When I mention WW2 here , I really mean any conflict say post 1930 and any scale. Compared to other eras such as Ancients ,Naps etc, I personally find this an expensive era for starting up wargaming whether it be FOW , KGN or any other ruleset you could care to mention.
The culprits here must be vehicles . I know you could argue you don't have to use vehicles in WW2 and that is true, but lets be honest the main attractions for WW2 are vehicles and tanks at that.Once you buy one tank you will want to buy another. I appreciate great strides are being made by the likes of PSC who are constantly expanding their ranges in various scales with reasonably good quality plastic vehicles and figures at reasonable prices. You can also argue that has already happened in other eras eg in Naps . Both Perry's, Victrix and not forgetting Warlord have introduced top quality plastics which have lowered the cost of starting up in Naps. Beautiful Napoleonic armies are now achievable at fraction of the cost.
Which begs the question why in most poles is WW2 the most popular choice ? Is money no object ?
I suspect it is because it is fairly recent history and there is a plethora of films available for your viewing pleasure. It doesn't matter how inaccurate those films are, people like to see them and from there, they get into the games. Couple this with good old Airfix and you have a cheap route into the hobby or gaming genre. Let's be honest, the plastic 1/72 and 1/76 scale models and plastic soldier sets are not expensive.
You then have the wonderful marketing by Battlefront, which they escalated by buying Wargames Illustrated and suddenly you have a game which is taking over the world, whether or not you like it (and I don't like the game).
The skirmish scale of 28mm has some nice stuff, but again the vehicles can be expensive. What disguises that is the fact that you don't need many. Again you can use the plastic models available but you don't get the near instant gratification that the metal or resin models give you.
If people stuck to the 20mm option, it wouldn't be an expensive era, so the expense is down to players wanting to get their models on the table asap and the 15mm resin/metal models allow that.
I have to say, in comparison to a certain 15mm game, 28mm skirmish is pretty cheap, even in metal. You're average game is a box of 25 inf, some chosen weapon teams and a vehicle or two if you want. I mean, you're talking the bare minimum of what you expect is the norm and you can paint it to a fairly high standard in a weekend. Skirmish games have you not having one army but a collection you pick from across the different nations. On the other side is the cost and time in the terrain features and their rarity. 20mm has this sewn up, really. Yes 20mm can be very, very cheap but this is often against model quality and having looked into it I'd only want to use AB who are dearer per man than any 28mm and figures alone would be fifty quid or more I think it's closing on six of one and half a dozen of the other.
I agree about skirmishing WW2 but lets be honest most people who get into WW2 ,do it for the tank battles. Its plain to see Battlefront /FOW have been very successful at promoting large tanks battles on the tabletop and despite my reservations on their marketing strategy and some of their dodgy rules, you have to say they are very good at it. . As another extreme I could get a very small Celt Warband together at less cost than Justin's Soviet Army. But Justin is correct inso far it appears PSC are holding the key to bring down the overall cost. In perhaps a years time and providing PSC bring out the models they are promising ,then things could be very different with potentially low cost German,US ,Soviet and British armies. I also agree with what Big Al has said. You only have to turn the TV on switch to say the Military Channel and you will be guaranteed at least some coverage of WW2 during the day and even on terestrial TV, WW2 is perhaps covered in one form or another more times than any other eras.
I think Colonel White has raised 2 interesting points.
I think the popularity of WW2 gaming is down to a few factors, as has already been rightly its ubiquity on TV, cinema, books, computer games etc. Also many people know or knew veterans of WW2, many of our grandfathers/fathers fought in WW2. Also it is taught in schools to some extent. It is the largest war in the last 100 years, as already stated it was a global war. I also think the fact that it was the only really large scale fully mechanised conflict in history makes it a big appeal.
In terms of costs It depends on what you want and where you are coming from. Even at 28mm, the most expensive common wargames size a decent size WW2 army can be put together fir much less than a Warhammer 40k army. The most expensive resin tanks are still less than the cost of many of the Space marine transports. Also I think people buying into this hobby know, on the whole that you are buying a fairly niche product, that requires a hight level of craftsmanship and production and so we already acknowledge that there will be a cost attached.
The other comment I heartily agree with is that 20mm size can be done very cheaply and I think there are a lot of folk out there who use this scale. I don't think KGN chose that scale/size by accident.
Interesting note, was in the Model Train shop the other day looking at their Warlord Stock and got chatting briefly to a chap in there leafing though the Operation Squad rules to see if he could play them with his 1/32 Airfix miniatures.
Rufus T. Firefly: Oh, I'm sick of messages from the front. Don't we ever get a message from the side?
Mike -You are correct in that 20mm can be fairly cheap if you pitch in at a certain level. For example if you are happy using PSC models ( when they get released) and Armourfast ( which I personally can't stand as they are too basic IMO ) then you can make very cheap WW2 armies. As justin has proved you could do the same for 15mm if you know what to get and if you like armies without a lot of variety.
Personally I do prefer the more expensive stuff . In 20mm and bigger it is sometimes difficult to hide if your gun barrel is either too big or 2 small . For example the PSC T34 has a 85mm gun barrell that is far too thick and the tanks sits much higher than other comparable ones. This of course is offset with the cost. If you went for a Dragon T34 plastic kit then the cost of just one of these would be higher than a box of 3 of the former.The choice is yours.
I would agree with those that claim WW II 20mm is not expensive. For big tank battles I use 1/300, large fleets of tanks that are small enough for the average gaming table. Cheap models. And I have 20 mm and now enough 28 mm too for skirmish games.
I wanted the bolt action 8,8 cm and SdKfz 7 , a lot of other guns and have some Tanks. A British Guards armoured Sherman troop and German 1944 ones. But I rarely use them, the range compression for ground scale is just too . Looks strange. The usual Panzerfaust / Bazooka attack on a tank in a street, well. But a Koenigstiger - Firefly encounter at pistol shot distance?
A skirmish force is available below 100 £
My own 1/300 Napoleonic naval force is much much much more expensive. But looks and play
Getting started is not the problem, 30 infantry, a few support weapons and a handful of tanks will provide a basic force for pretty much any common/popular WWII ruleset. It's the megalomania that follows which costs the money.
Last edited by NTM on Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.