View from the Veranda – Episode 4

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Welcome to Episode 4 of View from the Veranda, with Neil Shuck & Henry Hyde.

In this show, we discuss the Black Powder rules from Warlord Games (though it was never our intention to make this games the main topic for the show, it sort of ended up that way!), and then go on to discuss various other issues that have been raised by this latest release – ‘big’ vs ‘small’ publications, painting lots of figures for the gaming table etc…

So, pull up a chair and enjoy another 2 hours of gamer chat with Henry & Neil

93 Comments on View from the Veranda – Episode 4

  1. Graham in Abuja // December 21, 2009 at 09:36 // Reply

    Great discussion as ever. I wonder if part of the angst of buying the new stuff now comes from the “new edition marketing” if you delay one looses a considerable portion of the time that the ruleset is “valid”. I know from my ti
    e of playing 40k that I could just about have an army that I wanted painted to the standard I require when a new edition came out and one would have to start again. The same was also true of WRG but to a lesser extent unless one was always onthe lookout for this editions super troop type.

    I do like the new high quality rulesets though. I remember being bitterly dissapointed with field of battle. I would cheerfuy have paid more not to have slot of smeary print and lower quality paper plus all in black and white. Similarly with the new edition of Shako.

    Graham

  2. MIke Siggins // December 21, 2009 at 11:30 // Reply

    Great discussion.

    My only contribution, as one of the whingers, is that some of us are interested in the rules, how they work, whether they convey history. What I am not so interested in, and not in paying for, is the eye candy.

    So, my objection is that I am having to pay £30 for the publisher’s decision to pack out their rules with, what?, 100 pages of superfluous chrome and information I already have.

    I am also riling against this as a trend, which Black Powder typifies and reinforces.

    Personally, I would rather have a sub-ten quid ruleset and the OPTION to spend the balance as I please.

    Just my personal opinion. As Henry says, the publisher makes the call, and hopefully sells the print run.

  3. Another enjoyable chat.

    Looks like I’ll be picking up a copy of Black Powder soon enough, along with Le Feu Sacre (review potential?) and quite possibly Republic To Empire (review potential?) as well. I have Sharp Practice for 28mm company-level; the others spark my interest for 6mm division-level (as I’m stuck with a small gaming table and gaming room for now).

    Looking forward to the Points Systems discussion when it finally happens… 🙂

    And I fully understand the RESISTANCE to painting figures in precisely the manner Neil put it. It’s like a bloomin’ force field around the lot of them, the little lead blighters!

    Thanks again.

  4. Another excellent podcast, I got very little work done today as I was listening to it

    So let’s address the £30 v £10 set of rules question. personally I do like a bit of fluff in my rules and as lazy wargamer if a set of rules has some fluff that gets me interested in a new period or even better has painting guides then I’m in. But that doesn’t mean I’m right and everyone else is wrong it’s just my choice.

    I have RtE and BP and like them both equally, both of them seem to allow you to play the same period and get a different type of game, and as you could play both games with the same base standard then this suits me.

    Also like Snowcat and Neil my figures are also surrounded by an invisible force field maybe I’ll be able to break through it over the Christmas holiday 😉

    Oh on that point, can i wish everyone on here a very Merry Christmas and a happy new year

    Cheers

    Mike

  5. Hi Henry,

    I’ve always thought of you as a beacon of politeness and good humour where our hobby is concerned. Please don’t be offended if I say I think you let yourself down in this podcast. Generally, I agree with Mike Sigggins on the issue of the cost of BP, and I must confess I object to being therefore labelled as a ‘whinger and moaner’. We have these comments pages and the various forums so that views can be expressed, both negative and positive, hopefully without name-calling.

    You mentioned your objection to people ‘ranting’ about the high cost of BP. I haven’t read any rants myself, but If you listen back to some of your own comments, you might agree with me that I’ve just +listened+ to one.

    You also imply that the appropriate riposte to any criticism of a product is ‘if you don’t like it, don’t buy it’. I guess I’ll have to bear that in mind and just keep my views to myself in future. Wouldn’t want to be labelled a whinger. Or a moaner.

    Sorry to be negative, but I felt the need to respond. These podcasts are a excellent addition to discussions about our hobby, but those taking part need to recognise their privileged position: something you have always done in the past with conspicuous wit and good manners.

    Very best wishes and Merry Christmas to you and Neil.

    Keith Flint.

  6. Keith

    I’m sorry you felt disappointed by what I had to say, but the fact is that as a publisher myself, I have felt extremely frustrated, nay, shocked, at the level of negative reaction to Black Powder and a number of other recent publications that have high production values and commensurately higher cover prices than some others. The effort that has gone into these titles deserves far better than the short shrift they have been given by some people who, it turns out, haven’t even seen them ‘in the flesh’, let alone played the rules therein, and have made assumptions about the author’s motives.

    I also think that we should bear in mind the fact that, taking inflation into account, publications like Black Powder easily stand comparison in value for money terms with some of the totemic, early publications in the hobby such as “Charge!” or “The War Game”. Mike knows full well that I have huge respect for him — which is why I hired him to write for Battlegames — but if we followed his logic here, these two books by Peter Young and Charles Grant, or pretty much anything else from the 1960s through to the 1980s by Don Featherstone, Charlie Wesencraft, Bruce Quarrie, Terry Wise and others, would never have been published. If these people had had the option of full colour print in those days, they would surely have taken it. (Think, for example, of Charles Grant’s “Napoleonic Wargaming” from 1974, with several colour spreads of ‘gratuitous’ Peter Gilder eye candy, totally unrelated to the actual text! That book is now a classic.)

