Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Wargaming Types?

One thing about painting figures is that it can allow your mind to wonder away on it's own. This happens for me the most when I'm repetitively painting something, in this case lots and lots of coats. I was thinking how I recently read about how one gamer was really into The Seven Years War and the spin off periods around this time. No doubt influenced by the fact the coats belong to War of Spanish Succession figures and also the fact that I could not care less about the period. Rather ironic given that it's the second lot I have painted for someone in the space of not that many months. So my little mind fancied a trip further afield bringing me to the old chestnut of wargaming types and my own taste. 

Wargaming Types. How to class types, this is not only subjective it's multi-layered. First up you have the physically different types such as board, figure and computer. At least these are so physically different as to be easy to put in boxes. Or are they? how about board games turned computer game. Computer games that use images of figures, even photographs of figures? This last lot could be argued to be figure games gone pixel such as Fields of Glory.
How about boardgames that can deal with single men such as Cry Havoc all the way up to playing on maps of the world. Computer games also deal with such wide formats whilst a single figure can be 1 man or 24th of a whole regiment and more. 

Wargamer Types. OK lets forget that then. Well if we have all those games then we have to have as many types of wargamer then. Well yes and no given that one person may well play with a single plane on the table top but then go on his or her laptop and bomb the hell out of a German city with a whole armada of B-52's. One thing that most wargamers is that we are as broad of period and type as some of us are wide of girth. If anything lumps us together it's the differences you get between one gamer and the next.

Wargame Types. Then we have types of game, such as design for effect and design to replicate. Some players swear by a set of rules because it takes an age to work through the factors for a hit whilst the next gamer does not care that their favourite rules covers an 800 year period. It's here in fact you tend to find the line in the sand. Far fewer players play cross formula than cross period. How many players love DBA whilst loving something like Starship Battles? I'm not talking play an odd DBA game but an avid player.

Periods and Scales. I have played WWII with 20mm as a skirmish game, in fact it was my first experience with figures, then 6mm, even down to an armoured train and a lot of track. Now I am thinking about going back into it in 15mm as a skirmish game again, I have Firefly somewhere. I've played lots of computer WWII games starting on the Spectrum. Anyone remember Lorrian software? (or something like that). Boardgames, I've played so many when I was young before ASL took over all my WWII tabletop play. It was recently said that WWII was the most played figure period, not so sure though the Flames of War players have really boosted it's numbers. Napoleonic Wars has to be either the top dog or at worst second fiddle. Ancients though has such a following it's hard not to look close at these, but what ever period is your cup of tea you can bet it's followed by a mass and hated by a phalanx of nay sayers. THAT is what intrigues me, not that so many don't like X but that X gets such divergent views. So Lets look at a few periods I like or dislike. How about best to worst.

What is there not to like? Honestly this is the one that gets me scratching my head, I can understand not wanting to play it as your into Y or Z in a big way but hating it? seriously? I bet you used to pull wings off flies and probably play 40K (now remove tongue from cheek)
Very colourful, each nation has it's own character and feel, you can go big ass 28mm with all the uniform detail right in your face or down to 6mm and capture the art of manoeuvre without the need for an aircraft hanger. Or anything between. It's got sooo much history and whilst the detail can be really daunting it can be very rewarding to play.

For me it's ASL, never has a rule book been so large and full of such minor detail that you can with confidence challenge a non ASL player to come up with a situation that happened in the ground war and be able to find the rule in the book. It also has so many rules that don't make sense from a WWII perspective but makes the game work. Vehicle Bypass Freeze still creates a buzz when someone says it's sleeze and cries of derision when someone tries to defend it based on historic reasoning. Again as a period it has a host of nations and attracts the most negative column inches. Hell it would take you years to read all that has been written about why the SS should never be allowed black counters. Given the most disliked points about WWII gamers is the German's and Japanese it's hard to see how you can play without getting some guys goat.

