Saturday, 7 June 2014

The Journey or the Destination??

 Now here's a thing.(Rant mode activated)
Last year at one of the Newark shows a regular customer opined that anyone who  said  he didn't mind losing  was a liar and a fool . Further it transpired that in his mind winning the game came first- all other considerations  after. Now if that's how he gets his jollies fine- he is far from alone, one man's FUN etc etc and it did explain his personal motivation for involvement in our harmless hobby.and a straight table top victory is fine  but of itself is simply not enough and indeed may seem  rather hollow after a while.
 The more I converse with the apocryphal "like minded people"  the more I realise that there is often  no such thing and that perhaps the "  BROAD CHURCH"   is not as broad as we like to think and that the "same old same old" brigade are still  really rather common. (If  not indeed rather more than formerly as the "Corporate Dudes"  want you to keep buying  into the same twaddle)
 "I've been playing toy soldiers since 1971 and I see no reason to change anything at all "
"I have 237 DBA armies (total 238 figures)  and I've never read a book"(I made this up but a recent article in Arquebusier- the Pike and Shot soc Journal   indicates that I may not be exaggerating too much)
or( and this one is true and without any exaggeration )
 "I play Flames of War  I don't need to know anything about WW2" 
 Oh dearie dearie me ....
How terribly narrow.
 Do we not wish to progress? to evolve ?
 Now before I go on this is not OFW bashing- though some of them  may deserve a metaphorical slap once in a while to jolt them out of their stuffy middle class complacency .(and let it be said loud and clear other  os   chaps  actually come up with tasty ideas using a real thinking brain)
 Nor is this about the actual toys after all I have buindles of  OOP figures in my collection  as well as lots of newer stuff. (I even  make some of my own) you use the toys you like.
 If this current verbal rambling has any point it's about attitudes, now as Henry recently siad I'm always willing to stir the pot  and more especially when I read or hear stuff that is basically so  complacent and   narrow that it belies the idea that this hobby is a broad church.
 So how much IS this hobby really a "Broad Church" ? I sometimes think that its a bit like the Welsh......
 well the Medieval Welsh anyway- each valley being its own kingdom  and spending more  of its time   having argy -bargy with  the next valley rather than the Hated Saxons -or Hated Normans or Hated English
 In my time I can think of clubs that hated each other over petty rules squabbles. I can recall at least one designer dispute in a restaurant that ended in a food fight as well as being present at sundry snubs and cuttings dead without number over the years. Not that this kind of pathetic behaviour is confined to our hobby- being a Pillock is a very Human thing.
 I've always viewed  this hobby , at least for me , as something of a progression- despite the odd yearning for a retro project such as my  "Shinyloo" on the whole I've progressed rather more than somewhat since 1970 when I started with Wise,   Featherstone and a bundle of Airfix . Wouldn't want to go back there! Nor would I wish to return permanently to the "WRG 5th  Points and Army List"  days of the late 70s and early 80s. Been There ,Done That.
 Can't remember the half of the  Armies that have passed through my hands- Normans(3 times)  Carthaginians (twice) Roman Republicans  Vikings (2 or 3 times I can't recall) Basilian Byzantines Samurai., ECW. WW2 Americans Napoleonic French British and Spanish  25mm ACW- both sides Elizebethan English and Irish
 For a historian I'm not particularly nostalgic- any how as we all know Nostalgia ain't what it used to be.- so I don't hark back overmuch to armies I used to have- mostly the figures were - by today's standards awful and the painting - than Gawd I've improved!
 And Rules-  well in some ways we've moved on and evolved  but in other ways  not. Rules are Holy Writ is back with a vengeance in some quarters- if it ever went away - but there is more choice now you don't HAVE to be retro - think about it HG Wells was retro when Featherstone was cutting edge, Featherstone was Retro when WRG was cutting edge- and so on ad nauseam . You can of course still plough your own furrow if you wish
How is this the same hobby as ....

