What’s More Important?

I’ve been thinking… always a dangerous thing.    Like a lot of other games, I’ve got more than a bit of ‘period whore’ in me; there are very few historical (or other) periods/games I wouldn’t mind playing.  There’s only so much time and money available though, so choices need to be made.    This got me to wondering about how gamers make decisions on what they decide to purchase figures for since that (at least to me) is an indicator of the games they truly enjoy playing.   This post was triggered by some discussions I’ve been following (and sometimes participating in) on The Miniatures Page.   There are some curmudgeons on there who are quite vocal in their dismissal of rules and game manufacturers.  Sometimes this is because of the business practices of the companies in question (i.e. Games Workshop & Battlefront to name two) and sometimes it’s because of perceived issues with the rules set that make those sets not worthy of consideration by ‘serious’ wargamers (whatever that means).

One of the more interesting things about the miniatures gaming hobby is that is it multi-faceted, and because of that different people get their enjoyment of the hobby from the different aspects of it.   Some people enjoy doing in-depth historical research and attempting to recreate events on the tabletop as accurately as possible.  Others enjoy the aesthetic pleasure they get from well-painted miniatures and nice-looking terrain.  Then there are those who really enjoy the tactics and decision-making processes.   There are also those people who simply enjoy rolling dice and killing things.  Finally, there are those people who really enjoy arguing… these folks can be subdivided into rules lawyers and anoraks… and I think I find the anoraks most annoying.   Anyone whose first reaction on seeing someone else’s newly-painted figures is to point out that the cuffs aren’t the proper tone of green deserves to be have their ass kicked… but that’s just me.   

Anyway, the point is that different people get different things out of the hobby.  One of the things I constantly go back & forth on is whether it’s more important to follow one’s own muse and do exactly the periods, figure scales and rules that appeal most to them, or if it is more important to find a game that appeals to a group of other like-minded gamers.     I wonder sometimes about how smart it is to pursue a particular gaming project even if you suspect you might be the only one interested in painting or playing it.   

This problem has always been around, but it seems to have gotten worse for me personally in the last decade or two as the number of choices for gaming has increased dramatically.  I want to do Napoleonics.  Do I want to model brigade, divisional, corps, or army-level actions?  Do I want to use 6mm, 10mm, 15mm, 28mm or 40mm figures?  Which of the 40+ commercial rules sets available am I interested in looking at (at an average $30-$40 per)?   This is just for one period… no wonder it’s hard to find more than a few people interested in pursuing a common goal.

From what I can tell, if your main interest is in playing games with a larger group of people, you’re pretty much forced into one of the tournament-oriented games out there.   I include in this list the GW games (both fantasy and 40K), Flames of War, 15mm ancients (used to be DBM; nowappears to be Field of Glory), and possibly WarMachine.   All of these games revolve around points-based armies though you can choose to not use balanced forces.   These games have drawbacks, of course, and plenty of people don’t care for one or all of them.  At the same time, the recently-completed 40K tournament at Con of the North attracted 28 players, and that’s a fraction of the people playing the game locally.    

I have a small group of people that I play WarMachine with on an irregular basis.  Warmachine as a game is OK… nothing great IMO but not terrible either.  The people I play with are great, though, so I play.  If they played Warhammer instead I would probably build at least a small army for that game as well.   If I only played games I was very interested in, I’d never see them.

To sum up, I’m curious to know what’s more important for gamers?  Playing exactly what you want to play, or finding a decent compromise that allows you to socially interact with more people?  

There is no ‘right’ answer, of course.  I’m just wondering how many other people have this issue pop up and what sort of compromises (if any) they make.

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2 Responses to “What’s More Important?”


  1. 1 Joe Knight February 16, 2009 at 12:30 pm

    I’ve had pretty bad luck with gaming groups developing personality conflicts and dying off. So I’m left still getting along with everyone and not being able to invite certain people based on which other people are coming.

    That, I decided about 2 years ago, is in my past. I will play the games I like/want to play, and if people chose not to join in based an the attendance of others that are playing… that’s on them.

    I’m pretty open to most games. I fall into two catergories of your classification system. Historial research and Tactics are what really draw me to wargaming. (This is of course assuming that getting together with good friends is a prerequisite.) I love to see a plan come together… or equally so I love wrecking the enemy’s plan beyond recognition. 🙂 I like to put up the stiff defense beyond the odds, and offensively sweep aside the opposition like wheat. Whether I’m on the winning side of a particular engagement or not is fine with me, because I think there are things to accomplish in almost every gaming situation.

    I’ve come to rest in a pretty comfortable spot in that if I come across a very undesirable player (for whatever reason) I can be graciously easy going to the conclusion our game and then never be bother by them again.

    There are rulesets that I’ve either: 1) Just found unenjoyable (Empire, Babylon 5, BFG) or 2) Burned out on. (Battletech, Warmaster) These I would probably not play a game in, no matter the crowd.

    -Joe

  2. 2 Sigmar February 16, 2009 at 12:55 pm

    note sure if my post went through so here goes again…

    I play for two principal reasons:-

    1) I enjoy the army selection and tactical preparation. Followed of course by trying to outwit my opponent on the battlefield but most of all…

    2) I enjoy the social aspect of the game and having a chat about something which, in the final analysis, is totally detached from reality and quite inconsequential. It doesn’t really matter if I win or lose it’s just a nice break from day to day life.

    There is one other thing…. I’m a bit addicted to dice rolling but don’t tell anyone 😉 (I have been known to take units, usually artillery like the Warhammer Helblaster Volley gun purely because of the number of dice I get to shake 🙂

    I enojyed your post, it was a different read for a gaming blog and interesting. I’ll be back.

    Sigmar
    battlereporter.blogspot.com (my Warhammer blog)
    2d6.blogspot.com (my Warhammer battle reports hub)
    naut1.blogspot.com (my Nautican Warhammer army)


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