Archive

Archive for the ‘Trenchmates’ Category

Trenchmates – Sexism in the Warhammer Worlds

10/17/2012 18 comments

This edition of Trenchmates is written by my good friend Elizabeth Corbett (@lizbth_geeks for you Twitter folk). While she’s not a wargamer per se she does paint a mean miniature and is a dedicated roleplayer. Today she’s writing on a subject close to her heart, I’ll leave the rest to her.

I don’t wargame. I’ve never been tempted by it. I like playing games, and I like playing boardgames, and I’ve enjoyed playing WFRP and Dark Heresy, and I’ve even enjoyed playing Space Hulk before – but I don’t field armies on tabletop battlefields, and I don’t think I ever will. It’s not my thing. I don’t like turn-based strategy games on the PC either.

Why am I starting a guest post on a wargaming blog saying I don’t play it? Because I do paint miniatures, and I know a reasonable bit about the background, and I wanted all the readers to understand where I’m coming from before I launch into the real purpose of my writing:

I think Warhammer Fantasy and 40K really need to address the sexism in their games, and I’d like to see more people understand my position. Who knows, it might even encourage more women to play. This sexism can be seen in the miniatures, both historical and current, in the literature surrounding the games, and in the way the games are marketed.

The miniatures tend towards making the women more naked than their male counterparts. Even the otherwise heavily-armed and armoured Sisters of Battle have the Sisters Repentia, walking into battle clothed only in rags “to atone for their crimes”. One the one hand, the miniatures have to be readily recognisable on a battlefield with perhaps a couple of hundred models, and exaggerating secondary sexual characteristics of women is a way to do it; on the other hand, they don’t have to be mostly naked: that was a deliberate choice made by someone. Compare these three female spellcasters from Warhammer Fantasy, one each of the three elven races, to their male equivalents.

High Elves

Wood Elves

Dark Elves

The High Elf is recognisable as female but is at least as fully clothed as her male counterparts. The Wood Elf is less clothed than her male counterpart, although in fairness still wearing more than the War Dancers (the only nearly-naked male figures I have ever seen in this game). The Dark Elf… okay, that was a Finecast, let’s look at the normal model…

Nope, not wearing much at all, is she? Really quite naked, one might say. (Another short rant: I had to compare spellcasters, because they’re the only class which consistently has women. Apparently we’re allowed to cast fireballs from our hands, but not use a morning star.)

Someone, somewhere, made a deliberate choice to make naked women a feature of this game. Leaving aside the impracticalities of being naked on a battlefield, with arrows and swords (or guns and swords), not to mention inclement weather, I would be fine with this if the men were naked too. But they’re not, as a rule. They wear clothes. They don’t have vines artistically draped over one pec and swirling around their thigh.

This implies an expectation of their audience: that the people who play this game will want to see tiny naked women but not tiny naked men. It implies the audience is male, and straight. Statistically, I’m sure the latter is mostly true, but the former implication is part of the thing that keeps women out of the games; when we are only presented as highly-sexualised afterthoughts, we don’t really want to get involved.

And afterthought is a good way to describe the women in these games, which are disproportionately made up of male figures. Okay, in Fantasy, the time period suggests that most women wouldn’t be fighters in the Empire or whatever. But it’s fantasy. The clue’s right there in the name. Even the Elven races, much more classically feminine in style and lines, have many more male units than female. Why? Why does this have to be the case? In 40K, even the “women didn’t fight then” argument falls down. You’re honestly going to tell me that in the dawn of the 41st millennium, with all the technological advances implicit in the game, women are still only allowed to fight if they’re traumatised and indoctrinated orphaned girls? You’re going to tell me that the Space Marine gene cluster only works with a Y-chromosome?

These are choices which the game designers made, and they are choices repeated over six editions of the game. Coming up with a handy backstory to explain why there are no women does not make it any less sexist; if anything, it means that more people have been dragged into being apologists. Similarly, introducing armies like the Sisters of Battle, where they are almost entirely female, just makes it more obvious that the rest of the armies have little to no women in them. It’s the equivalent of saying “I’m not sexist/racist/homophobic, I have female/coloured/gay friends”. If you feel the need to make a big thing about it, your point is already lost.

