Saturday, 21 January 2023

A Little Rant.



 Now and again, well most days actually someone will say or suggest something that elicits a response from me.The response is usually to shout at the television or throw the newspaper in the bin. It seems the 'normal' reaction nowadays to some crass stupidity, invariably from some politician, academic or 'influencer' desperate to gain notoriety. 
Sadly the wargaming fraternity has such people who luckily are still in the minority, well I hope they are.  

I was reading and I use the term lightly the latest edition of Miniature Wargames magazine [478 ] and made the mistake of reading 'The Last Word' this month and unfortunately also next month by David Hiscocks. Now I dont know  the guy and would like to think he's alright if a little wet.
As I measure a persons worth by 'would I go for a drink with them' I probably would decline the offer of a pint and chat with him. Anyway this worthy has produced more words on a subject that has popped up with boring regularity in the wargaming firmament since the early 1970's. The subject of wargaming, its ethics and does it glorify war? 
Being of a certain age it felt like I was subject of some dystopian Groundhog Day. His argument, if one can describe his article as that concerned his unease with wargaming whilst the Ukrainian war is still underway. Apparently since the start of the Ukrainian invasion '' some of his wargaming friends have been talking about how they have started to  FEEL GUILTY  for enjoying their hobby due to the association with the violence ongoing in the Ukraine.''
 According to his argument this war is different because this is the first large scale conventional war fought in Europe since 1945???

I am always suspicious whenever politicians and the like, cite the term 'some' without actually providing details of how many, who they are and whether they are what could be termed ' a full shilling.' For me 'some' is a trigger word. 
For example the other week the media declared that 'some people' are very seriously concerned about the so called cost of living crisis and that they are not hopeful that things will get better.
Of course they omitted to state that the people questioned were the poors souls who daily attended a Salvation Army food bank. So naturally they were concerned given how their lives are always in such a tenuous position, but to use this straw poll to describe the rest of the country is frankly pathetic, but of course it fits the narrative the media want to create.


So getting back to Mr Hiscocks. 
He continued in a similar vein  before in the final paragraph stating that some of his wargaming friends said they felt ashamed or guilty for sharing their hobby in public places ie the digital media. 
He concludes the first part? of his article by stating; when the conflict is in living memory or has a particular contemporary relevance then such debates can become understandably intense.'' Apparently next month he will conclude his thoughts on this tricky subject. [I cant wait ]

So what is the issue? Well for me there a few observations. The first one being that I naively hoped that the wargaming press was there to actively promote the hobby and its wonderful benefits of which there are many. I dont need anyone to look at his navel and decide that they have 'issues' with the whole glorifying war thing. Been there and definitely done that. Wargamers of a certain age can remember the clowns from CND protesting [and I use the term lightly] outside of a couple of wargaming shows claiming we were wargamers and therefore the spawn of Satan or worse.

I remember how Sweden banned all war toys and plastic guns in the 1970's in the belief this was going to steer children away from violence. Well it didnt work for Andres Behring and certainly given the huge rise in extreme groups in that country it looks like as a social experiment it failed dramatically. 
Amusingly enough, a couple of years ago a couple of so called Labour activists thought it amusing to label me a warmonger after they saw images of my toy soldiers. I found it funny because I hadnt heard that term for years which I thought very 1970's and somehow quaint.  
 But I didnt feel I should stop collecting my toys, in fact if anything it made me more determined to carry on, but then I can be an awkward bugger.


As for the argument that somehow the war in the Ukraine made our hobby shameful because of the size of the forces involved was for me laughable and to describe its impact as even more of a tragedy because it is taking place in Europe and was causing certain wargamers to be uncomfortable because it is a reminder of the reality of what our leisure activity portrays was actually pretty pathetic.

Looking back through my life, I can remember the Vietnam War, the tragic Biafran War, the terrible wars right across Africa of which there are too many to list. There were two Arab Israeli wars, two Gulf Wars, the wars in the old Yugoslavia that involved planned genocides,. And of course far closer to home the Irish conflict which dragged on for years killing thousands, and lets not forget the Falklands War, and Afghanistan all of which impacted heavily on families in the UK.
I know for certain that there are a good number of ex servicemen who have embraced our hobby and if they can handle it, Im certain I can.

