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"Dioramas vs Miniature Wargaming" Topic


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22 Jun 2015 3:04 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian22 Jun 2015 3:02 p.m. PST

Speaking of "completely different," someone remarked to me today that making dioramas (which is what he does) is "completely different" from miniature wargaming.

Do you agree?

Striker22 Jun 2015 3:24 p.m. PST

I'd say yes. Dioramas, to me, are set and not going to be touched again. Wargaming may have mini dioramas but they change as the game is played.

Weasel22 Jun 2015 3:47 p.m. PST

I mean, they don't have rules right?

Chris Palmer22 Jun 2015 5:17 p.m. PST

No, not completely different. I'd say the only difference is one is static, and the other is designed to have the parts be movable.

As to rules, I would say dioramas must follow rules of composition and layout and construction, just like games have rules of movement, shooting and morale.

Swastakowey22 Jun 2015 6:41 p.m. PST

Dioramas can also look far more "Natural" than the wargaming tables tend to achieve. A Diorama never has to worry about its functionality like wargaming models have to. This means the process of painting up and the boards, terrain and models is different from the get go.

Well that's how I see it so far anyway, I am still working on diorama No.1.

Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian22 Jun 2015 6:51 p.m. PST

His point to me is that dioramas "look real" and gaming tables by and large do not.

nevinsrip22 Jun 2015 7:00 p.m. PST

His point to me is that dioramas "look real" and gaming tables by and large do not.

I've seen both. Depends on the person doing the work. Walk around Historion and you'll see what I call "moving dioramas",
which are games with terrain so spectacular, that each turn could be a diorama.

All depends on how much work goes into the project.

Allen57 Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2015 8:32 p.m. PST

Many of the purported game photos used in the glossy sets of wargames rules appear to me to be dioramas rather than games.

Aidan Campbell22 Jun 2015 10:31 p.m. PST

The difference is one of intention and use, quality will always be down to the individual.

Dioramas are created as three dimensional pictures to capture a moment in time and tell a story. War-gamers may use similar tools equipment and techniques but the emphasis is on creating playing pieces for the game where playability (be that durability or speed of completion) will often impact upon or override aesthetic decisions.

Personal logo ochoin Supporting Member of TMP22 Jun 2015 10:48 p.m. PST

Over at the HaT forum, there's a clear dichotomy between the two: though we're still amicable.

One of the chief differences is in how we view the figures. Wargamers usually want uniformity of pose, dioramists usually prefer variety. You could also add differences over the type of pose: the former usually prefer quite sedate marching poses whilst the latter like "action".

The major difference, as noted, is the 'look but don't touch' nature of dioramas.

McWong7323 Jun 2015 1:55 a.m. PST

One is to be admired, the other to be enjoyed.

Your call which is which.

redbanner414523 Jun 2015 3:25 a.m. PST

I tried watching a huge Empire game at a con many years ago. It was a lot like a diorama.

Repiqueone23 Jun 2015 3:56 a.m. PST

Dioramas are explicit- they are not much different from a drawing, photo,or painting,capturing a moment from an event- you see exactly what's going on and the presenters intentions are plainly shown. They are appreciated for their immediate artistry.

A wargame is mostly implicit- most of what is going on is solely in the mind of the players immediately involved-and may not be obvious to the uninvolved observer.

That is why so many wargames at conventions look identical to the casual observer even when using a wide variety of rules, and are generally very uninteresting to observe. Most of what's interesting about them is occurring in the participant's imaginations and is only indirectly represented on the table.

This is one reason that some gamers can enjoy games with unpainted figures and scrap paper terrain, and slooooow moving games can be interesting to those in the game-they are not seeing the actual pieces in play, but a much more dynamic and colorful scene in their mind's eye that the table top merely suggests in a sometimes crude fashion.

OSchmidt23 Jun 2015 4:06 a.m. PST

I put diorama's right on my stands.

For example.

In the Milita Regiment called "The Annheuser Bushwhackers" it is a "SCUM" unit (skirmishers) and one of the six stands has a large rock on it and an enormous oak tree. On the rock a "Danial Boone" figure in coonskin cap and with hand to shade eyes is spotting the shot for the five light infantry ment below. Another Danl Boone Figure is by the oak Tree keeping score on a slate board for the shooters,Lemuel, Opie, Jasper, Mush Mouth, and Punkin puss.

