Tuesday, 22 October 2013

The Worst Part Is: Sprue Cutters Union #14

Welcome wargamers and hobbyists, to my fourteenth Sprue Cutters Union blog post. This week, the Union has called upon its members to discuss the very worst thing about the hobby, the thing that we despise having to do, and hate with a passion. Now these are all strong words considering that this is just a miniature modelling hobby, but the question remains...  
- What do you think is the worst part of the hobby? -  
Now then, given that the Sprue Cutters Union is centred around the hobby of assembling and painting miniatures of various kinds, I will resist the temptation to talk about the elements of the wargaming hobby I have varying degrees of issue with, like hard core tournament play, glory hogging and the unrelenting climb of the cost of the hobby. I could go on for quite some time. No, instead, I will talk about the two things I like doing the least within the modelling side of the hobby:  
1. Wargaming Triage  
Wargaming Triage is the term I use to describe the never ending task of carrying out reconstructive surgery on models that have become damaged, either in transit to or from a gaming location, or during an overzealous assault during a battle, or simply through the momentary cessation of communications between a person’s hands and their brain, commonly known (by me) as ‘oafing’, which often results in varying combinations of breakage and salvos of atrocious language.  
Damaged models is typically one of those things I can't abide. I have to at least know and understand the extent of any damage, and verify that all the components of a miniature are present before I can rest easy.
The three sounds I always dread hearing in the middle of the night are:  
- Our son stirring from sound slumber.  
- Sounds which may or may not be an intruder in the house.  
- The sound of a model (or worse, box of models!) oafed over by the cats onto the floor.  
When I hear the third sound, no matter the time of the night, I can't go back to sleep until I have at least investigated, and often shed a few tears of anguish at the repair job ahead. Tragic. It's not the repairing itself I hate, because I have become quite adept at this necessary skill, it's the knowledge of all the hard work that has gone into a model to see it dashed into several sorry pieces. Some, like my lovingly converted Daemon Prince of Slaanesh, are never quite the same again.  
2. Painting units worthy of the term 'humungous'  
It's not that I dislike painting, because I do enjoy it, but for me at least, it is secondary to the gaming. Two fully painted armies doing battle across a mist shrouded field is a truly inspiring sight. Two armies sporting the latest shades of 'bare plastic grey' and 'bare metal silver', much less so.  
I keep telling myself that I am actually pretty happy that I didn't really start painting in earnest until a couple of years ago, because it means that the majority of my miniatures are painted to a fair standard, or at least much better than they would have been if I had painted the bulk of them as a wet behind the ears painting novice in my early teens. This is a good thing.  
The boggle is (points to anyone that gets that film reference!), I have accumulated so many models in my twenty years in the hobby, I have a truly mammoth task ahead of me, which is compounded each Christmas and Birthday that rolls around, and my collection of unpainted minis is added to. The time it will take to complete the paint job on even a single army is what has me crying into my palette, not the painting itself. I guess I just need to pull my belt up, get my head down, and paint for all I am worth until the job is done. #firstworldproblems?  
So I guess I need to choose between these two bugbears, so...
Winnner of 'most hated task 2013' goes to...Triage! It had to be the repairs really, because painting is a positive action, where as piecing together smashed and broken models is down right depressing.
If you would like to read posts on this same topic by other Union Members, click on the links below. We are a varied bunch, and you will get a slightly different take on any topic from each member, so all are worth a read. Who knows, maybe we will inspire you to join the Union. All you need is a blog, a passion for the miniature modelling hobby, and to click here for the details describing how to join.
The Combat Workshop Thread Hub - links will be added here as Members post them
As always, thanks for reading...  

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Necromunda: Welcome to The Placids

Welcome wargamers. My esteemed club compatriot, Nick, over at the Burning Eye blog, is in the process of embarking on a foray into the Underhive on something of a Necromunda revival. Being as these games are outside the club gaming group, I don't feel like I'm trying to take over his bandwagon by posting some fluff I wrote a couple of years ago for the previous club I attended, to give us some context to our games.
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to The Placids...



