Sunday, 19 January 2014

Spruecutters Union #24: Pet Peeves.

Welcome back to my meandering blog. This week's Sprue Cutters Union topic is Pet Peeves. The question is: 

What is it about other modellers do that gets under your skin? 

Before I start this is just about what annoys me. It is not intended to start a flame war and I do not intend to offend anyone reading this blog. This is just my opinion of how I see the world. 

As a Wargamer I find that I have a foot in each camp. One as a Wargamer, the other in the model makers camp. To me it is a way to be more interactive with the models I create. This blog post is written from the the prospective of the Wargamer. 

There are many things that have annoyed me over the years. Another Sprue Cutter, The Eternal Wargamer (Go Frank!) has hit most of these in his Pet Peeves post. So I will hit another one of mine. 

In this post will be looking at the inability of certain Wargamers to expand their horizons. 

When I returned to the hobby I found that it had changed. In 10 years GW had rolled 40K from 1st ed rules (Rogue Trader) to 3rd ed (soon to be 4th ed). Many of the figures had gone. The 40K Squat race had been removed, which was a shame as I wanted to build that army next. The game and even background had changed in feel. Imagination had been removed and many money spinners put in place. My other old favourite GW title Dark Future was also gone. 

This forced me to explore further afield. The internet was (& still is) filled with wonderful figure making companies. Some make their own rules too. Many of these rulesets do not require a specific miniature line. Quite a few of them are available freely.

I championed two games back then. Combat Zone by EM4 and now sadly lost to the mists of time - Babylon's Burning. CZ is a near future game and Babylon's Burning was a modern Post Apocalyptic game. Both games had figures to use but didn't limit the game lines you could use. My old 40K RT figures saw some action. 

Later I found a great free online ruleset called Skank that was written to allow any miniatures to be used. I even played Orks Vs Space Marines with these rules. Some of the Grognards out there may even remember the campaign I ran with 40K Space Orks arrived in the Modern World, which I used these rules for. To be honest I have had a lot of fun playing all three of these rulesets.

I tried a couple of times to get folks interested in playing Combat Zone in the local clubs. But 40K & Battletech seemed to be the only interest. In fact if it didn't have all the spit and polish of a massive marketing campaign there was little interest. 

A friend of mine has been to a couple of shows recently helping Miniature Mojo promote their Scavenge Skirmish Survive game. In a recent conversation he revealed that despite the beautifully painted miniatures and amazing table people walked away because the rule book was not shiny (its a free online ruleset) and Mojo isn't a big company. Okay, I do understand that Frozen Post Apocalyptic may not be to everyone's taste but these people took an interest in SSS until they realised that this is not by a Corporate owned firm. 

He also revealed to me that even folks playing Historical games seemed to stick to the game manufactures figures. I can understand with Sci Fi and some fantasy games you may have trouble stat lining a figure but with WW2? A German figure with a MP40 is still a German with a MP40 regardless of the manufacturer. 

While I can understand folks wanting to support the company making their favourite games & figures but many of these companies are large and will survive unless they do something really stupid (recent GW events spring to mind). There are a whole ton of figure manufacturers that can be used in your games - even unofficially. 

Companies such a Ral Partha Europe, Heresy Miniatures, Hasslefree, EM4, East Riding MiniaturesLAM, Artisan, Prince August , Ground Zero Games, Ramshackle Games and Copplestone make wonderful figures which can be used for various games (there are many many more companies but I won't list them here). Often they are cheaper and better quality than the figures produced by the big companies, who in my opinion treat the customers with contempt. Remember the only thing that says you can't use other figures in your games is the company making them. This not only limits what you can do as a Wargamer but it also limits our imaginations to the backgrounds that these games and figures are set in. Its ironic that the same imagination used to create these worlds are being limited by the fat cats looking to make money from it. It also leads to the snooty look down their noses attitude of some gamers because what the figure you field isn't "in accordance to the rules" which some fat cat sat in a office some place told them that was the "law". Wake up son, this is a GAME not building a nuclear reactor which could kill thousands if you mess it up. 

Back in the day Babylon's Burning producers Hetzerdog went under because they couldn't muscle in on the big companies action. They couldn't get people interested, despite my best efforts to promote the game. A great figure line is now gone forever. The people who ran the company lost all that they had put into it. All that time, effort and money. 

So that's it. My pet peeve is Wargamers who follow the big games companies blindly. Who refuse to explore new ideas and possibilities. Who will not try other figures or games other than the "chosen" games. If we all use unofficial armies in our games sooner or later we will force the big companies to take note (I have often fancied fielding a Copplestone/EM-4 Sci Fi Troopers army or a force of Ramshackle's Iron Warriors troopers in a 40K game). 

By supporting smaller games and manufactures you are helping smaller companies survive by helping keep our hobby diverse but allowing us all more freedom, which in my opinion can only lead to more fun. Go on give it a whirl. Try some new stuff. Don't let the man tell you what you can and can't do with your figures and armies. They are yours. You bought, assembled and painted them. The only people who can lose out are the fat cat Bankers and the Corporate kiss ass brigade who's only aim is to get even richer on your gaming buck and regard you as cattle. In my opinion the less of them in our world the better. 

Read what the other Sprue Cutters say!

The Eternal Wargamer
Yet Another Plastic Modeller 
Miniature & Model Painting
Motorsport Modeller

How this works:
All it takes is a passion for this hobby and a blog to go along with it! All you have to do is write a post in response to this topic by Sunday and you can be a member of the Sprue Cutters Union. Take a look at the Sprue Cutters Union page for more detail. 


  1. Got to agree with all that. Well said!

  2. The great thing about the Sprue Cutters Union is that I'm learning more and more about you crazy Wargaming guys. Keep it up!

  3. Great post mate, although it dos feel remarkably similar to a conversation we had ;-)

  4. Hear hear! I'm with you 100%. And I'll take your analogy one step further: Have you noticed that players who tend to prefer wargames with proprietary miniatures (Warmachine, 40k, etc) seem to be the ones that never bother to paint their figures? Whereas those of us who collect & play with whatever we want seem to have no problem putting fully painted miniatures on the table.