David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

Marmite for Wargamers?

Wargamers can sometimes come over as a rather curmudgeonly bunch you may have noticed from time to time, and I am certainly no exception to the rule I have to confess, but just sometimes I hear or read something which really gets my goat. Now mostly it is Phil and Jon who have to bear the brunt of any ranting, but occasionally I have aired my views to a wider audience, either here on my Blog or on one or other Forum group I visit. Now today I read something on a Blog I frequent which really did leave me pretty much in despair, but on reflection just might have been typical of wargamers of my vintage. What was it you ask? Well, a piece reflecting on how poor wargames magazines, and Wargames Illustrated in particular, were when compared to some  'lost Golden Age' typified by Practical  Wargamer. It never ceases to amaze me when folk ponder on whether things were better when 'they were a lad'. Of course they weren't, it just sometimes seems that way through the distorting lenses of nostalgia. Things change for all of us and time marches on pretty much regardless of what we may think or want and I cannot for the life of me see the point of harking back in our hobby. Banana Oil and plasticine anyone? Drawing pins for shields? Riders pined to horses with the wife's sewing pins? Not for me, I'll take the bang up to date every time!
Now, when it comes to magazines I happen to think this is really our Golden Age. We enjoy two monthly and one bi-monthly glossies to wet our interest in our obsessions. They are each different in focus and audience and to complain about one because it isn't just how you would want it seems somehow perverse to me. If something really does leave you flat, well don't buy it, as I usually now avoid buying one of the three, though I do look at Phil's copy. Alternately, you could always submit articles or ideas for articles. But then it's easier to moan isn't it, forgetting that Editors can only choose from what they have to hand, than to sit down and write a piece. As readers of my Blog must know from my ramblings, I have written dozens of pieces for both the old and the new incarnation of Wargames Illustrated, none of which have made me rich or famous, but all of which have been my meagre effort to give something back to my wider hobby in return for the joy it and my friends who share my passions have brought me. As the good book says, "Go thou and do likewise."
If wargames  magazines occasionally produce the same opposite responses as does Marmite ~ Vegimite for our colonial cousins ~ then wargames figures eclipse even them when it comes to provoking extreme responses. Take my case as an example: I really like Dixon Miniatures' ACW and Wild West ranges, but both leave others I know in despair and, do you know what. I just don't understand why that should be as to my eye they are wonderful. Or conversely, take Old Glory figures, which sell by the shed load; they always look to me like folk in the grip of St Vitus's Dance! We are so spoiled for choice now with figures, scales, and even plastic figures, that there really must be something for everyone if you look carefully enough. 'Golden Ages'; the problem with them if you are always harking back is you just don't see you live in one right now. As proof, if you will, that we all see things through the lenses of experience and preferences, here are my latest figures fresh from the painting desk: Foundry SYW British infantry in firing pose, painted as Foot Guards to give my army its third Foot Guard regiment. I think they really nail the C18th look, but I do realise that is by no means the view of others. Marmite you see ~


As I think I said, Marmite for wargamers. They will do for me though. Now back to the VBCW on the painting desk to finish off Princess Sudhira's Rifles. Next game in GHQ? A SYW game of course using Honours of War rules. 

20 comments:

  1. I love Marmite! The Footguards are great too.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You love Marmite? No accounting for taste is there? Pleased you approve of the Guards, I just need the right standards now.

      Delete
  2. I would rather you had placed a comment on my post as I can only assume you were referring to my observations regarding Practical Wargamer v Wargames Illustrated.I think I must have badly written the piece because frankly I dont hark back to the early 1970's where wargaming is concerned, hence my blog lead which talks of a Golden Age, ie the present time. Now if it was music, that would be a different matter. My actual point was that I found very little of merit in this months WI whereas I still enjoy reading the articles provided in older magazines.Its a bit like re reading Lorna Doone or Dickens. I subscribe to all the magazines, working on a principle that we need to support our magazines, I do think it gives me a right to pass comment on the paucity of articles one can get your teeth into and lets be right the WI has been pretty short of decent stuff for a while now. I used to be one of those individuals that actually contributed articles to all the magazines as well, but thought a younger wargamer should take up the mantle. Clearly this hasnt happened, hence the constant articles about the latest rules that most wargamers dont want.So please comment whenever you feel a need to give an alternative view, because that what we should do,ie. Talk, especially if its about wargaming. Good post by the way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello Robbie! Thanks for your reply, I always enjoy your opinion pieces even when I can't agree with them. I hope you haven't taken umbrage with my points about the wider issues of magazines, figures and the future of the hobby. I had just read a load of whinging on LAF about Flames of War and it's popularity and WI in particular and I think on reflection that coloured my views when I read your piece. I'm still trying to contribute articles to WI because I want to give back as folk did for me. As you say though, talking about gaming is the whole point. I hope you will be back talking about future posts.

      Delete
    2. David,
      I can never take umbrage with wargamers, its great to have discussion.

      Delete
  3. Curmudgeonly, you never ;~)
    Nice looking addition to your SYW collection, I shall hope to lead them to death or glory at some point.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I loved the Practical Wargamer. It formed an important part of my hobby. It's demise was a shame and I think what it did for wargamers then, can still be held as a benchmark as to what we are getting from our current crop of magazines.

    I feel that I can say what I like about the current magazines because I subscribe to one, buy the other two and have been published by one of them in the last 12 months.

    The big difference between then and now is not so much the magazines themselves but their relevance to the modern gamer. For me they are a pleasure to read and worth their money ......... but the modern gamer can sit at this screen every evening and consume a whole evenings worth of posts and video, free and without any personal contribution or affiliation. With this as an alternative, I remain amazed that our hobby still supports three excellent magazines.

    The hobby has come a long way since Featherstone, Bath and Quarrie etc, ignited the spark for many of us that are still around to comment, but every day of that journey has been good for me and not of it would I dismiss or diminish, Practical Wargamer, drawing pins, matchsticks, soft plastics and enamel paints were all part of that.

    If I am to bemoan anything, it is that to a large extend, the modern gamer has so much material provided by others placed freely in front of them, yet the consumption of this free material too infrequently gets an acknowledgement or a thank you - bloggers and their contributions are too easily taken for granted, at least when writing for a magazine or buying a magazine, there is still a financial value and a worth placed on the product. Long may the magazines grace the shelves of Smiths (UK Newsagent), but I worry that 'free' is undermining the certainty of that.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your point Norm about relevance then and now is an important one I feel, reflecting the inexorable rise of the web and its influence for good or ill. Like you I enjoy the physical magazine, it's part of the tactile pleasures of the hobby as much as examining new figures or assembling an MDF building.

      Delete
  5. Great post David, and nice to see gentlemanly comments posted. Although I would take exception to Robbie assertion that 1970's music was a golden age, check out Wolf Alise. Get down with the kids, it has the added benefit of embarising the hell out off said kid.

    All the best
    Airhead

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My tastes in music, before I became deaf, were held by my family to be woeful, so I will steer clear of that area if it's all the same to you.

      Delete
    2. Bring back Gilbert & Sullivan!

      Delete
  6. Yes we are a funny lot and the post heading captures our foibles perfectly.

    ReplyDelete
  7. The passion that burns inside all of us for our particular love. For my part the magazines are better now and provide me with inspiration. In the old days they were the source of adverts and figure catalogues. Old figures simply can't compare to the fantastic stuff of today. The articles of old have been replaced by the www resource which is for those that explore limitless. Because of all these things I enjoy the hobby more now than ever. I love marmite but try not to assume others do, a broad church with space for all. 🙂

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Forward to the bright, sunlight uplands!

      Delete
  8. Lovely figures and an interesting post, I happen to think we've never had it so good but there you go.
    Best Iain

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Iain, I obviously agree with that.

      Delete
  9. Top blog post and I love the Foundry British too

    ReplyDelete