Open Fire? Thanks, I Think I Will!

Last week Battlefront announced Open Fire, a starter set for their Flames of War miniatures game. It contains an introductory booklet, a mini-rulebook, 3 American tanks, 2 German assault guns, and dice; everything you need to get started. I thought this was a great idea. Flames of War is one of the few historical miniatures game with good penetration into game store stores, and Open Fire may help recruit a lot of new players into a part of the hobby that could really use some new blood. Really, who could complain about that? Historical miniatures fans, that’s who! The bitching began immediately. Flames of War, they say, is already dumbed down, so what’s the point of dumbing it down further? The (large and intimidating) hardback rulebook already is newbie friendly so what’s the point? If your puny mind can’t handle a game as simple as Flames of War, you should find a different hobby anyway. Etc,etc.

It is so short-sighted it makes me furious. Hobby gaming, and especially historical miniatures gaming, needs to bring in new players. It’s that simple. Here we have a leading company in the field recognizing that and doing something about it, and all the trolls can do is fling crap at them. I guess that’s fine if you want all historical miniatures conventions to be held in retirement homes in 20 years, but I’d prefer to keep the gaming hobby vibrant. I’d like to see us old hands passing down to the next generation the lore and the fun of tabletop gaming. OK, so you may not like Flames of War. You may prefer a game that better takes into account the sloped armor of the T-34 when calculating armor penetration. Great, there are plenty of games that do that. But at least try to recognize that when Battlefront recruits new historical minis fans, we all win. It means more people to play with, more attendees at cons, and more consumers to help keep all the game and minis companies in business in the years to come. Well done, Battlefront.

5 thoughts on “Open Fire? Thanks, I Think I Will!

  1. Sorry to be awfully blunt, but the big draw of war games is the Second World War. And how our generation “knows” its strategies, equipment and limitations. For us, it’s an “easy” war to get into.

    Now, today’s youths simply don’t have that relationship with this dusty old war.

    For the hobby to be revitalized, what we need is simply put a new war. And I don’t mean a completely lopsided one as US vs Iraq.

    Then we can argue if that’s enough or if the games need to switch to another media (computers), but what history mostly needs is an epic conflict that could engage today’s potential hobbyists.

  2. Erm, what our toy-soldier and counter-pushing hobby needs is a new world war to revitalise the interest of the young survivors in games about the carnage they’ve just lived through? For f***s sake anonymous, but you’re out of your tiny freaking mind.

    The great thing about violence in games? It’s in games. The more of it there and for the longer, the better. IMO. 😉

  3. Anonymous – You're completely wrong. By your logic, there shouldn't be any historical gaming older then a generation or two. Tell that to all the folks who play Napoleonics, Ancients, or any other period in between. Certainly none of today's gamers have any relationships to those "dusty old wars".

    WWII is the epic conflict that is certainly engaging the public, as well as potential hobbyists, across all forms of popular entertainment.

    WWII is more popular now then it was a generation ago in our youth. Saving Private Ryan rekindled the WWII genre and every year see a couple major WWII movies. Valkyrie and Defiance, both WWII-themed movies, are in theaters now. The Band of Brothers TV show was wildly successful. Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are hit video games. For hobby gaming, there's Memoir 44 and Tide of Iron in addition to Axis & Allies minis and numerous versions of the board game. Walk down the any store's toy aisle and you'll find WWII action figures and vehicles next to Star Wars and the latest super hero movie. They are a far cry from the simple "green army men" of yesterday.

    Looking back, its amazing we got into WWII at all. How did we come to "[know] its strategies, equipment and limitations"? When we were kids, all we had was reruns of Victory at Sea, John Wayne movies (of dubious factual merit) and the original A&A; game. Sure, there were dozens of Avalon Hill games and the like. However, we're discussing entry products for youth. The back shelf of a bookstore is a far cry from a color ad insert by most major retailers in the Sunday paper announcing the release of the latest WWII video game.

    Today, it's never been easier to be a WWII fan.

  4. Anonymous – You're completely wrong. By your logic, there shouldn't be any historical gaming older then a generation or two. Tell that to all the folks who play Napoleonics, Ancients, or any other period in between. Certainly none of today's gamers have any relationships to those "dusty old wars".

    WWII is the epic conflict that is certainly engaging the public, as well as potential hobbyists, across all forms of popular entertainment.

    WWII is more popular now then it was a generation ago in our youth. Saving Private Ryan rekindled the WWII genre and every year see a couple major WWII movies. Valkyrie and Defiance, both WWII-themed movies, are in theaters now. The Band of Brothers TV show was wildly successful. Call of Duty and Medal of Honor are hit video games. For hobby gaming, there's Memoir 44 and Tide of Iron in addition to Axis & Allies minis and numerous versions of the board game. Walk down the any store's toy aisle and you'll find WWII action figures and vehicles next to Star Wars and the latest super hero movie. They are a far cry from the simple "green army men" of yesterday.

    Looking back, its amazing we got into WWII at all. How did we come to "[know] its strategies, equipment and limitations"? When we were kids, all we had was reruns of Victory at Sea, John Wayne movies (of dubious factual merit) and the original A&A; game. Sure, there were dozens of Avalon Hill games and the like. However, we're discussing entry products for youth. The back shelf of a bookstore is a far cry from a color ad insert by most major retailers in the Sunday paper announcing the release of the latest WWII video game.

    Today, it's never been easier to be a WWII fan.

  5. I am always intrigued by how there is a hardcore *majority* of wargamers who equate complicated rulesets with *better*. It’s always been the case and it carried over into roleplaying as well, but there I think it is now a minority.

    Obviously there is a new swathe of wargamers from the Warhammer route, and for all that GW pile on the books and figures and so on, the core system there is quite simple.

    I have to say *Open Fire* could get me to buy my first WWII wargame.. and I’m not exactly young..

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