Tuesday, 24 June 2014

The problem with Oldhammer.


Good evening all, or indeed what ever time of day it is that you may be reading this. Not that time actually has any real relevance here but it is a polite way to begin this little missive. I have had a rather bizarre evening really, though. I was drawn into a conversation on the Facebook group with a new member of our little community who was a little confused about the status quo. 

Its seems that as Oldhammer has spread across the world and expanded on an unprecedented scale through social media the message is getting a bit lost. The Old Guard may be surprised to hear that dear old Chico has even been mistaken as the 'owner' of Oldhammer. The prospect of such an occurrence is, indeed, terrifying and the thought of what such power would do to Chico's already damaged mind is worrying. 

But the message seems to be getting lost with the huge influx of new members.

Oldhammer is NOT a particular ruleset, nor a figure manufacturer or a blog post to be adhered to religiously.

In fact, the term 'Oldhammer' has been used by gamers before us. But here a problem does arise, and that problem is linked to the actual name of our community. 'Old' and 'Hammer' has an obvious link to older versions of Warhammer and it is here that the terminology can be difficult to new members to get their heads around. Some people I have met are amazed that there are even editions of the game from the 1980s, and can be fascinated by the miniatures I use being older than them. So when such a person sees or reads the term 'Oldhammer' it is no surprise that they perceive the group to be primarily concerned with playing old versions of the game. 

This also helps to promote the belief that only Citadel miniatures designed in the 1980s are suitable for a game of Oldhammer. Again, this is not the case. In fact, back in the day I remember using all kinds of things as proxies (Zoids, He-Man, Star Wars vehicles... the list goes on and on) and not giving two hoots as long as we had a great time. 

I feel that I may be part of the problem too. This blog has been incredibly successful and I am sure that you will forgive me in blowing my own trumpet here but Realm of Chaos 80s has become (or so I have been told) the number one old school site in the world detailing 1980s 'Bryan Ansell' Warhammer. I collect, paint and write about miniatures produced during that time and like to play Third Edition games with them. Just because I am the most well known and visual Oldhammerer doesn't mean that my interpretation is the 'correct' way to play Oldhammer. 

In fact, there is no 'correct way' to play Oldhammer or indeed be an Oldhammerer. Its definition is up to YOU to decide. Its what makes you happy and feel satisfied in the games you play and the miniatures you paint and collect. Because of this I find it highly hypocritical that a minority of people who claim to be part of our community seem to be pushing 'their' interpretation of what our community is and what it should or should not allow. 

Its seems that the community (and I am quoting another Oldhammerer here) is "now a divided camp. Those who are trying to enforce their vision of Oldhammer and those who are just having fun and getting on with it." 

So if you are new to us and feel inspired by what you see here just go out and get on with the games you want to play and find like-minded souls to share them with. 


54 comments:

  1. Very well said. I remember playing a scenario from one of the old journals using cardboard cutouts (couldn't afford the figures at that time) and having many very enjoyable games. I'm currently collecting Dr Who figures and also consider these 'Oldhammer' - no Warhammer in sight, not even 3rd or 2nd editions...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Quite right too, Lee. Oldhammer is a concept that promotes responsible gaming and if your bag is old school Doctor Who (and to be honest, there are few themes better to hang narrative scenarios around) then so be it. I once had a sizable of Harlequin Doctor Who miniatures all painted but I sold them to a chap in Australia. Rather silly of me too.

      Delete
  2. Warhammer these days is riddled with a slavish obedience to the 'official stamp': the minis must be correct; the edition must be current; the meta must be observed; even relaxed and non-competitive play, which I'm sure you'll agree is usually a good thing, is being touted as the one true way to use the rules and army lists. It's small wonder to me that anyone with experience of only the last few editions is looking for the infallible, carved-in-stone rules for old Warhammer.

    Although, if you don't mind, I think the 'movement's' moniker does cause a little confusion. You say (or hint) that Oldhammer isn't primarily concerned with old editions of Warhammer, but I've been following this blog for a while and I have to say that, yeah, it pretty much is. Old Warhammer games, old Warhammer paintjobs on old Warhammer minis, interviews with old Warhammer creators, old Warhammer fluff. I haven't seen anything that isn't old Warhammer, apart from new Antiquis Malleum designs and minis based on... old Warhammer.

