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"Is "Hollywood vs History" changing in our hobby" Topic

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Liliburlero Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 9:10 a.m. PST

Of course I can't find the relevant message board link but someone recently posted about the cinematic aspect of their wargaming, what a wonderful thing it was, blah, blah, blah…. So I began to wonder when some of the gaming hobby changed their opinions regarding what used to be called, derisively, "Hollywood" wargaming.

Through the years, at many of the HMGS conventions, Dad would have someone come up as he was GMing a game, and try to get into an argument about the "movie" aspect of Dad's games. He'd listen politely, thank them for recognizing what he was after in his games, and then walk away. Someone once told him that his US Cavalry figures were incorrect, i.e. they had yellow scarves around their neck. Dad said, "If it's good enough for John Wayne, it's good enough for me." Another gamer asked Dad what research he did for his AWI rules, and Dad replied, "I watched Jeff Daniels in The Crossing." The guy literally gasped and ran away.

So again, have opinions on this changed? Since "Gunga Din" was the inspiration for Dad writing TSATF 40 years later, I have always looked upon historical miniature gaming as little films played on a tabletop. It's a big part of the hobby to me; if not, I'd just push around bits of wood.

Pictors Studio22 May 2019 9:20 a.m. PST

I don't really look at gaming the hollywood version of events as being any more or less "accurate" than doing anything else.

It is a hobby, people should do what they enjoy and respect other people's wishes to do the same.

There are aspects of the hobby that don't appeal to me at all. I don't know why I would want to try to bash other people for enjoying them.

rustymusket22 May 2019 9:58 a.m. PST

I agree with Pictors Studio. Have fun the way you want to.

Personal logo Herkybird Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 10:06 a.m. PST

Play what you want, when you want, in the way you want. Seems the way to go, and 'Damn the torpedoes!'

Ed Mohrmann Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 10:12 a.m. PST

I tried for a few years to get Larry to introduce a
'Skyhook' rule into the game he did featuring the
French Foreign Legion defending against Arabs
attacking. In this way, once/game, a Legionnaire
could swing from tower to tower – to what purpose,
who knows ?

Even for him, it was a bit much !

Old Peculiar22 May 2019 10:32 a.m. PST

It is a game, pure and simple, not historic research.

GildasFacit Sponsoring Member of TMP22 May 2019 10:40 a.m. PST

I can manage with the 'Hollywood' approach for some eras and, particularly, for skirmish or small battles. I almost prefer it for colonial era because the reality is often unpleasant and little or no fun to game.

I don't like the same approach to larger scale battles and much prefer rules based on historical research and tactics. Some eras I prefer history over Hollywood at any scale.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian22 May 2019 10:52 a.m. PST

As to the accuracy of the painted figures, I'd say "ok, I'll pull my figures and we can use yours. They are here, correct?"

Personal logo miniMo Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 10:59 a.m. PST

I've always preferred to game real life as seen in the movies.
: 3

I've seen the rules written by folks who want "realism"!

Personal logo aegiscg47 Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 12:35 p.m. PST

I think you need to find a happy medium or the rules that are right for you. When we do large TSATF Northwest Frontier games they are definitely Hollywood, but we have some in the group who aren't interested in that style of colonial warfare. When we do large Sudan games using Battles for Empire, which is similar to Fire & Fury or Age of Eagles they show up. At this point in the hobby there are figs, scales, and rules for every style of play.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP22 May 2019 2:55 p.m. PST

I call people like your dad mentioned "jerks." As far as I can tell they are an inexhaustible resource created by our species.

Coelacanth Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 4:04 p.m. PST

I invoke Bradbury's Defense:

One dreadful boy ran up to me and said:
"That book of yours, The Martian Chronicles?"
"Yes," I said.
"On page 92, where you have the moons of Mars rising in the East?"
"Yeah," I said.
"Nah," he said.
So I hit him.


USAFpilot22 May 2019 5:02 p.m. PST

Much ado about nothing. If it's your game, have fun, do what you want. The folks who are more "Hollywood" vs "historical" will game together and vice versa. Birds of a feather flock together.

nsolomon9922 May 2019 8:01 p.m. PST

Gosh, its our hobby time – surely we can each do whatever floats our respective boats?! :)

Personal logo Bobgnar Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 8:09 p.m. PST

I have fun playing historical (as much as possible) and Hollywood history, what my son and I call Reel Wars.

