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Sunday 24 November 2013

Pleasant Highs... Nauseating lows

 Now you know that I have - on a personal level- a pretty poor opinion of Waragemes Magazines. Only 1 WSand S regularly treats you like an Adult  of the other 2  One varies from rather good to  desperately  trivial and the other is a pretty house magazine which  sometimes has an article in it.
 None of these opinions alter in the slightest  my view of where to spend my advertising budget but as it happens the latest MW-368 was another curates egg- good in parts- well part. The only article I enjoyed was John Treadaway  on his "School Visit"- More power to you elbow John . Aftet that it was a steady journey downwards to Nausea- which  I suspect is another one of those bloody imgi-nations we are supposed to put up with . After this lot I'll be President !!  .We are now not only asked to put up with imagi- nations but also imagi- worlds and imagi- gaming - at least according  to one of the articles which appeared to pit dervishes against  the usual fictional  tricorn hatted dudes- there was more to it than that but I couldn't be bothered. It isn't as if its anything new all same old same old been there done that (but stopped doing it when I was about 14)
 Then there was a short piece on the complexities of Wargames rules- which was largely a beating up of FOGR and an extolling of the virtues of DBR( much much more of the former than the latter). Now I've never played FOGR - though I have a set but I've played DBR and I don't care how bad FOgR is or isn't, it could not be worse than the complete twaddle that is DBR which for the record bears  precisely no resemblence whatsoever to the periods it purports to depict.
 However now we come to the worst absolutely the worst book review I have ever read. The most nasueating piece of sycophancy I have ever read in a wargames mag- and I include reviews of Gods Anointed Perry  figures and at the end of this  review I still don't know what this 60 quid masterpiece is all about other than the fact that it is filled with pictures which don't have any captions and that I'm supoosed to buy the bloody thing because Henry says it Art .
 Will the book increase my knowledge of its chosen period? Don't know the review didn't say
 Will the book  increase my knowledge of Tactics  or Strategy- Don't know the review didn't say
Will the book enhance my life- apparently  the sun obviously shine of of it or somewhere near it (do you Gentle reader detect just a touch of Sarcasm... a soupcon perhaps???)

Apparently we are supposed to bow down and worship  because this is "outside our normal wargaming exsperience"- how would I bloody know the review doesn't tell us what its about
 I refer of course to John Rays "A Military Gentleman" now as it happens I don't give a stuff about the book  as most modern  wargaming books bore me witless and to be truthful even the classic have lost their flavour as I've read 'em all too often  and assuming this indeed IS a wargaming book- ther seems to be pretty pictures of nice toys in it-  THE REVIEW NEVER TELLS US.

Now if I'm going to spend 60 on books - which I often do- I want to know what I'm buying the only thing I know here is that Henry is panting like a leashed dog in a butchers doorway so all in all
 Nah I'll spend my 60 quid on something useful ...  Couple of Bottles of Moet for a start 


  1. Really enjoyed that one, Andy! I agree. I don't see the point of buying pictures of someone else's figures however beautiful they are (and they are), especially when you can't buy them either, so it's just an exercise in frustration. I've thought hard about this book and looked at the previews but just can't justify the money which I can spend on several really useful books. For much the same reason, I'm not buying the latest 'Wargaming in History' volume as I just got fed up of having historical battles fought by imaginary armies.That struck me as just laziness and a shame when the rest of the content was excellent. I don't buy any of the magazines either for all the reasons Andy states.

    Perhaps we should start a new trend - old jaundiced wargamers.


    1. John I haven't bought any of those Wargaming in History books as the simply struck me as a bit pointless, After all if you have a decent campaign history what do you need those for. Since you now tell me that the historical refights used imaginary armies that makes 'em doubly pointless.
      Now I haven't seen a copy of Mr Ray's volume but the more I hear about it the more it sounds like another "Rich boys showing off book" but done better and with more money thrown at it.
      If this is so then its a bit of a shame really and perhaps an opportuniy lost - but then I could be wrong its been known!!

      Oh and less of the Old if you don't mind !!!