The Placids - Necromunda Hive Primus
Underhive Guidebook
The Placids is an area of the Underhive which is well and truly on the borderland between the Underhive and the long dark of the sump. The recent discovery of a number of untapped ore caverns and tech tombs, following a series of minor Hive Quakes in 997. M41, has led to something of a boom for this once shunned zone, as traders, Guilders, guns for hire and worse flock to the Placids in search of their fortune and, ultimately, their ticket to Hive City.
Several new settlements have sprung up, almost overnight it seems, and all the human detritus associated with a frontier town has followed, from the synth bars and brothels, to the workshops and slums, and as the uphive authorities are yet to establish a presence in the area, the law of the gun and the knife still prevail. Lets strap on our armour and flick our safeties off as we head into the Placids to take a closer look. Try not to look anyone dead in the eye, or if you can't help it, make sure you look damn mean! 

Heavenly Heights

‘The Placids' main town and first port of call for newcomers looking to stake a claim on the rich but risky pickings in the area, Heavenly Heights is the longest established and most developed of the Placids various settlements. The many bars, workshops and stores at Heavenly Heights make this town a thriving centre of activity, where someone could easily disappear, either deliberately or by ‘accident'. Gangs find unsuspecting marks on every street corner in Heavenly Heights, as they prey on those freshly arrived in town who have yet to learn who is in charge down here.
'Fresh meat' learn the rules pretty quick out here on the frontier, if they want to survive life in The Placids. Heavenly Heights also boasts the largest fighting pit for leagues in any direction, and some gangs specialise in providing fresh meat to Krank & Son's, who own the arena. Many are the newcomers to Heavenly Heights who have wandered down the wrong alley, only to wake up and find themselves locked in a cell under the pit alongside some truly unsavoury individuals, some more battle-borg than man. 

Sweet Street 

Sweet Street is the most notorious street in Heavenly Heights, and is the preferred hang out of many of the local gangs. This may be because it is the town's main centre of vice, and in Heavenly Heights, that's saying something. Every single building on Sweet Street is either a drinking house, a cat house or a Spook lounge, and some do all three. It is reputed that there is nothing that can't be obtained on Sweet Street, no pleasure that cannot be fulfilled, for the right price. It is even rumoured that the stories of Sweet Street have spread as far as the Spire, high above the Hive City, and that young nobles have paid visits to even the worst reputed holes on Sweet Street, disguised and accompanied by armed guards of course, though there is no evidence to support this and the rumours are strongly refuted by the authorities.
Sweet Street sees some of the worst violence in The Placids, as business owners invest heavily in security, and it's not uncommon for a dissatisfied patron, drunk on Wildsnake and high on Spook, to need to be taught to respect the House Rules. Feuds between businesses owned by rival gangs have seen many gunfights fought across the street and some businesses completely destroyed. This is not a place for anyone with a weak constitution. 

The Emporium 

Heavenly Heights has a large and chaotic trade quarter known as ‘The Emporium', and it is the most disorganised and labyrinthine mess of narrow alleys and multi level buildings of every description that you could possibly imagine. Of all the places in Heavenly Heights, the Emporium is the easiest place for a person to get completely lost unintentionally. Here there are stores of every kind, from guns smiths to food sellers to specialist tech traders to pet stores trading in the most unusual creatures you have ever seen. The centuries of pollution and toxic contamination trickling down through the mighty hive all the way down to the Underhive has given rise to mutated creatures of every description, some all teeth and bad temper which make great ‘guard-tooths', and others which are just downright disgusting.
Anyone who ever needs to obtain something especially rare or prohibited, or equally to get rid of such things, can find the right place somewhere in the Emporium, and for those in the know, the mess and tangle of the winding and criss-crossing ways is a map that can be read by certain signs, and there are treasures hidden in the multitudinous nooks and hidey holes that even their own owners have forgotten about. 

