Sunday, December 14, 2008

Wargaming Interests and (OT) Outside Tree --

Before I get to my wargaming interests, I've posted a photo of our "outside tree".

As you can see, we've had our first showfall of the season . . . and everything is nice and white.

Well "nice" until we had to go out and shovel off our driveway and the sidewalk. While doing that I kept thinking of what a friend calls snow . . . "damned celestial dandruff".

Anyway, our "outside tree" is an artificial one we got in California about a decade back . . . and the ornaments are plastic . . . but with its red and white lights it looks good fromt he street.


I was thinking today about how my wargaming interests have changed over the decades.

My introduction to tabletop gaming was with WRG's 7th Edition Ancients. For years, even with changes of rule systems, all that I played was Ancients. Even when our club briefly diverted to periods, we always came back to Ancients.

But I tired of them and my many Ancient armies (in both 15mm and 25mm) have languished in boxes for many years. The truth is that I really tired of the constant search by others for the "killer army".

Have you noticed that most of the "armies" that win tournaments nowadays are ones that never made much of a mark historically? Far too many Ancients players play the rules and not the history.

So, I'm sure that you're thinking, "Am I playing the history when I use an Imagi-Nation?"

Well I feel that I am. I'm not re-creating the exact 18th century history. No, I'm playing at being a minor monarch in the spirit of the period. Furthermore there isn't a search for a "killer army" since we all have access to the same troop types . . . so the spirit of our battles is different.

So, yes, the Eighteenth Century is my primary period for gaming . . . but it isn't my only one. I'm also interested in the "Colonial" conflicts of the last third of the 19th Century.

The Northwest Frontier (okay, I'll admit to reading a lot of Kipling in my youth), the Sudan and to a lesser extent, South Africa. And the Americal "Wild West".

The major difference that all of the above share is a focus on smaller conflicts. Essentially these are primarily "skirmish" periods. The style of the games are different -- and more cinematic. In addition, they're lots of fun.

Are there other periods that interest me? Of course. Among them is the English Civil War for which I've been collecting books and rules. It is a period which I really don't know all that much about . . . so research is the first and most important step. It may be a few years before I feel that I'm ready to start painting troops.

And getting back to the 18th century for a moment. I plan on building a number of "historic" (as opposed to imaginary) units in 15mm . . . but again more research is needed first.

Finally, damnit, I am increasingly drawn to those 28mm "Big Battalion" battles. And I have copies of "Charge", "The War Game" and "BAR" on my shelf . . . and I know that "The War Game Companion" is under the tree . . . so THAT is another temptation.

I think that all of those Ancients armies will just have to wait a lot longer before they regain the table top.

-- Jeff


Fitz-Badger said...

It's funny you didn't include some of the big popular periods (ACW, WWII, Nappy - maybe those are also too prone to the tournament player syndrome), but I'm in remarkable agreement with you on periods that interest me. Most of my previous miniature collecting with just a little gaming thrown in was with fantasy minis. But I have also always had an interest in ECW (and have a few books on my shelves from trips to the UK), in British Colonial and to a lesser extent French Foreign Legion (ala Beau Geste and Laurel and Hardy) and the American West. For myself I would add in AWI, too. Except for ECW and SYW I think my interest in most of the others came from books and movies (but then that doesn't explain the lesser interest in gaming WWII or ACW - I do enjoy movies about those wars). For me in the end it's about having fun and telling/playing in a good story.

Bluebear Jeff said...


WWII has never interested me from a gaming perspective; and Napoleonics just leaves me cold. I've played some with other folks troops . . . but for me it just doesn't "do it" at all.

I have played a little ACW and enjoyed it . . . but didn't really care for the rules we played (Johnny Reb) . . . they were too cumbersome for larger games.

As for the AWI, I suspect that the lack of cavalry is in part responsible for my lack of interest.

I did forget to mention WWI air combat . . . I've still got a bunch of painted 1/144th biplanes . . . and I wouldn't mind playing a bit of that again . . . but as a 'change of pace', not as a main focus.

