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Saturday 31 October 2015

Is there another way perhaps. ?

My wife Carole is a keen Gardener. She potters about doing various gardeny things to sundry bits of greenery. Occasionally she calls upon me to dig holes or lift heavy things. This is about as far as my gardening expertise runs.
 However the other night I happened to be watching Gardeners World with her and caught comedian Griff Rhys -Jones in his rather palatial garden. The presenter asked him if he had always been a gardener.
 He answered "No it's like Radio 3 you have to grow into it".
 At this a light bulb came on in my head !
 "Grow into it" I thought- exactly what SHOULD be happening is our hobby.
10mm Sassanids- Maybe they can Grow into the hobby abnd become 25mm!!!

 Newcomers should grow into it they way most of us did. Starting small and simple with say Thomas' One Hour Wargames or indeed any of Neil's fine books Or indeed many of these "Osprey Wargames" which seem very simple and lightweight  (Sort of today's early Featherstone or even simpler Terry Wise.). To me these are perfect entry level stuff you don't need much period knowledge, You don't need many figures or that much terrain yet you are still encompassing some of the skills you will need if you decide to stick with it and expand and grow into the hobby .
 However that is not the way it seems to go- the idea is to as Priestly put it (that's Rick not J.B.) "Get the Kids to play" - the accent being very much on play rather than the multitude of skills we thought we needed when we started. Now lets face it "not JB" has a game designers axe to grind here- which of course is one reason why Warlord have "not40K at all in the slightest" -they call it "Beyond the Gates of Antares"  on their books and why every game designer and his brother are bringing out lightweight "games" because there seems to have been a collective commercial decision that
a/. It's for the children cos pester power gets us the bucks
b/. Their customers are all lazy minded
c/. need to be spoon fed because they are too thick to deal with complicated ideas like counting into double figures...
 God Almighty - how bloody patronising can you get !
Nevertheless there does seem to be a perceived problem with so called "Entry level" to our hobby-me I'm not so sure.  The problem may be in defining what "entry level" actually means .
 For example I have Lion Rampant and much of it is pretty  predictable but having  said that  definitely "accessable"  and suitable for entry level. A child of ten would have no bother at all, see the review in my previous post
 As it is, it is wargaming very lite, an intro to pre-gunpowder skirmish gaming well done as it stands  but no more than that.
25mm Wars of the Roses.

The problem is really that many blokes are lauding it to the skiesas if it is something special. Take a look at some of the reviews of it - and of the others perhaps  It seems that "simple" and "quick" and "fast moving gameplay"  is all Joe Wargamer wants these days. Yet as it stands  it is simplistic almost to childishness and very limited.
 There is a misconception now common that detailed ( read complicated) rules MUST be bad and  simple(read simplistic and childish) MUST be good. This of course is cobblers both ways as nobody has a concrete definition of "good" . "Good" is not a constant. Lion Rampant for example is "good" if you want a simple entry level game of pre-gunpowder skirmishing. Not so good if you actually want more than a mere cosmetic resemblance to actual medieval warfare.
 As always the problem lies with Wargamers-the public wants what the public gets
  However the point of the foregoing digression is that I do have the background- I know the medieval period  so can adapt and "improve" the contents of the book and indeed  could do so with any period I choose to interest myself in. As can all of the chaps I know  Surely that is part of the point. One of the things that differentiates us from say  Scrabble or Risk or Diplomacy or monopoly  is that this in an open ended hobby where knowing your stuff- whatever it be SHOULD be encouraged rather than denigrated and belittled. Frankly I can't see the point of the gaming part of this hobby without the background knowledge. It is mere dice rolling for the hard of thinking. Most of the skills you need are  used before the playing actually starts. Especially if the "game" you choose to play takes all the decision making out of your hands and places it in a deck of cards or the roll of a dice. This is not to say that card driven games are bad
 As it stands today most newer rule sets downplay the knowledge you need to play. or attempt to supply all of it themselves.- This comes from the Fantasy Genre- you know the kind of stuff
(Deep Voice)
" In  the Days of Yore in the Caves of Fartolehiem the DWARVES  of King Shawtarze ......"- then Telling you what was permissable or not  in portenous and often  patronising language .
 Now a goodly number of Historically based rules do theis- most notably Flames of War and its ilk. .
 Possibly a question needs to be asked here- how many of today's wargamers have or even want the background knowledge to enable them to have enough of a critical faculty to say why they like or more likely dislike something beyond saying
"I don't like it cos its crap"
Yes some chaps ARE like that but equally many perhaps most  are not- are they being catered for by the quick and simple brigade?- and also do they care ?
 and secondly- the crux here for me
 Do we need to pander to the  child market at all?
 Where does the idea that we must catch new Wargamers before they hit 10 - we are not Jesuits (give me the child until he is seven and I will give you the man)
 Of course there will come the answer- "Where are the next generation of Wargamers going to come from"
 Well for a start they are already here.
I have customers aged from the late 20s through to their 70s and I'm sure other outfits are the same. Granted the majority are past 40 but that does not mean they are in their dotage- as many commentators would have you believe.
There is a good bit of Ageist crap spoken about this hobby- usually by self proclaimed old men in cardigans who want to be Doddering Old Farts before their time.