  2. I do enjoy your fulminations about imagi-nations, imagi-worlds, and imagi-existences. It would not do if we were all the same! In some respects I have a vaguely similar view. My own imagi-projects are designed to be as close to something vaguely historical as I can get, without actually being historical. I suspect I'm really a closet rivet-counter (in certain ways) and this approach allows a certain degree of deviancy whilst remaining more or less faithful to history.

    I prefer that approach to something I never could quite get my head around: Aztecs vs Romans; Assyrians vs Samurai; ECW Royalists vs Ottoman Turks... you get the idea. Yep, that's the sort of thing you get with DBM and DBR. The 'Hordes of the Things' , the same rule set only different, is to my mind a light hearted beer and pretzels game in which you can let your imagination run riot creating your army. I like it for that reason, and that reason alone.

    On the matter of whether to shell out 60 quid (or bucks, or smackeroos) on a book, I tend to require more than a review will provide, however informative. I gotta read it first. Most of the books I have I read before I bought them, and that includes novels.

    Judging by your comments, combined with its tincture, tinge, dollop of sarcasm, I wondered what the review did say, and how come it managed to use enough words to constitute a review in order to say it. I don't buy magazines anymore neither. I have found over the years that the flashier its appearance and production quality, the less engaging the content. When you find the advertisements more attention grabbing than the articles, you know something is amiss...


    1. Ion- Yes mate agree with that- as you see from my reply to Chris Gregg I'm not exactly anti Fictional countries but its where they are placed and how they are termed. As for 60 quid plus books I have enough of those not to begrudge another but they are all history or art books or uniforms volumes- ie informative. Don't think I've ever spent more than a tenner on a pure wargaming book - can't see the point as there is nothing in them that I couldn'tdo /have not done myself if I chose..

  3. Andy. I know you like controversy but you read like a man who is l tired of life, or at least tired of wargaming and contemptuous of his customers. It would be nice occasionally to read what you do like in wargaming these days - anything? I like history and have refought many a historical battle with a fair degree of faithfulness but I also like Imagi-nation wargaming, It has brought me a lot of pleasure simply because of the lack of restrictions and button counting. I do agree that Henry's "review" was disappointing but as a proud possessor of said book I can see where he was coming from and the book is art "not wargaming as we know it, Jim" . It is a record of one man's achievements in representing history through model soldiers and buildings just because he wanted to share the "luck" he has had from our wonderful hobby. Just have a glass of your moet and chill out a bit.....

  4. Chris Your last couple of lines told me more about the book than Henry's whole review- which of course was my point.
    The thing that really geys up my nose is not wargaming fictional scenarios but the imagi- prefix we are now supoosed to add to imagi-words so do I now go to the imagi- pub and drink some imagi- beer and get pulled by an imagi- copper for being imagi- plastered !!!!
    Fictional countries are not new they have existed in literature for centuries- there is even a fictional atlas out there- Maps of the Imagination. It simply sounds awful as a term- like those people who say "these ones" insted of simply there or use party as a verb
    So an imagination is what one uses to create fictional countries and usually they are very personal creations and don't make much sense to other than their creators which is why I'm not keen on seeing them in mainstream Wargames magazines- they are too particular , too esoteric in our case the units only have meaning to the players- only they know why the 19th century Dervishes are charging the 18th century musketeers..
    To anyone who knows a bit of history and may be interested in our hobby it makes us look foolish in the context of the newstand magazine however enjoyable it is to those involved.
    One thing I'll not take from anyone however is being accused of contempt for my customers. Its rather that I have a respect for the ordinary chaps who spend their hard-earned on my gear that I don't want to see 'em ripped off. I'm very very sure that my customer base would never forgive me for being less than honest. Or for attempting to drown them in a sea of sycophantic trivia.

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Andy,

      Sorry, mucked up my first attempt!

      If you don't want an imagi-beer, go have a real one? If you don't like having an "imagi-" prefix, then you don't have to stick one on. I don't see the harm in it and as it's a hobby, it's going to be different things to different people anyway.

      As to the Ray book, I've seen it and like it as a beautiful object, as a indulgence perhaps. I've not yet read the review as the MW's latest has yet to reach Australia. Either way, I'm more likely to spend the money on toy soldiers.

