Friday, 19 April 2013

The Fractured nature of local gaming

Ok this is going to be a slightly different post - please hang on with me here.

 I started thinking of this whilst I was playtesting my Panzerjager’s. I managed to get 10 games in, against 10 different opponents, and I was kind of surprised that some of the people I played against were surprised so many other locally played FoW.

I think there are 2 bits of background which are useful to know to begin with, the first is my own introduction to FoW, and by extension wargames. I follow a familiar path, I played 40K as a kid (lots of badly painted, poorly put together metal models in the mid 90’s) I stopped in my teens, and rediscovered it in my early 20’s.
Moved to Bournemouth, took up 40K, made good friends at the local store. Local store pissed us off, people started looking for other games, Ben and the mysterious PKY started FoW, I watched, I bought.
After that though only a couple of others in our little group played FoW so I started looking for others who may play. Using the groups section on the FoW website I met a few good players, and also started making slightly more regular visits to some local clubs. There were a few locally, some I liked some I didn’t.

But the interesting bit was finding out who played games against who, and in some ways the lack of connections between them. I was playing a game against one of the local players who was genuinely surprised when I mentioned that I’d been to one of the local clubs and seen 5 other people playing the game.
And other people at a local club (admittedly there are 4+ local clubs) were equally surprised when I mentioned that there was a whole group of individual people who played locally. Also having travelled to a few of the local clubs I’m intrigued by the different people who attend different ones, but then I think that has it’s own advantages, allowing people to find the club which is right for them.
The more interesting thing was that those who didn’t play in the clubs, who they played, other locals of course, but also people who lived in other towns and at tournaments. If you now look on the Battlefront boards, there is a post about ‘Bournemouth’ which one of our number so elegantly explains, ‘There are now at least 10 of us in the Bournemouth area that play Flames of War current age group i think 29-51 years old !!. We do not meet up as a club…’ I spoke to a couple about why they didn’t attend local clubs, and for most it just wasn’t their thing; and in the age of the internet (and being able to host games at you home address) is that really unusual? It may not grow the people playing the game with ‘oh wow that looks cool’ but most of us are internet savvy enough to look on various websites boards for other groups and players.

More recently due to the closure of our local GW’s (and there on-going changes in playing games – a thought for another thread) a couple of new gaming clubs have started, I was glancing over a forum of theirs, and again a couple who’ve started FoW and others who are interested. I’m really up for going to these to help grow the game, more players = more opponents = more fun I think.

So what do my ramblings mean? Well I think that it’s actually quite amazing that in a really small local community (around 400,00 players in the South East Dorset Conurbation) there are shed loads of players, yet very few actually seem to interact with each other. On the bright side, it also shows the huge diversity which FoW can accommodate, from hard-core tournament players, to the causal player, to those who like narrative gaming. 
Well thanks for reading my ramblings, and I hope it helps you to find other players for whatever system you play, and hopefully all the local players may make Breakthrough Assault 2, might bring the community together.

Thanks for reading

Dr Cox


  1. An interesting post.
    I agree clubs are good for meeting new players and introducing the game to others...
    The only issue I have with clubs is the extra time it takes to sort out a game - you have to get there, take all your stuff and terrain (bulky) set up tables, set up terrain, get the game going, and then pack it all up at the end, and get home and unpack everything... it cuts into your available playing time immensely.
    We find that by hosting at home, one person can has everything set up ready to go, and the other player just has to bring their army... next time you trade places and play at the other guys house...
    Clubs also have fees - annual membership, and attendance... which I'd rather spend on figures...
    As for meeting new players the internet is full of blogs and forums and 'opponent finders', which can get you 'meeting' folks and organising games...
    Best of luck with however you organise yours!

    1. The only thing I find with opponent finders (like the WWPD one, is how few players locally are on there (last I looked 1!) but I keep an eye out on various forums for people wanting games near me

  2. I didn't know there were 400,000 players in the Eat Dorset Connurbation.

  3. It had said people not players when I wrote it!

  4. In fairness I'm pretty certain I wrote east Dorset Connurbation. Ben's dyslexia is contagious. We should probably shoot him and burn his corpse to prevent further spread

  5. Local Bournemouth Gamer Coments. I have been wargaming since I was 18 years old. Before that I would buy a box of Airfix soldiers for half a crown LOL every weekend. I never knew wargaming existed until I came across a chap doing a wargames demo. From that moment I was hooked. I joined the SDMS wargames club and played 6th Edition ancients for nearly 20 years. The club had a mixture of players playing mostly Ancients and Napoleonic. I remember at the time when I became treasurer trying to get some of the less regular and slightly older players to join the club. Unfortunately I never managed to persuade them to a regular commitment. Now I am older I understand their reasons far better. I have retained several wargaming friends over the last 30 years or so. We all have our own wargames rooms with stacks of terrain and figures etc. So to be honest I have to say its comfortable playing at home. Once you get home from work, get changed, have food etc sometimes you just don’t feel like venturing out. Personally I have up to two games a week, I also play at one and sometimes two competitions every month. I have tried working with a local club but to be honest it was a waste of time, Kev and myself both went down to do a demo game and ended up on our own. I have also been down several times and had the odd game. In Bournemouth at the moment I have several regular opponents, Kevin, Paul, Laurence, Ben, Adam, Dave and Paul Webber. Not sure how many more I could fit in. I would be more than happy to attend a club on a regular basis as long as it was attended by the people above. I am not interested in going to a village hall and having a game with say Kevin with no other F of W players and surrounded by nice young chaps all playing Warhammer Fantasy battles etc as I might as well have stayed at home rather than carting all my terrain and figures with me. If you could find a location and agree an evening once a month which is convenient to all I would be more than happy to turn up, we could even do a mini league. As far as Flames of War goes I placed my email address and info about contacting myself for games etc next to the F of W models for sale in Hobby Craft which stayed up for a couple of years, I never had one response to it. Im not sure that there are any other F of W players in the Bournemouth area that really enjoy the game as they do not appear to ever visit or post on the F Of W forum. I am on it regularly and run the UK events diary for which the link is below. There is an event which I organize at Devizes (4th year now) again not attended by anybody else from Bournemouth other than Paul, Kevin and Laurence, so I guess if there are any other Flamers in the area they are not of the same type as the guys mentioned above. Although I am a regular competition player I am certainly an easy going fun loving player that enjoys the painting as much as the playing.

    Anbody want’s a game of Flames of War my email is


    My Flames of War blog

    1. You make a lot of good points Robin. My experience of the local clubs was very similar. I prefer to play at home with people I know than go to a club and not get a game. When I lived in Warminster I went to Triple Helix 4 or 5 times to try and play a game and even during campaigns I signed up for I struggled to get any games at all. I haven't been down the Thursday club yet so I can't speak for them, but with you, Kevin, Alex and Dave all having good playing areas for FOW and my good friend George having a great Dystopian Wars board and play area I don't feel the need to go down to a club with my time as limited as it is.