 So I begin to wonder what this is really all about once you get PAST  the dreaded F-word. which in whatever form should be a given and require no further mention .
 (I'm assuming here that no-one does this hobby to deliberately make themselves miserable- though with some of the sad sacks I see at shows you do wonder)
 So once again I come around to motivation is this whole thing simply about scoring points off you mates- or rivals?  All about mere tabletop victories?  are these games, won or lost, the whole point? is that it ?. If it is I really can't see the use  of such tedious shallowness  so therefore  there must be something else ?. It can't be just about the game.
 So I come to  thinking. Is this  hobby more about the journey rather than simply the destination- even assuming that tabletop victory is indeed the destination ?
    This is perhaps one of the reasons  why I really dislike  the idea that  Fantasy and Sci-fi  games are ultimately  exactly the same hobby as Historical Wargaming. They are not- they may arise out of a common ancestor but are about as alike in the real world as an orangutan and a giraffe- 90 percent of the same DNA but some very vital differences. The idea that we should ignore these differences  for mere convenience does neither the orangutan nor the giraffe justice. I have no desire to be tarred with the same brush as the various  games concerning  some nameless future dystopia populated by fat blokes with ridiculous weapons (- and thats before I get to the miniatures )  nor any of the other " pick off the shelf and  remove brain to play"  games that have become so much the thing of recent years. Now don't mistake me here- I've seen some cracking Fantasy and Sci -fi  show games-and Sci-fi does sometimes attract my attention - with lots of fine work in them - at that level the major differences  are simply in the realms of research and background knowledge rather than the "up-front" ones of modelling and attention to detail But despite this there is so much same old same old GW retreading about - not always BY GW either. On one level I'm getting deeply pissed off with  dytopian Nastiness what with Vampires multiple Jack the Rippers and bloody Zombies and that is before we get to the GW variety-  Gawd some of that stuff is sick(I'm told that Torture Mutilation and cannibalism is more "interesting" !!!)
. What I find so odd about some areas of  Sci-fant is again how narrow it all seems. (The last new idea I even half- fancied was that 7TV set for gaming those daft TV shows of my youth - You know the Proffessionals The Champions etc etc (remember Alexandra Bastedo- Phaworrr!!   Now the was a proper bit of Crumpet!) Bags I being Boyle or was it Dodie??  a nice origonal idea with a bit of style  for some very light relief one day maybe.).and the prices strewth I've found outfits that make GW look  reasonable...  10 quid plus for a single 30mm resin figure ....  I'd call my Geordie lawyers- Haway and Shyteman !(though I have seen a "special" GW  single human sized resin mini for £18.00(obviously made by Rippem and Ferkoff  but the bloody things seem to sell)
 Anyway Back to the plot... So no I'm not in the same hobby as these chaps - I may visit once in a while but I wouldn't want to live there.
 Now am I the Orangutan or the Giraffe- sarky comments may be written on a piece of paper and folded in a £20 note ....
So the idea that this is one single homogenous hobby is complete bum juice  or as Stephen Fry memeorably referred to Dan Browns Opus- Loose Stooled Arse Gravy  (he was right there too what twaddle and not that well written twaddle either  )
 I suppose part of MY problem is that I'm not a "games player" . Games of themselves are actually pretty tedious once you've discovered the trick . This is why the idea of playing the same "Wargaming Lite"  game such as Saga or Bolt Action or  any one of a myriad other  skirmishy  games  over and over again   just leave me cold. After the first half dozen  what is the point ?

We now hand you over to Mr Snotgurgle Thundergust Head shop steward of Fantastical Alliance of Recreational  Trades who will for the sake of fairness  put the opposite case   After all we at BABC (Big Andy's Broardcasting Corporation)  are nothing if not fair minded .....
 "We demand intelectual parity in all forms of recreational negotiations. Diversification of miniture production will not be tolerated in the  recrartional workspace. A policy which enables my memebrs to  to enjoy the fruits of someone else imaginary labour is  only right and proper. We cannot allow bootleg thinking and individuality to contaminate the  recreational negotiationary arena."
We'd also like to welcome Tarquin  T. Nager 42  (and his mum)  for his comments
 Well it's da gamin innit.. 'istory wot's that.? Old dead dudes borin', innit. You 'ave to  do Finkin' Finkin 's borin' innit,Roll some dices wiv lots of skulls on 'em (£9.99 the pair) Gotta read  the 27th book Game of Death and Torture part III   by F.  Slymley Grabitt
 ( £19.99 ) Can I go home now  Mum daylight hurts my eyes ..

Now Gentle reader it may be that I exaggerate just a tad and it has to be said that there is precious little difference to listening to some chap telling me how his Wundamarines beat up the  Bimble -monsters of the Planet Prolapse to some other fella teling me how his late Romans won the  DBm championships- and yes I've had both- though not for some years.. thankfully .
 So yes in conclusion  it is more about the journey than the destination  I've tried to get my head around the non- historical stuff- most of which leans on history anyway . I've tried to do the gamin innit thing and my brain glazes over with sheer boredom after the first few attempts.
 I'll go back to my history book thans ....


