- 24/06/2015 at 15:18 #26588
There is a cost of entry into any hobby:
1) How much you need to buy.
2) How much you need to research.
3) How much you need to paint.
Different systems have attempted to lower this cost of entry in different ways. Sam is providing unit cards so that people can try Napoleonics with his Blücher game without buying, painting, and basing figures. Battlefront provides their figures in “box sets” that provide everything necessary sans paint and can be augmented by additional individual units. Other companies are providing pre-painted figures.
At one point in our hobby’s history, complexity was actually a selling point. Now simple has become a selling point, but is simple enough to entice new players to join the hobby? Some periods have higher innate costs to entry than others – Napoleonics is harder to get into than WW2 or ACW. How do you think these can be addressed?
Where do you stand on lowering the cost of entry into the hobby?
Is it good?
24/06/2015 at 15:29 #26589kyoteblueParticipant
- This topic was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by Bandit. Reason: Clarified question posed
The easier the better.24/06/2015 at 16:03 #26596Norm SParticipant
In some respects, I don’t see now as being fundamentally any different than it was 30 years to get into gaming. Many of us have taken many years to get collections to where they are today. The two main differences are that then you could buy a stapled set of rules for £2.50 and now you pay ten times that and then you would make most of your own terrain …… however naff it looked. Today with glitzy mags and internet shots and a generation of non-crafters (in the day you either made it yourself or didn’t get it and that applied to many areas of life), the ready made, instant and therefore expensive, probably makes entry into the hobby relatively pricey.
My hedges were pipe-cleaners, buildings were matchboxes, trees were cotton wool dyed green and stuck onto matches, hills were layers of foam sewn together and roads .,…… well we couldn’t afford roads 🙂 What I am saying is that modern entrants are more sophisticated and have bigger expectations than I might have as a later teenager / early adult and so its difficult to see how there can really be a cheap really start-up to gaming.
Having said that, if you could get start -up to around £150, that is probably pretty comparable (cheap even ) to starting up in many other hobbies.
Perhaps a company could package a set that had 2 pages of rules, a red and a blue army and a couple of sheets of coloured ‘press out terrain’ cards and a couple of scenario cards that used all those parts, that could probably be done for somewhere between 10 and 20 quid depending how many figures were included (or use card armies and create a cheap order system in which the user over time can buy the proper bits to replace the card items or expand the rules).
Years ago, Miniature Wargames magazine used to do something similar with 15mm game boxes. The WWII box had a tank each (cheaper now because of plastics) and 12 or so figures each, very simple rules and cardboard terrain, I think they were in the £32 – £40 bracket sending what army was bought.
24/06/2015 at 19:21 #26604
- This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by Norm S.
2) How much you need to research.
Thanks for not forgetting about this one! It’s really the thing that keeps me in the shallow end of the pool where historical wargaming is concerned. If I can’t just pick up some Napoleonic figures on a whim and start painting them, but rather have to read one or several books on the subject matter first, then I’m just not going to start collecting and gaming Napoleonics. Of course it’s a rather fundamental, inescapable problem. I can’t paint and game what I don’t know about, and I can’t make myself know things without effort. Still, it does often amaze me how far removed hardcore historicals gamers at large seem to be from any serious considerations of beginner-friendliness. It often seems to me that to be a gamer of the big, “deep-researched” wars/periods like Nappies or the ACW, one needs to have started out as a military historian (whether layman or professional) and only later have decided to dip one’s toe in the miniature wargaming hobby. Those of us coming at it from the other end (being drawn first to miniature gaming – often through the gateway of fantasy/sci-fi which is supremely accessible and welcoming – then beginning to glance sideways at military history) are met by some very intimidating hurdles. I keep wondering if maybe there’s some creative way of lowering the threshold in respect to prerequisite research/knowledge/understanding of the subject matter. This could be partly by narrowing the scope of what the subject matter is (eg. “the 1809 campaign” as opposed to “the Napoleonic Wars”) and partly by identifying and isolating any and all truly essential information for the subject matter in question. Just as there increasingly are box sets of figures that give newcomers everything they need to get started building their forces, so there ought to be more beginner-level “packets” of information (perhaps even in those box sets) that present conflicts, campaigns and theaters in a self-contained manner, including information on how one might be wise to paint one’s figures and expand one’s forces. Warlord Games do something vaguely along these lines with the introductory-level military history articles on their website. It’s what I hope the future of historical wargaming will look like.
On a different note, and somewhat conversely to my above rant, on the subject of terrain I do sometimes feel that the mass-produced stuff marketed for new customers can be a wet blanket on the hobby. I don’t like it when everyone ends up having the same terrain – to me, it kills the whole world-building aspect of the hobby. I can’t stand to look at the state of 40K these days: GW is (with some success) brainwashing its customer base to believe 40K must be played on GW-produced 40K terrain. Every photo in the more recent publications has the same plastic techno-gothic ruins in the background. Those ruins also keep showing up in more and more photos of 40K being played by “real people” (meaning, not people from GW surreptitiously hardselling the “GW lifestyle”). I know Mel the Terrain Tutor has complained about this in the past
Admittedly, the pool of mass-produced starter terrain has been growing lately (thanks to more companies wading into the market, like Mantic with their Deadzone and Mars Attacks urban terrain sets, and Dust Tactics with their Warzone Tenement buildings), which alleviates the whole “sameyness” problem somewhat.24/06/2015 at 20:36 #26606
I think the first way of lowering the barriers to entry is at the Freindly Local Games club. Most wargamers own vastly more figures than they can command, and most gaming groups would need specially reinforced tables if they putall their toys on them. So, if the group is happy for newbies to bog in with someone else’s toys the barrier to entry should be a tape and some dice.
Naturally, if the first few games float their boat they will start planning the armies to fight Leipzig with sharpe practice but, unless you are making the Ottoman armies of Bonie’s middle eastern adventures, ONE book should get you started. I reckon you can get French (no allies yet dear) and Austrians, Russians or Brits painted off the web, no books to buy.