    I have heard you say that the whole point and ethos of Oldhammer is the above-mentioned relaxed and non-competitive play. All well and good, but IIRC it slid into 'relaxed, non-competitive play is Oldhammer', which is where I start to take issue. For one, there's the confusion of the title and the meaning not really matching up. What makes older editions obviously synonymous with relaxed games? Where's the clue in the name? Is 3rd ed famous in the wargaming world for absolutely no min-maxing or overpowered minis?
    Secondly, there's the appropriation of an entire attitude to wargaming. You say the term Oldhammer's been used before; well, so have relaxed, fun games. Lots of games and wargamers have done that, do that, and will do it, without referring to any edition of Warhammer. Oldhammer is about Warhammer, and it seems some of the myopia of current Warhammer has remained or seeped through to it. It's something like... football fanatics saying 'football is sportsmanship, and sportsmanship is football', disregarding any other game with a hint of sportsmanship. (Witness the England football team returning home with heads hanging, while the England rugby team returns home triumphant, and almost no-one notices)
    I think the definition of Oldhammer has to be altered just a little - TL;DR: Oldhammer is all about old Warhammer, but with the relaxed attitude to wargaming that is often missing from current Warhammer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "I haven't seen anything that isn't old Warhammer"

      I tell a lie. Right now I see a link to this old post:

      http://realmofchaos80s.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/apps-and-80s-i-love-retro-gaming.html

      I'd never heard of Lords of Midnight back when you posted that, and at the time I checked out the app based on that writeup. Fantastically immersive for such simple graphics, but I digress. It's one of the exceptions that kinda prove the rule!

      Delete
    2. Let’s not get confused and equate this blog with Oldhammer. 'The Realm of Chaos 80's' is not Oldhammer, it is only a small piece of Oldhammer, with a focus on Whitedwarf and Warhammer. A blog that focuses on the old AD&D Battlesystem miniature game is just as much a part of the Oldhammer community. I personally like the term Oldhammer, well for one because it rolls off the tongue nicely, and because Warhammer is something almost everybody is familiar with, it forms a nucleus or jumping board for our nostalgic meanderings into other Oldhammer topics like, laserburn, Ral Partha, Lone Wolf, narrative gaming... etc etc ad nauseam. Oddly many of these same topics were often discussed and supported by old GW and Whitedwarf and so the term comes full circle.

      Delete
    3. Some interesting points there Warren and you are quite right in saying that Oldhammer does not hold the monopoly over many of the themes you mention. I my post In was trying to communicate the confusion that the term 'Oldhammer' creates in people who often join the forum or FB with a very set view of what we all should be doing based on their interpretation of the name alone. In many ways, Oldhammer is a nice group to just be part of, a way to stating that your interests lie away from the myopia you mentioned and the arms race that is the tournament scene. Oldhammer sprang up from gamers and collectors who could not find satisfaction in that particular view of the game, especially with Warhammer and 40k. As Tartar Sause has put it, if Oldhammer is GW 1984-1992, then we really do have to include all those other games that WD published too; D&D, Runequest, Paranoia and all the others.

      Delete
  3. "Issallaboutnostalgia..." *hic*

    I don't even play the games (other than HQ), but I've got Coaties and minis from the 80's, so I'm Oldhammer. It's a feeling. It's nostalgia. It's all the great plagiarising that went in before GW took itself too seriously and started protecting its stolen IP. I loves Oldhammer.

    ReplyDelete
  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Huge fan of the oldhammer movement from a miniatures perspective. Rules, no. 8th Edition has the best rules--it's just technically extremely playable compared to the old editions and blows 6th and 7th out of the water especially. I started with 3rd and have love for it, but I crack open the book and there's just no reason to deal with all that fiddly stuff when I can put massive amounts of beastmen on the table, with all the crazy terrain and still finish a sluggathon in 2 hours with 8th. I know people have some loathing for the marketing practices and the tournament scene and the army books, etc. but if you haven't and you can put all that to the side for a moment, get the small rulebook that's floating around and give 8th a whirl (with your 80's minis of course!).

    http://mraaktagon.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/50beasts.jpg

    Note who leads my 50 strong Gor Herd!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lovely old figure is that minotaur and I am glad that you find 8th edition was agreeable to you. Personally, there just isn't enough depth for me. But from what you say we are after different things from the game. You want the battle to be over in two hours while I enjoy games that last for 6 or 7 hours, or even several days. The beauty of Oldhammer is that you are encouraged to be a responsible gamer and create and play the games that you enjoy the most, so in fact and edition can be used if that is the ruleset you prefer.