 What exactly is the problem with wargames that take a little effort and are not PRIMARILY designed for a 10 year old? Especially once you get past so-called "Enrty- level"
 Why should we only be aiming our "recruitmant" at children. What is actually wrong with attempting to recruit inteligent adults- are the  elder generation saying there are no such animals? 
 What is wrong with making it clear that this is a hobby wheresome  intelligence and some specialist skills are requiresd, that you have to learn stuff over time and that at least some of the time that requires effort and even a little brain work. Lets face it other hobbies don't seem to have this problem- Model Railways , Model Car Racing-  try being a halfwit with a couple of grands worth of Radio controlled cars to play with  or  Radio Controlled Aircraft- get that wrong and SPLAT!  Several grand and Gawd know how many hours work in bits all over the field. Of course at entry level all hobbies are cheaper and simpler but if you stick it you grow into it as you gain skills .  So the Model Railway chap may start by buying ready to run off the shelf - and that may be enough for him but if he grows into it he may end up  building his own from plans and creating some truly wonderful scenery.
All hobbies have their specialist knowledge- why do we constantly downplay and denigrate ours?  Usually so game designers can make a few quid  or so it appears
 That getting a pair of armies onto the table requires something more than an ability to throw dice and read a few works from the" back of a postcard" is for me an absolute. If a Wargamer chooses to stay in the shallow end  of the pool so be it- his choice- but should those who swim in deeper waters  not also be catered for? Or is there perhaps and acceptance by  the Games Designer Dudes that we who swim at the deep end are largely beyond their reach?.
 Of course  perhaps we don't need the GDD's to tell US what to do, Perhaps WE have moved beyond THEM- at least some of the time.
 Of course in actuality- to continue the metaphor- sometimes you swim at the deep end and sometimes you just paddle about a bit getting your feet wet. I can - for instance- see me playing a modified Lion Rampant format for the Wars of the Roses in 40mm but some kind of Formation rules and Leadership rules will need to be added.
 What is the problem that some have with actually using their brain sometimes?
 Now don't get me wrong there is and has always been a place for "Wargaming Lite"   While sometimes you may want to re-fight Waterloo at others  you may simply want a Barney down the Boozer! Or indeed anything in between. There should be room for all shadings
 In MWBG no 390  Niel Shuck's column  says
 "When we play a wargame we are looking to simulate (however abstractly) what would happen should that battle take place in the real world"
Now to me this is so obvious that it should not need saying but it seems that it  is being said more and more. I wonder why this is?

 In a world where craft skills are fashionable again- Sewing Baking Gardening Potting- to name only those on BBC2 why do we CONSTANTLY belittle ourselves to ourselves. I begin to wonder if ours is the only hobby where actual thought and knowledge  is actively discouraged by some in favour or yet another Zombie game - see the two reviews in MWBG no 390 pages 59 and 62- 2 different reviews one for another bloody Zombie game and one- the  low point of an otherwise decent mag  for a game based around Slasher movies. Now just how are these "Wargaming" - they may have a place in  MW sister mag Tabletop Gaming which I've seen and was singularly unimpressed by - but here? - To his credit Henry offers his opinion on the Slasher game . Read it for yourselves !.. Nice One Henry !
Surely this kind of  nasty  unpleasant mindless dross has no place in our lexicon. Yet it seems the level of this crap is increasing. Somebody must be buying it and worse playing the bloody things over and over. Thank Gawd I can't see into what they are pleased to call their minds .....
If we don't  "reclaim our intelligence" perhaps we are doomed


