Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday Sermon: What is a proper wargamer?

Surely if we say somebody isn't a proper wargamer, it's the same as calling them a fake.

I'm sure many of you have watched this meme develop on various Blogs over the past fortnight or so. It was all started by Phil Broeders over at The Wargaming Site Blog. The idea being that to call yourself a proper wargamer you must have ticked off a list of things you have achieved or done before you could be considered a proper wargamer. I think, and I hope the article was written in a fun and tongue firmly in cheek way, and indeed many have taken it that way. However, Phil stared his article by saying that "One does not simply claim to be a wargamer by having a couple of games of 40k.  No, no,no." and while I agree with that sentiment to an extent, I really don't think there is much more too it for me. To call someone a wargamer I'd like to see somebody buy, assemble and paint their own army first, and then play a few games of whatever their game of choice is. You know what, for me I don't think the threshold for being a proper wargamer is set very high.

Obviously there have been many people who have risen to the challenge of answering Phil's original questions, I myself attempted it here.  Then Lee over at the fabulous Blog Big Lee's Miniature Adventures added a huge amount of extra questions, as Phil originally asked others to do, but yet again I'd suggest many of them focus on the historical side of the hobby too much to be generally applicable. But, some of the others are actually more general and actually hint at things many experienced and long in the tooth wargamers will have felt, like hobby burnout and purchasing shame. However, as a researcher by trade it is two articles by J de Jong over at Rear Guard Action that have interested me the most, mainly because they involves graphs, and researchers love visual representations of statistics, it's like stats pr0n to us... now if only he'd included an SPSS output sheet, phwoar! You can read J de Jong's articles here and here, and if this meme has interested you then you probably should.

Some think to be considered a proper wargamer I need to do ^this^.

To call ones self an expert or indeed a veteran requires different and varying amounts of experience or skill I would suggest. Expert for example implies a level of knowledge about a subject, that might require a considerable amount of time to acquire, but not necessarily. Whereas veteran is all about the amount of experience you have, either a lot crammed into a short space of time, or over a longer period with less cramming. But, for me to be considered a wargamer, or a proper wargamer, doesn't take much. If you've invested your own money and time to this hobby and stuck with it to get your own painted army on the tabletop, and play a few games in my humble opinion you are part of the fraternity. I'd much rather stick to my inclusive methodology than the exclusive one put forward by Phil. The other problem I have with the idea that Phil put forward is that although I'm sure it was a joke, 'many a true word hath been spoken in jest' and I think it does speak to a problem that we have in our 'community' at large. We all think the way that we personally approach the hobby is in some way the 'correct' way to approach things. Often at the exclusion of other points of view and experience.

I'm not some I am an inclusive paragon of gaming nobility myself, so I'm not pointing fingers here, I know I've got my own preferences, and that if I'm not careful they could become prejudices. I strongly believe that to be considered a veteran or serious wargamer one must have tried multiple game systems from multiple companies. If all you've every done is play Games Workshop's core games then to me you are simply a Games Workshop hobbyist, and therefore a Games Workshop veteran. Nothing wrong with that by the way. I wouldn't exclude you from the wargamer fraternity, but neither would I be likely to value your opinion on the hobby as a whole. Now to many that might seem a snobby or snooty attitude to take, but I'll be damned if I'm going to let somebody who hasn't sampled the wider patchwork of games this hobby offers up, tell me what makes a good wargame. Why? Because there experinece is so narrow. Would I listen to what you have to say about Games Workshop product? Hell yes, but if you try telling me about Warmachine or Infinity without having sampled them as games... I'm sorry I'll not be listening... but that does make me a snob of kinds.

So are only historical wargamers able to call themselves 'proper wargamers'?

I also feel strongly that it is important to immerse yourself fully in all aspects of the hobby itself, be that modelling, painting, scenery building (scenery is really important to me), list writing etc. I do believe that wargaming as a hobby is a many faceted beast. I know there are people out there who put their miniatures together and don't paint them, or get others to paint them. Now I have a quite snooty and snobby attitude towards this practice as well, perhaps bordering on the elitist, which is something that Phil's questions brought to the fore of my mind. You see I do think where possible you should paint your own forces, put your stamp on them and take part in the creative side of the hobby as well, I do actually look down my nose at those who never paint their own stuff. And actually, I don't like that I think in these ways, it is a bit elitist of me. Who the hell am I to decide what others should do, or what the hobby should entail? Sure I know the things that are important to me, my preferences, but what makes my way any better or more enjoyable than other peoples way of doing things? I'd love to be able to say I've never looked down my nose at people who don't paint their armies or only by second-hand pre-painted armies, but that would be a lie. Because I did, and honestly part of me still does.

