Search Glorious Little Soldiers

Sunday 16 November 2014

Is it me or ......

Parliamentarian Dragoons- Colonel James Wardlaws regiment- fought at Egdehill .
 There are lots of things about this hobby that leave me completely  cold. Competition playing being only the most obvious- though it was not always thus. The actual mechanics of  gaming being another, I know that some of you get an adrenalin rush from the actual game play - but I for one now very rarely approach the actual dice rolling with anything more than mild interest. Yet there are chaps out there who view the dice rolling as a life or death experience- Oooh- ing and Arrgh- ing over every 6 or 1  by gum its  positively childish - come on chaps you aren't ALL  6 years old. all of the time
 Mind you the whole of life is starting to look like that- witness the "we're gonna make 'em squeal" from some recently elected Republican Bimbo gracing our TV screens as we in the UK suffered the US mid-terms. Is that kind of triumphalist nonsense the right way for a "serious" politician to behave? Not that she was unusual- just a tad extreme- you get the same here - just a bit more muted thank God. Yet the overplaying of emotion is now the norm in many places, it is as if we are supposed to behave like  spoiled brats    therefore many do.
  That - as far as "popular" culture is concerned  over emotionalised over hyped  light-minded fluff  is now expected to take the place of actual thinking has been the case for some years. The idea that fads and fashions are more important than actual progress in any direction is now something we live with in most walks of life-
 Witness Professor Brian Cox  highlighting the change in the broadcasting of science programmes on TV  in the 1970 and 80 with such giants as Prof Bronowski (The Ascent of Man- I still have his fine book)  and James Burke or Carl Sagan  with thier 13 episode series  and the 3 or 4 episodes more likely in a series of today.(Not to mention that shazam-kapow  special effects often take the place of  the actual points being made)  The public attention span- even of those actually interested is shorter it seems or it is perhaps the attention span of the programme commissioners- who want to do another X-factor for the ratings war(Gawd 'elp us).
 Parliamentarian Siege guns. Formerly in the Peter Gilder collection . Part of the load I bought from DC. They have recieved a little TLC-mostly dust removal and a few repirs.

 In our world-  Witness the number of "games" that are now out there. We are no longer it seems supposed to call them "wargames rules" or rules for a given period  - they are "games" even when they are not "wargaming lite"  . This of course means that when you catch 'em out with some piece of poor research or  crappy army lists they can whine "Well its only a game" as their ultimate- and perhaps only defence. However I do not altogether blame the "Games Corporate Dudes" for this. As so  often we do this to ourselves. or is it " the public wants what the public gets " -  I'm never sure . but it does seem that many are  more secure about their hobby the more lightweight and brain free it is.
 This I really don't get at all .
WANTING to be thought of as  thick and or childish ????
 Give me a break !!
It is as if I'd be better off reading the ladybird book of Cavaliers and Roundheads rather than say Reid or Young  or Woolrych or- perish the thought- actual sources from the actual period . Has the mainstream become so lightweight that this is now the norm- or as I suspect is there no real mainstream anymore. As the hobby becomes more diverse the public face- and yes this is about public face is no longer the "best" but merely the loudest or most currently fashionable that is seen  to be the "in thing"  hence the popularity of WW2 currently - around a third of the games at Donnington from  6 years of Military History- most of that third actually form 2 years.- albeit a rather crowded 2 years !Or the number of assorted GW- a Like "games" you see at  shows- all looking very very similar except perhaps for the logo of the "Not GW at all" outfit running the game. the accent being on game- therefore in theory more "accessable" - read more sales potential . An incident at Donnington brought this into focus- Daddy had brought young Tarquin to the show  they were observing the rather fine Vietnam game put on by my mates of the Border Reivers club . Daddy in hs wisdom opined that the "Good guys"  had to catch and kill the "terrorists" . and that was wht it was all about- lets go and see the Space Orcs ... . Now Daddy hadn't been around when Vietnam was  going on and had obviouly been asleep when as a young lady once of my aquaintance puut it "We did that in History"   so like any good father he  spread the BS but it did make me wonder. People just seem to take less notice of the world than they used to and have less desire to know . One is forced to wonder why this is. .
However back to the plot- if there is one ....
Close up of the battery- the gabions are mine from vaious sources. The cavalry behind the guns are Hichliffe- from the Gilder collection . These were a bit battered and needed a couple of hours work  but you'd be a bit battered at 40 !. The Old Glory Dragoons are only a bit bigger and I can live with the size differential as both ranges have movement and style.  Unlike so much of todays stuff.

