Porky’s Wild Bore – L-space, a final frontier?

Porky’s shed panel, Discdate Om knows. These are the ongoing riffs off the week in the House blogrolls…

Attention all hands. On screen: first some well-painted historical miniatures from FireForge, which BrendonW posted at The Gamer’s Table last week.

Look at the energy in the whole range – they’re almost alive.

But as attractive as they are as playing pieces, and maybe works of gaming art, they’re presumably going to be used by many gamers to represent the conquests under Genghis Khan and later, which arguably isn’t as attractive. In fact, a disinterested non-gaming observer might well ask why on earth the player playing this faction would even consider it.

You’ll need to hold that thought, but only for a couple of paragraphs this week.

Because moving a little closer to our own time, up into the 1700s, Steven at SOUND OFFICERS CALL! posted a report on a test game, for Muskets & Mayhem, a ruleset being developed.

Being more recent, this setting surely has the potential to cause even more upset, especially since SOC! and the House are in English, and the two major powers involved were both English-speaking – and the descendants of the people involved have the power of Internet flame at their fingertips.

Would we really want to get the snacks in and have some fun playing at the kind of battle that the great-grandparents of our own great-grandparents might have been caught up in? And maybe just down the road from where we’re reading this?

But of course, that potential for flame might be the key point: if so many flame wars, and real ones, are based on lack of consequences for the people that start them, and lack of facts, or misunderstanding through remote contact, maybe the medium of tabletop gaming has a positive contribution to make, inasmuch as it allows the issues to be explored face-to-face, even in public, in a good-natured context.

If so, the same presumably goes for gaming the Mongol conquests. The events of the 13th or 14th century might be further off, but that should make the reconciliation all the easier. I say reconciliation because, despite the mass death and horror, by now a large part of the world could be descended from the people caught up in those events.

On the subject of horror, why not a quick dip into the Second World War?

Because this week too Joakim Ström at The Miniatures Man posted a report on a game using 29, Let’s Go!, a mini-campaign for Chain of Command by Too Fat Lardies.

That’s already as close as great-grandparents, if not grandparents.

What about the present day then? Wargaming seems to shy away from representing conflicts actually going on right now, or even those recently concluded, and maybe quite reasonably. After all, it’s likely still to be quite raw. The people who scraped through might still be very much alive, and quite possibly still hurting. Bad. And the messy facts will presumably only have been tidied up by the news bulletins, not yet properly put to bed by the historians.

But one step removed from the present day is of course the present day as it appears in an alternate history. This week at SOC! also the very busy Steven posted the first and second parts of another report, for a ‘cold war hot’ scenario. Which is rather timely.

How’s about that? It is us, in the sense of now, but not really. At least, not today. Or not so far today anyway.

How would you feel about representing on your tabletop what’s happening in Ukraine right now? After all, that airport that’s now a wrecked battleground and the stadiums and streets where the fans and local residents chilled out were a focus of the sporting world for the summer of Euro 2012. And it’s only 2015 now.

Is it too soon? Too close? So how about representing the later stages of a campaign that flared up last year, last month, or this morning, or saw the aircraft and armour reach cities further west? With new powers getting involved, and maybe striking even across the oceans? And not for the first time it’s worth adding. Again.

Maybe an issue here is scale. In a 15mm scale – which is also what Battlefront is likely to be using for their cold war expansion – it can all feel a bit more distant than if the minis were larger, and maybe correspondingly more sterile too. After all, for all the tactile elements, and the possible grot, tabletop gaming is pretty sterile. There’s no actual blood spilt on the tabletop, or lost limbs, or real dead to bury.

Maybe we could have a pot of red paint handy, or some bits of red sticker, and mark on the injuries turn by turn? Maybe a model removed could actually be sledgehammered? Or we could give ourselves paper cuts in atonement for the miniature destruction?

Here I’ll call out myself, and SinSynn, and maybe CaulynDarr at The Back 40K – among many others. It seems more than most that we’re aware of the gaming and aesthetic potential in the 6mm scales used for micro armour and GW’s Epic, but that’s also a scale that’s all the more about the expensive hardware, and not the tiny little figures of actual people, the paying softerware that gets it in the neck. Maybe literally.

Let’s really muddy the waters. What happens when you mix real-world, relatively recent conflicts, like say European colonial campaigning on other continents, with a fantasy setting like the (ex-)Warhammer World? The kind of game airbornegrove26 did a lively graphic battle report for at Give’em Lead.

It’s Oldhammer meets Zulu, but not in quite the same more fully fantastical way as the classic Blood Bath at Orc’s Drift from the mid-’80s, or even just the Ork’s Drift of the ’90s. Still, those games weren’t far off.

Is it making light, or is it taking the peaceful exploration to a higher level?

The passing of Leonard Nimoy and Terry Pratchett was marked by quite a few blog posts recently. Star Trek seemed to make plenty of nods to real-world conflict, and even to conflict ongoing at the moment of broadcast. Mr Pratchett certainly didn’t shy away from holding the real world up to scrutiny.

Maybe it’s actually an obligation of fantasy, and by extension tabletop gaming? That if we’re going to fantasise, we might at least spare a thought while we do it for those who can’t so easily, or suffer first when it gets real.

Seems logical.

But that’s not to say of course that an exploration of real conflict through the medium of fantasy will necessarily always be respectful. It could potentially make matters worse. Although miniatures and rules aren’t flesh and blood, they are physical things, and often naturalistic. They’re the subject of emotional investment and can act as symbols.

Final thought. Where are the many tabletop miniatures games we might expect to see based on Star Trek and Discworld? Imagine the range of sculpts and the clever rules they might have these days, and the scope for more complex interactions, with tricorders and philosophical backs and forths, whether deadly serious or off the wall.

Centuries of baggage, but also the Luggage.

For representing which, see the sculpted chests and crates that Comi Mec posted about this week at El Canto de las Espadas.

So many potential Pandora’s boxes…

Tl;u? O.

You may also like...