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"What "school" do you belong to or identify with?" Topic

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JPChris5606 Jan 2022 3:32 a.m. PST


I posted this to a dedicated forum a couple of days ago and then thought I would open it up to a wider audience. (I am thinking that I might crosspost it to the "old school" forum on TMP as well.) Anyway.

I am going to post my original thoughts and questions as well as my own answer or "answer." Then, I will sit back and wait but not watch.

Thanks in advance.

Which "school" do you most identify with?

While thumbing through the pages of THE WARGAMING COMPENDIUM (yes, yes . . .I know I am very late to this particular party), I could not help but notice the picture and caption on the bottom of page 32.

It was a photograph taken at the Partizan Show in 2007 (pre-pandemic obviously) and showed the Battle of Mollwitz, 1741. The hobby celebrities standing around the table included Charles S. Grant, Alan Perry, Phil Olley, and Stuart Asquith.

What caught my attention, aside from the pea-green soup color (colour) of the tabletop (wood panels – no cloth, teddybear fur or battle mat!) was the reference to this kind of game or set up being known as "the old school" movement or perhaps just "old school."

Anyway, I wondered what today's wargamers might be labeled as in 15 or 20 years?

Evidently, there is an "old school" of wargaming. What then, constitutes the "new school" or "schools"?

In 15-20 years, will the current "school" be referred to as the "old-new school"?

Is there a better word than "school" to describe the various "generations" or "approaches" to wargaming?

Perhaps related to the above, I was also wondering:
Are there accepted universal standards by which historical wargaming is evaluated or judged?

This rambling the result of a sudden opening in my schedule . . .

And my answer –

To answer my own question, however vaguely, indirectly, or circuitously . . .

I am not sure that my approach or preference would neatly fit into a school label. (Unless, of course, I amended the "old school" category so that it read "odd school.")

In 20 years, I shall be approaching 80 years of age. (That's a concept that is quite an eye-opener at this hour. [I am typing this at approximately 20 minutes after 4 in the morning.] )
I wonder if I shall be actively wargaming at that age? I wonder if I will still be reading Slingshot? I wonder if Slingshot will still be in publication? I wonder what the state of historical miniature wargaming will be?

While I have a history of playing at war in other historical eras, for better or worse, it seems that I have found a home in the ancients/medieval era (3000 BC to 1500 AD). To be certain, if the focus is drawn to something outside that wide chronological window, I might make a short trip to the horse & musket period or one of its sub-periods, but by and large, I think I am staying here in the age of Caesar and Saladin, et al.

Moving on to my last "point" or question, perhaps I should remove the word "universal," as this seems to place the topic into a rather subjective area? That said, it seems impossible to remove a large degree of subjectivity from our chosen or born-0with inclination to be drawn to military history, its study, and the recreation of it as entertainment on a tabletop, in a boardgame, or via a computer simulation.

To the point: Following, please find two "random" examples of (links to) historical miniature wargaming. Which do you like better? Which representation ticks more of your boxes? Why?



The above found at link

FusilierDan Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 4:51 a.m. PST

Letting the picture speak.


or even


follow the Little Britons label

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 9:12 a.m. PST

To me, Old School gaming is more about the simple style of painting, and terrain making. It can also include the venerable sand table gaming style. Never done a sand table, but I would enjoy it, at least once.

I go for a middle of the road approach: I block paint followed by The Dip Technique (Good Enough to Game With, at arm's length, or, GEtGW), I use simpler, far less realistic, terrain, but I do not use simple painted wood panels, or even felt, if I can help it, for roads, woods, and rivers.

I attended Austi-Con a few years ago, as a vendor. I was chided for displaying less than photo-quality terrain mats (I used a black carpet for a small space mat surface), and less than meticulously painted space ships, by an attendee who was trying to help me out by suggesting improvements to my display. I appreciated his input, but it demonstrated how the younger generation wants everything to be as photo-realistic, as close to Hollywood movie models, as possible, or they tend to dislike it, and look down upon it, as sub-standard.

To me, that is a short version of the Old School/New School spectrum. Cheers!

