Is Nobody Big Battling Anymore?

News from 6mil-land. And the wargame magazine planet.

My favorite 6mm-trader Peter Berry from Baccus, in some circles well-known for his j’accuse rant against 28mm, started an interesting discussion about the dominance of 28mm skirmish games and the role of the wargaming magazines. Are we seeing a

“a major trend in the hobby whereby historical gaming is now predominantly played at skirmish level and the big games are rarer and therefore become more noteworthy when staged”?

And do wargame magazines overemphasize 28mm skirmish scenarios? Do the magazines reflect the state of the hobby, or are they biased against small scale big battles?

The editor of Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy and the subeditor of Wargames Illustrated reacted. Full article here, full forum follow up here. A quick summary:

Berry thinks that the wagame glossies present an

“overwhelming predominance of 28mm figures, almost to the exclusion of all else (…) This ‘could’ just reflect the bleeding obvious that 28mm figures are by far and away the most popular size pieces of metal and plastic in the hobby. Fair enough, and I can accept that most wholeheartedly. No, it’s the unwritten assumption that oozes from the pages that is the ONLY option.”

He also thinks that

“the majority of games and actions that are presented as scenarios [in the magazines] are skirmish and small scale. A lot of the reason for this is that 28mm figures are becoming increasingly costly and labour intensive to paint, so big armies are becoming impractical and an increasing amount of time and love is being put into games where you can play with a handful of figures. As I said, this may just be down to the fact that the magazines reflect the interest of their readers and contributors.

He read articles in the wargame glossies about large scale battles like Waterloo, the Somme and Kursk.

“Then came the scenarios. Yes, you guessed it, squad scale skirmish with 28mm figures. Hardly representative of the large nature of the subject.”

He doesn’t blame the editors, 28mm is easier to photograph and their pages reflect their readers’ views and they must satisfy expectations. But 

the way that people game in 28mm is changing. There are fewer and fewer large armies being put together. A recent discussion on TMP centred around people referring to a collection of 60 figures as an ‘army’. This trend is being influenced and reinforced by the example of fantasy/SF/Pulp/genre gaming where this sort of game is the norm. Larger games are increasingly becoming the province of smaller scales. This makes sense on so many levels it is almost self-evident. However, larger games which don’t feature 28mm figures don’t get the pictures taken and so don’t get the publicity or acknowledgement of their presence.

In the Baccus forum he later added that the small scale community fails to provide good pictures to the wargame magazines: “It’s just that as a group we hide our collective light under a huge bushel (…) Whatever the reason, we can’t accuse the editors of an anti-6mm bias if we don’t give them something to put in their pages.”

What the editors said

Guy Bowers, the editor from WSS, commented:

“As I said on Facebook, my main issue is finding the content for smaller scales – both photographs and modelling articles. In fact, I have one 6mm and one 10mm modelling article commissioned, both of which I have been waiting an inordinate amount of time for. If and when I get them, they’ll go into WS&S. Readers of WS&S will know we’ve had several recent 2mm articles by Mark Backhouse and I plan to have more smaller scale stuff.

There is a reason why 28mm ends up in the magazines, it is easy to come by. If I ask the Perrys or pop into Warlord, I can access vast collections. Frankly, I have to compete with WI. I have struggled from day one with getting any photographs of anything smaller.”

And Wayne Bollands, sub-editor from Wargames Illustrated, added:

WI is very lucky to be based in Nottingham, which means we have access to some of the best companies in the business, but we can be a little lazy and focus on 28mm, largely because most of the main manufacturers around here do the same. If we’re pressed for a deadline, our ‘go to’ is to grab some miniatures from one of these companies and get some scenic shots done.

Now, if people take the time to write quality articles, and marry these up with great photos or can come and visit us / we visit them for a photoshoot, we’re more than happy to feature any scale at all. 

Others in the forum blame Games Workshop, the general lack of history education at schools, the dirty attractions of 28mm bare muscles and big boobs, bad marketing or the perceived difficulty of painting 6mm-miniatures.

Anyway, the question is: are big battles losing turf? How many wargamers are really interested these days in the grand strategies of the 100 days, the Blitzkrieg in France or what the attack plan was when William battled at the Boyne?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s