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Sunday, 4 September 2016
A View from a Dinosaur.
With the news regarding the demise of Henry Hyde as Editor of the Miniature Wargames magazine, it got me thinking about trends within the hobby.
So before I light this blue touch paper, can I say that the post is written with the best of intent.
Anyway, I may be totally wrong [ as I have said many times before] but if as Henry says the magazine owners are going to add 16 additional pages of fantasy and science fiction to the MW, then is this part of a clear trend, and where does that leave historical wargamers in the future.
Leading on from this, and the belief that the majority of wargame club members seem to be focusing on skirmish type games, steam punk, Saga, Bolt Action etc then I can see a definite change to what is viewed as wargaming per se.
Using what is happening at wargames shows as regards the actual games on show as evidence I think I will have to revise my definition of what I believed was wargaming as it is frankly outdated or just plain wrong.
My original understanding of 'what is wargaming?'
Wargaming when I started, in the very early 1970's was based around the ideas of Donald Featherstone and Charles Grant and then by Terry Wise, George Gush, Charlie Wesencraft et al.
The common denominator was that the 'games' were based around actual historical military events, historical characters, actual battles and well, reality.
In the sense that the events being portrayed were a wargamers attempts to refight some battle and trying to change the historical outcome, for example that old chestnut refighting he Battle ofWaterloo. [ which I have fought several times as the French, and always won ]
I know all about the arguments that have been played out about wargaming, that it can never be realistic and I fully accept this, but for whatever reason wargamers still research the battles and attempt to re fight the events, with correctly painted troops and in the main using the tactics that were used in whatever battle or campaign they are fighting.
That seemed to be the whole point of wargaming, and God knows how many times I have defended this position with people who sneered at 'playing with toy soldiers'.
Now older and wiser one realises that a wargamer can never achieve the conditions faced by the commanders as they refight a specific battle, due to so many things. But, does that mean that we give up historical wargaming? Of course not because there is too much pleasure to be obtained from research, correct painting of units, and re fighting battles from history, and that is one of the main points of Wargaming.Well it is for me, and I believe quite a few 'old uns.'
However this is clearly becoming a minority aspect of what I knew as wargaming, and as wargamers of my age, shift their mortal coil this view will become as rare as hobby horse shit.
So what am I trying to say?
Well several things really, because Wargaming is not;.............
Wargaming as I knew it, is not placing twenty figures on a two by two piece of cloth and then throwing the odd dice, because that to me is just a game pure and simple, like Monopoly. If that disrespects exponents of such games then I am sorry.
Wargaming is not buying the latest set of rules, picking from the list provided by the author and then simply throwing the odd dice. Again that is just a game, and one might as well use Lego characters as badly painted historical characters.[at least they're nicely coloured ]
Wargaming is not creating some Dystopian World [ just what does dystopia actually mean by the way, although I do know what dyspepsia is, so it must be something similar ] placing the odd piece of unpainted mdf building on a table and then spending an hour throwing dice to see who is dead.
Which leads nicely on to the Undead, because wargaming is definitely not about Zombies of any creed, sexual persuasion etc, and if this floats your boat, then head down to your local pub where they run a ' board games ' night for people looking to 'socially interact with likeminded persons, because that seems to me where you should spend some time.
Do any of these 'wargamers' not realise just how limiting these 'games' actually are, and frankly just how boring they becomes after the umpteenth game of chasing some zombie around a piece of green baize. There is no future in any of these 'wargame' because eventually the would be 'wargamers' will move on, and probably not into another dystopian game.
And my point is?.............
Firstly if I was one of the many people who makes and sells historical wargames figures in the hope they will shift in large quantities then I would be very worried, because the trend is for small amounts of figures, and definitely not regiments of carefully researched units. Perhaps the new owners of Games Workshop were correct, when they did away with Warhammer World.
Secondly if you are a person who has spent the last few years painstakingly researching a specific battle or campaign with the hope of writing a book etc, I would seriously ask the following question, who is going to buy your book? Not the 'wargamer' who likes pushing around his Nazi zombies that's for certain.
Thirdly, wargames club committees should seriously look at what their members are actually playing, and dare I suggest that they consider 'helping' the members who play one of the games I have described, and if they play these every week, can I suggest that they are somehow 'encouraged' to try a proper wargame, with historically researched units on a large table.
Its all well and good having loads of members, but if the vast majority of the members are ' playing' skirmish, board games etc, calling yourselves a Wargame Club could be stretching things a bit, and yes I know about the arguments about new blood, but that is only a good thing if some of these members make the crossover in historical wargaming [ ie real wargaming ]
Fourthly, if the owners of Miniature Wargames decide to fill their magazine [ as is their right ] with copious pages of fantasy, sci fi etc, then can I humbly suggest that they change the name of the magazine please, because otherwise you are contravening the Trades Description Act.
Finally, if anyone reading this post is planning to put on a game at some wargames event, then can I also suggest that they pull out all the stops and create some wonderful historical spectacle containing hundreds of carefully researched figures portraying some historical battle, just so us dinosaurs can show the rest, exactly what they are missing by playing a wargame.