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Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Enlightenment, or the penny drops... eventually.

I had already written this post once, several days ago, but somehow the scanned pages that I had done, would not transfer onto my post. So I have had to re write the whole thing.
 Its been a while since I posted on this, my main blog, but I have done some posts on my other blog.
 [ see my home page ]
 The post that I had to erase concerned an interview that MWAN had conducted with Paddy Griffith in 1988. Now Paddy Griffith [God rest his soul] was a bit like Marmite, you either loved him or hated him. Hate is a very strong word, but I certainly wasn't impressed when he wrote the article in Miniature Wargames about the case against toy soldiers.
 At that time I was mightily pissed off and I probably wrote a letter to the editor about his views.
 [That would have done the trick ]
 However with age comes some form of enlightenment, and I can now see that he had a relevant point.
 As I stated I couldn't scan the interview, but the synopsis was that Paddy Griffith who started wargaming in the early 1960's stopped gaming and then returned in the early 1970's to find that there had been no progress made in wargaming as regards the reality of depicting war and the battles fought by wargamers.
 His view was that because wargamers had an aerial and unobstructed view of the battlefield, an accurate depiction of a battle could never be achieved. Additionally because wargamers were tied to toy soldiers, in pristine outfits, and regiments depicted as in romantic paintings they effectively were just messing about with toys and could never depict accurately a battle.
  He did concede that when Miniature Figurines tried to introduce 5mm blocks that there was an opportunity to realistically fight a battle.
  [ Funnily enough I own a lot of 6mm Napoleonic blocks cast by Ian at Irregular Miniatures, and I can attest they look pretty good, but I digress. ]
 The upshot was Paddy Griffith going on to found Wargames Developments in an attempt to accurately depict war and battles by using other means to do so.
    Wargamers [ ie myself] however, continued buying and painting toy soldiers and moving them around tables, except now I think we don't attempt to pretend that the battle is an accurate depiction of an actual battle, because if we do we are only fooling ourselves.
 Once upon a time, that was used an explanation when we were challenged by our friends that we were still playing with toy soldiers, we could always counter by saying, no we are actually recreating an accurate depiction of a battle, yeah right.
    Its funny but rule writers rarely mention or attempt to deal with the fact that we can see right across a battlefield and know virtually everything an opponent has got. Yes I know we can use curtains, or tiles, or whatever, but once you get to grips, we can still see everything that is going on around the battlefield.
  Similarly weather is rarely a factor in wargames, although it was clearly a very important matter in a real battle.
 And dont even mention smoke from muskets and cannons, is vision ever obscured nowadays in a wargame, rarely I think.
  Ammunition to a lesser extent is dealt with in some rules, but how many ancient wargamers are concerned about running out of missiles [ arrows.] clearly the Parthians had given this some thought at the battle of Carrhae.
 The current crop of glossy rule books tends not to dwell on such mundane subjects, and gets around this by well, ignoring them.
  So what is my point. I'm not really that certain, to tell you the truth.
  But it tends to make a mockery of me religiously painting the correct facings, button colour and lace on my Napoleonic and SYW figures, none of which could be seen by a real life opponent unless they were quickly bearing down on them. It also tends to run counter to religiously researching a period and reading every damn history book about a certain campaign.
 Except that if one doesn't do such research or accurate painting then you might as well do what Paddy Griffith did in the television programme Game of War, and cut to the quick and  push pieces of red and blue plastic around a model battlefield which still doesn't get over the problem of seeing everything on the field, and more importantly to me anyways,  it looks a pretty crap game.







17 comments:

  1. Yep. Much of the appeal of wargaming surely has to do with the joy and spectacle or brightly colored toy soldiers of various periods and in a variety of sizes or scales.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    Replies
    1. Evening Stokes,
      I can honestly state, that I am never happier than when I am sat looking at a wargames table where there are rows of lovely toy soldiers moving [ figuratively speaking] across the table.
      Thanks Robbie.

      Delete
  2. Yup, for me it allows my passion for military history, research, modelling and painting to culminate in a visual feast and hopefully an enjoyable game. I don't profess to recreate history but there is a satisfaction in doing research, sometimes walking the field of battle and trying to understand what took place. When this culminates in a game be it demonstration or otherwise then there is a sense of achievement. Wargames Development etc leaves me cold, not my idea of fun but each to their own

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Evening Graham,
      I think its taken me a long time to realise that wargamers are really just playing at war literally, and I think that's probably the best way to enjoy the hobby. Study the history, paint well, and just enjoy the spectacle.

