Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Wisdom of the Ancients

Internet Articles That Have Inspired Me

Hold the comp onions. Hey, isn't Alessio Italian?

Warhammer as a hobby takes a bit of inspiration now and again to keep all the sparkles and fairy dust at a maintainable level. Back in my wide-eyed and pimply days, the sole source of inspiration for the hobby derived from GW itself, in the form of the monthly White Dwarf and the occasional supplement, such as General's Compendium.

Once I had steady access to the internet, the very second thing I searched for was more Warhammers. I can remember the GW forums and online articles, before they took them all down, supposedly believing the internet to be a passing fad. After that all I could find was a depressing amount of anti-inspiration, much of which has been carefully maintained over the years. More recently, however, I have had the pleasure of reading some true gems that have helped me and my hobbying out in a big way.



I first want to mention an article found in an ageing copy of White Dwarf 221 from 1998, grandly entitled 'The Spirit of the Game'. As an impressionable sprog I loved this article - I had no way to play the actual game, no funds to collect an army, so this formed my conceptions of the hobby, and the ideals to strive towards. A kind of harmony only found between true hobbyists, to whom the rules played second fiddle to a cinematic story unfolding before their own eyes.

I reread this article recently, and many aspects of it just do not ring true to me 13 years or so after it was published, and after I had played a significant amount of Warhammer in the meantime. An editorial I found recently, featured on Bell of Lost Souls helped me clarify these doubts. I highly recommend Part One and Part Two of Spirit of the Game, the lesson being that the word missing from the original article was 'expectations'. Of recent interest is Jervis Johnson's revelations about the Apocalypse expansion;
On the heels of the release of Apocalypse, Jervis was concerned that the expansion might seem like a "license to create the most monstrously unbalanced armies imaginable". But the developers discovered an interesting phenomena: when they loosened the rules of the game, it forced players to work together to play in a manner that was more consistent with the spirit of the game. They discovered if any player exploited the freedom they were given, the fun just got sucked out of the games.
Perhaps we can derive some similar philosophy in the up coming Storm of Magic expansion?

Hugely popular in our gaming group is this article by Vaul (not the CG Vaul though) called Comp Onion? This provided a valuable slice of perspective for me personally, but I'm sure for the others too, and made it feel OK again to play according to the rules, as opposed to not taking certain units because someone in your group complains about it enough to put you off, instead of attempting to adapt tactically. I see this article relating directly to the broader meta-game of NZ tournament 'comp', and refer back to it whenever I lose faith.

Another stellar Warhammer-Empire article I enjoy reading is The Painting Motivational Blues by Shavixmare. There's not much more to say about it, really. Everyone reaches that dark point in their army painting progress where they begin to question their own existence. Shavix's take is highly entertaining and truly made me want to pick up my paintbrush right away, bristling with new ideas.

A final article from the same site is by legendary Empire hobbyist Midaski, called Fantasy and Family. I am incredibly lucky to have an amazing lady in my life who actively encourages my insane hobby, and who has even started painting some models. At a high standard too, I might add. But I did enjoy this article and believe there is much to take away from it, despite its humorous slant.

While not strictly 8th Edition relevant, Aaron Chapman's Reman Legions has been an inspiring read for me. His army concept is astounding, artistically and tactically. Of most benefit I think is the explanation of the tactical benefits of being charged. Nothing has really explained the tactical ins-and-outs of the game to me so well as this, save maybe for the now famous The Village Idiot (TVI) whose Tactica formed the basis for Chapman's strategy.

Finally I wanted to mention a more technically practical article which I have found very useful. Miniature Photography, found on Librarium-Online, has some excellent advice on taking photos of your model collection, using equipment you can easily access, as opposed to investing in professional photography equipment. The camera we have has no aperture setting, for example, but the simple tips helped produce something I was happy to post online.

So that's it for now. I hope whomever stumbles upon this finds something in one of these articles that helps inspire them as they did for me. There are a myriad of quality blogs out there these days which I actively search out, and I encourage anyone else interested in the hobby to do so as well.