Before I go off on one, may I wish everyone a Happy New Year and lets all look forward to a new year full of games, shows and wargames.
Anyway onto other subjects.
Prior to Christmas I was reading through some old Military Modelling magazines circa 1979, looking at the excellent and in fact never bettered series of Battles of the English Civil War written by the much missed Stuart Asquith.
I came across an interesting aside in the then the monthly Observation Post that was the regular feature written by the late Terry Wise, another great wargamer and all round decent man. Terry was concerned about the rising cost of figures and gave various examples of how prices had risen as quality had improved.
Naturally he wasn't complaining about the improvements in figure sculpting but predicted what would potentially happen should prices increase exponentially whilst quality was also improved to such a level that each figure would need to be given a top painting job which would thus decrease the size of potential wargamers armies given the time needed to produce such a masterpiece which would put off a lot of potential wargaming recruits amongst other things.
This was touched upon in this months Wargames Soldiers and Strategy by Rick Priestly who certainly knows what he is talking about.In Rick's case it concerned his taste for old Minifigs, where he pointed out that older wargames figures were designed to give us 'units' of satisfying visual appearance based around their uniformity, ie same pose and the fact you could fit them closely together when needed to represent a close order unit.
As Rick stated,modern game miniatures [his description] have basically abandoned any restraint as regards, size and pose dictated by the need for close order basing. As he points out most newer designs suffer from [ my opinion] from having eaten too many pies. Try basing four Victrix plastics on a 30mm by 15mm base which used to be a standard size for old 25mm figures. And yes I really like Victrix figures and think they are leaders in the sculpting of wargaming figures. Basically they had outgrown their purpose which was to represent a unit of soldiers marching and based on a carefully researched frontage that was properly scaled to represent the actual amount of space they would inhabit.
Going back to the Terry Wise Observation Post, the conclusion he came to was as follows;
''If we continue to concentrate on high quality models of the collectors calibre then 'big battalions' men, such as myself will become as rare as ham in hamburgers and our hobby will be considerably reduced in scope with the emphasis on the convenient and comparatively cheap skirmish and board game.''
So what is my point. Well its several things really. Its is increasingly obvious given the continuous and never ending release of wonderfully sculpted figures to play the never ending number of specific rule-books then what Terry Wise predicted has come to pass.
We now see beautifully sculpted figures that clearly deserve a top paint job on offer. Couple this with the inevitable well produced rule book and most likely scenario book the age of big armies is coming to an end. To be replaced by skirmish games, and small numbers of figures.Games Workshop were the first and still most successful, but there are many small companies out there desperate to compete and succeed.
Basically between the high cost of these figures, actual physical size, complexity of design and actual subject, ie Silver Whistle, historical wargamers fielding big armies will simply disappear over time, as wargaming morphs into gaming.
I confess I bought some of these figures a few weeks ago at Battleground. They are about 45mm in size and made of resin and are licensed from a company based in the USA. Frankly they are fine looking fantasy figures which I felt would paint up well and I saw as a bit of a challenge. Their price? £5.00 each so hardly big battalion recruits. But they are not suitable for the wargaming I know but totally suitable for skirmish gaming.
Most wargamers enjoy buying better and newer figures, I certainly do, but its increasingly obvious that if you have a limited budget collecting large armies isn't going to happen anytime soon. Couple this to the way military history is now being taught and of course viewed by the chattering media classes , wargaming is heading for a few issues.
Which leads me on to an article I read in the latest Wargames Illustrated, [ and yes I do read current wargaming magazines post 1980] It was an article written by Barry Hilton who I know and admire as a great wargamer. Barry and I have known each other for years from the show scene and I have nothing but admiration for his games, rules and figures even though we do disagree about his views on John Churchill.
Barry produced an article titled Rude Health? and amongst the subjects he touched upon was the dreaded fashionable term ' inclusivity.' Barry wrote that many genres of our hobby are based around small forces of Europeans killing, exploiting or otherwise subjecting people of colour.
I must admit it spoiled my sleep as I thought about this claim. I thought of all the armies I had painted, all the games I had took part in and all the books I had read.
Im ashamed? to say none of them concerned exploiting, killing of subjecting any person of colour, ie not European. So does that make me subconsciously racist for not including this in my hobby?
Or does it in fact reflect that the vast majority of wargamers like to game periods in history where European nations fought it out for whatever reason. Im afraid even though I like to use armies of the underdogs I never saw any enjoyment in mowing down the dreaded 'fuzzy wuzzies' with a Gatling gun. Somehow it seemed a pointless event. But each to their own and lets be right, the Brits fought a lot of thrilling small actions where we came off second best, but of course the new moral judges ignore those occasions.
As the wonderful Rudyard Kipling observed;
When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains, and the women come out to cut up what remains, jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your gawd like a soldier.
But obviously poor Kipling is now one of the many pariahs identified by some mindless clown.
Frankly it shouldn't bother me, but it does. Wargaming should be a wonderful experience and God knows finding pleasure in harmless pursuits is becoming harder by the day, as some clown points out how wrong thinking or saying or doing something that was once innocuous is now akin to being identified as a witch who needs burning at the stake.
Obviously there is a group of wargamers who like researching colonial and 'small wars.' But it never floated my boat although I love re-reading my Flashman books. But does that make them pariahs?
Not to me, but no doubt there will be some nonentity, desperate for victimhood who will prostrate themselves across a table crying racist etc at some bemused overweight wargamer waiting to dice for his Zulu impi.
I like to think Barry wrote his piece to fit in with the theme of the Illustrated which concerned 'small wars' etc. I hope so. As for his views as to why Salute was down re numbers etc I will leave to another day, especially it touches upon that dreaded word, 'Brexit.'
I suppose its indicative of the hobby that where once wargamers could read about actions from the English Civil War but now have to cogitate about why we dont have more women, one legged lesbians or coloured chaps in the hobby, as if it would make a difference to me throwing a one. [apologies to any of the minorities I may have insulted.]