      Delete
    2. I like 8th edition, in so much as it plays really cleanly. But the 50-stong units is what I *don't* like about 8th edition. I don't like the emphasis on big units for two reasons - 1, it is a disincentive to play, or at least fully-painted play, as putting together a painted army (never mind a table) that plays within the optimum size as per the rules would take most people years (and lots of money) - 2, the large units end up being tactically unwieldy, reducing much of the game to the choices made during list-building and initial set-up. I addition, the scale of the fantasy in WFB has crept up and up edition by edition, until now we have wizards blasting away whole units of 50 miniatures, and an emphasis on building synergistic effects between magic items, spells, and special rules. Everything is a bit more AWESUM!, but I often want something a bit more gritty.

      But don't listen to me, I'm gradually moving further and further away from WFB altogether - my tastes are switching to quicker play systems (WFB 8 might be clean, but the rule system is built around 'exceptions', with every single unit having special rules, scattered across over £100 of rulebooks [core plus two army books]) which are more abstract but still capture the feel of a battle. I'm in the process of re-basing my old Dwarfs for a game of Hordes of the Things, while the single-based miniatures will be used in smaller scale skirmishes using Songs of Blades and Heroes. Nevertheless, I think that I'll be able to capture the Oldhammer vibe, which for me is about the aesthetics of the miniatures, a do-it-yourself attitude towards terrain, and a spirit of play geared towards scenarios and mutual fun in the narrative of battle.

      Delete
    3. By the way, littlemute, I really like your Gor herd - great painting. It does reminds me that I need to paint up some of my own Beastmen. In 'elements' of 3s and 4s for HOTT, of course - the reason they are all bare lead is that I could spare the cash required to build a small 8e army, but never found the time to paint them.

      Delete
    4. Thanks!! It took years to finish that unit... I've still got a pile of gors that I need to form into another unit-- some old, some new.

      Delete
  6. Easyhammer. Because we take it easy. And we like hammers.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Hey! I wasn't mistaken for the Boss.. I am the Boss :P Now with my newfound power and control of a few hundred middle-aged men.. I shall um... Go down the pub?

    Good article :) Oldhammer is just a collection of like minded people that can sometimes (If the sun aligns and the predictions come true) agree on some points.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Oldhammer is like that early beta version of the Matrix they mention in the original movie, the one humans reject because it's 'too perfect'.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Isn't the key to all of this the comment that YOU decide? In other words don't get too bound up in slavish adherence to certain rule sets and army lists. Add in a bit of story driven gaming and that (to me at least) is oldhammer. Now only to find someone in Melbourne Australia to play WFB and rogue trader with...:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm from Melbourne, don't have a large amount of miniatures painted (I'm a slow painter) and I'm just beginning to build up my collection again but I'm keen! Might actually get me out of this horrendous painter's block I'm in.

      Delete
  10. asking "what is Oldhammer?" is like asking "what is goth?" or indeed almost anything...
    You will get a number of different veiw points and opinions, some of which oppose each other.
    humans are funny little muppets =)

    ReplyDelete
  11. "You are all individuals!"
    "I'm not!"
    "Sshh!"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QereR0CViMY&feature=kp

    ReplyDelete
  12. You're telling me Chico doesn't own Oldhammer?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chico owns 'Nudehammer actually. Which is wargaming for 30+ nude men alone in a non-female environment. You should see what they use in replacement of measuring tapes!

      Delete
    2. Not are wangs, Or i'll just have to play Epic with CM rather then inches :(

      Delete
  13. I'd love to read what Warren JB said that got moderated. Must have been well fruity. How can someone get so passionate that they end up getting moderated? Joyful scenes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Warren's comment was self moderated and deleted by him. Nothing to do with me. I don't moderate people's comments (save for spam) as I am a big boy who lets people have their own opinions.

      Delete
    2. Fair play big boy. Kudos.

      Delete
  14. "You're playing it all wrong!" :)

    I've typed this elsewhere but I'll repeat it here; 6th edition 40k battle report with current figures probably isn't "Oldhammer" even if the players are 'old-' and they are playing '-hammer'. Or to be clearer I don't think it qualifies as nostalgic. But hey, that's my *opinion*.

