Friday, March 12, 2010

Am I a... a Grognard?

I a recent article on Bob's Blog "Coffee, Vegemite and Wurst on the Z9M9Z" he askes the question: Are you a Space Grognard?

Well after looking up the meaning of the word (just to make sure I didn't make a complete fool of myself... futile effort I know) I stand before you all and state resoundingly that "Yes, yes I am a Grognard, and a Space Grognard to boot".

I was playing Traveller back in a time when I didn't even know what a role playing game was.  Traveller was just something my friend Doug pulled off his brothers book shelf one day and said "we have to play this, it's so cool".  And cool it was, we would spend entire weekends just rolling up characters.  Some were original but most were based on characters from TV shows, movies, books, you name it we rolled them up.  We only had the little black box set which came with books 1,2 and 3 but it was like there was an infinite universe stored in that box.  Whatever we could think of we could do.  Characters came and went, some lived - most died but the adventures were incredible fun.  We would recreate episodes of Star Trek in which Jim Kirk would battle Gorn or Klingons tirelessly (we only had TOS and a couple movies back then).  Later on Doug's brother got one of the JTAS books and our universe just exploded into a million multi-verses.

With all the effort we were putting into converting Traveller into Star Trek I splashed out and spent $34.95 of my hard earned pocket money on the FASA Star Trek RPG.  Now they call it the Basic Game but it came with:
  • 3 Rulebooks: Star Fleet Officer's Manual, Cadet's Orientation Sourcebook & Game Operations Manual. 
  • A couple hundred 1/2" counters representing all the races and star ships (at the time) in the Star Trek universe
  • Star Map with 1/2" hexes.
  • Complete deck plans for both the USS Enterprise and a Klingon D-7 Battlecruiser.  All in scale with the counters, around 30 double sided A3 sheets in all.
Running gun battles in the corridors of the Enterprise would become a mainstay of every adventure and since the RPG side of things used action points for everything the game really played more like a tactical strategy game.

Speaking of strategy, the starship combat system was a fantastic game in it's own right with different console sheets for each of the bridge crew positions, players had to work together to allocate power to subsystems, move the ship, power shields and fire weapons.

So much fun and not a miniature in sight.  And at the end of every game we would pack up all the counters into zip lock bags, fold up the maps and pack everything back into the box the game came in, nice and tidy.

Oh how I miss bookshelf games... *sigh*

We started to move back towards playing the Traveller board games, bigger grander scope and they interested the budding megalomaniac in us.  Unfortunately we had to move away and ever since then I could never enough people interested in Traveller.  Although I did keep myself busy with Battletech (boo yeah!) and Dungeons and Dragons (still undecided about that whole experience, I had fun but meh).

Magic the Gathering & Games Workshop derailed me for many a year until we come into the now.  And back to the point of this post (got a little side tracked there didn't I?)

Bob also stated:

But the point of my Post is that if You're a Space Grognard then you have to give something back,
  • welcome a newbie
  • let them reroll that Damage control roll
  • get those house rules you've thought a about a try 
  • or better still shared and posted on the net, 
  • organize a  game at your club  rather than turn up expecting  someone to have organized something.
Do that now, by Klono's Boranium Bollocks, so that you can play what you love in the times to come.  you mightn't get direct benefit for your efforts, but someone will and the hobby will be better for it.

I agree with every word he said but here's my dilemma, these days I'm a lot more picky about the games I play and the people I play with.  As a gaming husband and dad I find that my gaming time is precious and I tire quickly of fools and time wasters.  I matter of moments I can go from "you're funny dude" to "cranky git".  Why?  Because I see so many young and some not-so young gamers wasting their time.  They're playing with unpainted, unloved miniatures and spending more time arguing that playing.  I bet you can guess which games they're playing too.  Why bother even turning up if you aren't going to have fun?  People who aren't playing to enjoy the process of 'playing the game' ie 'not playing for the win, only the win and nothing else but the win' just shit me to tears.

I don't ask for a lot of a fellow gamer but here's my golden rules:
  • Be proud and careful of you miniatures (you've spent all that time painting them... right?) so in turn: never touch your opponents miniatures without asking.
  • Give the other guy a break, because in a moment when it's your turn you may need the same.
  • When an opponent pulls of a great move and wipes out half of your battle force with a single unit of knights (sigh yes it happened) then you congratulate them on a good move.
  • When someone asks you "what's this game?" it's usually means "can I play?" so ask them if they want to.  You will get more people accepting that not.  Even if they just want to watch then get them to roll some dice for you, explain why they're rolling and before you know it they're playing.
  • Sometimes there's a game you really want to play but you know you'll have a hard time selling it to the other guys at your club then just build two armies, forces, battle groups or whatever you need and take it along.  You will find players, some games just don't translate well until people see it in action.  Bag the Hun was like this at my club, I'd talk about it but people would just say "yeah that sounds interesting" and that would be it.  But get a nice game mat on the table and plonk down a dozen nicely painted aircraft and people got very interested very quickly.  Yes this can be expensive but if you really want to play that game...
  • Nothing you do will be new, but everything you do will be valued by someone: so share everything you do.  I have spent a ridiculous number of hours making cards and game mats for Bag the Hun, it's hard work and some people just aren't up for it.  My Bag the Hun mats have been downloaded 25 times so far and I've emailed them to a few so maybe 30 people have got a copy of it.  Even if only one or two actually get around to printing it out then that is fantastic.  They're happy and I get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside for helping out.  And people will often repay in kind.

And it's not all that hard either ... remember that cornfield scene in Field of Dreams:

Blog it and they will come.


  1. blog it and they will come..

    *deploy it on table* and they'll come runnign :)

  2. "The Universe in a box" - yep, that's about my take on LBB Traveller, where my SF tastes ran more to Star Wars, Blake's 7 and Logan's Run, plus novels by Andre Norton, Heinlein, Asimov and Clarke, then to Star Trek. But Star Trek was cool, too, especially when those pesky Klingons and Romulans started getting a bit froggy.

    Still have my LBBs and my campaign from the early 1980s, and still run the occasional game, too. Like the new Mongoose version, they've added some nice new bits.

  3. wouldnt mind trying a book 2 combat.. with vectors and computers..