Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Tactica 2017 - Back to the future?

Our bare-naked table


And.. with the troops - The Swedish view

And the Russian


Well, Toggy and I made it back to Wilhelmsburg this year via Bremen although we lost Mrs H missing in action with melted credit card in hand and crushed under an avalanche of shopping bags.


The Poles finally made their debut and saw considerable action


We know Hamburg's public transport system almost as well as our fellow travellers Phil and DT but defer to their local knowledge of the saltier areas around the Hauptbahnhof and The Reeperbahn. wherever that is.

The Russo-Polish army had 13 battalions and 13 squadrons


This year we sacrificed trade space for a larger participation table which proved a wise decision. It allowed us to concentrate on providing a quality gaming experience for the fourteen players we picked up over the two days.

The Swedes had 10 squadrons, 4 battalions and 4 guns

Tactica is a gaming show with trade as opposed to a trade show with games. The majority of the games were bijou and beautiful and we felt we presented a bit of old fashioned theatre with a biggish table and lots of toys. Dull and Historical or, interesting and informative? I think we came out on the right side of the ledger.

The Poles were very popular with iphone users


Gaming or is it gamers? has (have) developed a preoccupation with low effort skirmishing  over the last few years and the trade is sucking on that particular teat pretty hard as far as I can see.

We played four games - the Russians attacked a lot


Why do I mention this? well, the last three punters we had during Sunday were German lads aged about 20 who had been brought up on skirmish gaming and had never played a 'proper' wargame (what they said). They passed our table several times on the Saturday, stopped, looked, pointed, talked to the dice-chucking punters but no more.

Imitating myself.. in the style of the 8 gun French Napoleonic battery of  a few years back


When Bob and I decided we'd had enough of public participation about lunchtime on Sunday they actually pleaded for a chance to play the big game. How could we refuse? That is why we were there in the first place.


Down on the farm...

Two men who took the wrong turning at Rochdale

They were not period nerds and didn't know the history of the GNW but they were smart young men and caught the spirit very quickly. They really enjoyed their 90 minutes of cavalry charges, cossacks and cannon and were so happy that it lived up to expectations.

Aggressive Sunday play from the Swedes put the Russians on the defensive


They asked plenty of questions about tactics, weapons and characters. They wanted to know the history, who was who and why were the Swedes so successful? To me it appeared their eyes had been opened a little wider to the possibilities of a different wargaming experience than they were used to.

This Swedish regiment saw most action over the two days


These chaps are the future of the hobby and if large scale figure gaming is to survive beyond my generation we need wargamers who feel the burn of putting effort into larger collections which involve more sweat and grunt than painting 20 plastic miniatures and moving on to another 20 in a different setting two months hence.

Sub section 1

Sub section 2


It is true that designers will go on sculpting outlandish and wonderful creations from Snowland, Planet Bonk and the jungles of the lost African kingdom of Mondobondage but as fad skirmish settings come and go the dusty old periods of Ancients, Napoleonics, ACW, Pike and Shot and WW2 demonstrate the staying power necessary for long term success.

This regiment survived both days but the Streltsi were destroyed on day 2

A glance at the books Aly Morrison had brought along to Hamburg reaffirmed the power of tradition. His 1960s magazines featured the Napoleonic and Franco Prussian games which inspired him into the hobby. Weighty articles, hundreds of minis and battle scale games. Even the grainy black and white shots did not diminish the impact of these great spectacles.

The Russians won two games from four!

The bridge was a focal point for the action


Today's hobby is mirroring the modern consumer/disposable society. Well marketed but largely hollow creations which shimmer and sparkle for a while as you twist them in the sunlight. Many are however fading as quickly as they flower. This is not necessarily a pop at populism but rather a recognition that many gamers are still searching for that silver bullet, nirvana, holy grail, Shangri-la table top moment.

Lots of charging from these boys


Not one single Swedish infantry charge all weekend


To my mind it is far more likely to be found by putting a little more cooking effort in a period they are already familiar with rather than gorging on the pop-tart experience indigestion created by endless reheats of Sherlock Holmes, Flash Gordon, Bram Stoker, The Lost World, African Queen and Lord of the Rings cloning.


Very successful weekend for the Cossaksi


Arguments about space, affordability, painting time and no opponents all have some validity but what did we do 25 years ago? We found a way to make it work.

We may see you next year Hamburg

27 comments:

  1. Interesting. I have ideas bubbling in my noggin now. I have to say that seeing your games has always been an inspiration and something I intend to head towards.....

