Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Reading wargames magazines over lunch and a journey to the Dark Side.




Yesterday I had a meeting in London, which was one of those where the timing keeps moving about until the last minute.  Well, I say London but actually it was at Holloway Road which is much further north in London than I like to go.  It's almost the Midlands!  Originally scheduled to take place between 12.00 and 13.00, the meeting was shifted to 13.00.  I arrived at Waterloo early, so had time for a cup of tea (I thought you might not be able to get tea in North London) and a quick trip to Smiths and picked up May's Miniature Wargames. I then got a phone message to say they had moved the meeting forward to 12.30.  Anyway, it all meant that I was out at 13.30 and desperate to get back to civilisation.  As I hadn't had lunch I headed south as fast as possible and pitched up at the National Cafe at the National Gallery.  Basically, I wanted to waste some time so that Old Bat would be at home to pick me up and save me the walk from the station, as I have a bad foot at present.




Now although I don't like its new poncey incarnation (could this be the name for Warhammer's first gay hero?) compared with how it used to be (all change is bad) the food there is very nice, apart from a baffling preponderance of fishy dishes.  They had one of their exhibition specific menus again (Monet) but now, annoyingly, they only serve these in the evening (more change for the worse).  Anyway, apart from my newly purchased Miniature Wargames I also had April's Wargames Illustrated in my bag.  Time, therefore, for another  thrilling episode of Reading Wargmes Magazines over Lunch!  Before I could start, given it was susprisingly warm yesterday, I needed a cool drink and so chose a Côtes de Provence.   This was a pale, almost transparent, fragrant pink which reminded me (in many ways) of a former girlfriend's favourite pair of knickers; although not as expensive (I was with her once in Wimbledon when she spent an eye watering £105 on a pair of La Perla black knickers).




Leek and potato with wild garlic soup for a first course; although in reality it was more garlic soup with a little bit of leek and potato.  Miniature Wargames new May edition first and a look at their Forward Observer review section.  Firstly, review of the new Osprey Outremer: Faith and Blood rules, for Crusades skirmishes using between five and ten figures a side, which strike me as being too few (surprisingly) so I will pass on these, despite the fact that I have some painted figures for the First Crusade, done for a Society of Ancients game some years ago.


The problem


The solution?


Far more interesting was a review of a paint station which, at two feet long might, hold a lot of rubbish cluttering my desk.  One side of my desk is a complete tip (actually so is the other side) but this has racks for paint brushes, drawers and lots of space for paint. I bunged off an order to Always Hobbies and hope the reviewers claims that it was easy to assemble will prove accurate!


Picnic girl by Ron Cobb for Mayfair July 1972


Many articles in wargames magazines have tried to categorise the different tribes of players and Conrad Kinch had a go, this month too, looking at their motivation.  In a way, these pieces remind me of those articles you used to get in Mayfair, which would examine the different characteristics of 'birds' in the early seventies; country set girls, librarians, air hostesses, secretaries, au pairs, etc.   These were usually illustrated, falling out of their clothes, by Ron Cobb who would go on to do concept art for films like Alien and Total Recall. None of them look like wargamers, of course!  Kinch's categorisation had four types: Socialite - who games to meet up with people (definitely not me), The System Master - who loves mastering the rules so they can win at all costs (not me either), The Daytripper - inspired by history, films or TV (that is me) and The Craftsman - who likes painting figures, making scenery and devising scenarios (a bit me).


