Caledorian Musing

A Dragon Rider (Not Imrik).

Today I should be finished making the ‘notes’ version of the Caledor synopsis. What’s a notes version? Like the manuscript, any synopsis I write goes through several phases or drafts. The first is the conceptual phase, and is just a semi-random collection of ideas, scenes and storyline. The next phase is usually some form of structural timeline. Both of these drafts are done in a notebook/ scraps of paper/ flipchart pad.

After that, I start word processing, layering on more detail into a chapter-by-chapter breakdown. The amount of detail varies depending upon how much I’ve worked out at this stage. Rather than worry about the wording I’ll use in the synposis to convey the story to the editors, this notes stage simply puts together the building blocks of the story or novel, plus any additional notes or references I need to bear in mind.

From these notes, I will then turn the document into the final synopsis, suitable for editorial examination.

To give you an idea of what these notes might look like, I have dug out the draft for Shadow King. For those that have already read Shadow King you can see two main things. First, not everything makes it into the final synopsis/ novel in the order necessarily laid out in the notes. Second, with Shadow King we made the decision later in the day to extend the novel by an extra 50,000 words. This extra material is not covered in these notes (though I could probably find the proposal I sent to the editors if people are interested).

These notes are less detailed that those I am putting together for Caledor, but will give you the general idea.

As with all synopsis material, these notes contain information about what happens in the novel. In other words…



[[[Map of Ulthuan and its realms and cities.]]]

Part One – The child of Kurnous – Strife in Nagarythe – a trailing shadow – the treachery of Malekith

  1. Shrine of Kurnous – The White Stag – The Raven Herald –
  2. Falling in love with 1st love
  3. Morathi’s agents – first fight at the manse – nobles gather – Naggarothi on Naggarothi action
  4. [Malekith attacks Ealith] The Raven Herald – shadow and confrontation – Elthyrior – reveals secrets within secrets – warns that all is not well – Alith sworn to secrecy about Elthyrior
  5. [needs something here for passage of time – foreshadow what?]
  6. [Infiltration of Anlec for Malekith] meesenger arrives at manse with plan – find cultists – diabolic ceremony – slay cultists and take gear – tense journey to Anlec – almost discovered – more killing – Malekith attacks
  7. Relative peace restored – return of Elthyrior – Eoloran sends him away as a pawn of Morathi and Alith is forbidden from seeking him out – Alith goes after Elthyrior – Nagarythe turning against the Anars – returns to manse – Alith scorned and abandoned by his first love – hatred stirs
  8. Malekith’s betrayal – arrest of Eoloran – Eothlir’s feigned acquiescence, if they fight they justify Malekith slaying them as traitors – Alith sent into hiding in Tiranoc – assumes a new name and hides for several years

Part Two – exile in Tiranoc – an usurper’s folly – hope restored – the fall of House Anar

  1. [Slaughter at the shrine] – rumours abound – death of Bel-Shanaar – return of Elodhir’s body and funeral – Yrianath’s succession – Palthrain on the prowl, suspicious of Alith
  2. Morathi freed – Court of Tiranoc perverted – Palthrain’s discovery of Alith – Alith rescues Elodhir’s son and vows vengeance on Yrianath – sacrifice of Yeasir – Alith returns to Nagarythe
  3. Alith reveals what has happened – Eothlir sends out the call to arms – Naggarothi gather – counter-spy work, wary of infiltraitors
  4. Battle of Dark Fen – death of Eothlir – army scattered
  5. Alith flees with Elodhir’s son, Maieth and Elthyrior – Raven Heralds chase across Ellyrion – Reaver knights rescue them
  6. The city of Tor Elyr – more revelations – Finudel declares war on Nagarythe –
  7. 2nd battle of Ellyrion plains – some families fight for Morathi –
  8. Affection for Atharielle – Finudel’s warning – must give up his love – bitterness deepens

Part three – Alith’s vengeance exacted – a troubled alliance – an traitor slain – the coming of the Witch King

  1. Alith in the Wilderness – vision of Kurnous – the white stag returns – runs with the wolves – dream of Lileath and discovery of the moonbow
  2. Attacks on the Naggarothi – spirit of vengeance – other Naggarothi drawn to his growing legend – Alith tries to dismiss them but they will not go
  3. Forces loyal to Imrik hunt them thinking them druchii – Alith and his band kill them – Imrik sends Carathril to mediate
  4. Meeting Imrik/ Caledor – will not join Imrik – true Prince of Nagarythe – ‘Shadow King’ used as a warning – ‘Nothing is forgotten. Nothing is forgiven,’
  5. Alith returns to Tiranoc to kill Yrianath – Yrianath’s ‘salvation’ – no pity from Alith
  6. ‘Rescue’ of Eoloran – confrontation with Morathi – taking of the crown
  7. Alith returns to Nagarythe with an army to confront the druchii The Witch King Revealed

