Monday, June 11, 2018

Getting Started with Miniature Wargaming (Organic Growth)

Hey Game Fans, we’re back to talk about one of the aspects of our community that i really enjoy. Building a community that supports and encourages game play is a fantastic thing and can pop up for any type of game. Leagues, gaming clubs, Historical Societies all lend themselves to providing opportunities and access to gaming spaces and materials. Some game companies are very hip to this and go out of their way to provide agents who can demo games, visit stores and conventions and serve as brand ambassadors to represent the fun and the activity that goes into the various aspects of the game. We’ll talk about those a little later, today we’re going to focus on the organic growth of a gaming club and how these things can bloom into fun.

Hobby game stores continue to be the primary point of contact for most of the folks getting into a wargaming hobby, but the internet is rapidly changing that. For many years, the Friendly Local Game Store was the first place a person could interact with the hobby of wargames, and that was neat. I remember walking into Hobby Haven in Kansas City as a wee lad and staring at the cases full of finely painted miniatures. I had no idea what they were for, but wow did they look cool.

I first got in the hobby in college, and my old friend Uriah asked if i wanted to play a game of Clan War. I didn’t know what that was, but i was up for the option, so i said sure. I had no idea what i was doing, but i got to push tiny metal fighting mans around a table and try and to beat up some snake people. I had fun, he had fun teaching me, and i never forgot how much fun that was.

Flash forward a couple of years and i picked up Warhammer 40,000 because the college group i was hanging out with started picking it up. I played space marines because they were easy to paint and i had a lot of fun with it. I drifted away from the hobby for a while, but then one day some kids at a club meeting asked me if i knew anything about the game. I said sure and started talking with them about it.

That started a run of heavy game play through the height of fifth edition and into the early days of 6th edition where we traveled to tournaments, hosted game days, and even ran some apocalypse games. It was good fun for everyone (I Hope), and we started cycling into different games and things.

Organic development of a miniature gaming group requires a couple of things. First, it requires interest and curiosity. It’s a big hobby world and there are tons of different things you can do with it, but having that initial spark of interest is what’s going to drive that group to try out the game and dive into all those parts.

Second, it requires some space. The tables and the minis and the paints and the tools take up some real estate and planning ahead for that means you’re not having to scramble to find a place to put that brand new Daemon Primarch while you’re not working on him. Planning ahead means you have far fewer incidents of a curious cat bringing down a brand new stormraven gunship that’s drying on it’s last coat of shade.

Third, you have to realize that this activity has three components...three pillars that the entire thing rests on, and that different folks are going to get different things out of it. Hobbying (which is the assembling and painting of your tiny plastic fighting mans) Loring (which is all the reading and the rich setting that goes along with your tiny plastic fighting mans) and Playing (the game where you and your tiny plastic fighting mans try to take stuff from your friend’s tiny plastic fighting mans) all reach different people in different ways and that’s a lot of fun. Figuring out what you get out of the hobby is a key thing to figuring out how to maximize your fun.

This hobby does require an investment of capital that may be off putting to some. I understand that, and i understand you may not want to take that financial plunge until you’ve tried the game and figured out if you like. Gaming clubs and communities are ideal for situations like this. You can ask questions, get tips, and try out a practice game to see what you like about the game and what you don’t. Once you’ve tried it a few times, you can make a reasonably informed decision about what you want to do with your time and your money.

If you’re curious about a specific game or a specific faction within a game, the internet has given us a golden opportunity to connect with each other and interact. Forums, Blogs, Gaming news sites all have tons of contributors and collaborators who can give you information. Youtube is full of channels that showcase different games, different armies, and even different painting styles. You can even shop online (if you want to) and order from the manufacturer directly.

The community is big and broad enough to support growth and development of individual gaming groups, and the one that i chuckle about the most right now is the community at Hyper RPG. Someone (Probably Scott Rubin) was asked a question about Warhammer and that ignited the spark of that initial curiosity, and i am delighted that it seems to have caught on around the studio. It looks like we’re going to have a Warhammer 40,000 show that features some Role-playing sections to go along with the tabletop gaming experience. I think it’s going to look similar to how some of the Death From Above scenarios played out, but i am not sure. I am sure that it will be fun to watch, and i am sure that Chunk from Perception Check (another show on the Hyper RPG broadcast family) needs to be playing. It’s going to be neat to watch how this group grows into the game and the fun they have with it. I for one can not wait to see what develops from this mischief.

Also, don’t be difficult to new players. This should go without saying, but if you’re a dick to new players, you’re going to run out of players to play with. We all started as new players once and either learned the super hard way to do it ourselves or had someone who was nice enough to show us the ropes. I’m usually up for trying to help some new folks figure out what’s going on, it makes our hobby bigger, and brighter, and full of new folks that we get to play games with.

That’s it for us for now, but if you want more content like this, let me know on the blog or over on twitter. Later Game Fans.

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