Saturday, 21 March 2015

What Does Oldhammer Mean To Me?

This must be a first. I am writing this post whilst in the bath, so fingers crossed... If you are reading this, then I didn't drop the iPad in the water. Right, here goes...

We see the term 'Oldhammer' bandied around freely these days like the favours of a lady of ill repute.

But what exactly does it mean to me?

Surprisingly, very little, but not in a derogatory way, I assure you.

Let me explain...

I started playing Warhammer, literally on the day of release, and although I was hooked, having for some time been a historical wargamer and a finalist in the junior heats of 'The Nationals', I was also obsessed with fantasy miniatures to t he point that out of the two first places in competions I had won by 1982 (by 1996/7 rising to 22 first places and several others which being lower, I literally binned) one was fantasy and one historical. But out of the six entries I had placed, only one was historical.

I'd been bitten bad, after my first purchase (detailed in my book) of  the pair of FTD range Dwarves carrying the stretcher. Alas, apart from rules such as 'Lidless Eye' and some fan-produced D&D themed rules, there was really nothing which captured the genre without making it feel like 'just another war game'. OK, I had roleplaying as an outlet, but I was a gamer who was already buying figures destined for D&D or Runequest in units, complete with command, uniforms and the like.

Then, Warhammer 1st ed came along, followed by Forces Of Fantasy, and I was hooked. The game flopped and GW stores soon had it stacked high at the front of the sales area at £2.99. By high, I mean 4 feet square on all sides.

But, as I say, I was hooked. 2nd ed, made the blood-pact even stronger and the £10 per week I could earn painting whilst at school, was spent on a unit or two every week.

One week I made £100 which was what I was paid for 3 weeks in my first retail job when I left school in 1984. This was in adition to pocket money, and on top of putting in a 40 hour week at the imagination penetentiary.

I confess, that 3rd ed was the straw which broke the camel's back for me. It was glossy and pretty - too pretty in fact. I know some will argue that it was a superior system, but remember, I was a traditional historical gamer, used to amateurish rule books, and traditional suppositions with regards to the mechanics of a game. There was and still is after almost 35 years a greater sense of the imaginary, the fantastic, the dream-driven to 1st and 2nd ed.

You have to play it and do so with a dozen friends every week, to really get a feel of what I mean. The rules worked, allowed for easy insertion of house amendments and we rarely used the official lists at the Sheffield club, relying  (oddly for teenagers) on a gentlemen's agreement approach to dispute resolution. Oh the games we had, pressing 15mm Landsknechts into service as Gnomes and beating GW to the post on the Empire by several years in doing so.

This to me is 'Oldhammer'.

It's also not just about buying up old Citadel castings, oh no... Back in those days White Dwarf reviewed other ranges and what's more they gave advice on how they could be utilised in WH. It was truly and indisputablt the 'Golden Age' of gaming.

So, when I read that to many, Oldhammer is 3rd ed, using vintage models, I confess, I squirm, I scowl and sometimes when in full flow, I shake my fist at the screen - How rude!

To me, it is a mind set, a credo, of playing games with same spirit that I did as a kid (in fact as I always have). Back in 1995 when I owned Dungeons & Starships, we had 1000+ per side games of 1st ed with a dozen players, which lasted all weekend and ended when one side was destroyed or capitulated. What was important was the models conveyed a sense of style which complimented the old rules.

Even today, I hold that as a constant. It's not about what make the models are, but rater the aesthetic value they project.

I have just started a Chaos Dwarf army this week - proper ones, not the 'Twat Hats' (TM). The armys is a mix of Citadel and other makes, and at the time of writing, after 3 days of shopping comprises:

Citadel
2 Whirlwinds
2 Tenderisers
8 Bazukas
3 Mortars
20 Crossbowmen

Ewal Dvergar
200+  Dwarves

4A Miniatures
4 figures

Bederken
16 figures

Quite a mix, but all of those companies meet my aesthetic dtandards and o are all equally valid as 'Oldhammer'.

That to me is the epitome of 'Oldhammer' or as I termed it some time in the last couple of years 'Firsthammer'.

I could have easily bankrolled a fully Citadel army, but what's the point? The newer alloys are better, the models fresh; and what's more I feel we should support those manufacturers who actively embrace the ethos and bring us new models. It's no more than an extension of 1982 to me. After all, had GW not changed it's mind every two minutes, it's feasible that we could still be buying our toys from them.

So, when I sy that 'Oldhammer' means nothing to me, it's only because for me, it as fresh and vibrant as it was over 3 decades ago. I live in a self-made 1980s limbo state, and emerge only to pay bills, buy wine or suchlike.

Stop thinking of Oldhammer as a fad or movement and make it part of your very core existence. You'll see things ina pleasingly different way, I assure you. What's more, the enthusiasm will rub off on people who will in turn embrace it and stop the older WH system from becoming 'something we played as kids'. Stop spending £20 on that 1988 Chaos Warrior and forget the 'cred' it will give you in an internet pissing contest. Spread thos esame funds around some of the new school, old school manufacturers, who understand the 'vibe' in an intimate way.

To you it may seem like a lifetime ago, but to me, it seems it was yesterday!

TTFN