For me, the worst thing about this whole business isn’t that it makes these games all-male environments where women are tolerated rather than welcomed, as bad as that is. The worst thing is what it does to the children, who are too young to know how to compartmentalise or analyse. Whenever I go into Games Workshop, I see kids. Kids playing and having fun, interacting with adults on an even footing, which is great to see. Mostly boys, but that’s as much symptomatic of the culture which says girls should play with dolls and boys should play with guns as anything else. These little boys are seeing that women are excluded from battle, both on and around the table. They are painting little women who have one tit hanging out and a loincloth whipping over their thighs. They are learning to treat us as irrelevant objects.

I don’t expect Games Workshop to single-handedly change the culture which says to little girls that they can’t like maths and violence, but I can expect them to make their games much better balanced and representative. And I can definitely expect grown men reading this blog to think, just for a second, about how this all looks to a woman, or to a girl. Your hobby could include twice as many people. That’s double the battles! I know that for a lot of people, this is about creating a space outside of their partners and families, and I understand the appeal of tribalism, but you can have this and not exclude all women.

So how could you as a player make a difference? You could mod your armies a little. It doesn’t even need to be much, the armour most of the little people are wearing covers pretty much all detail; you just need to write it into your backgrounds, assuming you do them. The Dark Eldar kits come with male and female heads separate to torsos; they could be added to any elf, with a little bit of extra effort. The Sisters of Battle could be modded and thrown in to a Marine unit, or an Imperial Guard unit. In fact, I’ll even do it for you, if you pay me (I accept any currency, or wine). This hobby encourages creativity and personalisation of your armies. Think outside of the sprues. Encourage your opponents to do the same. Take your non-sexist armies to tournaments. You don’t have to stand and lecture everyone on the evils of the patriarchy and whether all sex is rape; you just have to turn up, with a representative army, play your games, and leave at the end of the day. It shouldn’t be a big thing to have women in your army. It shouldn’t be a big thing to be a woman playing the game.

This whole rant could just as easily have been written from a race-sensitivity point of view as well. Take a look through the books; it’s very hard to find non-white faces. Again, anything which apologises for it is just excusing racism, not addressing the problem.

Please remember, if you’d like to submit an article for Trenchmates, you can find all the information you need here.

Trenchmates – Living With A #Warmonger by Alex Wilkinson

09/30/2012 3 comments

This edition of Trenchmates is written by Alex Wilkinson, the wife/keeper of Miniature Musings of A Bear’s Doc Bungle (aka Dave). The Bear has already told me that all of what’s below is lies but I’ll leave you, dear reader, to be the judge of that 😉 Take it away,Alex.

 

When I met my now husband he was already a closet gamer.

Now more than ten years later, I know more than I ever thought I would. More than I really want to know. (He is most certainly not a closet gamer any more!).

Regrettably, I must admit that I wouldn’t change this about him. I just wish it didn’t take over my house. Trees were once made “Only one or two trees, love! Honest!” I think he made a hundred, it certainly felt that way! I was climbing over them for what felt like weeks!

I once (many moons ago) tried to show an interest in this hobby/ lifestyle (delete as appropriate). For my troubles, I got left undercoating a big bird like model in black. Meanwhile bear buggered off and did something else entirely. That wasn’t exactly the show of couple unity that I had thought would happen. I most certainly never offered to help again! Once burned and all that.

I often find myself listening to his ramblings about models, currently this is a lot about a split colour scheme on models (hard work in my opinion). Selling armies to buy new models (Skaven, to someone local to us, and so no trip to the post office with a pram and oversized box, sounds good to me!). Debating the merits of new factions vs building bigger current factions and lending my brother (yes, he got my brother involved too) his grey paint as he uses it more than he thought.

Thinking back when I first found out about ‘the small people’ I wasn’t too concerned. I think I had already fallen but I admit I didn’t realise the full extent of this hobby. At least I know what would be removed from a burning house first .Daughter, then toys. Me? I’m on my own

The latest discussion is that Bear will ‘find’ some cheap models and poster paint so she can join in (when she’s old enough).He’s on clean up for that then, think I will slink off for a bath with a book and a glass of wine and let them get on with it!

 

Thanks Alex for a fantastic insight into what it’s like living with one of us Warmongers, it certainly makes me all the more appreciate my wife’s tolerance of the hobby. One can’t help thinking that a #WarmongerWiddow(er) support group will inevitably form…

Categories: Trenchmates Tags:

Trenchmates – Games Day Germany by Wouter Lute

08/18/2012 Leave a comment

Welcome to the second Trenchmates article. Here, Wouter Lute reports from last week’s German Games Day. Take it away, Wouter!