  1. Good piece, and one with further thought. It reminded me of the conversation had at Falkirk about the Halo Fleet Battles demo. Having seen a review that likened it to naval warfare (which space battles are an abstract form), the question was raised, why not play naval? The Fleet Battles game is nowhere near a "outer space" game for one simple reason - it's only in two dimensions. It's no good pretending it is a space game because it ignores the key part of space! Surely a proper space based game would take that into account? Or is that too hard a thinking job???

  2. I sometimes wonder at the impact of so many commercial interests. As late as the 70s most rules were released by people with day jobs and even figures were often garage businesses. These days there are still lots of amateurs sharing their efforts on the net whether for free or a token amount but there are also companies with staff and premises and all that rely on sales to feed and house people so they need to sell as much as possible as often as possible to as many people as possible so something shiny and new with appeal to the widest consumer base but which they will tire of by the time your next release is out. If you can hook them into your "brand" so much the better. If you make a good, solid, historical wargame that will last, you might sell a few hundred a year after the rush is over and might get famous but you'll need that day job.

    Not saying that these folks can't produce a good, intelligent, lasting set of rules or don't try to but it is against their self interest to do so which has to make it harder.

  3. Well said. Back in the day, board wargames used to provide intro, standard and advance rules all in one package. Why not table top rules as well?

  4. Interesting article, Big Andy. Possibly the question of 'entry level' war games might be answered by looking at another hobby: 'entry level' chess. For most people, entry level chess is chess - played not very skilfully, and with a steep early learning curve if you really want to understand the game and play well, yet surprisingly perhaps, pretty popular among kids.True, Lazslo Polgar did use cut down versions of the game to teach certain concepts to his daughters (I have his book "Reform Chess"). But for most people they start with the game, and learn it.

    You touch on another matter; simplicity in game design. Now, I have been interested in developing for my own purposes 'One Brain Cell' war games rule sets. But the aim is still to create something that gives you a reasonable sense of an actual battle, campaign and warfare. It is also in large measure intended to achieve at least one of these two objectives: a game requiring skill, and a game that tells a story. A multiplayer game needs to have some skill factor; a solo game a way of allowing a story to unfold.

    Chess is a very simple game - a 'narrow' game - but has a lot of depth. Much of that 'depth' takes it far beyond the war game it was originally designed to be, as one learns to negotiate the interplay of pieces and pawns. Table war games are 'wide' games - a whole deal more complex and complicated. Too much width leads to too much investment of time in the learning and preparation of the game. That can be fun in itself, but for a lot of us this can lead to frustration at the amount of time, effort and money sunk into the game, for what turns out to be a poor return in terms of enjoyment. Children are likely to be less tolerant of this frustration than are older people.

  5. Well chaps - you all give me stuff to think about which- whilst apparently unfashionable is surely the point!
    Ross- Definitely take your point about commercial interests- hit a nail on the head there. Now I'm in the biz but of course I don't sell "games" . I sell model/toy soldiers- and even the odd Zombie what you do with them is entirely up to you.. I have no major intrest in "games" from the commercial point of view. For me the rules are merely the means to an end- commercially speaking to get chaps to buy soldiers !
    Ion use of chess as a comparison is also apt and his point about width is very well made. I'd not thought about it in those terms before- but considering it is that "width" that I like- there are always more possibilities- in my case another period of history to examine and see if it can be brought to the table.
    Andrew- Spaceships - Like you if I did it- which is not impossible as I quite like Sci-fi I'd want at least a hint of the 3rd dimension and possibly a bit of science with my fiction ! I always fancied doing a battle in and asteriod belt where the asteriods moved on a pre- set pattern- so in game terms the terrain would move ! - Or is that simply perverse ??
    As I look closer at Lion rampant I see no reason why I coulden't use it- with a bity of tweaking for small battles in the Peloponesian War as it has so little "medieval" flavour in it

  6. Pat- I checked to be sure but all of the "classic2 wargaming books I have include simple introductory games . - Are there any more modern books that do- Henry Hydes Complete Guide for example- I don't own a copy..