    You’re quite right to interpret what I had to say as a ‘rant’. Like anyone else, I’m a human being, and my personality is more complex than the simple “Mr Nice Guy” some people like to portray me as. When I feel it’s justified, I do get angry, the same as anyone else (it’s one of the things that inspires me to get things done, such as launching a magazine because I felt an entire constituency of wargamers were not being represented in the hobby press) and in this instance, the trashing of the efforts of some of the most creative and productive people in the hobby is something that has genuinely puzzled and annoyed me.

    I’m sorry if you felt personally attacked by what I had to say, Keith. I had hoped that other comments I made in the show would have made it clear that I am hardly saintly in my own purchasing decisions related to the hobby, and that it’s often clearly a case of “do what I say, don’t do what I do”. But part of that ‘privileged’ position you mention is, surely, also to speak the truth as I see it, even if that means that many — even the majority — of listeners sometimes disagree with me.

    Thanks for giving us your opinions, Keith, and very best wishes for Christmas and the New year to you, too.

  7. “I say Major, these natives are a bit rum, aren’t they?!”

    😉

  8. Personally I prefer to listen to a podcast where the presenters are free to give their opinions in an open and honest way, even if I don’t agree with them. This and the fact we can have a debate about the views in a rational way is even better.

    Also I like angry Henry so much better to listen to then a Politically Correct version

    Next month can we talk about something really contentious?

    Cheers

    Mike

  9. In short

    Will I pick up a set of BP? Yes

    Is 30 quid a lot? I do not know.

    Back in the day I was time rich and cash poor, these would have been out of my league. Now the situation is in reverse, and in relation to how much I spend on my big 28mm units, 30 quid is very little.

    So maybe these are aimed at gamers of a certain age, with big 28mm armies, who spend a lot. As a result is BP seen as elitist hence the backlash?

    As I say I have no idea, but that has never stopped me giving an opinion.

    Roger

  10. Is £30 expensive for a full colour hard backed book? Its cheaper than a PC game or a console game.
    Is Black Powder worth £30? Absolutely. Everything about it screams quality, from the beautiful photos through to the inclusion on every page of a timeline of important events in the period. Even if the rules dont float your boat (they do mine) the amount of work thats gone into this book is massive. It feels like you are reading a genuine labour of love.

    Man I sound gushy. I stand by my gush though. Oooh er.

  11. Hi, I’m Paul. Glossy fat rule book lover and plastic figure hater. Another great podcast fellas. Neil. Get this Siggo bloke on. I want to hear a good whinge.
    Cheers
    Paul

    • Black Powder will present you with a conundrum, then, since it’s glossy and fat, but contains photos of considerable numbers of Perry plastics… 😉

    • thats an idea Neil

      we’ve heard Henry point of view so lets have a right to reply from another respected member of the wargames community, I think Mike would be perfect for this

  12. Mike Siggins // December 23, 2009 at 00:04 // Reply

    I doubt Neil could afford me!

  13. Mike Siggins // December 23, 2009 at 00:21 // Reply

    Surely the difference between the great tomes of the past and BP is that BP is one among many, many rule sets fighting for attention. The greats may well have been the only wargame publication of that year.

    BP is both a ruleset and a ‘nice book about wargaming’, but then so was Operation Warboard.

    Anyway, as a rule reader/mechanism junkie/system fan I like to access as many as I can. BP sets the cost of entry at one of the highest levels we have seen, and according to some we should get used to it.

    All I am doing is offering the counter argument – do we need anything more than the basic rules in black and white while reading, learning and playing? Do we want to be holding and opening a big hardback with lots of superfluous pages? It is like driving in Essex but having to hold all the maps for the UK. This is a pre-SatNav simile.

    But as Henry said, it is the choice of Warlord to do this, and it doesn’t seem to have held back sales!

    • Indeed, Mike, driving in Essex is dangerous enough as it is…

      Well, I suppose one answer to this might be for the publishers to simply release a “Black Powder Lite” version as a downloadable PDF for, say, a tenner, sans pretty pictures but avec the helpful diagrams. Personally — and when you get your copy I hope you’ll understand what I mean — I think this would spoil the overall effect of the publication, but each to their own.

  14. I’m just going to keep out of this … 🙂

  15. “Do we want to be holding and opening a big hardback with lots of superfluous pages?”

    Um, for many of us, Mike, yes, that is what we do want.

    Over 5,000 copies of BP sold, as I understand it. Plus several other publishers going the same way. So, yes, this is obviously a desire of many wargamers that is now being met.

    Having said that, there is also a desire from other gamers for cheaper rules. That desire, too, is being met. There are plenty of such rules available.

    The two types are not mutually exclusive. There is obviously a market for both. People who prefer simply presented rules with just the mechanics and no extra stuff will find plenty of such rules to buy, and people who like well-presented rules with lots of inspiration as well as the rule mechanics are now also able to buy them.

    What I don’t want is this rash of complaints by some to be seen as a call for publishers to stop doing any more high-production-values rules and concentrate only on the simply presented rule mechanics. But likewise, I don’t want all rules companies to feel every rule-set now needs to be a big glossy, either.

    Roly

  16. Neil and Henry,

    Many thanks again for another excellent podcast. I’m generally one of the silent non-posting majority on web-groups, but I enjoyed the podcast so much I thought I’d make an exception.

    I thought Henry was spot on when he mentioned that Black Powder is the proud successor to the wargame classics of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. When I have re-read the “classics”, the thing which strikes me is how much authors like Featherstone, Grant, Bath and Wesencraft did to describe wargaming as a great experience. Their enthusiasm for that experience was infectious.