The Slip 

An unstable mountain of scree, metal mulch and general debris, which falls from waste chutes hundreds of meters above which come from the huge industrial sites at the base of the Hive City proper. A lucrative sideline in scrap items retrieved from The Slip has grown up around the mounds of refuse, for those who can find people stupid enough to brave the treacherous slopes to retrieve it for them!
The habit that has developed of gang members throwing enemy gangers off the top of the south side of this treacherous mountain, which is the most dangerous side, and in some areas is just a mass of sharp and twisted metal, has been dubbed ‘Giving someone the Slip', and frequently results in serious and even fatal injuries. 

The Steamers 

Throughout this whole area there are rich harvests of nutritious algae and fungi to be had. Unfortunately, this is due to the warm and moist conditions which prevail thanks to the presence of dozens of large and ancient steam release flues from a huge geothermal power generator below the surface of the ground. One wrong move and a person could be broiled alive by the random release of superheated steam, which no one thinks would be a pleasant way to go. 

Rook's Town 

Rook's Town is the last trade post before the toxic expanse of the Sump. This is where Gangs shop for essentials, where rumours of newly discovered riches are born, and Outlaws from the wrong side of the line conduct their affairs, though they never stay in town long enough to alert the authorities. Maybe just long enough to start some trouble though. The stores are not as grand or comprehensive here as those at Heavenly Heights, but all the important stuff can be found, like guns and ammo and spare parts for O-filters.
Rook's Town is also the place where rare tech finds discovered down below first see the dim light of what passes for day down in The Placids, and so there are many interested eyes in Rook's Town that are on the lookout for something ‘special', trawling the Techmeisters and  Guild Brokers for any jewels in the junk. Needless to say, such establishments are fortified and guarded by hired thugs and vicious guard hounds, so it's either a very foolish or very well armed gang that would try their luck. 


The ramshackle settlement of Tumbledown is where those who have reached the bottom rung of the ladder and dropped clean off end up. Only the dispossessed, the mad and the mutated make their homes here, because it's location is highly unstable, and minor tremors are commonplace in Tumbledown, causing the poorly constructed and ill maintained hovels to shake and ‘tumble down'.
The only cause anyone else has to come down here is if they are on the run from the law, from bounty hunters or from the Redemptionists, as a person can usually only be found in alleys and rat runs of Tumbledown if they want to be found. One thing that Tumbledown has accumulated an increasing number of mutants, and it may only be a matter of time before they decide they want to move to somewhere with a better postal code.   


Deadend is a small outpost on the edge of a vast pit, and is the home of the Last Chance Saloon. There is nowhere to go after Deadend except down into the depths, where some choose to go, either to escape the law or to explore in search of untapped ore wells or tech tombs. Some of these expeditions actually return, though most empty handed and most do not return at all.
Occasionally a single survivor, ragged and bloody, will stumble from the darkness, raving about some terrible beast that haunts the deep places beyond the frontier, though most know well enough that the noxious fumes in the depths can cause vivid and terrifying hallucinations and the claims are considered nothing more than the fevered ravings of unhinged and dehydrated fools. Despite the bite marks.  

The Underspire

At the centre of the ‘Frying Pan' behind a high wall, defended by armed guards and razor wire, is the Underspire. This is the home of the Guild down here in The Placids. In The Placids, just like everywhere else in the Underhive, the Guild are a very influential part of society, controlling much of the movement of wealth in all its forms, and enforcing it's will with any means necessary. All new clams are, or should, be registered with the Guild, and it is the Guild that controls the movement of money and bulk goods from Hive City proper down into the Underhive and back.
The battle for survival in the Underhive is fought as much against the greed of the Guilders as against the inherent dangers of living in such an inhospitable place, and the fickle and self serving favour of the Guild can decide the fate of a person or a family or even a whole settlement as surely as a bullet. It is a very foolish or a very brave individual that does not pay the Guild it's due.