    Before I left the FB group I enjoyed a discussion with a camp of players who loved the bright red 90's stuff (circa 2nd ed 40k) because that was their first experience of 'hammering. To them the bright colours and static poses were pure Warhammer, while for many of us the Age of Accountancy is slightly embarrassing. I didn't agree with them but I understood them and appreciated the value of their viewpoint (gasp!) My point? Nostalgia is a personal experience, probably linked to whatever was happening in the hobby when you were a teenager. If Oldhammer is nostalgia then who am I to tell another gamer they're doing it wrong?

    ...except when it comes to playing the latest version of the game with the latest figures, I reckon that's Newhammer.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "Nostalgia ain't what it used to be."

      One man's nostalgia is another man's toilet-paper. Oldhammer is my nostalgia, but in 20yrs or more, those feeling nostalgic about now current formats of WHFB will have their own Oldhammer or equivalent, and the bearded, stooped geriatrics of the current Oldhammer will be viewed as extremists.

      Delete
    2. Agreed. I raise an eyebrow at the guys who were wargaming back in the '60s when they get nostalgic about Donald Featherstone (RIP). I don't get a buzz from 1/72 Airfix figures but I tip my hat to those that do. Respect for Oldhammer.

      Delete
  15. Orlygg is, voluntarily may I add, missing the point here.

    Yes the term Oldhammer may have been used before in a such anecdotic way that nobody in fact was really using it, yes there have been blogs before, talking of nostalgia regarding the way to play the old way (mine is from 2006 for example), but, nobody can deny the fact that the publication of "the Oldhammer contract" on Zhu's blog has been the trigger that started it all.

    The "Oldhammer Contract" is a manifesto who call for retrogaming/retrocloning Warhammer, in the spirit and with the rules of WFB 2nd/3rd edition and Rogue Trader (being WFB 2nd in Space). It does not even talk about using Citadel miniatures at all !

    The Oldhammer Contract led to people contacting themselves (mainly in blog comments) to try to play the old way, in people trying to find again what they missed from their youth, etc. It also led to the idea of creating a retroclone of WFB 2nd in the way it has been done for the old editions of (A)D&D.

    It soon became evident that the blog comments where not the right tool to discuss this, so we settled a forum intended to be the place to discuss the creation of this retroclone (the bloodforum, now better known as the Oldhammer Forum).

    It also soon became evident that a lot of people had not interest in such a retro-clone and the forum quickly became a place to show and discuss old citadel miniatures (almost exclusively).

    You might call me an Oldhammer Nazi if you want to, but, in the same way that you are not the one who speaks in the name of the community, even if some of your articles may make believe as such, and neither am I, You have no right to try to deny the fact that the Article of Zhu has been the funding stone of all this, and, that the idea that did at first reunite all of us was retrocloning WFB...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am sorry, but I don't agree with you. As indeed will many others. But then, we are all entitled to our own opinion aren't we? Or are we not?

      Delete
    2. Bruno, if you will allow me to paraphrase James Madison...

      You give credit which no-one has claim to when claiming there is an author of Oldhammer. This was not, like the fabled Goddess of Wisdom, the offspring of a single brain. It ought to be regarded as the work of many heads and many hands.

      Delete
  16. Of course you are, but the fact is that this only History told the way it happened... maybe you should re-read your own posts from last year, you know, the ones where you were saying the same things I'm saying right now, notably "Oldhammer: How to do it!" and "Mythbusters: Oldhammer, Etiquette, Weekenders and the importance of Ethos" ;)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are my opinions based on my gaming life. I have always shared them with people. But that is all they are, my opnions. And they are hardly radical. I wrote the posts you mention upon request because many people were emailing me and asking me for advice. It seemed simplier to just create an article to refer them on to. This blog is written for its readers. I respond to their needs as good writers will do.

      Delete
  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's a little strong to call it a coup, I seem to recall being asked to do a crappy job nobody else wanted. No need to get testy because you are being disagreed with! I got into Oldhammer through this blog, Thantsants blog, Gaj's blog and Erny's blog. End of story. My acquaintance with the Oldhammer Contract came much later. Naturally then, I give credit for my own involvement to those who spread the word most successfully while recognising that other strands of the Oldhammer twine go back further than that, Zhu's being one of them. The dates on blog posts don't matter do they?

      Delete
    2. You've always been quick to assert an ownership of the term Oldhammer on Zhu's behalf by the way. Have you ever stopped to consider that he might be happy to see it go off and flourish? Oldhammer will inevitably change as it grows, keeping it static is now impossible, referencing the Oldhammer Contract is a positive way to enhance Oldhammer but why is it so important to nitpick over history? Genuinely curious.