    To me, Black Powder seems to radiate that same enthusiasm. Irrespective of however many copies have been sold, I don’t think anyone would deny that the authors and contributors have a deep passion for the hobby and have put their heart and soul into Black Powder.

    Of course, if I wanted to, I could try and pick holes in the rules themselves. Indeed, I might be able to do that for almost any rule set (and most certainly can do that for any home-grown rules I have ever written myself). Are the Black Powder rules the “holy grail” that all wargamers have been searching for? Possibly not, at least to my eyes – but can any of us point to a rule set which is “perfect”?

    Is Black Powder too expensive? For me, “price” is perhaps not always as important as “value”, which of course is a completely subjective yardstick. I have far more august, learned and expensive history books on my bookshelf than Black Powder but which have been thumbed and looked at far less. Why? Well, enthusiasm is infectious, and the enthusiasm I see in Black Powder helps encourage, motivate and inspire me to pick up a paint brush, or make some terrain in the garage. And that, in terms of “value”, is perhaps priceless. And for this reason, if for no other, Black Powder has more than earned its position of right on my wargaming bookshelf.

    Sidney

  17. 30 quid is very reasonable for a quality book that will last you decades. With the ability to read reviews on the product via the internet, there’s precious little excuse for making a bad purchase and being stuck with ‘style’ over ‘content’. I find the negative outlook on this product and apparent ‘trend’ Scrooge-like and illogical. Bah Humbug!

    🙂

  18. As a listener from the snow covered plains of Kansas I have no idea of these references to whingers, quids and Essex. I do know rules collectors…those guys or gals that have every rule set published. While that is all fine and well my overarching question is, “When do you play those rules?” And it seems, at times, these types of gamers are those that continually piss and moan (whinger?) about the price of slick pictures, full color through out and hardback. I have nothing against folks who wish to collect what they want but my primary interest in this hobby is to play! I love to paint, research, collect and display my miniatures but in the end what really matters is what you get to the table.
    As Henry stated, Black Powder is not an entry level rule set. It is for those folks who are heavily invested in Napoleonic figures and time period. So, how does the price of a 30 quid (I imagine a bill or coin with tentacles and the ability to squirt you in the face with ink) book stack up to all the time and money you have invested in your hundreds of 28mm Napoleonic figures? I mean, really, the price of the book is nothing compared to what you have tied up in your metal or plastic. If you are just collecting rules to sit on your shelf and occasionally thumb through maybe Black Powder isn’t the rules for you. If it is something you are going to use weekly or bi-weekly then it would be a good value.
    From the tall grass prairies of middle America, I’m out!
    Keep up the quality work and lively discussions.

  19. Hi Neil and Henry,

    Just wanted to say thanks for yet another interesting and entertaining VFTV. My Hungarian WWII army has for the last few months been surrounded by one of these paint retardant force fields, and this episode provided the cure!

    As one of the mostly silent, mostly non posting majority on sites like TMP, I thought I’d throw in my 0.02 AUD in the ring 
    As both an Aussie and a relatively recent convert to gaming (I’m 28 and have only actually been gaming for the last year or so), I see pros and cons from both sides of the ‘Gloss or not’ argument. It does work out considerably cheaper, and also speedier for me to get PDF versions of rules. I’m quite pro-Lardy, and most of the rulesets I keep returning to are Big Rich’s work – though this has everything to do with the mechanics and game play and nothing to do with the gloss or PDF argument. With a few of the pdf rulesets, I have gone to the expense of printing and binding them at the local printing shop – including the colour title pages. The cost and run-around involved in this evened the playing field a bit. On the Gloss side, I recently purchased Foundry’s Napoleon. My major issue with this wasn’t the cost – though it did work out at around 60 AUD – but rather with the typographical errors and the less than excellent quality of quite a few of the pictures. Costwise, the purchase was offset by the free shipping deal foundry was offering. I ordered some figures and paints, and the cost of shipping would most probably have been around the 25 GBP mark anyway, so it’s hard to whinge about the price point in my case.

    This free shipping deal, also offered by Warlord, is a great pro for me personally. Once I get the credit card monster back under control, I’ll be seriously looking at picking up BP, and at the same time a bunch of other warlord and BAM goodies. By my reckoning the 30 GBP cost will be at least partially offset by the savings in shipping lead halfway round the world. I’m actually really interested in BP for the pictures and ‘fluff’, rather than in spite of. At my pitiful painting rate, it would take me 10 years to finish an army big enough to play a game!
    Henry, I love the point you made about the ‘must have it now’ attitude prevalent among the online gaming community. While I suffer from this as much as anyone, I find that it is one of the major contributing factors to a lack of painting productivity. It’s hard to keep focused on painting up an army when you’re constantly being caught up in trends. Online painting forums can also be the devil as well. So many beautifully painted figures, 99.9% of which have nothing to do with the projects I’m working on, and most of which seem to be tempting me to stretch the credit card further, just so they can join the horde of figures languishing unpainted in the lead mountain.
    Well, from sunny Sydney, thanks again for providing such a great bit of entertainment!

    Ben

    • Thanks for your comments Ben – I think we in the UK and US sometimes foget the issues that Aussie gamers have in just getting hold of some of the products these days!

      As you may have gathered, I suffer badly from ‘magpie syndrome’, and various parts of the lounge and spare room are littered with boxes and trays of projects which have either been bought and not started, or only partly completed, only to be put ‘on hold’ as the next project beckons.