Authors Out and About

This Saturday I and a rabble of other authors will be descending on the Watford Colloseum for GamesFest 4. Not only is the show a celebration of all types of gaming – miniatures, RPGs, computer games, CCGs – it also hosts an impressive array of writers to talk to, get things signed and generally pester. Just have a look at the list here! For old skool fans, it has also just been announced that Steve Jackson, of Fighting Fantasy and GW fame, will be attending (not to be confused with the other, U.S. Steve Jackson!).

I’ll also be on a signing tour of GW stores in December and January for the releases of Shadow King and Raven’s Flight. Currently on the list of venues are: Warhammer World in Nottingham, Loughborough, Cheltenham, London Plaza, Liverpool and Leeds. Dates and times to follow soon.

Come along on Saturday, say hello and meet Dennis and Agent Phalanx!

Published in: on October 22, 2009 at 10:19 am  Comments (1)  
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The Sundering Approaches

Look what Mrs Postie brought today!

Next Installment of The Sundering

Next Installment of The Sundering

Work continues on The Crown of the Blood after some ill health and other distractions. Hitting my stride now and really enjoying it (wrote the first sex scene on friday, that was a fresh experience). Just in the process of signing the deal for a new Space Marine novel for Black Library, and organising a Shadow King/ Raven’s Flight signing tour for December and January. Also don’t forget that I’ll be at GamesFest on 24th Oct along with a cornucopia of other authors.

Addendum: Just found out the artist for the Crown of the Blood cover – Paul Young. I can see how Paul’s flair for the historical mixed with fantasy will lend itself really well to this.

Published in: on October 12, 2009 at 1:04 pm  Comments (18)  
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Christmas Interview Bonanza

The new edition of ezine Falcata Times is now available, including interviews with myself and fellow BL author Graham McNeill, along with other writing luminaries.

Published in: on December 15, 2008 at 10:08 am  Leave a Comment  
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The Rise of Malekith

malekith2Just in case I haven’t pimped it enough, Malekith is due for imminent release. There are early reports that it is available in some stores right now! For those wishing to procure a copy might I suggest attending the celebrations this Saturday at Warhammer World, or the signings at Forbidden Planet and GW Plaza in January?

Rather than just hard-sell this fantastic, ground-breaking, life-changing, opposite-sex-attracting novel even more, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the imminent release of a book and what it means to me as a writer (by the way, did I mention that purchasing Malekith also indicates an above-average IQ and copious skill at love-making?). Some readers will have been published before and will no doubt share some of these feelings, others aspire to publication and may like to know what is in store if you succeed. Some may just have a car crash mentality and what to find out what crazy things go on in my head sometimes. All are welcome at Mechanical Hamster.

‘Creation is an act of sheer will’, John Hammond, Jurassic Park.

As one might expect, the release of a book is the culmination (almost – see later*) of all the hopes, dreams, fears, pain, blood, sweat and tears that can make up the writing process. It can be a long, tense wait. The manuscript was finished many months ago, the editorial comments returned, the rewrites made, covers designed and everything else. Nothing more can be done to the work, it’s now ready to be unleashed upon the masses waiting with bated breath (if one is lucky).

One is confident that one has done a good job, the feedback was good and taken on board, and the product is in tip-top shape as much as it is ever going to be. One fundamental unknown remains – will people like it? Another question that could be asked, of a more mercenary nature, is whether people will buy it, but that’s a practical rather than spiritual limbo.

‘Like’ is an amorphous term and could be broken down into many smaller ones. Will readers associate with the characters? Will the plot engage them? Are they drawn into the setting? Is the story delivered with skill and a certain amount of style? Will people find the small inconsistencies and errors that, despite everybody’s best efforts, will have somehow managed to sneak beneath the editorial radar? Will it matter if they do? Will the book entertain and inspire? Will they laugh? Or cry?

In short, will they like it?

Or, and this is where the dark depths of the fragile creative mind can delve, will they hate it?