  1. Afternoon Andy,
    You can tell youre between shows as to speak.
    Anyway, I dont mind losing. I still naively believe its the playing thats important. I have been called a fool before, well many times actually, but a liar. Only my wife has that concession.
    I really dont like playing against or with a wargamer who is wound up if things go well or go badly. I also find that such people are like this in everything they do. I have worked with people unfortunately that took every set back as a very personal thing and also were looking to take offence at every quip etc.
    It does take all sorts and I suppose things would be very boring if we all were the same.
    My love of history led to my love of wargaming, which in turn fed my love of history.
    I think this contempt of knowing where we came from and how our country was made is a modern concept.
    When Blair cam to power, the Foreign office was directed to take down all its paintings of historical events. To truimphal perhaps, or maybe the new masters were embarassed by the sucess that we had once known.
    But until mankind stops making the same mistakes over and over again, then history will always be important.
    How can one understand how an army fought if the wargamer doesnt at least read one book on the subject.
    I agree with your view about fantasy not being the same as wargaming. But thats been an arguement ever since fantasy came on the scene so to speak.
    I do have an imagination, but I have always struggled to push it to the limit where I could seriously play [is that possible?] a fantasy game.
    The one hope is that a fantasy wargamer will make the step over into historical wargaming as they become disatisfied with the sheer tedium of the slogfest that is Games Workshop.
    Funnily enough John and I were discussing Games Workshop the other night, and we both think the company will go tits up unless it re thinks its new marketting and pricing strategy. But I digress.
    So for me at least, I would be a good loser, but be a better winner, and most importantly study history.
    Good Post.
    Thanks Andy.

  2. Bottom line is that I prefer winning a game to losing one, no one goes out to lose one. However don't I go home bubbling afterwards - no way, I go to friends, club etc to have a crack and play a game, or when with the TWATS its have a crack, drink beer, have more crack drink more beer and maybe fit a game in! The company makes all the difference to any hobby.
    Science fiction/Fantasy just doesn't do it for me, I've tried it - really, but it isn't, well, REAL, you know what I mean. there's no fact behind it, nothing you can research. Oh I forgot you could watch another episode of Star Wars/Trek/Trooper or whatever and see how far Jim's phaser weapon reaches (watch out Uhura).
    Historical gaming is based on reality, or as close as we can get without throwing bangers at each other while chucking dice (now there's an idea), for me the research and painting of the figures is way more important than the actual game and certainly more important than winning or loosing.
    The end,

  3. Chaps- exactly .
    Had an interesting chat with Henry Hyde at Partizan - for him it seems its all about the game. Now I just don't get that . the game is only the very tip of the iceberg as you say Dave its the "reality" of our historical games. but as you say it would be deadly dull if we were all alike.
    As for GW- they still have HUGE following and a publishing arm that moves as much fantasy and sci-fi books as any opther- the fact that they are dull turgid pretentiuos shyte is of course beside the point.
    so GW story to make you cringe
    My Step Granson his a GW nut- utterly obcessed so he gets some kind of deal whereby if he spends 60 quid(and he got a bundle of gear) then he is give this"special" computer code which gives him access to a page which allows himto buy the above mentione single figure for18 quid - with me so far ?
    Now hes doesn't want this as its a"Good Guy" sop he sells the code on ebay for 15quid- going rate it seems - several have done this. Now remebr the purchaser HAS NOT bought the figure merely the code so when all is done and dusted this single 35mm tall human type plastic/resin figue is going to cost him AT LEAST 33 quid. plus any postage
    The point here is that this stuff sells, in quantity the more nauseating the better apparently

    Sad Sad world Sad Sad peole

  4. Andy – it would appear that you misunderstood what I said. For me personally, and especially as a history graduate, it certainly is NOT "all about the game"! What I thought I said was that at times, it's best to introduce players to the history by stealth, rather than smacking them over the head with it and potentially putting them off having a go at a new period or, if they are new to historical gaming, any historical period at all.

    You can bet your life that the rules in my Compendium are based on 40+ (God, am I that old?) years of reading about the horse and musket period, and the 18th century in particular. The rules are preceded by a general overview of the period and the correct tactics to employ too. I am *passionate* about the history, and I cringe when I see ahistorical tactics being employed on the tabletop.

    But the question is, how do we educate players to employ more realistic tactics? I hope that my rules reward doing things the right way, and penalise players who don't, but you can't set up a 'games police' to prevent people doing whatever they want, of course. But to me, if I'm playing a Marlburian or Frederican game, I don't want it to look like a Napoleonic one.

    So the game is, in fact, Andy, the tip of my iceberg too!

    1. Henry- Apologies if I misunderstood and its good to know we are more or less on the same chapter- if not the same page.
      Ahistorical tactics are of course brought about by 2 distinct threads
      1/. Bad rules writing - allied to the idea of "Rules as holy writ"
      2/ "games players" not wanting to know their stuff- "don't want any history in my wargames magaziines" and of course the competitive element those must win chaps who really give me a a pain..
      and no of course you can't- and wouldn't weant to set up "Games Poloce" but I wonder if we don't already have them in the idea that knowing your stuff makes you some kind of games untermenschen.
      Those catch all rules systems desinged so that Marlburian is the same as Frederician is the same as AWI is the same as Napoleonic seem to be more popular than ever ....
      Poser ain't it ?