Friday, 20 March 2009

Fad A La Mode?

In which EG passes time while waiting for the off by being faddy in the comfort of the Smoking Room at his club.


Cover dated April 2009

Sitting here in the club's Smoking Room listening to the sound of m'colleagues having a thoroughly good time drifting through from the Gaming Room, one is reminded that one of the most spiffing things about our hobby is that it is a broad church. Now that isn't an easy swipe at the generous build of one's average wargamer, no, it's just a rather easy way to sum up one of the most enjoyable aspects of the hobby and that is the amazing diversity of it all. Just look at the people involved. They're from all walks of life, all with different interests within the hobby and without. They play all sorts of games covering all periods of history including some that never were and some that are yet to come. And yet, by and large, we all get on. Hurrah!

That said however, there are certain Constants within the wide-ranging World Of Wargaming that apply to all games and gamers and these can be divided into two groups. The first of these groups of Constants contains the Low Level Truisms of Wargaming. For example, Red Dice always roll better results, most trained units of men in the Ancient World move a scale move of 4”, and a 6 or a 1 will get results whereas a 3 seldom will, that sort of thing. In fact all the practical sort of info. that one really needs to understand to get the most out of one's hobby.

The second group contains the High Level Truism of the Wargaming; that there are Four Core Periods and only Four Core Periods. If one needs to ask what the four are then tush, shame on you! Around the Core Of Four orbit a number of other established Periods; ECW, Colonial and SYW for example. As popular as they may be, and that popularity can wax and wane, they will always play second fiddle to the Four Core. And then there is the Fad, burning hard, burning bright, lighting up the Wargaming firmament. Its brilliance can easily distract and delight Wargamers before either imploding to establish another minor period or burning itself out into yesterday's thing. No substance, you see, and the blinking Wargamer finds himself much as moth might when the wind blows out his favorite candle; instantly in search of another flame upon which to burn himself and his money.

What is the new Fad?” Indeed it is this question that has been heating up the old lemon while enjoying a fortifying brandy and do you know, I think one's got it! Previous fads have been largely driven by shiny new figures, a new set of rules or, in the case of the more successful fads, a combination of the two. For example, the Street Violence fad of a few years back was driven entirely by Foundry's range of the same name, but, after burning brightly for a few months, it faded away through lack of substance. The Darkest Africa and its Thrilling Tales/Pulp/Back Of Beyond off-shoots are, however, a miniatures initiated fad that turned out to have enough substance to settle down in its own modest way into orbit around the Core Of Four. Another more recent example of a fad that seems to be have established itself as a fixture is Wings Of War – a great combination of innovative and fun rules plus excellent supporting miniatures. Last Year's Fads have to include Weird War II with a number of new rule sets being published such as, but not exclusively, Secrets Of The Third Reich, and a seemingly never-ending supply of Nazi zombies from a variety of sources. But will it stay the distance? If pushed, one might put a guinea on it to place.
One can sense the shuffling at the back of class and so had better get on with the punditry. The Gadsby nomination for the next Next Big Thing (NBT) goes to ....A Very British Civil War, produced by Solway Crafts And Miniatures. A Very British Civil War is an alternative-history source-book that takes the premise that Edward VIII refused to resign over the Wallis Simpson scandal and that this set off a chain of events, all covered in the source-book, which divides the country along religious and political lines. By 1938 the situation has degenerated so far that the inevitable Civil War breaks out. It has to be said that the 3ECW, ECW3 or even VBCW, alternate-history, as the cognoscenti call it (one acronym at a time, that is, otherwise, well, one would just look stupid,) does indeed press all of one's buttons but then the inter war period is like raindrops on roses and warm woollen mittens to Ephraim. Nevertheless others, even those with a less than passing acquaintance with the period, will find the text entertaining.

As was pointed out earlier, A Very British Civil War is a source-book and not a rule-book. Nor do the authors have a range of supporting figures to flog. So as a potential NBT it is in a delicate 'posish.' Specific figures are beginning to be released and one would say that the whole ECW33ECWVBCW thing is coming to a particular crossroads in its development. Either it becomes another of those internet based periods that Club Treasurer poo-pooed a few issues back and we never see anything at shows or in club-land, or, woosh, the figures will take off, a common rules set will gain consensus, maybe one of the bigger manufacturers gets behind it and there one has it, the Next Big Thing.

One might be wrong on this though; it's happened before. But unfortunately, whatever the fate of A Very British Civil War, one will not be at the club to either engage smug-mode or make my excuses . I will be away touring Europe for the next few months. Indeed one is at the club tonight not to play a game but to rendezvous with a fellow club member to whom Gadsby is to be travel companion. Not quite sure of the itinerary but knowing the chum, it's bound to be of interest. Plus he's paying.

“Dakka! Dakka! Dakka! Take that Fritz! Huzzah!” wafting in from the Games Room tells me that B von H's Fokker has just crashed and burned and that Lord S, victory roll taken, will soon too be wafting in and wanting to push off. So with the continental adventure awaiting, one must don le chapeau de Monsieur, les gants de Monsieur et le whange de Monsieur and bid you “Au Revoir.” For now.

Steady there! I was just saying "Pip Pip" to the column in the WI. One will still update this blog as and when one's travels permit. And who know? Upon one's return there may well be a summons to recommence from the Editor of WI, bombarded as he no doubt will be, by requests for more of the half-wit and wisdom. So best advice is "Keep Calm & Carry On."