      One of my major focuses this year has to be completing outstanding projects – I have SO many in the works that I should be able to get away without purchasing anything new this year – like that’s ever going to happen – but you know what I mean.

      Glad you enjoyed the show…

      Neil

  20. Perhaps our next VftV should be about wargames project management. Oh, no, hang on a minute, it’s DEFINITELY going to be about points systems, right…? 😉

    • thats a good idea Henry, keeping focused on a few projects is sooooo difficult

      so much so I’ve devoted nearly 2 years to blogging my attempts to do it

      Mike

    • Well, that’s the theory, although there is a small matter of a review of 2009 to be fitted in somewhere 🙂

  21. I like a nice pretty rule book, but where I have issues with high prices is in a Games Workshop type model, where I have to keep buying new pretty rule books every so often. I know the argument can be made that I can just keep playing an older version, but gaming groups/partners are not static, and having an old version prevents some playing opportunities (not that I have any right now anyway). I really only want the pretty glossy version once per system. After that I just want the core rules.

    All in all, I suspect that the success or failure of a given rule book will come down to the game inside. If it is all makeup and no guts, then the sales to book collectors will find a ceiling. If the game is great, people will save up and buy it.

    On pre-painted miniatures and youth: my experience as a youth was budget reigned supreme. We loved getting new figures, but if a game had to be played with just bases, unpainted figures, misrepresented figures, etc., then the game went on. We certainly would not have paid a premium for pre-paints. As a parent, I like the unpainted figures as well. It adds one more item to the possible responses to “I’m bored”.

  22. Charles Vasey // January 10, 2010 at 14:08 // Reply

    That conversation certainly veered off the road. If it is recommended that you do not say that a set of rules is wrong because it does something differently (the example was casualties being taken off) surely it is just as unhelpful to categorise those who do not like a set of rules as whingers or moaners?

    I’m sure the designers are wonderful people who mean well and have worked hard on their rules, but the better method to respond to those who have questions over the content (it is after all a set of rules I understand) is to provide answers to their concerns not to be label them in a negative fashion. Such editorialising will not persuade them and may encourage them to think there is something to hide.

  23. Errrr not sure what you mean … non of the authors or designers were labelling anyone as whingers or moaners, it was Henry I believe.

    Could be wrong though 🙂

    • Charles Vasey // January 10, 2010 at 22:15 // Reply

      That’s right, and Henry adduced the sterling qualities of the design team as worthy of consideration. I agree with him. I am suggesting that Henry find a better way to support them that scapegoating their critics. Play the ball not the man.

  24. Except that Henry was commenting on the illogical arguments put forward by some folks re their unwillingness to buy a set of rules because it followed a ‘trend’ of being expensive and containing lots of colour photos, irrespective of how excellent the rules happened to be and the overall value of the book.

    Diddums.

    • Charles Vasey // January 11, 2010 at 09:25 // Reply

      That looks like a fairly normal commercial decision, why are they whingers and moaners?

      Are the rules in this case excellent? I’ll find out soon, but that excellence is the way to handle the naysayers, isn’t it?

      • What are you on about?
        A fairly normal commercial decision? I think you mean *consumer* decision as it’s the consumers we’re talking about here, not the publishers. Have you actually listened to what Henry said and what I, amongst others, have written? It is not logical for consumers to moan and whine (and yes, some most certainly have) that a rulebook costing 30 quid (30 quid for Christ’s sake! what does it cost to fill your car?!) with lots of excellent colour photos amongst its high publishing values is either bad, wrong, less than a good thing, etc, when there are any number of cheaper alternatives out there for the Ebenezers of this world to not *have to* spend their 30 quid on. Oh the hardship! Oh the conundrum!

        As for ‘that excellence is the way to handle the naysayers isn’t it?’ – Henry didn’t write the rules did he, so he can say what he wants.

  25. OK… I’m not sure what made me want to say something as I’m not a mini war gamer but I am a hex & counter wargamer who’s starting to put together models and who knows where that leads… But I enjoy reading and learning new rules and thinking about how those rules abstract real world issues.

    I’m a huge fan of M&M and actually bought Cold War Commander and Future War Commander on hearing comments on them on the show. And at some point in the future maybe I’ll put some minis on the table with those rules. But in some ways it’s because its one of the few Cold War rule sets out there. I enjoyed the books and research but would have LOVED to have more meat in them.

    I have recently put in my order for Black Powder on Amazon. And unlike the above rule sets I doubt I will ever put those Nappie or ACW minis on the table. I ordered the book because it has the rules but also has the chrome, all the nifty pictures and cool items.

    So my point is this: if a publisher is going to make an effort of actually printing a book (versus PDF) and wants to get any sort of traction, I think it needs to be be like BP – that’s because it will appeal to two markets, the history buff market and the rules market. If you don’t appeal to both, you will only get the people who would be directly intersted in the rules and not casual interest. And as Henry can tell you the margins are very small. So appealing to a many people as possible while still being true to the idea is a real must. Great rules are never just mechanics they need to have something more… Whether or it’s fluff or chrome or whatever, to make it great it needs more…

  26. Charles Vasey // January 11, 2010 at 11:20 // Reply

    “What are you on about?”

    I think that’s fairly clear, but i appreciate its not something you want to hear.

    “A fairly normal commercial decision? I think you mean *consumer* decision as it’s the consumers we’re talking about here, not the publishers.”

    No, I mean commercial since they are deciding whether or not to buy in the ordinary course of commerce.

