|If your games not Oldhammer, you're not coming in!|
I have felt it necessary to write this article due to a number of posts I have read on a number of different forums. It seems that with only four weeks to go until the first ever Oldhammer Weekender at the Foundry in Nottingham, all kinds of ideas and views are being splashed around by various people, many of who are not directly part of the Oldhammer Community it seems.
These two discussions in particular.
Making the Oldhammer Event Less Intimidating on the Bloodforum/Oldhammer Forums
Oldhammer Debate Trytans.com (in Spanish)
Before I begin, can I just refer you here. Have a read before we continue.
Is it just me, or are there some myths about Oldhammer that are spreading around the wider wargaming internet? Are something getting a little lost in translation? Both these questions are quite impossible to answer with any real certainty, but there are certainly interesting areas to explore.
A couple of years ago, if you typed the keywords 'warhammer third edition' or 'oldhammer' into a search engine you'd get very little real information in your results lists. Believe me, I know, as I used to do it. In fact, it was in doing so that I discovered Gaj's seminal Warhammer for Adults which inspired me to begin my own blog. Through his site (and direct communication from Gaj) I was introduced to the work of Thantsants, Zhu, Blue in VT and several others. Old School affectionardoes who loved collecting, painting and writing about long out of production models and publications.
You type those same keywords into a search engine today and you get a very different result. 'Oldhammer' is even being used on eBay to help market old school miniatures! Don't believe me, look here! Additionally, there are people not really connected to the 'Oldhammer Community' (which I mean to be membership with or involvement with the informal 'blog-circle', Facebook Group or Bloodforum) are using the term 'Oldhammer' to have their own discussions.
There is nothing wrong in this. In many ways its a good thing. But it seems to me that there are a number of 'myths' arising from somewhere that just are not the case. Now, myths can be dangerous (as any student of history will tell you) and they can certainly distort people's intentions. I was quite concerned when I heard Warlord Paul describe how he found it hard to encourage members of his gaming circle to try out the Oldhammer Weekender in Nottingham as they perceived the event to be intimidating, as such as consequence was never intended by the organisers of the event. Really, the only aim we had was to get as many old school fans, bloggers, painters etc into a room at once so they could have a great time. It was certainly not to create an 'elitist' event. After all, such an approach is no different to the tournament scene that so many of us were in disagreement with.
I was hoping that this post may in its own small way 'bust' some of these myths open for what they are. Let me share the myths that I feel I have come across from spending some time reading through the internet. If you feel there are any more, please contribute in the comments below so we can discuss them further. Cheers.
Myth 1: Oldhammer games must be played with Citadel miniatures produced between 1985-1992 only!
Not true at all, though there are some members of the community who prefer this style of miniature and have very large collections of old Citadel lead that they have been wanting to paint up and game with for many years. I am one of them. The research, collecting, restoration and finally playing with these miniatures is a major part of my gaming life. And I can see that a casual glance through the more well known blogs may well suggest that this is the case. It is not. If anything, Oldhammer players like me want to play against lovingly crafted and collected forces, with a rich a detailed background created by their owner. We will be interested in hearing what inspired your background, troop chocies, colour schemes and indulge you as you recount the spectacular eBay victories that ensured the armies creation.
|"Ahhhhhh! That's not original 1980s Citadel!"|
We will certainly not suddenly point you out like some mulletted character out of the 1978 version of The Invasion of the Bodysnatchers if we spot something post 1992 or from another manufacturer. Start prattling on about how you are 'trying out a new list' or how you have 'optimised your magical items' and you may well find us wandering off.
Myth 2: Warhammer Third Edition is the best version of the ruleset and no others can be used.
Again, not the case. Many Oldhammerers prefer second edition you know! In truth, there is no best version of the ruleset as it is all down to personal preference. We focus on the Third Edition because it is broadly contemporary with the Citadel range that many of us collect and because its has its roots in roleplay rather than straight wargame. The rule book also contains EVERYTHING you need to play and a wealth of bizarre creatures, ideas and rules, the most important one being freedom to change what you don't like. Editions 1-3 also had a rather natural progression. The main reason these edition are chosen is because they were designed to be played with a GM. Really good narrative games work brilliantly when a GM has designed the battle, presents you with a little piece of background and sets you off, only to introduce more detail as you progress.
Myth 3: Oldhammer has no 'real' armylists or balance so therefore has no strategy.
Since when did picking the 'correct' units off a published army list constitute strategy? To me, strategy is not an army composition but the tactical choices you have to make when responding to a situation. Do I advance into the woods or use the apparently abandoned wizard's tower as a bulwark against my foe? And what about rescuing that Imperial agent guarded in the baggage train? By strength or guile? As Oldhammer promotes the idea of a story driven game, the player's strategy is going to be based on what they have to actually achieve, if you want to cut down the forest and construct a series of scaling ladders, or build a series of defences, such things would be possible with a GM controlling play. As for balance, that's your responsibility, not the rules writers!
Myth 4: You need hundreds of painted models to play Oldhammer.
Just not the case. You can have a great game with a dozen a side. I know because I have done it. Realm of Chaos: Slaves to Darkness is a great entry point as you can build a warband out of just about anything. Collecting and painting up a handful of models is great fun and no great challenge for anyone. It is also possible to get your hands on the classic stuff too if you are so inclined. Also, during the Third Edition era it was very common for players to just bring what they had in the collection and come up with a scenario there and then, often organised into (roughly) goodies and baddies. Of course, a good GM would give secret victory conditions to each faction on each side to ensure that there may be friction within the ranks.
Myth 5: Oldhammer is just Warhammer
Any old school game fits, though the games produced during the 1980s by GW do dominate. But I would expect to see games beyond Warhammer (or even Rogue Trader) being played at an Oldhammer Event. Space Hulk (any edition), Blood Bowl, Heroquest, D&D... the list goes on. These games share the concept that the 'game' is a shared experience that cannot simply be 'won'.
I am going to keep this short. Oldhammer is NOT a game in its own right, based on Warhammer Third Edition rules. Its a mindset. Its ethos and aesthetics are heavily based on the game Warhammer 3rd Edition but are not ruled by them. The ethos is transferable and can be applied to any system, any game, any where and any time.
As always, feel free to comment about anything that I have discussed here. Do you agree with me that certain myths seem to be forming in the community. Its obvious that Oldhammer 'has been noticed' by the greater wargaming world and is beginning to influence others. Detractors are nothing to be feared, and to be honest, are to be expected. But I am sure that there is something special about Oldhammer, after all, no other online wargames group seems to get praise quite like we do when fellow enthusiasts discover what we have created.
Taken from the comments section of a Realm of Zhu
Oldhammer is about being YOUR own boss and doing what you want to do. Find like minded folk. Explore. Enjoy.
Just don't believe the hype!