Monday, August 18, 2014

What the heck happened to that guy? (with bonus: why I wargame)

Wow. 4 months? Time does fly when one gets busy... So I suppose I owe you some explanation.

I'm now cohabiting with Ms. Head-Spigot M.D. (gf's note: Finally!) and switched jobs from one that let me work from home to a regular old office job that involves weekly travel. While great for my social life this has wrought no small amount of havoc on my painting life. Additionally, my main opponent for 15mm sci-fi gaming moved away from the area which means that I needed to find another outlet for my insatiable need to push miniatures across the table. All this led me to jump back into my old standby and favorite "big" (as in you could actually find some minis in a decently stocked hobby shop) game, Flames of War, so expect to see quite a bit of that posted in these parts from here on out.

I definitely haven't given up the old 15mm sci-fi ghost (I recently finished painting up my Clear Horizon Hell Divers) but its now one of many projects on my far too overcrowded bench.

(Fig. 1,  My far too overcrowded bench)

One further change, while I'll still throw up things that I'm painting/building/terrain building posts, I plan to go a bit more "meta" with the blog from now on.

What do I mean by that? When I logged back in tonight I seriously thought about deleting the blog and walking away, what could I add that plenty of other far more prolific wargaming bloggers weren't already talking about? If you want news about new releases TMP and good old Dropship Horizon have you covered. If you want shots of your favorite minis exquisitely painted look no further than some of the amazing work out there as typified by Dwartist. Eventually I decided the only thing I could really add to the conversation was my thoughts about a hobby I've loved for almost twenty years now delivered from a gamer's perspective.

Age-wise I'm directly in the demographic that bridges the "old-timers" who got into wargaming before video games became a thing and the millennials who can't put down their "Nintendos". Statistically I'm far more likely to be playing the newest iteration of Call of Duty than doing research on how to build a historically accurate 3/4 CLY (Sharpshooters) list for Flames of War or dreaming up rules for near future 15mm sci-fi skirmishes. So why do I stick with it? Why go through all the effort and expense for a hobby that demands so much of its enthusiasts when I live in an era with so many more easily accessible distractions?

Part of it is the social aspect, I've met plenty of great people wargaming that I never would have had the chance to run into in my normal life. Doctors, college aged kids, lawyers, high-school dropouts, die hard righties and unrequited left-wingers, wargaming fans run the gamut of the political and economic spectrum and the niche nature of the hobby practically demands that you'll be forced to spend time with people who reside out of your normal circles. For someone who does not share a love of sports wargaming serves as an ideal social melting pot, a place and activity that provides a common bond between people that wouldn't otherwise exist.

Part of it is the spectacle, it's one thing to boot up a copy of the latest video game and enjoy the efforts that tens of millions of dollars can buy, but it's an entirely different thing to see an army of figures that you've spent dozens of hours painstakingly painting, pouring your time and attention into, arrayed against someone who knows that exact same feeling. There's a feeling of tangibility that comes with wargaming that I have yet to see matched by any other hobby. A feeling of being able to touch and hold with your own two hands the fruits of your labor that no video game will (at least for the foreseeable future) ever be able to match. When I first started playing Warhammer I didn't use a single painted figure in my armies, I was there to play, not to paint! Now, even with how much less free time I have, the thought of using an unpainted army is almost unthinkable, I'd feel like I was depriving both myself and my opponent of the visual feast that wargaming provides.

Above all else the reason I still play is that after all these years it's just still so much damned fun to throw some miniatures down on a table, roll some dice and for an afternoon transport yourself to another world. Despite its shortcomings I've yet to find an experience as personally immersive as wargaming. No matter whether that means holding a ruined block in Normandy against all odds or bug hunting on a space station hundreds of light years from Earth, those moments, the ones that happen in those special games that still stick with me, that deciding moment where a roll of the die is all that separates you from victory and defeat, have a power to suck me in like nothing else. Until that tension no longer exists, until those do or die moments no longer spark the same excitement in me, you'll still find me, "little men" in hand, on the other side of the table.      

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