Monday, September 9, 2013

Taking a Hobb-bitical and Musing Away

Well, since I'm stuck at home today in a temporary cavern as the exterior of the house gets a new paint job, I thought I'd spend a few minutes, or more, musing about my personal take on this fine little hobby of ours.

The great question that has been roaming around within my imagination is just what kind of gaming is it that I do?  

I take history first because I've never really been into the whole fantasy, science-fiction, board game realm (I've dabbled a little in each and just not moved by any of those activities - though I recognize they are popular elements).  With history I have a solid footing upon which to build my gaming world, even if I choose to deviate from history to a greater or lesser degree.

But I also bring fiction into the mix, and bring it strong and hard.    Now, generally, I'm not a follower of the alternative history movement that exists, either as a reader or a gamer, not entirely.  I do have one period that might, sort of, fall into that category.  But not really.  For me, the leading benefit of fictional gaming is that it completely avoids the problem of players knowing the history of a particular battle and thus already knowing how they can achieve or avoid what happened in the real battle - or so they hope.  And then there is all that chatter that sometimes comes under the rubric of 'learned pedantry' and sometimes not so learned but very pedantic (and occasionally I've been guilty of the latter, I'd bet).

Then I bring an adventure element where players can have at least one figure - or stand of figures -  to represent them personally within the game.  Role playing, you say?  No, not so much, though players are encouraged to play the role of the character if they desire.  It's more giving the players a personal stake in the outcome without the endless hours of debate that role playing seems to be.

So, history, fiction, and adventure.  But what is that?  I call it Historical Adventure Gaming, or HAG for short.  And certainly this is no great new discovery.  Others have been pathfinders in this realm, most notably Howard Whitehouse.  I'm just looking to stake my own claim on my own little corner of gaming with historical miniatures.

Unlike so many military gamers, I work to create a world in which the soldiers do battle, not just an "antiseptic" battlefield where all that happens is the war action of the moment.  I like to populate my games with plenty of civilians and flora and fauna.  And, sure, most wildlife will head rapidly for the hills in the real world once gunfire erupts.  But I just like the ambiance provided by having appropriate creatures roaming about.  That's why I have so many animals for Africa.  You just can't say 'savannah' with a few beasts.  And civilians can give one side or the other, or both, an objective to protect from harm - or make an objective for capture (or worse).

The real trick is having supremely simple rules that allow this environment to function on the table and to find other players who are sympathetic towards my goal.  Enthusiastic adherents would be a great bonus.

Let's bring in that other great element that colors most gamers approach, even though there are some that might not admit how strong the influence is on them.  And that is Hollywood.  While I read lots of history books, I'd guess I have about sixty linear feet of such on my personal bookshelves, I admit to getting greater inspiration from the movies, and not just 'good' movies.  If they are period history movies with some battle aspects - and not complete trash, I do have standards! - then I'm happy to find inspiration from that source.

I guess that's enough musing for this moment.  If anyone who reads this and has some ideas to share, please do so via email -  But keep in mind that I don't do individually based figure gaming.  All my figures get based in threes.

Okay, I guess one more musing topic.  While I sometimes play in skirmish games, and enjoy them, they are not as enjoyable for me as when the game involves formed troops maneuvering into position to offer battle.  Just more fun for me - and more of a challenge.

Now I do have to run, there is a book at the local hobby shop, an Osprey, to pick up.  This hobby can be a lot of fun - when its not consternating!

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