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"The role of the societies." Topic

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Ascent18 Jan 2012 8:17 a.m. PST

Reading through another thread TMP link it was mentioned that the Society of Ancients membership was aging year on year, (same spread of dates of birth), and it was hinted that other societies are experiencing similar trends. Given that there is new blood coming into the hobby, wherever it's coming from, why are they not joining the societies?

Possible reasons:

1. In the modern internet age people are using forums and blogs for the same sort of things they'd get from the societies so see no need to join.

2. They aren't aware of the existence of the societies.

3. They like a sety of rules rather than a specific period and are more interested in the game than the setting.

4. They play/collect multiple periods so don't want to join a society for a specific period.

5. They just don't think the societys are relevant to themselves/They're not interested in what the societies have to offer.

6. A mix of the above.

What are your thoughts?

Sane Max Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 8:18 a.m. PST



The Gray Ghost Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 8:21 a.m. PST


Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 8:25 a.m. PST

6, but probably mostly 1, then 2.

Most of the societies would/could/should be able to cope with addressing 3, 4, and 5 SoA covers many rule sets these days, SoA covers such a wide period you'd think that wouldn't be a problem, SWA in non-period specific (Ancients to SF). Point 5 is the big issue all the ocieties can really do is show what they offer (like on the SWA blog) and try and convince people it's worth a few $s.

SFSFW offers the best non-brand SF/F magaine, you'd think anyone who plays the non-mainstream games would consider being a member, but then there's a lot on the internet and all for free….

Oh Bugger Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 8:27 a.m. PST

1 and 5 although in both cases I think the Societies offer something worth having.

Ascent18 Jan 2012 8:29 a.m. PST

I think I should clarify that I don't mean that the societies aren't relevant just that's how people percieve them.

Yesthatphil Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 8:36 a.m. PST

Thanks for hiving that off, Ascent. A good mix of options, all of them credible (I'm interested to see how people respond) …

Of course, you use the term 'the hobby' which is a bit of a 'catch all'. Many TMP enthusiasts are in a different hobby to say, players of historical boardgames or reenactors. Most enthusiasts have interests that overlap, but 'the hobby' might mean different things to different people …

A second point would be that the societies themselves are different other than just in periods: SoA is much more of a wargame association; Pike & Shot is more history with a membership many of whom wargame (I am a member of both)…

Phil Steele
Formerly President of the Society of Ancients

PatrickWR18 Jan 2012 8:57 a.m. PST

Definitely #1.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 9:22 a.m. PST

I think all of them apply in different degree to anyone who isn't already a member.

People belong to societies for a wide variety of reasons and I don't think #1 imposes much of a limit, many of those would have previously gone to books and still would not have joined societies.

3 & 4 are often quoted to me as reasons with 2 less often.

5 is, I think, the most quoted to me for those who know of the various societies. Many people are just not 'joiners' and others are influenced by incorrect perceptions of the societies aims.

For some of the societies to move toward positions that would attract more membership they may lose a significant part of their 'traditional' membership base. This base is usually where the officers of the society come from so they correctly (IMHO) steer a careful path that avoids extinction from mass desertion while changing to meet the desires of atleast some potential new members.

'Enthusiasts' tend to be small in number so small societies to cater for them is logical. This doesn't mean they are 'exclusive' or 'superior' or consider themselves as such but they do have values that they don't want to compromise simply to increase membership.

Dave Crowell Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 9:32 a.m. PST

6. Which ones apply vary with the individual and the society.

I let my membership/subscription to Spearpoint (Nasamw) lapse after a year, because it seemed to focus on tournaments and. Society events, neither of which I attend.

SoA I lasted longer in.

These days I get my history from non-society sources, and my Wargames online.

AndrewGPaul Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 9:47 a.m. PST

SFSFW offers the best non-brand SF/F magaine, you'd think anyone who plays the non-mainstream games would consider being a member, but then there's a lot on the internet and all for free….

They might, if they'd heard of it. There's mention of them here on TMP, and probably TGN. Was there any posts on MERCS minis forums, given that the last issue had one of their models on the cover? There's nothing on Warseer, to my knowledge, either.

Maybe they're doing a great job marketing themselves to the more general communities, but there's no penetration of the game-specific forums.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 10:03 a.m. PST

It's tricky to market a society – I personally handed out several hundreds of flyers at a Salute (many years ago) we gained ZERO members. had an article in a glosy aboutn the society – got 3 members (one of whom was a resub).