  7. If we're trying to introduce a new generation to wargaming (battles with armies of model soldiers) then we need to have shows that show that and get the dalings to read some 'old school' wargame books (Charge, The Wargame etc.) with some beautiful photographs of actual armies of more than 50 or so figures. It's what got me hooked - ACW battle in Featherstones Wargaes had enough of a hook to want me to know more about the ACW and I came to realise that the rules didn't encompass all that went on in that war and nor were they period specific enough (Horse and musket rules pah!)
    If we need to discourage what you call "boutique games" and call "games in a box" then so be it and maybe we'll see the demise of the games on three or four foot square table, that take about an hour to play, with little to no generalship, using a dozen or fewer figures with rules that cost a small fortune.
    There is of course a place for these games and I've played skirmish games alongside my wargames since the I'm sure we all have, but they certainly don't promote the largest army you can afford (over time), over the largest table you can acoomodate.

    As an afterthought I doubt there's anyone under the age of 40 and interested in the ACW that has ever heard of "Coggins" - the must have book for the ACW enthusiast way back when. I think a game nowadays would have armies (gangs) of a dozen figures, with special rules for the artilleryman, the sniper (etc. etc.) in your gang and cwould set you back £40 for the rules alone. Hopefully you can see where I'm going with this so I'll stop
    Lovie the post btw

  8. I don't have a problem with simple rules as long as they reflect the type of warfare trying to be recreated. Hell my WSS rules only run to 8 pages and they're simple - but they are written with the history in mind and only deal with what was possible at the time. However, and I think is the crucial thing, I actively discriminate against players trying to use unhistorical tactics because I understand what we are trying to do - play history not just a game.
    As for entry level bit, I agree that we need to attract new gamers. But by making it simple/easy/unhistorical is not always the way. Lion Rampant, Saga and others are stand alone games with a footing in history if little else. What needs to happen from there is for the new player to be encouraged to look beyond the box and to see what possibilities there are with the same figures if the history is examined and expanded upon. In short new players need mentors to encourage the study of the period and to develop those skills that we need.
    This is not something we see very often because, sadly, schools are no longer places of education but institutions designed to improve pass rates in exams. As a result we are not trained or encouraged to look further than the information presented to us. Nor are we required to question the authenticity of the information.
    Wargaming has so many things to offer other - it encourages us to improve our mental maths, we need to read and understand information, we need to improve our social skills in a face to face relationship and not a remote unemotional one, we develop artistic skills to whatever level we desire. We learn to compete in a non-aggressive situation (competition gamers being a breed to themselves I suppose and shunned by those who play the game for the game).
    As wargamers then it is us who need to encourage the new gamers and to show them what the hobby is about. Whatever that means to you as a wargamer.

  9. What comes first.. the interest in history, or the interest in wargaming? I'd argue the former rather than the latter... what we see in the young today (I think) is a combination of two things - a lack of interest in history (due to?? poor teaching/curriculum? poor choice of topics in school history??) and way too many other options to take their time up... the youngsters these days are carrying computers around in their pockets - computers give them access to video, games, SnapChat/WhatsaP/Twitter and all the other flavours.... they have short attention spans because they've grown up watching MTV... they don't read books like we/my generation do.... they won't grow into anything, they are the "toe dipping generation"... the manufacturers know exactly what they're doing - small skirmish armies and "hooky" game periods - perfect for people who'll play the game for 6 months before they move on to the next fad, and therefore don't have time to build armies....

  10. Paul Exactly The Capitalist need for worker drones has done serious damege to basic education (innit) especially in the Humanities- ie History yet conversly TV History has never been more popular- but the audience for that is considerably older - not children- so perhaps "recruitment" should be aimed up to a point somewhat later.
    Your point about playing history is exactly the way I do my stuff too

    Steve Take your point precisely- so you are breeding adrenaline junkies with the attention span of a rabid stoat ! - But they will calm down or burn out hebce my contention that we perhaps catch 'em older (How of course is another matter- as I said in my piece in MW I do get customers who started later- usually after a few years of GW.
    Now I see these Osprey games as Entry level- partly at least becasue their sales points are not entirely confined to"our" world and Osprey wouldn't keep printing them (in print runs of an initial 5000 per book and additions of 3000 if sales require it plus Ebooks) They make around £20,000-£30,000 per title on a basic run the Author is paid a flat fee.
    I accept that the GDDs know what they are about but your prognosis is too bleak for me (!!!!!) We're DOOMED!

