The Writing is On the Wall…of Wargaming

Photo by Flickr user SpecialKRB

There’s something powerful about writing by hand. It resonates with an intimacy barren from a computer. It evokes imagery of declaratory signatures, illuminating manuscripts, and wax seals. Handwriting is so primal. Much can be told from one’s handwriting. When the message is fed to a machine, the life is sucked out. The machine acts like a not distant enough black hole. The emotions, thoughts, and powers are reduced. No! They may be removed entirely.

We know that words have power. We’ve known this for millennia. Ancient peoples believed that writing or speaking a word breathed life into that word. One need only write the word dog and the word would spring to life.

This is not a writing blog. But, it is important to note the machinations driving what you read. When I create my articles you can, I hope, discern which have been composed by hand first. You can, I hope, also acknowledge which articles were fed to my iMac. The same needs to be true of Wargaming.

When gaming a period or a system we must make choices. How do we choose what we choose? I hope we feel the embers glowing within each of us. Do those embers ignite a passion at the mention of certain phrases? We must have a yearning for what we game. We need not be intimately aware of every nuanced detail. That can be achieved in time. But, we must have that primal emotion drawing us to our designated rule set and/or era. Wargaming is a LOT of fun. It is also a LOT of work. The workload can be petrifying for grognard and noob alike.

The necessary hours to remove flash, assemble, pin, prime, paint, research, base, design, accumulate, and play are hours, which add up to numbers of a terrifying magnitude. Indeed, the more time we spend at each task, the more time, we realize, must be spent on that task.
It isn’t enough to paint our toy soldiers. They must be painted beautifully. So, we spend more money and more time practicing techniques. We blend, shade, ink, and drybrush until carpal tunnel sets.

At that point we realize that the toy soldiers were painted incorrectly. They are not accurate to standards, historical or imagined, thereby causing more work. Once more we research. We research the origin of facings, boots, hats, and buttons. We reveal dye shortages that caused the summer uniform to be 40% lighter than the previous winter. With new information in hand and a triumph on our collective faces we set out to rectify the error of our ways.

ALL of the toy soldiers MUST be repainted. We strip paint, soak models in Simple Green, dry them, and paint them anew. Every button, buckle, facing, haversack, and cheekbone is perfected to the smallest detail.

Staring down at the massed ranks, it is difficult to avoid looking at our little playthings in the way that Caesar might have looked at his legions.

All before us is beyond perfect. Every bayonet, hat and horse stands in perfectly straight ranks and files. Beneath their feet is a magnificent game table. Every cobblestone, ear of corn, and rock are impeccable reproductions of their real world counterparts.
When all before us looks finished, our gaze wanders. We notice the latest issue of our favorite gaming magazine arrived in the post. On the cover is a glossy, color, photograph of a different set of rules depicting an era foreign to us, using a scale we’ve been eager to try. A smile forms slowly.

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