Hover tanks and Mechs are just as geeky as Dragoons and Fusiliers.

What makes it all the more worse is that this attitude also potentially makes me a hypocrite, why? Well for two reasons, firstly I currently own a huge pile of unpainted miniatures or part painted miniatures, that I have actually used while reviewing product etc. and... secondly because I actually used to sell a lot of pre-painted armies myself to these very people who I feel slightly snooty about. So I'm feel snooty about people who actually funded my own hobby! Awful behaviour if you ask me. I know many of them very well, and I know why they chose not to paint armies themselves, partly it's time, partly it's skill but a good chunk of it was to do with the fact that many just don't enjoy painting miniatures to quite the same degree that I do myself. So for them it's all about the game and back story. So whereas I'm a more holistic hobbyist they're more focused on the things that they enjoy. At the other end of the extreme you have modellers and painters like Mike McVey, who quite frankly only really enjoyed painting miniatures, designing miniatures and sculpting miniatures and has told me himself that gaming never used to float his particular boat. Yet in my mind that was always acceptable as a pursuit whereas just being a pure gamer wasn't.

Mike McVey's Green Knight. Simply stunning!

Now isn't that an interesting double standard, don't you think? I'm sure I could come up with an almost convincing, but wholly fatuous argument that supports my obvious double standard, but I've never really been one for self deception. Truth is I have some quite elitist attitudes towards our hobby that are at odds with my overall inclusive attitude I have in general. I do think that what I like, my hobby preferences are the best way to approach the hobby, yep I'm very much in danger of my own preferences becoming prejudices. In short I'd like to think that I'm the sort of gamer that would welcome all comers, and all sorts to my gaming group, but when I look around my own little clique of gamers there are some very stark common traits and attitudes towards the hobby amongst us. I have quite clearly surrounded myself with like minded gamers and hobbyists. I know plenty of others who aren't quite like me, but in all honesty I don't play many games with them. So for somebody who is normally exceedingly very open minded about most things in life, there is a core cognitive dissonance at the heart of possibly the most important hobby in my life. So if anything good has come from Phil's questions it is that it has made me realise that I perhaps need to re-adjust my attitudes towards different approaches to our hobby.

We're all geeks and we should try to stick together.

I wander how many of you, my readers have similar issues, prejudices and double standards? How many of you think that you're inclusive, but actually harbour some snobbish behaviour you aren't really self-aware of? If nothing else the fact that Phil's list was clearly so predicated towards historical wargamers, which is a totally different side of the hobby to the one I'm used to, shows how blinkered we can often be to the experiences of others. I've already discussed that the historical side of wargaming is something that doesn't hold the same appeal to me as ray-guns and sorcery does, although I've learned to have an appreciation of the dedication those who do have for it. So what the hell is a proper wargamer? Well it's whatever you want it to be. Don't listen to what anyone else has to say on the topic, including me, if you feel the way you do things is enough for you to consider yourself a wargamer that's good enough for me. Even if it is only playing a handful of 40k games. You make what the hobby is from your choices, not the other way round. True I might approach things completely differently to you, but the hobby is hopefully big enough to accommodate everyone, but it is probably small enough that we shouldn't be trying to exclude people from it, or fracturing the community anymore than is absolutely necessary. Peace out!


  1. Good post;

    I think my personal area of snobbery is that I do like armies to be painted. I've I've got something that hasn't been painted then I don't use it. If someone wants to use something against me that hasn't been painted, well, I don't like it very much.

    That being said I'm not a git about it; as you say, some people enjoy certain aspects of the hobby more than others and I'm not going to piss all over their gaming chips just because they couldn't be bothered to eat their painting, er, fish.

    That was terrible. Apologies.

    I could go in to more detail about how I have this sort of on/off relationship with GW and how I more or less come and go as I please with it, and how that may or may not make me a Wargamer in the 'true' sense of the word... but that's a whole blog.

