Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Reflecting Progress 1

One of the interesting things about writing a blog as being a metaphor for having a conversation, is that you can readily check your hit stats and comments. The former is like how many people think you are interesting to talk to, while the latter gives you a fair idea of whether what you are saying is a conversation or a monologue.

I tend to view post with no comments as monologues, while those with comments are conversations. I prefer conversations to monologues, if only as a nod to the evil villain trope of monologuing.

Cue evil laugh...

I've also been looking at my work bench recently, at as importantly, looking at the growing expanse of unfinished figures, in various stages from being based on the road to becoming fully painted units. It is hundreds of figures that stare back at me.

I've been working on some Peter Pig AK47R 15mm Somalian militia. Two companies, each of four platoons with four squads each; based at nine figures per squad, which is not AK47R compliant.

Why did I do it this way? Well, for me, I like my toy soldiers to be something more than just a token, otherwise I might as well just use a token. Therefore I like my single toy soldiers to represent a single soldier on the table.

I know it limits the scale of the conflicts that one can realistically manage, but when I want to play strategic, or grand operational level games, I'm not fussed about using toy soldiers anymore.

Anyway, Somalia is an interesting modern conflict that causes a lot of upset with wargamers, because it is modern, yet they would not flinch at Rourke's Drift, or the tribal wars associated with Africa at that time.

For me it's all about the toy soldiers on the table top. When people ask me "Hey Pip why you do play wargames, are you some kind of war junkie?" Nowadays I don't say a word. Why, because they don't understand why wargames are fun to play. People don't understand why we do it, because it's all about the game and toy soldiers you play with and paint. And that's it, that's all it is at the end of the day is people playing with toy soldiers.

So I'm fairly open to playing "black" wargames, assuming you agree that such a thing exist, one of the reasons I am driven to playing Science Fiction games is that it allows me to play games inspired by modern conflicts; without the baggage associated from the reactions from people who bristle at modern wars from Vietnam on.

Of course, one then gets the reaction of "I don't play Sci-Fi Fantasy games as they are not real" response. Funnily enough, as an aside, I don't play fantasy wargames anymore either, and by fantasy I mean games with creatures from mythology, folklore and involving magic.

I asked myself why do I avoid fantasy games?

For the same reason I no longer play ancient historical wargame, because for me their technology is too tactically limiting. The reason I like modern warfare, as in WW1 and on, is that the technology drives the tactics, though arguably that is always the case, but that the selection of "toys" is greater in modern periods.

Not just siege artillery, or mobile artillery, but self-propelled artillery too! One can even mix traditional horse, camel etc cavalry, with modern mechanised versions of same. Then there are the extra bells & whistles of main battle tanks and helicopters functioning as cavalry too. 

IMNSHO what is there not to like about this kind of variety?



  1. "The reason I like modern warfare, as in WW1 and on, is that technology drives tactics"

    Very good insight there. Also, you can look at the mix of things that existed in the 19th c., yet also existed in WW2. and not just Polish lancers charging German panzers. A good percentage of German artillery was still horse-drawn, especially in 1939. the Soviets not only had Cossacks, but many mortar teams had mules. And speaking of mules, "mule-skinner" was an understrength, yet needed, MOS in the US Army.

    I think maybe that people have problem with "black wars" because the have this idea that one is trivializing the conditions in Africa 'by playing a game" with them. But that's just me.

    Very good post.

  2. So true, I’ve heard a lot of people give excuses as to why they do not play modern miniature games set in conflicts such as the Afghan war, Iraq war, Somalia civil war, or the Balkan wars. Some of those excuses are the lack of minis for such conflicts, miniatures are not accurate, not enough time has passed to accurately portray a particular battle, or those conflicts are too fresh and too brutal to be trivialized with toy solders. However, I say there are plenty of minis out there from 1/285 to 28mm for any conflict you want to choose from, the miniatures are accurate enough (check out a Osprey Book if you want to get more technical), there doesn’t need to be anytime to pass to play a GAME (It’s a game, not a historical reenactment at WestPoint with a test afterward, and finally, someone may be offended by recreating modern conflicts, but that’s too bad. They can go elsewhere. They do not have to play. Are Flames of War players worried about offending 90 year olds? No, because most veterans from that war have passed on and FOW players couldn’t care if they were still around to protest. So, I say do what makes you happy. If modern conflicts are your thing, then don’t let anyone stand in your way.
    BTW: Check out this link from Frank Chadwick concerning the myth of the Polish Lancers.

  3. The objection to 'Black' wargames etc, tends to come from internalised guilt and a sense of powerlessness rather than a moral or ethical stance. Any wargame represents the taking of human life in a variety of ways (none of them pleasant), therefore the argument *should* be that all wargames are wrong. The reason that modern conflicts tend to get a bad press with some people is that it is far easier to protest to some guy/gal sat a table playing with toy soldiers, and to get them to change their evil ways, than it is to protest to their own government, or the faceless corporations who make millions out of these conflicts, to change theirs.

    Going back a few years a couple of shows were picketed by CND because of the 'warmongering' that they represented. Even if they had their effect and wargamers had stayed away, it was hardly an inducement for the USSR and USA to commence disarmament.

    The point is that the people who protest at a 'certain' type of game have never done anything of any real value to prevent or stop the real war that is being played out with toy soldiers and that they feel morally compelled to make up for their own shortcomings by taking a 'stand' after the fact.

    Any veteran or current serviceman is not going to wander into a wargames club or show by chance, if they are there, they are likely to be gamers themselves and will most likely not be offended by the games on offer. They might of course tell you "You're doing it wrong" which of course is far worse to any gamer than "I object to the game's subject on a moral level."

  4. I thought I'd add some pictures of my AK47 Somalians for everyone's edification and delight.