Saturday, 9 March 2013

Corporate Wargaming. Dumb dumber ..dumbest- but pretty innit!

First an apology to Keith Flint- from whom I pinch the phrase "Corporate Wargsaming" . I saw it on Robbie Roddis fine blog .- Like any writer upon seeing a bon mot- Nice I thought I'll pinch that So I did. The recent mag merger and its various spin off discussions have caused a modicum of soul searching and not a little cranial disturbance. So much so that thoughts are definitely being thunk!!.
As I watch the hobby I still enjoy being subsumed in a pile of bland samey- gamey drivel I find myself - on one level at least - not giving a toss. At grass roots level on the thin lead line its far more diverse than the major game companies would have us believe To that end here is a link to WSS magazines website and a discussion worth getting into perhaps. I'm coming around to WSS in a big way as it treats you more or less like an adult- which WI stopped doing a couple of years ago. No-one can yet say how the "new" MW will pan out- we'll have to see.
However in a note to an ealier post I opined about the "infantilisation" of the hobby- this does concern me up to a point. It now seems to be de rigeur in some quarters toassume that anythibng requiring thought or intelligence cannot be "fun" and therefore has no place within the ranks of our hobby Only one thing to say to that Bollocks!
If your poor brian can't take it fine- after all despite the foregoing its very much up to you and long may it continue despite the "corporate dudes" but a little cranial excercise won't do you any harm honest. What gives me the right hump is the partronisng tone of some who opine - you don't need a brain its only a game. For myself I'm beginning to feel like a change of direction wargaming wise... maybe I'll sell off all those tricorn hats and go back to Colonials or Medivals. I might even do more 15mm.


  1. Wargaming is a big church with a lot of different ways to engage in the hobby. I know what I like and far be it for me to feel that my way of gaming is the only way or the best way to approach the hobby. If you like my approach, then fine. If you (the generic you, not you personally Andy) don't like my way then that's ok and see you later because I'm not going to waste my time trying to convert you to my point of view.

    With regard to thinking and using your noggin at the Wargame table , don't equate the need to think with the need to have complicated rules. I don't believe that one payer should have a big advantage over his opponent simply because he has a better knowledge and understanding of how the rules work.

    1. Which is, of course precisely what I said- its up to you - my personal objection centres around the "corporate dudes" trying to sell you the "one true way"and merely to comment as it were on its fundamental lack of scruple- not that we should be surprised at this merely aware and awake.
      Rules are always the last and least of my worries. I have never equated the need to think with the need f or desire for complex rules- and certainly never said so . Indeed perhaps the opposite is the case as "mere gamers" can take refuge in the complexities of the rules so they DON'T have to think.
      Rules are merely tools to achieve an end like any tools I'll use abuse an/or discard them as seems appropriate at the time- I throw paintbrushes away when they are knackerd- same with rules. My point as ever is that the is NO "one true way" NO "one True scale" it doesn't matter whether you deswcribe yourself as old school, new school or approved school . The labels themselves are mostly meaningless out side of the relativly small cliques that use them .
      I sometimes wonder if we bloggerati have- to an extent hived ourselves off from the grass roots of the hobby not sure if thats the case but you do wonder when you speak to ordinary wargamers at shows who don't blog who simply get on with it in the way that suits them best..
      Good luck to 'em one and all.
      However that does not mean that I or anyone else has to follow them

  2. (my ipad froze and wouldn't let me finish my thought) ...

    Neither do simple or easy to learn rules imply that a gamer does not have to use his brain to compete and have an effective game.

    If complexity were a virtue, then why did someone invent the universal remote control? One device takes over the functions of separate remote controls for your television, your DVR recorder, your music tuner and other gadgets that may be connected to your electronic entertainment center. Instead of learing how to use 5 different remotes and how they work together, one piece of equipment removes the complexity from the formula and allows you to use all of the equipment to their fullest so that you can maximize your entertainment. I once tried to explain to a baby sitter how to turn on the TV and play a video movie, etc, and I couldn't explain it and she couldn't understand it. Likewise, if complexity were good, then the GUI system of software on computers never would have been invented and we would all be for the worse, using dot matrix printers and orange or green on black background screens.