Convincing people it'd be a good idea has always been a problem (even before the internet). SoA was blessed with about 3000 members at one point IIRC, the rest of the socities used top hover around a few hundred (and several people were in multiple societies !).

GildasFacit has it well – a lot of people are not joiners.

Also societies are often the first thing to be cut – if money is tight. Or time – at one point I was in SWA, SoA, P&S, SFSFW, bought MWAN, WI, MW, PW, WD and one mad year The courier as well. I couldn't read all that ! Slowly cut back, float in and out of the SoA now as interest takes me, kept on with SWA, buy Battlegames and that's about it.

Who asked this joker18 Jan 2012 12:16 p.m. PST

Probably 1 and 5. With only some experience with SOA, think about when it was founded. In the late 60s it became a club for Ancient Wargaming enthusiasts. It was a way to communicate ideas about gaming and Ancient studies in general, especially how it pertains to war. Today, we are in the data age or the communication age. There are many avenues of getting information about the same subject. You can join forums and read blogs and get the same sort of information.

The benefit of the SOA is that it is a venue for you to publish articles of interest in the Journal and to read articles that others have written on the subject matter.

Unfortunately, I will probably not re-up my membership this year to SOA. I have found I have next to no time available and can't even read the articles in the magazine!

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 12:27 p.m. PST

The Journal !

How could I forget my 3 (?) years with SOTCW ?!

Omemin Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 1:44 p.m. PST

2, for most reasonably new gamers.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP18 Jan 2012 2:51 p.m. PST

What can be done to combat 2 ?

TMP is a pretty strong web presence, and I think all the socities put up details of things like new issues of their magazines, or some convention, or new society only figures. And we all appreciate the editor letting us, I'm sure.

Now – advertising in the glossies didn't work so well – even noticeboard items, magazine articles with a "join the society" bit at the end, having web sites, leafleting conventions,….you do all this…you even get name checked in Warhammer Ancients…and it has ….not no effect but it still seems pretty hard to get new gamers to even notice the socities exist.

I don't have a solution.

Grizzlymc Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 4:00 p.m. PST

What does the society of Ancients do that a gamer cant get from the interwebz?

Yesthatphil Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 4:42 p.m. PST

1/. Slingshot: the main 'universal' benefit of SoA, like most other Societies, is a member written and published journal full of articles on ancient and medieval history and wargaming (free of adverts so, as well as giving lots of space to the articles and games, nobody is playing to the advertiser): 300-350 pages or so per year, plus a free game if you subscribe by the end of January*

2/. Benefits: members have access to a large number of club discounts on books, figures and scenery (between 5% and 25%) which can more than repay the total membership fee if you have a new army in mind. link

3/. Events: there are a number of member participation activities such as the Championship (a light-hearted tournament where members send their results into from anywhere in the world .. UK, Aus, NZ etc.) and member organised but 'all welcome' events like The BattleDay (where you will find Sabin, Barker, Priestley, Me -lol and many others all playing their ancients games side-by-side): this year the theme is Plataea (and their are satellite BattleDays organised by members in other countries)

4/. Resources: through the website, networking and through access (costs extra) to the member only electronic searchable Slingshot archive, nearly 50 years worth of research answering most of the questions wargamers have about their hobby (nearly every 'ancients' question asked on TMP has an answer somewhere in the archive …)..

5/. Representation: SoA attends 30 or so wargame shows and sponsors a dozen or so events and awards prizes all geared to encourage involvement in ancients and support the enthusiast from encouraging youngsters to play ancients to recognising innovation in game design, the Society of Ancients does its bit on behalf of its members. link

2012 is currently anticipated to extend the resources above by converting our member exclusive pages and yahoo group into an ancient and medieval (fully featured) forum: access will be a mix of open and restricted and members will have additional benefits.

Of course the real benefit is participation in a world wide community of fellow enthusiasts. Although that is not something the 'interwebz' can't do, it is something it doesn't do because the members own it and run it.

You get all that as part of a package where at £3.50 GBP or so per magazine you get your value back just in Slingshot, but where the discounts mean it might not cost you at all.