 

As always with a Games Day you have to leave very early! We were on the way at seven am! Sleepy in the car we listened to a 40K audio book, still no clue to which one it was.

I’ve been a couple of time to GDUK and knew these were big events, so my hopes for this one were same! After a two hour drive and some coffee later we arrived at Köln in Germany. The Games Day event was only a five minute walk from the garage and we saw a some geeky people waiting at the event hall (which was some sort of Gothic opera house). We had so called “Mega Tickets” which allowed us to walk straight in without having to wait in a queue. The “Mega Tickets” gave us also access to a GD model and a GD T-shirt.

The entrance hall was filled with dressed-up people that looked like guardsmen and inquisitors, and were doing some kind of role-playing (goofy Germans!). We decided to go directly to the Forge-world stand, because it’s always busy over there! The FW line was big!!!! so we had a changed our mind to have a look around first! Saw great stuff in main lobby, especially the three Ultramarine companies in main entrance hall!

After half an hour we found enough courage to go join FW line behind some very goofy German GW fans. So ninety minutes of slow stumbling we arrived at the FW stand. On the FW website I saw a Aquilla lander for my Inquisitorial allies that I wanted, so after ten minutes of searching by the FW clerk he came with the answer that it’s no longer made! [my theory is that there will be a plastic version soon -John] So I opted to go for my second option a Macharius Fulcan! At the FW stand was a dressed-up ogre! (actually one big dude with not enough clothes on)

After FW it was lunchtime already and we found this nice little Mexican joint. We had a big-ass burito chilli and a beer for lunch.

When lunch was over it was time for Games Day part two. We made our round passing the Golden Daemon entries. There where definitely some nice ones, but also some that my three year old could do better.

The Armies on Parade was an other item that we wanted to see. Some of the army boards were great, but then the armies on weren’t. only a handful were pretty awesome and a combination of board and models on it!

We visited the Black Library stand and had a chat with some of the authors and also with some designers from FW which were present at the GD.

The local German gaming clubs were present with their own gaming tables, some of the were actually top notch . the was a trench table which really liked, gave me some ideas to make one of my own. There was also a strike cruiser table, it was not really in scale, but then again pretty cool.

There were also presentations by GW about the production process and some Black Library lectures. Only the microphone wasn’t working and the BL lectures were in German, so we couldn’t follow it all (of course we were Dutch and it was Games Day Germany for Germans 😉 )

Of course there was a big GW stand with all the usual stuff, but we skipped it and called this Games Day to an end for us!

 

Not only did Wouter take the time to write this, he also sent in some pretty spectacular pictures from the event, enjoy!

 

The Imperial Fists First Company displays their subtle approach to warfare that made them so famous.

 

Smurftastic!

 

My wallet hurts just looking at that!

 

Every time I see well done versions of this model I want to start collecting Blood Angels again.

 

Abandoning his disguise, Sir Bruce Forsyth rides out into the night.

 

I’m not entirely certain that’s a legal army 😉

 

I love the effect on the force weapon’s blade

 

Just a typical night out in Cologne…

 

Bloody Space Hippies!

 

Right, where’s Bugman’s?

 

Taking the concept of the all you can eat buffet to extreme lengths…

 

Many thanks Wouter for a brilliant report about what sounds like an awesome day. I haven’t been to a Games Day since 1997 and my lasting memory of that was Adrian Wood getting a grilling by a fifteen year old girl about fixed battle reports! Unfortunately I can’t attend this or any other big event this year as Real Life has got in the way but roll on 2013.

If like Wouter you’ve been to an event, operate a gaming club or shop or if you just fancy showing off your painting skills or fancy having a rant about whatever you like please feel free to contribute, click here for more info.

Trenchmates – The Last Days of The Angels by Ballistic Skill Four

08/11/2012 1 comment

Welcome to the first Trenchmates article. Today we hear from Philip of the Ballistic Skill Four painting studio who are detailing their project to create a series of dioramas depicting the end of the Blood Angels chapter.

We are Ballistic Skill Four painting studio, and want to announce the released of the “Last Days of the Angels´´ Indiegogo campaign. The fictitious end of the glorious chapter known as Blood Angels.