Yes, you might get some trifling detail wrong, but never mind, there are anothher 200,000 froggies to paint up in the mean time. Of course if you are playing with a whingeing bunch of button counters you might not care to enter at all.24/06/2015 at 21:27 #26610John D SaltParticipant
Those of us coming at it from the other end (being drawn first to miniature gaming – often through the gateway of fantasy/sci-fi which is supremely accessible and welcoming – then beginning to glance sideways at military history) are met by some very intimidating hurdles.
An interesting perspective that I had not previously considered. When I got into wargaming, in 1971, historical wargaming was all there was. The question of research was not especialy intimidating, either, especially for WW2 subjects — Airfix kits included historical background on their subjects (and before the introduction of the new-fangled symbol-based instructions every English schoolboy had a vocabulary by the age of 11 that included the words “omit”, “nacelle”, “ventral”, “dorsal” and “dihedral”), Airfix Magazine provided more yet, Purnell’s history of WW2 books were available for ten shillings a pop (50p in the New Money) and the telly was well provided with serious historical documentaries — though we had to wait a couple of years for the magisterial “The World At War” — and war films. Everybody had a library card, so there was plenty to read regardless of budget. Once you got into the third form you could join the CCF, and get the official line on how to box a compass, read a map, fire a rifle, conduct a section attack or fire a Bofors gun.
I really don’t think it’s hard to get into historical gaming now, though. On the web there are all the wonderful resources of The Perfect Captain amd the Junior General. Before their “Art of Tactic” series, Zvezda did the “Age of Battles” series of historical battles-in-a-box, giving figures, terrain and rules all in a oner. Last weekend I bimbled over to Lincombe Barn for their DBA 3.0 launch event, and, although I got there so late I missed Sue and Phil, I did nab a copy of Sue Barker’s “Start Ancient Wargaming Using DBA 3.0”, which I thought was a wonderful book. It has received something of a critical panning from the Amazon reviews (which I should dismiss as mainly the whining of spoiled manchildren), but, whatever else the book does, it very clearly shows how you can start playing DBA with three boxes of toy soldiers, a knife, some paints, a few carpet tiles and some cardboard and ribbon. Just like old times, in fact.
So colour me dubious about this “high costs of entry” thing.
All the best,
John.25/06/2015 at 01:41 #26637
John, as someone who got into wargaming in November 1970, let me remind you that the stereotype is that we were a rugged independent generation not afraid to put gluey fingerprints on the canopies of German bombers, nor to glue all the wheels onto an airfix churchill nor indeed, to paint Airfix Japanese in blue pants, red jackets, white helmets and have them fight boxes of resculpted Indians with the odd tribesman from the Tarzan set. And yes, we had a library card and the library was full of books which I was assured 20 years later were ” … burnt, because nobody reads that sort of stuff any more…”
Now, far be it for me to suggest that there is another stereotype of illiterate, lazy, “I want it done for me” types who fail to recognise that the plastic figure world of today is bleedin nirvana, but I note at work that some of my younger subordinates need to be taken through their first technical paper with a spoon and a modicum of menace.
Dammit, if I had had wikipedia in my teams I would have been the bloody oracle!25/06/2015 at 01:47 #26639
John, I think what you said about perspective is key. I got into miniatures wargaming as a teenager around 1999. In fact, it was a video game (Warhammer: Dark Omen) that made me discover the hobby (and ironically, largely give up video games in the process – the pixel count in pewter miniatures was amazing! ).
Maybe – probably – I’m spoilt. Certainly I must be by the standards of anyone who entered the hobby in the early 70s. But I also suspect I’m fairly representative of my generation of hobbyist, good or bad. No doubt there are still young people who get into military history first and miniatures wargaming second, or who take up wargaming first but immediately land in historicals (especially with Flames of War around) but there are probably many more who begin to glance at historical wargaming and military history only once they feel prepared to broaden their horizons beyond their Orks, Cygnar, PanOceanians or whatever. For me this was around 2004 when I took up medieval Andalusia as a wargaming interest. It was rough going at first and it took me some time to find my bearings and become attuned to the mindset of a historical wargamer. Despite having the Ospreys on the subject and the El Cid supplement for Warhammer Ancients, my first few batches of Andalusians turned out looking like cartoon hippies (I was still painting them like a fantasy wargamer – that was the only way I knew how to paint), which in turn made me lose some of my enthusiasm and rebound back to the familiar comfort of fantasy and sci-fi for a while longer.
Anyway, I often feel that historical rulesets and miniatures ranges aren’t really being marketed to me as a fairly typical member of my generation of hobbyist. The fact that I’m probably spoilt is beside the point. The guys are Warlord Games are starting to catch on with their box sets and easily digestible introductory articles on the historical subject matters they’re selling. But whenever a new Napoleonic or ACW ruleset hits the market, it seems to be promoting itself as providing a more accurate, expert, fine-tuned wargaming experience to the well-read hardcore gamer, never as being beginner-friendly or teaching the basics of the subject matter as it goes.
If I had to identify what it is I personally wish for (not demand, just wish for) in very concrete terms, I suppose it’s for more of the research to come pre-packaged with the wargaming product in an easily digestible way – for instance for historical rulesets to have a more instructional, educational spirit. More “beginner outreach” articles written by seasoned members of the community for the benefit of novices, to the effect of “1066 for dummies” and “wot’s a Blücher?” would also be saintly.
That’s only my perspective, of course.25/06/2015 at 01:59 #26640kyoteblueParticipant
Wait wait, I also started gaming in the dark ages of the 70’s but still think that the entry level should be as easy as possible.25/06/2015 at 02:10 #26641
Wait wait, I also started gaming in the dark ages of the 70’s but still think that the entry level should be as easy as possible.
I think we’re all agreeing on that. It’s perhaps more a case of John and grizzlymc saying the practical entry level is lower than I think it is. Maybe I’m just so spoilt I can’t even be arsed to properly gauge the entry level25/06/2015 at 04:00 #26644McLaddieParticipant
The idea of perspective does go to what ‘entry level’ represents. I’m dating myself, but I got into the hobby with unpainted Arfix ACW and Africa Korps figures in 1965 [Primordial, before the dark ages] and ‘miniature’ board games like MB Dogfight and Broadsides. I didn’t find the research part of the hobby daunting, nor the painting. I enjoyed those aspects from the begining. It was space, time and the costs for a high school student. Finding others with armies and terrain willing to share at the table encouraged my deeper entry into the hobby.