    1. Not doomed... just...err, "different"... :o)

      A thought, though, why should we care what happens to our hobby?? We're grown men/women playing with little plastic/metal men.. in the grand scheme of things hardly important... I love my hobby but it's hardly something to get evangelical about.. if all the traders went out of business tomorrow, I'd still have a hobby...

      I'm more inclined to get hot and bothered about an education system that doesn't teach the youngsters about the actual history of what we're trying to recreate - sacrifice, bravery, courage, the reasons we go to war (stupid and otherwise). Political correctness or whatever is seeing it removed from the curriculum in favour of more socially acceptable subjects ... "Those Who Do Not Learn History Are Doomed To Repeat It."

    2. Steve- Don't mistake me here.. After I'm dead I won't give a toss. Even now I can't say I CARE. It amuses me to point out the pitfalls and giggle betimes
      Mind you I agree completely regarding the teaching of not of actual History- much of that was Blairs doing- what disaster of the Noughties wasn't but his successors are no better. State schools are there to produce drones for the state. Private schools to produce greedy little prats.
      The fact that not all individuals in either systerm fall for it is to their credit.

  11. Speaking to the "quick and easy Brigade here is Ospreys blurb- from their site for their up and coming set by Kieth Flint of Seven Years War rules.
    The Seven Years' War was the pinnacle of 18th-century warfare, with dramatic campaigns and battles, famous leaders, and wide variety of colourful uniforms. Compared with the later Napoleonic Wars, tactics were simpler, armies more professional, and battles tended to be smaller. Using these quick-to-learn rules, players can bring this period to the tabletop, recreating anything from a small skirmish to a major pitched battle. Although simple, the rules allow for a wide range of tactics and reward historical play. That said, fog of war sometimes produces unexpected results and units don't always obey their orders! The game moves quickly, and players must be prepared to regroup and counterattack or to press home an advantage - a lot can happen in one move!

    As far as I'm aware the battles of the seven yeaers war did not always move at the speed of light !
    Now this is of course publishers blurb and should not be taken as evidence of the rules themselves but it does make you wonder.

  12. Wargaming is a broad church and we (in its most generic sense) are different people than we were 30 years ago. Wargaming is much more commercially based than it ever was and so it is fair to say that what is being produced 'for us' is a true reflection of the needs and wants of the community at large ... i.e market forces are driving what is being produced.

    It's rather like the telly. There is some dross, but when you see it on commercial stations who HAVE TO justify viewing figures to the advertisers - then that market must exist and it must be big enough to support big channels - even though I sit on the side-line and shake my head in despair.

    I say we are different people now. I just look at my own approach to gaming. I used to play Advanced Squad Leader (ASL) games as my favourite system, without any problem at all. It has a rule book that resembles a telephone directory - at least in physical size. These days, my mind, my available free time and what I consider 'fun' are somewhat different and I can never see myself playing that system again at that level. I do like some complexity , but I no longer want a rulebook in my hand while I am playing.

    Todays wargamer quite likely works in an environment in which staff cut-backs mean more is on their plate. They work at a higher rate with higher levels of stress, their e-mail box with various demands in is never clear or even got on top of and people are less likely to get a lunch break, most likely they are eating at desks etc. Against this sort of back-drop, it is easy to see why 'fun' systems are more the vogue.

    Likewise modern housing means that space is restricted for both storage and playing of a game, so kitchen table gaming most definitely now has its place and this games need to be over quite quickly, so that the table can be returned to primary family use.

    If considering true wargaming (rather than being a more a collector, painter, historian etc) then perhaps the real health of the hobby can be measured by the number of games a person is actually getting onto a table. Can you play weekly? can you get a midweek game done in say a two hour time slot? are you even playing monthly?

    I am guessing that many people after work are just flopping down in front of the computer screen and just consuming two hours worth of posts. Good entertainment, but the opportunity is lost for a quick one or two hour wargame.