Like everything, it is a choice which is there for enthusiasts if they want it. Paypal accepted

*this year a battle of Kadesh game by Ian Russell Lowell and Graham Evans

pbishop12 Inactive Member18 Jan 2012 10:18 p.m. PST


Wargaming is a hobby. I've been enjoying this since the 70's. As a hobby, I prefer to have NO structure regarding my time or rules played, or a commitment. I get enough of that in my work life. For some a Society may be fun, I'd just consider it an obligation carving out a piece of time that I'm unwilling to give up.

DS6151 Inactive Member19 Jan 2012 1:21 p.m. PST

All of them are valid reasons. All of them have some aspect that I agree with, and I do not belong to any societies.

I have nothing against them at all, I just don't see the point.

timlillig Inactive Member20 Jan 2012 11:02 a.m. PST

7. I tried it out and found it to be not worth while.

8. The society officers discourage new membership.

I was a member of SoA for a year. It was 2009 and I turned 30 that year. I chose not to continue my membership because it was just not worth it.

I live in the US, so I don't get to go to the events.

I never received my username and password for the member's section of the web site. When I emailed about this, I got a very dismissive response.

I was never able to use the discounts from membership.

The overall impression I got from the society officer was that they don't want new members.

So, all I ended up with was a subscription to slingshot. It cost as much as subscribing to Ancient Warfare, but is not as good of a magazine.

I have recently joined SFSFW for this year and hopefully that will go better.

Elohim Inactive Member21 Jan 2012 10:38 a.m. PST

All bar 2.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP22 Jan 2012 5:17 p.m. PST

timlillig did you do this via the web ? I can't see the "join the SFSFW" bit on their website is it just cunningly hidden ?

Yesthatphil Inactive Member23 Jan 2012 4:26 a.m. PST

Hi timlillig, I'm sorry you had a disappointing experience.

Society Officers do not knowingly discourage new membership.

I was president in 2009 and was copied into complaints (we had very few, I didn't see this). It wasn't mentioned on the members Yahoo group either (which is another opportunity I get to see if a member has a problem and make sure it is fixed).

I can say that the membership card/member area/access codes system was brand new in 2009, was a bit clunky, but that there was very little content behind it (horse and cart … you need people to get in to load the content – until a critical mass is achieved the value of those members getting in is limited)…

It took a few goes to get it right. It may be you mistook a 'not to worry/not much there/we're fixing it when we can' reassurance as dismissive (the Society is entirely volunteer run so people are doing their best).

Ancient Warfare is a different sort of publication and costs over 50% more than a Society of Ancients subscription – so I'm not sure a direct comparison is fair.

That said, I'm not for one moment arguing with your choice. If your preference is Ancient Warfare rather than Slingshot (or both), that is entirely your prerogative (and thanks you for joining the Society on a trial basis even if you chose not to continue).

As outgoing President, I attended the first meeting of the 2012 Committee and can assure fellow historical wargamers that the Society's Officers want and are keen to help and support new members. Although it won't suit everyone, early subscriptions are ahead of where they were 12 months ago and the formula continues to attract enthusiasts. All are welcome.

Phil Steele
President 2007 to 2011

timlillig Inactive Member23 Jan 2012 9:01 a.m. PST

I joined through their web site

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP24 Jan 2012 4:53 a.m. PST

Thanks !

I googled SFSFW and the blogspot came up first. It doesn't sem to have a link to their main site !

Jimlad4824 Jan 2012 5:04 a.m. PST

I'm a 32yr old gamer and have zero interest in joining a society. The games I play, such as FOW have a thriving tournament scene where I can play games and excellent internet support. My local clubs also have membership deals with some manufacturers, so the discount is of less importance as well.

What would make me join? Firstly, a society that had a membership which didnt feel dismissive of younger gamers, and people who've come into the hobby weaned on things like points values, army books and GW. I understand why many older gamers don't like some of my peer group, but I wish some wouldnt act surprised if certain people are dismissive of our playing backgrounds, and then express dissapointment that we choose not to pay money to be part of their society (in general, not a specific one here).

I'd be looking for a good web presence, providing access to information, downloads and material not readily available on the wider web. I'd also want an easy system of being able to arrange a game.

Ultimately though, I want to have a fun hobby and pasttime – a society has to generate something unique and particularly special to make me feel it adds benefit to my gaming, and at present, I personally don't feel that any societies offer this.

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