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 10:14 a.m. PST

It has rather got attached to painting and terrain style – to simplify as

basic = old school (game is more important than the super detailed paint work on the figures)

diorama standard = new school (does anyone ever use this term? grin)

But I really thought it was to do with the RULES being used.

Featherstone-era = old school
WRG super-realism = new school (which is 1970s-1980s era !)

And a lot of current games emphasise fast play, with broad-brush mechanisms rather than (say) WRG style Morale tables with a hundred factors.

So the latest games (like: one hour wargames, two hour wargames, one hour skirmish wargames) are more like Featherstone-era rules, which would suggest a general return to Old School mechanisms, but interestingly they also typically use far fewer figures.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 11:17 a.m. PST

To me, it is more about the figures and terrain, which create a certain vibe. Charles Grant rules, unpainted plastics, and books for hills was my first foray into real wargaming. Simple paint jobs and Kelly Green stands, flat hill levels, and simple houses make the "old school" to me.

I am working on a 54mm plastics colonial Sudan project that will have 500 or 600 unpainted figures. I am also thinking about a 1/72 WWII project with the same. Color will be provided by the different colors of plastic.

79thPA Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 11:28 a.m. PST

And don't forget the gloss finish.

Personal logo Der Alte Fritz Sponsoring Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 11:32 a.m. PST

I think that the term "Old School" in general public use refers to a fondness for things from the past. For example, one might say something like " when it comes to X I'm old school".

Regarding the term's use in war gaming, I think it started when a fellow named Patrick (Last Name?) started a Yahoo Group called Old School Wargaming. Patrick harkened back to his like of old Wargame figure ranges that are either out of production or off gamers' radar. Patrick liked figures such as RSM, Staddens, Surens and Hinchcliffe, among others.

Because these were the types of figures highlighted in old books from the 1970s such as Peter Young's "Charge" and Charles Grant Sr.'s "The War Game", there was a renewed interest in the figures, books and rules of this period. I'd also add an interest in authors such as Don Featherstone, Morshauser, etc.

Gamers rediscovered these books, figures and authors and started collecting them and creating mythical countries mimicking Young and Grant. Out of this was born the Imaginations fad.

So I would call Old School a reverence or rediscovery of the old figures, books, rules and authors of bygone eras.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 11:36 a.m. PST

I have and treasure my "Old School" button, but from a rules perspective, it's hard to find anything Grant, Young, Featherstone and Morschauser have in common--perhaps only that they were all much simpler than their successors.

Me? Perhaps the "short rules/minimal bookkeeping" school. I want to be able to read the rules quickly and play the game without prolonged discussion of the meaning of paragraph 32.1(a) and I want to look at the table and see what's going on--what the terrain is, who's an elite and who militia and what formation they're in while keeping as few markers on the table as possible. No good doing a spectacular job of painting a figure if he's buried in a ton of markers.

But the right opponents trump almost anything else.

Shagnasty Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 11:44 a.m. PST

I would be an "in between." The Old School has it's charm but I prefer more complex rules and more realistic scenery without being "diorama" quality. My main quibble is with "Igo/Ugo" rules, whether they be simple or complex.

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 1:05 p.m. PST

Simultaneous movement!

With written orders!

That's Old School evil grin

ChrisBrantley06 Jan 2022 1:21 p.m. PST

You can argue that the first "Old School" are the real "Old School", but it seems to me that most gamers think that the types of games and rules that the generation immediately before them played are Old School. So to me, old school is simple one sheet or homebrew rules, AIRFIX and Heritage 15s figures, etc., whereas to younger friends, old school is gaming with complex rules with lots of modifiers, big tables and large forces that can go on for days, and new comers may look at anything that isn't 4x4 or 2x2 and 1:1 scale as old school.

Augustus06 Jan 2022 4:39 p.m. PST

Anything more than 4x4 is old school.

I come from old school, but have neither the time, space, income, nor dedication to do it again.

I have adopted the Tremorden Reddering view of doing what one can with what I actually have. I am currently working with my brother on a 1/72 project that includes a Reddering-inspired colonial game.