    1. We all have our own forms of snobbery. I've even heard off of people who look down their noses at people who can't stick at one game... that'll be me!!! :P

      But I'm never going to be the sort of person to ostracize people for it. I do however know I need to make sure it never slips in to full on prejudice.

  2. Personally I can not see a different between play orks and goblins to playing Brits and Jerries in the trenches. The simple fact is they are both games, enjoyed by thousands and great fun can be had from them. Indeed one could argue that the Fantasy/Sci Fi side if this hobby is what has propelled this hobby into the mainstream or at least mainstream geekdom.

    Personally I am heavy involved with the hobby, being an illustration, playtester and help with the development of 1938 A Very British Civil War. Now this is neither falls into the fantasy side or the historical camp but indeed goes back to the heydays of Wargaming in the 60s which the likes of the great Charles Grant and is Imaginations Wars in the 18th century, between fictional powers and countries and have updated this to a more gentlemanly time of ginger beer and boys own stuff. My point is that even in wargames heyday, wargamers played games that were not history true but were great fun and today this is even more true with the added additions of Orks, Goblins Space Fairies and alike.

    Now does this mean that the teenage who builds, researches his Space Marine army using the fluff that GW has given, paints it and play with it on a more regular basis than must "true historical" wargamers do is any least a wargamer than the chap who counts the button on his Nappies French army and only plays the one set of rules or period I think not.

    Wargaming is a hobby that many people gain great enjoyment over and if some spends the time, effort to collect these great miniatures we have today and plays with them then there are, in my opinion, all wargamers. But if we measure what is a "True or Proper" Wargamer by the number of rules and armies they have collected and only played with them twice then I am glad to say that I am a hobbyist. As the Two Fat Lardies say "Play the period not the Rules.

    Gosh sorry about the rant there

    1. No neither can I panzer. But some people clearly do. As always, I enjoyed reading your thoughts.

  3. I have a pretty simple test for these sort of things. If someone were to ask me "am I a proper wargamer?" I'd aske them back "do you consider yourself a wargamer?"
    For me it's that simple.

    Using myself as an example, I'd say I'm a wargamer, but certainly not a hardcore one. I'm much more of a miniature collector/painter and background junkie and in all honesty haven't played a "full" game in literally years. I've played a couple of wargame-esque boardgames, but time has greatly been against me (and now I might have time soon my local GW lost its gaming space).

    Now, that's not to say I too don't dislike seeing unpainted armies, or armies with no theme / backstory / character to them. But I understand that many other people want to play the game more than re-create the universe so to speak.

    On your comment about someone only playing GW games not being a wargamer I disagree - they may be a comparatively inexperienced wargamer, but they are a wargamer none the less. This somewhat popped up recently about the concept of "fake geek girls" (there's a thread on the BoLS lounge for more details about that mess), but basically my view is that when you start having tests or requirements to be a "real" member of any community/hobby, it only encourages the territorial assholes to chase new people away - not that I'm saying you're doing that Frontline!
    My point is if you say someone's not a real wargamer if they've only played one game, how many do they have to have played? Is two enough? What if they're both sci-fi? Do you need to have played a fantasy game, or a historical? How about only using D6 based systems, or never using a card based ruleset etc etc..

    I'm a firm believer that people's self-given labels can be queried, but shouldn't be questioned, if that makes sense, and certainly not judged (there's a thread on BoLS about that too where I expand on these thoughts for further reading). If someone's approach to your hobby really bugs you, they can always be ignored.

    1. My point about GW only wargamers would be the same for Privateer Press only gamers, etc. etc. I have to say if you only play a single firms games I'll stick by the fact that you are only a ***insert company name here*** wargamer. I would call them a wargamer, but for me to be considered a 'true' or 'proper' wargamer in my eyes you should have sampled more than one companies games. That's just how I feel. I'm not going to be down on anyone who chooses to only play one companies games, but that's all they know.

    2. "That's just how I feel. I'm not going to be down on anyone who chooses to only play one companies games, but that's all they know."

      And that's absolutely fine. You would do the same with a chess player who has never played checkers. I think the same rule applies here however glibly.

    3. Even still, you are being down on them - you're saying they're not a real wargamer. Think about that for a moment and apply it to how you'd feel if someone told you you're not a real fan, or you weren't being a fan in the proper way, of whatever you're a fan of, for a fairly arbitary reason.

