Sunday, 17 October 2021

There's more to the Wargaming hobby than Games Workshop

Over the last decade or so, I've had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Games Workshop. I was first introduced to them in around 1988. I was 12 or 13 years old, had just returned from a year-long "holiday" to Australia with my parents, and was discovering a lot of new things at that age. 

Such as a dedicated comic store! And a book/magazine store called something like Huyser's in Wellington city (not sure of the spelling or if I've even remembered that correctly). It was on Victoria Street, right where the curry shop next door to Cheapskates is. 

Huyser's started stocking White Dwarf magazine and Citadel miniatures and paints. And not really having a budget of my own at the time, I just flipped through the mags. 


Now remember, this was a time (actually the tail end) of when White Dwarf was a general wargaming/roleplaying hobby magazine. A few years later, they came to the conclusion that they were the hobby and it became The Hobby. Which is a clever and insidious marketing tactic now that I look back on it.

Let me just be clear, a hobby is something you love and do in your spare time. Knitting can be a hobby, stamp collecting is a hobby, trainspotting is a hobby, smoking a pipe can be a hobby, building plastic model kits is a hobby, playing video games is a hobby. So why does no other company call what they do "The Hobby"? 

My guess? Because they're not insidious bastards.

So we're at a weird place where the people who are involved in one hobby, call it The Hobby. And I have a problem with that. So when I refer to The Hobby on a wargaming blog, I'm referring to the Wargaming Hobby, of which Games Workshop is only one (albeit large and ugly) aspect.

There are hundreds, probably thousands, of alternative to Games Workshop games. And frankly, for the last couple of decades, Games Workshop have been responsible for releasing some of the worst written rulesets on the planet. OK, not WRG level bad, but still pretty awful. 

5th edition 40K was the first time I read a copy of 40K and thought, Holy crap, did they get illiterate children to write this? It was a mess. And it seemed to be written by people who had no background in game design, and no background in writing. And perhaps, now, we get a glimpse as to why that might have been.

Games Workshop pay shit. So what happens when you pay shit? Odds are you get really unskilled labour. Game design should not be done by unskilled labour. You end up getting where GW did and having to completely throw away your crap rules and start fresh.

How did that work out? Well, their rules appear to be building back up to previous craposity levels. And maybe in another ten to twenty years, they'll reboot their rulesets again.

Or maybe they could hire good, competent game designers who have a solid command of the English language, and are able to structure rulesets so they are legible and flow well.

But hey, what do I know?

So getting back to my origin story. Games Workshop games weren't my first wargames. I think that crown actually goes to Battletech. But in those early days, the Battletech miniatures were optional, and hard to come by locally in this country. So we just played with the little cardboard standees (I still do in fact). The first miniature wargame I actually played was Warzone in around the mid '90s. At that time I was living in Auckland with an ex, and when I moved back down to Wellington, one of my friends had started playing 2nd ed 40K, so I got into that.


But as I mentioned, I had been into GW stuff for a few years before that. But only for the miniatures, not the games. I bought the White Dwarf magazines and pored lovingly over the John Blanche art and the 'Eavy Metal sections (Mike McVey  was my favourite studio painter back in those days).

That led to playing more of their games and having some jolly good times with my friends with 40K, Mordheim, and Warmaster, especially. (Oh and Hero Quest & Space Crusade, the Hasbro-GW board games). I tried Fantasy Battle, but never enjoyed the movement system or the Tetris game I had to play when mounting figures on movement trays. I collected and built several WHFB armies, but the Skaven did me in in the end. Trying to fit all those tails and swinging arms in rank and file just weren't conducive to fun times for me.


More recently Age of Sigmar, Blood Bowl, Aeronautica Imperialis, and Necromunda have featured heavily in my gaming, painting, and collecting.I even bought the Adeptus Titanicus rulebox, but can't afford the minis.

But first and foremost, I'm a wargamer, and it would be a travesty to only play games released by one company. 

I play all the games.

Or at least all the games I can source and afford.

Recent GW Unethical Shenanigans

Over the last couple of months, there has been a lot of press about some pretty awful and unethical GW practices. 

I strongly recommend watching the Discourse Miniatures Youtube channel as she has some fantastic analyses of these practices. And she's a lawyer. Or is practiced in law. I'm not sure what the difference is or if there is one.

A few of the worst ones to come to light are:

  • Predatory NDAs for content creators
  • Abysmally low wages for staff, even those in "specialist" roles
  • Anti-consumer sprue packaging (requiring buyers to buy 10 boxes if they want to equip a unit with all the same weapons)
  • Attacking Youtubers with false copyright flags, causing videos to be demonetised
  • Barring fans from make fan animations
  • Warhammer+

Remember back in around 2015 when GW was doing similar stuff? Their CEO at the time, Tom Kirby, admitted he didn't care about the customers and was only interested in securing his million dollar annual dividends. I wrote about it here:

What's in store from GW's new specialist games studio? 

At the time, I concluded that I didn't care about their games any more because there were plenty of other options. But over the years, they appeared to improve their practices (but not their pricing), so I gave them the benefit of the doubt and a bit more money (a lot more money actually).

And now we're at that point again.

It seems that a company that started as a bunch of gamers looking to make an entertaining gaming magazine, has now become a corporate behemoth that is uninterested in anything except profit by any means necessary.

And to be honest, I can't ethically support that company any more.

It makes me wonder why they attack their fans so much. Having so many Youtube channels and blogs all over the world promoting their material is strengthening their brand.