At one point in our hobby’s history, complexity was actually a selling point. Now simple has become a selling point, but is simple enough to entice new players to join the hobby?
I don’t think it is a then and now selling point. There are gamers right now that like and want the complexity and they are easy to find on the lists, as here. That there are enough new gamers…or perspective gamers to justify ‘simple’ entry-point games. It is simply following the untapped market–which shows that there are a good number of new gamers coming into the hobby. Whether designers and producers are creating games simple, ready-made enough to entice new players is another question altogether.
Newbies now are coming from fantasy and computer games which have their own ‘entry levels’ and it isn’t surprising that they would look for the same points of entry with our hobby. Sometimes these expectations are seen as ‘lazy’, wanting it all laid out for them. Luckily there are historical designers and producers willing to meet that need with ready-made models and easily-digested rules. I agree it should be easy to get ‘into’ the hobby. But what if those gamers stay there, only playing those force-fed games? Is that something to build and maintain our hobby around? [and possibly those lazy gamers..?]
There are all sorts of easy entries into Historical Wargaming, simple rules, low costs from rules to play with few figures or ready-made armies. Personally, I see the real issue at times, being the expectations of the established wargamers–the ones who have been in the hobby for a decade or more. There was a recent article in Miniature Wargames where the author, an old gamer talks about passing the baton to the newer generation of wargamers. He mentioned an incident at a con where a high schooler from a SF game came over to his group’s table, beautifully laid out, looking it over. The author turned to the kid and said, ‘Want to try out a real wargame?” I can imagine what kid was thinking, how the high level of detail, time and expense represented before him simply put the whole experience outside his world…that and the suggestion that what he was doing was somehow not up to the Historical Wargaming standards. The author sadly noted the young man said no and did not return.
The entry-level was perceived as too high.
Our hobby is rather odd in that respect. We don’t have recognized entry-levels or ‘levels’ of rigor–if that is the word. Most other hobbies have well-delineated ‘levels’ of involvement, some flowing naturally out of the particular pasttime like poker, other are more structured. The radio-controlled Airplane hobby have off-the-self flyers through to true scale kits where every rivet is accounted for and the planes drop bombs and tail hooks. Obviously, the entry level is the ready-made plane, just as the true scale models demand experienced modelers. Some hobby flyers never get beyond the Sunday flight with their ready-made plane and have fun, others are building for model and flight competitions and dog-fight tournaments and everyone finds their particular involvement fun. What I haven’t seen happen is the True Flight enthusiast saying the Sunday flyer isn’t really part of the hobby [lazy?], or vice versa. And of course, the Sunday flyer does and always will outnumber the True Scale modelers. Racquet Ball is the same thing. The folks who go a couple of times a week are seen as in the same sport as those who compete in city tournaments.
Instead, for our hobby, at least on the different hobby lists, there is a continual debate about what the ‘real’ hobby fun is about and ‘should’ be etc where each group claims legitimacy, when every approach is legitimate and part of the hobby, no better or worse than any other…. It is just a matter of the hobby as a whole adopting this view as do RC modelers. After a decade in the hobby, that ‘entry-level’ player will, like me, have widened his interests, even if he aways plays with unpainted figures. Jonathan Reinhart, who does the Podcast Wargaming Recon still plays with unpainted figures, likes simple rules and ready-made miniatures, though his group has great painters that he plays with using popular historical wargame rules like Black Powder. I don’t anyone would call him a ‘lazy gamer’ or not helping to build the hobby.
It is about perspective.25/06/2015 at 09:36 #26663MikeKeymaster
I wonder if it is not so much what age you were when you started, but what age you are now.
Back in my teens I would think nothing of spending 3 or 4 hours a night painting my men.
I would think nothing of using a 100 page rulebook full of choices and options and a myriad of rules, basic and advanced.
Now though, I have a job, a wife, a young daughter, and much less free time.
I would rather not spend all of my free time getting ready to play, but rather actually playing.25/06/2015 at 15:33 #26672
I spent quite a bit of time considering the different ways game developers are trying to lower the cost of entry:
1) Reduce game time through simplicity and trying to design “2 hour” games.
2) Reducing the number of painted figures necessary (or removing figures entirely as Sam is experimenting with for Blücher).
3) Reduce research by providing source books with “all you need to organize and paint”.
4) Reduce purchasing confusion by providing ‘kits’ that have the appropriate number of figures, bases, flags, markers, whatever for a command or a portion of a command (Battlefront does a lot of this with Flames of War).
5) Reduce preparation by offering pre-painted models and terrain (some terrain manufacturers are doing this but it seems to have inherent scaling problems).
For those of you who are designing and selling products – what have you tried and what seemed to be well received?
For those of you who are gaming and buying products – what spoke to your needs the best?
The Bandit25/06/2015 at 20:07 #26697Thaddeus BlanchetteParticipant
3mm and 6mm are the way to go, as well as 15mm skirmish. All of these allow you to get fun games on the table quickly, with low cost, especially if you do it as a project with friends or a club.
A 3mm sci-fi, modern or WWII army will run you 20-50 dollars.
We get slapped around, but we have a good time!26/06/2015 at 15:51 #26757WhirlwindParticipant
1) Reduce game time through simplicity and trying to design “2 hour” games.
Did game developers try to do this to reduce the costs of entry to new gamers? My strong impression was that this development took place because it was often quite difficult to actually finish a game in an evening’s play using many sets of rules, with the other driver being that quick games would often make better games too, since the players weren’t spending so much time administering the game, as opposed to playing it.
https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/26/06/2015 at 15:58 #26762
My strong impression was that this development took place because it was often quite difficult to actually finish a game in an evening’s play using many sets of rules … since the players weren’t spending so much time administering the game, as opposed to playing it.
Isn’t that a barrier to entry?
The Bandit26/06/2015 at 16:23 #26764WhirlwindParticipant
I’m not sure it is a direct barrier to entry. It might be indirectly (“why would I play a 6 hour game?”) but I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard it as an actual reason given. At least in my experience, people are more than happy to play games for a long period: and for some video games, much longer.
https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/26/06/2015 at 20:02 #26778
I’m not sure it is a direct barrier to entry. It might be indirectly (“why would I play a 6 hour game?”) but I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard it as an actual reason given.