I cannot wait until it is finished. I love 1/72. Even with the current ridiculous price increases.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 7:29 p.m. PST

I'm so old that it's pretty much assumed that I'm old school no matter what I'm actually doing.

cavcrazy06 Jan 2022 7:46 p.m. PST

I have thousands of figures, all glossy and ready for grand battles on large tables. I am "Old School"

Demosthenes Of Athens Supporting Member of TMP06 Jan 2022 11:35 p.m. PST

Besides the look of the game (paint jobs, terrain etc) and the style of rules alluded to here, I've also found there is a Old School style of writing as well.

What more invocative opening for a campaign than –
The Emperor and the Elector we at odds. As this situation was fairly normal it calls for no explanation. Some particularly outrageous act by the Elector had provoked the Emperor to exclaim, 'This insolent and pretentious prince must be chastised' and to order the instant invasion of the Electorate.

Or to the deliciously snarky-
After both sides have completed writing out orders, Smith says 'Ready to move? Quite ready.' replies Jones in an off-hand way. 'Except I have a charge to declare.'
'Good Lord, where? Oh I see, on my light infantry – are they in charging distance? Do you think this is a wise move, old man?' Smith inquires solicitously.

(Charge, Young & Lawford)

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2022 9:38 a.m. PST

I, too, have seen the newer games moving to smaller table sizes, 4x6, 4x4, and 2x2. I can't abide that. It just does not interest me, at all.

I game with 54mm Army Men figures, and our last game was on a table 12x32! Now THAT, was a game! [Wipes drool from chin…] I love big games. Go big, or go home, for me. Sorry, can't abide small games. I just don't see the point.

I play RPG's and that is what small games seem like to me: tactical RPG sessions. I play 2e BattleSystem Skirmish, which is a tactical mini's game with a thin veneer of RPG over the top -- that I enjoy, but not other small war games; when I play 2e BS Skirmishes, I tend to go big, as well. I invested in a custom gaming table, so I make use of it, as much as I can. It is 5+ x 9+, and I try to fill it to the edge. For me, the bigger, the more fun. Cheers!

Personal logo 20thmaine Supporting Member of TMP07 Jan 2022 12:45 p.m. PST

Since when did 4x6 become a small table?

Actually, I know the answer to this – in one of the Wargame Annuals there's a "Tiny Tabletop Teaser" by CS Grant which was designed for a 6x4 table.

The original Tiny Tabletop Teasers were in the Military Modelling Manual 1981, and were 4 scenarios to be played on a nest of side-tables which ranged from 16"x 24" down to 16" x 18" and an extra big game on a 30" x 30" Table! It's CS Grant, it was probably Charge! and therefore was old school (and it really was for the terrain – books under a blanket for hills!!) but on a small scale.

Zephyr107 Jan 2022 10:21 p.m. PST

"What "school" do you belong to or identify with?"

Reform school? evil grin

AICUSV10 Jan 2022 12:58 a.m. PST

I played my first war-game (with actual rules) in 1957. We played with what we had, but continually looking for new and better ideas, figures, paints, terrain, rules and all that. So I would say it is the Progressive School.

COL Scott ret12 Jan 2022 3:44 a.m. PST

I am "old school" but I like several of the modern changes. I like the terrain a bit nicer than ping pong table green, I like multiple figure bases, and I do like being able to finish a game in a leisurely evening.

In my home rules that I use with teenage boys (teaching history for Trail Life USA) is a combo of C.S. Grant's The Wargame and Junior General.

Albus Malum12 Jan 2022 10:16 p.m. PST

20thmaine said "Since when did 4x6 become a small table?"

I think my pingpong table is not quite big enough for a moderate small 15mm game with 200 miniatures per side. Cant figure how people play with 28mm miniatures on a 2x2, or 4x4 table, at that point is no bigger then a small D&D skirmish.

And I do have a large battlemat I made for my pingpong table, so its not table tennis green anymore.

and as for the gloss varnish, in some ways I like a little gloss on my 15mm miniatures, its instant highlights from any angle you look at them.

Personal logo Sgt Slag Supporting Member of TMP17 Jan 2022 9:02 p.m. PST

I played many a 28mm game on my old Ping Pong Table, and on my fancy custom-built gaming table, slightly larger than 5 feet by 9 feet. I find it small, and tight, to be honest.