      With GW alone I've played:

      40k (all editions)
      Space Marine (both editions)
      Epic 40,000
      Adeptus Titanicus (both editions)
      Blood Bowl
      Space Hulk (all editions)
      Aeronautica Imperialis
      Man O War
      Dark Future
      Lord of the Rings
      Battlefleet Gothic
      & Inquisitor

      Given the vast, vast difference between games like Adeptus Titanicus and LotR (not to mention Inquisitor!), discounting that bredth of experience due to them being put out by the same company strikes me as needless snobbery.

      And I'll still put to you the question of how many games companies one needs to try before being a real wargamer? How many games in each system do I need to have played (is one enough, two, three)? Do I need to own fully painted armies in each? Can I only be a real wargamer if I've got the time, money and opponets with the same across how ever many systems (soory, Johnny, everybody here only plays WarmaHordes, you don't get to be a real wargamer yet)?

      And where can I get my official "real wargamer" card officially stamped? Is it the office next to the one with the guys handing out the cards that identify me as a "real" geek girl (with a similarly arbitary test applied)?

      This gatekeeping, "real fans" attitude has poisoned the comics industry and is slowly killing it - it does drive people away new to the hobby as they see they are looked down on and put in a seperate group.
      I was having a discussion with a friend about the difference between nerds and hipsters: hipsters only love a thing if they can be elite in that knowledge, and lord that secret over others. Nerds love meeting people with similar interests and geek out with each other over them and spread that knowledge. It's why nerds have big conventions where everyone is (theoretically) welcome, and hipsters have little gigs in clubs that you probably haven't heard of.
      It pains me seeing the decline the self fulfilling prophecy of exclusion of people is causing in comics and even elements of video gaming. It also pains me to see anything like it rear its head in wargaming.

      If someone says they are a wargamer who are you, who am I, who are any of us, to tell them they're not doing it properly?

      I respect you, Frontline, and I certainly am not angry at you personally - see my earlier links for why this is an issue for me.

    4. @Minitrol, yep that's sort of the point. Doesn't matter if you've played the various different forms of chess there are out there... it's still chess. You're just a really experienced and knowledgable chess player.

    5. @Gotthammer, I think you've missed my point. Probably because I've pissed you off. I'm being honest here, I could come out with nice platitudes and be fake, but you know what I'm not going to. The article is about the bigotry or prejudice we all approach the hobby with, whether we like to admit it or not. Some don't have that many hang ups, others have loads. I myself do have quite strong beliefs about how people should approach the hobby. Hell, read many of my Sunday Sermons and you'll realise that although I'm all about encouraging people into the hobby and expanding things, I actually have quite strong opinions about what the hobby 'is'. I'd never ram that down somebodies throat, or I'd hope I wouldn't, but I do believe these things.

      Phil's questions or "proper wargamer test' has got me thinking about my own mental tick sheet of what I think ones needs to be considered maybe not a true wargamer or proper wargamer, but certainly a hardcore wargamer. Whatever phrase one uses I think there will always be a semantic argument. If you read the article I'm not saying what I believe or feel is the right definitions, or ways of doing things, or indeed the wrong ways are that, it's just how I feel. It just is. I also clearly point out the double standards I have. I'm being honest, and taking a look at myself. Trying to understand the way I think and why. I would never try to enforce my views on others, or indeed try to say that the way I do things is the right way. I'm a psychologist by training and I strongly believe in the 'individual'. I can be happy with my labels and you can be happy with yours. Neither are right.


    6. As to somebody not calling me a fan. I'm actually fine with it. Doesn't bother me one jot, that's mainly for two reasons:

      1) I rarely give a flying fudge cake what somebody thinks of me. I know how I identify myself, and what I identify myself as. If people don't agree with how I label myself that is honestly their prerogative and they can label me how they see fit. It's actually part of normal cognition.
      2) It doesn't really matter. All humans use labels whether to label themselves or to label others. It's how we define our world and how the world defines us. For instance I've been told I'm not a proper comic book fan by somebody because I tend to buy compendiums, yet another person I know labels me a complete comic book nerd because of the amount I buy. Both are right, because they have different criteria for labeling me thus.

