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Tuesday, 10 February 2015

A Nostradamus Moment.

I was re reading the latest edition of Miniature Wargames the other night, [ issue 382] struggling to find something mildly interesting, when I read an article by Mike Hobbs, titled Passing the Torch.
 Basically in order to answer the doom laden predictions of various wargamers of maturing age, Mr Hobbs described the goings on at the Cardiff Wargames Club, which sounds a pretty decent set up.
Its always interesting to come outside of my wargaming bubble and find out what the future holds for wargaming in general. Somehow I dont see the future as too bright.
 Its clear that wargaming in Cardiff is thriving which is great news, what also appears clear is that if this is replicated across the United Kingdom, and the world, then wargaming as I have known it is fast disappearing.
 It could explain the increasing trend that I have seen at wargaming shows, in rules, and in figure manufacturers for much smaller, skirmish type, history light wargames.
 If the Cardiff group is typical, and I cant see why it shouldnt be, then the new breed of wargamers is fixated upon lists of units that have 'special'  abilities,equipment, and such like, in fact that old chestnut, 'List Building' a la Wargames Research Group like wargaming.
Basically attempting to find a unit of troops with that winning ability. God help us!
 So the next generation of wargamers appear to want the following,
1] rules that are easy to learn and play[ fair enough]
2] they want figures that are quality castings [again fair enough]
3] they dont want to spend a lot of time researching the history around the game they are fighting, hence the popularity of rules such as Flames of War, Saga, Bolt Action etc, where everything is basically in the book provided.
4] Apparently a big plus for the new generation of wargamers is List Building, that is the ability to trawl through the rules purchased to find a winning combination of troop types which then go on to sweep the wargame field of their opponents.
  Lists have always troubled me. Who has compiled these lists? Which expert, who must have knowledge that no other historian of wargamer possesses is able to draw up a list abilities and equipment that can create a super unit.
 I was always stumped when Bruce Quarrie brought out his Napoleonic rules with table of National characteristics, right so you want to be Spanish, well that means your sneaky, lazy, stupid and cruel, that will be a 5 factor then. Christ is that what the future holds for wargaming. Come on, surely the last fifty odd years has producded something more than this.
   As touched upon earlier, I have noticed for a while a trend towards much smaller display games, fewer figures and occasionally abstract games.I think I now understand why this is, obviously the new generation of wargamers is exhibiting the type of games that they see as the future of wargaming.
 Its like being told that the world isn't flat, and the Pope isn't infallible.
    I think if this is the future then a lot of wargaming companies had better re appraise their business plans, because their latest release, of well researched historical figures is going to crash and burn.
 I also advise them to consider producing a set of simplistic rules, filling it with loads of lists of obscure weapons and attributes and then producing a small range of very expensive toys with stick on bits. Oh and charge shit loads of money for each upgraded figure.
 They could even change the name of their companies to something like Games Research Workshop Group.
  Any wargamer who has taken the trouble to paint a Spanish Napoleonic army [ me] or a Neapolitan Napoleonic army [me] has become obsolete overnight, because clearly the underdog is finished.
 The future looks to hold, super units consisting of the SAS on steroids, or a whole army of Imperial Guardsmen drunk on winning. Now is that what wargaming should be about?
I am clearly showing my age here, but perhaps the older wargamer who attends these clubs, ie Cardiff, should consider setting up a more historic game, for these youngsters and attempting to show them that its not all about small ready made simplistic games, but actually wargaming is also about reading about history, researching various armies, and generally attempting to learn as you are having fun.
 The final paragraph in the Mike Hobbs article says its time to pass the torch to the new safe pair of hands belonging to the next generation.
 Personally I would rather use the lit torch in a more delicate place.
Here endeth the rant................
                           
           








25 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Evening Colin,
      I think I may change the blog, to Victor Meldrews Rants.

      Delete
  2. Agree completely..bring on The big battalions I say

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    Replies
    1. Alright Dave,
      Its not so much the big battalions, for me its the lack of effort, and understanding what we were trying to achieve.

      Delete
  3. Agreed on all counts! Bring on the BIG battalions.

    Best Regards,

    Stokes

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    Replies
    1. Evening Stokes,
      I would expect nothing less from yourself.

      Delete
  4. I tend to agree with you. It's pessimistic to see that as the only future of wargaming. We AMG types can be nearly as bad e.g Charles Grant's books have nearly everything we need, even lists - they are called historic orders of battle! ;-)
    Chris

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    1. I know what you are saying Chris. But what I did do was use the book list recommended by Charles Grant and then read them myself.
      Lists would be okay if the authors would justify how they arrived at their conclusions. We all have our favourite units etc, but I know that mine were beatable and why they actually were very good.

