Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Adventures of Sir Deven Benderbits - Wargamer Extraordinaire: All that Glitters

(Being a series of articles relating to the hobby of historical miniatures wargaming, meaning to bring out thought and discussion. Sir Deven is in fact a very extraordinaire wargamer; his thoughts wander much on the deeper side of the hobby - often nothing more than early morning ramblings and musings. Come enjoy his little diary of sorts as he explores this hobby of historical miniatures wargaming.)

Some more random musings for you all.

Unfortunately, we live in a society based on instant-gratification, where patience is much more than a mere virtue.

"Ahhhh... this looks so amazing! I can do so much with these miniatures. What a great period of history. I could have such grand battles. All my game-mates will love me even! Oh boy, the things I will be able to do. I could DO this!".

Uumm... no. No, no, noooooo!

More often than not, you will simply spend your money and amass a small collection - or a large one, perhaps trying out a few test games with mostly un-painted models. You soon find that your interest in this "amazing" new period wanes and you chalk it all up to experience. Or perhaps you just set it aside, planning to return to it later with hopeful vigor. Of course you never do. Some NEW flashy miniatures for some other obscure period pops in to view and the vicious cycle continues. Yes, this is the terrible habit afflicting many wargamers; an affliction I like to term, cereal-wargaming: a condition almost all wargamers have encountered at least a few times in their hobby lives. Oh the memories - OUCH!

This makes me wonder just what is the alternative to this ill-fated condition that afflicts so many wargamers today. Yes, we live in a modern age where NEW games and miniatures pop-up seemingly over night - often covering very mundane periods of history. Well, to put some names to it, I would suggest terms like dedication, focus, or even... commitment. Yes! That's it: commitment! Perhaps you have even seen some of these rare sort of fellows a few times at the club. They are the ones who always seem to have a massive, fully painted army that just looks amazing. They often have an extensive collection of rules and books - although on a very specific period or era; not quite as diverse as the cereal -wargamer's massive library perhaps, but extensive none the less. They are often seen playing with their model armies over wonderfully crafted terrain. They seem to always be playing the same rules system which they know quite intimately. Most of all, they seem to have an eternal smile stretching about their face while rolling some dice in their crafty hands. Most of all, they tend to leave you with wonder and want on your mind. This either motivates you, or drives you from the hobby altogether. True story!

Some of my Sudan models slowly being collected.

SO how do we get to this level in our hobby? How do we avoid that terrible condition known as cereal-wargaming?

First, get to grips with what your truly interested in.
  • Know what period(s) you are passionate about. This means doing a little research and soul-searching really. There are a lot of interesting periods out there that would make wonderful wargames. Firstly, don't ask yourself what periods you would play, but rather, what period you want to invest time, money, and effort in! What period really excites you outside of purely wargaming. Often, this is a period you are fond of for other reasons besides purely wargaming (you enjoy reading about the period, watching shows on it, etc.).
  • Know your period(s). Focus your research and purchases on things dealing with your chosen period; FEED your excitement! Allow yourself to enjoy your chosen interest.
  • Identify your "Go-to" rules. One of the fun parts of getting in to a new period is truing out all the different rules sets that are available for the period. This usually involves lots of test games, or heavy research. Go out and have a go until you find something that really grabs your attention. Those rules that don't make the cut can either be either set upon the bookshelf for a change of pace, or thrown in to the EBAY bin! Having this "Go-to" set of rules allows you something to focus on, a window to view your chosen period of history. Do not clutter your brain with too many different sets of rules. Having a single set that is really enjoyable to you can really make a difference.
  • Understand there are other periods out there. This of course is one of the great things about this hobby: variety! This is why it is so important to know what period interests you the most, and stick to it. The rewards will be far greater in the long run.
  • Don't be distracted by the "shiny". New stuff comes out all the time. We all know this. Much of it is advertised to capture your attention long enough to get you to buy it. Pretty basic marketing really. Today more than ever, wargamers are faced with a massive assortment of new rules, games, miniatures, and all the media entertainment that goes along with it. Just keep in mind, just about ANY period could be presented this way and be just as distracting - including the one you have chosen to focus on. Bottom line: don't get too excited by all the hype.
  • Know what you want to achieve. This is very important. You need to have a firm grip on what exactly you are trying to achieve with this little adventure of yours. Give yourself a rough idea at least of how far you will go regarding the size of your initial collection. This is usually just enough miniatures to have some modest sized battles. At that point you can relax, play some battles, adding new miniatures to your collection as needed. This is a life-long commitment really, so keep that in mind. You have plenty of time to amass a HUGE army.
  • Explore your period. This really goes without saying. However, just remember that without all the distraction of other periods getting in the way, you can truly spend some quality time with the period you are so passionate about. Take advantage of this to do some reading about a particular battle or, have a watch of some documentary film on the conflict. Explore new rules or discussions on various forums on the period. Get involved with others interested in the same topics as you. This "exploration" will give you a rewarding boost to your motivation.
Useful tid-bits to keep you focused.
  • Cultivate the "One-step-further" attitude. Now that you are so focused take advantage of this to go a step further with your hobby. Perhaps you can make some rules specific measuring devises. How about getting some custom dice for your armies? How about making some custom "order" markers? Hmmm... of course, think of all the interesting and unique pieces of terrain you can craft (or buy) that make will make your period stand out. There are so many things you can do that will make your game look a cut-above the others, which in turn serves as a source of yet more motivation for you.
  • Keep a Blog/Diary. This can be really useful. If it is a blog (public) you will probably gain some followers who have an interest in your little adventure. Take advantage of this. You can share interests, gain new insights, and generally obtain some motivation from such a thing. A blog/diary can also be useful to record your progress as you go along your little journey.
  • Take advantage of temptation. Whenever you see a new game being played and start saying to yourself, "wow, that looks awesome. I wish I could play that game/period too", don't fret! Actually, take advantage of this little temptation. Look at ways you can duplicate the temptation with your current interest. For instance, lets say you see a marvelous game of Flames of War being played that involved a lot assault boats and infantry attacking across a river along this wonderful looking bridge. Instead of looking at this as something unique to Flames of War - or WW II wargaming for that matter, how about finding a way to play the same thing with your period you are so focused on instead. What a great idea! Maybe all those tanks are massed batteries of artillery, or heavy cavalry awaiting to cross in mass. All those infantry can be seen in their wooden assault boats. Sound good? Basically, when you see a great looking game going on that is not for you period, just look at the scenario being played. Use it as inspiration for your own games using the period that you are focused on.
You can see right away there are many advantages to remaining focused and sticking with a specific period that really interests you. Not only is it much more fulfilling, but allows you to really get a lot done! There might be a lot of great new miniatures and games that seem to make other periods stand out, but don't be fooled.

So, with all that understood, what's next? Ahhh... my mind wanders yet again.


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