Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Apologies for the rant, but...

This is not what a wargames club should be like is it?

I’ve been to one of my local gaming clubs a couple of times since getting back to the Bradford/Leeds area. I have to be honest; it is not inspiring. One of my old mates goes there regularly, so I don’t see me not going, simply as that is where I can get a game against him. But really, the point of a wargames club, should be to put on wargames; shouldn’t it?

Maybe I’ve been spoilt by the club I used to go to all those years ago, the Grimsby club, I guess the fundamental influence on my gaming. It was not the sort to put on display games, prior to blogging, I doubt it was even that well known; but it was the sort that had high quality scenery, painted figures only on table, and a preference for easy going games that got as many figures on table as was reasonable.

So what is wrong with what they’re doing in Leeds?

Nothing, I guess; if what you want is sports games, out the box system, board games and the like. To me, a Tour De France board game with paper models does in no way make me want to grab the dice, or paint brushes and get joining in. That was the focal point of gaming on Wednesday night; other than that there was an American Football game with a handful of cribbage pins on a board, with all the visual appeal of a 1970’s accounts book, A board game with wooden blocks for pieces (and with two habitual rule quibblers playing, a little tedious to watch), and a game of Warhammer 40k – which at least had nicely painted models, but still had tired old scenery, and attracted no interest from anyone but me.

OK, I have high expectations; true, but the club scene can be a little frustrating to say the least. I don’t see why clubs Like the Leeds Wargames Club, who run a major wargame show for crying out loud, can have such a low opinion of actually having decent games on; it’s as if they’ve convinced themselves that it is impossible to do so in an evening; in fact, I’ve heard as much said in the club. Yet in the past I and others have tried to put on grand games there, with plenty on table and the offer to involve others. Usually to no avail.

I’ve nothing against club games, but in a wargame club, shouldn’t they be, you know ‘War’ games; there’s a board game society in Leeds already, two so far as I know. It’s not a time thing either, as the other main club in Leeds runs for shorter hours on a Thursday and yet its’ members see no problem with playing proper games. Ultimately I think it’s an issue of effort, and who directs it, and in this club in particular those who direct it would rather play quick to set up, low commitment games rather than anything that requires putting brush to figure.

I can level different criticisms at the Nightowls (Thursday club), a place where unpainted figures, fantasy and overly competitive games rule the day, but at least they are wargames; which is what I’m really after! And they are much easier to communicate with too.

So is this a rant with no point, well not entirely; a warning, or a challenge if you will. If you go to a club, or if you want to set on up. Consider how it looks to people; is it welcoming, is there a centrepiece game going on that will make people think ‘cool’? You are very, very unlikely to have people who’ve never played a wargame before come through the door, so if you are going to win someone over nothing beats, welcoming attitudes and a table of glorious scenery with masses of figures.

It’s only my opinion, but I think the point of a club should be for it to offer what you can’t get at home; and that may seem to be just opponents, but for most gamers in this day and age, it is also, the visual impact. Most people can’t build great scenery at home, so a club is the one place they ought to be able to do so. They shouldn’t have to make do with a bit of green chipboard and some scraps of felt; or just be offered a game with cardboard cut outs.


  1. The noisy guys who play the sports games do occasionally wargame with "real" toys, that whole group are the regular attendees and mostly game amongst themselves.
    I do find it disappointing that the boards are plain painted chipboard but I think the issue is storage.
    You may be surprised to know that the older guy with the wooden blocks game is a master terrain builder!
    Anyway I think the terrain and figures bring look well so I'm not gonna take your comments too much to heart.....

  2. Very strange, last week we had games of Wold War Commander with over 300 models, Napoleonic Battles with 5000 figs (ok, they are all Baccus, but thats because Evil Uncle Pete has us under his control)

    As to scenery, the "blocks" guy does build terrain, and if you look at last months Wargames Illustrated, wou will see a small section of the 25 foot long Raid on St Nazaire game that is doing the rounds, it's listed under Winner of Best Participation Game.

    As for the games played in the last month, WWII Skirmish, Naspoleonic skirmish, Napoeonic Naval, Cold War Micro (small game, only a division a side) Napoleonic grand battles.

    The problem I think you will find is the bigger games have been pushed to the Sunday meetings, when you have 4 Corps of Napoleonics on the table, having the room for 6 hours is far better than 3, so Wednesdays have been the home for some of the smaller skirmisher type games.

    Next week is WWI trench combat, and possibly some air combat.

    And yes, some of us are into American Football, I have only been to 8 live games in the States, and 11 of us will be at Wembely at the last weekend October for the Patriots Bucs game, wonder why FIASCO has moved a week backwards?

    You play the games you want to play, for many years now LWC has been about enjoying gaming, some of it might not be considered "proper wargaming", but only we can turn a racing game into a confrontation.

    It all boils down to what you consider "decent" games, I consider a decent game one where you have fun, not just because the "toys" look pretty.

    Not to say we, or I cannot play "big" games, but transporting 500 28mm Greeks on public transport is not something I like to do every week, but if you want, they can turn up at any time you want.

  3. I am also rather perplexed and rather insulted by the 'rant'. I have been a regular member of the club for 9 years and have put on hundreds of games, most with large numbers of figures. The club is built on mutual respect and a realisation that all may not be to everyones taste. I myself don't like DBA/M even if the figures used are pretty. BUT I respect other member's views and their enjoyment of the game and I certainly wouldn't label a club based on my own narrow opinions. As for personally insulting comments on club members I think these are best kept to oneself and certainly a public forum is not the place for these insults.