A member of my Sudan Naval Brigade encounters some cavegirls


There were several other articles I was interested in: one on making rocks out of yoga blocks (no, I had no idea what a yoga bloc was either) and a piece from the Wargames Widow on making a swampy river.  I have to say (cruelly, given my lack of ability at constructing scenics) that I find many of her projects a bit lumpy and agricultural but this one may be worth keeping.  There was another one of those four staples of generic wargames magazines articles (along with the aforementioned type of wargamer, the greying of the hobby and the decline of shows) on historical versus fantasy wargaming (two out of four of these tropes in one issue?).  The position taken by the author seemed to be that historical and fantasy games were all after the same objective but historical gamers were more hamstrung by...well, history. He also takes the view that historical games are in decline.  Hmm.  This is not something I want to get into but I think that the sheer number of, in particular, plastic historicals coming out says that the decline isn't as steep as some thing. I think that, perhaps, big battle historicals are on the decline, with the rise of the semi-skirmish type of game like Lion Rampant,  Many historical games are now fought with forces of several dozen, rather than hundreds ,of figures a side, as seen in Fantasy and SF gaming for some time.  This is partly due to time constraints, I suspect, and cost.  I actually think that one thing fantasy wargaming has given to historicals is nicely produced rule books, coming from Warhammer Historical and now Warlord Games, there are still some who prefer the ring bound efforts of the past but being a Daytripper/Craftsman, according to Mr Kinch's definitions, I think glossy, beautifully produced rule books are inspirational.  Also, I think that while younger wargamers (and most wargaming women) focus on Fantasy, contraty to the author of this piece,  I don't see a situation in thirty years time when lots of fifty year olds are still playing Warhammer.  This is because I think, like myself, many who wargame at a younger age stop for years, as adult life takes over, only to return to the hobby years or decades later.  When they do return I suspect they are more likely to take up historicals as opposed to fantasy, if only as it may feel more acceptable to their peers.  'I play wargames with Orcs' not being so, justifiable, perhaps, to others as 'I recreate battles of the Crimean War'; even if the gaming mechanisms are almost identical.




However, the thing in the magazine that had an immediate effect on me was the actually rather poor review  (he reviewed the figures not the game, with which there are issues, I gather) of Star Wars Legion. I had been excited when this game was first announced (I think my daughter pointed it out) but with my eye problems of last year, I gave up on it. It was delayed so often I lost interest.  However, the review in Wargames Illustrated seemed to indicate it was out and I gather it was being demonstrated at Salute, although, needless to say, I didn't see it.  However, now that I can see much better again, I wanted to get it, especially as Charlotte seems keen on playing it (some of her friends play X-Wing).  Quick phone call to Dark Sphere and a short walk from Waterloo Station and there I have yet another impulse by.  Much more on this in due course.




On to my main course of duck with spicy liver sauce and Wargames Illustrated's April edition.  The themed approach is always a bit hit and miss and aviation wargames are a definite miss for me but the Thirty Years War is something I have been interested in a for a long time, not least because of the old Revell 1:72 plastics of years ago (there was an article on other suitable plastic figures in this scale in the magazine) and several visits to the Swedish Army Museum in Stockholm with my friend Anna.  It seems that this would be an ideal period for The Pikeman's Lament so I will keep the articles from this issue.  One thing, however, is that the uniforms  (not that they were) from the period are not the same as those from the English Civil War.  I recently read about a European firm that was starting up a range of 28mm Thirty years War figures which looked really nice but I can't remember who?  Were they Russian? Probably just as well I can't remember!

There was also a piece on Warlord's Shieldwall supplement for Hail Caesar which I haven't quite finished reading et.  I haven't played Hail Caesar but perhaps this will be what Eric the Shed uses for his big new Norman and Saxon project.  Coincidentally, after I returned from Dark Sphere, I ran into Eric on Waterloo Station, after I had collected my big Star Wars box.  He said I should take the game over to the Shed, which I may do when I have painted the figures (in about 2020). 

15 comments:

  1. Another enjoyable read. How do you manage such a big lunch with a bottle of wine and not go to sleep?

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    1. Walking! I walked from there to the shop- about a mile and a half and then back to the station, nearly another mile

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  2. Nice looking chips.. proper chips, not those stick like poor imitations... a larger pit of the white stuff (mayonnaise?) on the side is required though I think...??

    PS. Cave girls are (very) nicely painted, but all look like Arnold Schwarzenegger in drag...

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  3. I've succumbed to some of the other FFG Star Wars games but not this one...youll definitely have to bring it to the Shed so we can all dissect it.

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    1. Imagine ow long it will take me to paint the figures, though

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  4. Another fine ramble and I also like the look of the chips. I must go there next time I am in London.

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  5. Replies
    1. Thank you. Haven't had one of these posts in a while. Otherwise I tend to buy the magazines and never read them at home.

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  6. Another one bite the dust on SW Legion. Interesting to see that the first trilogy is still so up-to-date even today.

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    1. I found it odd that they used an Empire Strikes Back Luke with Return of the Jedi Rebel troopers, though.

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  7. Re your query about the 30YW figures in 28mm - there is a Russian company, Avanpost http://wargameterrain.blogspot.com.es/2018/01/avanpost-miniatures-new-thirty-years.html

    And Tercio - https://terciosminiatures.com/

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