Sunday, 27 May 2012

Games that Define us

We're in the midst of a heatwave in the UK, and I always struggle to paint when its hot. So no project updates for you today. However, a meme that is doing the rounds, which I picked up on at Frontline Gamer, the games that define us as wargamers. Here are mine:

Advanced Hero Quest

I don't recall my early gaming career well, but I believe it all comes back to this. My Dad bought it to play with my brother, who is five years my senior. From this small seed my brother and I's interest in the hobby grew. Each of us has felt our enthusiasm wax and wanes as circumstances dictate, but it's always been one of our joint interests.

EDIT: Battlemasters
As Gharak rightly points out, this was where I first got into gaming. An MB game either licensed from or heavily inspired by GW, this got played loads. Ahhh, the memories!

Warhammer 40K
Like many people, for years GW was all of the hobby I knew. Everything revolved around local GW store and the friendships made there.
The mainstay was Warhammer 40K, second and then third edition. After an initial flirtation with Eldar, I played lots of Imperial Guard, the pinnacle being my entirely converted Adeptus Mechanicus Tech-Guard army. I dabbled with Space Wolves and Chaos Marines too. But Imperial Guard were my favourites and in hindsight I wonder whether Guard players have a predisposition to move towards historical games.
Of course, I also played the whole range of 'Specialist Games', most of which I could be much more tempted to return to these days than 40K itself. Blood Bowl is a great board game, Necromunda was a classic, Man O'War was ace.

Warhammer Fantasy Battle

I always preferred 40K, but also had a WFB force of...Empire! Humm, not hugely different the Guard, really. I preferred 40K because my brother always destroyed me at WFB, fielding a beard-tastic savage Orc and forest goblin force. Sorry bro, but that was mean, my poor 'umies' didn't stand a chance.

Leaving my home town and local GW for Uni, I had little time for wargaming (between working, studying and socialising, not necessarily in that order). My one visit to the official Student Union wargames club put me right off. Unfriendly people, all playing the same old 40K, albeit released from the GW store requirements for painted armies. Blergh.
But I still gamed a little with my brother, visited the town centre gaming shop and eventually found a second, Patriot Comics. Mostly a comic, RPG and CCG store, it had just started stocking Rackham's Confrontation game. I was blown away, the miniatures were stunning. I got very into the game, mostly playing the oft-overlooked Orcs - I wonder if my Brother whupping me had an influence here? I had a lot of fun converting a Roman-themed force of Orcs and was active in the fledgling UK community, the UKCORD.
It all ended badly - Rackham's baffling decision to overhaul Conf as totally new game, except being big battle using pre-painted plastics (which bombed), coupled with my move away from the city on graduation killed off my love affair with Conf. I've still got many of my miniatures, beautifully painted but packed away. Just in case anyone fancies a game of 2nd Ed...


As Conf tailed off, I started buying into Infinity. Similarly beautiful miniatures, similarly eye-wateringly expensive. The game was different, tactically intruiging and the reaction system actually worked. All was well with the world and my wallet cried out for mercy. But the abovementioned move, power creep of the new releases and bitty release of new rules put me off. I recall getting crushed by the new Combined Army shortly after release, realising they had everything I could put on the table, just far better. I found the system was encouraging me to throw increasingly cheesy forces into the board. After my brother deployed six Yu Jing with missile launchers, I replied by deploying just one model, the rest being hidden deployed or droptroopers. These days, I still drool over some of the new releases, but I don't own the up to date rules or any particular desire to play the game.

Board games
Mostly the increasingly popular Euro-games. Again, I can blame my brother for this one as he introduced my family to Settlers of Catan at Christmas. Since then I've bought, or played, most of the best-known Euro games, either with the family, the missus, old friends or new. These days, I get more game time with board games than miniatures games and have amassed a decent collection.

.45 Adventure (Pulp)

Worth noting though I wouldn't really call it a wargame, more an RPG with miniatures. I never really got into RPGs in my youth, though I dabbled on occasion at DnD or WHFRP, and at Uni a home-brew cyberpunk-esque game we called 'Darkworld'. But my brother's love of Indiana Jones and other cheese got us into Pulp gaming with miniatures. We find it a lot of fun to play and a lot of fun to paint as well as design, if time-consuming. I'm lucky that he carries most of that burden!

Perry plastics

Ok, not quite a game, but a milestone worth noting, as the proliferation of good quality plastic historical miniatures has been a key factor in my jumping into historicals. This has been the mainstay of my hobby activity in recent years.

The Future?
Well, a raft of projects on the go, including a scale shift to 15mm and back to SciFi. Then who knows, as I really am a gaming magpie (oooh, shiney!), especially considering the number of projects which have passed my painting table which don't even come close to making this list...


  1. Great post! My brother and I had Hero Quest too, which was brilliant (don't recall it being solo play though). With me it was Warlord's plastic Romans which got me back into the hobby after a 12-year gap... :)

  2. You'd have played advanced heroquest a little but I don't think it got that much use, Dad spent all christmas learning the rules for it I remember and then we never really had time with him to play.

    From memory your gaming career probably really took off with battlemasters:

    Mum and Dad felt that Warhammer would be too complicated for you so you got this as a Christmas present one year and we played it a fair old bit and painted a lot of the minis, probably explains why you went for Empire and Imp Guard as it came with mock empire troops and so would have been a good starting point.

    There was nothing that beardy around my savage orcs with the exception of the warboss, I believe his greatest hour was the 56 hit attack, bless the old rules for frenzy plus flail of skulls and another magic weapon who's name escapes me.

    And what about space crusade, we played that for a while too, we had mighty empires but never played much more than a year or so as it took too long. Then there was Space Marine, followed by Titan Legions and later Epic.

    1. Yeah, AHQ was in there as the seed of it all, rather than one that got played much. You're bang on with Battlemasters though, loved that game. Will update the list with it.

      I left space crusade and epic as a footnote under specialist games, though this was long before GW hived them off into their unloved Specialist Games wing.

  3. That and you would only have been 4 when AHQ was released in 1989. Crossbows and catapults was another game you loved. What better that a warfare that allows you to shoot stuff at each other.

    1. I'm not sure crossbows and catapults can really be called a wargame... Great fun though!


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