Our goal is to make between eight to fifteen dioramas. Each one tells how a Tyranid invasion goes taking strength and how the blood angels organize the last stand until the final breath.  

We have completed the first diorama of the series. A handful of blood angels resisting in a corridor against a huge wave of Tyranid Genestealers. 

Our idea is realize the largest compilation of diorama of all Warhammer 40,000. But we need to tell a good story too. 

The dioramas will be the following:

  1. The invasion starts. First diorama of the series. A lonely outpost see how the first spore falls to the ground.
  2. Six hours after the beginning of the invasion. The first attack against the fortress doors. In this diorama the space marines resist and the door is unharmed. Hundreds of Tyranids corpses pile up under the arch.
  3. Twenty hours after the beginning of the invasion. The Tyranids change their strategy. Mawlocs arise from the ground in a dozen of different points throughout all the fortress . A torrent of small creatures follow them. Marines are caught in this new attack and various parts of the fortress fall. 
  4. Forty-eight hours after the beginning of the invasion. Once the Tyranid force take strength, the Genestealers do the first spearhead advance going over some important corridors. In the diorama, we can see a handful of blood angels resisting the wave.
  5. Sixty hours after the beginning of the invasion. Most of the fortress has fallen. Mephiston, Lord of Death, a iconic blood angel hero, defend   the great main hall of the chapter.  In the diorama he appears alone and surrounded by enemies, killing hundreds of creatures with his mighty psychic powers. Finally, he dies defending the greatest relics of the chapter.
  6. Four days after the beginning of the invasion. Five entire blood angel companies have been annihilated and the half of the fortress is in ruins. This diorama will show the intricate labyrinth of tunnels under the fortress the Tyranids have made. Like an ant farm. And how these creatures organize for the war. Various chambers are used to pile up space marines corpses, for re-use the genetic biomaterial. 
  7. The fortress has fallen. The regrouped blood angel survivors led by Dante succumb to the blood thirst. Members of all kind of squads wear the black in their armours. Wounded and outnumbered, with all their comrades dead and the Baal planet in the brink of destruction, these warriors march to the final fight. This diorama will show how a small troop of twenty blood angels launch a suicide strike against the heart of the Tyranid Nidus below the fortress. 
  8. Thirty days after the fall of the fortress. Help comes late. The Flesh Tearers, a successor chapter, reaches the desolate fortress. This diorama will show how these space marines come upon the alone corridors and chambers, only finding death in their path. All is in silence, seems as if there was anyone…

For the moment this is the script, good ideas are accepted. But this isn’t the  end… Seven dioramas more missing to complete the 15 of the total. What happen with the last survivors, where are the Tyranids at the Flesh Tearers arrive? and why does the blood angel fortress fall so quickly?…

If you help us to do the LAST DAYS OF THE ANGELS in our Indiegogo campaign you will see all this and more.

You can see the trailer here:

 

And the campaign here.

We need help from people to complete all the series. This is only the beginning. People can do a contribution and receive a piece of the diorama as gift.

Thanks to Philip for talking about this fantastic project, I’m really looking forward to seeing how this progresses, remember you can also follow Ballistic Skill Four on Twitter via @BallisticSkill4.  

If you would like to contribute to Threnchmates all you need to know can be found here, I look forward to hearing from you.

 

Care to stick your head above the trenches?

07/30/2012 8 comments

Ever since I started writing this blog back in October last year I’ve been surprised and humbled by the amount of kind comments and positive feedback I’ve received from the wargaming community. To a man and woman you’re all fantastic people and I think it’s time that this blog expanded somewhat to enable more contributions from the Warmonger Family.

To this end I would like to invite you to write my blog for me submit guest articles of your own choosing for publication on this blog.

These can be about anything you like, so long as its wargaming or roleplaying related. For example, if you have a really cool background for your favourite army please share, some photos would be awesome too. If you have some insights you’d love to get off your chest, by all means. Heck, if you’re organising a tournament or if you run a gaming store or club, feel free to write about it here.

This is open to anyone, whether they have their own blog or not. There are no word limits and you’ll always get the final say in how I present your musings.

If you’d like to get involved I’ve even gone ahead and set up an email address for you to submit your articles, pictures and questions. It’s ramblingsfromthetrenches@virginmedia.com

As always you can also contact me here, on Twitter and via the blog’s Facebook page.

I hope to hear from you guys and gals soon,

John

Categories: General, Trenchmates