Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why Historical Wargaming,

As you would have noticed recently I’ve begun a journey and project centered around the dark ages – my main focus being to research and build a Viking Army and a Saxon army to both use in SAGA- the skirmish game as well as for War and Conquest – (WAB Successor).
It’s been a long time between drinks as far as painting historical go -  for nearly 4 years now ive put allot of effort into 40k and a bit of a dabble into Warhammer fantasy.  This was on the back of nearly 6 years of painting Napoleonic Austrians and French in 15mm. 

Suffice to say at the end of those projects ( well near end – there is more to do really) I was burnt out as far as the heavy research and continued attention to detail as far as uniforms- historical accounts etc.  In the end I had a full Austrian Army Corp from the 1809 Italian campaign as well as a smallish French division and a few independent brigades.  Suffice to say I was over it and venturing into 40k was refreshing- it challenged me around painting 28mm miniatures – teaching me new techniques in painting and blending and stretched me.  That being said I think for the time being I have reached the end of the road as far as painting and building 40k goes-  There are models to be constructed and painted that sit in my to do pile but overall I think its time for a break from it.
What I have found is that going back into Historical Wargaming has been refreshing, exciting and fun, in a way 40k is no longer in my eyes.
Im not going to smack down 40k here- suffice to say 6th edition is great but I’m a bit over the flyer meta and tired of the constant sales cycle you get locked into with GW. There is always a new edition, a new model, a new rules set, a new codex that you need to keep current in the game and its tiring to say the least.
I picked up Saga and Hail Ceaser a few months back- read through them and then placed them into the library thinking this sounds like fun and I wonder what I would like to do. Then a watched a few Time Team specials on England in the Dark Ages where a few digs where completed in York about the Viking age and I was hooked. 

I bought a few books on the period and started to read and get a deeper sense about Dark Age England and then Dark Age Europe in general.
Then there was Cancon this year- In my opinion the 40k event left a sour taste in my mouth- poor terrain, unpainted miniatures and a general lack of feeling in the event pushed me towards what I missed those years of historical gaming provided.
I wondered over to the war peace stand and put down some cash to pick up some warbands- the expansion rule sets and begun the process of painting the models.
What I have found the last few months is how much I missed the Depth of Historical Gaming- while science fiction gaming has it merits, it its relative freedom of expression it lacks a certain depth, and to be honest I feel GW has codified 40k so much than now there is not as much creative freedom as there once was in that games genre. 

What I mean by depth is the real characters and hero’s the battles, the cultures, the religions and politics of the age.  While painting the books have given me a real sense of depth and understanding of what I’m working on, it has flamed the imagination and propelled me to paint with a consistency and frequency that has long been missing from my hobby.
So far I’ve painted about 20 models in about a month- and having come back from Hawaii I kicked up to average about 2 models a night. What’s more my down time and spare snippets of time is spent reading reference books and watching the odd documentary on the period, the attraction that these where real people who had a part to play in shaping the world I live in as well as the language I speak, is truly fascinating. 

The models themselves are not as refined as the GW product but it has also been a blast to return to painting metal models- there is tactile satisfaction in handling a metal model- the weight has a good feel to it (maybe you know what I mean and maybe you don’t) but the image of a gaming table groaning under the weight of thousands of models inspires allot in me :P
I think in a way this is the rush of experiencing something I once did anew and the energy and fun I’m having from rediscovering what I love about history in general.
The crazy thing is I still haven’t had a game of Saga yet nor of War and Conquest- I’ve been involved in a few Hail Caesar games – and the is a big Crusades game coming soon from what I hear that I want to be involved in, but It really doesn’t matter, what I really enjoy right is sitting back and seeing the collection grow as each model is painted and added to the horde.
 The Bondi Warband slowly forms - Below two more Bondi and some Hirdmen Command being prepared for painting.

So why this rant?  Well It’s partly a warning that there is more historical stuff to come- I have the desire later this year to do some Napoleonic’s again and even late Republic Romans and Germans, but also a bit of challenge for those disgruntled 40k players out there.  Have a look at games Like Bolt Action, Saga,  Black Powder, Hail Caesar and War and Conquest. There are so many great historical rules out right now, more so than when I started and with some really great production values as well.
I bet you that you may find a period you like- such as feudal Japan or like myself Dark Age Europe and maybe even rediscover the fun of gaming and not the push of the commercial sales cycle.

What do you guys think?