Thursday, August 27, 2020

Euro-centrism in my gaming?


So here is something I've been musing upon.

When I look at my historical wargames miniatures, they are pretty much, a sea of white faces.  As a white European, this is entirely predictable, but it is certainly not reflective of actual history, world culture, or any number of varyingly Woke descriptions I could throw about.  In short, as a historian first and a wargamer (narrowly) second, it has bothered me to varying degrees.

There are justifiable reasons why we tend to stick to shall we say first world conflicts, the research is easier, the required models are more readily available, and to be honest, we are a very fighty bunch.  Until the last 70 years or so we've been at each others' throats more often than not, and some of us at least are still quite happy to go sword waving around the world.  Step back in time a century or two and you don't have to look very far for any number of conflicts that may spark an interest.  And from a pragmatic standpoint, things like the Napoleonic Wars, are far more likely to generate a sustainable demand for product, even in their most obscure sectors, than battles of the same period in the Southern Hemisphere.

I tried mapping the armies I currently own...

There is no reason why anyone has to take an interest in these overlooked fields, of course.  But not to do so feels like a missed opportunity to explore, and do something unique or at least unusual.

Problem being, of course amongst other things, as I suggest, you may find it hard to get an easy start.  Or anything at all to meet your needs.

There is an obvious exception, if you were shot up by white colonials at any time, there will be at least some representation of you.  Zulus, Native Americans, Maori...  Not a problem.  But what if you existed before Columbus or Livingstone was around to record your existence?  Then it gets a little harder.

Pondering another new project to put a bit more diversity in my collection, I'm drawn towards the Sub-Saharan civilisations.  


One of my first interests was the Zulu war, but it led me to read around the subject years ago, and gradually get a little familiarity with the earlier societies of the continent, Great Zimbabwe, Mali, Axum; there's a lot more than most people seem to know of.  They all have fascinating and unique looks, and intriguing histories, but not much in the way of miniatures ranges.

Sometimes a bit of 15mm, but rarely anything in 28mm - my preferred size for a smaller force.

So firstly a plea, if anyone does know of a decent source of models.  Let me know.  But I'm thinking much like my Judeans, these are going to be a conversion project, from the ground up.  The first task, is the reading and image research to get some idea which nation has the most of interest from a gaming and aesthetic standpoint, and what then you would need to make/do.

Some light reading

On the one hand it is simple, a fun new project, that will be a little out of the ordinary, but on the other it is an effort to be a little more representative.  And that makes me feel good about it.

But it is certainly going to be a slow-burner.  Even as something like a Lion Rampant army, it is likely to mean researching and scratch-building 50 or so miniatures.

It is something I wish would be easier to accomplish, but I guess it's an untapped field at present.



  1. I have a feeling most gamers are in the same situation. It's a decidedly "western" hobby and the manufacturers of course cater to their audience. It's not that battles in other parts of the world are of less interest or significance, it's that most gamers are attracted to the familiar - AWI, Naps, WW2, Ancient Rome, Medieval Europe.

  2. Yes, I would love to see more love for what are currently obscure areas of world history. West Africa is definitely one area that has caught my interest as well from time to time, based on what depictions I have seen. Alas, 20mm plastic figures seem even less likely than someone coming out with a range in 28mm! On the other hand, if I ever did get around to such a project, I'd want to be sure to treat it in a balanced way and try to avoid stereotyping the cultures involved.

  3. No need to worry. We play and paint and collect the era or wars in which we find interesting. I have samurai, because I work for japan and visit all the time. I do ACW, AWI, F&IW because they are in my back yard. I collect the Sudan and Rep Rome because that is what I find interesting. No more, no less

  4. The closest I have seen is a collection of 3d prints that someone did of Orcs based on 15th century Benin. They looked great, but it would be nice to have actual 15th century Benin before we go and put a fantasy race into the mixture.

    Doesn't even have to be African nations, would love some plastic Aztecs, or Khmer.

    Luckily I have managed to escape the sea of white faces in my minis. My historical army is Mongolians, and my fantasy stuff is Gnolls and Undead... also all my Space Marines wear helmets, because not wearing a helmet is silly.