As promised in this months Miniature Wargames the subscriber was provided with the pleasure of David Hiscocks, Wargaming as escapism until it isn't. I dont know what the readership is for the Miniature Wargames, but one assumes it will be several thousand, hopefully more. The magazine was such an important event for wargaming in the early 1980's. and when Peter Gilder, Alec Gee and Duncan Macfarlane put their time and money where their mouths were, the release of the first issue transformed wargaming.
Thats quite a claim, but in all honesty to have a dedicated and professionally producer wargames magazine chock full of iconic photographs, well written and interesting articles and available in the mainstream shops boosted the hobby exponentially. No doubt like many veteran wargamers the first thirty or so issues will be re-read over and over again. And now???
I still subscribe to the magazine, simply because I occasionally find something of interest and naively I hope the hobby will be better for the Miniature Wargames existence. Yes, I am that naive. Sadly however people like David Hiscocks will come along and give that hope a bit of a kicking.
As I stated previously I dont know the guy, and he is probably a very nice person who loves his mother and is kind to animals, but like many worthies nowadays, they insist on taking to the media in all its forms feeling they have something meaningful to say that they probably believe is worthy of reading or hearing. A bit like that ginger royal fool and his jailer, stating the blatantly obvious but in a manner that is intended to make them sound profound or whatever.
The synopsis of this months effort is basically that wargames is a place of refuge, [no shit] and basically harmless., until when it isnt. He could have left it there, but oh no, like so many people nowadays they introduce their insightful knowledge, and of course this concerns the subject beloved of politicians, experts and the media..........mental health. Apparently as he states, 'so long as we portray our hobby in a respectful manner then we should not feel guilty for enjoying our leisure activity.'
Apparently we shouldn't take the hobby too seriously, our miniatures are not hurting anyone and the majority of wargamers are very inoffensive individuals [ well that's reassuring to know, until someone picks up one of my figures and then proceeds to drop and break it, then things may get fraught. ]
But of course he cant help himself, [cue soft violin music,] 'Nevertheless, if you are struggling to maintain your enjoyment of the hobby in light of what is happening in the Ukraine then there are a number of techniques and strategies that can be called upon.'!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
The reader is then given 'advice' [and I use that term loosely ] on how to cope with the stress of the Ukraine war occurring whilst they attempting to remember why exactly they love wargaming. He goes on in that vein and like so many worthies nowadays, they dont know when to stop. He then offers up the sage like advice of seeking out friends in the wargaming community. Of course he also recommends that due to the upset of the war in the Ukraine,you can actually take a break from wargaming if one finds it just a little bit stressful! Wargaming that is, not the actual stomach churning with fear, Ukrainian conflict. Apparently, [he goes on, naturally] wargaming is supposed to be a source of relaxation but it can become a source of stress because of associations with contemporary events.
I could go on, as Mr Hiscocks does ad-infinitum, but to be honest the reader may recognise that Im just a bit underwhelmed by the whole sorry affair. TWO whole pages, for which no doubt he will have received a monetary reward [ which I would hope he has given to some Ukrainian charity ] of NOTHING.
In a former life I was a Family Liaison Officer, trained [but never enough ] to help families deal with and handle sudden death and absolute misery. If I had used any of the suggestions offered up by Mr Hiscocks I would have been asked to leave by the survivors, and rightly so.
The question that keeps reverberating in my head is what sort of person thinks this drivel has any purpose to anyone, never-mind wargamers.
Imagine if a poor Ukrainian volunteer actually read this crap?
I could understand the purpose of the upset if one has relations fighting in the Ukraine, but to honestly think that we have a right to be truly upset and unable to enjoy our hobby because a country is fighting for existence feels very, very crass and dare I say it entitled. Its not all about us, but of course it appears that certain generations believe it is, God save us from these worthies...............
On a lighter subject I managed to complete my mounted long-bowmen for my Burgundian army and also paint up another six Garrison fantasy knights. Yes they are true 25mm but I still think they are brilliant. Tiny amounts of goodness.
Anyway, I think I've made my views known. Hopefully a quick read of some Wargamers Newsletters will bring me back to my safe place.
