26 May 2011

Inspiring e-mail

From time to time I recieve an email from a reader of the blog, asking me a question or two about a rule system or the specifics of some miniatures. Yesterday though I received an amazing letter from a reader that really meant a lot to me. It also contained a lot of stuff that many miniature wargamers will be familiar with as such I asked Jared, who sent me this letter, if it was OK to share it on the blog and he agreed.

So here it is;
"Greetings from abroad!

My name is Jared and I have a little story/rant to tell as a preamble to some questions about your gaming and subsequent gaming blog. Reply in your own time as I can understand that someone in, well really any other position than myself (more on that later), has a juggling act of responsibilities. Stuff on the plate. I look forward to any assistance to guide me on the way to the gaming experience I'm looking for, and regardless this is my chance to say my piece.

I have been in the hobby world, specifically roleplaying and tabletop gaming since I was 11, 12 years old. It has been a big part of my life, both looking up to older- and obviously more veteran gamers, and not merely as I'm sure you you can relate educating myself through the exploration of my imagination. I remember when I first got hooked, freshly moved to a new town, wandering the local hobby and toy/drug store. I found myself in the basement where a wall stretching the entire floor was filled with GW Warhammer blister packs. It seems a little trite now, being more "mature" and certainly more calloused, but to look at each little packet of hundreds and see a unique character in each, a different story waiting to be not told- but unleashed. 

It didn't take long for me to get into the game when I had the money. To make a long story short, here I am now with little to show for it, and I am specifically relating here to the miniature world of gaming, and not roleplaying. I have a horde of army figures that have been gathering dust, some old- some new, all what I see not necessarily as a waste- but as misguided effort. I realized a little late in the "game" perhaps GW is far too expensive and limiting for the type of fun, plain old fun, I want to be having; this brings me back to a childhood memory though, only reinforcing this new ethos of my mine. Growing up one of my best friends' dad was a hardcore gamer and hobby enthusiast. Piles of still unopened and factory sealed boxes on the shelves to act as a reserve to a feeding passion, a drive that seemed to be ancient and ceaseless. (Pardon the Lovecraftian turn there, it's not often I write letters.) I saw all of the Warhammer models, yes, but what always caught my eye where the other figurines. Dr. Who miniatures, before I knew who Dr. Who was - French colonial rank 'n' file riflemen - WWII German soldiers - Anything and everything all at once, and I have to say I had no direct interest in particular era or niche that was presented- and there were many. It was merely the range of possibility; limitless.

I hope this letter, email- meh, is engaging as I can see it is running a little long. I do not wish to take away any precious time, but all will become clear in time. Recently I was involved with an accident putting me in a wheelchair. It's not permanent, and it could of been a lot worse. I owe the fact I'll be walking again to some very special doctors out there. Stuck inside for coming on three months now, and with another three ahead I obviously turned to back to hobby-ing to keep from going stir crazy. Despite my best efforts, I am in fact a little stir crazy... At first it was hard- I couldn't sit up to work on the models and it quickly turned into a frustrating, not rewarding experience. Dropping too much money on more GW once again bit me in the ass. Next I looked for board games, something unique but with that tabletop twist. I dropped money on DUST Tactics, which I will not pander with any sense of lingering loyalties such as with Games Workshop- I felt my money was wasted. But it did have a positive push in the right direction. It leads me to Secrets of the 3rd Reich, and once again that limitless range of pulp figurines and fantastic tales. It’s been a while and I'm getting stronger every day, I find myself diving head first into this game and I'm loving every hurtling go of the way. I'm able to sit up all day and work and finding movies and fiction in between is a delight. My creativity is off the charts and I can't wait to get out there again and start running demo games at the local comic shop.

So here we are, me finding your blog, and reading it religiously everyday- even other game material, like Strange Aeons! (another bump in the right direction!) So here is my preemptive thanks. Thank you for helping me get through this mess of a year. Thanks for inspiring me to greater heights of gaming for what I know will be years to come. Consider me a fan, and hopefully our relationship will progress, in of course the way blogger and commenter relationships go. I'll have to let you know how my first game goes

Once again, thanks for the e-mail Jared. I'm always pleasantly surprised (and touched) when I hear that I have somehow inspired a fellow wargamer - just as I myself am inspired by others. I hope you were satisfied with the answers I wrote you, it was late when I wrote you back so I was a bit tired in the head. But you can always ask more stuff about SoTR either by leaving a comment or another e-mail.

If I had to explain my feelings about wargaming I would easily get overwhelmed as there is so much to tell. Being at a loss and uninspired sitting on a pile of unpainted miniatures is probably something every wargamer has been through. My first memory of buying miniatures was in a independent store selling warhammer. I had never heard about the game but I bought a box of dwarfs and one box of goblins for the sake of painting. I had a very short period of complete ignorance of what the game was about, merely focusing on painting the models up. This random collecting became more focused as I started to collect Dark Elves - but these models did not give me any played games just yet. It wasn't until a few years after that when I became really interested in wargaming, decided to give it a try and as WH40k and WHFB were the only games available I picked up on both and played for a couple of years.