Is it full of clichés and predictable plotting? Are the characters faceless and lacking in pathos? Is the setting bland? Is it riddled with inconsistency that smacks the reader around the face every other paragraph? Is the dialogue stodgy? Is that gag about the smell of Dwarf cheese really that funny?

In short, will they hate it?

Fortunately I am not one to give in to such a nervous disposition, so for me these doubts are only ever subconscious and not as extreme as I have indicated (the ‘I’m a fraud and they’re all going to find out’ response). None of these are any more severe than the average dose of self-doubt every right-thinking, introspective sapient creature should have now and then. I don’t suffer these fears because of a combination of natural confidence, trust in my editors not to let me make a complete tit of myself, and the experience of reaction to previous work.

So, I’m not worried about hatred. It is complacency that is the real fear. The absence of ‘like’ is not ‘dislike’, it is ‘didn’t care one way or the other’. The ‘meh’ reaction is probably more damning that hatred for me. At least if readers hate something I’ve written, it’s provoked a reaction and more often or not they will have read the book in some detail and will proceed to outline in that same detail exactly what they didn’t like. At least they were paying attention.

Faint praise such as ‘it was alright’, ‘it was okay’ and ‘I got through it’ are like barbs to my writerly soul. It means I have failed to engage the reader, and that’s a cardinal sin. If you hate a character, you were engaged. If you loved a character, you were engaged. If you felt no feelings in either direction, the character has had no impact at all. That would make me sad. Dennis would be sad as well. You wouldn’t want to make Dennis sad and neither would I.

Early indications are reassuring, from editors, proofreaders, and those extremely fortunate few to have advanced copies. One particularly trustworthy spy tells me that someone fairly influential in such matters, yet anonymous, uttered the phrase “Possibly the best ever Warhammer story” or words to that effect, so I remain optimistic of a healthy reception.

The Time of Legends series, like the Horus Heresy, comes with its own particular strain on the writer-reader relationship. Writing tie-in fiction always exposes one to the criticism of “That’s not how I imagine it/ her/ them/ him”.  When dealing with the characters featured in Time of Legends you are juggling some seriously hot coals. These events and personages are historic (legendary even!) and their lives and personalities, though perhaps never detailed before, have been the subject of debate, speculation and expansion amongst fans for many years. For those visitors not familiar with Warhammer (yes, both of you!) this is on a similar level to writing a novel entitled Aragorn – The Lost Years. You’re playing around with characters that fans already love (and hate) and those fans have definite views about them that will either chime with what you have written or your book will jar with their preconceptions.

There will inevitably be a minority who will disagree with my take on the Sundering. That is their right as fans. However, I hope that for the majority of readers, my portrayal of these momentous characters and events doesn’t contradict their expectations, but rather expands upon them in a way that feels entirely natural. After reading Malekith I hope that my portrayal will be synonymous in their thoughts with what has gone before. It’ll be, for want of a better or more exact term, ‘right’. And if it’s right, they’ll like it.

*Of course, the biggest job around a book release is promotion. There’s signings to attend, interviews to answers, blogs to write… Did I mention that Malekith is out in January at all good bookstores, online and everywhere else you might expect to find the highest quality fantasy fiction? No? Must’ve slipped my mind…

Published in: on December 10, 2008 at 4:07 pm  Comments (9)  
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Getting Out and About

As well as beavering away on the manuscript for Alith Anar I’ve been busy with arrangements for promotional events to celebrate the release of Malekith. Dates and times are yet to be confirmed but currently planned is an appearance at Warhammer World in mid-December for a launch party, plus signings at GW Derby and Plaza, as well as a visit to Forbidden Planet in London. I’ve also recently finished an interview for Falcata Times magazine, which will be appearing in the Christmas special, and the latest White Dwarf also contains an interview regarding the writing of Malekith and the Time of Legends series in general. We’ll have to wait and see if there’s any overseas events in the pipeline.

If you can get along to one of these, please come and say hello. Saying the secret passphrase “Dennis is da Best” will garner my undivided attention.


Addition: Facebookers can find details of the Forbidden Planet signing.

Additional Addition: More details can be found on the Black Library news forum.

Druchii Unleashed!

This may be brave, this may be foolish, let’s see…

In celebration of the current release of Warhammer Armies – Dark Elves, my final army book for GW, I’m going to hold a Q+A here on Mechanical Hamster. If you have a question or comment regarding the new book, please post it as a comment or get in touch via the Ask Dennis email. Please look through the comments first to see if someone has already asked your question(s).

