Tuesday 20 August 2013

Rick Priestley On Painting Standards

In a June post regarding wargames magazines I mentioned (in rather rude terms) my views on what I consider the excessively high standards to which some wargames figures are painted these days. I thought it worth highlighting that none other than Rick Priestley has been writing about the same thing in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy magazine. Many thanks to the producers of WSS for making this particular piece of writing available online.

A worried man.

The article is an excellent one and well worth reading. As you might expect, whilst Rick seems to have some doubts about how things are going, he is much more positive and circumspect than myself. But what is one to think when a wargamer with Rick's high standards ends up writing "now I sometimes despair of picking up the paintbrush and showing the results to my fellow gamers"? Sad indeed. 

Rick's insider's view informs us of a major reason for the trend in wargaming figures that are just too good. I wrote in my post that "dedicated figure painters have much to answer for", blaming hobbyists for the tendency. Rick indicates that commercial pressures must bear much of the blame (assuming you believe 'blame' is the right word). It seems launching and sustaining new and existing ranges can only be done if the figures are shown as individual subjects painted to the highest possible professional standard, regardless of how much it might cost. 

The barrage of such images online and in magazines inevitably buttresses the view that this is the standard we must all strive for. To anyone who holds that view, my response is, balderdash. But make your own mind up. To this end, I recommend this blog post, which is a good one, although I tend to disagree with it. Certainly, if Mr Priestley is having doubts (even polite ones), I think we have confirmation that this is a subject worth airing. And I would like to encourage as many gamers as possible to ignore the deviation into 'miniature works of art' and to paint their figures to what is often called 'a good wargames standard'. And be proud of it. Let the producers of over-painted and over-costly figures be the ones to despair. 

Block painters of the world unite!

Monday 19 August 2013

Back From Hols

So, just returned from a very satisfactory 2 weeks off work, consisting of a few days around Exmoor with the lady wife, then a week on the Union Canal in Scotland en famille. The latter included an evening at the Edinburgh Tattoo, which was as good as ever.

Thanks to Steve J I had a number of back issues of Wargames Illustrated to pass the time, as you can see below. Despite my occasional caustic comments on the corporate nature of this publication, I have to admit that some very readable articles continue to be published therein.

The man behind the bullshit relaxes on the afterdeck of his (rented) narrowboat

And here's an idea...
Of course, the above bit of fluff will hardly constitute a satisfying post for the discerning wargamers who frequent this blog. So, let me pass on an idea that occurred to me whilst reading an article on hidden movement in one of said magazines. In a post from 2009 I mentioned my use of the old-fashioned idea of a curtain across the middle of the wargames table, to create a 'hidden' set up which gives a bit of interest to a basic encounter game. Further thought suggested that not only the armies but the terrain as well could receive the same treatment. 

So set up your curtain across the middle of a bare playing surface, allocate forces and a selection of terrain to each side, then each player can set up their own side of the table independently. This represents not only ignorance of your enemy's deployment, but also the frequent situation where the countryside on your opponent's side of the hill is a mystery to you as well. 

Now I admit I have not tried this out yet, but it would seem to be a way to give interest to a simple encounter game. If players have a selection of both units and terrain to choose from, they can indulge in the task of making a terrain that suits both the force balance they have selected as well as their tactical intentions for the game ahead. Of course, they may have a nasty surprise when their opponent's choices are revealed. 

Let me know what you think.