HoP Idol: Lead Us Not Into Nerdrage,…
And here comes #2 from the day. This gem comes from Von and even manages to take a quick jab at me in his intro- flattery will get you everywhere my man.
Lead Us Not Into Nerdrage, But Deliver Us From Opinion Pieces
So there I was at the old personal computermabob, enjoying a nice healthy salad and a nice unhealthy pint of the tar with frothy bits that British folk call ‘beer’, and up pops a message from Dethtron saying he wants a 1000 word opinion piece about a current issue of contention.
We have a problem here; several, in fact. I did all my strong-opinon-having a long time ago, and my perspective on contentious issues is often “here is why I couldn’t care less about this argument even though I’m technically on X side”. It’s magnified by most of the current contentiousness being connected to Games Workshop – financial report, Finecast, Australia embargo, PP is the new GW, Tom Kirby is the Antichrist – and the issue I have with all of these is that I’m increasingly disinterested in anything GW does (playing Specialist Games through the secondary market will do that to a man) and really not interested in the excluded-middle shit that I bent your ears about in my audition. Most of the current Big Issues are simply not that big if you take a step back from them and stop overinvesting in one side of an argument that has more than two sides anyway.
The third reason, the killer reason that I keep stuffed up my vest because if I leave it out too long it puts me off blogging altogether, is that most of the things I do care about are either inconclusive, irresolvable debates with a largely subjective component, or done deals that have largely cooled off in the current discourse climate. I was tempted to put up something about how Warhammer Eighth Edition has ruined me as a gamer by obsoleting my carefully learned tactical knowhow – but it would be just as easy for me to put up something about how my tactical knowhow was a tedious and formulaic exercise in march-blocking, lane-blocking and quarter-taking my way to victory without actually entering combat unless something went wrong, and so it’s possibly a good thing that I’ve been edged out of the game until I’ve forgotten how to be a boring gobshite. Either of those entries might have been interesting to read but I can’t honestly put my heart and soul into either of them because I’m just not sure where I stand on the issue of eighth edition being a bag of spanners or not.
I feel the same about meta-issues like painted/unpainted or comp/non-comp. Same with the whole issue of painted and unpainted miniatures – I have opinions, sure, but they essentially reduce down to non-points like “I don’t have to enter my win/loss record for painting contests so why do I have to paint my models for gaming contests?” or “yes I agree it’s nice to go fully painted but here are a whole host of reasons why people don’t always do it”. Same with comp and non-comp – I don’t think there’s anything necessarily wrong with saying “at this event we want to limit army composition in this way so that people have to do something different for a change”, but I don’t think there’s anything essentially righteous and noble and true about either doing that or not doing it.
In fact, the only things I find myself really overheating about these days are the boring opinion pieces that get in the way of people writing battle reports, sharing army backstories, delving deep into the mechanics of their list builds, thrashing out ideas for events, presenting painting tutorials, giving intelligent reviews of game systems that go beyond “is it the GW-killer?”
People do do those things, but the signals often find themselves buried in an avalanche of noise as people trolley out their perspective on the issue of the day. I know why we do it – there’s an issue everyone’s talking about, so we think about it, and there has to be a shred of self-interest in there too. Having a post up about what other people are talking about generates readership as people who are following the debate follow it to you. You show membership in a community by showing investment in the issues that concern its other members – showing that you’re thinking about the Right Things, and ideally thinking the Right Things about the Right Things – no matter how played out or subjective or irresolvable or logically unsound the issue under debate actually is.
I’ve been following a lot of Old School Roleplaying blogs lately, mostly because that’s where my hobby head is at these days. There’s a custom in the OSR that I think we wargaming folks could benefit from. It’s called the Joesky Tax. Essentially, if you’re indulging in a boring opinion piece, sounding off about some Issue of the Day in order to make a public display of interest or, shockingly, because you do actually have something worthwhile to say about it, you have to end on something creative – and it can’t be one of your greatest hits in a quick link, it has to be a new something every time.
With that in mind, here’s a tip from me. If your wargame involves deploying horizontally, set your terrain up diagonally. It tends to create far more interesting lines of sight and routes of advance than horizontal terrain setups do. Instead of being able to plough directly forward with aplomb, pieces and units have to expose one flank or the other. Instead of entrenching behind the linear pieces on either side of a dead zone and throwing pebbles at each other, your forces can creep along one side of a right angle and go around the killzone – or they can edge to the front of the terrain and entrench, but they’ll have to move further forward, into enemy territory, to do it. You can do interesting terrain setups with an inherent narrative like I try to or you can just set things up how you normally would and then rotate everything forty-five degrees to the left or right, maybe nudge some pieces a bit forward or back to keep walls in line and logical. Just try it. You’ll see what I mean.
Oh, and put some stuff in the middle, too. What do you think this is – seventh edition?