Sunday, 16 October 2016

I just can't stop shining.

Now as you may have gathered I've not been posting much recently- too much work on. I've still managed a little painting almost all of which has ended up being shiny. Currently I'm pretty much into the idea of retro-wargaming.
 The reasons why - well honestly I'm not absolutely sure. Part of it is certainly a reaction to all this  wargaming -lite that is about these days and the often childish appearance of some more recent contributions to our hobby.
 I know I'm banging on about this but I really do think it is a major problem. How can we expect to recruit new people (assuming we do need this) if all we have to show are "bang bang you're dead" games for  12 year old boys- played by overweight badly dressed chaps with builders bum !!
 Yes of course I exaggerate- neither do we need (as recruiters)  over serious  badly dressed blokes who look as if falling under a number 9 bus  would ease their outlook on life !!
 Yes I'm taking the mickey.
 Some of the games at Donnington proved that this need not be so and indeed is not always so.
So why MY current reversion to  older rules including the now often despised WRG ?
 Honestly I prefer to be treated as an adult. I can read long(ish) words without using my fingers. I can do sums (but not always hard sums) and I don't HAVE to look at pictures to understand what a writer is saying to me. I can read whole books and some of them don't have pictures  at all and YES it's FUN.
The finally finishes White Regiment of the London Trained Bands. Figures are almost all Les Higgins 30mm Jason with only 3 interlopers.

 I enjoy the painting and modelling side  at least as much as the playing - possibly more - and the historical part again as much if not more than the others. Again they are FUN. Fun and Triviality are not, despite appearances to some, the same thing.
. For me those who wish to trivialise the hobby in their own image are doing all of us a disservice. By attempting to narrow to the trivial in the name of "simplicity" and "accessibility"  what happens when it is all trivial and simple? Where do you go from there?  What will have happened to diversity- of the intellectual sort ?  Or, perish the thought, will we all be Dwarf- fiddling (but with only 7 a side of course !!) .
The Scots Greys as they currently stand- still a few more to paint. All Stadden 30mm some of which needed a good bit of TLC even before the painting started. 
Now don't get me wrong here I don't mind other chaps doing Fantasy and quite like Sci-Fi in parts It is the lack of imagination I find hard to deal with. How the hobby has  all narrowed down the the mere gaming at least if you read some of the various magazine pieces.  Is it like that at grass roots level. Sometimes yes. I've seen more than 1 club website that lists "The Games We Play"- almost all Fantasy-Sci-Fi skirmish games which all look the same to me.

Sir Thomas Tyldesley's Regiment of Horse. Mostly Hinchliffe/Foremost but with some  Old Glory Horses and a single Old Glory trooper as well as a single Front Rank trooper. Deliberately mixed together for effect.
 Equally many "Games Shops" and "webstores"  advertise the same  comparatively few "games" over and over. So somebody must be buying them (or are they all just sitting on tons on unsellable stock?) and so many of them just seem to be
"GW wannabees" that you do wonder  where all the soldiers go..
 Especially since I'm still selling Farsands of 'em !

The British staff for "Shinyloo" Willie or Stadden figures on Stadden Horses. All 30mm
So overall maybe it is nowhere near as bad as it sometimes feels.

The Frecn Staff for the same"shinyloo" project. All Stadden 30mm models. Except Boney himself who is a Willie !,

 The current "off the shelf and play no brain cells needed  "  attitude of many rules writers/ games designers  really flies in the face of everything I like about this hobby.  Now there are still plenty of blokes who  do still use their brains- Donnington once again proved that- (including a splendid small scale Waterloo game on deliberately contoured terrain to show how that terrain affected the battle- sterling work lads - but I never got a chance to talk to 'em) But even there there were a number of daft looking games which I can't pretend to understand some doubtless infomercials for the games companies that put them on  they all looked so similar .....

So I hope that all of this sub-GW derivative dross  won't swamp us- I don't think it will really but the price of freedom- so they tell us is eternal vigilance ....

The picture on this post were chosen for two reasons- I like them  and they in part illustrate part of my own attempts at a bit of diverseity.
I suppose that is the nub of what I'm droning on about and why - up to a point- I have reverted to

 a time when brain cells were in fashion.