    If the modern wargamer is to be able to remain connected with actually playing games, then these fast play, low level figure counts, playable in small places goes are essential in adding to the pulse of the hobby.

    Lion Rampant is a case in point - there is a ton of positive comment by people who have become enthused to both buy and play in a new period, surely a success in it's own right. DBA did the same for the hobby many years ago, when people got out their old 25's and dusted them down and then went out and bought and painted a load more armies.

    The accessible game really does have its place and people are voting with their wallets. But as I say, it is a broad church, so we do need diversity in our product, but if you were Osprey, would you rather your paying audience be 30,000 or 5,000?

    Rules of yesteryear with some raggedy old line drawings and sketches held in an A5 soft bound set, with a brown or blue cover and held by a couple of staples, will just not cut it these days - but the new alternatives require relatively high volumes of sales to keep them viable and so yes ..... we end up at the lowest common denominator, which actually for the most part, serves the purpose well, because commercial interest says so :-)

    1. Well said, in fact, very well said..

    2. Norm as I said quite clearly there is and always has been a place for wargaming lite but we are getting to the stage where that is ALL that is available- the options are slowly dissappearing- possibly not that slowly- the so called "broard church" is actually becoming a narrow collection of similar games with a "get over over quickly ethos".
      If the "health of the hobby" is govenred by how regularly you play the same one hour quickie then we may as well pack it in now- this is hardly broad church
      You do not define "True Wargaming" but you inference is that a hour long dice rolling contest on the kitchen table- assuming Joe wargamer has a kitchen because he works 29 hours a day - is "True Wargaming"- I'm assuming your are being ironic.
      Now as it happens I don't have and have never had thev luxury of my own "Wargames room"- not sure I want one now frankly I'd rather go up the pub ! I'm lucky to get in a game every month- I'll manage 9 or 10 games this year but the imperative to roll dice is gone- been there done that... boring .so when I do play a 1 hour brain free quickie is as far from my needs as it is possible to get. I struggle to see the point of such games after you have played them a few times. I can only conclude that it must be all about winning as you can't possibly get anything else from them in so short a time frame.
      Personally I'd rather only play 10 games a year than fiddle about an hour a week
      Your paen in praise of the commercial intrests at the expense of individulaity is odd to say the least- though I'm assuming you are taking the p""" again.
      DBA almost destroyed the Ancient period for many years - especially in 25mm WHAB revived it DBA was almost entirely 15mm which made 15mm Ancients sales actually drop below sight of the human eye in the late 90s early noughties- (witness the number of 15mm DBA tournaments about back then)this is no longer the case. FOG and Hail Ceasar amongst other have seen to that.
      Finally - at last I hear the cry ! -Miniatures Wargaming without all the other stuff- the collecting the research the painting etc etc is merely dice rolling and no big distance from Monopoly or snakes and ladders.

    3. Hi Andy, not commented on your blog before - been lurking in the background. I share a lot of your concerns about shallow reading of history, short attention spans etc. but also agree with much of what Norm says.

      However, two things occur to me. If all that is available commercially are 'wargames lite' then that shouldn't be a problem. Those that want added depth can tweak and research and modify or even write their own rules. That's how the hobby grew from a handful of enthusiasts in the first place. And if there are relatively fewer and fewer of the self-starters and thinkers then at least we have modern communications that the Scruby's and Featherstones of yesteryear didn't have.

      Second point is regarding 'da yoot'. A lot of us are also are parents. And in the face of all that is False and Evil (trimmed down school history curriculum, TV history docs that keep repeating themselves because of advert breaks, GW, computer games, rampant commercialism, cheese with fruit in it to save you the bother) we have the opportunity (duty even?) to nurture and influence. We can help fill in the missing bits. We can exploit school projects on The Home Front to take the nippers to the IWM/Royal Armouries. We can encourage them to read proper books (in fact schools are VERY good at that these days in my experience). We can allow our sons to flirt with the Dark Side. Mine did before we got him playing Naploeonics and SYW games. In turn he's passing it on to one of his little sisters. Jason and the Argonauts and tales of Greek myths are a great way of getting them into ancients - next thing you get them watching the 300 Spartans and you can start slipping in a few comments about inaccuracies. You can progress to Waterloo (ditto). Then there's the whole craft angle. Kids like making stuff too and 'crafts' is in since Austerity Chic took hold . If their interest is sparked then they will follow-up in their own way.

