Sunday, July 27, 2014

One from the Short Bus

It’s always challenging for me to introduce myself to a bunch of strangers: in person, I’m generally quiet and reserved, occasionally erupting in sporadic moments of verbose grandiosity that would rival Peter Griffin in their demeanor and eloquence. Be that as it may, I’ll do my best to convey a general idea of why I’m rendering my opinions and ideas here alongside the other august persons from whom you’ve already heard.

My name is Karl Johnson, and I’ve been involved in wargaming as a hobby since the mid-70’s. I started out with some of the more well-known (at the time, at least) Avalon Hill and SPI board wargames, with a little D&D and 1ed AD&D on the side. My first exposure to miniatures gaming occurred in my freshman year of high school in the form of 15mm Napoleonics and American Civil War battles – not my favorite genres, but entertaining and informative, to say the least. When one of the members let me peruse his WWII microarmor collection, I instantly knew I’d found the perfect scale for miniatures gaming. Coupling that with my intense enjoyment of science fiction novels, TV shows, and films, I began to indulge in what has become an enduring pastime for the last few decades, and for more than a few reasons.

When several of my gaming buddies eventually asked why I’d bother to collect and want to use such small miniatures for gaming, I gave them three reasons - each of which is just as valid today as it was back in those days (just after the introduction of those most valuable of household accoutrements, the Chia Pet and the Pet Rock):

While the selection of scifi-based models was somewhat sparse back then (modern-era microarmor filled several alien species’ roles when necessary), the choice as to 6mm figure styles has increased to the point where suitable models for nearly any genre one would wish to portray in their tabletop battles can be had from a large variety of manufacturers. Whether one chooses to engage in games set in a commercially popular setting or a universe of their own creation, models with the right visual appeal are only a few mouse clicks away.

There is also a great selection of gaming rules available for the gamer’s enjoyment, including commercially produced and freely downloadable sets that cover nearly every facet of gaming between small skirmishes and multi-divisional planetary invasion forces.

When watching or participating in games using 15mm or 25mm figures, it always seemed a bit odd to me that the larger the figures were on the tabletop, the shorter their in-game range and movement measurements became in relationship to the terrain and size of model. With 6mm figures, one can get a better perspective of the relative distances between the combatants and their capabilities, and has room for performing meaningful maneuvers with their ersatz troopers - as opposed to just lining up across the table and moving in a generally forward direction to engage and destroy those foul-smelling knuckle draggers made of lead and pewter controlled by your friends or acquaintances.

If the reader has taken even the most cursory of glances at 6mm-scale miniatures, he’s noticed that he can own a platoon of 6mm vehicles or infantry (or even an entire company, in some cases) for the same investment as a single 15mm vehicle, and can take home (or have delivered to his doorstep) an entire battalion of troops and equipment for the value of a single 25/28mm vehicle model kit, with many 6mm miniatures having detailing that rivals that of their larger counterparts. This is great for the gamer on a budget, as he can collect a sizable force for a small investment, and a much larger force for a small fraction of the costs incurred when purchasing an equivalent force in a larger figure scale.

While financial economy is an attractive incentive, there are other appealing economic aspects to gaming and collecting in 6mm: space and time. Leaving aside some Einsteinian meanderings, it’s much less time-consuming to assemble, paint, and field a small-scale army than a larger-scale army, and, depending on the level of engagement one wishes to play, games can be played using a surface area as small as a coffee or end table in your home.

So, there you have it – a few thought from a slightly-deranged geezer that still likes to play with toy soldiers regarding the attractions of utilizing miniatures in the One True Wargaming Scale. I’ll be shuffling along and handing the mic over to another of the gents that have graciously donated their time to put in a few good words about our enthusiastically-shared form of recreation, but will be creating semi-regular content here on Planet Ares VI for your entertainment and eventual enlightenment and/or befuddlement about the diverse aspects of small scale gaming.

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