The Frying Pan

The Underspire towers high out of the centre of a waste area known as ‘The Frying Pan'. This area is essentially a plain made up of layers of granular silicate waste, which, due to the surrounding metals and the heavy magnetic properties of hidden ore seams below the surface, is constantly building up a charge of static electricity. This is far more dangerous that a simple snap or a minor shock. Due to the unique properties of The Frying Pan, discharges have been measured in the thousands of volts, and one wrong move out here can see a man blasted to hunks of charred flesh and fused metal in an instant.
The Guild have chosen this natural phenomenon as the location of their Underspire due to the deterrent presented by this formidable defence. The Guilders themselves have nothing to fear, usually anyway, as they travel across the plain aboard specially earthed hover sleds, which are designed to repel the static build up and allow them to cross The Frying Pan unhindered. Many have tried to cross by various means, tempted by the promise of wealth contained within the Underspire, but few have succeeded.

Down Below


In The Placids, ‘Down Below' means just that. The entire region is on the very edge of the Sump, and is one of the deepest areas of Underhive, and everything below The Placids is a dangerous wasteland that is almost entirely unmapped and unexplored. Old maps and schematics are useless, as Hive Quakes and Tremors cause the terrain to alter, sometimes becoming unrecognisable, and old tunnels and shafts become blocked or flooded.
If The Placids are on the Frontier, then Down Below is the darkness of the unknown void beyond. Some set off on expeditions Down Below in search of wealth or ore seams, but many find nothing but chem pits and mutants. Some do return with riches beyond their wildest dreams, so there are always those greedy or desperate enough to try their luck, but no-one would even consider attempting to settle Down Below, because they are entirely untamed and no one knows what may lurk in the darkness beyond the frontier. Once you're Down Below, you have all the ‘safety' and ‘comforts' of The Placids behind. Let's just hope it's not for good.

Daemon Falls


High, high above the Underhive, in the uppermost hab areas of the wealthy and powerful, there was an outflow pipe which carried all of the putrid, toxic filth and effluent of the Golden Spire district away and out of the side of the outer wall of Necromunda Hive. One day, Lord Gilderoy of House Ran Lo decided that to have the outflow exit less than one thousand yards away from his pleasure pad was too much to bear, and once his voice was raised in mild annoyance, the voices of all the other nobles of the Golden Spire district were added to his, and over the next five years, and at great expense in both money and the lives of the unfortunate engineers and labourers directed to the task, the entire waste flow was redirected down, down and yet still further down, until it exited somewhere inconsequential.
Unfortunately, that somewhere was at the very edge of The Placids, where a mighty torrent of sludge of a colour and aroma that utterly defy description, thunder down into a lake of excremental insanity. These are known as the Daemon Falls, mainly because of the smell, but also, and unknown to most right thinking citizens of The Placids, because the unique properties of the foul waste matter combined with the life extending regenerative baths that the nobles of the Golden Spire deludedly spend their wealth on, have given birth to something truly vile in the depths of that lake. It is not unknown for the foul sludge to vomit forth plague ridden corpses, which stumble around in a horrid semblance of life, giant mutated beasts, and even the spawn of Father Nurgle himself. No wonder the Daemon Falls aren't on the tour listings. 

Titan Station


Titan Station. Probably the closest thing The Placids has yet seen by way of civilization. Titan Station is the main arterial transit route between the Underhive areas of The Placids, and the higher regions of Underhive and the Hive City itself, and as such is the bottleneck at which the Law has chosen to exert its authority.
The Enforcers of Hive Necromunda, in conjunction with the Guilders, attempt to control the movement of both goods and people through Titan Station, giving both themselves and the populace a watered down notion of security and Hive authority, and allowing the Guilders to use exorbitant travel taxes to both increase their wealth and prevent those undesirables with insufficient funds from ever leaving the Underhive. In this way, they ensure that the wealth of those who have succeeded in bettering their position in the universe through backbreaking toil in the face of innumerable dangers is channelled up hive and into the hands of the Guild, while the downtrodden masses are kept firmly in the depths where they belong, by the authority of the shot cannon and the suppression maul.
The power of the Law may be almost mythical in the deeper areas of the Underhive, but at Titan Station, flaunt it at your direst peril.