      Greg Horne

    3. Apologies if you thought I meant you were in any way not honest. Merely that I suspect a lot of your customers (like I've used Old Glory) use the figures you supply in "imaginative" wargames as well as historic ones. I just wish your blog was more upbeat, positive and less critical of others' enjoyment.
      best wishes

    4. Chris As always whatever blows your skirt up . Enjoy what you like perhaps I came across as more judgemental than I intended but I do sometimes wonder if todays hobby is the one I signed up for all those years ago. One of the things that fascinates me about this hobby in particular is chaps motivations for doing the hobby the way they do. I know what my motivations are- and have explained them in various posts. Perhaps my standards- or maybe expectations is a better word are too precise for some
      But as for the fictional countries stuff perhaps you misunderstand. Its a plot device I've used myself so I have no objection but I stand by my fiirst reply to you I don't think something so particular- however well crafted(and I find Tidders' Wittemberg very well done) makes a lot of sense in a newsstand magazine, This is not a criticism of the "genre" but rather of the magazine.

  5. I found the latest MW-368 magazine a bit flat - but it had a couple of good articles - including the "School Visit" one.

    I bought a copy of John Rays "A Military Gentleman" when it was £50 as a special treat for myself , I find it a beautiful and delightful book - a good story illustrated with wonderful photos of his collection of wargame miniatures 'in action'. It's a lot to pay out for a book - but as the content hits the spot for me then it was worth it.

    -- Allan

    1. Alan Now once again I know more in 1 line of yours than the whole review told me. The book has a story ! For a book as apparently well produced as this I don't find the price out of court- you should see the price of some of my arty-farty books (As Jim ther Painter would call them) But it's still a rum go when you have to rely on incidental info provided by fellow bloggers rather than the "official" review.

  6. Evening Andy,
    You're a bugger for stirring things up a bit. I read Henry Hyde's review of John Rays book and it was a tad over the top, well actually it was a lot over the top. I actually bought the book on the say so of Mr Jarvis, who kindly tipped me off about what was in the offing. The book is sat here on my shelf, still in its wrapping, as I have been a bit too busy to sit and look at it, and that's exactly what the book is, something to look at. I suppose its like when one goes to an art gallery to admire a painting. You know you can never own it, but its nice to look at. John Ray seems a talented bloke, and obviously a rich one, still it doesn't make you a bad person, I know Dave Jarvis is a talented bloke and I enjoy looking at his stuff. The best way I would describe the book is, as a wargaming labour of love, displaying the collection of an enthusiast.I probably wont read the story.
    As for the imagination thing.I started painting up the odd unit of SYW figures in my own choice of uniform, I think really more as an exercise in seeing what they would look like. I stopped after a while and went back to painting my favourite historical units, irrespective of where they actually fought in the war. I'm quite ambivalent about it really. As long as it makes people happy. I disagree with the your view on the Wargaming series, I do enjoy them, I know they aren't cheap but to me they are a good read. Obviously not as good as Duffy but they have a place in wargaming for me anyway.
    I suppose you do know that Wargames Illustrated have now released their Mega Wargaming book showing the collection of Ron Ringrose,for £30.00.
    Im not quite sure who their audience is, but no doubt it will sell. I wont be buying it.
    Now if some kind person did a book showing the work of Peter Gilder, there's a vote winner for me.
    Keep up the good work Andy.
    Thanks Robbie.

    1. Robbie That mate is the point- never let it be said I pass up a chance to take the ****. Some dudes do take themselves far too seriously. As for Rays book - as I said not having seen it I won't comment much but the amount of sycphantic drivel in the revue really turned my stomach. NOTHING is that good. As it happens last night I showed the review to a non wargaming relative and his reation was "Its like those awful scenes in a rom- com- pass me a sick bag"
      Nuff said I thought.
      Didn't know about WI but don't care as it's just commercial Tit for Tat and I'd rather buy history or Art or uniforms books,and if I want inspiration in model form I'll look at Bill Horan or Mario Venturi or Peter Armstrong
      On reflection I suspect Chris Gregg has a bit of a point. Part of me is quite bored with the "public face" of our hobby as it appears in the magazines . -its all so repetitive and I really wonder how much effect it all has at Grass roots level- the lads that were at Smoggycon for instance or indeed most of the lads who go to most of the shows I do very very few of these chaps are so far up themselves as some of the "public faces" ..
      Now there is a few quid in it some of these dudes really do think they have arrived
      What I find amusing is that you - well you have I or indeed many more than we might think have worthwhile collections but don't need to shout it from the rooftops.