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  5. I'm not sure I agree with everything you've said but I do empathise with the sentiment. We have to remember that the younger gamers were not brought through the hobby playing "our" games. they were brought up in an age where GW reigned supreme and that now means small high quality units, frequently updated and amended Codex (army lists to you and me). A trip to GW HQ will often prove an interesting experience with a lot of players having exquisite collections of small numbers. I've not seen masses of figures being used for several years now. Our hobby has reacted in providing something similar - the rise of VBCW & Steampunk have given me concern for a while now. So it is up to the hobby to give an alternative to small games and the advent of massed plastic figures allows that to happen within a decent budget - the trick though is to get them (those gamers to be converted) to paint masses of figures when they are only used to painting 30-40 for GW. In age when so much is plug&play a hobby that demands time and attention was always going to suffer.

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    1. Evening Paul,
      You speak from the experience of running a club. You will actually see the new breed in action. I understand what you are saying, but what I think is needed is that club members of the more mature variety help shape these people by showing them what can be done, and that it doesnt have to be all small and spoonfed.I remember several years ago, John and I had a wargamer join us with a Russian Napoleonic army. He realizedthat in the rules we were using, if you physically supported your artillery with close order infantry, the batteries became a very potent melee weapon, and very effective at killing the enemy by cannister fire. The result was masses of artillery thrown as far forward as possible. Doable in the rules, but historically wrong.

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  6. Interesting post - I often feel like this about wargaming, and am gently accused of being old and grumpy. Only defence I can offer is I have never been very positive about trends in wargames, so I must once have been young and grumpy. Over the years I have been turned off (in no particular order) by hyper-realism, Dungeons & Dragons and its descendants, figure scale-creep (and other fashion movements which put my manufacturers of choice out of business), table-driven rules (WRG style), club committees, national championships (aaargh) and any other publicising of people who wished to tell us all what we should be doing instead of what we wanted to do - the world is full of people like that already, without them infiltrating our hobbies.

    My point? - well, being old and grumpy I probably don't have one, except that eventually I have learned that the hobby is quietly full of people like me (and you, probably?), who have always just got on with what interested them, in spite of what got into the magazines. I've always felt like something of an outsider - maybe I need to feel like that to get full benefit from my hobby - so no trend in Cardiff or elsewhere is going to change that very much!

    Good article - thanks - Tony

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    Replies
    1. Evening Tony,
      For many years I have felt like an outsider. I would read articles by various well known wargamers and feel that somehow I was not part of what was going on. Eventually I realised that most wargamers feel like that. The internet has helped in this, how would we be talking now if this wasnt the case. Most wargamers can actually have a voice and feel included in their hobby. I would just like to think that our hobby could continue in its present form and pass to a new generation, safe in the knowledge that these new people would enjoy it, and actually get it.

      Delete
  7. I have 5 battalions of Elite Miniatures Neapolitans! I love them and they have always performed well(ish) when called into action. Nothing beats researching and reading about interesting units and armies, be they good or bad, and the motivation to have them in your army should never be solely based on their ability within a specific set of rules. I agree wholeheartedly with your comments Robbie. We, at Westerhope are great advocates of simple, fast rules BUT always backed up by historical knowledge to fill in the gaps and provide nuance to the game. cheers Dave.

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    Replies
    1. Evening Dave,
      One of my favourite units has always been the Neopolitan 7th Line infantry, 'Africa'. Why because they were the worst in the French army, but when they were transferred to the Neopolitan army they were their best troops. How good is that, from zeros to heros.
      Some of my best wargames have been the ones where I was absolutely whooped. I was so bad and my troops so rubbish that it became really enjoyable. I would be bored if I won everytime. [oh and I would be surprised as well]

      Delete
  8. Robbie- the emphasis on the "gaming" is now totla-and has been for some years. To many NOTHING but the dice -rolling and the WINNING is of any moment at all . Fashions may change c and carefully crafted and researched armies may come back in 20 or 30 years - but since I'll have snuffed by then who actually cares,
    I had a long conversation with Dave Clemmet at York on this very subject and siad that why would I care about the "future of the hobby " when I'm dead- the hobby does not and will not give a stuff.
    As you are aware I've moaned about the lightmineded gamey crap that passes for wargaming nowadays but I've come to the conclusion that- aside from its amusment value and the fun of sticking pins in the deserving I don't actully care
    As it happens I still sell shedloads of historical stuff- in quantity in various sizes to customers all over the world. What they do with itv once they have paid their bill is entirely their own affair.
    In the same way what I do with mine is my affair too. I agree entirely with you post no argument- you know my views on list both from my blog and my writings in MW but this argument has gone on for a long time its not new.
    The only new bit is that non- historical dudes are likely to remain in the ascendant for some time simply because we live in the age of instant gratification at all costs.

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    Replies
    1. I know what you are saying Andy. And being a trader you will see how things are developing, the problem is I do care because if as you say things follow the current trends then wargaming as conceived by Donald Featherstone et al, will just disappear with the demise of each older wargamer.
      No doubt there will remain small pockets of wargamers intent on following our type of wargaming, but in the main the last 60 plus years will have been for nothing. What will be left is dinnertable games. Nothing wrong with that occasionally, but only if the players understand what they are fighting and who their figures represent etc.
      Anyway I wrote the post really to get some reaction, which is a whole separate issue in itself because although I know most wargamers just want to get on with their projects, it would be nice to see a bit free discussion on issues that probably trouble us all.