      Delete
  3. I like playing with pretty toy soldiers ! , Tony

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    1. Evening Tony,
      I actually can still remember seeing my first wargames battle on properly modeled terrain. Talk about a revelation, I was hooked after that. There can be nothing better than rows of soldiers lined up on a table, [ well apart from Cheryl Cole laid across my wargames table]

      Delete
  4. I like my toys, but the omniscient general syndrome does actually limit my choice of period. I'm reluctant to return to WWII games because of this and certainly anything post that. I can live with a helicopter view in horse & musket periods and Ancients because it's pretty much the norm and always has been, but more modern stuff just stretches credibility too much for me.

    Mind you, I'm that gormless/forgetful, hidden movement is pretty common in my games . . . ;O)

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    1. Gary,
      Many moons ago John made a periscope that you had to place behind your model tank and look through, if you could see the enemy then you could fire. It worked, but after awhile the other rules mechanisms bored me rigid.
      Its strange though, that modern rule writers either dont attempt to answer this problem, or just ignore it.
      As for hidden movement, I've actually forgotten whole brigades, and dint move them during a battle, now that's realistic.

      Delete
  5. I can't recall just where I read it but someone once wrote something to the effect that all campaigning armies very quickly became the color of the local mud . . . which, while true does not look good to me on the tabletop . . . .

    So I unabashedly paint my toy soldiers in nice bright colors. However, as for rules, when I write my own I try mightily to introduce as much "fog of war" as I can. I have provisions for orders being misunderstood and subordinates doing unexpected things as well as deliberate delays in order changes reaching their targets.

    This does not completely eliminate the "helicopter view" but does make for some interesting battles and often some frustrated generals.

    Yes, to answer your (unasked) question, I play with toy soldiers.


    -- Jeff

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    1. Evening Jeff,
      It would certainly a wargamer a fortune if the only army you painted was in campaign dress, ie in rags. But I know that I was first attracted to wargaming by the Blandford Uniforms of the World book, which had an illustration of a Neapolitan grenadier officer of the 7th Africa regiment, resplendent in white uniform yellow facings and white bearskin. That was it, bugger campaign uniforms, paint everything in full dress.

      Delete
  6. I came to the conclusion years ago that wargaming is all about focus on the 'game' itself. We can only guess (despite reading many historical accounts) what real war is like, unless we have experienced it first hand. Wargaming is just that, a game of war, and as such can never (unless you go to the level of Kreigspiel, and even that will also fall short) really create war as it really is regardless of how good the rules are! Despite my wittering I still enjoy the hobby after over 44 years and love it for all its many facets and abstractness! Like other posters I like seeing me bonny figures on the table!!

    Den

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    Replies
    1. Evening Dennis,
      I never fancied joining Wargames Developments, originally I thought it elitist [ it probably isnt ] and then I never fancied pretending to be a character from history at their committee games. I have enough trouble throwing sixes, as you well know, and I love my toys too much to want to try 'real' warfare.

      Delete
  7. Here we go again Rather than make an attempt to solve those problems which ARE solvable(and some to be sure are not) the current practise is to ignore them.
    Frankly a decent Umpire can solve many if not all of the problems robbie outlines- Helcopter view- easy make the players sit with their backs to the table and have "The Umpire team" move the soldiers. I've done this more than once and it works though it does require preparationand is a chore in a really big game. .Weather again the Umpire sorts this out and the same with visibility.
    Of course the problem the MAIN problem can be the players who are hidebound to their rulesand their interpretation of said rules-
    My way- "The Umpire is the Rulebook"
    T"he Umpire is equally unfair to ALL players"
    remebr the Knight Tale
    "The Gods are fickle -ther kill us for thier Sport" - say Umpire instead of Gods and you are gettintg close
    The big problem is the idea of "fairness" - since when was war fair.
    Sure you may not want to run games this way all the time but a good Umpire become part of the cross the players have to bear...

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    1. Evening Andy,
      Poor King Lear, he certainly got the s###ty end of the stick. The nearest I've come to an umpire was John, who loves reading rulebooks. I am now of an age when all I really want to do, is paint, read, buy toys and talk to like minded people, what could be better than that. Please don't answer that, it was rhetorical.

      Delete
    2. and what have rulebooks got to do with Umpiring may I ask?

      Delete
    3. Further- never thought of you as one of the "same old Same old" crew Robbie. Perhaps you need to broarden your wargaming horizons.
      I don't know about you but I find the dice -rolling contest somewhat tedious after 40 years- want something a bit more challenging
      The Resitance Lives on!

      Delete
  8. Messing around with toy soldiers? - yep, that's what I do.

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My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating