third faction - a small one- the "humanists" - having a bash at both sides as occaision serves .
For myself I'd say I'm a humanist with a shot of empiricism on the side- for me both are important. The "numbers racket" of the empiricists is a foundation and helps us quantify the quantifyable- weapon range movement speed etc. But the human element - mewmoirs battle reports history books prints and paintings put the flessh on the bare skeleton of the number crunchers.
Were our hobby a mere "gaming excercise" for "FUN" I'd be doing something else - watching paint dry perhaps or reading Paradise lost .
There are - contrary to the "Funsters" (another faction perhaps) many kinds of enjoyment and while I find some of them peurile that does not make them wrong in any way. Live like you wanna live Dude but that works both ways surely?
Now to be honest there is no such thing as a perfect set of rules - various systems do various jobs at various times. I shudder to think how many rulesets I've tried in 40 years but that doesn't stop me trying, maybe I'll get a bit of insight into how this or that worked.
In 40 years I've solved the odd problem- at least to my satisfaction latterly I've found most problems can be sorted by an Umpire who knows hisa stuff.
Quite why so many wargamers are anti- umpire I can't fathom. Its seems to be based around the fear that they may end up being one. Twaddle !.It's fun - in the broadest sense- espeially with adult players who also know the period. Its the normal way we run games at the T.W.A.T.S.. The idea of 2 player "head to head lead" no longer has appeal- I've done my shareand want a different experience one that - in an ideal world is intellectually stimulating , socially diverting and yes even that overused word !fun" - oh and preferably with beer in it ! .
What I don't want is to be patronised by over glossy rulesets with buckets of eye candy and comparatively thin content . Told that they are the best thing since sliced bread (to be fair NOT by the publisher) and if I don't like 'em I don't like fun - well not that kind I prefer to use my own brain thanks You can continue to plumb the shallows if you like
I'll not be dumbed down ...
The Resistance Lives on....


  1. Because of its very name and recruitment, the OSW is certainly not representative of the wargaming community as a whole -hence the high number of 'empiricists' as you called them (us?) kindly.
    Browse Napoleonic forums, simply the TMP one, and you'll find a totally different population. In their own way, GW fanboys are 'historical anoraks' as nit-picking as any 'Napoleonic'.

    To 'gamers' I'd oppose 'players' -'gamer' may have a 'game-play / win at all costs' connotation, while 'OS players' playing for the fun (and the visual satisfaction) are the opposite of competitors / rules lawyers. Through 'Slingshot' I saw the Ancient - Medieval community spoiled by such over the years; generally they also require 'seriousness' / 'historical accuracy', mainly because it drastically reduces the diversity of possible challenges.

    As for umpires... in my experience they can be dispensed with when the two players know the rules well and *chiefly* when they trust each other's fair play.

  2. I'd agree with most of that - the urge to over complicate seems to be very human . Yet outside OSW- which I see lots of the "glossy gamer" is constantly urgred to dumb down. The dumb down thing is not simply a wargamers problem its a life problem.
    Frankly I now stay away from most fora simply because of the vast amounts of pointless twaddle and endless repetition that is a function of the fora themselves rather than just the memebers .
    I'd even agree with you point re umpires but would say that your view of them is a little narrow. I'm a great beliver in "active umpiring" in the sense that the umpire is a part of the game area and has to be dealt with by the players not merely a scorekeeper and dispute settler. Often its the UMPIRE that can add the historicity on the bare bones of a set of rules.