Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Opinion Piece: What the Hobby Is to Me

I did a post a while back about non-Competitive play, that got some attention.

It shook me up a bit, to be honest. I've had a bit of trouble actually setting pen to paper (so to speak) since. Call it writer's block. So I figured I'd deal with something that lies at the very foundation of this blog, and my hobby on the whole.

This is a post - insert drum roll and dramatic thunder - what the Hobby (yes, capital 'H') is to me.

This will inevitably be one of those 'sub-heading posts'.

I will split the hobby into manageable bits. They're nothing revolutionary. It's all been done before.

Let't get to it.

The 'Hobby'
So, what's the hobby? A lot of things, actually. It's the games, obviously (or not, to some people. I'm not one of them). Whether we're talking about a Warhammer variant, WarmaHordes, Blood Bowl or even (gasp! Blasphemy!) the Game of Thrones card game, the Hobby as  I know it has at its centre a number of games. Without them, I would not personally have the motivation for long to deal with any of the other aspects.

It's also, however, the modelling and painting, the terrain making, the background stories, the lengthy discussions, and a lot of things that seem, at first (and maybe second) glance to be unconnected to the games.

Lately, it's also this blog.

The Games
You might know it by now, but I'm a casual gamer. I play down at the club, with no aspirations for greater glories. This does not mean that I will not give you my very best when we face each other across the table. What it means is that while I will try to win my games, this isn't why I play. Which doesn't prevent me from hating losing.

With that out of the way, I've always played mostly Games Workshop games. The Warhammer siblings, Blood Bowl, a pre-club wander into Necromunda. I have dabbled in Secrets of the Third Reich (I've got a bundle of Nazis in a bag) and occasionally play the above mentioned (abomination!) card game. Lately, I've also clocked a lot of hours on WarmaHordes.

The games (except the card game) serve as a focus for the rest. It's why I paint models, it's why I build terrain. You get the jist. However, they have an appeal of their own.

Anyone who's rifled through these archives will tell you I'm a bit hung up on rules. I don't know why, but I learn rules quickly, and am generally the go-to guy when rules questions arise. I'm not always right (gasp!) but I do my best, and like to think I help people to learn. I also like proving that a rule says one thing, where the Internet thinks it says something else - if only to myself. And poking the holes in the rules.

But most of all, it's fun to put little painted plastic or metal soldiers on a field and fighting battles with them, a rulebook and copious amounts of dice rolling.

The Models
If you'd have asked me a few years ago whether I liked painting the models for the games I play, I'd probably have shrugged and given a non-committal kind of answer. Probably accompanied by a shrug. I always considered myself a modeller first, a gamer second and a painter a distant third.

The club helped immensely with this, forcing (or at least encouraging) me to paint the models I was going to play with. It's one thing fielding plastic grey Space Marines on the living room floor, quite another to field those same guys on a fully terrained, dedicated gaming table. Nowadays, it bugs me to play with unfinished models.

So, I do a lot of painting. Like any member of our Hobby will. I generally reserve my modelling (beyond the actual assembly and cleaning up of the models) for special projects.

I'm still very proud of my all-Greenstuff Great Unclean One, though...

The Background
This one's taken a bit of a backseat lately. Mostly 'cause, frankly, Privateer hasn't got the background GW does. And since GW has taken a back seat...

Nonetheless, Background (fluff!) is important. If it wasn't for it, there would be much less appeal to the battles we fight, I think. Part of it is built straight into the models themselves. You can tell if a model belongs in one of the Warhammer universes, can't you? Thought so.

Part of it has found its way into the common knowledge of the community. Every gamer this side of historic wargames will recognize a Space Marine, and can probably separate different varieties. Every GW gamer (and quite a few of the others, too, I suspect) knows that the Emperor Protects. Once you start a discussion with one of the true devotees, you could probably manage deep philosophical debates on the nature of ptera squirrels, or whatever.

For me, the background tells me a lot about how to play, to be honest. Should I do the tactical retreat, or would my Ork Warboss prefer a ridiculously risky assault? It also lets me know the story of any named character I am using. One of the benefits of having named characters (and this is particularly obvious in WarmaHordes, where you must have one) is the story that come with them. It is one thing to have two generic Space Marine Captains whacking each other across the face with their store brand power weapons, quite another to have Madrak Ironhide (no relation to Grimgor of the same name) throw a seriously ticked-off Rathrok at Ashlynn de'Lyse's elf-like form in the distance.

The rest
Let's face it, a good community might be built around a game, but it becomes more than that. While a lot of the talk around the game tables is, understandably, game related, a lot of it isn't. Occasionally, this talk will drift so far off topic the guys actually playing get annoyed with it.

I've spent idle hours talking politics and philosophy over a half-forgotten terrain project.

And don't get me started on the ringside banter.

All in all, I've made a bundle of friends through my addiction to plastic (and metal) over these last few years. While some of the guys at the club are perhaps best described as shallow acquaintances, I spend hours and hours each week with some of the regulars. Over something entirely voluntary.

And finally, the end
So, that's what the Hobby is to me. An ill-defined blob of different things. Of course this isn't an exhaustive essay on the topic; it's a blog post. But maybe this'll tell you where I'm coming from.

That'll be it for now. 

Let 's  hope the writer's block recedes.


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