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Friday, July 31, 2009

Looking to tomorrow

Fingers crossed I guess
I commented last month that the new venue for Claymore has revived my interest in this venerable event on the Scottish gaming calendar, which I've attended in recent years mostly for the sake of nostalgia and the chance to catch up with my old Edinburgh buddies. I'm not quite sure what I'm expecting, since there is no sign that there are any radical departures in the programme; eg. there is still no open gaming space laid on, as is the norm at boardgaming conventions and which is commonplace across America AFAIK.

I could turn this post into a rant about the oddity that so many gamers seem to find nothing strange in conventions the primary purpose of which is not to enable them to indulge their primary hobby passion, ie. actually playing games. But no, instead I'll just get on with making what I can of the Claymore 2009 programme.

Claymore Painting Demo
I talked about "radical new departures" above because for all know the Claymore Painting Demo is new. Whatever, I'm in the process of getting back into the miniatures hobby, and tips and techniques from other painters are always welcome. So I expect I'll be spending some time at this table.

Games at Claymore
Looking at the list of Games at Claymore, and stripping out the display games (I'm looking for something to play, remember?) leaves the following:
  • Angus Wargames Club - “Free the Hostages” 28mm.
  • Bathgate Wargames Club - Pyramid 28mm.
  • Blues Bears 1/600 air.
  • Dingwall Wargames Club - Dambusters 1/144.
  • Dundee Skirmishers - WW2 Skirmish.
  • Edinburgh League of Wargamers - TBA.
  • Livingston Battleground.
  • Mythgardia.
  • Phoenix Wargames Club - Ancient 28mm.
  • Royal Air Force Wargamers Association (Leuchars) - “Bloody Omaha” 28mm.
  • Urban Mammoth - Metropolis Sci-fi 28mm.
Looking at that list I made 2 immediate choices:
  • DWC's dambusters game.
  • Dundee's WW2 skirmishers game.
Both these choices are pure sentiment: my dad went to school in Dingwall; and I grew up in Dundee, as regular readers might remember. Still, on the face of it they look like they should be good public participation games. The dambusters game in particular looks tailor-made for the sort of quick-and-dirty knockabout fun that makes for a lively gaming table with lots of entertained gamers passing through.

Assuming I have the time or the inclination to play something else, my first choice will be the RAF's "Bloody Omaha". This is for the simple reason that my return to miniatures gaming is inevitably going to bring me back the WW2 roots of my teenage tankie days. So I'd be interested to see another WW2 game in action, perhaps with a completely different set of rules.

Writing all this up has brought to mind a happier memory amid the carping, one dating from a Claymore of old back in the 80's, when the venue was the long gone Chambers St. Students' Union. I found myself watching a participation game (I couldn't join in because it was full), and got chatting to the organiser. Discovering that his game was a homebrew (there were far, far fewer sets of WW2 rules for any scale available back then), I asked the guy about his rules, deeply engaged as I was back then on working on my own set of WW2 microarmour rules.

One rule particularly impressed me, a rule the guy called 'To Move Under Fire'. Simply put: each man had a dice roll to make if they were going to be allowed to move while they were being shot at (don't ask me about how the timing of this was handled because I can't remember). When I say this rule "particularly impressed me" I understate a bit: the rule had the effect of a bolt from the blue. Never before had those little lead men seemed so alive as they did that afternoon.

Many different wargames and rulesets have influenced my thinking about WW2 tabletopping down the years, positively or negatively. Three of the most noteworthy are:
These games are all justifiably famous and their influence runs wide and deep, across and through the hobby and the industry, as well as for yours truly. But in his way, that anonymous grognard had as much influence as all the rest because of the sheer intensity of that blinding flash of insight his little rule occasioned. So like I said above: fingers crossed I guess. ;)
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