The fun thing with that was that no one really guided me during the process, or warned me about the ridiculous amounts of time I would have to spend on painting the models (and all my armies ended fully painted). My active Warhammer years took me through some hard times, as my little film school venture ended up being a complete and highly depressing dud.  The painting of miniatures gave me something to focus on and provided me with a routine and probably saved me from just staring at the wall or watching daytime TV.

A couple of years went past and I started to grow bored of both GW games. WH40k died first, I was simply put off by the way the game played - I could never fully feel the appreciation for the game as such or feel any satisfaction from all the hours of painting when the game itself just felt so bad. I continued with WHFB for another year, but it was an intense period- painting 5000pts of Empire up, participating in a tournament, getting my ass kicked, playing probably 50-60 games during one year and in the end starting to feel the same way I felt about WH40k. It just wasn't worth my time, the buildup ended in anticlimax.

What happened then was that I was an inch from quitting wargaming altogether. Then I stumbled upon SoTR by pure coincidence. I think I was googling around for a WW2 skirmish game - pretty much the first time I actively searched for something else than a GW related product for wargaming. And I found SoTR, I think it had been released just a couple of months prior to me finding the game so I was in from the start you could say. I'm really grateful for Secrets of the Third Reich, it was the game that broadened my horizons and introduced me to my current gaming group where we all enjoy alternative gaming. It's crazy, all the projects that just exploded from that single game.

What I'm trying to say is, that wargaming is a complex hobby. It's enormously time consuming and requires social interaction with other people in order to enjoy it to full extent. There are so many factors that affect how you feel and how you experience the hobby - I don't think players generally think about it. When was the last time you thought "man I really love this set of rules, and I'm happy to have a group of friends to share this with me, and I enjoy painting this little metal models because everything about this feels just right!"

I'm pretty sure most if not all wargamers have had a first introduction to the hobby and played a game they might not play anymore as they grew bored of it. The trick is to find something that YOU really like - not necessarily something that is super popular among a lot of people - just enough to attract you and a few friends. Play a game on your terms rather than be forced into the hobby and one set of rules. Just because one game sucks doesn't mean that there aren't any games that could be to your liking, maybe the size of the game was too large and you really are a skirmish game player (or vice versa Napoleonic blocks of infantry). For these very reasons I for one could never go back to play any of the regular GW games as the format does not suit me at all, neither does the gaming culture surrounding those games.


  1. I agree completely: Do what works for you - its YOUR hobby! But remember, if you want your mates to try something new that you like, you have to be willing to do the same for them.

  2. Exactly. While you still have the choice to not start collecting and playing those games, do try to give them a go when you're given a demo opportunity. There is always a chance to be pleasantly surprised or inspired with something you can use for your “own” game.

  3. I have found that its less about what you play and more about who you play it with. That being said GW makes most of its games to attract a certain type of player that I typically do not end up enjoying gaming with (to competitive), which was how I got turned on to alternate games (some even GW). I think more than anything else its the friendships that are forged under fire, so to speak. That said...

    Jared, I hope you continue to have a speedy recover and enjoy your hobby time mean while. If you were in or around New Hampshire I would be happy to learn SoTR (im a big fan of pulp, especially of the Lovecraftian variety) and entertain you from time to time.

    Anatoli, I love your blog which I stumbled upon a while back looking for WWII related articles on terrain, etc for my Crossfire Omaha Beach table.

  4. This is one of the regular blogs I read through the TGN Network... I guess it has to do with the catchy titles :P

    Keep the good work... I will eventually invest on a second SotR army so I can play with one of my gaming club mates... got there through Incursion :)

  5. Hi all, Jared here. Thanks again for the shout out Anatoli!- I find it funny we had a very similar experience with SOTR. One of expanding horizons into a whole plethora of indie games.

    Sorry greymatterblues I wish, stuck out here in my own Private Idaho- odder than you think, actually ;). But thanks all the same. Though I'll be sure to let you know when I get my page up and running, chronicling the scene here. Giving you a look into what the game is like for a new player, a stark difference than our host's grasp of the system I'm sure.

    Before my 15 minutes are up I just want to give another thanks and that I know its all about community. Whether its a rivalry or a friendship- bringing people together under the same roof, simply to have fun and hopefully learn something new!

    The best to rest, be seeing you.

  6. Of my group I'm the weird one, I like zombie gaming, they don't, 2 games with them later and they loved it.

  7. The always turn once they get a taste of the brains? :D

  8. "The trick is to find something that YOU really like - not necessarily something that is super popular among a lot of people"

    this is my sentimetn, exactly. i know i wont play any games of my most beloved projects but i dont care. the planning, painting and building is enough. if i get a game in ill be thrilled:)

  9. @Widgren, I'm up for trying out that modular cavern table you've built for Strange Aeons and the modern warfare game during the summer break from school ;-)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...