[Another Year Of Frugal Gaming] Yes, I Believe In What We Had
The thing about packing up your troubles in your old kitbag (in readiness to ship them across the country to your new place of abode) is that it involves, by its very nature, a taking of stock and a reassessment of what you own. That’s set me to thinking about the materials I own: a brand new SAGA force and rules, a Malifaux gang that I’ve never managed to sell, a hotchpotch of models purchased for use with sundry RPGs, Hark’s LotR-SBG starter box, half a block’s worth of Magic cards and a modest selection of RPG books, mostly for Vampire: the Masquerade. That’s reminded me of something I wrote during the original Frugal mission, four years ago now, a question my exasperated grandmother used to ask me on a monthly basis: why can’t you just make do with what you’ve got?
This is where we start talking about consumption, and purchasing, and commodity fetishes – the argument that gamers are defined by the things they purchase, that the word itself exists to create a particular sense of ourselves as purchasers and centres of attention. This is a nice comfortable Marxist argument and one which seems to be rooted in observable behaviours, not least of which being that this whole series is about buying things, although it’s also an oversimplified hatchet job which overlooks that a gamer is someone who plays games. To own the thing, but never to play it, is the hallmark of the collector, and I think there’s a difference there in how the thing – the game, the model, the fancy custom die or whatever – is perceived. If it’s owned to be used then the usage arguably drives the consumption: it’s not entirely about owning things and certainly not for the sake of owning them.
What’s curious, then, if we take on board the idea that we buy things to play with them, is this: I hardly ever buy new RPG books. In the last year or two I’ve bought a few OSR/DIY D&D supplements, either to review them or because credible authorities had pronounced them decent, but that’s positively sluggish compared to my miniatures turnover and I’m not even one of those “new army every tournament season” guys.
Why is this so? Is it just because a decent RPG is playable and inspiring and fun with only its core material? Is it the lack of a meta (deflowered or otherwise) that drives people to buy new things for the sake of winning at little-lead-men games? Is it something structural about the RPG itself? Rolling up a new character type that you’ve not played before, or taking a turn in the GM’s chair for a change, or playing an old familiar system in a different style to your usual – is it that any of these things can bring a bit of variety back into the proceedings and none of them actually require you to go out and buy new toys?
Roleplaying seems far less focused on commodities, despite the attempts of some people to sell you officially branded playmats, miniatures, proprietary dice, accessories and tie-in novels. I suppose there are mugs everywhere, actually, given that these things seem to sell, and perhaps I’m an oddity in that I still draw my maps on flipchart graph paper filched from work and give death-glares to anyone who sneers at them.
Apropos of nothing, while we’re looking back at things from old blogs (even pre-blogging, in the next case), I kinda miss Trollbloods. I don’t miss Hordes, per se, beyond the battlebox experience and the mini-tournaments that made me enjoy the faction back in the Mark One days, when life was simpler and I rolled with a crowd who were into knockabout fun rather than deflowering metas all over the shop, but I recently came across a couple of photos of my (proper, metal) Trollblood starter set from back in 2006:
and Hark found my Best In Faction swag from the Breast Cancer Brawl while we were packing up to move house:
I even looked, briefly, at the Trollbloods army in a box before giving myself a sound slap over the face. I’m well out of that hot mess but I might be in the market for some Trollbloods miniatures toward the end of the year, if only to put together an IKRPG adventuring party or something. I’d be much more likely to buy models for the IKRPG if Privateer Press still produced boxes of six miniatures, mind, but then, I don’t think I’m the target market any more: the game feels like more of a sideline for WM/H folks who have collections of models to borrow and distil downwards from than something to buy models especially for the purpose of running. Which brings us back to commodities again, and purchasing: apparently they’re the only important things about my identity as gamer scum, and they’re certainly the point of this post, so let’s get on with it.
Achieved with a side order, since I haven’t spent a nerdy penny all month, and made a couple of quid flogging off the last of my WFB accessories (the battle magic reference cards).
Completed Diablo III – well, the core game, anyway, I nibbled at Reaper of Souls a bit but I’m saving it for the next time I’m in a bad mood and just want to fucking shoot things. That’s basically the niche the game occupies for me at the moment: I’ve settled into a comfortable routine with my Demon Hunter that’s carried me through so far, and I’d like to complete it on Monk (dat accent yo) and Crusader (for multiplayer fun) at some stage, but it doesn’t have the keep-up-with-the-Joneses obligation factor that WoW used to. I feel like the spell is finally broken, not least because I barely talk to anyone on BattleNet any more.
Top X Factor
Given that I’m feeling a little guiltridden about the lack of interaction with other hobby blogs, I’ve decided to sign off these posts with a little more style than before, and talk about someone else’s good work: so, when you’re done here, point your browser at Warpstone Flux, where jabberjabber’s been talking up the Gal Vorbak kit from Forge World (and reviewing the rules too). Bangin’ good models, and apparently very nice to prepare and work with. I’m actually tempted. No particular reason. They just look nice.