Monday, 14 March 2011

Power corrupts


I’m afraid this post is a bit of a moan, for me Warhammer 40000 has been an enjoyable hobby, I like the social side things, getting together with some like minded friends and having a good laugh interrupted by some occasional gaming. I love painting models, from starting with unmarked grey plastic and finishing with a model that tells a brief story through the way the paint has been applied. The painting scheme can be used to tell the tale of the hardship the character has been through, the cleaner and fresher the paint the less the character has suffered. Let’s face it, life in the 41st millennium doesn’t present itself as an afternoon having cake and ice-cream in the park feeding the ducks, ducks are probably extinct or they’ve become a new threat to the Imperium of man, “Quack, we want your bread, quack!”

When I paint I’m generally sat in the kitchen with the telly on in the background listening to the missus moan about the goings on in East Coronation Dale, I used to listen to the radio, but being in a house with someone else makes the whole radio thing a bit difficult. Painting with someone sat next to me who is also painting is nice. My usual painting companion is Smiffy; he’s also my main adversary. I think the hobby is split between those who prefer to paint and those who just game, the problem is that models have to be painted. I must admit I get a buzz from placing a painted model on the table and having someone tell me that they think it’s well painted. I have one model in my collection that I didn’t paint, my Necron Nightbringer, it was painted by a professional artist and my own work is nowhere near Pauls level of skill, I would love to have a few lessons from him, I think my painting ability would improve after just a couple of sessions, but I get by on what I can do.

When playing I like the banter between players, there’s never any malice involved, it’s just light hearted mickey taking or taking the chance to have a bit of a giggle when it all goes wrong for your opponent, for example throwing six dice, needing just one six and rolling six ones, I’m sure we’ve all been there at some point, the goddess Randomonia can be fickle with her favours. I shall prattle on about dice a bit further down. The one thing I like about gaming is the fact that a player can win one game then immediately play a second game and lose drastically, but it’s all taken well. Can you imagine how the world of 40k gamers would be if we took the same stance as football supporters? Space Marine players trying to kick the bejesus out of Ork players and Tau players casting doubts on the parental lineage of Eldar players? Games Day would be interesting!

Then there are the eccentricities of players, we’re a superstitious bunch, I’ve gamed in one form or another for the best part of thirty years from RPGs to table top and over those years I’ve met some real nutters. A 40k player who fielded Ork and would only use green dice, a chap that used to roll his dice on a silk cloth, any that rolled off the cloth were thrown away, he got through a fair few. A good friend kept his dice in a silver goblet, which he also used to rattle them in before casting them, that made for a noisy evening, we all have our quirks, I have a main set of dice that I won’t let anyone else touch, I carry spares with me to a game in case someone needs to borrow a die, that way they won’t need to use any of my main set. I have a mate who we swear is a dice killer, if you have a die that tends to roll high give it to Pete and it will never roll high again. As 40kers know we use good old six sided dice (D6) for the game, but I own dice that have anything from 4 to 100 sides. Whenever I bought a board game the dice would be removed and added to my collection of plastic cubes of randomness. At last count I had somewhere in the region of 300 D6, I ask myself if I really need that many, the obvious answer is “of course I don’t” can I bring myself to part with any of them? Absolutely not! I have no idea why, I just couldn’t bring myself to throw them away when someone else could make use of them, and giving them away seems a bit like giving someone your favourite pair of socks, OK not a good analogy there, but you get my drift. I’m very possessive where gaming is concerned, I have character sheets that are 20 or so years old, the sheet is dog eared, worn thin in places where hit points have been lost and gained, stained with tea, coffee and cola, a couple even have cigarette burns on them. Most of them have doodles in the margins, I found one a while ago that had a phone number written on it. I have no clue whose number it is/was, but looking at the character it was someone I met in 1996.

Where Warhammer 40000 is concerned the game has changed considerably over the last five editions, I wonder if players of the first edition would even recognise the current edition as the same game, and the armies have also changed quite drastically too. Over the past year or two we’ve had a few updated codexes and with each one the relevant army has become ever more powerful. On Sunday I played a small (600 points) game, Space Marines v Dark Eldar. The game lasted three turns, and I don’t think my opponent fired a single shot, but he still managed to deplete my force by half by the end of turn 2. Every army gets rules that counter everything you can throw at it. Even bog standard troops seem to have 4+ invulnerable saves and feel no pain. The current weapon system seems that the humble bolt pistol, or equivalent, could render a planet down to a small pile of smouldering charcoal, and that’s if you’re both using a fifth edition codex. If a player is using an older codex, i.e. fourth or third they stand no chance of gaining anything remotely resembling a victory, minor or otherwise.

I think the main problem is that our form of gaming is somewhat stagnated, the term gamer presents the image of a greasy haired teen with a pale complexion due to spending most of his/her time in a black curtained bedroom shouting “BOOM! Headshot!” louder than the stereo. The traditional gamer is now considered a bit lower down the social scale. We’re shunned because we read books and communicated face to face, our friends are real and not a computer generated avatar that bears no resemblance to our real life counterpart. We know what our friends look like and we speak English, not in a series of letters and numbers that represent whole words. We really do laugh out loud, we don’t spell it. I for one enjoy reading my rulebooks and I like the fact that they use whole words not abbreviations or acronyms unless they need to. Had I written this post in “txt spk” it would be less than a quarter of a page not almost two. When I game I like to be involved in a narrative that is described to me in detail, not illustrated in full 3D HD 1080p. I like to fail and not have the option of starting again but pausing the game and pressing up, down, left, right, orange, yellow, left shoulder button twice and having infinite health. If I fail it’s because I wasn’t up to the challenge, not because I don’t know the cheat code. The thing I like most about games like 40k and AD&D is the fact that I control the story, not the other way round. Don’t get me wrong, I like a bit of button bashing (not a euphemism) but Console/computer gaming does strike as being a bit solitary and extremely elitist, RPGs are to some extent, but I’ve never been called a f**king noob when I haven’t rolled well.

I miss gaming and I know that my friend Al does, he may not admit it but I know he does, the worst thing about it is that he’s one of the best DMs I’ve ever had the pleasure to game with.

Fortunately the hobby still has the social side and the painting to keep me interested, plus the fact that I have a good win/loss ratio with Smiffy.

So there you have it, a view on the current gaming climate, well sort of, from a gamers point of view, feel free to comment, it would be nice to know the point of view from other gamers.

G’night all, may you roll well, unless Pete’s man handled your dice!


Unknown said...

Woohoo! I can post again. As I was saying, I do miss roleplaying sometimes, but as you know I have a "socialising" problem at the moment.

I still have my pot of dice. the same pot I have used since my 14 year old son was a few months old, and I won't change that pot. I have specific dice in there that I have used for DnD, ones for Cyberpunk, ones for Warhammer FRP, and then just the caltrops.