Tuesday, 28 December 2021

Rude Health?

 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.''

Battle Gaming written by Terrry Wise about painting and collecting armies and refighting history.


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.] 






          

22 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  2. There had been a trend towards these overthinking type of articles of late. I tend to read them and then move on. I'm quite convinced the world was a better place when large chunks were painted red and see no need to apologise for things before my time. Wargaming, of whatever type, is a hobby undertaken with friends for fun. End of. It has no hidden political agenda in my experience.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh I totally agree David, but it seems that even the most simple of pleasures has to be judged before it can be allowed.Each day seems to bring some new expert decrying an innocent pastime, comment etc as akin to heresy. I was disappointed by Barry who is a great wargamer and all round decent Scot. Perhaps he felt he needed to tick some box for the magazine, who knows. Two things should never be discussed, especially in bars [ remember them] and across wargames tables. One is politics and the other used to be a person's choice in football teams.Things have changed.

      Delete
  3. I have yet encounter a one-legged lesbian! ;-)

    Happy New Year,

    Stokes

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky you Stokes. Im certain one could purchase such a wargames figure if one tried.

      Delete
  4. on mowing down natives I always remember watching Zulu with my young daughter. At the end I asked her who she thought was the bravest, she immediately said the British. Then I said what about charging into all that gunfire, she thought for a while and then said The Zulus. It's just that we take a while to get into the mindset of a different culture.

    A solution may be to game the combat from only one perspective, my own Zulu rules have the Zulus acting in a pre-programed manner like "Pony Wars" and the problem for the British players is how to coordinate their actions to survive a seemingly endless horde of Zulus.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Somehow I dont think Barry was alluding to the actual games but to the fact wargamers had the temerity to actually think it was a good idea to actually play these games at all. Given the demand from certain quarters to remove artistic and historical exhibits from museums and of course certain historical figures from their plinths I think two wargamers playing with Zulus and Redcoated Imperialists have little chance. War AND Imperialism, God help us.

      Delete
  5. We really should not look any further into our wargaming than we enjoy the hobby, playing with toy sojers. We have a broad church where in my experience all are welcome to come and throw dice. However our turn under the microscope is only just beginning. Really enjoyed this read and looking forward to part 2 and the evils of Brexit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you George. Im not certain I should visit the second part. I lost friends during the real event and also came close to rolling about on the floor with others. Wargaming is a very broad church. That was part of the attraction for me. We all know of some strange person who turns up to play, but as long as they dont drool over my figures or throw a huffy they are all right with me.I have even been known to speak to wargamers from Newcastle.

      Delete
  6. I like old school big battalions, but while some ranges are still available, they can still work out quite expensive, let alone if bidding for discontinued ranges on eBay where they can command exorbitant figures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I remember an extract from my wargaming bible, Achtung Schweinhund where Harry Pearson commented upon the early figure collectors as retired judges, generals and very rich people. I would hate to see the hobby split into skirmish gamers and wargamers who were lucky enough to have been born early enough to collect big armies in metal and have a room to use them in.

      Delete
    2. Big units are nice but I do like them to stay around for a while. Unlike my vanishing Cavalry Corps in the WHC game - no sooner had I got them out than I was packing them all away. You just need to sort ot the three photos in the correct sequence to see how dramatic / dispiriting it was.

      Delete
  7. Never being a slave to fashion, my interests, gaming, and collections are rarely synchronized with the in-vogue mob. That is OK. I enjoy what I am doing and it is my pastime. While I do some skirmish gaming, my interest lays in recreating big historical battles. Skirmish gaming may be trendy but I like what I like. As for expensive figures and museum quality paint jobs, well, I prefer quantity to quality.

    Always a thought-provoking post from you, Robbie.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Now Johnathan, one knows your painting abilities are matched by your ability to paint quickly, so can do justice to any figure.There are some truly amazing figures out there now which are crying out for a decent paint job and if the cost £8-£10 each, you will make certain they are few in number and painted well.I have armies with 36 figures per battalion and to be honest their frontage makes games problematical, but I have them. I am lucky in that I have wargamed for many years, but any new blood will look at such units as impossible for them to own.Too big and too expensive.They will opt to become gamers if they opt for anything at all. As for colonial games, well I forsee some clown tipping up to some event eventually and screaming heresy at the poor wargamers.

      Delete
  8. Wargaming with big battalions is alive and well, just in smaller scales than 25mm. This is now usually done in 15mm or, increasingly, in 10 or 6mm. My preference is 6mm. I have now moved more into skirmish gaming with the advent of Ronin, Muskets and Tomahawks, Frostgrave, and now, Silver Bayonet. That doesn't mean I won't game with my large 6mm ancients or Napoleonics though.
    I'm not heartless but I don't see the need to anguish over foreign wars from long ago. And, as you say, British soldiers didn't always win. It's a game.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. As you may be aware I sold all my 25/28mm armies in the late 1980's and completely went over to 6mm using Irregular Miniatures.I collected many very large armies and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. And then I stopped and instead returned to 28/30mm armies and began to sell my 6mm armies and give away my very large collection of terrain boards. I enjoyed both scales but found the joy of painting bigger figures too much of a temptation. I just cannot see a future with skirmish wargaming and fell that it is a cul de sac.

      Delete
  9. Interesting and thought provoking as always, my reply would be, plastic! We can't afford the beautifully sculpted metal figures but we can afford to do big battalions in 28mm in beautifully sculpted plastic,I accept the scale creep argument in relation to figure width but we can find ways around that surely? Even with the advent of inflation and pay squeeze plastic is still relatively cheap ,certainly cheaper than going to premier league football, a box of Perry's cost's about the same as 3 pints of beer so still not expensive, there is surely enough doom and gloom as it is!
    Best Iain

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know Iain,but I didn't see it as doom and gloom but more an observation and warning for wargamers who need to recognise the changes that are taking place.I do collect plastic and yes it should be the way forward but a combination of poor historical knowledge,space, a different way of looking at the hobby etc. make the spectre of big armies disappearing a real possibility.

      Delete
  10. Definitely a big battles, fairly big battalions guy myself. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  11. Cheer up chaps our hobby will be what we choose to make it! If some one comes along and glues their fore head to the table, so what. Just keep on gaming.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi, I really enjoyed reading your post, and hope to read more. thank you so much for sharing this informative blog.
    ភ្នាល់បាល់​ អនឡាញ

    ReplyDelete

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