Things to bear in mind:

No rules questions. I know this will disappoint many folks but I won’t be answering specific rules queries. This is for two reasons. Firstly, the Games Dev team (Alessio in particular) are responsible for FAQs and I am not going to second-guess what the official answers may be and won’t create confusion by giving answers that may be different from GW’s interpretation. Secondly, if I did answer rules questions then I suspect there’d be no time or space for me to address other aspects of the project! This doesn’t mean I won’t talk about the rules decisions made during the process, I just won’t give answers to questions like ‘What happens if a character with item x attacks a monster with special rule y‘. If you have any specific errata (that is genuine editorial or typography mistakes) drop me a line on the Dennis hotline and I’ll compile a list to forward to GW.

Editorial changes. Although the book was all but complete before my departure, there was one further round of editorial changes in which I did not participate. If your question relates to one of these changes I’m afraid I won’t necessarily be in a position to give any further information and won’t be able to answer your question. This just means that I can’t guarantee to answer all of the questions posed.

The whole project. The re-release of the Dark Elves is far more than just an army list and some rules. Please ask about other aspects of the project and the army book – background, art, and so on. With that in mind, I obviously won’t be revealing anything I believe to be commercially sensitive to GW, not will I cover decisions made outside of the Design Studio – pricing, number of models in a blister and all that.

Please feel free to link to this post on any forums whose members you think will be interested.

P.S. I’m busy for the next week, so the ‘closing date’ for any questions will be Sunday 3rd August. I’ll be posting answers later that week, and then I’ll have another writing-related post ready by the end of the week.

How To Be a Games Developer

For a while Dennis has been bugging me to address a question Max sent to him via the email. It’s a subject I’ve been asked about often over the years and it’s never an easy one to answer:

“It’s more of a question of getting into games design. Now, I’m sure you have been asked this question to death but I thought I would ask anyway and it’s not specifically related to Games Workshop.


I’m currently attempting to develop a war-game but its taking longer than I thought due to other commitments. I find it very hard to move away from [my influences] in order to produce something different. Did you ever suffer from this problem or something similar when doing independent works?  

But going back to the question, I’m guessing the best bet is to just get out there, meet people and generally submit stuff? But as a developer / writer I was wondering if there was anything else you found along the way such as balancing or adding telling a story in a specific way in order to develop a successful game? As well as any other tips of the trade on wrangling a job as a games designer (anywhere) and the other roles that it involves?”


I’ll start with the caveat that my experience of the wider games development industry is mostly second-hand, from the privilege of talking to many other games designers over the years at conventions and such. However, there are similarities between their stories and mine.

First off, if you want to work for GW games development it is simply a case of keeping an eye out for the recruitment adverts. Occasionally a position will open for an Assistant Games Developer (or Trainee Games Developer in the most recent recruitment). I am surprised by people that asked me how to get into the GW Design Studio only weeks after a position was advertised on the website. For Games Development that’s probably the only way. The same is true for other established games manufacturers, most do their work in-house for the reasons I’m about to go into.

In wider terms, if you have a sci-fi or fantasy miniatures game in mind, there are some very specific obstacles. The greatest of these is that such a game needs miniatures! If you write an historical rules set you can use the vast wealth of independent manufacturers to provide miniatures for you. You might be able to interest a company, or at the end of the day self-publish and hope it goes well.

Those companies that produce sci-fi or fantasy miniatures generally do so with either a specific ruleset, a specific universe, or both. Their goal is generally to continue to expand and develop their intellectual property and games system. So, your first big question is who is going to make the miniatures? In this regard you are not only selling the idea of the rules set and imagery but asking a company to invest in the design and continued development of the miniatures range.

With a wargame that is tied to a specific range of miniatures there are many considerations that impact upon your games design decisions, and will also influence the imagery you want to explore. The foremost of these is how is it going to be made and packaged? Questions of scale, for example, will limit what is physically possible, as will cost of production – there is no point creating rules for miniatures that cannot be made at a profit with the materials available. In a sci-fi setting, vehicles tend to be the real difficulty here – large models that will weigh a lot and be expensive to produce and purchase if made in resin or white metal. If you want to create a game with gigantic battling robots the size of skyscrapers, for example, then you’re not going to want to produce it in 28mm scale!

