Best laid plans and all that...after all it is Burns Night. I was intending to write up Friday night's ECW game, together with a few of the pictures that came out quite well.
However, as I indicated above and in my general description of this blog I'm easily distracted. As we were packing up on Friday evening one of our regulars handed me December's "Miniature Wargames" ("At the grassroots of the hobby" as it proudly boasts).
I used to buy all of the hobby mags, - Military Modelling, Wargames Illustrated, Miniature Wargames - but they just took up loads of space and it sort of became expensive and we needed to make a few cuts so I stopped taking them. Probably about 1985. I fully intended to subscribe again, but here we are 25 years on, and I never did.
If December's MiniWargs is a prime example of where the hobby mag has got to, then I can't say I'm sorry I didn't remember to start subscribing again.
The early MiniWargs / Wargills, whilst featuring coloured pics, were long on ideas. Many members of WD published articles and there was still a sort of DIY feel about them. I wrote several articles myself and, when I could track Duncan Macfarlane down, they paid for my figures.
Alas the current mags seem to have become overwhelmed by the 28mm mafia. One article goes as far as to say that Hard Plastic multipose figures are the best thing to happen to the hobby since H G Wells and Prussian Kriegspiel.
Well, that told you Phil Barker & Tony Bath. Forget anything about game design and setting up the Society of Ancients. What the hobby has been waiting for has been 28mm plastic figures. Peter Gilder & Minifigs move over. Before them the hobby was an empty shell.
This view is reinforced by every page of Miniwargs. Pages of 28mm monsters, except where 40mm Perry figures pop up*. The magazine also featured the results of a competition for subscribers to submit their own games. Dominated by heavily over-painted, over sized figures. Where mentioned rules used are mainly, if not exclusively, commercially available. This represents the "grassroots" of the hobby, and is supposedly a measure of the vibrancy of the hobby. In fact it's just identikit games all conforming to the same idea of a perfect standard. Originality is absent. We must all buy lots of big toys and paint them all the same way.
The centre piece article is a 10 page "advert" for Warlord Games' new "Black Powder" rules, which cover 1700 - 1900 (????). Another £30 glossy rule book with factor heavy mechanisms, illustrated by more pictures of 28mm figures. In this case the article featured a Crimean Wargame, fought between the authors and figure designers who make up Warlord.
This approach leads, in my mind, to the impoverishment of our wargame shows which now have massive areas of floor space full of tables groaning under masses of painted metal and plastic, standing placidly on resin-sculptured terrain, with hardly a person to explain to the punters what is going on. If you're lucky they may actually play the game, but explanations are few, and the chances to participate negligible. The message is that wargaming is all about painting figures and very little else.
*Although I did note in one article that the airfix Bamboo House had sneaked in, together with a Quad, Limber & Gun. Hooray!