Final Few Words

Now that you have been given the grand tour of The Placids, you are almost ready to venture out on your own. Don't forget the Rules of The Underhive. Never start a fight that you can't be sure of winning, never set foot outside the reach of the glow globes, and never drink out of a an unlabeled bottle, because there's no knowing where you might end up, or what you might be missing when and if you wake up! The very best of luck to you - you'll need it!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Preparation: Sprue Cutters Union #13

Welcome fellow wargamers and hobbyists. This week, we find ourselves in my 'shake out' room. This is where I come to clear my head, shake out all the niggles and cricks in my joints, and stretch out those painting and modelling muscles, before I dive into starting a new project. Go on, shake out those joints! Excuse me one moment while I put on some relaxing underwater sounds...
This week, the Sprue Cutters Union has been asked to talk about how we prepare for a new build. What are your pre-build rituals that must be accomplished before you cut the first piece off the sprue?
- How do you prepare for your next build? -
Ok then, let’s start by noting a few things I don't do: I don't sacrifice any small animals, I don't carve a notch into my hobby knife handle with a machete, and I don't put on elbow length red velvet gloves. The cats are too hard to catch, my hobby knife had a steel grip, and the gloves are for Saturday nights only. As a wargamer though, what I do have to consider is one of the great things about many wargaming model kits - options!
Almost every wargaming model kit for any of the games I play comes with options both for how you want the models to appear aesthetically, and how you would like the models to be equipped 'in game', from multiple heavy gun options for tanks in 40K, to choosing between hand weapon and shield combinations, spears or halberds in Warhammer, which is just the tip of the iceberg.
So, when I'm ready to build a new unit or model, I check through the army list entry and decide what role I need the unit to fill, select the most appropriate equipment for the unit, then get building!
I guess the most involved prep I have ever had to do for a build is for my Mortis Engine for my Warhammer Vampire Counts army. The kit can be assembled as either the Mortis Engine (a diabolical carriage housing the cursed remains of a powerful practitioner of the darkest arts), or as the Coven Throne (an opulent mount for a Vampire Lady and her entourage).
I wanted to be able to use the kit as either of the two models, which required the purchasing of some rare earth magnets to allow me to make key components interchangeable (and therefore allow me to reconfigure the model), and also the acquisition of some advice on how best to achieve the result I wanted. I obtained both before I even started the build, and in the end, the careful preparation paid off.
So I guess that's it: decide what role the unit will fill, and build the kit with the appropriate equipment.
If you would like to read more articles on this same topic, please check the links below to posts by other Union Members on this same topic, and get an idea of their own unique points of view.
Sven Harjacek Scale Models - New to the Union!
And finally, if you have a blog, a passion for miniature modelling, and would like to join the Sprue Cutters Union (#spruecutters), then look here to find out how to become a member.
As always, thank you for reading...

Friday, 11 October 2013

What you like: Sprue Cutters Union #12

Greetings wargamers and hobbyists, and welcome once more to my humble hearth.
Thank you for joining me for the Sprue Cutters Union weekly topic number #12.

The Sprue Cutters Union, guided by the steady hand of Jon B over at the Combat Workshop, continues to grow. This week, in a contrast with an early topic asking what models or kits will never find their way onto our work benches, the Union members have been asked to comment on the models and kits we like to collect and assemble. Therefore, this week's topic driver is:

- What do you like to build? -

So, as you might expect, as a wargamer, again my answer could be quite different to that of my scale model building Union comrades. Playing games like Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000, there are various things which influence which models you collect, when you are collecting for the purposes of playing tabletop wargames with your collection. It's not (at least in my case) just a question of which models you like the look of, because you buy models to serve a purpose. It is also significant that in most cases, armies contain multiple different types of units, from single impressive character models riding monsters, to large blocks of infantry in Warhammer, right through to bikers, tanks and aircraft in Warhammer 40,000, so it's not even as simple as selecting a 'type of unit', unless you were going to break it down significantly to a unit vs unit decision.

I have never been able to look at my collection of models as individual models or units. Everything belongs somewhere, and in many cases, are critical components in a wider force, and the rest of the collection cannot function as a gaming resource without them. Rules must be obeyed.