Perhaps not, but the one joke I most commonly read about Empire is, “I played Empire once for a couple years,” it always struck me as the expectation of the time commitment for some systems was in fact a direct barrier to entry for some and names of developers such as “Two Hour Wargames” seem to speak to that directly in turn.
The Bandit26/06/2015 at 20:33 #26779
Some people are fortunate enough to have a room that they can give over to wargaming, and leave a game set up for days, weeks, months, or even years. The rest of us, especially in Europe, live in smaller family homes where the dining room table doubles as a miniature battlefield once a week.
I suggest that the desire for a ‘result’ in a couple of hours is an imperative in the latter group.
"I'm not signing that"28/06/2015 at 19:06 #26864
I think I might be a bit of a contrarian here.
Like most others I would support some paths to easy entry to the hobby in general, whether its very basic rules, cheap plastic figures, games with limited number of figures required-ala skirmish designs, the smaller scales, pre-painted figures, flat boardgame terrain, and Osprey style, highly illustrated, potted histories of periods and battles. All well and good.
Certainly fantasy caters to this need very well as the designer is free to invent whatever rules, figures, level of resolution, and background information he can imagine. Fantasy has often suggested some very creative and fresh ideas for gameplay because of this conceptual freedom. It is no surprise that the majority of gamers, especially young gamers, coming into the hobby are playing fantasy or Sci-Fi-usually on two levels-skirmish games with very small numbers of units and figures, and on a “fleet” level where a few ship models are sufficient.
However, as a historical gamer,I’m not so sure that I’m particularly interested in ease of entry as a primary goal for my enjoyment of the hobby. In fact, a certain high demand on seeking out historical information, and a meaningful commitment of time and dollars to pursuing the hobby is a GOOD thing. I see larger battles with the full panoply of certain colorful periods of warfare and battles as requiring more work, preparation, and planning as also having much higher pay-off in enjoyment and aesthetic satisfaction than some scratch game with 12 teeeny figures and scrap paper terrain.
Model railroaders have a horrifically high cost of entry in time and money (and patience), but the completed layouts sure beat the loop of track around the Christmas tree, and the committed railroader is rewarded in many ways for his efforts.
Camera Buffs can spend a fortune on camera bodies and lenses, and it may take years of experimentation to acquire the consummate skill in photography and the manipulation of software to build a portfolio that provides great satisfaction.
Too much of contemporary life is based on instant gratification, and shortcuts to every goal. I don’t want my enjoyment of the hobby to be that way as well. I want it to last years and to provide a growing sense of satisfaction and armies that are a visual treat.
In fact, I rather enjoy the fact that there are some significant barriers to the enjoyment of historical wargaming. I rather enjoy playing wargames with people that have spent some time learning and understanding history-I see little advantage in gaming with the dilettante or historically illiterate gamer, flitting from rules to rules, period to period, and no curiosity about the histroical underpinnings of the game. I would prefer to play with people that choose to use well painted and sculpted figures and not slapdash painting, or NONE at all! I also like to game with people that have invested time and money into the group effort of a great game, than someone that just shows up to move things about with no idea of who, what, or why!
By the way, I’m not saying one has to spend a fortune. Usually one can slowly add and accrue his units often over years-never spending more than people that spend much more in total on figures that they will never paint, and usually store in a dark closet and they flit about history or fantasy. My army of WSS figures has been over 4 years in the making and has another year to go to completion. It will have a total of over 120 units and 1500-1700 28mm figures when completed. This doesn’t count the soon to be started GNW forces for the Swedes, Russians, Saxons, and Ottomans!
I LIKE the fact that a historical gamer has to engage with history, study, learn fine painting skills, make many failed attempts to create workable terrain, and is willing to try rules that are far more than roll a six, and whose rules challenge the gamer in many indirect and not obvious ways. I like the fact that an investment in historical gaming will generally endure in value, and not be rendered worthless by re-written codices, and the whims of Corporate owners of that fantasy world.
There will always be historical warmers. They will never be a majority. They will never die out. They will all usually be older and have the room and discretionary money to pursue the hobby. The ones that stick around invest years in their pursuit, often concentrating on a very few periods in order to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. That to me is the particular joy of historical gaming in having barriers that require commitment, intelligence, study, and artistic capabilities. It sure beats and avoids the “shiny new object” promiscuity of many gamers.
You do not need thousands, hundreds, or even dozens of gamers to show up for your games, just a few good men-four to six will do. The relationships among those gamers will build over the years and further strengthen the fun and enjoyment of gaming.
Here’s to a few barriers, and some honest commitment, and delayed gratification!29/06/2015 at 11:56 #26890
I’m a proud flitter(er?). I flit, me. I just want the market to include products that suit me, historical as well as fantasy. A self centered-position, but a natural one.
I have no connection or relevance to hobbyists and groups that want me to have no connection or relevance to them. They can happily put me out of their minds. On the other hand, if they do choose to keep me in their minds, juxtaposing themselves against me in some narrative wherein I’m cast as every converse of every general ideal of the hobby, it doesn’t actually make me any of those things.29/06/2015 at 12:58 #26906
Model railroaders have a horrifically high cost of entry in time and money (and patience), but the completed layouts sure beat the loop of track around the Christmas tree, and the committed railroader is rewarded in many ways for his efforts. Camera Buffs can spend a fortune on camera bodies and lenses, and it may take years of experimentation to acquire the consummate skill in photography and the manipulation of software to build a portfolio that provides great satisfaction.
False premises, both of them.
If you want a model railway that looks like the layouts featured in Railway Modeller then yes, be prepared to invest a lot of time, money, patience, skill (and space). Been there, done that.
But you’re not going to get there right away. Most railway modellers start small, out of a desire simply to ‘play with trains’. I know I did, and so did most of the other MR buffs I met. For some, that’s enough, and that’s their hobby. Good luck to them if that’s what they enjoy.
Megalomaniacs like me and Pete Waterman desire something grander (desired, in my case, I’m over the model trains now), but I’m sure Pete would agree that the modeller with less grandiose ambitions has just as valid a place as he does in the hobby.