In the Unit "The Mackattack Indians" One stand has a few small birches and a large upright rock . By the side of the rock four Mack-attack Indians are firing, while two more are peering over the bush at a couple "en-flagrante Delicto"

At the front of the Floatsam und Jetzam Regiment (Royal Marines) there is a Navy Seal. It's a seal, in a large washtub, on a wheelbarrow, pushed by a boy in Turkish costume.

At the back of the Hesse Hyjink Regiment which is in three rank firing line there is a small table with an NCO and officer playing chess.

At the back of the Hesse-Hydrox Regiment a harem girl is propositioning an NCO.

The "House and Home" Militia regiment another unit mounted on six stands as skirmishers, the regiment is shown on it's "Militia Sunday Picnic. One stand has the men standing around a table stuffing their faces, another has the colonel, coronet, color bearer and a file of men having their portraits painted by an artist, another stand has a group of them playing at bowls, another has two ladies of the evening attempting to entice a few young lads into a tent, another has a couple and some scenery playing Mozart's Idomeneo, and a final one has a group singing around a keyboard.

The present project though is for the terrain. On the forest hexes, all of which have an internal hexagonal box set in from the edge, leaving a 1" or so flange all the way around I am setting various scenes. On one face is Grandma's house, another the woodcutter, another the big bad wolf, and of course little Red Riding Hood.

On another there is a gazebo half in the forest. In it is the lady fo the manner en flagrante delicto with her lover. In the previous face her maid is running through the woods to warn her, while behind here is a crowd of beaters and gillies, while behind them is the old, fat, gouty lord of the manor being pulled in a goat cart!

Another has the Venus Grotto from Tannheuser, another will have the legend of Action, another has picnickers in the woods, another has shepherds and a sheep fold, and so forth.

One will have Baa Baa Black sheep, the bags of wool, the master, the dame, and the little girl who lives down the lane.

One will also have a scene of a hunchback dwarf jester letting out a scream as he views in the torn open sack the body of his daughter, who has been killed mistakenly by the Assasin Sparafucili. Above him floats the banner with the word "Maladiciono" The curse! -- It's the final scene from Rigoletto.


No reason you can't combine the hobbies.

Oh yes, some of the forest sections above are functional. They all have these hexagonal boxes (remember they are 12" across on parallel sides, and the "hats" are made like forest canopys. In two of them you pick off the canopy to reveal on an intermediate layer a dice tray for rolling die) and in another two you lift off the hat to find you are looking at an ice-chest for the chilled wine.

warhawkwind23 Jun 2015 8:44 a.m. PST

I never saw a tree with a base in a diorama.

Intrepide23 Jun 2015 6:49 p.m. PST

They are two different things but can overlap. With rules systems which allow for a big base and multiple models to represent a unit or command & staff those stands can indeed be little dioramas.

I have always been surprised that so few modelers and 54mm + miniatures painters were also wargamers though. To me, the two hobbies go together like peanut butter and jelly.

I no longer have the large scale models but that is due to a couple of floods and just running out of steam to replace them. Loved my 1930's Soviet tanks.

Great War Ace24 Jun 2015 8:50 a.m. PST

Yes, "peanut butter and jelly" is a good comparison. When taken to their ultimate extent, dioramas are just war games that are "paused". War games are moving dioramas….

Stephen Miller28 Jun 2015 2:51 p.m. PST

Some of you might be interested in taking a look at a "story diorama I did a while back on a hypothetical action set on November 3, 1866 at Fort Kearny, Dakota Territory (now in Wyoming). You can find it by Googling (or whatever search engine you use) Steve Miller's Battle for Fort Phil Kearny. It is really about 10 diorama scenes over a 3-hour period depicting a Sioux attack on one of the three forts established by the 18th U.S. Infantry along the Bozeman Trail between Fort Laramie and the gold fiels in western Montana right after the close of the Civil War. As such, it may be seen as a hybrid between a wargame and a diorama.

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