Another important consideration for me is that I have never been able to separate my model collections from the in-game background material that accompanies them. When you are a (balanced or hobby) player of tabletop wargames, your choice of which models or armies to collect is typically influenced by three questions:

  • Do I like the models that comprise the army?
  • Do I like the back story of the army, does it engage me?
  • Do the army rules suit my preferred play style?

If the answer to any of these three questions is no, and if you are anything like me, there is only so much mileage in the models. I would never collect an army whose background material I dislike or am unsympathetic to, because I am unlikely to develop that critical personal connection to the models. Equally, if the army doesn't gel with my play style, I may struggle to be successful on the gaming table with them, and consistently losing with an army can sometimes undermine your desire to play them, despite liking the models and background material. Finally, if you really aren't overly keen on the models, you're probably on a non-starter with the army to begin with.

So, given the criteria above (which are not necessarily hard and fast. Some players collect an army purely to smash face at tournaments, and couldn't care less about the background material or what the models look like) I guess the simplest way to tell you which models I do like to build, is to tell you which armies I do collect and play. These are my Warhammer and 40K collections, though I have many models for GW specialist games as well, but we haven't got all day...here are some sample pics from the interwebs:

For Warhammer 40,000, I collect, paint, convert and play games with the following armies:
  • Dark Angels Space Marines - futuristic genetically modified space knights, champions of humanity - include bikers, armoured walkers, tanks, and elite infantry.

  • Sisters of Battle (sorry Adepta Sororitas - thanks GW for fobbing us off with a digi-dex which is just the 'free in White Dwarf' Codex that has been wiped over with a damp cloth, and want to charge us for the privilege) - Heretic and witch burning nuns with guns, elite infantry with armoured vehicles and lots of flame throwing weapons. Oh, yeah, a living saint too.
  • Tyranids - voracious aliens from another galaxy, that cannot be reasoned with, and just want to eat...well, everything. A tide of small creatures supported by multiple large creatures which can dominate under the right circumstances.
  • Orks - a warlike alien race who fight anyone, just because it's fun - A tide of howling infantry accompanied by clanking and ramshackle vehicles and some crazy weaponry, plus lots of small buggies, bikes and helicopters.
  • Dark Eldar - a sadistic alien race that see the rest of the galaxy as prey and fodder for their gladiatorial arenas. Models covered in spikes and blades, ultra fast vehicles and units, every surface of every plate of armour honed to kill anything it touches. Mean just doesn't cover it.
  • Imperial Guard - we are but men. The sledgehammer of humanity, millions upon millions of unmodified human soldiers from a million worlds, supported by the worlds supply of tanks and artillery. A tread-head's dream.

And now my Warhammer Fantasy armies:
  • Vampire Counts - The walking dead, hordes of shambling corpses, vampires going to war!
  • Dwarfs - mountain dwellers, elite infantry, the finest weapons and artillery in the world, and stubborn as all hell. Beer.
  • Ogre Kingdoms - ravenous horde, all big guys supported by even bigger beasts from the frozen mountains. Fewer models than most armies, but that doesn't matter, because your whole army is monsters. Gonna eat you.
  • Warriors of Chaos - Warriors in the extreme, heavily armed and armoured elite infantry, twisted creatures of chaos, who live to attract the blessings of their gods by their deeds on the battlefield.
  • Bretonnians - the flower of chivalry, traditional knights supported by peasant bowmen and trebuchets. Servants of the Lady of the Lake.
 And there we are. When the models a collector likes are categorised by army rather than individual model, the easiest thing to do is show you.

As a member of the Union, it is my pleasure to be able to provide links to the posts of other members for you to enjoy, please see below:

Yet another plastic modeller
The Combat Workshop
Fill n Sand - a new Member Blog!
Martins Bench Corner

And finally, if you are interested in finding out about and even joining the Union, look here. All you need is a blog, and a passion for miniature modelling in one form or another. Check it out.

As always, thanks for reading...