I built a second garage at my house, last year, 24 feet by 30 feet, and I've been planning how to set up tables to fill it for 54mm games since it was just in the planning stages, before the ground had even been cleared for it. Hoping to make that dream a reality, this Summer.

I am really somewhere in the No-Man's-Land between Old School, and New School for gaming style. I like using terrain which I made myself. Photo-realistic is nice, but it is too much, too realistic, for me, in most games. It is also too expensive, and too limited, as I would grow tired of the same photo-mat ground cover used in every game…

My indoor/outdoor green carpet for ground cover/surface, looks like a golf course green. I made foam hills covered in cut-off's of the same carpet, so they match, nicely. They're stackable for hills, and mountains, if needed. Not realistic looking, but incredibly versatile, and modular. I prefer playable stuff (terrain and miniatures) over super-realistic, super-expensive, and typically limited in versatility.

We each have our preferences, our like's and our dislike's. Our differences make the hobby more interesting, IMO. I like the variety of styles and approaches. I always will. What suits you for your games, is fine with me. I will play my preferred style, as much as I am able, but I will play in other people's games, as well. It is fun to explore different ideas and preferences at other people's tables. Cheers!

pbishop1214 Feb 2022 3:35 a.m. PST

Gaming since the 70's, starting with Quarrie and Grant. Painted to a basic standard and played on a ping pong table. Terrain was basic. Best days… A zillion rules since then, but the past 12 or 13 years its been General de Brigade 28mm Napoleonics on a 12x6 table. Improved the painting/scenery, but not showcase qualtiy. Just fun. I guess after 13 years or so of GdBde Napoleonics in 28MM, I probably qualify for old school even with that. At 72, its just for fun now.

All Sir Garnett25 Feb 2022 3:23 a.m. PST

I'm an Asquithian

UshCha18 Mar 2022 7:05 p.m. PST

I confess I can see no common aspect in what is "old school". The great Phill Barkers stuff spams many years, in may ways his advances have now been abandoned for systems with little no or mininimal command and control. So is Barker Old school (early Fetherstone type games) or New DBX.

Me I go for "workman like" terrain, function over apperance, which some indicate is "old school" but I use almost exclusively 3D print figures so does that make me "new school" by definition or Old school because I colour not paint my models?

RobinJohnson27 Jul 2022 7:08 a.m. PST

That looks really cool, thanks for sharing.

steve dubgworth27 Jul 2022 1:00 p.m. PST

from my recollection after 54 years of wargaming the links in old wargaming styles were simplicity in most aspects. figures were simple and painted for play and although were ok they were not little works of art. scenery was again simple we always had a base cloth, hills of polystyrene woods from the model train world plenty of lichen scattered about (sorry reindeers) . maybe a few stones from the garden. rules were also simple peter young, terry wise, phil barker and the like (sorry no usa guys we just did not know they existed). the key thing was FUN. it was all historical larger armies 300 to 400 per side played between friends in a social environment. maybe the real difference between the two is commercialism old school was a hobby new school is a business (this may be contentious but the push for sales snd market share seems to be at the expense of fun). additionally winning was not so important (we wanted to win but it was the companionship and friendship that mattered)

arthur181527 Jul 2022 1:28 p.m. PST

I find a lot with which to agree in your comments, Steve.

Mark J Wilson Supporting Member of TMP16 Nov 2022 2:40 a.m. PST

I am unashamedly old school for the following reasons: -

a) My figures are painted well enough to look like the correct troops on the table, no shading no eyes. If an odd bayonet breaks off then shrug shoulders and move on.

b) My terrain is functional. I have no use for a beautifully sculptured hill that my figures slide off. I make great use of cheap green carpet and felt to mark 'areas'.

c) I use predominantly non-commercial [often my own] rules. My base status for good rules is you need a one page playsheet.

d) Armies are based on scenarios not competition points lists.

e) The table is large to allow room for manoeuvre.

f) Units in my army are based on a real historical Order of Battle so every battalion isn't 24 figures and every cavalry regiment 12.

I have to admit that I'm seriously contemplating breaking f) for some 7 years war figures assembled to 'Charge' rules orbats. This is a seriously retro job with semi flat 40mm figures, but I will be sticking to real nations.

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