Cameras? You can buy an off the shelf Nikon digital SLR for about 300 quid and snap away happily with no more ambition than filling a few portable HDs with pictures of family, friends, pets and locations. Been there, done that too. Why should that be any less of a hobby than a semi-pro assembling a ‘portfolio’ though?
Hobbies are about leisure, pleasure and doing something you enjoy. It ain’t a job, and apart from the enjoyment you take from it there’s no reward.
And if the bar to entry in any hobby is set too high, no bugger’s going to want to bother jumping it are they?
So you may carry on harrumphing in exasperation at the ‘amateurs’ who’ve got the facings wrong on the 39th Foot, or don’t care if French dragoons at Quatre Bras gave the British Guards a hard time or not. I’ll carry on playing toy soldiers with them and trying to gently point them towards better references than the ones they may or may not have, but on the whole not caring very much as long as we’re all having a good time.
Fun. Remember fun?
"I'm not signing that"29/06/2015 at 15:10 #26912
Fun is always an element, Connard, but “fun” and a “Good Time”is also one of those terms that has a wide range of subjective meanings. It’s a very different form of fun one finds in Empire compared to TSATF, or Warhammer.
My note above freely granted the advantages of easy access and the small fun game. My comments were primarily in defense of the idea that there are rewards for investing time and effort, and overcoming barriers such as historical knowledge, the building of large armies, and learning rules whose play is less obvious and direct. I also touched on the fact that wargaming may not be at its best in games that require dozens of gamers, or as a spectator sport, but flourishes in smaller venues among people with long standing friendships.
Wargaming, especially historical wargaming, will always be a very small blip in the hobby and craft arena. No amount of accessibility will change that.
No one’s naysaying other people’s choices in wargaming, but I was pointing out the rewards of gaming where the ultimate goal is not accessibility, just rolling dice and moving interchanable units , and using one page rules. It is popular now to stress such things . I am merely saying that I believe that some people find other aspects far more central to their enjoyment. What some people call barriers, others may find rewarding high ground, that, once surmounted, provides a better view of the battlefield! And they may characterize that as fun, and one of the main rewards of their hobby.29/06/2015 at 15:48 #26914General SladeParticipant
I know how to have fun; I just don’t want to. That’s why I do Napoleonics.29/06/2015 at 16:26 #26915willzParticipant
Interesting debate, what is the cost of a hobby.
What’s a hobby.
One man’s expensive is an others bargain, this post runs in tandem with an other one about cost of entry into war-game shows. What is expensive to one person can seem inexpensive to an other, over the past few years I have been selling items at war-game shows via a trade stall. When selling painted 28mm Napoleonic or Medieval figures between £2 – £3 a figure, or £6 – £8 for a painted 20mm WWII Tank / AFV most people are happy with the price. However some state the are expensive, most state they are a bargain, sometimes some ask why they am I selling them so cheaply?
How much do things cost relative to what?, my first war-gaming magazine was Military Modeling it cost £0.15p in 1972 a pint of beer or a loaf of bread if I remember correctly was around £0.15 – £0.20p. Today a war-game magazine cost £4, a pint of beer is around £3 or a loaf of bread is £1.20. A box of Airfix soldiers cost £0.15 1972, today £6. Bearing in mind my first wage was £1 a day the same job now pays £45 a day, so go figure.
I do not think this hobby is expensive when compared to the general price of things.29/06/2015 at 17:03 #26917
Yebbut my fun is betterer than your fun.
"I'm not signing that"29/06/2015 at 17:19 #26919
And my fun is the best of all.
I think Repiquone has a point that there are some cheap entry points already. I still maintain that the cost and perhaps more important, abruptness of entry is best solved by wargames groups. Telling an intrested observer to pull up a chair and take this brigade and kick the stuffing out of the chaps in the farnhouse makes the time and expense of painting your first unit quite painless. Sitting in apoorly lit garret looking through abebooks for a reasonably priced funcken and planning the Grand armee at 1:50 is a little more daunting. Drug dealers seem to do this well and a table full of toys is much more alluring than a pinch of white poder.29/06/2015 at 18:00 #26920
No one’s naysaying other people’s choices in wargaming, but I was pointing out the rewards of gaming where the ultimate goal is not accessibility, just rolling dice and moving interchanable units , and using one page rules. It is popular now to stress such things . I am merely saying that I believe that some people find other aspects far more central to their enjoyment. What some people call barriers, others may find rewarding high ground, that, once surmounted, provides a better view of the battlefield! And they may characterize that as fun, and one of the main rewards of their hobby.
Look, I don’t mean to sound like a dog with a bone, but you’re doing it again: these dismissive, exaggerated caricatures of the other side, like “one page rules” and “interchangeable units”. We’ve already had “scrap paper terrain”, “dilettante”, “no curiosity” (that one chafes especially), “slapdash painting”, “someone who just shows up […] with no idea of who, what or why”, “whims of Corporate owners”, “promiscuity” and the implication that your approach to the hobby, apparently unlike that of other people, requires intelligence and artistic capabilities.
I hope you can appreciate that when seeing you juxtapose yourself against these caricaturish attributes in a discussion that has you expressly taking the contrary stance to mine, I feel the need to point out that no, I’m not into one-page rules, and no, I don’t play “corporate” games (I haven’t played or collected anything that isn’t “indie” for the last 10+ years), and no I don’t use paper terrain, etc etc. Not that I have anything against one-page rules, GW games (well, people who play GW games, anyway), paper terrain or any of it – we all have our own take on the hobby, and we should all be accepting of each other. But how many actual hobbyists are there that fit the description of promiscuous dilettantes with no curiosity for history, no interest in gaming with decently painted miniatures on decent-looking terrain, and all the rest of it? Your implied description of most of the world’s wargamers you’ve never met is verging on that of a bogeyman race of clueless, cattle-brained duds. Implying age and generation has something to do with it doesn’t help.