Agreed. For an article written by amateur historian(s), which most wargamers claim to be, he is missing some very relevant facts.ReplyDelete
Although ...one must conclude that we now believe that we are more enlightened (I would argue the opposite).
(1) this is a game of toy soldiers. i say again 'toy soldiers'
(2) when the hobby began, there were wars in Vietnam and Africa - no one worried then that there was an issue with contextual relevance?? Of course, we are a little more 'awakened' now apparently.
(3) in the 1990s and 2000s, at the dawn of the golden age of the hobby, hundreds of thousands were dying in Iraq and Afghanistan - yet we seem not to have had a 'gaming conscience' then? I wonder why.
(4) is the problem perhaps now, that certain media outlets are trying to paint a picture which bears little resemblance to the reality of the horrors of war - it is just reported by a forum which appears, to all intents and purposes, to be losing its grip on relevance? ...in similar fashion then, perhaps WI wishes to stay 'relevant'...
Keep gaming. It does no one any harm...at all.
Very good points. I sometimes wonder how and what happened to cause so much torment and angst to so many people. When did introspection become almost a go to position for many. like to think I can show empathy as much as the next person and I know I wouldnt reach for my mobile if I saw someone in distress. Somehow I cannot see such an article, and I use the term lightly in a model train magazine, which surely must have readers who 'suffer' the same concerns as described by this person.Delete
We have some good stuff to have a yarn over at Kenilworth this year, whilst sharing a few beers Robbie.ReplyDelete
I wargame with my toy soldiers as I enjoy it, in my own small way simulating an approximation of battle.
Painting wargame figures is the best part of the hobby.
The pushing of plastic, metal figures across a table is not in any way near real combat but the hobby concept is about the enjoyment we all get from the appearance and the simulation we try to achieve. It's all about relaxing and enjoyment, pushing toys across the table is for fun and it's a hobby. Football, tennis golf, motor racing, cricket, picture painting, knitting, pottery, walking, and cycling can be hobbies. They all can have an impact on the world just like wargaming, when all said and done we are lucky we can do all these hobbies.
It's my hobby and I enjoy it, toy soldiers forever.
Cant wait. My drinking prowess isnt what it was though.Delete
Throughout my time in wargaming their has been conflict in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa and no doubt places I've forgotten. State sponsored rape in the Congo hasn't stopped me playing skirmish games in modern Africa. Maybe the difference that is triggering the Dave is that the people dying in Ukraine are white? Did I just say that? Sorry. No offence intended. But really, I can't support the idea that an amateur gamer writing an article for one of our treasured magazines regarding this topic has any relevance to me or any other gamer I know. Bring back articles on the Ever Victorious Army, Pirates or Darkest Africa (!) ...PLEASE!ReplyDelete
You know, you just might be right Sean. I remember the scenes as Biafra fell. When genocide kicked off in Rwanda it was also televised. The war in Bangladesh? Ive lived through so many conflicts where I somehow felt almost removed from the whole thing. Obviously the war in Ireland, the Falklands, Iraq and Afghanistan felt much closer to home, but I knew people's sons who were there. The Ukraine is almost like a badly written account of the early years of the Second World War, Putin stealing from Hitler's and Stalin's playbook.Delete
I suspect the mental anguish he describes is more about his own inner conflict between his undoubtedly liberal outlook and enjoying military things.....ReplyDelete
Real war is deeply unpleasant but has very little connection with playing with toy soldiers. He has no doubt worried that the hobby somehow glorifies war, when most wargamers of my experience, at least those who actually read history, are well acquainted with its horrors yet are able to distinguish war from wargaming....
If anything, the hobby in all its aspects provides a balm and distraction from the worries of the real world. If proof were needed, just read the last two posts in Stokes' Stollen blog.....
Poor Stokes. Im always envious of Stokes lifestyle, it somehow feels very nostalgic until 21st century reality broke into the image. Life is way too short to over emote over matters that one can have little control over. Unfortunately younger people seem to struggle with actual living and are locked into a constant fear of life in general. Wargaming is probably one of the most innocuous pleasures out there. I refuse to feel guilty for anything to do with toy soldiers, just as I refuse to feel guilty for being white and British. We are what we are.Delete
Well said RobbieDelete
WarGAMING is no closer to WAR than Monopoly is to Property Development! It is a GAME played with toys and amongst friends. It has nothing to do with the reality of WAR beyond the name.ReplyDelete
Thanks David, very succinctly put. Of course I blame those teachers [ just joking] I sometimes wonder what my wonderful history master would think of these victim seeking fools, people he didn't suffer lightly.Delete
Does this fellow write on any topic that does not center on his moral grandstanding? Perhaps not. Still, I wager we are not alone in finding this tiresome.ReplyDelete
On a lighter note, your latest horsemen are fab.
