Tuesday 26 January 2010

Three Types of People

There are three types of people in this world, those who can count, and those who can't! Sorry I couldn't help myself. Seriously though, Steve Williams, otherwise known as Typhoon, argued that there are three types of people who are fans of BattleTech:

1. The ones who play for the Battlemechs.

2. The ones who play for the background of the universe.

3. And the ones who play for a combination of the two above.

When he wrote this last year I went away and thought about where I stood in this scheme of things. At the time I thought I might be a three, but acknowledged that I started as a one, and it is only recently that I've gotten more into the background of the verse.

However, I'm not sure that this is even true. I think that people's views evolve and are not static, at least mine are. Though I would admit that some beliefs I have are strongly tied into my personality traits, which have been described both as passionate and assertive. Alternatively, I've been described as artistic and highly strung, even been described as a loose cannon, which is a bit scary.

So here is me being me and looking at my passion for BattleTech. The reason that I still play BattleTech to this day, inspite of a 13 plus year break while I got on with the rest of my life, is that it feeds my imagination. Well, more correctly Science Fiction has always fed my imagination, and BattleTech is SF, and even though this is perilously close to a circular argument, the point is that in the original BattleTech universe the battlemechs had changed the rules of warfare.

That of all the things about BattleTech was the one thing that drew me to the game. I don't care that the idea of giant walking battle mecha makes no sense, because for me idea being played with was the "what if they did?" The background also had the romance of knights in armour fighting against the end of civilisation was, if totally wrong in so many ways, utterly romantic. A world where the darkness has fallen and the people strive to survive against the odds has certain charming opportunities those who like to play games with the great what if?

Given this position, I find it easy to accept that I don't fit the classic BattleTech player profile, because I will gladly admit to running with the ideas I like, and leaving the ones I don't for others to enjoy. Unfortunately, the downside of such an attitude is that I question everything, and will tinker with rules and stuff as I see fit, which means that I don't always see eye-to-eye with more conservative players, whatever they play. So for me it is all about being able to use my imagination to create my own stories of war, betrayal and honour. I guess I'm just one of the people in the world who can't count!

Wednesday 20 January 2010

10 Days Later

Well it has been 10 days since the last post, and I really do have loads to write about, but not necessarily the time to do the topics, rants, or musings justice.

So this entry is kind of a note to myself...
I must write about Typhoon's 3 kinds of Battletech players, a draft has been sitting waiting for me to get around to finishing it for quite some time.

Brown Water Navies. I love them so much I built a set of riverine delta terrain boards after all.
More on terrain and trees.

A piece called Little Big Mechs, which was a combination of Battleforce and Battletech rules I wrote (back in the day) that used miniatures too. Needs a lot of updating to fit in with the current rules, as otherwise it is very much a historical piece.

Something on OSR, which I'm interpreting as Old School Retread!
More miniature stuff, but I'm going to have a rethink about what I write to support the pictures? Anything else I can think of?

Commenting on stuff I've read on the blogs that I follow. Which is well interesting, and thought provoking stuff that wets the creative juices. For instance Rocketpunk's manifesto "Space Warfare Could everything we know be wrong?". Or, ScrapYard Armoury's "Chaos Campaign: Mechwarrior Conversion". And I really must find the time to post a comment or two on The Battletech Reader blog, a must for fans of Battletech TROs. I mustn't forget to also write about the New hardback editions of Battletech, inspired by "Rules I like" that appeared on Wargaming for Grown-ups.

After that find time to check out all my followers blogs, make comments, and still do my 9-to-5 job, spend time with my partner (who is injured as we speak), paint miniatures etc., etc. No time to say hello, goodbye, I'm late, I'm late...


Sunday 10 January 2010

Not Quite BattleTech


I got up today with the intention of painting and making a variety of things that are sitting on my work bench waiting to be done. For instance I have for industrial mechs that I'm making up as "technicals" for games of
BattleTech where one side has really rubbish mechs, because let's be frank and honest here, industrial mechs suck. However, I quite like the idea of campaigns where you have to put down a local uprising, or have to lead a revolution against conventional forces with whatever you have to hand.

This kind of segues into a rant about wargamers only wanting to play what are seen as somehow fair, or at least balanced games, which is fair enough I suppose as we are wargaming, not actually carrying out acts of war. I was thinking in bed last night, as one does when one is about to fall off to sleep, about wargames as games versus simulations. A debate that comes up time and again in the press, on forums and in conversations with one's mates.