    “Have you actually listened to what Henry said and what I, amongst others, have written? It is not logical for consumers to moan and whine (and yes, some most certainly have) that a rulebook costing 30 quid (30 quid for Christ’s sake! what does it cost to fill your car?!) with lots of excellent colour photos amongst its high publishing values is either bad, wrong, less than a good thing, etc, when there are any number of cheaper alternatives out there for the Ebenezers of this world to not *have to* spend their 30 quid on. Oh the hardship! Oh the conundrum!”

    I have listened and I don’t agree. Their view is not illogical, nor is it any impediment to others buying. They seem to be being criticised for some kind of thought crime.

    “As for ‘that excellence is the way to handle the naysayers isn’t it?’ – Henry didn’t write the rules did he, so he can say what he wants.”

    Of course he can, the question I posed was whether having told people they cannot claim rules are “wrong” because they are simply different it was effective to tell people they were whingers and moaners. I think it is the very reverse.

  27. is it me or this thread starting to turn into a TMP style thread?

    not saying thats wrong but I’ve just noticed a change in the dynamics of the discussion

    *runs off to hide behind a rock and waits for the fireworks to finish*

  28. Not quite, not yet. Hang on, bear with me…

    “Dear Charles, you are very clearly, and quite assuredly, a complete mentalist.”

    There, we’ve arrived.

  29. Okay, whoaaa everyone, let’s put down those cudgels, shall we? 😉

    Welcome Charles — I remember your boardgame columns in the wargames press with fondness and we have, in fact, met briefly. I also know that Siggo speaks very highly of you, and will therefore respond to your point with the courtesy you deserve.

    For the second time on this board, let me say that I’m sorry if you found what I had to say in any way offensive, and let me make it clear again that I do not represent the authors or publishers in any way whatsoever.

    But what has emerged recently is a group of people who have criticised Black Powder (and Lasalle and Republic to Empire amongst others) simply because they are full-colour publications produced to high standards, with a cover price of between, say, £25 and £30, as if they have the _right_ to these books as a lower cost, lower quality item, on the basis that they belong to a curiously privileged class of “rules collectors”.

    No such right exists.

    A publisher (like any other business) produces an item at a certain price. A consumer makes the decision whether or not to purchase that item, based on their own financial circumstances vis-à-vis their desire to own that item.

    I’d love the latest version of the iMac. I can’t afford it, so I don’t buy it. I don’t criticise Apple for having produced it, nor claim that somehow, as a hardware collector, it should be more affordable by right. I’d like it to be cheaper, but it isn’t, so that’s that. If I really, really feel I need it, I’ll save up for it.

    Moreover, the critics of this new trend of illustrated publication (which of course, in many ways merely ape what Games Workshop/Warhammer Historical has been doing for years) appear to be complaining because of the nature of the publications _per se_, without any reference to the rules contained therein. Therefore, Charles, with respect, when you tell me to “play the ball, not the man”, I’m afraid it does smack somewhat of the pot calling the kettle black. In what way, pray, is it acceptable to belittle the efforts of authors and their publishers (who are, after all, people, and fellow wargamers to boot), but somehow incorrect to point out the fact that I find such criticism more than a little unfair and illogical?

    It is certainly valid to point out that publishers risk alienating a certain section of their potential audience by choosing a particular approach, but that is, of course, their decision, just as Apple knows that it will never have the market share of, say, Dell or Hewlett Packard. Or, indeed, much closer to home, I’m not so stupid as to imagine that Battlegames will have the same appeal as Wargames Illustrated. I have created a magazine aimed at a particular market sector, and that’s the risk I take.

    Let me finally mention your criticism of me somehow “editorialising”. I don’t own this show, Neil does. I’m a guest who is invited along regularly to give my opinions. I fully accept that not everyone will agree with what I have to say, but my job on the show is to say it anyway. Most of the time, we discuss matters that generate no heat whatsoever, and bimble along nicely but, evidently, this show hit a raw nerve with a number of people which has, evidently, provoked debate.

    Given that the subject matter was largely the price of rulesets, rather than, say, the morality of wargaming that we discussed in an earlier show but which elicited a much smaller response, this should surely give us all pause for thought. Moreover, there does appear to be a minority who display that most unpleasant (often British, I’m ashamed to say) characteristic of rubbishing anyone who strives for excellence or achieves success.

    But that, folks, is quite enough from me and I really don’t see what more I could possibly add to what I have already said and written.

    • Charles Vasey // January 11, 2010 at 18:40 // Reply

      “Welcome Charles — I remember your boardgame columns in the wargames press with fondness and we have, in fact, met briefly. I also know that Siggo speaks very highly of you, and will therefore respond to your point with the courtesy you deserve.”

      I hope you’d do that anyway Henry, or I’ll have to deploy my Get Carter Quote Book “You’re a big man, but you’re in bad shape. With me it’s a full time job. Now behave yourself.”

      “Therefore, Charles, with respect, when you tell me to “play the ball, not the man”, I’m afraid it does smack somewhat of the pot calling the kettle black.”

      And with as much respect, I don’t think that can be right, I have not belittled the authors or publishers (indeed I’ve purchased a copy) so I cannot see how I have played the man and not the ball. I have in Another Place expressed concerns about certain features of the rules, but that is, surely where we should be directing our attention?

      “In what way, pray, is it acceptable to belittle the efforts of authors and their publishers (who are, after all, people, and fellow wargamers to boot), but somehow incorrect to point out the fact that I find such criticism more than a little unfair and illogical?”

      None, both seem unpleasant and unnecessary, but I’m still at a loss to see how this relates to me or that it defends either action. Both are of course entirely with the rights of those making them.

      “Moreover, there does appear to be a minority who display that most unpleasant (often British, I’m ashamed to say) characteristic of rubbishing anyone who strives for excellence or achieves success.”