The other key question is that of sustainability. From the outset you must decide if the miniatures range is finite or not. If it is not finite, what mechanisms are you going to create to allow the continued expansion of the rules set and miniatures range? Is it a rulebook, a series of rulebooks, boxed sets, blisters, both? How do players collect the forces they will use? Do they purchase complete ‘elements’at a time, or are the components built up over several purchases. To give a specific example, let’s say you have a unit of lazergun-wielding Galactic Infantrymen. Do they have optional equipment and how is this made available to the collector? Is there a variable squad size?  If you’re writing a miniatures wargame, you have to bear in mind all of the practical issues of collecting a force. Is a force infinitely expandable like a 40K army, or is there a real or implied ceiling, such as a Blood Bowl team? How many factions give you enough variety to collect without creating a range that is impossible for stores to stock? What is the minimum outlay for a customer before they have a battle-ready force?

That seems like really dull stuff, doesn’t it? If you think these aren’t questions for the games designer to answer, it’s going to be very difficult. Writing some rules and background, whilst challenging, is not the be-all-and-end-all of designing a miniatures game. Having those things is a little bit further on from a ‘good idea’ but only a little in terms of what needs to be sorted out before you have a marketable game and miniatures range.

So, you need to have a plan – and be flexible about it – to present to companies. This is my game, which uses a miniatures range that looks like this, and can expanded like this. If you can get a company to buy into your proposal as viable for marketing and production, then you can start worrying about the details of how things actually move around the table and what they look like…

If the game is picked up and established, it may be the case that some of these practical responsibilities are taken on by other folks such as sales managers, but when developing your game you have to continually bear them in mind. An idea is only good if it can be made and people can buy it.

Target Audience

All of this talk about marketability and such may sound a little evil and corporate. It is, and it isn’t. First and foremost, design a game and background that you enjoy. Don’t think about target audiences, or demographics or any of that. Write a game that you want to play. When you’ve done that, work out why it appeals to you and so therefore what sort of other people (who are like you) will it appeal to. You can’t do this sort of thing for an abstract reason, it has to come from ownership and genuine pleasure. If anyone asks who your target audience is just say, ‘People who are like me’.

Making It Original

As discussed on other subjects, the question of originality is one that often comes up. I’ll say now, whatever you come up with will not be original. However, it can be unique. Big robots are not original. The particular rendition and portrayal of big robots can be.

Uniqueness comes on two scales: big picture and little details. In big picture terms you can rely on transposition and juxtaposition to create something unique. Transposition is straightforward enough, it is simply taking an existing idea or image and moving it to a different place: the Roman empire in space; a space pirates game; baseball in space; time-travelling big game hunters. There’re loads of ideas to mine, and it’s prevalent throughout all forms of fiction.

In fact, it’s been done a lot, sometimes to death. Space Samurai, Space GIs, Space Knights, Space Cowboys, Space Celts… Bring in juxtaposition to add variety and depth. Simply directly translating the legions of Rome and their barbarian foes into space is step one. Adding in elements that did not exist in the original iteration (excluding the obvious technological differences) adds spice and uniqueness. The barbarians are not other humans at all, but rather strange plant-based lifeforms with a barbaric culture. Or the legions of Rome are zombie-like automatons under the control of a psychic elite. Or it’s actually a spaceship game based on these principles rather than ground warfare. Or… You get the point. Uniqueness comes from taking a step further than simple transposition, and another step, and another until you have a concept that is still based upon the strong idea but is far enough removed that it has become its own thing.

On the other end of the scale is the detail. If our space legions were literally Romans with lazerguns, that would be a bit weak. What stylings of the Roman legionary can you keep whilst pushing the unique interpretation of it? In this regard you must learn to look at what elements of an image are archetypal and which can be changed. It’s kind of like having an infant eye again – see what’s important and recognisable uncluttered by everything else you know to be true. We know that there’s no such thing a typical legionary across the breadth of Republican and Imperial Rome, because things changed, some of them quite dramatically. However, ask a reasonably educated kid what a Roman is and he’ll say a square shield and a crested helmet. He might even say sandals. Those are what you retain in general form. Everything else should be modified to add the flavour of the setting.

The Old Adage

As I always wrap up this sort of thing, my advice is just to do it. Try and fail and learn and try again. Most writers start out because they love writing, Most games developer start out because they like playing games and are interested in how systems work. Film directors like movies. Passion cannot be learnt, skills and experience can. Create what you want to create, and only after that start making the necessary commercial compromises.

I’ll get onto ‘telling a story’ at a later date…

Martyr or Mercenary?