      People get far too hung up on what others think, rather than just getting on with enjoying life. I'm never going to be nasty, or ostracize somebody on the basis of the games they play. I'd happily play a 40k only gamer at 40k, etc. etc. etc. but if they refuse to look outside of 40k for whatever reason, yes they're a wargamer as I say in the article, but they're a 40k wargamer. I too have played many of the games you mention although technically Aeronautica Imperialis is a Forge World game, but I digress. You are a very experienced Games Workshop gamer, but that is what you are to me. Nothing wrong with that, but if you haven't experienced other companies games, well in my world and my head you wouldn't fit into certain groupings. I might value your opinion over somebody who had played Malifaux, 40k, Warmachine and Flames of War and only been gaming for 2 years, but it'd be a judgement call on my part. Because guess what, I don't live by labels, they just sometimes help me frame my thoughts.


    7. Again you can disagree with how I chose to label hobbyists. That's perfectly fine. Label people how you see fit, or don't, but it is how I make sense of the hobby, and how I know which people to seek out to try new games with, talk about certain topics and ask opinions, hits, tips from etc. As to this comment you wrote:

      "If someone says they are a wargamer who are you, who am I, who are any of us, to tell them they're not doing it properly?"

      erm please read the article more carefully, because I beat you to it, here you go taken directly from the article:

      "So what the hell is a proper wargamer? Well it's whatever you want it to be. Don't listen to what anyone else has to say on the topic, including me, if you feel the way you do things is enough for you to consider yourself a wargamer that's good enough for me."

      still doesn't stop me mentally compartmentalizing people into sub-groups to help me navigate them though does it? And as long as I'm aware I'm doing it and it's not how the world really is I'm golden. Because that's where problems occur. When you think the way you label things is the way things are. Thankfully I think I'm smart enough and self-aware enough to know that really isn't the case. But I'm not going to lie about not using labels or what my labels are.

      As for the threads, sorry I find that at times BoLS can be quite frankly the worst of humanity, like many forums. I did start reading them but honestly couldn't be bothered. As to the point about allowing others to label themselves... that too has its problems. "Hey I'm not a racist I a genetic purest"... just to be clear I'm neither, but the problem is that there is often a consensus around labels, again rightly or wrongly, and to deny they exist or to ignore them is also potentially harmful. All I'm doing is asking people to think about there's like I've thought about mine.

    8. As to the point about allowing others to label themselves... that too has its problems. "Hey I'm not a racist I a genetic purest"...

      That has the advantage that you can still easily identify jackasses.

      For the record I haven't only played GW games, I've played a great many others.

      It just seems lately that in every bloody aspect of my life and my hobbies I've been faced with attitudes of people saying how there's a right way to do something or a proper way to like something. Oh, sure, they say you can do it another way but there's always that subtext (or sometimes they'll just say it) that well, if you're not a real fan, what are you? A fake? A poser? A lesser person in the community?
      I get enough of that in real life and I'm sick of seeing it in my hobbies.

      Sorry for getting angry, I'm just... tired of it all.

    9. No, never be sorry for getting angry. If something pisses you off say so. There that's my inner psychologist coming out again isn't it? :P

      I'm not saying I'm right. What I'm saying is this is the way I've thought about things subconsciously for years now. I've never really questioned it, because I've felt it's not important. I'm not likely to tell somebody they're 'doing it wrong'. I'm more of a positive reinforcer, I'm likely to encourage people to try new things out, rather than saying what your doing now isn't the right way. Hey I might think it, I'm being honest. We all do. For instance you've taken issue with the way I've honestly expressed myself... because you think the way you do things is better or the right way. ;)

      As I said to Minitrol further down the comments section, there is a contradiction at the heart of every libertarian, and that is that we think we're right.

  4. Thanks for th heads up FG. I think it s a good thing to have these discussions about our hobby. There s always a tendency (in any community) towards parochialism, but as a community in decline (numberd not quality), I think wargamers cannot afford that luxury.

    There s a lot of pedantery, discerning between silver and gold buttons on 6mm miniatures. Trivia and quotations abound and historical gamers may have a bias towards hierarchy and hierarchcal behaviour. It won t help us in the long run and we will need to reach out if we want to attract fresh blood.

    That said, I don t think Phil meant any bad bybit,

    1. Thanks, let me again please clear up what I was saying with regards to Phil's questions. I don't think he was being deliberately elitist or bad in any discernible way. Genuinely I think Phil was being totally tongue in cheek, and I don't think it was anything other than a bit of fun.