 Lets face it GW  has everything the  teenage boy of any age could want- especially if he is 47 and  still lives in his mothers attic and has no real life to go to . It has blood and torture and nastiness and more blood- even a bit of cannibalism ...all very juvenile Check out - if you can be bothered- I was "relatived" into this- the painting tutorials- now the chap is a very  good painter no argument  but what a smug  self satisfied git he looks ... "Don't forget to shake the paint !" - with hand motions yet ! . At this point my laughter was unrestrained ! - I assume you don't need a picture !
 It would be sad if it wasn't all so bloody samey-  like the recent survey in WSS- Robbie Roddiss has commented more fully on this  but is less cynical than I- after all we are now supposed to call the Renaissance "Pike and Shotte"  after the overpriced warlord set so the thickies will know what it is- "Old West" is now a proper period but the Dark Ages has disappeared - subsumed perhaps into medieval  to boost the popularity of that period-  so now Henry V and  Jean Le Bel are the same period as Ragnar Hairy -Breeks- a mere 400 years and an awful lot of culture  separateing them  from each other. whilst such murderous thugs as William Bonney and Harvey Logan (Billy the Kid and Kid Curry)  get a period of their own and are sanitised   and made  the heroes they were not. . This is doubtless the influence of movies - and perhaps "historical Novels" which is highlighted in the survey and which to be honest I found  less than wonderful .
 Can't think of a single movie that has made me want to game a period- and yes I'm a bit of a movie buff . The nearest would be the 2 verions of Henry V- but then I was already a medievalist who loves Shakespear so how much did that obtain,? Likewise historical novels- I have a few of the classics- Mist over Pendle springs to mind and of course Rosemary Sutcliffe but much of the modern stuff just leave me cold Cornwell gets samey after a dozen Sharpes and Scarrow is simply Sharpes Romans- I droppes out after 3 . They are just so wearisome and samey. The Matthew Hervey novels are significantly better- the language  is more precise and period for a start and Matthew Herey is no superhero but even they are getting a bit repetitive.
 No  apparently we must simplify to make it easier for the proles to understand. This is at  best patronising at worst downright insulting- but again we do this to ourselves. You keep buying the mags . Enough of you subscribe - and do it loudly - to the army list and points value crap.  Its your fault.  you ask to be spoon fed. .
Yet having said that the survey did point out that a good proportion of the readership  did still like to research their chosen period  so it's by no means all bad news. There are still blokes out there who subscribe to the "Compleatt Wargamer" idea(apologies to Isac Walton)  I was pretty pleased by this .
This is GOOD NEWS.
Perhaps we'll see the results of some of this research in the pages of the glossies instead of more droning on about how to roll a dice  or tedious scenarios for rules I've never heard of ......


  1. A lot of content, here, Andy... On the politician front, my attitude to them is complete and utter contempt for whole corrupt crew for the incompetent kleptocratic narcissists they are, filed and receipted as bought and sold. The Mainstream Media the same: barring a few - a mighty few - with the courage and work ethic that mark journalists worthy of the name. And, as usual, the customers get reviled for putting up with the pap and bull ordure they get fed, as if the poor wights had any real choice in the matter, orcould do a blind thing about it. Good grief, the entire global finance sector has literally got away with murder, theft, fraud - you name it - and still get their annual bonuses, nothing changed. Well, when in the United States the Police are permitted to commit random murders, highway robbery, kidnap (false arrest) and any other crime you can think of; and every other Western country held to ransom by US hegemony (Will Germany ever see its gold, allegedly held in US vaults? What will happen to the $9 billion stolen by the US from French bank accounts simply for (legally!) dealing with a country the US mislikes?). You get the picture.

    This rant might seem irrelevant at a casual glance to the points you are making. But I reckon what is happening in the wargames arena is of a piece: big business and corporate capture of just about every human endeavour or activity. You might have seen my article early last year concerning copyright and intellectual property. Gary Gygax was one such who stole ideas from JRR Tolkien; but he and his were sure lord quick off the mark to protect its own perceived rights. I'm waiting for the day that Warner Bros sues the JRR Tolkien estate for breach of copyright. I wouldn't put it past the small lumps of green putty that run Warner Bros.

    People generally have an attention span and critical faculty greater than they are given credit for. Miniatures war gaming requires both - even when much of it these days does amount to spoon-feeding and hackery. The rule set might be simplistic, unhistorical, colourfully presented (don't you find that off-putting after a while?), and beguiling, but even the Great Unpainted I discover eventually feel the need to paint and present their armies.

    On the matter of Kid Curry and Billy the K, I recall that the former is painted in no flattering light in G. Macdonald Fraser's 'Mr American', but the 'heroisation' (to coin a horrible word) of these two dates back to when I was a ... kid. Recall 'Alias smith and Jones'? I recall reading articles in the 1960s about the 'real' Billy the Kid, and a few years ago there came the 'Young Guns' movie. (A recent, rather peculiar TV show in 'trial' format seemed to indicate B the K was as much sinned against as sinning. I'm not so sure so generous a verdict would come down with respect to Jno Wesley Hardin or John Glanton!)

    As usual, I enjoy your posts, Andy!

