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Making History


This month's Small Talk is going to scratch the surface on a much larger issue. The issue is the rift between historical miniature wargamers and the fantasy/sci-fi miniature wargamers. Let's start with my angle on things.

I am not a historical miniature gamer. I have played a few historical games - such as Volley and Bayonet, and Johnny Reb - but not enough for me to call myself a historical gamer. I also read a few of the more historical minded magazines - Miniature Wargames, Wargames Illustrated and occasionally even First Empire. I read all of these for ideas, historical concepts, and even some great pictures of figures.

But I can't say that I'm sorry I don't play more historical games.


Good question. Here are some of the reasons:

  1. I didn't grow up with a grounding in them. A number of people who play historical games had exposure to them early - either a father, grandfather, uncle or someone exposed them to the games early on, and they have been fans all their lives.
  2. Wars. People are fascinated with wars like World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War because they permeated their lives at one point. Myself, the only war I have memory of is the Gulf War - and given the circumstances of it, the potential for re-creation is minimal.
  3. I don't live in the UK. Is it just me, or does the UK have a wargamer on every corner? Thumbing through the magazines, it assaults me that there are wargame stores every where, as well wargame conventions taking place all over the UK, on what seems to be a daily basis.

My first exposure to miniatures was Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, with the old Ral Partha and Grenadier miniatures to represent the player characters and monsters and such. I remember seeing ads for other companies in the back of Dragon magazine - which I was an avid reader of, because it was really the only thing I could find gaming-related.

Then, Games Workshop opened up a shop near my home. The rest is all downhill from there.

I grew up with movies like "Star Wars". "The Last Starfighter". "Willow". Fantastic people, places, creatures, and beyond. I read all I could find of Tolkiens books, the TSR AD&D books and so forth, so fantasy was my bread and butter.

Is it any surprise that I love Warhammer and Chronopia and Dark Heaven:Apocalypse?

The problem is that I don't NOT want to learn more historical games, or play more historical games. I absolutely enjoy history - I even spent New Years freezing various parts of my body at Gettysburg, to get a unique perspective on the Battlefield.

So it isn't a problem with history.

And it isn't a problem with some of the rulesets, despite the fact that many historical games care less about having a challenging game and more about having the outcome be the same as history.

And it isn't a problem with historical gamers themselves, despite the fact that a good portion of the ones that I have met look down upon the fantasy/sci-fi types.

And it isn't a problem with the miniatures, despite the fact that I think most of the fantasy/sci-fi miniatures are far and all superior looking to most historical figures.

So what is it?

Must be the lack of free time. I mean, look at the list of games that I enjoy. Try fitting another game in THAT horde. You need more than a shoehorn- probably need an army to fit one in. (Although, I would like to note that I am still waiting for the new Star Wars Miniatures Battles, the new Star Trek starship combat game, and even GW's Battlefleet Gothic)

That, and.there needs to be a better effort to get people to enjoy historical games. With fantasy and sci-fi games, there is a growing effort to get volunteer teams to go around and teach people game systems. They do it out of love for the game, and it allows anyone who wants to learn the opportunity and a teacher. That's something I have not seen with historical games.

It also seems that historicals are often too concerned with the little things. Personally, I want to enjoy the cavalry charge into the roaring guns of the enemy; I don't care about what color their belts were. (Such things tend to make me violent)

Further, I would like to see historicals in a good tournament environment. I enjoy the competitive aspects of wargaming - but I personally have not seen a tournament running historical rules.

Enough of my ranting for now. I would like someone to tell me I'm wrong here - it has happened before, although not as often as you might think. Have a good one, and keep those dice rolling.

Next time: We see if I can find somebody who disagrees-- (other than my fiancée, of course)

Robert E. Allen III

Commentary, etc. to Warmaster@rpg.net

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