      However, that little bit of fun has got me thinking a little bit more seriously that is all. I'm not saying that this is what Phil intended, it's just that while I was looking at the questions and started thinking about what it implied I have to say it has made me think, as you say, about how parochial we can be as a group. As you say it isn't really helpful and I just wander what it says about our hobby, and those of us who love it as much as we do.

  5. Interesting subject. I recently wrote an article (unpublished as of yet) in which I defined, in passing, what I called a "true" wargamer. The definition was really only for the purposes of the article and was deliberately intended to be contentious. But it does run close to FG's idea of trying more than one company's games.

    I suggested that a wargamer - a opposed to a mere player of wargames - was someone interested in the comparative mechanics of replicating the experience of warfare on a tabletop. That is, someone who is interested in how wargames work, rather than just accepting the rules at face value.

    This doesn't, in itself, require someone to have played games by more than one manufacturer or even more than one game. But it does imply a temperament that will, eventually, be drawn in that direction. A wargamer who only plays,.for example, Warhammer 40,000 will be someone who writes a new codex, invents a race or army, creates their own units or special rules, designs a campaign or runs a league. Frequently their efforts will start out clumsy, imbalanced and immature, but if they sustain their enthusiasm there is no end to what they can add to even a single game.

    In practice, such people will usually begin to experiment with other games, may switch allegiance often and will invariably be unsatisfied with every game they encounter in one respect or another. The end for such people is inevitable: they are destined to be game designers.

    Of course, that doesn't mean other players aren't also wargamers in their own limited, moderate fashion ;-) To be fair, most players who make it past the starter box phase will fit at some point on the spectrum I've described. They might only have got as far as "house rules" - the primordial slime of wargames design. Or they may have got as far as simple campaigns or leagues. Or they may be hard at work on their gaming magnum opus, commissioning artwork and new miniatures and booking slots at trade conventions to run demo games! They are all true wargames.

    1. It's difficult when you start verbalising your mental labels though isn't it Precinct? :P

      I freely admitted here that I have hang ups and preferences within the hobby. That I have a view in my head as to how the hobby should be approached... I don't always live up to my own ideals either, although I do strive for them.

      Your point about spectrum's is interesting, although again we all have our own scales as to what would constitute the pinnacle and the lower reaches of said spectrum. The strata might also be ordered in different ways. However, I think talking about these things or at least understanding ones own foibles might be useful, as long as you don't fall into the trap of thinking you're right and excluding all others, which clearly you aren't doing.

      For the record I have written amends to many rule systems. I've written new army lists or team lists too. Hell I've even written my own board, card and wargames... that others have played happily. I haven't done so for a number of years. But during and just after university I was quite prolific at developing my own little fun quirky games. I think it's an extension of the fact that I'm a researcher and experimenter by nature.

  6. A thought provoking post.

    I passed the "test" of being a true wargamer but, given Gotthammer's definition in the reply above of what you consider yourself to be, I don't really consider myself a proper wargamer. I haven't played a game for over two years but I still paint (and buy)figures regularly.

    One element of historical as against fantasy and SF wargaming that you didn't really focus on but which, to me, is fundamental is the historical research aspect. I spend a lot of time reading about the period in question - not just the uniforms. I even like to paint figures while listening to the music of the period. The historical aspect is a great attraction to many wargamers and shouldn't be considered a "button counting" discouragement to new recruits (presumably from fantasy where it is interesting to see how many companies feel it is important to invent faux history as background)

    There are different types of historical wargamer too. I can't understand those who pit non-historical opponents against each other (common in Ancients tournament gaming) and although I have enjoyed some fictitious historical battles (with opponents from the same period) I always think that they are inferior to attempting to recreate historical battles using, as far as possible, the correct troops that were present.

    Everyone says that historical wargaming is on the decline but the sheer number of wargaming focused companies seems to belie this. There was nothing like the range of figures and scenic items back in the seventies and eighties.

    Finally, I suspect if you launched a blog post saying what makes a proper "windsurfer/clay pigeon shooter/dolls house collector/embroiderer etc.? the answers would all appear to be just as parochial.

    1. They may still be correct:

      "Everyone says that historical wargaming is on the decline but the sheer number of wargaming focused companies seems to belie this. There was nothing like the range of figures and scenic items back in the seventies and eighties."

      It maybe that GAMING is on the rise more than the WARGAMING

    2. @legatus hedius, yep you are right, I'm sure if I'd done the same for many hobbies the answers would be parochial. It's human nature, sadly, to think we're right and to want to convert others to our way of thinking. Some more fervently than others.