Perhaps Im not sensitive although I do seem to tear up every Remembrance Sunday but I managed to paint, collect and play with my toys through all this terribly tragic conflicts. As Ive stated before, wargaming has been the bedrock of me coping, of dragging my sorry backside out of bed to face another day, whilst knowing I always had a refuge to escape to should things become truly difficult.  Have I ever felt guilty? No. Well apart from when I overspent on some such book or figures when I knew things were a bit financially tight. 
Have I felt ashamed. No. 
Ashamed of what exactly?
 That somehow my researching the military history of man was somehow condoning violence and war? That painting toy soldiers and then playing at war was somehow reprehensible and deserving of social protests? 
 To take Mr Hiscocks concerns to the extreme perhaps his friends should campaign to ban all war toys, and any associated games etc that are linked to war, ie Games Workshop in order to salve their guilt and shame. I dont play computer games but do know that the levels of violence exhibited in many of these games is extreme. Do the creators worry about the effect on the users of such games? Sadly I doubt it.

If these 'some' people are ashamed of what they do especially when posted on digital media outlets, I think we all know the answer, dont post anything or get another hobby. I hear Macrame is popular.  Perhaps they would feel better if they donated to the Ukrainian war effort or helped some of the families currently staying in our country, NOW that would be a great thing, and guilt free.



So without an iota of guilt these are some of my latest toys. The crossbowmen are part of the Burgundian ducal guard, with a 'new' mounted Charles to lead them.





I was lucky enough to obtain some Garrison 'fantasy' knights from Rob over at the Eastern Garrison. I have always loved these figures and wanted some for my Lion Rampant forces. They are true 25mm so perhaps are a tad small but I have enjoyed painting them. Sadly my matt varnish malfunctioned and left a chalky effect on them. Hopefully they look okay now. So there you go, and not a sniff of shame anywhere.








 

40 comments:

  1. Robbie, I, for one, enjoy a good rant from you.

    Is this the same David Hiscocks who wrote in WSS 110 about challenging historical stereotypes? I am sure it is.

    On the topic of the current war in Ukraine, I have gaming friends who stopped gaming Russian Civil War and WWII Russian Front for these same reasons. Good grief.

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    1. Hello Johnathan, Im afraid it is the same Mr Hiscocks. Im certain in some circles he would be a worthy soul admired for his ethical thinking but as a wargamer he seems to be a non starter. I was reluctant to wargame the early desert war against the Italians, simply because my father was there. I then gave my head a shake and realised he would have enjoyed talking about his experiences. War is a terrible thing, wargamers know that better than most, well except actual soldiers. I dont think we glorify anything. If anything we attempt to understand the why's and wherefores of combat. If that is uncomfortable for some then they seriously should find another hobby.

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  2. I find it best not to take any notice of the woke element/some people faction. I'd guess the 'opinion' piece would be justified by the Editor as stimulating debate, so your reply counts as a Plus in his book. For myself I always enjoy your rants, as I'm sure you do too. A good rant is cathartic I've found. Now, back to painting Cold War SovietsšŸ˜‰

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    1. Thanks David, one can always rely on you for a balanced comment. I would suggest if John Treadway wanted debate he could have found someone to produce something actually relevant to the hobby. Perhaps an opinion as to why some gamers avoid soap and personal hygiene? Now that would be a cracker. I admit I follow the war in the Ukraine diligently simply because I believe Putin has to fail. It wouldnt stop me gaming the war if I wanted, but I really must be a Philistine.

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  3. Well said Robbie, nobody's forcing these lip tremblers to push toy soldiers around a table. It seems to me a case of look at me, me me; how woke I am...

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    1. I really dont understand it. No one is forced to 'play' a period.

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  4. Well said. I remember running into CND at Claymore in the 80’s, still chuckle about it.

