Wargaming is not the easiest hobby to get into. I’d been sitting on the fence for quite some time before I got into it, and I can say for a fact that it can unfortunately be quite a bit of a gamble at times, but even when it seems like things aren’t going your way… the pay off at the end still makes it all worthwhile. In this post I’m going to examine some of the issues that plague new or prospective wargamers, but don’t let this put you off. This is merely intended as an acknowledgment of the difficulties that new gamers can face, laced with a few suggestions for overcoming them. Hopefully I’m not the only one that’s encountered these obstacles!
Most obvious one out of the way first. Wargaming, like most hobbies, can be expensive. You need to buy the miniatures, the rule book, army books, dice, tape measure, markers (if needed), and then of course there’s the paint and glue to turn those sprues or moulded chunks of metal into something you can actually play with. You might also want to invest in clippers and files if your want to remove any excess plastic/metal from your miniatures, and don’t forget you’ll need some way to transport them safely! The bags alone often come in at a terrifyingly high price.
The best way to overcome this challenge is to buy stuff gradually. Get the essentials first, and slowly add to your army as you go along. If you’re keen on trying other games then some of those essentials (glue and clippers in particular) will go a long way and because you’re using them more often, it becomes a good purchase. Try to reduce spending where you can, by watching out for deals, or only buying the things you genuinely need (sounds like repetition I know, but while you might want to buy a big shiny warmachine for your army, if you don’t think you’ll use it much, you might as well wait).
2. Finding a venue
Realistically this is something you might want to research before you even take the plunge into wargaming. Just how easy will it be to play your chosen game? Is there a place nearby? Or will you need to travel quite far? Depending on the game you’re leaning towards there could be venues relatively close. Games Workshop allows people to play the game in their own stores for one, and there are certainly a lot of their stores around. There are also a lot of wargaming and tabletop clubs, and it’s well worth a look to see if any of these congregate at a local destination such as a village hall, or other hired facilities.
You could also try to start your own wargaming club, but I wouldn’t recommend this for first time gamers. Like any hobby, you should try to get a grip on it and make sure you genuinely enjoy it before trying to organise events of your own.
3. Finding opponents
So you’ve found a game you want to play, and you’re looking for someone to play it with. Depending on the game, and how you came to your conclusion (perhaps a friend suggested it to you), you may find that finding opponents is either relatively easy or frustratingly difficult. Speaking from personal experience, I have greatly enjoyed playing Warmachine and Hordes, a game that I was introduced to by a friend. I enjoyed playing it ever regularly at my local club, but eventually those I played with started to dwindle in number. I now haven’t played the game in several months, and my friends have moved back to Warhammer 40,000, albeit temporarily.
There will always be dry spells, but if you’re lucky enough to find a group that shares the enjoyment of the game, you’re well on your way. It can be frustrating seeing your regular opponents lose interest, particularly if they’ve been playing for years and you’ve only just started. All I can say is persevere. Don’t give up, and keep searching for new players. Alternatively take this opportunity to touch up your army. An impressive looking army never hurts your chances of encouraging others to get involved.
4. Getting a game
A bit like the previous point, it can be difficult, even once you’ve found opponents and a venue, to get a game. This can vary greatly. Maybe there aren’t enough players of your chosen game, or they’re taking a break to play other things. Maybe it’s always so busy that you just can’t find a table, or you can’t get a game because other players come in pairs, and prefer to play amongst themselves. These are all valid concerns, and realistically you might not get a game every week, but there are certainly ways you can try to avoid missing out.
Firstly, you could book ahead, if your venue allows it. Some venus may allow players to book tables ahead of time so they’re always assured a place to play. Alternatively, arriving early is a good bet too, or going with a friend, as you could simply play together if you can’t find someone else. Announcing your intentions on Facebook never hurts either. You could issue a challenge to other gamers, if you want to make it more competitive.
5. Dealing with cliques and bad players
There’s no avoiding them. Whatever you do, wherever you go, you’ll always come across people in any situation that prefer to band together. Sometimes this could be simply because they know each other better, but it can also be a sign of elitist, and it’s very important that you can tell the difference. Some people might not want to play against you yet because you’re new, and they might rather play against someone who has a finer grasp of the rules. Others might just be as nervous as you about meeting a new player. Those kinds of people might come round eventually, but there are some who won’t. If they don’t, or they make you feel uncomfortable, then the best thing to do is find someone closer to your level (or someone friendly who won’t mind helping you out). Most of all, don’t let the snobbery of other players put you off. The game is for everyone, not just for them, and even they were in your boots once.
The other major concern is people people who “play to win”. It might sound like a good thing that you want to play a game to win it, after all, winning is a lot of fun. Realistically though, the game itself is meant to be fun. It really isn’t about winning or losing, it’s about having a laugh. Every so often you might come across a gamer who doesn’t understand this, who throws a tantrum if he makes a bad move, or you do something he didn’t expect. Bad players exist, and I don’t mean people who aren’t good at the game, I mean players who take the game far too seriously. I’ve played a few of these in my time, and it can leave you feeling pretty frustrated. The best you can do is refuse to react to it, and if you feel strongly enough about the whole thing, avoid playing that person in future. Wargaming, like any hobby, is meant for relaxing and enjoying yourself, and if you don’t enjoy playing with someone, there’s no reason why you should play them. Obvious, I know, but it’s easy to forget.
Wargaming, like any hobby, requires the dedication of considerable amounts of time. This time will be divided into buying your miniatures, putting them together, deciding what you’re going to field (this would normally be the first thing you do, but us newbies are best starting off with a starter pack), painting (do not underestimate the time this takes!) and quite naturally the playing of the game itself. Now, the thing is, playing the game is only one part of the fun. As infuriating as it might be trying to piece together a miniature from scratch, or glue an army on for the umpteenth time, it’s also a lot of fun. Painting in particular is relaxing, and you’ll always feel great pride at your creations… Doesn’t matter if they’re as good as the posters, they’re yours and you should feel proud!
So if you’re panicking that it will take a while to get from buying your miniatures to being able to use them, don’t. The game itself is only half the fun. You need to be enjoying the whole experience to be getting the most out of your hobby.
Well, that’s all I’ve got time for tonight. If any of you guys have something different you think I should add I’d love to hear it. Maybe you disagree with what I’ve put and if so, well, I’d love to know about that too! Next week I should have some exciting updates to do with my Forge Fathers and a close look at Mantic’s new game. Stay tuned!