      You sound like you are the sort of historic wargamer my father would get on with. He once heard I'd tried a Renaissance wargame with two factions that would never have met on the field of battle. He was not impressed. :P

      I know my history though, and the main reason I myself don't do historical wargaming is because the idea makes me feel a little bit hinky. I'm fine chopping or Orks or blasting aliens to death with rayguns... but playing with actual units of men who may have fought and died in wars? No I'm not so keen on that. My Sunday Sermon on brass button counting though wasn't about saying those people are wrong or anything. It was saying I'd started to understand why they did it, and why the rise of what some people call Hollywood Historical Gamers is potentially distasteful... so I guess I am saying I felt somebody was wrong! :P

    3. @Minitrol and legatus hedus,

      The demise of historical wargaming has always and oft been cited. Even in my short life. Yet it never seems to happen. Like most things, it evolves, adapts and changes.

      I'd argue that many of the grumpy old historical wargamers I know wouldn't view the games produced by Warlord Games too kindly. They wouldn't recognise their 'brand' of historical wargaming as something they'd sign up for. Yet many others would say that they are proof positive that the historical wargaming scene is thriving. As Minitrol says:

      It maybe that GAMING is on the rise more than the WARGAMING

      It's all points of view at the end of the day isn't it? I was told firmly a few years back that Flames of War wasn't historical wargaming, it was rolling dice and pretending to be historical wargaming. I know plenty of people who'd vehemently contest that statement too.

      It's for these reasons I think we should all try to understand why we have these beliefs, and why others might not subscribe to them, and be happy with that difference existing.

  7. I find it interesting that by both margins yours and Phil's I actually wouldn't pass and yet would easily be the biggest 'wargamer' in my circle.

    Its interesting that actually I wouldn't define myself as a wargamer (despite the fact that I actually just did in a similar blogpost to yours today - I've actually linked back here after I saw yours!).

    I think from further introspection I would be collector of gaming paraphenalia. But I am not a very good or dedicated collector...

    I am not a great fan of elitism in any endeavour and I have a fairly heavy dose of contraryism to keep me on the straight and narrow.

    1. Do you play wargames? Do you collect your own miniatures? Do you paint them. That is it for me. If you do those three things or have done them, i.e. you've brought your own army, put it together, painted it and played games with it... then to me you're a wargamer. I might then go on to label you a relapsed wargamer, but you are a wargamer nevertheless!!! :P

      I said in the article the hobby is what people want to make of it. However, Phil's questions got me to thinking, I like to think I'm a pretty accepting guy, or that I'm open to most things. I'm the sort of person who doesn't really care what other people want to do as long as it doesn't negatively impact or harm others. It's none of my business. But at the core of every libertarian is a contradiction. We think we're right. :P

  8. That's an excellent Sermon, Jody - a very fine post. I really liked Phil's original post - it certainly got me thinking, and made me smile. My answers were honest, but with an eye to perhaps making people smile as well.

    But as to what makes a person a wargamer...or a "proper" wargamer...for me that's an easy question to answer.

    I've been a wargamer almost all my life, certainly since 1981 with perhaps a couple of fallow years somewhere in the middle like most people. I love all aspects of the hobby. Some I'm dreadful at, but really enjoy - playing games, for example. Some I get carried away by - like modelling and painting. And some I always look forward to - the social aspect of gaming and hobbying.

    But despite doing all these things - some passably, some dreadfully, some enthusiastically - the thing which (to me) makes me a wargamer is that I want to take part in the hobby and that I have tried, and continue to try, to turn that desire into a reality.

    For me, a wargamer is someone I sit down at a convention and play a game with, or meet at a club or a wargames show, or perhaps just meet for a dink in the pub and chat about the games we've played and enjoy. I want the hobby to be as inclusive as possible, open to all. If a person has the interest to find us out and wants to know more, and they've made the trouble to turn that ambition into a reality, to me that person has every right to be as much of a wargamer as me. They might not have played (and lost) as many games as me, or painted as many figures - but does that really matter? I really don't think so. No, not at all.

    Everyone brings something to our hobby who honestly sets out to join in with us whatever game we're playing or part of the hobby we're enjoying. That's my view, anyway, and I'm sticking to it!