So from now on, I'm going to focus on promoting alternatives to Games Workshop as alternatives to Games Workshop. That to me is probably one of the best ways to have a boycott. Let people know about the alternatives. Promote the alternatives. 

Let the world know that the hobby is Wargaming, not Games Workshop.

In fact, I think I'll start a series of blogs on Games Workshop Alternatives.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

[WIP] 10mm Chaos - Warmaster/Kings of War

I think I mentioned that I'd been working on some Warmaster Chaos minis, or was going to.

Recently, I glued some original Warmaster Chaos minis (gifted by my good and generous friend B.) to some coffee stirring sticks and started painting them.

Yes, you'll see evidence of another commission in progress. Labyrinth minis from the boardgame. Ludo, Hoggle, Sarah, and Jareth (almost done). More on them in a future episode. :)

And the other day, some 3D printed minis arrived. I ordered them (and another as yet unarrived lot) and a day later I realised I needed my own 3D printer. :)

These are Forest Dragon Chaos warrior minis, including some Chaos Lords and Chaos Sorcerers. I won't say who I ordered them from because they were badly packaged, the box they were packaged in was very thin and cheap and was crushed. And the minis, which were very small with a lot of fragile pointy things sticking out, took some casualties. The sender just threw each lot into a plastic bag. 

All I'll say is they were from an Etsy store and the seller was in Poland.

I'm not too happy with it, but in general, enough survived that they are usable, and now that I have a 3D printer I will print some of my own in the future.


Sticks and hot-glue guns

In regard to gluing them to sticks, the metal minis I would usually superglue, and plastic minis I would use PVA. Of course the PVA would have to be left over night to cure, and then any that didn't stick properly would have to be re-glued and left for another day.

Well, today I found a page where the fellow said he used a hot glue gun. Of course! Duh! I wasn't sure if they'd work with the resin, but they did. And I don't think they'll be a problem coming off when finished. As you can see above, a couple came off when I was finishing off the undercoat, and they came off cleanly.

And guess what? They only take minutes to cure!

Amazing the obvious things that are never so obvious. haha

On basing and rulesets

The other thing I now have to consider is how to base them. I'm not sure if I'll be playing Warmaster again--or at least that often. That depends on how Kings of War turns out.

But the Warmaster community who produce the wonderful Warmaster Revolution rules (that I even have an editing credit in), have now set up a Warmaster Rules Committee and they vote on changes and modifications to the rules.

Now I'm of two minds about this. First I thought: great! I can have more of an active involvement in my favourite ruleset! And then I thought about it and thought about other things that are decided by committee, and I am now having misgivings.

Now I don't know this committee and these fine folk, and my speculation and caution comes solely from prior experience with other committees, so it's entirely possible I'm way off the mark here.

On one hand, having a committee is a good idea and it means that the ruleset is going to be constantly updated with some oversight, and not just ad-hoc updates as can happen with things on the Internet.

But I got to talking to my friend Jackstorm, and we realised that Warmaster is a set of rules that even in its original form, we were constantly having to look things up in the rulebook. Even when we were playing it every weekend, there was still the need to look up rules and clarifications. And that I think is partly indicative of our diminishing cranial capacity in our old age, and partly the nature of Games Workshop rulesets.

So I'm hoping that KoW makes life simpler for us. 

And to that end, I was trying to decide how to base the new figures. There seem to be two trains of thought. One, suitable for 10/15mm, is just to halve the 32mm base sizes and use cm instead of inches for all movement and distances.

Another train of thought seems more compatible with Warmaster as described in this post:8

KoW in 10mm: Teensy Kings of War

Basically, a troop is equivalent to 1 Warmaster base, a regiment is 2 deep, a horde is 2 wide and 2 deep, and a legion is 2 wide, 3 deep.

And they leave the distances in inches.

What are your thoughts? Have you played Kings of War (full scale or in miniature)? How did you deal with basing, or how would you if given the opportunity?

Saturday, 2 October 2021

First game of Stargrave--and it was fantastic!

Today I went back to the local wargaming club--Wellington Warlords--and had the pleasure of being shown the Stargrave ropes by John, from over at The Daemon's Claw blog.

And because Stargrave is the sort of sci-fi skirmish game that allows us to play with whatever toys we want, we played it with Judge Dredd minis. I played a crew of Mega-city One Judges, and John played a crew of Sov Judges.

My crew lined up at the table edge:

The crew were:

Captain Judge Smith - Veteran

Lieutenant Judge Judy - Psionicist




2x Sentries


2x Recruits

This is the board after deployment:

I'm not going to do a battle report because I didn't write down what was going on, plus it's possible that John may post one on his blog, and his are always very good.

So a few random pics.

My crew roster sheet.

Captain Smith and buddies going for a data crate.

Ruh-roh. Pirates start turning up each round.

John's Sov Judges host a BBQ.

BBQ to the left of us, BBQ to the right of us.
Lieutenant Judge Judy shot down from a long range gunner.

More pirates appearing.

I fire a smoke grenade to slow down the punishment I'm taking.

Yay! I rolled a 20 to hit.
Oh, he rolled a 20 to save. Sigh.

Me legging it... Um, a tactical evac after we had retrieved the data from two data crates.
Leaving the Sov Judges to deal with the pirate threat.

My survivors.

John's tactical withdrawl from the pirates.

This was a lot of fun.

As mentioned in a previous blog, I've ordered Stargrave and Quarantine 37, so looking forward to those showing up. And I'll be going through my collection of 30mm sci-fi minis to see what I can muster for a crew of my own figures.

This is probably for sure going to replace Necromunda for me.