I again find myself with a few ‘fallow’ days between completing the first draft of my Heroes of the Space Marines short and receiving rewrites, as well as waiting for the manuscript of Malekith to arrive in the post for checking, sprinkled with some preparation work for a secret project known only as Ssh!… Contemplating more personal projects I am faced with the simple fact that I need to get more work.

On the one hand I can labour away my precious time on a magnificent opus, which I am certain will astound the publishing world with its vision, breadth, plot and characterisation. On the other, I can set my ambitions to a more realistic level and consider a more commercial line of endeavour.

Quality isn’t the issue. I don’t purposefully set out to write something that is sub-par. Questions of style and approach, on the other hand, are fair game. There is a very strong desire from the sci-fi and fantasy publishing fraternity for certain types of work. Preferably these have a strong single-viewpoint character and have the capacity to be part of an ongoing series. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this approach, as some fine fiction attests.

So the question comes to that of risk versus reward. Confidence plays an important part in any creative’s make-up, and so one must have the courage of one’s convictions. If I write something that I feel is remarkable – literally worthy of remark – it may be deemed unsuitable for publication and never see the light of day. On the other hand, if it is published then it always offers the chance of standing out from the crowd and garnering much higher success (and financial reward) than a more middle-of-the-road title. Yet it is very tempting to go with the more secure option (as secure as any publishing venture can be) in the efforts of increasing the chances of having at least some success.

It’s also a question of resources. Creating something mould-breaking, inspiring and all-round seven flavours of awesome takes a lot more time than writing within well-understood boundaries and conventions. I consider myself pretty well-versed in the art of the staple fantasy or sci-fi approach and so can concentrate on the plot and characters without worrying too much about the form.

So we come back to the confidence issue and the necessities of domestic economics. Am I confident that if I do reach for the higher reward I will get there? Or does the pile of bills that arrive every month demand a more pragmatic approach?

Hopefully I can find a ‘third way’ so often sought after in politics. Perhaps I should settle my efforts on an achievable goal that adheres to the tried-and-tested demands of agents and publishers, and yet push that form as far as possible. Getting the best of both might indeed be the greatest victory of all.

Thanks: To those who attended the Angels of Darkness signing in Manchester. Good to meet you, Narry! Sorry I missed you, Rob.

Very Very Recent News: The Malekith mss has just this minute dropped through the door. Very exciting! Two weeks’ turnaround to get it back to the folks at Black Library…

Know Thyself

It’s been a while since my last post, so in a departure from the writing content I’m going to talk about gaming. Apologies to visitors that don’t play games, but I assure you that normal service will be resumed shortly.

Miniatures gaming is a hobby. This means that what you get out of it is directly related to the effort and attitude that you put into it. To get the most enjoyment, one must understand one’s own needs and desires from our hobby. What I have found increasingly over the last few years is a lack of personal responsibility on the part on some players, who equate their own lack of enjoyment with failures on the part of games developers.

I’ll start out by saying that my greatest experience is obviously with Games Workshop games, but it’s not my sole source. This is not an attempt to denounce any particular choice a player makes about their gaming, nor is it abdicating from the responsibility of a games designer to provide a fun and entertaining rules system.

However, gaming is an interactive event; between opponents and between designer and player. With a hobby as nebulous a miniatures gaming there are many things that attract a person to participate, but everyone should understand some of the fundamental truths about what is required of them.

Most importantly, one participates in a hobby for fun. Some people get their jollies slaughtering their opposition and hearing the lamentation of their women. Some enjoy the tactical challenge of outwitting another human being in a close-fought contest. Many delight in the simple spectacle of a miniature army arrayed across the tabletop.

In fact, because one has chosen a miniatures game, this last point is crucial. There are many formats of wargames – miniatures games, hex-and-counter games, computer games. Some purport to be accurate simulations, others emphasise playability and entertainment. So the first question to ask oneself is why one has chosen miniatures gaming, and the only real answer can be because of the miniatures. Whether that first step was a box of Airfix American paratroopers, a War Machine Jack, a set of Roman Legionaries or a squad of Tactical Space Marines, for all of us there was an appeal about toy soldiers that hooked us.

That appeal, and the purpose behind all miniatures wargames, is to collect an army of toy soldiers and then to act out their battles. If this isn’t what you’re after then why the hell did you choose miniatures gaming when other forms of game provide more rigid, ‘balanced’ gaming frameworks?

Continued here

Upcoming event: Please come and see myself and Dennis at our GW Manchester signing on the 14th June for the re-released Angels of Darkness.

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