    1. Absolutely Sidney. I've introduced so many people over the years to our hobby it's be impossible for me to list them all. In fact I'm still bumping into people years later who say "hey you gave me an intro game of such and such. Thanks" I have no idea who some of them are but they seem to remember me!!! :P

      We're such a small community really when you look at other past times etc. that we don't really need to be exclusive. Sure I think there are things one 'should' do in the hobby, but if you don't want to that's your call. I don't have to like it, but I'm not going to be a dick to you over it.

  9. A great Sermon and some excellent points well made as always. I like to think that I'm pretty easy going with few prejudices regarding my hobby. I'm open to all periods and styles of play and any scale. Maybe this is because I come from an RPG background and have played such a wide range of games myself.

    Maybe the only prejudice I really have is using unpainted miniatures on the table. I've always painted what I need for games and as far as I can recall I have never fielded unpainted (or half finished) models on the table. But I think it just offends my sense of aesthetics rather than because I think players that field unpainted miniatures are somehow not 'real wargamer's'.

    Live and let live, that's my motto.

    1. I have to say when it comes to gaming I'm pretty experimental. I will try most things. Even though historical wargaming has made me feel really hinky at times I have given it a go at multiple periods. I guess I'm more than willing to try new things. So when I come across people who aren't... well I guess I can get a little frustrated with them. Especially when they're grumbling about the game they're playing and the exact issues they have would be solved by them playing something else entirely. Does my head in. But, the major hang up I have has to be with unpainted armies. I've had to resort to this myself to get reviews done in time for products, but I hate it, hate it, hate it!!! Part of our hobby is visual and theatrical, and unpainted armies just damage that appeal so much.

  10. Maybe the most tragic bit is not the people put off from (historical) wargaming, but the wargamers that limit themselves in one way or another missing out on so much. Same goes for GW players that don't look outside what the Warhammer Shop offers them.

    Don't get me wrong, anyone should play what they feel comfortable with. But there's also beauty and adventure outside the comfort zone.

    1. Yep well you know I'm going to agree with that. I'm always looking to try new things out. Sure a lot of the times it's a bit of a let down, but every now and then you'll find a gem. And right now the hobby appears to be totally full of gems, everywhere you look right now there is some cool new product being launched.

  11. Great sermon, although it might be easier if I just tell you when I don't like it.

    I've said it before, but to me a true wargamer is someone who thinks of himself as such. But I don't think that means alot. We all use our own labels, it's how our brain processes and analyses the vast complexeties of our existance. The labels by which we define others only hold meaning to ourselves. It's when we start believing that others need to use the same labels as us that the problems begin.

    Am I a wargamer? According to quite a few definitions, no.
    I own at least one army for 8 game systems and for quite a few I own two. Excluding the random single miniatures from various other games and kickstarted games that have yet to arrive. Yet the number of games I've played could probably be counted on one hand. Excluding the me vs me games to figure to try out a few rules. I think it's very important to play with painted armies, but I own none myself. Alot of them are in various stages of completion, but none are finished. These are things that will change in the (near) future, but it is what it is.

    Do I feel like a wargamer? Tricky, probably more like a collector. That or a hypocrite anyway :p

    But as long as I enjoy myself in this hobby I don't really mind.

    So. Long story short. I agree with you :|

    1. I can totally understand the circumstances not being conducive to perhaps having the sort of hobby time you'd want. For about 3 years at work I was stuck at that awkward middle management level where you have to run around like a blue-arsed fly to do my job. I was doing my job at all sorts of ungodly hours. Ate into my personal life as well. Life gets in the way of many things. Nothing wrong with being a collector because you can't get a game or two in. Nothing wrong with just wanting to be a collector. But... a wargamer should game.

  12. I find that your remark about SPSS has caused you to lose all my respect and now I must shun you forever.

    Admittedly the version I used was a CLI and thus utter bollocks, but even so I wholely disregard any possible utility for such a terrbile piece of software!

    1. You have obviously never had to do things like ANOVA's and T-Tests on massive datasets for exceedingly pushy politicians who think such things are so easy a trained gibbon could do it, and should therefore be available at the click of a button.

      Plus if you were using CLI then quite frankly you might just as well have done the damn coding yourself in SQL or something. SPSS excels with it's GUI and spreadsheet display that now actually does allow you to do complex inferential statistics at the click of a button... bloody politicians!!!