Personally I wouldn’t mind for a 200-page historical rulebook to become a 220-page one, if that additional 20 pages of content was text blurbs explaining the important basics of period warfare to beginners – not as a replacement for reading a proper book on the subject, but an encouraging start. For instance, in the cavalry chapter of a horse-and-musket ruleset, there might be a full-page blurb explaining how cavalry charges worked in that period (what did a cavalry charge do, exactly? What did it look like? In which sorts of situations were cavalry charges natural or unnatural to the doctrines and battlefield realities of the period?), what the implications were of cavalry “threat projection” on the battlefield, and critically, why the rules designers think they’ve captured the function and capabilities of cavalry in a way that accurately simulates the historical paradigm. Again, that’s just an example. The point is, it’s anything but indicative of a lack of curiosity or a desire for ultra-simplistic rules. I think there are a lot of people like me, especially in my generation.29/06/2015 at 19:50 #26924
I’d like to push a clear separation of two things:
1. “Cost of entry” or approachability. How daunting it is to get into a hobby.
2. “Depth”. Depth is how far the rabbit hole goes, how involved you can get in it, how many resources you can use in it.
I’m not sure why we are talking about them as being the same, they most definitely aren’t. You can be approachable and have depth, or not. But Bob seemed to move us to talking about them as being one in the same, and they aren’t.
Many things are easy to get into (approachable) but can grow and provide increasing complexity as the user develops and is ready for them (depth).
No one should think that lowering barriers to entry *requires* that depth must be abandoned.
The Bandit29/06/2015 at 20:14 #26925Angel BarracksModerator
1. “Cost of entry” or approachability. How daunting it is to get into a hobby.2. “Depth”. Depth is how far the rabbit hole goes, how involved you can get in it, how many resources you can use in it.
I think the financial cost of entry is of no value as you can buy everything you need from a bring and buy stand at a wargames show for less than a day’s wage.
I will not be discussing that here for that reason.
I think the above may depend on the period/genre and people you play with and or buy from.
For example, on the whole I would suggest sci-fi and fantasy are less daunting than historical games, in the sense there can be less ‘background’ to absorb when it comes to the game setting.
There are a few exceptions, Middle earth and the 40k fictional worlds have a massive amount of background to learn should you wish to, note wish to not have to, that may enhance the play in terms of scenario design and campaigns.
I played Napoleonic style games; the models were accurate enough that people knew what they were and so on.
The army structure was organised as best as I could gather was correct.
The scenarios were absolute hogwash and bore no resemblance to anything that ever actually happened.
That is because for me, I liked the idea of masses of men marching in line and firing with cannon tearing up the ground as cavalry charged in and won the day.
My sci-fi games have a developed background that is not required to play the games; it is there for people that want some context.
Same as with historicals.
The armies have reasons for existing and reasons for why they fight.
I created a planet within a solar system, it has an eco-system, and I created flora and fora as befits an alien world.
I created a currency and settlements that exist for a logical reason; everything I have created has been done so based on what I think makes sense given the background, technology and the way people behave.
It has a story arc panned out with fixed points in time (sorry) that will be made real in terms of models and new rules and expansions.
If I had more time it would be even more fleshed out and inspiring for gamers.
Does this mean I am a better or more hard-core gamer than a historical player, after all they just read about a world they live in, they don’t create worlds.
No, does it arse.
It may just mean I play games for other reasons.
I think this is the crux of the matter, I am a gamer second.
I am a creative person first.
I like the story, the design of the world and the making of the models, I like setting up everything I have created and will gladly look at it and let that fuel my imagination.
Sure a chance to play a game in that would but be a bonus, but it is not required for me.
I know people that don’t give a tinkers cuss about any of that.
They want to roll some dice and fight, they don’t care why or when they are fighting.
Does that make them less right?
Does it arse, it makes them different to me, and you know what that is ok.29/06/2015 at 21:41 #26927
I think some people are rather overreacting (and greatly misinterpreting my intent) to a simple statement on my part that Accessibility and Cost may not be the important issue for many gamers, and that what has been described as barriers may be seen quite differently by some.
Connard: Whether your gaming is “betterer” is completely unknown to me, and really quite irrelevant. That’s true for your opinion of my criteria. I suppose that each gamer and his small group must make their own decision here and will differ greatly. That’s just as it should be. I suppose each gamer and his group are convinced their approach is betterer and funner.
Rhoderic: I’m not exactly sure why you are convinced I’ve singled you out is some way. I haven’t. I am NOT dismissive of other choices-simply stating that certain choices are more or less popular than others, and, at the moment, the easily accessible focus seems to be paramount. This is not bad, or sub-par, just a different focus than some gamers , such as myself ,happen to have. I am NOT contrary to you, as I have absolutely no idea what your primary enjoyments in the hobby might be. Whatever they are, I’m sure you are convinced they are best for you. Therefore, you are incontestably right.
Bandit: They are, to some extent, the same thing. Many attempts to smooth entry are based on low prices, smaller scales, few units, simple rules that may be understood quickly by neophytes (and are often free) and a very low demand on research beyond the game package (say C&C Napoleonics) or none (Any Fantasy or sci-fi set that is, by definition, self-contained). I think most people would agree that if your goal is to get people into wargaming this is a necessary and laudable way to go. All of these approaches have become quite common and commercially successful. There’s not much to add on these points as none of them are exactly obscure in their purpose or desired effect.
Your separation of “depth” as a measure of how deep a gamer goes into research and purchases, is an essential part of accessibility, and that cost is generally higher for people that are historical gamers, play in periods that benefit from larger figures, and specialize in a few periods in order to achieve critical mass of numbers in the variety of troops, and representation of historically important units.
In my experience, as I have said several times, the whole issue of low prices, smaller scales, pre-painted troops, few troops, few units, and simple rules, is often not the central one to people who have chosen to become historical gamers. It may very well be for younger, less affluent, less research inclined gamers, who are attracted for many reasons to Fantasy and Sci-Fi, and these issues all support those areas of wargaming pretty strongly. That’s great! I have said I admire the creative innovations and imaginative aspects of those genres. Fantasy and Sci-fi are bringing the vast majority of new people into wargaming. Historical wargaming, which used to be the center of wargaming, is now a decided minority. It will always be so for all the reasons I have given concerning its many barriers. Sure, there will be gamers that move from Fantasy/Sci Fi to historicals, but they will always be a mere trickle.