Thanks Johnathan. Introspection is fine if there is a purpose to it, but sadly seeking out misery and victimhood is a go to position for a number of people who are desperate to somehow feel relevant. Im afraid the UK follows the trends that the US discover and stuff like this is common in mainstream life now. To cope, I reach for an unpainted toy, marvel at its beauty and attempt to do it justice. What can be better than placing a company on the table, and imaging them marching across the terrain.Delete
Well what can I say Robbie I fully agree with your comments and sentiments, nice figures by the way. Perhaps I should go and re read Harry Pearson’s Achtung Schweinhund and remind myself of playing Best man dead! at school. I guess it won’t be long before Mr Hiscocks calls for such books to be banned for fear of the mental anguish it could cause the modern reader realising their relatives were such barbarous war mongersReplyDelete
Great to see you are beavering away again Graham. Harry's wonderful book is part of my coping mechanism for modern life. Ive got two copies. One to re-read and one, signed by Harry that I will bequeath to my grandson.Delete
Just nonsense, as we all agreed on Rant #1! To be perfectly honest, I am a bit tired of the black and white, hyperbole laden reporting we are having to endure about this war!ReplyDelete
Given the crap that batters people 24/7 Im amazed we can get out of bed and dress ourselves.Delete
The Garrison knights are lovely but then I'm heavily biased towards anything nostalgic.ReplyDelete
As for the rant I agree wholeheartedly but have long ago stopped getting any mags as they have become so dull and have disposed of my collection except for anything edited by the much-missed Macfarlane. Probably best just to ignore such virtue-signalling as anything else risks encouraging another round. If Mr H had limited himself to commenting on ranges that are being produced to game the Ukraine conflict I might be prepared to concede the point.
Thanks Rob. Im a magazine nut, but like a lot of my projects they increasingly concern the writings circa 1950 to 1990. I do believe however that by ignoring these people, we are actually encouraging them, and I certainly believe if society had made a stand over certain 'important' issues as and when they had appeared life just might be more palatable. And dont get me started on poor old Roald Dahl.Delete
I'm a veteran and I've been dealing with PTSD for over twenty years. I was discharged from the Australian Army completely broken and it was at that time I picked up my old hobby. I started with Napoleonic's and found out pretty quickly that I needed to be sober to paint figures, which helped immensely with self-medicating via a bottle.ReplyDelete
I also joined a wargaming club and found people that I shared an interest with and who became my friends. Some of those people also turned out to be veterans. Some also dealing with PTSD.
I'm not saying that wargaming cured me or any such thing, but it did bring me definite benefits. Real conflict is much different than, what to me seems little more than butt-hurt political grandstanding. I don't think there is a racial issue at the core of this. The wars in the former Yugoslavia involved white European people as well as horrendous crimes against humanity. But I doubt there was any wailing from the grandstands on that occasion. No, the difference is media coverage. Bias & targeted media coverage. As a former PsyOps operative it was very obvious from the very start.
However, having said all of that, I do find it distasteful when I hear some folks looking at this current conflict as nothing more that a new wargaming opportunity. People are currently suffering and to reduce their plight to the possibility of playing a game just isn't right.
As a condition of my former life I had to go for yearly psychometric testing. They were always a strange event. I realised however that to relive each traumatic event over and over again wasnt the answer to feeling any better. Luckily I had a hobby that took me away to a place where you didnt have to rethink anything. It was more important to paint the toys, base the toys or simply look at the toys. Did it help? Well it certainly stopped my drinking bottles of Sherry. Everyone copes by different means, but I honestly think these worthies are jealous? of not suffering. They should simply be grateful of having the chance of a life where the biggest risk is crossing a road. As for your final comment, the vast majority of wargamers understand more than many about propriety and what is tasteful. Ive yet to see any wargamer actually stage a Ukrainian war battle. Why would they?Delete
What a part two that was. I am laughing so much that I can barely type to comment!ReplyDelete
Then there were your serious comments about real stress and trauma... and Neil's leading me to read Stokes' posts that I had not yet seen. Phuck!