      Possibly, but there is also a minority who find any kind of criticism a difficult matter with which to deal. I see no reason to applaud that trend either since it, too, is not conducive to the well-being of the hobby

  30. While I agree with the sentiments from Henry above I think the thing that grates the most about the price issue is that we are not talking about an Imac but rather a book which costs less than a unit of the people’s favourite 28mm figures, or less than they wouldn’t bat an eyelid at down at pub etc.

    • Charles Vasey // January 11, 2010 at 18:46 // Reply

      Is it the absolute amount do you think? Or perhaps a comparative amount? I don’t drink in pubs or buy 28mm units so lack a comparative and I think my best month buying painted 15mm figures on ebay amounted to the price of a compact car. (It certainly took up the same space.)

      But many people cannot do any of those things and a price of £30 (even though we can all buy it for less) might cause at the very least a vigorous sucking of teeth. I’m not surprised that they blanch a wee bit.

      • See my whole problem is why should it cause oa sucking of teeth or a blanch … compare the book to any ‘hobby’ book of similar quality and it is probably cheap – I certainly know the books on my other hobbies are comparable and I don’t even use those every week, month or even probably year. I still maintain if people can’t afford the 25-30 quid for a set of rules I doubt they would have the minis to play the game anyway so I can’t see how it will alienate a potential buyer … to be honest I feel you are arguing for the sake of it … and as Henry said your boardgame columns were memorable … but now most board games (paper board with cardboard chits) will cost as much as not a lot more than BP and be played probably far less (Napoleonic Wars just cost me 40 odd quid for instance)…

  31. Charles Vasey // January 11, 2010 at 21:43 // Reply

    “See my whole problem is why should it cause oa sucking of teeth or a blanch … compare the book to any ‘hobby’ book of similar quality and it is probably cheap – I certainly know the books on my other hobbies are comparable and I don’t even use those every week, month or even probably year.”

    Mostly for the reason I said before, a lot of people don’t have that much folding money. I just opened my hobby accounts and cannot see a book costing £27 (which is what BP just cost me) since I bought the Barrington Atlas for £207. Of course compared to a Automayic Beretta it is a steal, and compared to a bottle of Budvear it is damned expensive. It’s a relative thing.

    “I still maintain if people can’t afford the 25-30 quid for a set of rules I doubt they would have the minis to play the game anyway so I can’t see how it will alienate a potential buyer”

    They may have the minis already, and of course they may not accept your analysis. They know if they buy the minis they’ll be able to enjoy them. With rules it is more of a gamble.

    “… to be honest I feel you are arguing for the sake of it …”

    I’m sure you do, but I hope you won’t be surprised that I don’t agree with you.

    “and as Henry said your boardgame columns were memorable … but now most board games (paper board with cardboard chits) will cost as much as not a lot more than BP and be played probably far less (Napoleonic Wars just cost me 40 odd quid for instance)…”

    I don’t know about the played less, neither of us has the data to give that view, but if a person doesn’t play boardgames the comparison has no application, does it? I agree that p[eople habituated to dropping sixty quid on a boardgame might not carew, but I bet some would still argue the point.

    • I know I should reply … but I just can’t be bothered mate life is too short I’d rather be skating, surfing or playing (just got hammered at Lasalle but it was very enjoyable and went down to the wire … but then again that is another one of those evil 30 quid set of rules!)so argue away with yourself eh!

  32. I have got reservations about Black Powder, but they are nothing to do with the production quality which is Games Workshop level (I mean that in a good way at this point). It does look very good, but I’m not sure about a set of rules that recommends tables starting at 12 ft by 6 ft, covers such a wide period (nearly 200 years of rapid technological change and tactical evolution) and lacks useful tools for players like a points system. The other downside is from the cursory reading of the rules that I have had it is very ‘traditional’ in its mechanisms so I may as well play one of Don Featherstone or Charles Grant’s sets of rules.

    I’ll concede that in terms of the production quality of it as a book it is good value if you want a glossy book about wargames.

    • Sorry Dave, but as far as mechanics is concerned, BP couldn’t be much further from ‘traditional’ gaming.

      The basic command and control system is taken from Warmaster. It doesn’t lack a points system, it just doesn’t rely on one. As for table size, that depends upon what scale figures you play…Yes, you can’t play 28mm figures on a 6′ x 4′ table, but that goes for a lot rules, not just Black Powder.

      Neil

      • Neil I have to disagree, I played a very enjoyable game the other day on a 6×4 table. We used 28mm figures and had 6 units a side (one brigade each) so that was approx 100 figures per side

        Yeah if you have a bigger table you can play a bigger game but that is true of all rules

      • We play BP on a 4×3 in 10mm and 6×4 in 15mm all the time using cm not inches.

      • True Mike – it’s all a matter of how you treat the perspective of things in the mind’s eye.

        Given everything that is said in BP, I would anticipate that the smalest table to play on with a multi-brigade 28mm force would be 8′ x 5′. However, there is no reason why you can’t play the game on a 6′ x 4′. As Mike has said, all you need to do is cut down the number of units, and it becomes a Brigade level game, rather than a Division level one…

  33. Andy Brown // January 11, 2010 at 22:12 // Reply

    I will say this about costs though, if you want an inexpenive hobby take up something else cause if your’re into the military history/conflict simulation track it’s gonna get pricey.

    The new FFG games are 100USD+ and a single Trumperter 1/35 kit cost around $45 dollars. Yikess…

    • And what if you’re into both?

      Double Yikes!