Personal logo Narratio Supporting Member of TMP22 May 2019 11:07 p.m. PST

In days of old, my war games group always used to do audience participation games, usually man to man combat. Either WW1 Aerial combat, Gladiators 54mm WW2 skirmish or Battle tech style robot gladiators. We were a "gateway drug" group.

As such we'd throw down a Blurb connecting the game to a movie or TV series. Add in our over the top play style (maniacal laughter, bad accents, ham acting) and those type comments just never appeared.

But I've seen them used against others. When WRG used to do demo games (Oh, Aldershot '73…) Bob would do the game, Phil and Sue would spend a lot of time verbally abusing "the jerks" with reams of historical and archaeological data. Amazing how fast snarky comments collapsed – except on rhomphaia, that one never did end.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2019 12:24 a.m. PST

Not sure.
For decades most games put cavalry charges endind with melees, nearly always, when they should most of the time have one side yield and run or displace.. Like in films when they run, slow down then stop to play with sabers.

42flanker Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2019 1:36 a.m. PST

To put the other point of view: when a forum member, evidently one of the fraternity interested in historical accuracy, authenticity, what-have-you, poses a question here relating to some detail or other and elicits the response: "I don't care. They're my armies, I do what I want…"

- it's hard to see how that contributes to the conversation.

Horses for courses.

Personal logo Patrick R Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2019 2:46 a.m. PST

We are unashamed Hollywood-style participation demo gamers, we did battles based on "A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum", Pirates of the Carribbean, Westerns, Asterix, Tin Tin, Swiss Family Robinson etc.

I have nothing but respect for people who present that perfect Blenheim or Leipzig table, meticulously painted to museum standards.

But we have too much ADD to ever get that kind of project done so we look for something fun and original.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2019 4:38 a.m. PST

There was always a range in the hobby. There still is. I'm probably a little more stiff-necked now, myself: I know more history. Hollywood is no longer on my side, and I'm surrounded by kids.

But there's also period: I'd expect a Foreign Legion game or a Wild West gunfight to owe more to PC Wren and Howard Hawks. I'd be less impressed by someone who researched a WWII battalion-level game by watching a lot of movies.

Personal logo The Virtual Armchair General Sponsoring Member of TMP23 May 2019 10:19 a.m. PST

robert piepenbrink!



Choctaw23 May 2019 11:41 a.m. PST

There is no one in this hobby I feel the need to justify myself to. I game for the pure joy of it.

GROSSMAN Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2019 12:25 p.m. PST

Nobody likes a button counter. I am a yellow scarf guy myself. If it looks good and I like it I go with it and if you don't like that go back to your mom's basement.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2019 1:05 p.m. PST

I agree with Pictors Studio. Have fun the way you want to.

Nobody likes a button counter. I am a yellow scarf guy myself. If it looks good and I like it I go with it and if you don't like that go back to your mom's basement.

There was always a range in the hobby. There still is. I'm probably a little more stiff-necked now, myself: I know more history. Hollywood is no longer on my side, and I'm surrounded by kids.

But there's also period: I'd expect a Foreign Legion game or a Wild West gunfight to owe more to PC Wren and Howard Hawks. I'd be less impressed by someone who researched a WWII battalion-level game by watching a lot of movies.

While I generally agree with robert piepenbrink, none of these responses address the question asked.

Liliburlero's question was whether what he saw as the "Hollywood vs History" view of wargaming changing in our hobby"

He didn't ask what you liked or whether our hobby had a wide range of preferences, which is obvious.

The question was whether the "Hollywood vs History" views of wargaming changing in our hobby--as a whole?

I would say no. That dichotomy in preferences has always existed and I don't see that changing much. More folks have access to and know Hollywood war than actual history. It is the entry point for most wargamers. More power to them. I enjoy both kinds of games for different reasons. I enjoy TSATF for what it offers and Chain of Command for what it offers. They certainly don't offer the same level of military history and game play.

Personal logo Unlucky General Supporting Member of TMP23 May 2019 9:20 p.m. PST

I confess, accuracy is a big thing for me but largely I only apply it to myself. When it comes to uniform detail I never look beyond the unit I am building at the time I'm building it. It's enough to be fixated over lace patterns for my Quebec British infantry without extending my pedantry to the other sides. If your French are mid-18th century and in tricorns we are good to go. I don't care if the gaters are wrong or the cockades are too regular. Even against good wargaming mates who are my armies' historical opponents I wouldn't know if their armies were accurate or not no matter how many times I've played against them. Some things I broadly know about YOUR army. Provided I'm not expected to fight Tiger tanks in 1940 I'm happy to proceed.

