Meeples & Miniatures – Episode 179 – Aurelian, Freejumper and…?

Download Episode 179

Welcome to Episode 179 of the Meeples & Miniatures Podcast



In this episode, hosts Neil Shuck Mike Hobbs, Mike Whitaker and Dave Luff(!) are joined by rules author Sam Mustafa. As well as discussing his latest wargaming projects, they chat to same about the current health of historical wargaming in the United States.

As usual, they also discuss what they’ve been doing Hobby-wise for the past couple of weeks and cast their eye over some of the latest hobby news.

We hope you enjoy the show

Show details:

  • 00:00 – Intro
  • 06:42 – What we’ve been up to
  • 59:49 – Hobby News
  • 1:07:55 – Sam Mustafa interview – Part I – Aurelian, Freejumper and…
  • 2:17:33 – Sam Mustafa interview – Part II – Historical wargaming in the US
  • 3:09:25 – Outtro



16 Comments on Meeples & Miniatures – Episode 179 – Aurelian, Freejumper and…?

  1. Marcus Wheeler // September 20, 2016 at 09:24 // Reply

    Only just finished the last episode yesterday. What a cornucopia of wargaming goodness. Great for me on a few days away.

  2. What a great episode! I’m a huge fan of Sam’s work and his approach to game design. I’m really unsure about the decline of historical wargames companies in the States. I hope this generates some more discussion as to “why?”

  3. I wonder if there’s been a change in the education system in the US in the last 20 or 30 years? A lot of people’s interest in history comes from their school/college years; if the US youth aren’t exposed to history the same, that could have a bearing on it.

    • How wide is the US curriculum on history?
      Do they major on domestic history?
      There is a stereotype that the average US citizen tends to be insular, and doesn’t take much interest in what happens outside of the country unless it directly involves the country – but I am distrustful of stereotyping, so how true is this, and is it a contributing factor?

  4. A wonderful interview – Sam Mustafa and Richard Clarke are my favourite rule designers. So far my favourite of Sam’s rules is Maurice, which I think hasn’t always received the attention it deserves.

    I note there were a couple of references to Australia in Sam’s second interview. As a native of Melbourne, home of Eureka Miniatures, I wonder if you could some time do a similar interview on the Australian scene with Nic Robson? With four little kids and heaps of other pressures I almost never get out to clubs and conventions, but I get the sense the historical gaming scene is doing pretty well around here. Being a Brit himself, Nic would bring a good perspective.

  5. Alex Woodrow // September 22, 2016 at 20:10 // Reply

    This is one of the best episodes you’ve done – the second part of the interview with Sam was really interesting. How about getting Sam and Rich Clarke on the show together as a mighty team-up?

  6. Only listened to a segment of this episode so far, but it was the one where Sam and you guys were discussing the stagnation of American historical war gaming. As a 30-year member of HMGS East (the group that puts on Cold Wars, Historicon, and Fall In), I see it too. The hobby certainly isn’t dying by any stretch of the imagination, but historical gaming doesn’t really seem to be growing either.

    I’m a 50-something war gamer, whose main interest has always been fantasy gaming. D&D was born in America. Star Wars and Star Trek are American. Robert E. Howard, HP Lovecraft, Stephen King, George RR Martin, Ray Bradbury, Terry Brooks, and Robert Jordan are all famous American fantasy/horror authors who have written popular books series, many of which have been turned into movies or TV shows. Marvel Comics leads the way in the superhero realm. Fantasy/sci-fi has always been huge in the states, it’s what I grew up with, and it translates right into the games we play.

    With the advent of good alternatives to Games Workshop games, such as Song of Blades & Heroes, Kings of War, X-Wing, Gnome Wars, HeroScape, and the recent Osprey fantasy (with Frostgrave and Dragon Rampant leading the way), there are more options for fantasy/sci-fi players than ever before. All of that said, I think there are starting to be some mid-scale historical games that are catching American attentions. My group plays Lion Rampant and SAGA, and I’m hearing/seeing them played more. Add that to WWII and American Civil War which have always been very popular periods over here, and it’s good to see some growth in other historical periods.

    I do think Neil hit a few things on the head. I do think American tastes are different than European tastes. And I do think Americans are most interested in wars we’ve participated in (AWI, ACW, WWI, WWII, Vietnam). Nothing against Sam (he’s an extremely innovative designer and smart guy), but I have zero interest in Napoleonics and some of the genres that he’s interested in. And it’s not an age thing; I’m actually 2 years older than he is. Different strokes as they say. Also, board gaming has EXPLODED in popularity over here. A “board gaming café” just opened in my area (Central PA) a couple of months ago and is doing well. On a nice side-note, we played some SAGA there as well, so there’s hope for historical mini gamers after all!

    Great discussion as always guys. Meeples & Miniatures remains my favorite gaming podcast. You guys rock!

  7. Very interesting interview I’m one of those players who prefer dice to cards mechanics for no apparent reason. Probably is the tactile experience. Very curious to see the new WW2 operation scale wargame that Sam Mustafa is preparing.

  8. Tim Mitchell // September 26, 2016 at 20:07 // Reply

    Divisional level WW2 wargames with miniatures. Do you know about Panzer Korps ?

    Written and produced in America too ! Someone should tell Sam Mustafa …

  9. Marcus Wheeler // September 27, 2016 at 16:49 // Reply

    I agree it was an excellent episode with lots of thoughtful comment. I always like to hear about thoughts on game mechanics/design too, as I like to tinker!

  10. Great interview with Sam Mustafa about historical gaming in the USA.

    My experience is mostly the same as Mr. Mustafa’s, but there are some differences in my local scene.

    I am in Southern California, in San Diego, a city of 1.3 million people. I’m lucky that my local game store, At Ease Games, has a strong emphasis on miniatures gaming. That said, it’s Magic the Gathering that keeps the store open. Magic players outnumber miniatures players 10-1, easily. Even among miniatures players, the historical players are a minority, with 40K, Age of Sigmar, and Warmachine accounting for the majority of players.

    While historical miniatures gaming is a small group here, it is growing. SAGA and Bolt Action are the reason for that. Those two games have brought in younger players (and by younger I mean under 40), and first-time miniatures players. The super friendly and outgoing people in the miniatures community are another big reason for the new players. In person, and online, the players here are always ready to answer questions and give encouraging words.

    I think Facebook has had a huge positive influence. There are several SoCal focused historical gaming groups, and it’s a great place for new players to get started. When someone expresses interest to me, I can always say “check out the San Diego SAGA group on Facebook”, or whichever appropriate group.

    San Diego SAGA –
    San Diego Bolt Action Raiders –
    San Diego Historical Miniature Wargamers –

    Further, last year we had a new local historical games convention start, San Diego Historical Games Convention – It was a huge success and has moved to a larger venue for 2016. While is it boardgame focused (GMT is a major sponsor) this year will see a SAGA tournament, a Bolt Action tournament, and I’ll be running a Lion Rampant “learn to play” game.

    While still a minority, historical gaming is alive and growing my neck of the woods.

  11. Very interesting discussion about wargaming here in the U.S. Sam’s experience certainly matches my own, though we do have some producers here. Brigade games, Company B, Trenchworx and of course my pals over at the Phalanxe Consortium.

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