People that commit to miniature historical wargaming do so knowing full well that it will be costlier, take longer to develop the force they see in their mind’s eye, and will require more than a few books be read and understood. Accessibility in simply not a big deal to them. They generally get there because they enjoy surmounting the barriers that others find off-putting. This is not to say that having younger gamers in to participate in a historical wargame should not be done, but many historical gaming groups are pretty much age, income, gender, and socio-economically delimited in a way that fantasy/sci-fi, to its credit, is not. A youngster in my group is in his 40s. I don’t think that’s unusual.
That’s neither good or bad, superior or inferior, its just that wargaming comes in many flavors and what gamers seek is as dissimilar to people who love Classical and Jazz as opposed to those who want hip-hop or Country. We all love “music” but we have very dissimilar needs, intrests, and goals.
30/06/2015 at 08:32 #26940SparkerParticipant
- This reply was modified 6 years, 2 months ago by repiqueone.
Grizzly MC has it right – the key to entry is the FLGS. I recently organised a Napoleonic Megagame which I am quite prepared to hold up as one of the biggest and best horse and musket games ever held, anywhere. And of the 20 participants, including one of 12, I would say that prior to the 2 year build up at least half had never played a ‘historicals’ game, and a further half dozen had never played Napoleonics. And we had a waiting list for vacancies of a couple of other young adults whose previous experience was limited to flames of war. Whilst some of these newbies did plunge into some research and painting, most were content to play with other’s figures and limit their research to that distilled in the project’s admin instruction.
So if you want to overcome any barriers to entry, get a big idea and find a suitable venue to expose it. Initially you may be met by bafflement or indifference, but if you preserve with your small hard corps of buffs and put on increasingly spectacular looking practice games at various venues, eventually you will build up a following who you can then call on in the future….
'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
Matthew 5:930/06/2015 at 08:41 #26941
Grizzly MC has it right – the key to entry is the FLGS.
And you know how many FLGS exist in the UK, right?
"I'm not signing that"30/06/2015 at 11:08 #26943Thaddeus BlanchetteParticipant
OK, I think I am qualified to talk from experience here as I bet I am probably the most “extreme” gamer here in that I live and work in Brazil on a Brazilian wage.
I have been so game-starved in my life that I am responsible for jump-starting the hobby here, being Devir’s (look them up on Boardgame Geek) first game-related employee, having worked for them for almost ten years and almost singlehandedly introducing miniatures gaming (as opposed to using minis for AD&D) to Brazil.
During my thhirty years here, gaming has been my main hobby and for most of that time, my salary was at well under 1000 USD a month… Often less than 500 USD a month. And I can assure that while shipping costs to Brazil are not as high as to Australia, they are much higher than those between the U.S. And U.K. Plus, our customs is slow and often corrupt. One can get slapped with huge fines out of nowhere for ridiculously small shipments. I have seen people have to shell out over 100 USD for a handful of blister packs and that was after shipping and purchasing.
Plus, I live in congested urban hell. Rent is sky high for almost Tokyo-like living conditions and there are few public libraries or other public spaces to game in.
In short, I really can’t think of a more hostile environment in which to continue to be a miniatures gaming hobbyist.
So here is how I have done it.
First, I scaled down. I dropped my 28mm fantasy armies and moved into 15mm for DBA and 6mm for anything else. What little 28mm gaming I have done in Brazil has mostly been skirmish and that with pirated figures. As many of you know, I am now mostly working in 3mm scale. I pretty much plan to stay in 3mm and 6mm for the rest of my life, with an occasional foray onto 15mm for skirmishes.
Secondly, I got to know the pirates. Many of these guys have tried to get gaming companies to sell them licenses and failed. They thus simply copy what they want. I am an ethical pirate supporter, however. When I bought pirated figures, I did my best to not buy anything pirated from small companies. Thankfully, most pirates here go for the gold and that means Games Workshop. I have no pirated armies, but I do have converted pieces that I built from pirated figures.
Third, learn to copy and homecast yourself. I just bought a Spartan Games military building set. I love it. Unfortunately, it only gives me 2 big hab domes when I need about twenty. Fortunately, I have somes intsimold, reusable molding material and heated plastic casting material. It was a couple hours work to pull a useful mold and make a dozen hab domes. Are they as nice as the originals? No. But painted and on the table, they are perfectly adequate. I have thus stretched an expensive international purchase into anot so expensive one. And yes, copying for your own use is perfectly legal.
Fourth, build up your kit over time. Any time I travel internationally, I bring paints, materials and figures back home with me.
Fifth, ask friends to brings stuff when they visit you. Almost everyone I know who comes to Brazil these days has been nice enough to bring me a small package. Hats off to Mr. tim Porter, an internet friend, who has done this several times bow! I owe Tim a big bottle of good cachaca!
Sixth, get used to solo gaming. I have done this most of my life, so it is no big deal. However…
Seventh, become a hobby consolidator. I talked about how I worked for Devir. But building clubs is really important. With a club, you can bulk purchase, combine resources, etc. even three or four guys working together can do marvels! You can invest in small scale molding and casting equipment, for example. Hell, you could even go into business yourself. You don’t have to make a huge amount of money: find a manufacturer who is happy to license you for a small local run of figures. Buy a small centrifuge and have the manufacturer make your molds for you. For years, I tried to get the best pirate in Brazil to go this route, but he refused, simply because he was too lazy, basically.
Eight, find substitutes for hobby material. Hobby material is as expensive as hell, but most of it can be bought bulk for very cheap or substituted. With dye, foam and a hand grinder, you can make your own flocking. Sawdust and dye works as well. For a long time, my 15mm skirmish figures smelt like a spice shop because I based them with oregano. I use off-the-shelf acrylics, mostly, and off the shelf brushes.
Nine, use rules that you really like and which don’t screw the customer. You have to be rich to participate in The Games Workshop Hobby ™ in Brazil. I am not.
Ten, make it easy for others to start. I have a student who is interested in Saga. Next time I go to the U.S. or U.K. I plan to bring an army back for him.
Finally, realize that there are gaming scales and models that can be bought cheaply. 3mm has been huge for me as its shipping costs are negligible. I am now looking to get into 6mm MDF Napoleonics because they can likewise be sent in a regular mailing envelope.
