Sunday 10 February 2013

You're Wargaming The Wrong Way

Every now and then you'll hear some old wargamer groaning on about 'giving something back to the hobby'. Well, the time has come for me to have a go. It's time to come clean and come out of the closet.

I list below 10 things to be avoided when wargaming. They are based (as you will see) on pure common sense, although mildly influenced by deeply ingrained prejudice, personal feelings of anger and bitterness, and socially inept tactlessness. Wargamers who are easily offended should look away now. Or check out the word 'irony' in your dictionaries.

This is not a real set of rules! Thanks to Trebian at 'Wargaming For Grown-Ups'
for pointing me towards this bit of nonsense.

Wun - Gaming With Unpainted Miniatures
Although of course outlawed in public by the Wargaming and Military Hobbies Act (1996), this practice still continues in private, along with the use of unpainted terrain features (a loophole in the law which must be swiftly closed). Frankly, hanging's too good for these people. Contact your MP now.

Too - Not Painting the Edges of Bases
Maybe you think this is should be part of point 1 above. But this kind of perversion deserves special mention. Oh yes, on initial inspection the army looks great. But wait - you suddenly see the brown, grey and white edges of MDF, cardboard or plasticard, that sheer laziness has left untouched. Or perhaps it's done on purpose to gain advantage by offending and disturbing an opponent. Yes, it's sickening (and quite rare these days, I'll admit), but don't bother reporting this to the Police or Social Services - you'll get nowhere.

Free - Hex Terrain
Come on, admit it, it looks bloody awful. Even in Sci-Fi games. And it makes any other period look like a Sci-Fi game. Too many cracks in the table, too many zig-zag lines: it seems your Napoleonic game is taking place on Mars.

Fore - Table Clutter
We've all seen it at wargames shows. The vast and highly detailed terrain that took all year to create, the ranks of amazing figures set out in all their splendour. And then liberally garnish the magnificent spectacle with fastplay sheets, coffee cups, beer glasses and mobile phones. I passed one nice looking table at a show recently where no man's land was helpfully indicated by a cheeseburger on a paper plate. This practice permeates down to club and private level. Could people please get a f***ing grip?

Phive - Balancing Miniatures On Top of Terrain Items
And here we are again with that lovely terrain impressing us. Look at those lovely buildings - but oh dear, there's a rifle team balancing on a chimney pot. And the machine gunners have decided not to stay inside their pillboxes - they want to lie on the roofs. And look at that Tiger tank balancing on the top of 5 foot high corn. Come on guys, you can remember what's inside those houses. Or invest in buildings with detachable roofs.

Sicks - Ridiculous Fantasy Figures
Look, a bit of Lord of the Rings never hurt anyone. And sci-fi is fine by me. Divert all power to the forward shields! But some people just don't understand the limits of good taste. I mean, SS men riding  dinosaurs? Rank after rank of zombies? All lighthearted fun, I hear you say. Sounds like a joke in poor taste to me. I bet these gamers can't even spell 'lunatic fringe'.

Sephen -  Vehicles Moulded With Bases
I really can't understand why manufacturers do this. It's up to gamers whether they want to base their vehicles or not. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Ate - 2 and 3mm Miniatures
Or wargaming by braille, as I like to call it. You can feel the bumps but you can't see what they are. If you don't like toy soldiers, don't take up the hobby. For goodness sake. The minimum size for proper wargaming is 15mm, as everyone knows.

Nein! - Supplements
Anyone who has been following this blog knows my views on these things. I have described them as a bare-faced con designed to increase the profitability of a set of rules. I stand by that judgement. Let's fight corporate wargaming together!

Tenn - Dithering Wargamers
You know the kind of people I mean. After minutes of deliberation it's, "I'll move these guys to there. No, wait a minute. Maybe I'll move them back to the hedge... No hang on a tick, let me just check the rules..." and on and on and on. Come on guys, it's only a game. Just get on with it. And what about those guys who just want to shake the dice a little bit too much. Shake, shake, shake. Rattle, rattle, rattle. Usually accompanied by some muttering or humming. And then, 'did we say fives or sixes?'. Ooh, it makes me want to spit.

Now Seriously...
OK, Pulp Wargaming gets a strongly implied thumbs down, but a year or two ago I might have had a pop at Science Fiction gaming or Imagi-Nations. Now I realise it's not what you wargame, its how you wargame that matters. Wargame with a light heart. Just don't do it in 2mm...


Fitz-Badger said...

Well, that's quite a rant. ha!

The only "rule" about whether someone is wargaming the "right" way or not that matters as far as I'm concerned is if they're having fun.

Mad Padre said...

Thanks for this post, Keith.
I can hoist a lot of this onboard, except for the bit about pulp, which serves me as an occasional refuge from silliness. :)

My rule is simply: "Dont be a dick", or, more elaborately, "Game with others as you would want thek to game with you."

Chris Kemp said...

Ten points and I only find myself bristling at one: If you base a tank and glue the turret on it stops the ditherers pretending that it is a tank instead of a tank unit.

Of course, if you are playing a 1:1 skirmish, then you should chop the bases off your infantry, looks ridiculous with unbased tanks IMHO :O)

Kind regards, Chris

James said...

I agree on 2,3, 8 and 10 but with the rest I'm with F-B and the Padre. Bases on vehicles aren't a bother, I've had some awfully fun games with a friend's unpainted colonials and supplements when done right can add value.

But yeah not painting the edges of your bases just looks unfinished to me.

James said...

I might go as low as 6mm someday, but I can't see the point in 2mm figures unless there are some ships on the table too. May as well use cardboard counters or wooden blocks for that scale.

Steve J. said...

As always an entertaining read Keith. I'm afraid I do enjoy gaming with 2mm and 3mm, so I dare say I'm now persona non grata in your books. Otherwise I agree with all of your points wholeheartedly, although I plead guilty to point 5 at times to my eternal shame...

Grenzer John said...

"Wargaming in Braille" HA!
My old Wargames group used to give out an award for the most selfish/stupid/gamey play called the "Mentula Mustellae" award. It was a little weasel figure on a stand, illustrating the English translation from the Latin for "Weasel Dick".

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Blimey - I agree with them all..!

My only (suggested) addition would be "don't paint eyes on your miniatures it makes even the best painted figures look stewpid" :o))

Brian Carrick said...

Brilliant post. I agree with every word, especially point Fore which is my own personal bete noir (unless it happens to be a cat curled up asleep on the table, that's the only exception I would make!)

Best wishes, Brian

Pjotr said...

...or those gamers writing about how everybody should plan and paint and very efficiently be involved in their hobby...I have planning, stress and deadlines at work, don't need them at home...or even worse...what about gamers making lists about things they don't like in their hobby...oh...and wargamers crotch, I really don't like that...
and trying to prove I'm not a robot to a robot...


Pete said...

I agree with all the points you make Keith, except for 15mm - the scale that just can't make up it's mind! Too small for skirmishing, too big for multi-based units.

I have an eleventh point: Wargamers who have a blog. No-one really cares what you do with your spare time, except for:

No 12: People who comment on blogs - even worse than No.11 - have you nothing better to do with your time than look at what other people do with their time?


Keith Flint said...

Have been away at my new job for a week - lovely to see everyone has taken my comments in the spirit intended.

The scale that can't make up its mind? - I've never read such nonsense!

war game said...

Nice War games blog post for all.

Henry Hyde said...

In a week when I've been feeling the pressure, you made me genuinely laugh out loud, Keith.

Thank you! :-D

Anonymous said...

I like 2mm! But as my Granny said, "Little things please little minds"