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

MAD Blood Bowl: League Update

Welcome Blood Bowl fans. This is Bertwold Humpernickle with a newsflash update of the MAD Blood Bowl League standings.
This is where the teams stand five weeks in and after around three matches played by each team, recently published by the office of League Commissioner. Remember, it's three points for a win, and one for a draw:
The Egdenberg Undertakers 7
The Ugly Gitz 6
Asgard's Wrath 5
Lions of the Three Rings 4
Fester City Poxes 3
Fit and Famous 0
The Underworld Misfits 0
Best Offence (Avg) - Egdenberg Undertakers
Best Defence (Avg) - Egdenberg Undertakers
Best TD Difference - Egdenberg Undertakers
Roughest Team (Avg) - The Ugly Gitz
Toughest Team (Avg) - Fit and Famous
Best Casualty difference - The Ugly Gitz
Best Player - Headstompa - The Ugly Gitz
Best Scorer - Vishur - Egdenberg Undertakers
Best Passer - Galion - Lions of the Three Rings
Most Vicious - Headstompa - The Ugly Gitz
And as you can see, the Egdenberg Undertakers have managed to maintain their position at the top of the table, thanks to a nail biting result against the Fester City Poxes. It's very close at the top, and it really is any team's league at this stage in the season. Just a couple of unexpected results could well see the table turned on its head, so lets keep our eyes on the ball, and see what transpires over the next few weeks.
This is Bertwold Humpernickle, signing off.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Your Hang Outs: Sprue Cutters Union #11