      I don't think for one minute we'll ever get back to the "James May Generation" of kids (boys mostly) playing with Meccano, Airfix kits and chemistry sets. But our parents probably poo-poohed the way we played compared to the pre-War generations. I can still hear my old man talking about 'only having a spinning top but we made our own fun'.

    4. PS by Dark Side I of course mean that chain of shops that sells fantasy figures and rules and paints

    5. Nun.. I wouldn't call them concerns exactly- observation certainly- as I've said before in many ways I don't CARE that much but the subject intrests me- the Why of our hobby always has. but your points are well made- after all my origonal post was a dicussion document hence the perhaps...
      Yes we can add our own depth- but to do that you have to be aware that such is possibleand the idea of "RULES AS HOLY WRIT" can make that difficult for some - the "Negative Freedom " chaps,#
      I also find that there are more "excuses" for not doing stuff these days
      however valid- now for me these mostly don't wash I've been skint/timepoor/rushed etc - sometimes still am- the trick is to maintian the objective- it just takes longer- My ECW project has hit a brick wall recnetly for varios reasons- doesn't mean I'll give up on it and bugger off to play SAGA cos it only lasts an hour.
      Mind you my grandad would tell you he never even had a spinning top !

  13. Hi Andy, I did not mean for my post to sound antagonistic to you. By true wargaming, I simply meant people who's primary concern is to actually get a wargame up and running, rather than the painter, collector, historian side of things, where those people may or may not actually be wargamers.

    There are plenty of different levels of gaming, but as long as people find the one that fits their needs then that is surely a good thing - I just like seeing people rolling dice and enjoying their gaming at whatever level and I think a lot of people are doing that.

    I just so happen to be recording my games played this year, a mix of figure and board games and so far I am at 71 sessions for the year. There is quite a bit of variety there and I have enjoyed them all, except one. I generally play for 2 - 3 hours at a time, but I think that is fair old wack of gaming, however it is done.

    As I say, did not mean to sound like I was coming to your blog and sabre rattling, I was just giving a view from my small corner off the gaming world and I accept that doesn't mean that my view is right, it's just a view.

    I am a contributor to Miniature Wargames - issues 379 and 390 and I like the magazine very much.

    1. Norm No worries- Variety is as always the spice of...and a little debate is never any harm.
      However enjoyable these short games are- and yes I suppose they can be- though I have not so far found one that I'd want to play more than a couple of times before boredom sets in - surely if that is all you do you are missing out. To use a similie I've used before it is as if you only eat burgers and have never had a full 5 or 6 course dinner..
      For you obviously the game is the thing but that is not a definition of "true Wargaming" as it leaves out as much as it includes. The idea that the hobby is ONLY about the gaming is not one I share. If it were I'd never paint or read a book
      BTW I died of boredom the first time I tried ASL- never even got through the first scenario as I recall I don't really do boardgames- barring a little Kingmaker or just maybe Axis and Allies as I find them too restrictive on the whole . Frankly thats my main beef with much of the newer figure games coming out- too narrow too restrictive lots of Negative Freedom.
      I too have contibuted to MW- most recently nos 390 and 391.

  14. I have not contributed to MW... most recently, not at all.... but I still think Norm put it very well... wargamers are 'gamers' it's in the title.... but because we play DBA, or Saga, or Rampant, etc it doesn't follow that we have no interest in history, or painting or research or whatever... I think the key point from Norm's post is the time one, our available time is increasingly short these days... that may well be another reason behind the increasing numbers of these "lite" (yickkkk) games... we're building a complex picture here of the state of the hobby.... time driven, educational background, other interests/draws...

    1. Steve- Good points. I suppose my hobby is time driven too- ALL of the posters here seem to actually play a lot more than I do- though I would not want to play much more than I do - a little perhaps but too much play would dilute the quality for me . Sometimes getting enough TWATS in one place to do a bigger game is a major exercise but back in the day when I used to play weekly with a 3-4 hour time limit including set up - it became so samey and merely repetitious gameplay you couldn't explore ideas or systems in the limited time it was all head to head lead or head to head cardboard. I must have a lower boredom threshold than many players..
      But we are building a bit of a picture here- which is fascinating in itself. I still don't get the "I must roll a dice at least once a week" thing but accept that it exists.