    1. Ion- Nice to hear from you and yes I agree both with your wider asserions and those relvant to wargaming- but as ever you have to stir 'em up and (telling phrase this) Kick against the pricks !!
      I have all of GMFs books and whilst Bonney was a murderous thug- the rest of the law in his neck of the woods was no different-
      whathisname should have stuck to writing Ben Hur- which is tedious drivel of course Indeed it could be argued that the USA or at least parts therof was founded by gangsters of one sort or another but then you might argue that the ruling "elites" in most countries are merely gangsters with more or less polish and or style !! - ie they got away with it
      Power corrupts etc etc .

  2. Afternoon Andy,
    Well you've really gone for a scatter gun approach this time.
    Admit it we're getting old. I know this because, a] I am invisible when I walk about the streets of Newcastle and young people have a habit of bumping into me without acknowledging this fact, b] the latest news seems to be a re run of the same mistake made by a politician some 30 years ago but replicated by some wet behind the ears political graduate c] I am starting to dislike my fellow man in spades.
    I am a great fan of Pointless, I love the banter and the format, I have noticed that students aka young people tend to do badly on the show, the reason seems the lack of breadth to their knowledge. They seem very bright, certainly confident but to put it bluntly they dont know shit from clay. Why, because knowledge is measured like everything now by pieces of paper. Wargaming tends to reflect this. As it is bound to, its a hobby that has moved with the times.
    The emphasis is on the term 'game' not on the study of war and tactics from the period you want to fight. No longer is it important whether the facing colours are correct, what is important is that there are enough of those red coated toys to play the 'game'. But dont despair because in fifty years time somebody will have the brilliant idea of actually researching the history and then build a game around that history.
    Talking of gangsters, I think its fair to say that the original families of all our land owning gentry were gangsters, witness the current Duke and Duchess of Northumberland, his family were certainly not people to be proud of. As the saying goes, The Devil looks after his own'.
    Thanks Robbie.

    1. Robbie I'm not invisible- the little buggers bump into me without apology at their peril ! but as for your other two points I mostly agree. As for Pointless- I see your point - watching myself once in while but remember I have several of those pieces of paper as do you so here I'd disagree - knowledge is now to be found here on this bloody machine by the majic of Google. Knowledge no longer exists for its own sake but is now a commodity to be bought and sold used and often abused for profit.
      I don't despair because on one level I don't care- they can be as thick as they like- I will merely take the p*** when I can be bothered.
      When we were at school and even at Universeity Education was an end in itself not merely the pathway to a "career" or a way up the greasy pole or perhaps greasy poll if you want a career in politics !! .
      So now in our world the game is the end in itself for many sao the less you need to know the better and commercially the less you need to put into a game the better- you make more profit.

  3. Hi Andy. This is certainly the way I like my rants - uncompromising and shooting from the hip. I'm glad some other chaps are a little concerned at the commercialisation of the hobby.
    I was, however, surprised that you find 'the actual mechanics of gaming' leaving you cold. If you don't like rolling the dice and enjoying how a set of rules gives a game that is both enjoyable and historically plausible, where's the fun in the hobby? I bow to no one in the pleasure I get from historical research, which you rightly emphasise, but I enjoy the games as well, although 'adrenalin rush' would be overstating the case. Ours is a hobby of quiet satisfactions and contemplative relaxation.
    I also have some sympathy with those emphasising the 'game' aspect of the hobby. I am glad to see the back of those turgid rules that aimed for some sort of spurious historical realism through overcomplexity. Any wargame with toy soldiers is, and will always remain, primarily a game.
    A stirring read Andy. Keep it coming!

    1. Kieth. My primary bitch with rules is that most are just so dammed repetitive. There must be another way to do this. Personally I could no more play a game without an Umpire theses days than fly The "rules as holy writ" just leave me cold - especially when as in some cases I know more about the period than the rule writer. As someone in the biz it seems weird perhaps that I wonder about over-commercialism- but I'm not sure thats it. Perhaps a better way to putt it might be the rush to laziness and convenience. This has I think had possibly unforseen results.
      1/. despite the fact that there is more historical information out there and it is far easier to access. commercial rules downplay itand emphasise childlike "fun" with extra shazam-kapow! rather than the
      "quiet satisfactions and contemplative relaxation." with which I totally agree - as long as there is also beer !
      2/. the above has led to many wargamers- especially those coming from non-historical genres - which already HAD shazam-kapow- to think that historical games are just fantasy in slightly less silly trousers and that the thought processes are the same - witness the success of SAGA- and its ilk..
      I would argue that whilst Fantasy games have taught us quite a bit about mechanisms and especially Role play the influence has also been at timews somewaht pernicious in that it has led to the infantilisation of our quiet satisfactions.

  4. Oh my - somebody got out of bed the wrong side this morning ! , Tony

    1. Tony- doesn't mean I'm actually wrong though!!