TRANSMISSION RECEIVED: “Years ago, you served with my father in the Nerd Wars; now he begs you to help him in his struggle against the Empire. This is our most desperate hour. Help me, Obi-Von Kenobi: you’re my only hope.”
RESPONSE TRANSMITTED: “Sod off.”
This may come as a surprise. Have I not quit WFB following the release of its eighth edition? Did I not reject the hell-spawned Gav-dex that ruined Chaos Space Marines for me and heralded the rise of expensive mechanised armies that I can’t afford? Do I not near-exclusively play the wargames produced by Privateer Press while discussing the failings of Games Workshop at length?
True. True. True. But I still don’t care for this fanboy fight. Let me show you a flashback and you might see why…
Many years ago, as a beardless youth, I played the GW games exclusively. I knew that other wargames existed, you realise, even then; I just didn’t know anyone who actually played them, or who even purchased the ranks of Confrontation or Flintloque blisters that gathered dust in the local independent games emporium. For the sake of argument we’ll say that I began wargaming ‘properly’ in 2002, after my exam-year hiatus, and that I stuck with the same two armies for several years.
In 2005, I was introduced to a game called Warmachine by a man who was, most assuredly, an embittered ex-GW player, and evangelised the game as “so much better than WFB”. I gave it a try – thirty quid for a starter box wasn’t much to a man with a student loan and five existing armies for the GW games – and rather enjoyed it, picking up Cryx and (when they appeared on the scene) Trollbloods. As time wound on, I decided that breadth of systems suited me more than breadth of armies, and that being able to buy food was more important than having so many miniatures; I left university in 2007 with Vampire Counts, Chaos Space Marines, Cryx and Trollbloods armies. Note that I still haven’t quit GW games at this point, or started waving my nerd-wang around about which one is better than the other.
2008 was the Year of the Great Von Crash. It was a bad year. I was ill or injured for months on end, had a nervous breakdown and nearly went bankrupt. I also saw the Gav-Dex, perceived that Plague Marines in Rhinos were the wave of the future, looked at my army of twelve-man vanilla Chaos Space Marine squads and suddenly boring Daemons and realised I’d pretty much have to replace my army to stay current. I admit it: I ragequit. Tried doing an Ork army for a bit but it didn’t fire my imagination in the same way and the local players were a bit too tournament-crazy for my liking, so it didn’t last.
2009. Starving Graduate Student Von, in need of money for food and inter-library loans, liquidates a large amount of his hobby possessions; most of his roleplaying books, his Trollblood army, his by-now-somewhat-dated Vampire Counts, his Warmachine Mercenaries and about a third of his Cryx collection over the course of twelve months. Nothing to do with the games and everything to do with the money. I kept some Cryx because I wanted to stay involved in the hobby somehow despite my chronic lack of cash, and the local GW players had soured me on their games; same reason I never sold my World of Darkness or Savage Worlds books, because I had the happiest memories of playing those games.
Later in the year, when I had some money, I bought a second-hand Dark Elf army and enjoyed playing it. I didn’t stop enjoying WFB until the release of eighth edition. The game has become very very different and I admit to wanting a break from it until I’m free of all my baggage from seventh edition, the baggage that makes me set in my ways and stops me from adapting to the new game. Likewise, last year I bought some Tyranids and made a genuine attempt to engage with 40K again; it was an army choice dictated by what I could afford (no transports) and it was the wrong choice for me (painting pretty much the same thing that many times turned out to be too much a chore). I don’t hate the games – I just don’t have the capacity to buy back into them at the moment. Likewise, I don’t love Privateer Press games at the expense of all else – it’s just that the crowd playing Warmahordes were nicer people than the crowd playing WFB at the point where I had to choose a system to sell out of. Had some Mancunian nerds behaved better, or some others behaved worse, I could just as easily have sold my Cryx. While I still had nice people to play both games with, I did, and I loved it – and, for the record, two years later I really regret selling my Vampire Counts and am currently trying to find out if I can possibly buy them back.
The moral of the story, I suppose, is that the players are as important as the games. I’ve only ragequit over bad game design once; every other time it’s been either my own ill-advised decisions or the behaviour of potential playmates that have driven me away. If refusing to take sides and shout about whose game is the best makes me a bad person, so be it.