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    1. I always found the whole idea that wargamers were somehow promoting war and its evils, still they did force Reading to change the name of their show, as if that changed anything.

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  5. Excellent post. I think (1) the media hypes everything it can get to beat us around the stick with a morality stick - since it is losing relevance due to the internet - the dying throes of a pathetic industry (2) it is in our psyche to be interested in war and conflict; despite the best efforts of woke, it is how the male brain is wired and (3) it is incredible that we consider modern wars being off the table due to some spurious reason, when the main event in wargaming is WW2. We are at the end of the day playing a game - and 'celebrating' very little else.

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    1. All wargamers Ive met, and thats quite a few, understand conflict and how awful it is, we understand more than most detractors, but of course knowledge isnt a necessity nowadays.

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  6. (I'm sure I meant 'beat us around the head with a morality stick above' LOL)

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  7. Yes totally agree....if I am " embarrassed " about anything to do with wargaming, it's more around the fact that I am still playing with toy soldiers fifty years after most people grow up! I am certainly not embarrassed about any particular period I might play although personally, it might be a bit soon to be wargaming the current war in Ukraine....even though I have no qualms about having a 20mm "War on Terror" collection. I can remember way back in the seventies some leading wargaming luminary writing in one of the mags that he felt it was offensive to play a game based on the IRA and British Army in N Ireland....so this kind of PC Bollox isn't new. We had a Revolutionary War period Vendee game once where one player dragged a mobile guillotine around, for the purpose of extracting information from the hostile populace...I think the guy who blogged about it got some negative reactions to that too....all BS and I just ignore it!

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    1. It took me years to come out Ray. I worked in a very macho environment and worried that I would be singled out as somehow different. And then I had an Epiphany and stopped caring that much. Now I revel in my perceived geekdom. Vive la difference.

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  8. And here is a timely link to something else I don't feel any guilt about - things done during the colonial era 100+ years ago.... ......... https://www.msn.com/en-nz/news/national/whanganui-village-wipes-name-of-scottish-military-leader-who-led-massacre-of-m%C4%81ori-rangatahi/ar-AA16AhuU?ocid=msedgdhp&pc=U531&cvid=ffcbbe33685240849d4f26942edc38b0

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    1. My trigger point is white guilt. There is no doubt there are some things Im not proud of that I did during my life but I refuse to feel guilty in order to satisfy some American idea that is based on ignorance and a self serving concept.

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  9. Great looking group of figs. And rant away, I am a combat vet of Iraq and Afghanistan and I see nothing wrong with folks gaming that conflict.

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    1. Thanks for that. When I took part in the marvelous Waterloo game in Glasgow a couple of years ago, a lot of players were ex vets. Great opponents and also very knowledgeable. Let each person make their own choices.

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  10. Rant it may be but you are correct, my father was a WW2 veteran and saw more things there than he ever talked about but he encouraged me to play with toy soldiers and also played wargames with me as well and we did do WW2. There is always a war going on somewhere in the world and always has been but to feel guilt about pushing toy soldiers on a table top is nonsense, get into another hobby if it bothers you that much and stop spouting rubbish in the wargame press.

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    1. Where did this hunger for victimhood come from? When did people demand and seek it? Given how beneficial our hobby is one really wonders why they even bother, and more importantly why they are given a voice in our magazines.

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  11. Oh, the perennial posit by the keepers of morals; I personally thought the games are for fun. So, the appropriate saying is " ________ __ if they can't take a joke. "
    You earned your rant, but even better is the celebration of your hard work and talent in displaying your beautiful figures.

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    1. Thanks for that. Wargaming is what you make it. For me its repaid my devotion many times. Its like an old friend, dependable yet surprising at the same time.

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  12. I feel so guilty about drinking red wine Robbie because Henry the 5th drank some before AgincourtšŸ¤©.
    ThinkingšŸ„¹of selling all my toys and buying some tofu sandals and begging for forgiveness from Miniature wargames for my lack of cultural awarenessšŸ™ƒ.
    Excellent post and excellent blog keep up the good work.