  15. I feel that I am pretty much a well rounded gamer (yes there is a joke in there somewhere), I have just painted two ACW armies, I have researched a particular battle for my own boardgame design and am in final play testing prior to its publication later this year and I have been modelling some terrain in 1/72 and 28mm and also painting some units in 28mm as a distraction that I could do without. In addition, I get to game regularly both solo and face to face and attend 2 or 3 wargame shows a year. I run a blog and maintain a personal wargaming (paid for) website page. So although I primarily consider myself a gamer, I am fully tied into the associated aspects of the hobby. It consumes practically all of my spare time.

    But within that setting, I live in a small flat, so gaming space and storage is constrained (my blog theme is all about gaming in small spaces) and I have a back injury that makes playing over tables or sitting for extended periods quite fraught!

    The result of all those things taken together is that the 2 - 3 hour game works for me. Even so, I like clever designs rather than shallow ones, so I don't enjoy 'lite' dimply for its own sake.

    Every now and then I get the chance to do what I think of as a wargame fest. So when my wife went to London for the weekend and I was 'home alone', I set up a 2 map game of Barbarossa and played 8 hours worth each day, for a total of a 16 hour game and it was nice to have that blast, but that is a rare event for me.

    The chap I game against is able to give up around 2 - 3 hours a week (on one evening) to game, so that works out OK, since we both like the same kind of games. Tonight we are play testing my design, last week we did a Combat Commander (GMT) scenario and the week before that we played Warriors of God (MMP) and the week before that we did a figures game with modified Neil Thomas rules. I thought all those sessions were enjoyable and worthwhile.

    So I am fully immersed in the hobby and its various aspects and not 'purely' a gamer, but for example on my shelf are two new board games. One plays in 6 - 10 hours and the other plays in a little over two hours. It will be the second game that hits my table and the first game that gets sold on, mainly for the practical reasons mentioned.

    So my views expressed in the earlier posts come from a personal perspective that shorter and smaller games work for me, but I do well understand that others will not find this fulfilling enough, we are just in a trend / fashion at the moment (commercially viable) that happens to suit me and people like me.

    I do believe that in 2015, choice has probably never been greater or the hobby richer in its diversity. All of what we have has grown from a man in Baltimore knocking out some basic boardgames from his garage (Gettysburg - AH) and a bloke (D. Featherstone) and some like minded people using Airfix toys in a different way :-) It is truly a great hobby.

  16. Norm. Its obvious that my hobby is significantly different from yours- which is of course as it should be. I susspect part of the differences arise becasue we are on different sides of the pond . The two backgrounds are different. I 'd never even seen a boardgame until I'd been a wargamer for about 7 years or so nor had any of the chaps I knew back then. They simply did not impinge upon our conciousness. It was all about the model soldiers. Boardgames were -to us then- sort of a separate thing a different hobby and up to a point still are.
    For instance I have not played a boardgame this year and am unlikly too- for me they are at best stop-gaps - never a major part of my hobby or indeed much of a part at all these days. It was not always so back in the 70s I had a good few boardgames and a few even into the noughties- but after the 80s rarely ever played them so "Maciavelli" "Robert the Bruce" "Bonnie Prince Charlie" and English Civil War all went the journey. I now only own Kingmaker- actually the AH version which I played once last year..
    For me Boardgames were there to do stuff that figure games could not- so all were I suppose campaign games rather than battlegames.
    I do agree - with your point about diversity- there is a lot more stuff about now as my piece in MW 391 notes- well if the editor didn't change it it does- still trying to pry a copy of the mag out of the publishers- -a long story - but to me much of what I see is very very similar , simplistic and bland and that is -assuming I have one- my point.
    As I've said many time here I'm not PRIMARILY a games player- in and of themselves I find most games pretty tedious and predictable "gameplay" ie dice rolling will for me never be an intellectual exercise.
    But then having said that I'm dammned glad that we are not all the same- its the differences that make this intresting.