Welcome wargamers and hobbyists, to the mess hall. This is where tired and battered warriors gather to eat, but more importantly to chew the cud over the hobby, our great victories, crippling defeats, and the general state of the war effort.
For this week's Sprue Cutters Union topic (#spruecutters), we have been asked to talk about the social aspect of our hobbying: where we go to meet with likeminded individuals and talk over what we are up to in the hobby, our projects and plans etc. Once again, this is a topic I will likely be addressing in a very different manner to my scale modelling comrades, because typically tabletop wargaming is social by necessity, and the face to face social aspect revolves mainly around massed miniature marauders shooting and stabbing each other to death. So...
- Where do you gather? -
The places I have gathered to share my hobby over the years have changed as my circumstances and ability to fit in hobby time has been affected by 'real world' commitments. When I started out (at secondary school, aged twelve), our group of about half a dozen noobs played at each other’s homes, wherever we could fit in a battlefield, and we made arrangements to use one of the art rooms at school for painting and gaming at lunchtimes, which allowed us to partake of the hobby out of the way of the rest of the school.
As we got a little older and began spreading our wings a little further, I began catching the bus from school into Nottingham and attended weekly games nights at the Biggin Street Games Workshop store, which was a great time in my gaming life, and my Dad or Granddad would pick me up when games finished. Good old Games Nights, with 'bring and battle' games involving a dozen or more players at once. Eventually, a Games Workshop store opened in Loughborough, which is much nearer to where I lived at home, and so I started attending games there. I still sometimes got collected by my Dad though!
After I met the brother of a school friend when I was about fifteen, and with him living around the corner, we used to game and paint a generally hobby round at our house, because I had a gaming board set up, or we headed off to the Games Workshop store to play. Bear in mind that this was all before the rise of internet forums and the like, so at this point all my hobby socialising was done face to face, or in some cases, by letter!
When it got to the stage where people were disappearing off to College or University, local games got a little more sparse, and at around the same time, Games Nights at the Games Workshop store got a lot more strictly organised. None of the big bring and battle games anymore, so if you weren't there to pre-arrange games it was a struggle to get sorted.
It wasn't too long after this that I discovered the joys of pubs, night clubs, alcohol, house parties and general mayhem and shenanigans ensued apace.
After a couple of rather hazy and drink sodden years, I was amazingly lucky to meet a girl named Rebecca, who went on to become my wife. two or three years go by, with almost no gaming going on at all, barring the odd 'solo' game played just to stave off the withdrawal symptoms, though throughout this period I would still pop into the local Games Workshop store to chat to gamers and staff, and still buying stuff (models, rule books and army books, so I can keep up to date with everything) and doing some modelling. I also took out a White Dwarf magazine subscription, which helped keep me abreast of what was going on in the hobby. Real life almost takes over.
I discover the 'Inta-nets' and wargaming forums, notable among which are 'The Warhammer Forum' (great forum, but can't get onto it at work), '40K Forums' (ditto Warhammer Forum), 'Astronomican' , and 'Warseer'. Using these forums becomes my primary way of socialising with other gamers, discussing various aspects of the hobby, and sharing modelling and painting projects. These forums are a real life line, to be sure, and by using more than one, I was able to keep busy enough to always have something to talk about or to look at. Being able to post pics online is a real boon it must be said. It should also be said though that some forums are what you want and others are not. Astro for example is like sitting in a cosy pub with mates and chatting over drinks. Warseer can be great, but can also be like shark diving without a cage…
Rebecca gets a job for a distribution company. A guy in the warehouse plays Warhammer and 40K. He comes round for a game. My Vampire Counts lose to his Ogres. I then start attending the Leicester Wargames Club every two or three weeks, meet a load of new gamer buddies, and play games on a regular basis. This continues for about two years, and I feel like I am really 'back in the hobby'.
Then Oscar arrives...
Having a new baby in the house, as I am sure any parent who is also a hobbyist or gamer with empathise with, somewhat defecates all over our hobby plans. For a period of about 18 months, all gaming ceases, but I keep up with all other aspects of the hobby, now that I am fully back into the whole thing. Forum use steps up a gear to compensate for lack of gaming.
Oscar grows from a wriggling pink worm into a small boy, and when he hits about a year and a half, I broach the subject of gaming passes being issued with Rebecca. I create a Facebook Group page for my local village, and trawl the internet for gaming clubs closer to home than the Leicester club I was attending, which was about 40 mins drive away, and rarely allowed enough gaming time to complete a battle. Strictly out by 23:00, which meant games ended at 22:30, and as some guys didn't start till 20:00 or 20:30...
I started putting up posters on the village notice boards. I knew there were gamers in the village, I just couldn't find them. There was no club that I knew of. I also sent the posters off to be put up in gaming stores in the two nearest towns.
I got a hit, a guy new to the village, who had seen a poster. Gaming restarts! On a weekly (almost) basis, we get together and play some small point games of Warhammer 40,000. The guys was part of a movement I barely comprehend that like to collect several small forces (about a third to one quarter the size of typical games) to give plenty of variety in the gaming and modelling, rather than larger forces. The games are fun, but after a little while his work takes over and he can't make games, and before I knew where I was, he had moved away. I don't think it was me...
I start filtering Warseer by member location, which is a task with little hope of success, because forum users typically tend to be located in places like 'Behind you' and 'The Dark Tower', and apart from 'behind me', (which was a lie, I checked behind me and there was no one there. Well, no gamers anyway. Got a funny look from the lady in the supermarket queuing behind me though.) I have no idea whether 'The Dark Tower' is nearby or not.
I posted a simple thread on Warseer asking 'Are there any Gamers in North Leicestershire?'
A hit! A palpable hit! A guy responded to my thread (the third or fourth of its kind over a number of months) having seen it by sheer luck (on Warseer, threads that aren't responded to tend to sink into the murky depths pretty quickly), and sends me the details of MAD Wargaming Club, which turns out to be only 20 minutes’ drive away from home, starts early, finishes late, and plays all the games I play. A massive score.
So there we are. As things stand, I am active on a couple forums, though less active since I became more involved in blogging and Twitter, where we have a fantastic wargaming community. My games are played at the M.A.D Wargames Club, where there are a great bunch of guys (and gal) playing all manner of games that I enjoy, and all of these places, both digital and physical, allow me to chat, share ideas and projects, and basically feel like I am really part of the hobby.
If you would like to read the thoughts of other Union members, check out the links below:
And finally, if you fancy yourself as a Sprue Cutter, look here. All you need is a blog, and a passion for miniature collecting and modelling. We are varied bunch, so whatever your area of experience, I am sure you have something valuable to contribute.
Thanks for reading...