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    1. At the weekend I was unable to buy a Haggis? My local supermarket only had vegetarian ones! I bought it anyway. It looked like a real one but tasted of nothing, literally. . And it sums up perfectly a lot of these moralistic warriors and the world the inhabit.

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  13. Years ago I got around comments from hippy types about playing wargames by explaining it was the homeopathic cure for war!

    Really, it is just a game and I personally have never experienced anyone getting hurt playing a wargame although I guess it may have happened.

    Your figures look great!

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    1. I must admit I have received a few injuries while wargaming. Pike strikes, bad backs and once a stiff neck. Wargaming is hell, and long may it continue.

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  14. You really really need to stop listening to these people.. :o)

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    1. Its the reading Steve. When one picks up a wargaming magazine one expects to be inspired about the hobby, not be lectured to about some fluff.

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  15. Some of my friends feel guilty about model trains because of all that coal, diesel and other nasties contributing to global warming.

    Some children have give up their model farms because cows and sheep are red meat, tractors mean more nasty diesel, and as for ploughs well....

    Some want to keep real animals as pets without regard to their rights as equals to live free, independent and responsible lives.

    I can't encourage the playing of 'doctors and nurses' because of its unhealthy obsession with disease and accidents.

    As for sports they encourage inappropriate celebration rituals and unfair habits like practicing...

    Indeed the only permissable hobby has people in smart uniforms forming straight lines....

    As for the nastiness of the Ukraine war - yes it's horrible but so are all the other conflicts. Being invaded by Mongols or living throught the Thirty Years War, just as two examples, suggest that the only thing worse is that it's contemporary and so those with no knowledge of history [our human past] may think its a novelty.

    Sorry but I couldn't resist using the trigger word 'some' a few times.

    None of the above is to be taken seriously except to say 'stick with this wonderful hobby' whatever anyone says.

    Stephen

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  16. Robbie,
    Doesn’t happen very often but I agree with everything you say.
    If Mr Hiscocks and his colleagues have a problem with the hobby then sell up and pack in. Each to their own just don’t waste valuable article space with such a diatribe.

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    1. Oh Graham Im certain we have a lot in common, you just havent discovered it yet.

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  17. This is not the rant we wanted but it is the rant we needed.
    I doubt that I'll ever get to read the actual article you cite. We're always an issue or two behind here in Australia and after purchasing the drivel that was issue 475, I don't think I'll by wasting my money on Miniature Wargames anymore.

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    1. Unfortunately I follow what Featherstone said where he advocated you have to support the wargame press no matter what. I know MW is pretty pants but I keep hoping it will get better.

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  18. Walking through CND 'picket lines' to get into Armageddon - that takes me back. I recall being annoyed that the show was renamed Colours to try and placate / avoid such protests. I appreciate DavidH's sentiments and have myself felt uncomfortable seeing SS re-enactors at Salute. Despite this I've always resented the loss of precious pages in magazines to such articles.
    But then I've given up totally on magazines these days, but not my toy soldiers!

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    1. Ah happy days. I always thought Reading group were wimps when they caved in, just like now but its worse. We play with soldiers, we study wars, get over it.

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  19. Robbie-at one Wargames show a lady said that we were promoting aggression and steering people's minds into conflict-I told her to "fuck off"-that's the way to do it!!!
    johnc

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    1. You really shouldnt have spoken the the vicars wife like that John you know. By the way, I read a letter from you in a really old Slingshot, you were very serious as a youth.

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  20. Haven't read the article but people have a right to their qualms, just as you have the right to not have any. Whether it's worth paying money to read about those qualms is, however, another matter! Keep ranting on. Always good value. Cheers, Aaron

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    1. Thanks Aaron. You are correct, people can have qualms about playing with toy soldiers, but personally given the proliferation of really violent digital games and the extreme porn that is on tap for young impressionable minds I think there are far worse issues to pontificate about along as it doesnt take up pages of a wargames magazine.

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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