Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Thinking time ... the games we play

With the pack-out gathering momentum and moving day approaching, there are no opportunities for 'gaming. However I am finding some time for thinking (usually at the end of the day when I collapse exhausted in a chair with a glass of wine in hand, and laptop on... well.. the lap, of course).

The first confession is that I 'game far too many periods/genres of 'gaming for my own good. Well, who doesn't., eh? Oh, not that many??

Let's do a stock take. There's ancients in DBA and Armati, with old DBM sized armies sitting unused (and sadly not quite large enough for Armati). There's Napoleonic in 25mm and ACW in 15mm, using Volley and Bayonet. Then an ECW Royalist army that has seen recent action with DBR rules, although it suits Armati as well. Then.. da daaaah ... WW1, WW2 and Moderns played using Spearhead rules. There are WW1 and WW2 armies extant in both 6mm and 20mm, and the Moderns armies are all 6mm.

Enough? Not quite. There are Dwarves in 28mm (built for GW's Warhammer, but used for Mantic's 'Kings of War'), and Imperial Guard, Space Marine and Orks in 28mm for GW's Warhammer 40k (although I might instead use them for Mantic's 'Warpath'). And finally about 7 different armies for HotT, all in 20mm. And on top of all of this there is the High Seas Fleet circa 1916, constructed for Jutland. I should admit that mentioning a rules set and a period doesn't mean there is only one army. The 20mm WW2 Spearhead collection for example encompasses four different armies, and the Moderns covers three. The WW1 SH collection encompasses four nationalities as well.

That's quite a list, and maybe just a tad too much. But I've always agreed that I'm something of  a wargames harlot, a veritable  tart, a sucker for shiny new toys (at this stage cue second glass of wine).

Here's the thing. I've just watched a video battle report of a Warhammer 40K battle, and I really want to play this stuff. The 'GW 'Universe' just appeals to my imagination. However it's not going to happen. Why not? I can't abide the constant profit driven drive for change. New codices, new models, new rules. I am shell shocked. Weary. That's no criticism of the profit motive. Shareholders invest for profit, and good on them. That investment has given us some of the best miniatures in the hobby.

I am simply worn out by change. I enjoy the other rules sets because they are much more stable. However even then I play too many rules sets. As I change from one to another I confuse things between sets. Now how does this rules set treat hill contours? What are the factors again? Is this age, or the result of good friend Andrew's 'aspirational purchase' phenomenon and simple overload?

Either way, I have a problem. I have given away a few bits and pieces as I have cleared out the house/workshop/games room ready for the shift. Maybe I need to rationalise what I play. Which in itself begs the question of why we play. I enjoy the games I play, although more importantly the games I play mean that I meet up with very cool friends, enjoying their company, their wit, and their talent.

But I am just over the constant change.  I don't need the new rules sets, the new models, the latest fads and fancies. Rationalising? Maybe not. Repurposing old collections of figures and models? Always. Enjoying? Yep. I may just be at the point in life where I want to lock myself the existing paradigm. I like it there.


  1. I think a lot of gamers look for that "holy grail" ruleset that is everything they are looking for in one package which is why we end up buying six zillion different rulesets. I do like stable, reliable games though. I was at a game convention this weekend and played Star Fleet Battles - a really old set of rules that hasn't changed significantly in a long time. We had nine people, basically strangers, all able to sit down and play without referencing a rule book because it's an "old reliable" game. It was a perfect moment.

    I like new rules. I like reading wargame rulebooks. But what I really like is playing games that everyone understands and there is no doubt as to how things operate.

  2. Speaking of too many projects, rulesets and editions, there's always that growing segment of gamers who are going back to 3rd edition "Oldhammer!" I might blog one day about my 30 years of "stuff" piled up in the basement, but it would probably be too depressing. Anybody need any Minifigs AD&D figs?

  3. An interesting post Robin.

    I have long ago settled on some rules I enjoy and, I feel, model the periods I follow well. I am fortunate that my opponents are enjoyable to play. These factors combine to create great games. I see little reason to follow trends.

    I am fortunate that some rules I use cover a wide period and within general periods use similiar mechanics. Therefore V&B cover the SYW to FPW while Spearhead and MSH cover the later 20th century well. The same holds for DBR and DBA/DBMM, similiar mechanics but certainly not the same. However, these periods and rules are very different from each other, ensuring variety.

  4. Yes I know what you mean Robin, I have gradually been reducing my collection even without the motivating factor of having to move! 28mm Napoleonics is my one space and time consuming glamour system, great for colourful refights with lots of other players - the beautiful game that I started wargaming with. Also kept my Indians, because the one collection can morph into so many styles of play and periods (infantry, cav or elephant heavy across Ancient/Medieval/Renaissance). Epic (my "WWII/modern" and sci fi game) and Battlefleet Gothic (my space and "naval" game) because they are stable and free rule systems offering much tactical flexibility and depth, combined with small scale so not time or space consuming. HOTT for similar reasons. Then there are 2-3 Warhammer fantasy armies, which get dragged out a few times a year, but not as often because GW's constant updating and changing of rules means it's hard to keep up, and I will probably reduce this too.

    Over the past couple of years I've been concentrating more on efficient storage solutions and scenery than new armies, selling off 2 40K armies and 3 ancient armies. At Natcon today I talked to a player using one of my old 40k armies, and was great to see it well loved with new bits added by him in the same paint style. Much better to have it being used than sitting in my cupboard taking up space! Heck I get to see it more than if I actually owned it this way!