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"Conference of Wargamers (COW2011) reports" Topic

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Bob the Temple Builder11 Jul 2011 9:57 a.m. PST

The annual Conference of Wargamers is now over, and various reports of the sessions that took place cane be found by following these links:

No doubt further reports will appear in due course.

Celtic Tiger12 Jul 2011 2:30 p.m. PST

I am always struck that in thirty years Wargames Developments have never actually developed anything that seems to be used in popular rules.

Will there be a point when this exercise in self-selective elitism does actually produce even the smallest thing that finds itself into the main stream of the hobby?

Bob the Temple Builder12 Jul 2011 3:20 p.m. PST

Dan of Iniquity,

You are quite right; in 30 years Wargame Developments has produced nothing … but its member have! That's the point of WD; it encourages people to experiment and develop. It isn't a wargames publishing house, a game designer, or a model figure manufacturer … but these are represented amongst its membership, as are professional military personnel who design simulations for a living.

As for being a self-selected elite … well anyone can join, even you. We do not discriminate; all you have to have is an interest in wargaming and trying out new ideas. If that makes members a self-selecting elite … well that is your definition, not mine.

PS. If the Data Protection Act allowed me to publish a list of the members of WD, you might see quite a few names of long-term members that you recognise and who have 'actually developed anything that seems to be used in popular rules.'

PPS. I am sorry if this message sounds a bit rude, but after thirty years of this sort of comment, one gets a bit miffed.

Mal Wright Fezian12 Jul 2011 6:34 p.m. PST

Looks like everyone had fun.

Did the conference discuss how come the battle for San Juan Hill was fought out on a flat wargames table? evil grin

Bob the Temple Builder12 Jul 2011 10:45 p.m. PST


It is not clear in the photos that the various hills (including San Juan) are indicated on the tabletop, and that advancing up them was covered in the rules that the players were given.

One of the problems of trying to run a conference in the middle of England is the that sometimes attendees do not always have access to transport that permits them to bring realistic terrain for all the games that are fought. We therefore accept compromises (e.g. the Battle of Froeschwiller was also fought over a flat board, but the hills were indicated by triangles that perform the function of indicating slopes as they did on contemporary maps).

COW is not a convention where people pay money to play wargames; it is a conference where they gather to play wargames, discuss game mechanisms and learn from each other. Attendees understand that what they are seeing and taking part in may not be the final 'product' but is something that is under development. They act as both play-testers and honest critics. Sometimes the development goes nowhere; sometimes it will emerge as a 'mainstream' wargame.

I know that this is more than an answer to the question you posed, but I hope that it explains why you saw what you saw.

DrVesuvius13 Jul 2011 2:05 a.m. PST

I'm not a current member of WD, though I did have a subscription years ago on behalf of my local wargames club. Without trying at all I can easily think of a couple of rulesets since then that have utilised ideas that were put forward in The Nugget or COW during that time. They may not have had "Game Mechanic (c) Wargames Developments(TM)" stamped on the cover, but the source was recognisable.

There is more to our hobby than the glossy £30.00 GBP hardback rulebooks and licensed/mandatory figure ranges that make up the "mainstream". There's plenty of room for the more experimental stuff that Wargames Developments come out with.

Dan of Inadequacy13 Jul 2011 2:57 a.m. PST

I too worry about elitism in the hobby only last weekend I mentioned this to my butler while he was painting the grass outside the long gallery. ( This was in preparation for the Queen's garden party in Scotland we had offered ours as it is substantially larger and I might add aesthetically more pleasing being in the style of Gertrude Jekyll than Her Majesty's.) I would have consulted the under footmen but we've had to let an entire phalanx of them go since all this unpleasantness with the Greek deficit started, but I digress. I think it is high time that elitists in the hobby were exposed. I propose a simple set of tests: do they know which way to progress the Vintage Cockburns around the table?; can they sensibly and accurately choose the correct cutlery during a 7 course luncheon?; do Gieves and Hawkes maintain their circumference measurements in saville Row? That should expose them! As for not contributing to the hobby for thirty years better not count that far too many clever individuals have tried their cleverest ideas at previous COWs best not to wander across the sands without decent underpinnings I'm sure old Lawrence used to say that regularly when he and Winnie were debating the merits of the Rolls Royce Armoured car back in the days of the Jordanian border patrols ah takes me back! Right enough of this talk of elitism Rupert's just called me from wapping to see if I can help with some Totty who's got into trouble hacking i didn't even know he maintained a thoroughbred stud for the odd gymkhana!! Toodle pip all!