      Delete
    2. Robbie but in the great scheme of things what does it matter- last 60 years have been for nothing- sorry mate thats tosh not to say Twaddle! We've been there through most of that doing our thing so how can it have been for nothing ,
      I ceertainly agree with you point on more discussion - hence my similar pieces on my blog and my articles but things will change and have ben changing for years.
      I can recall a time when I NEVER bought rules for a period but always wrote my own- as did many others now I rarely do .
      I used to play Featherstone ans Wise with Airfix- now I don't and wouldn't want too as a general rule..
      I don't have many wargamers addiction to the actual gaming process for me thats a form of reptitive tedium I prefr to avoid so "games" such as Saga and Tomahawks featurubng Lionheat in the Queens Name are not for me - can't see the point. BUT others do and whilst I may cast aspersiions as to their intellectual ability I don't think they shouldn't play if they wish .
      Mind you I can feel an article on Representation on the table coming on .....

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  9. Hey up 'Ranting Robbie', I understand where you're coming from but I don't agree with you mate. As you know I collect fair size armies, historically researched and painted, like yourself, but to play with them in a decent sized game takes a while to organise and set up. Through the week at my place we have games that can only last a couple of hours or so due to family commitments etc, hence the attraction of Saga, Lion Rampant etc, where you can get a decent fun game with minimal set up time, I know this is also an attraction at our local club. It boils down to having time to play, we still enjoy large games on weekends and the occasional week nights where we leave the table up for a few nights running but there is a place for quick games within our broad church of a hobby.
    I don't think the hobby is moving to exclusively small, niche games as the sale of plastic box sets seems to be on the up- Vapnatak at York was full off youngsters carrying multiple boxes of historical figures, could it be that the younger generation (by younger generation I mean 20's to 30's) are moving on from GW and building historical armies and playing games with their mates at home and don't have the time to carry large armies to clubs, hence the small games taking over at club nights?
    Just a thought, no doubt you'll disagree Victor !!

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    Replies
    1. Evening Jim,
      Well no I actually dont disagree. What you are saying is that there will be a number of younger players looking to wargame historically which is great. So what is needed is to make certain that enough interest is captured from amongst the up and coming younger wargamers that they want to take up the wargaming torch as we know it and build on it.
      The main thing from throwing in a rant is in the main to create some response from amongst the few people that actually read my bollocks.Having you throw youre sixpenneth in means it worked. So the next time you put on a game where they might be younger wargamers there, make sure that the game is not only interesting and colourful but also historical.
      Thinking about it, I quite like the idea of being Victor.

      Delete
  10. 'Ranting Robbie' - like it.
    I know you're passionate about the hobby but to a degree I have to agree with Andy and say why worry? Also I do think James has a point at my local club all the gamers come geared up to play a 2-3 hour game, we do have some larger multiplayer games and the licencee is quite happy for us to remain on site until midnight or so.
    However the other constraint is table space and size it's taken me 40 years to get a table bigger than a 6 x4 and commercially a lot of the companies know this and develop rules and systems to fit on a 4'x4' or smaller. I don't despair the young ones like to play large games and I think the article in MW did them a dis service in promoting them as list hungry, power combo individuals. GW have promoted that but like anything else I've found give them a good game to play etc and they are converted, to that end the advent of plastic is helping to do that.
    Graham

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    Replies
    1. Evening Garham,
      By this is a good response. You are lucky enough to have a club where there are younger wargamers coming. So why not put on a large historical battle for them, give each of them an objective etc. and show them that there is a lot of fun by gaming with historical troop types that may not be the best trained etc. You know what type of thing will work. As I have said to Jim, I wrote the post to create a bit of reaction, its great to have a bit talk around our hobby, it doesnt always have to be about the rules, or figures and it keeps the brain ticking over.Youre right about plastic by the way, I still see that as the way to go, that from a man whose building a new metal mountain.

      Delete
  11. Robbie,
    We do 6 player musket and tomahawks on a regular basis, that goes down well and a couple of lads have started collecting!
    Will take my ancients down in the future but as I usually walk there so I can have a couple of pints I may have to sweet talk the wife to dropping me and the figures off.
    We are looking at doing the odd all day Saturday bash which will be the ideal opportunity

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  12. Why not take down a few Jacobite figures, and after the really successful game, produce some of your castings that you just happen to have for sale.

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  13. Robbie,
    When I have finished my Jacobite variant for M&T I may just do that.😄

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  14. Here,here to your "rant" on lists-Army lists should be burned-if you want to wargame a period in history,you should know your subject,and the content of your chosen army-stick it up ,em Robbie!!

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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