Tuesday, 13 August 2013

War gaming and the need for community...

My last blog touched briefly on something that I've come to realise - and that's very obvious in retrospect. That is the importance of community and, I guess for me, praise of your work from fellow gamers.

While community is obviously important for having people to play games with, that's not the aspect I am talking about here. 

When I first started war gaming I was far more into the collecting and playing than the painting side. Although I would say I was always willing to do conversions of my models - my Space Marines and Imperial Guard all had some unique models (Marines reloading, kneeling steel legion converted from tank crew, steel legion commissars and missionaries, etc.).

I had very little interest at that time (and I suppose at that age) in painting my models and it always seemed more like a chore. Of course, at that time in the hobby spray paints were just coming out for modellers and companies like army painter were not around. Dry brushing seemed some sort of secret art form and priming seemed to me to be a waste of time and Youtube hadn't even been invented - in fact I'm pretty sure we didn't even have dial up Internet access... 

But I can look back at that and see I was playing against very few painted armies, and playing with gamers of my own age and experience levels. There wasn't any older players or hobbyists in that circle. We had fun, sure. I ended up with hundred of pounds worth of model kits. But hardly anything got painted as it just wasn't important. And more than that, even if I had wanted to paint my models, I wouldn't have known where to start. 

As an example it wasn't until I asked Paul to sit with me and show me shading techniques that I knew how to do that. No one was there to explain why models should be primed or to show how good a painted army fighting a painted army on a nicely equipped table looked. We had games, and had fun, but looking at it now my group were pretty isolated and weren't tied in to any sort of community. We didn't have any older gamers or painters there to show us how things should be done or the benefits of having painted armies.

I wonder if that is the cause of many people have gaps of there periods in the hobby. Lack of any sense of connection to the hobby community - unlike football supporters who's fellow supporters tend to be easy to spot, war gamers tend to be a little more difficult to observe in the wild. If you lose your original group it's either going to be luck or a determined effort to  find fellow hobbyists.

For me I find it's important to get some feedback on my efforts. As egotistical as it sounds it's nice to hear someone say you have done a good job. It makes it easier to face that large pile of unpainted metal, plastic and resin. I know that I can look at my work since I started last year and see a definite improvement in my painting skills, but it's that community input that keeps me wanting to improve.


  1. Your pretty much on the money Jamie,
    The more people you have sharing their own work the more inspiration and feedback you have for your own armies and the sharing of tips. Usually there is someone out there who has found an easier or better way to do something.

    It's the community spirit of our hobby plus the easily accessible use of the internet that has helped my (and the Davids) continued interest in wargaming.

    I guess we all need a wee bit of encouragement with our own stuff. If you don't have any like minded folks to share your armies with its hard painting up unit after unit. I admire solo gamers a lot, especially the guys before internet.

  2. Oh, totally Paul. I can imagine that if you stayed somewhere with no local gamers painting might be your only way of engaging. But I can't imagine someone picking that up from a wargamers perspective from scratch. I would think they would be more likely to go into the painting/modelling aspect of dioramas and the like rather than painting to actually play.

  3. There are a lot of solo gamers out there Jamie. Naps and ACW guys who fight through historical battles and campaigns.

  4. A community of gamers certainly fosters the hobby - whether in person (the best), by mail and newsletter back in the "old days", or the modern "Blogosphere" and online communities like TMP.

    When I have a project I am working towards (like Wagram in 2009, Boordino in 2012, or Waterloo (for 2015), my painting production goes way up! If I were playing solo, there would be no real deadline to "get it all done" by...



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