-- Jeff

Martin said...

Hi Jeff,

I remember snow and ice being a lot more fun when I was younger! Now it's just a inconvienience. Celestial Dandruff - Ha, ha, ha!

I think all wargamers of a "certain maturity and experience", gain a understanding of their favorite periods and have a tendency to concentrate on them to the exclusion of other periods, that for one reason or another, didn't click. Well... to each his own. So as long as the tabletop looks good, the troops painted to the best standard the owner can achieve, the rules not too complicated, and the company enjoyable....let the games begin!



marinergrim said...

Jeff, I'd echo some of your sentiments there. Tournaments were the big killer for me, especially Ancients. My experience was rules over history (a friend of mine had his army refused entry because it didn't conform to the list even though it was historically accurate!).

Bluebear Jeff said...


The last WRG 7th tournament game I played was asinine.

I had maneuvered a unit of Irreg HC so that I had a clear shot in charge reach of the rear of an enemy HC unit locked in melee to its front.

I declared a charge and was told that I couldn't do it.


Way off to the rear of my unit was an enemy pile block that was 5mm closer to me than the rear of the unit in front of me.

So what? It's behind me, I can't see it; and if I could see it, I can't charge pikes; and, if I knew it was there and turned to face it, I'd use up my movement.

"But it is a threat and it is closer to you", said my opponent. "It would take three whole turns to even reach me" I reply. "Doesn't matter" sayeth the rules lawyer.

I called the referee. He agreed that my only logical move was to charge the rear of the heavy cav . . . and that that is what would happen historically . . . BUT "Rules are rules; and we play rules, not history."

My response was, "I charge the HC." Referee said that then I was disqualified.

I picked up my troops and haven't played a WRG tourament since.

-- Jeff

littlejohn said...

I just had a few brushes with tournament play and though it was pretty intense, I didn't like the "fudging" that went on with some players (i.e. you had to watch the other guy like a cat...) to try to tip the game in their favor (I think by and large these types are rare...but not my cup of tea). Way to much player control and not nearly enough "friction and fog" to make the games more interesting.


old-tidders said...

Lovely Xmas trees.

Favourite periods SYW and ECW; Working on a Dark Ages saxons v vikings as well at the moment. Also some WWII tanks tuff as well.

-- Allan

Snickering Corpses said...

I started out with a variety of figures due to having gotten a deal on the remaining plastic figure stock of a hobby shop. But my first love was WW2, followed by AWI and ACW. I own a batch of 1/72 Napoleonics that I bought on impulse and have been trying to get rid of ever since.

These days, it's SYW and WW2 on a pretty even footing, with ACW second and AWI third. I too have pondered the ECW from time to time, as well as Samurai. Naval gaming still interests me but will probably be mostly confined to my Wizards' "Pirates" ships. I've dabbled with the idea of some LOTR gaming, and I have some Heroclix superhero figures as well. My only nod to ancients is that I still have my copy of Avalon Hill's "Caesar: Epic Battle of Alesia".

dougredshirt said...

If you wait six months there will be a new edition of Tactica out. I was like you and walked away from WRG and never looked back. I liked the original Tactica, but it was sort of limited by the fact that you had limited ability to change your army from the list. this kept it from catching on and replacing WRG. Now Arty has completely redone the rules and army lists.

I have fallen in love with these rules like no other. I completely redid two armies in two months just to have enough figures to put on a convention game. I was shocked by all the people who kept saying how much they enjoyed the original rules and couldnt wait to see the new rules.

You need a few figures for these armies too. Foot units are 24 to 48 figures. Heavy cavalry are 12 to 24 figures, while light troops are 8 to 24 figures. I do Successor armies so I have 5 or 6 pike blocks and 3 or 4 heavy cavalry units, plus lots of elephants. So you have armies with 250 to 300 figures. But the best thing is that I can have a game finished in 2 to 3 hours.

By the way your blogs have been great. I think this age of blogs has been the best thing to have happen to our hobby. How else can you get to know someone clear across the country or ocean and feel like they are a friend from around the corner.