  1. Some wonderful brush work there - those Stadden Greys in particular are superb. Nothing wrong with shiny although I am a bit biased...

  2. I think you should resign yourself to the reality that people like different things. Of all the games / people that you criticise, I see the same gamers / games and they all seem to be having a pretty good time to me and enjoying their hobby and spending money.

    The fact that you are selling plenty of historical figures, highlights that your reality (and mine) still exists out there (here) in good numbers.

    I have a local 'wargames' shop, but I cannot buy any 15mm or less there, or much of the terrain etc that I would want. But the shop is open in the evening and it is pretty much packed with young gamers, playing things that I am not totally sure about, but they are enjoying it, they are young and they are the people who will evolve our hobby with their cash and enthusiasm.

    Absent from the shop are people putting on historical stuff - the kind of thing that would grab my attention, so my needs are only met by my buying of paint or some 28mm warlord / Perry etc - the high street shop is not a representation of my interests, which I am better served by internet / game show, but it is a commercially viable place, run by a bloke who wants to make money and if he could do that by selling 15's he no doubt would - so perhaps some of this perceived problem is of our own making. We need to be in those shops and asking them to get us our goodies. We would start to stop by and perhaps set up a table and goodness, perhaps even encourage some of those youngsters to come and join in, though since the range of a rifle is only 24" and a hand-held laser blaster can launch a nuclear device out to 48", there is of course every chance that they don't stay.

    I suppose a fair question might be - what have we done or rather not done that no longer makes us look attractive or mainstream? Does our inclination towards roughly typed rule sets with line drawings and staples through the middle on an A5 pastel card covered ruleset really do anything more than appeal to our nostalgic of 'how it was it the good old days'. I am more than happy / capable of using those rules, but I can fully understand why the new Osprey rule sets are appealing to huge numbers and I can increasingly understand why people want to buy / paint and do armies with relatively low numbers of figures, though it seems modern designers are discovering this after the fact of what DBA did for the many who had old 25mm partly started collections of 25mm hidden away in cupboards and how the likes of Essex went on to successfully market 64 figures armies.

    Anyway, I have lost my thread and started wandering all over the place, what I meant to say was, I agree that 'our way' of gaming seems to have lists its 'presence' in the wargaming world, but I believe it is still there and that a new and growing force that is better marketed than our stuff is sitting alongside of us and that we have more in common than we have separating us. If these people can make a wargame shop viable on the high street again, then good luck to them and I will visit whenever I can, enjoy the buzz and hopefully contribute financially to a continuing presence in the high street of a wargames outlet - even if I only come out with inks, paints and brushes. It's rather like the man who likes Motzart and the one who likes whatever is in the top 10 now (I don't know!), they will dislike each others choice, but both are passionate about their music and hopefully between them can keep a record store open.

    1. Norm- a bit more- Your world- or the one you illustrate seems entirely marker driven and commercially you have a point- but it was not and is not my point. It is not what people buy it is what they do with it afterwards and what often appears as the dull repetition of the same game in a different prettier box.

    2. Having checked with a mate of mine who is an Osprey author- 6 to his name that I recall another on the way- the initial print run of any Osprey is 5000 so not huge numbers. Additional print runs of 3000 happen for popular books.
      I suspect the big change is fashion - "games" are not as lastingly popular as they once were simply becasue there is more choice therefore less depth. There is no encouragement for what Steve the Wargamer called to "toe-dipping- generation" to study and persevere as something newer and prettier and even more lightweight will be along next week- in a prettier box,
      Surely the lack of intellectual sustenance as the hobby dumbs down to market forces should be of concern- whatever that hobby happens to be.

    3. I don't know what to make of that 5000 figure, I am really surprised. At first I though that's much lower than I would have thought, but then apparently the monthly wargame mags sell around 10,000 or less each and I read somewhere that Bolt Action in 4 years had sold just over 20,000 books, so maybe 5,000 to 8,000 is a good figure, who knows.