My wife works in a school with kids who do it genuinely tough. You'd likely not be amazed to hear of the resilience of those who do it really, really tough and the 'oh my goodness, broken nail' of those who have it a lot better.
I can't come at the use of the term 'toys' to describe my 'military miniatures', which seems to be a thing of the 21st C and especially the bloggersphere. I prefer the 'old fashioned', subtle distinction, as espoused by the late Edward Woodward (may he RIP) in Battleground (amongst others in the 70s and 80s). For me it is that subtle difference between the games that I used to play on the carpet with imagination and 'rules' in my head and those that I now play on a table with dice, ruler and some written rules. Some of the current games involve the 'toys' of the past, transformed to 'military miniatures' by painting and basing.
I do understand that this is almost completely indefensible in terms of logic, but it's okay, I don't require counselling...]
Keep ranting, when and if necessary, and definitely keep painting and wargaming!
Well Im pleased you enjoyed it. I unfortunately have hours of this bile stored waiting for some new clown to feel they are somehow going to be the next Jung, and I think he was a fraud. It was only when I retired that i came out , [how topical is that] I have always worked in a very macho environment and foolishly hid my wargaming secret just in case it somehow diminished me in the eyes of my peers. Frankly I still dont publicise what I do which is sad. I also used the term military miniatures up until a few years ago, I liked to think it gave me gravitas until I realised why should I be bothered, its someone else's problem. Ah yes Battleground. I dont know if you have read any of my previous posts but if not, click on the great Charlie Wesencraft post to get some spiel re Battleground. Now that was a wonderful day. Charlie is worth a thousand of these Hiscock fellows and far, far more entertaining.Delete
Not read previously, but rectified now. Thanks. You either posted it before I began following your blog, or it was one that I missed previously.Delete
I especially liked "Wells said that wargaming was like chess with a thousand pieces. It's not, and never will be. Wargamers are individuals, each has a view about how to wargame and each has a view about what they want from a game. That's one of the wonderful thing about wargames. That and the military history. It's amazing what you learn as you research a period." Resonates with me 100%.
To that end he and I disagree (or would have) on simulation v game and certainly about Fire and Fury. I am one of the 5, 2, 1%(?) who are not enamoured with them as a set of rules. I much prefer Stars*n*Bars from which the former are derived.
The comment that Charlie made about Wells should be measured against the original two books Charlie had published regarding wargaming. Both books for me anyway were full of ideas that were superior to many of Featherstone's ideas. But that doesnt mean I dont have every publication Featherstone wrote because I do. Now Im more mature, simulation takes a bit of a back seat unless something or someone decides to try something unhistorical. As for the ACW, Im no expert even though I have pretty big armies, I opted for the easier to pl BP, Picketts Charge and stuff of that ilk.Delete
What an interesting blog post Robbie thank you. I hope you won't think me the wishy-washy Southern softie liberal that I am if I point you and your readers to my latest blog post in which I am auctioning one of my paintings for Ukrainian refugees. https://notjustoldschool.blogspot.com/2023/02/another-painting-for-ukraine-one-year-on.html?sc=1677455110034#c4263689561551927555. I'm not relating it to my wargaming , I'm not apologetic, guilty or traumatised - but at least I'm trying to do something to help!ReplyDelete
Great to hear from you Chris, I was aware of your fundraiser and more power to your talents. I only wish we as a country could do more to help.Delete
Yes Robbie, it will take a lot more resources yet for the West to "win" whatever that may look like.Delete
I agree with your comments on the article. It has ne real place in a hobby magazine. The word platitudinous, comes to mind. Please feel free to keep ranting.ReplyDelete
Thats a belting word, I must slip that into a conversation. Personally the great song writer Sam Fender sums up my attitude to modern thinking, '' And the woke kids are just dickheadsDelete
And the dickheads are all ages'' Pretty succinct I think.