      Delete
    3. I'm seem to have slept though a coup, I do remember a large absence from the owner of the BLOOD forum before the name change and move though, something do with some shady practices if I remember right.. Then I do remember being asked to help mod the new forum and getting shit for it.. but nope no coup

      Delete
    4. Aha, another conspirator! The plot thickens...

      Viva El Presidente!

      Delete
  18. Have you been in the pub Bruno? Forum take overs and the re-writing of history? This is WFB not JFK! WTF! If I remember correctly, the issues on the forum arose through a large number of people not being happy about the commercialisation of the community without consultation. Go read my first post, my inspiration for doing RoC80s came from Gaj's excellent blog.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I'm sorry, the words are over what I do want to express I will try to write it in an other way...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Goodnight Bruno, no hard feelings I hope.

      Delete
  20. Knowing Zhu, he will probably he as amused as I with this new irony. We cannot all agree what Oldhammer means and now we cannot agree on its history! (: Ha ha!

    ReplyDelete
  21. @James and Paul :
    What I do want to express is the fact that "the Oldhammer contract" has played a vital role in the creation of the forum, and the forum has itself played a vital role in the fast growing of the community. This is the act that did transform a blog community where everyone was commenting each other blog posts to something with a "real existence". But the forum was first setup so that a community could build something : a retroclone named BLOOD, hence the name : bloodforum and not oldhammer forum at the start !

    And you were the first to admit it one year ago ! Then there was what happened in last october, "the pony wars incident" as we might call it and everything that resulted from it, everything after was not the same, Paul did left, and you, James, did entirely focus on the facebook group and your blog (which I do always read with pleasure)...

    The fact is also that the Oldhammer Contract has nothing directly to do with collecting Citadel Miniatures, and, as of today, someone totally new to all of this could think that this is the main subject, as this is the more visible ans probably what attracts more people. But, the idea was retrogaming (as opposed to archeogaming), the idea was using every miniature you wanted from any manufacturer to play a fun and narrative game using old rules, or even better new compatible rules, the idea was using the old rules as a toolbox to encourage DIY and have fun ! and, I'm sorry, but this is not what we are seeing today !

    What we see is people saying that you must use only Citadel Miniatures from before '92 or '94 or..., that such or such game is or is not oldhammer, questions regarding the use of units not in the books, questions regarding point values, etc. The fun does not stay long when you begin to have such limits. This kind of limits are what we were all fleeing and what caused us to research the spirit of the "Goold old days" ! The idea is not to have a kind of metagame with WAAC players for each past edition of the game !

    Lets start again from the start, lets encourage people to be free and to have fun, lets promote DIY and spirit of the rules over rules as written, but please do not totally forget or deny what was here at the start :) (and note that it's the "what" and not the "who" that matters !)

    @Chico : the forum did migrate as it was a demand from the members, to have its own domain name and hosting, and as, for health and family reasons, notably the recent loss of my wife, I had no time nor interest for it at the time. I did help the best I could to make the migration possible by giving access to my servers, I'm even still redirecting the old URLs to the new ones so that articles written at the time of the bloodforum point to the oldhammer forum in a transparent way...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems we are in agreement Bruno. In the article above, which was intended to be rather tongue in cheek, I said that 'oldhammer is NOT a particular ruleset, nor a figure manufacturer or a blog post to be adhered to religiously' and I mean it. I include my own blog posts in that message. I get many emails from people who seem to think what we do is play WFB3 and collect Citadel lead. I was trying to say that this is not the case at all, just what I do and what I tend to write about. Many people mistakenly believe that I invented Oldhammer (some even think Chico owns it) probably hecause this blog is so highly visable. I was simply trying to state that this is not the case and that you can do what you like. Oldhammer is a personal thing, I try and encourage people to do their own thing.

      Delete
    2. I will do a blog post of my own on the conversation I think Bruno, keep an eye out.

      Delete
  22. I'm oldhammer and so is my wife.

    ReplyDelete
  23. I heard you two grind up spined dragons into dust a snort it through rolled up copies of the lost and the damned.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I didn't realise I was doing Oldhammer back in the old days till everyone told me so ; )

    ReplyDelete
  25. I just play with toy soldiers...

    ReplyDelete