      I do take your point on the dumb down issue, though perhaps there are some reflections there to what is happening in many walks of life, which equally disappoint. Anyway, I like your figures.

    4. Norm as it happens I've been reflecting a Tad and as I said in the post perhaps it is not as bad as it sometimes feels. But nevetheless whilst you have a point regarding the market for me it is not just about popularity- if that were true we'd all live off Macdonalds and Pizza- which would be a turly nauseating prospect. Surely there is more to it than that.
      Now taking Bolt Action as my example- which I have not played-(not my thing) I have had several opinions from WW2 chaps whose knowledge -and therefore opinion- I respect in these matters who have been significantly less than complimentary about the ruleset as regards WW2. The same can be said of FOW. Are these peoples opinions to be set an nought merely becausee these "games" are popular.? Having had a look at "Team Yankee- moderns being more my thing I wonder about that too .
      Dumbing dowmn- yes it is not just our hobby but many walks of liefe that seem much ... well thicker than when I was younger.

  3. Sorry in the last paragraph - seems to hav LOST its presence and Mozart.

    1. Norm- not so much a criticism but more a lament. People can do what they want- and I'm not really banging on about kiddies games played BY kiddies but kiddies game played by the supposedly adult. I've a couple of those Osprey rules(and a couple more in my sights) -Lion rampant is very very lightweight and slightly less medieval that Costner's Robin Hood. En Garde is somewhat better I may actually play that more than twice. It is the intellectual vacancy I find disturbing, it is as if the games designers have in many cases decided we are all thick and not deserving of anything that needs brains- and more to the point many of you seem to agree with them!
      It is that which causes my lament.

  4. Love, love, love your shiny 30mm figures here! Especially the Scots Greys. And simply must add some Stadden and Willie mid-18th century figures to my own collection at some point in the near future. I find myself thinking in a similar way about the way the hobby has gone and continue to take my own retro road. Along the way, I've met a few like-minded souls, which is good enough for me. As always. . .

    Best Regards,


    1. Stokes- Stadden do some splendid SYW Prussians and fewer but still excellent Brits. Willie do a larger range covering the 18th century and it is some of Surens best work.
      I'm not only retro though it is just that currently retro is taking more of my time. I've a bundle of "non-retro" ECW to finish and as always more modern tanks- neither will be shiny !

  5. Your comment on imagination, Andy - presence or lack of it - brought me to thinking about what might be the cause. It seems to me that these days it is availability of stuff has had the effect of widening your choices in many directions but with the effect of narrowing the imagination.

    One's choices are widened in terms of the variety of war gaming genres and ... erm ... toys. Yet the effect is channelling. In a city with lots of keen war gamers, I'm pretty much outside the main stream in my interests. I don't do WRG or DBM or FoG, even though I have Ancients in 15mm; I don't do Bolt Action, or FoW, or Crossfire or Spearhead; even though I have plenty of WW2 kit. My adherence to Command Decision II rather disqualifies my stuff from being used for any other rule set (unless I go down the Megablitz or Not Quite Mechanised route, a tempting idea, actually). Playing Panzer Marsch! plays merry hell with the way my stuff is organised.

    Time was, one 'made do'. The armies I built for my Imagi-nations were developed in the first instance from Airfix 'Washington's Army' and 'British Grenadiers infantry; Airfix RHA; Airfix Napoleonic Hussars and cuirassiers, the latter having their helmets replaced by tricorn hats from otherwise not-very-useful Washington's Army figures.

    Nor are they completely imaginary: the armies were based on 7YW Austrian and Prussian, even down to the regimental inhabers. Then a vaguely Russian looking army came into being from ESCI and Revell Napoleonics and AWI figures, the less regular Yankees becoming the cadres for grenze or garrison troops. A job lot of French Napoleonic infantry became the core of a (very) vaguely Swedish Army...

    One of the reasons for beginning my 'Army Men' project, was partly the inspiration of a guy who turned up at the club one day with folders full of a fantasy world he had created. He wondered if a game could be created from it, and had already built up an army with transports, home made artillery, and tanks adapted from large-scale kits.