    A good think in a wargame is often the function of how well the scenario is designed. If your scenario is to line everything up, no flank space, and just forge ahead for a slog of a blood bath battle, then that does not require much brain power to play the game, no matter how simple or complex the rules are. On the other hand, if you are playing a rear guard scenario or something like Buford's cavalry at the first day of Gettysburg, you have a lot of problems to address and again, the rules make no difference to the amount of thinking that you, as Buford, have to do to delay the Confederates and save Cemetary Hill for the Union army's later deployment.

    And finally, regarding fun... if I am not having fun playing in the wargame, then please tell me why I should be bothering to play the game at all.

    I don't always agree with you, but your editorials are often interesting and thought provoking, so keep up the good work.


    1. Fritz- Good points but Low on definition - what I may ask if "fun" One mans fun is another mans torture. Its not the "fun" itself but the connotations of the word. It always -within wargaming- seems to be used to evoke some particular backward looking "golden age"- here we go again- of rosy gaming memories where there was lots of this mythical commoditiy. Its simply that over use of the word makes me deeply suspicious. What was fun when I was 12 isn't fun now yet the GW style of some rules and magazines implies that it should be.
      One "device" - read in our case "set of rules" - may black powder like take over several periods but that does not mean that they operate correctly if the signals are wrong..Without the different "devices" all will become the same bland twaddle won't it?
      Your point regarding scenario design is well made Frankly after research and modelling thats where most of my effort goes- I often prefer umpiring to playing anyhow.
      Certainly wouldn't expect you to always agree- the world woud be a flat and tedious place if that were the case.

  3. Afternoon Andy,
    By the way its still cold up here...
    I digress. I think I know what you are trying to say. One of the main problems, which I have touched on in my blog is when Games Workshop off loaded a lot of their managerial staff. All were clearly well trained by GW and some must have been given a decent pay off, hence the influx of plastic ranges and expensive rule books.
    There was nothing wrong with bringing some of GW ideas across to main steam wargaming, especially if it captures new blood into the hobby. The problem for me is the message that is given out is that this is the way to wargame. These are the figures you need, and these are the rules you want, PERIOD. There appears to be no alternative way.
    I know you are ALSO concerned about wargamers not doing their research etc, and that we are being spoon fed. I can understand this concern, because then the figures are just playing pieces,with the wargamer only being aware that they need a 6 to kill.
    I dont think its all doom and gloom, because I still think the majority of wargamers, enjoy reading,researching and attempting to re enact some period in history. By the way you touched on Black powder. John and I have been using their Pike and Shotte rules, and I thoroughly recommend them, clearly someone has done a lot of research and created a good feel for the period. Sorry to ramble on. Its good to talk by the way.

    1. Robbie- Agree with all that and no far from all doom and Gloom and up to a point it doesn't matter- EXCEPT when one of the major players also owns one of the major organs.
      The problem you have then is simple - the hobby goes out of the window and it all become merely an exercise in selling product to a lazy captive audience- which is a marketing mans wet dream BUT is bad for choice and diversity..
      The only reason I mentioned BP was that its one of several one size fits all rulebooks that are about nowand while its sort of OK ish its very samey-gamey.
      I'm a fan of period specific rules- so would not expect to use the same set for AWI as for the Zulyu War.
      Now I havn't ried Pike and Shyte but again would I use the same set of rules for the Italian Wars as I would for the ECW. I don't know but am I willing to spend 30 quid to find out

  4. Your point about the 'infantilisation' of the hobby chimes in with my concerns. As you say, this is a big part of the turn off of WI for me, as well as some recent rule sets. The 'wow, look at the pretty pictures and glossy paper' reaction IS childish, IMHO.

    But to be fair, the rules themselves (e.g. Black Powder, Battlegroup Kursk) are often very good - which is part of the frustration for old fashioned types like myself.

    1. Kieth- The" quality " of a rulset is very subjective of course. Never tried Battlegroup Kursk as I'm very happy with Command Decision which of all the WW2 sets I've tried is the only one I keep coming back to. As for BP I simply can't make my mind up . For me the basic maths is all wrong, the spatial relationships are awful yet many of the particular rules are nice touches. I don't think it works for the 18th century but its a respectable Napoleonic onwards set.
      It assumes you are thick - but then thats common with most rules published after about 1990 so is not unusual and the book is so full of padding that you can't find the bloody rules.
      Its simply - however good it may or may not be- another step(albeit a small one) on the complete separation between wargaming and "gamin' innit"