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  2. Good considerations and wonderful game with a lot of fantastic pieces, really inspiring!

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  3. Excellent post. Your game is stunning and highly desirable. Your points r per the hobby well made.

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    1. Agree with Paul..

      All these Rampant/Saga clones are unlikely to satisfy for the same length of time I've been in the hobby...

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    2. I have been struck by the consensus created through this post having spontaneously written it at about midnight on the ship from Ijmuiden to Newcastle. I may develop it into a comment piece for WI and hope that they might print it. The only issue may be one of commercial expediency.. will it razz off advertisers?? :0

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    3. well no actually, I thought about that. We have a skirmish rule set but we are not marketing skirmish figure packs and our core rule systems are for large scale games. My point is not that skirmish gaming is bad (as of course you already know!) but rather that there is a strong trend toward contrived, implausible and in many cases, highly derivative skirmish games which seems to be strengthening a vortex pulling away from commitment to larger scale games. No I haven't bitten your baited hook but rather felt it is necessary to open up the debate :).. Of course, manufacturers are going to tap into that clogged artery (gamer health reference there!)

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  4. Well writen !


    Was very nice to see you matey!

    Lovely looking game indeed!!! Love all the details you add ti the games!

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  5. Thanks for the kind comments chaps, it was a good experience and a great chance to talk with German, Finnish, Danish, Austrian and Swedish gamers.
    ice to see you too Michael!

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  6. That looks like a excellent game. Actually, a Wargame!

    Your pictures, and also your words written here are a big inspiration for me, to keep painting my troops. Though I do play in different "periods" and even scales (28mm & 15mm).
    Thanks!

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  7. Brilliant post and brilliant looking game

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  8. Your games are always a joy to behold and set the standard for the hobby. I steal, um I mean borrow, ideas from your games all the time.

    Jim

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    1. :) Well Jim, thanks and be my guest to anything you want to borrow. It is a sharing hobby. Too many precious souls in our little community get themselves in a lather about what they think they invented. There are a few 'Mirror, mirror on the wall' conversations played out on blogs out there.
      So, you keeping visiting here and I'll keep visiting your blog and that should balance out the import/export equation between us at least!

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  9. It was my seeing your blog that got me into the league of Augsburg period and I wanted to get the same feel for large armies and high standard of terrain . I am sorry but I could reproduce it in 28mm my pockets aren't that deep so i am now 5 regiments of foot 1 of horse and 1 of Dragoons oh and a 12pdr ! In 10mm Pendraken only another 10 of foot 4 of horse and I have a Williamite army for Ireland . Well it's a start 😉.
    Regards Gav .

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    1. The Pendraken stuff is great and.. hundreds of figures are to my mind not that necessary Gav. The real point is focus. I think a lot of skirmish gaming is a junk food experience.. quick fix and not too satisfying after you have eaten it. Total immersion in a period can be really rewarding and spawn all sorts of offshoots which are historically relevant but at the same time diverse and somewhat obscure.

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  10. A most excellent spread there, will it or similar be at Carronade?

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  11. Similar Phil but not the same. We ran out of time to do exactly what we wanted for Tactica and the terrain was part of the back up plan rather than the original idea. We'll see how the work calendar shapes up between now and May!

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  12. One of the best "Thinking mans Posts" I have read in quite a while. I totally agree. I was at the Tactica on Saturday in Hamburg but alas I did not get to chat to you as I normally do at the Crisis Show in Antwerp. You were very involved in explaining and playing the game in quite cramped conditions. I was convinced that you would succumb to a raging headache that night after all that explaining so I just stood back and watched the game unfold. As always, thoroughly enjoyable. For me, no fast food skirmish will ever replace of mass cavalry charges and lines of colourful infantry on the tabletop. Thank you for your fantastic efforts, you have been inspiring me for tha last twenty years.
    Kind regards.
    Adrian in Münster.

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    Replies
    1. A pleasure Adrian. Thanks for the kind words (I am certain Bob would question my categorization a a thinking man!). You should have come and said hello, that would have been nice, but of course we can speak at Crisis! Surprisingly.. I had no headache in Hamburg :)

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  13. Barry
    Some great shots of an amazing table, undoubtedly 1 of the best LoA displays.
    With the added bonus of 2 hunks from Rochdale for the girls to enjoy.
    So you can please all of the people all of the time!!!!!

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    1. For the record, I don't come from Rochdale but I passed it once on the M62

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  14. Just dropping by to say that your game looks absolutely amazing! The attention to detail and scale is just awesome!

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