    I drew up a campaign map, put together a simple (one brain cell) set of rules (inventing an artillery device that I'm rather proud of, actually) and scratchbuilt balsa wood navies. But in the end, he decided the war game aspect didn't interest him so much, and had become sidetracked by the notion of a world much like ours, but with New Zealand so enlarged as to form two island continents stretching from the sub-Antarctic to north of the equator. I wanted to stick with his original idea, however much the Super New Zealand notion appealed..

    So I rebuilt my own Army Men armies, equipped them with whatever I could find, adapt, repair or scratchbuild. The Green vs Tan notion went by the board (rather a waste of the warring nations of Ghanh Ghreen and Phaic Tanh, but never mind).

    What I like is the freedom to do what I like, how I like, with what I like. The only commercial rules I use are Command Decision and (trying not to look ahead to reorganising my stuff) Panzer Marsch. I have plenty of rule sets here that have developed by others, but still like to develop my own.

    My main problem is finding someone like minded. But of course I can't complain very hard if the main stream is no more inclined to compromise than I am.

    1. Ion One of the reasons I am tending to move backwards in rules terms is simply that many of these rules are more open ended than the "game-centric" style of today. For me this latter style is one of the things I dislike- you don't play WW2 you play FOW or Bold Action and the rules actually get in the way especially if they are awful such as the two I mentioned.
      I used to write my own rules- but now tend not to- well mostly- but when Umpiring will change/butcher/ ignore rules as the Umpire sees fit to the limits of the scenario and period.. I.m aware that this is not for everyone and even in our group it does not always happen but thechance is always there. The chance of NOT being trammelled by the bloody rules of some game designer who simply wants a dice rolling contest for the hard of thinking.

    2. I have a lot of sympathy with your view, Andy. Thinking of WW2, we do run into what I might call 'levels' of command sub-genres, ranging from skirmish, tactical (e.g Panzer Marsch, FoW or BA) through to operational (Megablitz and NQM). My own preference is for an 'in-between' sort of game, such that Command Decision and Spearhead, are.

      Part of the reason for playing 'CD' rather than WW2 (for e.g.) has to do with the requirements of the rule set. I have mentions that Pz Marsch knocks my organisation around - it takes an age and an age to resort my figures (models not so much) into their 'proper' organisation.

      On the other hand, I've been told that Megablitz and NQM are very forgiving in that regard.

      So I guess I am now in a position to say that I play WW2 games, with a leaning to operational or tactical-operational levels of ... command?

      Your comment anent 'dice rolling contest' reminds me of a local gamer who, whenever FoG or DBM or whatever action turns south for him, observes, 'It's just a dice rolling game.'

      One of my biggest beefs are rule sets that take over the game from you. I can see the point in solo games: you don;t want your right hand to know what your left hand is doing. But in competitive games you want there to be a modicum of skill, and that implies the ability to make plans with some reasonable prospect of being able to carry them out give or take your opponent's ability to stymie them. That does not preclude chance elements, but they ought to be of a sort that one can take them into account. Napoleon once remarked that the art of good generalship lay in knowing just how much to leave to chance.

      So I have a loathing for caprice in war games, however capricious the presiding deity (Mars or Bellona? Brig Peter Young thought the latter). There is more dice rolling in Backgammon, but, in tournament play a single game is not considered sufficient to determine the winner of a match. if a single game is not considered a 'long run' in backgammon, so much less is it so in war games. So you don't want 'extreme' results of one or two die rolls to affect the outcome. I dislike 'event cards' for the same reason, unless they are designed in such a way as to test your adaptability to events. If so, then one has to revisit what is 'winning' or 'losing' a war games battle. I have in the past played 'lost' battles in which I have been quite satisfied of my handling, making the best of a bad situation. The sort of 'competitive ' rule sets don't seem to allow for that.

    3. Sorry - meandered a bit there. Possibly should write up something like this in my own blog...

    4. AQlmost exactly my own view there Ion. Though replacing rules caprice with a capricious Umpire may not seem the ideal solution but a good Umpire will have "controlled caprice" if you like and it will be in period rather than pulling itself out of an embroidered bag ! .