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2019 5:18 a.m. PST

Accuracy button counting used to be a big thing here too then one begins to realize over the years that there's greater variety in "realism" than we can ever render with static miniatures.

Rigidity this comes along with button counting, and can be a detriment to the fun-factor and social aspect of gaming. Lots of button counters don't game [or paint/collect/present] themselves, and/or aren't invited back to game over time.

Historical Exploration there's a wealth to be mined with what-if scenario creation, and I for one get tired of the stale, re-running of the same scenarios over and over, but button counters probably think hypothetical mission-making is pretentious, so then there's a natural parting (see relief for this, and the reasoning for above).

Hollywood one can still play with reasonably accurate armies, terrain, and period-plausibility, for that "suspension of disbelief" factor but still allow for new story-telling upon a theme I gave up trying to teach history through my games years ago so the multi-page sit. cards are gone, and now we get down to the game at hand, and with us all more enjoying being on the same page here too.

AICUSV24 May 2019 8:22 a.m. PST

I'm a button counter, quite literally, I'll only paint my French 7YW figures as regiments whose buttons match those on the castings. But, I've played and enjoyed games where US 1812 troops fought at Waterloo. One game I remember was based on the Movie "Battle of the Bulge" with M48 tanks with Iron Crosses on them. To me part of the fun is the research into the armies I'm creating.

As to Hollywood changing the hobby, sure has.Many many years ago almost all gamers considered themselves historical gamers. Then in the 60's there was a book called "Lord of the Rings" and instead of a Saxon Army of 1808, you began to see elves and dragons.

As have been stated by others, it's a game have fun.

Personal logo FlyXwire Supporting Member of TMP24 May 2019 1:56 p.m. PST

As mentioned, public tastes in book reading has probably changed in the last 60 years too.

ge2002bill Supporting Member of TMP26 May 2019 6:08 p.m. PST

Hi Lori, et al,
You may be interested to view how we weaved TSATF20th ed. into our imagineered Jack Scruby Mafrican Continent here:


and here


With briefly captioned photos, dialogue and narrative.

My first interest in Colonial gaming was inspired by Jack Scruby in his old "Table Top Talk" magazines. Long odds. Desperate situations. Colorful characters and uniforms. And the movie Gunga Din.

Bill P.
Chronicler for The Adventures of General Pettygree

The Last Conformist04 Aug 2019 2:34 a.m. PST

I have no idea what the overall balance in the hobby is, and in any case surely Hollywood history and "real" history combined are dwarfed by outright fantasy.

I'm more towards the historical accuracy pole myself though. Probably relevantly, I read more history books than I watch movies.

Personal logo McLaddie Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2019 8:08 a.m. PST

Changing it from what? How was it before? I take it movies and popular books didn't influence wargaming? That wasn't my experience.

Personal logo Florida Tory Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2019 5:11 p.m. PST

Addressing Lillibuero's question as directly as I can, I will attest that my own opinion about Hollywood vs. history changed back when the rules still called for D6 rolls for firing, and I tried TSATF for the first time. Our local wargaming group was hooked, and we still are. It influenced both how we played and the joy we got out of a good game, win or lose. Call it Hollywood wargaming or anything else you want, it's more fun.

(Fortunately the D20 change came out soon after. I'm not sure of the year anymore, but it certainly was more than 30 years ago.)


Mad Guru Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2019 1:09 p.m. PST

Florida Tory, that's very interesting. As a dedicated TSATF gamer I didn't learn of the D20 rule change for firing until publication of the 20th Anniversary edition in 1999. I kept up with all the "official" changes and supplements back at the start when Yaquinto's still owned the rules and published a couple of supplements intermittently. I also subscribed to the Heliograph. So I'm surprised to learn the D20 firing rule change is so old. Honestly I was a fan of the D6 firing system and the simple "1/2; 1/3; 1./4; etc." results, but I grew to accept and even prefer the D20 system.

coolyork09 Aug 2019 5:32 a.m. PST

I don't think Hollywood had any effect on my choices of conflicts. My friend and shall I say mentor John Dunn ( now Professor at Valdasta State U.) turned me on to a then odd Wars ( Mex-Us , Paraguayan, Chaco, Boxer Wars etc.) at the early age of 12. I was already interested in the mainstream Wars i.e. WW2,CW,Nap. ect.. But I can't think of one case where a movie influenced me to buy,paint and game a period since 1972 . Guess I was just lucky! PS. Didn't mean I didn't love movies and shows like Zulu ,Gunga Din, Young Winston , Rat Patrol, The Horse Soldiers etc.

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