English Civil War.
Used to be at the top spot but poor rules and overplaying the period in my first outing has dropped ECW to hear and possibly a tad lower. It's only that I am building a 6mm army that has rescued it, that and I am sure I can put together a better set of rules than I have played so far. I struggle a bit with why Johnny Foreigner would want to play this period, after all it's rather British you know. However I can fully understand why some players just don't find it interesting at all. The limited unit types (especially in modern rule sets) makes this period yawn worthy.

Part of me wants this period to be higher, after all it's the figure gaming I have done the most, spent the most and own the widest group of armies. So many just hate this period though. Often pointing out that playing Han Chinese V Later Persian is just stupid, often just before playing their favourite SS army against an American force they never had the chance to fight due to being locked up on the Eastern Front (ok not often).

Lots of periods and types I can take or leave before I get to your kidding me, right?

Seven Years War.
And it's stable mates. I don't see anything here that Nap's does not do better. I happen to like all the things that were introduced in the Napoleonic period. For me it's not a case of more is less, it's more, lots more.

Yes I know, it can be fluid, it can be fun, but quite simply most of it is neither. A good mate went off the idea of wargaming the period after visiting the battlefields and graveyards of the war, which is the best reason. Me, I guess it's because I still have the odd blunt stick and I still have feeling in my eyes, if I run out of either I will play WWI rather than jam that bugger in my eye.

WTF is wrong with folk? Here we have the classic game. One side is generally in blue, the other grey. OK very simple over generalisation but you get the idea. Next up troop types, infantry, skirmish infantry, infantry that rides to battle but mostly fights on foot as riding to your death is neither big or clever so I am ignoring that they are called cavalry. Then big bang sticks and such like. It's a bit like WWI but a bit more colourful and lacks trenches for the most part. Have I missed anything? Sleep perhaps? I'd play a boardgame as in it's own way it's not a bloody boring act of move this into the open, get it rogered by lots of accurate bang sticks, now they move into the open and out with the Vaseline. Unfair? I really don't care I find it so very boring, actually I find it so very shite! I hope I have played my last game of it........ please. Maybe the problem with it is it's three letters, AWI probably would get the same reaction from me as well. I know I know I said nice things about the ECW, but it's the lack of unit types and differences within the unit types that gets in my craw. At least the ECW has somewhat more types on the surface which is enough for me to be snooty. 

40K and Warhammer etc etc etc. 
OK this has to be BAD to fall below ACW. Never tried 40K but then again I have not tried stapling my hand to my forehead but I am fairly sure I would not like that either, though I AM sure I'd rather do that that waste money on the racket that is 40K Plus given I stopped pissing in my pants at least ten years ago I feel I have outgrown this group.
However I did play Warhammer, a long long time ago when it was not unknown for my pants to be moist. I liked the idea, I liked the variety, I liked the way it looked. I friggin' hated the saving throws. In fact any game that uses saving throws as a way of allowing the defending player to feel he has a part in his units loss really has a difficult job getting me back to the table for a second time.
Anyone try that drivel about playing fantasy because historical games don't allow them to use their creativity or imagination and I will reload that stapler of mine.

So if I have poked fun at your favourite period I humbly apologise (a little bit and probably not that humble) but I guess it's your turn to take aim.


  1. After I stopped crying (poor ACW), I agree with a lot of what you said but ancients should be lower, Ancients is like Saturday in the town centre but with better armour.

  2. So am I to understand that you don't like Warhammer hahahaha.

  3. @ Fran, having been in Gravesend I have to agree. Not that I stayed there that often given the bloody thing had rooms right against the very busy A whatever (3?)

    @ Anne, what gave you that idea?


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  5. I paint a huge number of ancients. That said, most of the games are exceptionally boring as it is essentially ramming two sides against each other and then rolling dice to find the winner. Most all shield wall games are like this. Games like Command and Colors and Saga at least found a way to make these time periods playable.

  6. I have not found Ancients to be like this in fairness. Part of the period is where troop types are all the same just varied in quality but armies that have a varied unit and weapon types have far more options so have a better flavour