I have been asked by a number of interested parties to write a 'Beginner's Guide' to Oldhammer. I don't mind doing so and presenting the article here on my blog. However, Oldhammer is not really something that you can just buy into as, of course, its roots lie in the collecting of Citadel Miniatures and Games Workshop products released from the late '70s to the early '90s- the Jackson/Livingstone and later Ansell eras and the models concerned are, mostly, long out of production and are now only available in auctions or bring and buy sales.
You cannot just 'order' a force picked from Warhammer Armies, though retro inspired manufacturers do often produce miniature ranges that make suitable proxies. The forces you see on leading blogs are the product of years and years of collecting and seldom do period armies appear on line for sale.
Now I may well be preaching to the converted here. I don't mean too. But as the Oldhammer Movement gathers momentum, gamers and collectors not immediately aware of the 'Golden Age' are casting their eyes over the ranges and games for the first time. The reasons for this will be many, but there are, in my opinion, two main attractions to the 'Oldhammer Movement'. One: the friendly, supportive community. No endless debates and flame wars aka Warseer and DakkaDakka. Two: the quality of the miniatures and games, which speak for themselves, especially when players unfamiliar with them get their hands on a copy.
But if you were a total 'newb', how would you start? I am sure that there are many routes in and out of any hobby. I'll talk about mine here in detail and discuss how I went about building my collection of Old School Citadel. Here's hoping that others will join in the discussion and do the same, so that in future, when I am asked (or indeed any of you readers are asked) there's a blog page to forward prospective Oldhammerers to.
So in no particular order I shall begin.
1) Get your hands on the original publications
This is essential. And the best place to start. See if you can source an original copy of Warhammer Fantasy Battle Third Edition online. PDFs are available at a pinch after a few minutes searching through the less than savoury part of the internet, but there is nothing quite like owning a copy and being able to physically read the book. Additionally, the WFB3 rulebook contains enough material for you to play everything in Third Edition. All the creatures, races, special rules are present within the book. There are even card counters to photocopy to try out the rules and get playing straight away, even if you don't own a actual miniature. The book is also packed with period art and plenty of miniatures to help you get the 'feel' of Third Edition. Once you have sated yourself on the book, you can always expand yourself with material from the two Realms of Chaos books, Warhammer Armies and Warhammer Siege, though these are not essential. White Dwarf magazines are also very useful to collect. This is how I started old schooling some years ago. I started with issue 90 and worked forwards from there, feeling in gaps as I went along. I spent several years just doing this and it became a wonderful experience in nostalgia and scholarship, slowly piecing things together in my mind and enjoying all the articles over again. WD collecting also leaves you with a considerable collection of material to use for reference when collecting models and other products.
2) Bookmark online resources
The Stuff of Legends and the Collecting Citadel Miniatures Wiki are two really important resources for any old school collector. These should be a real starting point for anyone who is interested in the scene. They contain a vast series of resources that will help you recognise, and identify, third edition (and earlier) models. They really do reward frequent returns as even gnarled old leadheads like myself discover something new when browsing through the old adverts and catalogues.
3) Start Small
Other wargames (Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000) in particular have created the 'army point mindset'. You hear things like; "I am after a starter army, about 2000 points, where can I find the armylist?" This is not necessary and you should choose your models based on what you actually like and want to paint. Browse the ranges, look for the models that really interest you and collect them. Think about warbands, or bands of adventurers or raiding parties of perhaps only a dozen figures. Get them painted and have a skirmish game. Then use these small forces as a basis for a larger army. Don't worry about points values just try and keep things fair among those who are willing to play along. Powergamers often find this problematic, as unfamiliar rulesets and lack of listing but them into a rather uncomfortable position. A level playing field being one!
4) Focus your collecting
You have two choices here. You can do what I have done for many years; buy what you like or you can choose a race or set of models and set about trying to collect them all. You will have to understand that this may well be a slow process, even if you are chasing down '80s plastic skeletons, orcs etc. Though on the bright side, this gives you time to paint the sold school models that you receive in the post. Rather than seeing your forces grow in increments, regiment by regiment, see your forces growing model by model. Additionally, as most of the old school models you will be buying will all be different, the grueling painting regime that you need to adhere to in this age of processed plastic need not apply.
5) Start blogging
Publish your journey. That is how Oldhammer came to be. People, be they collectors, gamers or just interested parties, started writing about their interests, connected with each other and built the Movement through interesting, well written blogs that drew a wide audience. Join in.
6) Ignore 'Buy it Now' prices
These are a bit of an 'in joke' in the Oldhammer Community. There are plenty of people out there who believe that they can sell a single plastic skaven from 1988 for £25 but I have yet to see a single one sell. Don't pay excessive amounts for models, be patient and wait for your chance if you are after something specific. The other side of the coin also spins here, don't base your sales on these ridiculous prices. Sadly, there are plenty of people who seem shocked to learn that their Heroquest Fimir are not worth quite as much as they were lead to believe.
|Thantsants' Orc's Drift stands as the pinnacle of what can be achieved through old school collection. Just look at that!|
7) Create real scenarios
There is always a place for a pitched battle but don't rely on them. Think of a narrative and build on it to ensure that your games are actually being fought for a reason. That evil wizard you have on your shelf? How about he is trying to locate a group of minotaurs to enchant to help him raid a guarded crypt in a forest clearing? And then are those five fighters you have painted up, haven't they been paid to kill said minotaurs by the Burgomiester of a local village? I am sure that the wizard wouldn't be too happy about that? Then there is that giant spider that lurks in the centre of the clearing, anyone you steps too close will awaken the beast!
8) Become a GM
The simple scenario I have discussed above who make a fantastic project for anyone interested in Oldhammer. Getting hold of some old school minotaurs, a wizard, five fighters and a giant spider will probably set you back between £20 - £30. Build a small table, gather some simple scenery, set up the game and invite some gaming friends around. Explain to your players that you are going to brief them individually. The wizard is presented with his character and his motivations, as is the player with the fighters. You control the minotaurs, perhaps through a random roll, or directly, but of course, you don't tell them about the spider! I expect that your players will enjoy this little hunt into the forest far more than just another Cleanse and Burn episode. Try it out!
|Attend, or even better, organise an old school event. Big or small, it makes no matter as long as you are enjoying yourself!|
9) Network on social media
Join the Bloodforum or the Oldhammer Community on Facebook. Trade your unwanted models, ask advice, encourage others, promote the movement. Nuff Said.
There we go.
Anyone have anything else to add?