There are hundreds of miniatures games in Brazil and all of them use the same techniques as I do. To me, this maoes the hobby even more fun and rewarding. There is no better sense of satisfaction in the world than wandering into a little podunk hardware store in the Saara (poor shopping district here in Rio) and discovering they sell ceramic bathroom hex tiles, a dime a dozen, that are just PERFECT for spaceship bases…
We get slapped around, but we have a good time!30/06/2015 at 11:36 #26944
I’m not exactly sure why you are convinced I’ve singled you out is some way. I haven’t. I am NOT dismissive of other choices-simply stating that certain choices are more or less popular than others, and, at the moment, the easily accessible focus seems to be paramount. This is not bad, or sub-par, just a different focus than some gamers , such as myself ,happen to have. I am NOT contrary to you, as I have absolutely no idea what your primary enjoyments in the hobby might be. Whatever they are, I’m sure you are convinced they are best for you. Therefore, you are incontestably right.
I suppose that to some limited extent I genuinely do feel singled out. But only to a limited extent, and beyond that, I honestly feel that you’ve been misrepresenting the great majority of wargamers you don’t know, by casting them as the opposite of yourself while explicitly self-identifying as the minority contrarian.
I was trying to step out of the “me” perspective in my previous post when asking: Would any hobbyist happily identify as the opposite of the artisanal, highbrow “gourmand” of wargaming that you recognise yourself as? That is, as a dilettante, a slapdash painter, impervious to enthusiasm for history, not interested in having the hobby stay rewarding in the long run, not striving for the better view of the high ground, and so forth? Barring moments of light-hearted, gentlemanly self-deprecation (admittedly a fine virtue that’s fortunately common in the hobby community), I think none would. The rest of us are more like you than you seem to think, even if the ways we go about the hobby may look superficially different.
But I won’t bring up the issue again. I haven’t really had anything new to say about it in this post.
Anyway, Bandit is entirely right: a gentle learning curve need not level out any lower than a steep one. The same can be said of a spending curve. Advocating lower barriers of entry does not equate to advocating lower final standards.30/06/2015 at 22:05 #26989SparkerParticipant
Grizzly MC has it right – the key to entry is the FLGS.
And you know how many FLGS exist in the UK, right?
I wasn’t aware this was a UK only site? Anyhow, rising above literal interpretations, my point remains – work collectively and the cost of entry are surmountable, and you create a big impression so that you gather momentum.
'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
Matthew 5:930/06/2015 at 23:54 #27011Ivan SorensenParticipant
I aim all of my games at the following three criteria:
Playable in under 2 hours, under normal circumstances.
Playable on a 3×3 foot table or smaller.
50 US dollars will get you a decent army that you can actually play a game with.
Of course, you can always scale up as you go.
Buy a squad of ww2 guys and paint them up for FiveCore, then buy more and field a platoon in Chain of Command and then buy more over time, until you have a company for IABSM.
Nordic Weasel Games
https://www.wargamevault.com/browse/pub/5701/Nordic-Weasel-Games?src=browse570101/07/2015 at 14:07 #27054
I was actually surprised not to hear / see / read you trumpet Black Powder as an example of “start simple, become more involved”. As you know, I don’t like the game – but you do and from the way you describe it, it seems a very good example.
I didn’t know what ‘FLGS’ were and had to look them up. They are pretty sparse in the US at this point, I’m lucky that there is one near by and that wargaming is very healthy in the general vicinity I live and work in. I think we’ve got maybe 4-5 historical groups that meet regularly with around 100 participants among them? It is a little hard to know because the sad thing is we are all self-segragated but no one seems to know why.
Anyway, Bandit is entirely right: a gentle learning curve need not level out any lower than a steep one. The same can be said of a spending curve. Advocating lower barriers of entry does not equate to advocating lower final standards.
Thanks, you summarized what I was trying to say very well.
The Bandit01/07/2015 at 14:29 #27056Mr. AverageParticipant
Gamers in the U.S. Tend to self-segregate because of the lingering social stigma attached to game related hobbies. That’s been dispersing gradually as cerebral activities have become more mainstream but old habits die hard.
I also feel that lowered barriers to entry do not equate to a lower quality of game experience. I think there is something to be said, of course, for appreciating the subtleties and nuances of a hobby, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat and people should feel welcome, in my opinion, to enjoy a game on whatever level feels comfortable and engaging to them. And in my game group historical gamers radically outnumber sci fi and fantasy gamers, in the same proportion that historical conventions outnumber sci fi ones in my part of the country.
I’m a big booster of smaller scales as a way of lowering the difficulty of entering a game system. Rules, I generally select based on the desired game feel I have in mind, but I don’t automatically associate complexity with an improved experience gamewise – my rule of thumb is that if it takes longer to do in a game than it would take in real life, it’s liable to bore me. But that’s a guideline and not a hard and fast rule.01/07/2015 at 15:12 #27059John D SaltParticipant
This is not to say that having younger gamers in to participate in a historical wargame should not be done, but many historical gaming groups are pretty much age, income, gender, and socio-economically delimited in a way that fantasy/sci-fi, to its credit, is not. A youngster in my group is in his 40s. I don’t think that’s unusual.
That’s true of all the groups I game with. Quite a few years ago now, my oldest wargaming group, the Horsham mob (who deliberately never formed a club because we didn’t want to encourage any of those dreadful people who join clubs and become secretary, not because they are interested in what the club does, but because they are interested in becoming secretary and organising other people) put on a display game at “To The Redoubt” in Eastbourne. It used my pal Paul’s wonderful 54mm plastic Napoleonics, and was designed to be quick and simple and playable as a lawn game, in the spirit of H G Wells’ “war game in the open air”, but with fewer straw boaters and more dice (proper lawn dice, almost a hand-span across). It wasn’t meant to be a participation game, but if anyone wanted to have a go, we weren’t going to stop them. However it did surprise us, a bunch of Featherstone-era grognards in our late forties, that the game elicited such interest from mere kids of 9, 10 or 11 years old. First they asked if they could roll the dice. Then we had them measuring distances and moving the troops. It didn’t take long before they were taking tactical decisions. The kids seemed to be enjoying themselves, boys and girls both. The only weird thing was that we were suprised by this. None of us had ever stopped to consider that a game with brightly-coloured toy soldiers and attractively-modelld scenery might appeal to small children.
All the best,
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