You know the argument I mean. Point systems versus balanced play debated against the background of linked scenarios versus pick up games, and whether it is fairer to have randomised armies versus picked armies that exploit the rules etc. I can see it now, Napoleon Bonaparte standing at Waterloo saying " zat Vellington chap is awfully nice and we should have a good clean fair fight to zee oou iz ze best generalé?" Or Wellington looking back across the field and saying that Boney is a fine chap, let's give him a warm welcoming hand. Actually I could imagine Wellington saying something like that, nothing like understated British humour in a tight spot!

IMNSHO, I've find myself thinking that all the games we are playing about war are first and foremost games, and rarely simulate reality in any shape or form, though they can have rules that allow for the game to produce outcomes that mimic historical processes. I'm not a military person, but I have some family who have been, and know quite a few other former soldiers too. This doesn't really qualify me to have an opinion as such, but I will quote the general consensus that military people convey to me. Hobby wargames can be useful, but they are not simulating warfare as such.

Having been out with military personnel on a few occasions getting an introduction to TEWTs (Tactical Exercises Without Troops), and having participated in light infantry training exercises for a number of years through playing a Live Action Role Playing game that has a high number of former military personnel who play, I know what I do, I do for a couple of hours of fun. What real soldiers do is spend hours of their lives bored by stuff, punctuated by moments of sheer adrenaline rush when the shit hits the fan.

Anyway, what I've learnt from my time hanging around soldiers and having fun, is that when you go into a fight the last thing you want is fair. Fair leads to a lot of Blue team casualties. What you want is at least 4 to 1 odds in your favour so that you can mallet the opposition good and proper. If you should find find yourself in the unenviable position of being out numbered, then dig in, because then they will need at least 4 to 1 odds to steam roller over you.

So, when I see people moan about players who stack the odds in their odds, I do sympathise, but I see it as a natural predilection of human being desire to survive, which is probably inappropriately focused when it come to playing games, but which makes perfect sense from a Darwinian perspective. Perhaps the secret for writing really good rules is to factor this need in and have systems that allow for the natural tendencies of the player to minimize their risks, and maximize their benefits?

So to sum up. I can't remember a game I played for hours with boring stuff that ends in a few minutes of total adrenaline overload, not even the ones where I've been on training exercises with soldiers simulating a field exercise. And why would I spend hours of my life doing something that bores me? I have a job that can do most of that, and I get paid for the boredom, and when it get really exciting, as in oh my god someone might die kinda way, then I'm still getting paid for doing my job. Wargames OTOH are generally some enjoyable hours spent with a few mates playing a game, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Oh yes, I primed another platoon of Pendraken Late WW1 British infantry, and then I was sucked into cleaning up and basing the rest of the company and support elements, but I shall talk about that in another post.

Sunday 3 January 2010

Not Only but Also

Yesterday was a full on eight hour painting fest. Besides the WW1 British Tommy's I posted, I also managed to finish off 23 plastic mechs, which I'm calling the Rough & Ready Battalion, as I will use them for pick up demo games of
BattleTech. They were primed black, dry brushed white and then random panels were painted in colours associated with the five Houses of the Inner Sphere. Here they are to enjoy. 


Saturday 2 January 2010

Mud and Blood British Tommy's

I bought a bunch of Pendraken 10mm WW1 British infantry, and I've been learning stuff about formations, uniforms and the development of tactics during the war, which went from 19th Century style of attacks and became what was the basis for modern 20th Century warfare.

Fascinating stuff to read, and it rather dispels the rather one sided lions led by donkeys myth, not that the general staff in any of the armies could be considered brilliant and mistakes that cost men their lives were repeatedly made by both sides, but without hindsight I can see that it was a steep learning curve for all the armies involved in the conflict. Not the first time it happened and it certainly won't be the last either.

Well I didn't exactly wake up today intending to paint my first 10mm Pendraken Late WW1 British infantry today, but I did. It was one of those one little thing leads into another, and before you know it you might as well finish the job that you were idling with situation. Anyway, combination of black base with white highlight drybrushing, followed by drybrushing and washing colours on top to get them done like this.

Only another three platoons worth to go and then I'll be able to start the Germans. Got tanks too, lots of tanks. I see fun times ahead.