      On the boardgames vs wargames front, I spent far more money on boardgames rather than wargames last year, but then again, I played far more boardgames as well.

      What I tend to find is that wargaming is fine for catering for small number of people, all of a similar interest, but boardgames can (as a very general rule) cater for more players and appeal to a wider audience, which is why I like them so much.

      That said, I’ve just bought several 2-player board wargames (Hammer of the Scots, Richard III, Conflict of Heroes: Storms of Steel) which all cost £40+ each for essentially card and wood, plus a few dice – but they are really good 2-player games.

      I’ve also spent £40 on a new Blood Bowl team. Which will get played more? Not sure yet…

      And if you want a really expensive hobby, try golf – we are just amateurs at spending £’s compared to the average golfer…or buy a season ticket for a football or rugby club and travel to the away games as well. That will see off most wargamer budgets.

  34. So next month will VftV tackle the thorny subject of the cost of miniatures?

    that should get a few comments coming in, or am I just being evil?

    • That’s something I’d be interested in too. However it might also become the next runaway train for similar reasons to this thread… 🙂

  35. Good Evening Gentlemen…

    I’ve kept in the background on this subject so far, very much on purpose, to be honest.

    I have considered making a comment to the extent of “let’s all play nice together” on a couple of occasions, but to be honest, I haven’t really thought it was warranted – until now.

    As the presenter and editor of VftV (and indeed Meeples & Miniatures) I have the very great benefit of having people such as Henry and Rich J on the show. I would describe both as ‘Jolly Good Chaps’, and it is to their credit that they are not only willing to participate in recorded discussion, but that they are willing to go on record with some forthright views.

    On the particular subject of Black Powder, both of these gentlemen has expressed a certain amount of exasperation regarding the amount of comment surrounding the price point and production value of these rules in particular, but at the entire subject in general – and both have been roundly criticised in some quarters for doing so.

    I want to make my (editorial) stance on this perfectly clear. The guests on the shows that I present and edit are always perfectly welcome – and indeed encouraged – to express their own opinions on whatever subjects are under discussion…however unpopular these subsequently prove to be.

    This stance will not change.

    At the same time, every listener has the right to listen to the show and post their own, considered, responses.

    However, some comments made over the course of today have not shown people in their best light, and this whole thread is in danger of descending into something akin to playground name calling.

    If you want to do that, take it elsewhere. I suggest Frothers might be a good place to start, or TMP, but not here.

    Is that OK with everyone? Good.

  36. Bit late with the last bit Neil, we’ve already kissed and made up. And no-one got bent out of shape or even swore, and there certainly wasn’t a single incident of Handbags at Dawn. 🙂

    And re: Frothers – it’s one of the most well-informed ‘playgrounds’ for miniatures going around. But if you’re going to persistently engage the locals (who happen to include some of the best miniature sculptors and painters in the hobby) with ill-considered comments, you’ll soon learn. A bit like TMP with the Bill-filter off really.

    Of course M&M is your house, your rules, but there’s a fine line between having your cake and eating it too. You sure you don’t want to rename your Blog and Podcast “Meeples & Mentalists”? It has a certain ring to it…

    Besides, it’s all really Mike’s fault. He started it. I blame him. 😉

    • OK Snowcat, fair comment.

      I’ve got nothing against Frothers as such – I know it’s one of the ‘places to be’ – but to be honest, I’m not a fan of ‘colourful’ language at the best of times, so I quickly decided that it wasn’t a place that I wanted to spend my free time.

      Wanting my cake and eating it? Not exactly sure where you are coming from, but I agree that that there is a fine line in any ‘robust discussion’. Whilst I’m perfectly happy to generally let people look after themselves (we are all adults after all) I do find, at times, that the cause of ‘winning the arguement’ and having the last word becomes the main objective, as opposed to anything else.

      When you have people who play wargames as their main hobby, I suppose that’s a natural hazard.

      In this instance, when it’s quickly obvious that no-one is going to convince anyone of anything, the best thing to do is step away – not everyone does that though, do they?

      One to chalk up to experience for me, I suppose…this is obviously why I’m not a manager 🙂

      • Oh the cake and eat it bit just refers to having a regular speaker being allowed to express his mind freely (which I like), but getting a bit edgy when listeners start to loosen up with their own thoughts via feedback. 🙂

        It’s human nature that this stuff will happen. Online discussions take on a life of their own, especially when POVs are so diametrically opposed.

        So in the end it becomes a bit of sport, which gives some goosebumps 😉 while others enjoy it as a bit of fun. I was all set to give Charles a good fonging (or die in a suitably amusing fashion trying), but he showed a nice touch of class, so I let it be.

        I used to be a manager btw. Note the past tense. 🙂

      • I’d rather play my sport on a field and my ‘games’ on a table though … if people would like a sport slanging match it would be best to do it with people who want to ‘play’ … MV was just being XXXXXX for the sake of it to see who would give the most back … fair enough with your rules but he would be the first to complain when someone gave him a mouthful rather than playing to his Queensbury rules (a virtual kick to the crutch/nerve points rather than keeping it fisticuffs)… it turned a decent post podcast debate into some sort of ritualistic bare knuckle fight for no reason than to feed his own inflated ego as far as I can see.

      • OK that was supposed to be CV and not MV – sorry Mike!

      • Snowcat – I thought that was what you meant, and your comments where why I didn’t jump in sooner.

        I agree, you can’t cry foul if you have a minor rant, and then don’t allow people to rant back – I don’t think that is what I said. I was trying to make the point that you did (obviously you made it better than I did, otherwise you wouldn’t have said it) that sometimes what tends to happen is that a good discussion thread gets hijacked by a single arguement – it depends if you like watching arguements via forum or not. I don’t.