    2. Andy,
      You sod, you got me thinking about the state of wargames magazines in general. A good few years ago I remember thinking that there is a limit as to how many times you can write an account of a battle from history, the case in point being Waterloo. Here we are many years on and I am still thinking, how many times, blah blah...
      Like a lot of things in life generally everything is now so safe and bland. Where are the articles testing the reader. Why isn't there someone saying, yes these photographs are wonderful but they do not represent the vast majority of wargamers. When Duncan Macfarlane started Miniature Wargames, the big selling point was the photographs. It inspired me to try just a little bit harder. But the magazine also contained some thought provoking stuff, and obscure battles, for example the articles by Wally Hearl and Bob Black.You wanted to research the period described.
      Now the magazines depress me somewhat, their sameness, their lack of challange and their blandness. As for the photographs, I can never attain the standard always on show in the mags. Lack of funds, skill eyesight etc makes me acknowledge that I can never attain that level. So why should I bother. Maybe we are getting old, maybe our zing has gone, or perhaps we are just old gits whining for whining sake?
      Anyway great post.

    3. Robbie Mate- exactly my point. but I disagree that we can't attain that standard- we both have. Come on we've both been in the one or another of the mags more than once. I did at least 2 Front covers for MW plus photos for a good few articles. You and the IWG appeared in the mag- I remember taking the mickey on this blog. And further back Duncan took pics of game I did and some of yours I'm sure- our disadvantage in those days was simply living a long way from Newark.
      But your point about thought provoking articles is the nub of my "Anti Blandness " campaign. Of todays mags only WSS sometimes gives me cause to think and even there not regularly . Now I know the editors can only print the articles that are submitted but you do sometimes wonder how bland and samey gamey a piece would have to be.
      I suspect part of the problem is simply that Editors are afraind of controversersy in a way I've never been . Frankly I love the cut and thrust of debate- out of such comes new and refreshing ideas rather than more of the same old same old yawnarama.
      A s for getting old- well yes some mornings but on the whole mate
      The Resistance Lives On.

  7. I find it ironic that you have a rant about Imaginations and yet 6 or 7 of the 10 blogs that you list as blogs that you follow feature a healthy dose of Imaginations. :)

    Imaginations aren't fully my cup of tea for gaming. Our group has an on-going campaign with Germania vs Gallia, but the nations are clearly Prussia and France and we paint historical regiments, rather than imaginary uniforms.

    Clearly, imaginations gamers are inspired by Charge and The War Game and so they build their nations in a similar manner. Some of them even blog about it, but you can measure their underlying enthusiasm for the genre by the frequency of their blog posting. I know you look down on wargamers having FUN games, but if these gamers have fun with their creations and maybe even purchase some Old Glory or Jackdaw figures, then I should think that you wouldn't have a problem with that. As a vendor of figures, I am all for anything that compels people to purchase figures, so far be for me to be critical of what the consumer likes.

  8. Fritz You miss the point by a good country mile- especially the bit about fun and I object migthily to being told I look down on anyone One man's fun is another man's utter tedium and copying another mans fun is for me truly pointless in theis context but as I keep repeating Whatever blows you skirt up Dude and as I said clearly in my reply to Chris I have no objection to "imagi- nations" at all.(Though I will take the mickey when I think its funny) I really don't think it has a place in Wargames magazines for the reasons already stated and I really loathe the term but having said that in the case if Wittemberg and sometimes Stollen they are light hearted and amusing reads in the Bloggersphere. Which is precisely as it should be.
    If as has been inferred by both you and Chris that I should only publish the opinions and thoughts that customers allow me to have then well no chance Dude that would be dishonest and dishonerable.
    Any how the big thing here really is simple don't take your self too seriously and as ever if you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined.