Thursday, June 7, 2012

A Dying Hobby in Its Golden Age

Wargamers aren't getting any younger.  Especially historical wargamers.  We are fractured as ever here in St. Louis, MO.  My goal has been just to game and get more people involved in gaming.  I chose to game at shops in the hopes of getting more people out of their basements.  It's worked to a degree.  I'll go to Wargamers' Cave about once a month to put on games.  I game once a week at Game Nite doing some sort of historical game or scenario.  In desperation, I got back into WH40K as a means of gaming regularly.  There are younger wargamers with WH40K and Warmachine.  But not so much with historical wargaming.  I prefer historical wargaming to sci-fi.  But I'll game whatever people are playing.  If I didn't want to deal with people, I'd game on a computer.  But I prefer the interactions of people in a social setting.  It's awful to deal with gamers who have little people skills playing to win at all costs.  That's a no win situation.

But even as historical wargaming is dying in America, we are in the midst of a golden age globally. 

Never before has there been the availablity of figures ranges to do various conflicts throughout history.  And never has their been a plethoria of rule systems for gaming said conflicts.  If you are creative, you can find free rule systems online or in a PDF format.  There are various commercial systems available, too.  One of things I've found as I've gotten older is my desire for simple, playable gaming systems.  I don't have time for really complicated all day wargames.  Most of my rule systerms are primarily convention style systems.  If I had a place in my house for a wargaming table, I wouldn't mind doing more complicated systems that might require the space of a day to play. 

Unfortunately, I don't have that luxury.  So most available rule systems are rather simplified for playability.  Four hours is about the time limit I have for most games.  Again, that is unfortunate. 

There are some really good systems that might take six to eight hours to play to a decisive resolution. 

But to each their own.  I've gotten to the point where I've bastardized and modified existing rule systems for my own games.  I've done this with The Sword and The Flame variants for Samurai and Mongol warfare.  It's not that hard to do.  If you've gamed enough systems.  Then again, The Sword and The Flame is one of the simplest gaming systems ever designed.  WH40K is the exact opposite.  I have been playing 40K for nearly 23 years.  I am familiar with the system.  And I know it inside and out.  The advantage of 40K is I can get a game wherever I go in the world.  I can't do that with most historical gaming. 

There are historical gaming systems that report to do that.  Flames of War is one.  But not many. 

However, FOW is based on WH40K.  You could call FOW fantasy WWII.  So the main complaint of historical gamers is finding rules systems you can agree on to play.  I don't have that issue with the GW gaming systems.  Since Warhammer Historicals have been put out of business, Warlord Games seems to be promoting their Black Powder, Pike and Shotte, and Hail Caesar! rules as a means of replacing the old WAB based systems.  At least that is what I've read online happening in places like the UK and parts of America. 

I want game 25mm Trojan War.  I have the older Warhammer Ancient Battles rules and army booklet.  I've wondered about Hail Caesar!  Part of the problem I have is that I have to provide both sides for a said conflict if I want to game it.  Friends have suggested I get game twice year putting on games for other people when I do this.  Most recently, I had this happen with 28mm English Civil War.  I also have 28mm Samurai armies and 28mm Franco-Prussian armies where I'll be providing both sides.  I don't have this problem when I play WH40K.  I only have to provide one army and I'm in business.  In the end, you should game what you enjoy.  I have friends I can game with.  If I waited for other people to hold up their end when I agreed to undertake a project with them, I'd still be waiting...       


  1. Keep plugging away Blake - as I've said to others and now on my blog: people seem to really enjoy your games when you put them on and that will encourage them to look into other eras/genres.

    But you're right about historical split. In fact, I was just wondering that today as I listened to the Pat Lowinger podcast. He spoke about the latest WAB tourney at Adepticon 2012 and plans for next year (this podcast came out before the announced ceasing of WAB publication.). The concern is that as the years go by this crowd will dwindle away looking for an in print ruleset. And that's hard to find. I own HC and BP. They play fast, but they're designed for big games, bigger than your average WAB game - so getting all the pieces for an army is going to be a big task.

    As much as we love to hate the big boys on the block (be it WH40K, WAB, or FOW) they do usually bring in the younger and newer people to the hobby.

  2. Interesting points. I didn't know WH had folded.