        Rich – come on mate, it’s hardly wise to be the one to start throwing language and personal insults around when I’ve asked everyone to ‘please be civil’.

    • re:-

      Besides, it’s all really Mike’s fault. He started it. I blame him.

      yeah sorry guys, I’ll go and stand in the corner and think about what I’ve done

  37. I also wanted to pitch in on the happy thoughts. I wanted to say that I’m not a miniplayer but because of Henry and Neil I’m close to taking the plunge… So all I can say is bring on VFTV #5. I’ll be honest – to me this could easily be a weekly talk show on TV. I think our hobby (conflict simulation/military history gaming) is under represented in the real world and a real show with you two would be much fun!

  38. Pierce Inverarity // January 12, 2010 at 04:50 // Reply

    BTW, Black Powder is available on amazon.com for a shocking US$ 19.80 preorder price.

    That’s well nigh two movie tickets. Or certain wargame PDFs.

    • Your post prompted me to go have a look. What I found was a bit funny, although I have an idea why it may have happened.
      “2 new from $19.80 1 used from $130.30”

  39. Where’s the edit button when you need one? God, first Frothers, now here! I should have added something like “or makes them roll their eyes as it’s just not the kind of stuff they want on their blog/forum” after “goosebumps”; came across as a bit wanky otherwise, sorry.

  40. Charles Vasey // January 12, 2010 at 10:09 // Reply

    “I’d rather play my sport on a field and my ‘games’ on a table though … if people would like a sport slanging match it would be best to do it with people who want to ‘play’ … MV was just being a prick for the sake of it to see who would give the most back … fair enough with your rules but he would be the first to complain when someone gave him a mouthful rather than playing to his Queensbury rules (a virtual kick to the crutch/nerve points rather than keeping it fisticuffs)… it turned a decent post podcast debate into some sort of ritualistic bare knuckle fight for no reason than to feed his own inflated ego as far as I can see.”

    So you’re back to argue after all after flouncing off? Or is this just a drive-by?

    I’ve not noticeably complained about many of the on-line debates in which I’ve been involved. I made a series of points which you object to. You’ll need to learn to live with that in future because a lot of people have a lot of opinions. My ego may be over-inflated but it isn’t the only one.

  41. You guys really need to work on your avatars. 🙂

  42. I’d prefer it if Neil keeps his gear on, *thanks very much*!

  43. Oi Neil! With your deletes, you’ve messed up the order and spoiled the comedy! Rotter! 🙂

  44. I’ve just gotten an update from Amazon that Black Powder will be here in the late next week. If you’re in the US you amy want o see if the pre-order is still available ($19.80 is a good value no matter what).

  45. I was scanning something else about this on another blog. Interesting. Your perspective on it is diametrically opposed to what I read originally. I am still mulling over the various points of view, but I’m leaning to a great extent toward yours. And no matter, that’s what is so super about advanced democracy and the marketplace of thoughts on-line.

  46. Pete (sentient bean) // February 3, 2010 at 23:56 // Reply

    Listened to this one yesterday..

    I was chuckling my head off when Henry started blasting. Great show! More of this please. Love this editiorial stuff.

  47. I found the podcast so thought-provoking that I’ve listened to it three times, and as a direct result of both this podcast and the Meeples and Miniatures one with the review, I have purchased Black Powder.

    It arrived yesterday, and once I started looking at it, I could not stop turning the pages, reading the historical snippets, and admiring the glossy pictures. I’ve never played any wargames involving this time period, and boy I’m so looking forward to doing so.

    I am also looking to seeing Black Powder at Salute 2010 in April.

  48. Please excuse the necromancy but I’ve only just got this far with all the M&M podcasts to date – two more and I’ll be in the same time zone as the rest of you 😉

    I do not object to a 30 pound set of rules in fact I can get Black Powder online for a bit more than 30 dollars. A good, well produced product is worth paying for.

    I do reserve the right to whinge when a GW style “revenue stream system” gets in as the “standard” for local gaming. Having been burned by Warhammer early on, I am not willing to get into Field of Glory or Flames of War with the prospect of new rules and and army lists every quarter or so sucking away money from my minis budget, but guess what gets played at the club? (re-)Entry level gaming in my area is expensive.

    I fully accept that it is my choice not to get into these systems and I also accept that finding DBMM opponents is going to be tough. However, DBA is also widely played and I hope that through it, I can spread the 6mm infection around and perhaps generate interest in other less monetarily vampiric rules sets.

  49. Hi,

    I am slowly going through VftV and really am enjoying the conversation. I wanted to bring up a point that Henry mentioned about the success of BP. He states that BP sold 5000 copies at 30GBP. Great. However, many of those sales were at about $20 USD. Amazon had a fantastic pre-order deal. I took advantage of it. I may have not bought the game otherwise as it would have been more of a curiosity purchase than anything. I would bet that many “yanks” bought the game based on that pre-order deal alone.

    I do remember some UK’rs getting incredibly incensed about the fact that they were paying 30GBP and we were paying 30USD. That was on good ol’ TMP of course.

    Finally, about the rules themselves. Being a Yank myself, I was not lost on the rules humor. I thought it was amusing but not terribly funny. I do think that the extra text, in some ways, does the rules a bit of disservice. I would bet you could distill the rules to a book of about 10-20 pages without the extra pageantry. I don’t think the game is that difficult. I would think that a new-comer could pick it up pretty easily.

    Great podcasts so far!

    John

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