Yesthatphil13 Jul 2011 3:15 a.m. PST

I admire your restraint, Bob …

It is difficult to respond to such 'content devoid' criticism: Dan doesn't really explain 'self-selective elitism' (I think it means 'anyone can join'), nor what he would consider as 'the main stream of the hobby'.

On the latter, I have been involved in the running of 'The Society of Ancients' (and a fair bit of what many ancients enthusiasts consider the main stream ancients game) throughout almost all of the 30 years in question. Many aspects have been transformed in that time, including not only the table top game, but also the sheer number of game options today's enthusiast has. WD and its members have had a big (and valued) hand in that evolution.

Through the early issues of Miniature Wargames Duncan Macfarlane also rolled out a lot of material from the early COWs to a bigger audience … so if, like Dan, you probably can't recognise a WD inspired development even when you're playing it, it might just be the influence has been sufficiently pervasive that it no longer shows up.

Still, no doubt there are introverted areas of Dan's hobby that will trundle on like a declining gene pool …

Keep up the good work

Phil Steele
The Society of Ancients

Martin Rapier13 Jul 2011 3:20 a.m. PST

"Did the conference discuss how come the battle for San Juan Hill was fought out on a flat wargames table?"

LOL. In fact the hills were in scale with the ground scale (and came in at around 500' high in scale terms), but of course the vertical scale of the figures, trees etc wasn't.

Must go, the Queen has just called around for tea. Pip. Pip.

Mal Wright Fezian13 Jul 2011 4:17 a.m. PST

I know that this is more than an answer to the question you posed, but I hope that it explains why you saw what you saw.

Hey! I'm all in favour of a get together to discuss rules and have fun.

I was just teasing about the hills.

But deadly serious about the having fun part. Its a hobby and when you get together with friends, a beer a good feed and a good game make it just right.


(Sorry….its a thing with me!)

Yesthatphil13 Jul 2011 4:42 a.m. PST


Shh! Something we should keep between ourselves, Mal … I know what you mean, but there are a lot of goblin-fanciers in these parts, and they have big ears …


Dan of Inadequacy13 Jul 2011 5:02 a.m. PST

But I still can't stand fantasy!

My word that takes me back to comments from Her ladyship herself. Mrs Inadequacy doesnt like fantasy either – especially RPG it turns out…oh no, hold the front page – I've misunderstood this thread completely.
To address this properly I did mention this to me old chum Gandalf just yesterday – wizard type in fairness, and absolutely stupendous on bonfire night when a bit of a show is required. Anyhow Gandalf couldn't contribute a single thought that would help us at all here, turned out he doesn't exist and never did! Blow me, I was more surprised than Bilbo at an Ann Summers party…I'm sure that was Bilbo…
Still, if it helps the junior ranks get their grubby mittens on some figures to paint rather than trawling the likes of facetube and youbook for ideas about online shenanigans..then fair play I say. Good to hear from the Society of Ancients – I've always enjoyed assurances from their publishing team at Saga – marvellous…hope I haven't misunderstood again. Anyway – time for matron to pop in for me afternoon crumpet….fantasy again..obviously!

Yesthatphil13 Jul 2011 5:59 a.m. PST

Thanks for your kind wishes, Dan

Hope matron gets the dose right


mythos195213 Jul 2011 6:02 a.m. PST

Methinks Dan of Iniquity knew the answer before laying out the challenge..

Dan of Inadequacy13 Jul 2011 6:06 a.m. PST

I wonder how many Dans we can spot on this thread…

Mal Wright Fezian13 Jul 2011 8:16 p.m. PST

Hope matron gets the dose right

If she had got it right he wouldn't be posting! evil grin

I was more surprised than Bilbo at an Ann Summers party…I'm sure that was Bilbo…

No no…that was Bilbo with a 'D' and a 'd'. grin

Lee Enfield14 Jul 2011 11:33 a.m. PST

I don't quite understand why one is supposed to care about the mainstream (it's one word, by the way, but enough of this elitism). Anyone can join WD. It's essentially a wargames club that happens to meet only once a year; albeit for a long weekend in which you might play a dozen games. I joined 30 years ago and stayed because it's a great weekend of playing innovative games. I never had any messianic zeal to change the way other people play wargames: being a shallow sort, I'm just happy to play -- and run -- a wide range of games in convivial company.

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