Jamie Noble Frier & Tim Simms
Why we love Wargaming
Tim and Jamie met at secondary school (high school for our American readers). Both of them had been collecting and painting Games Workshop miniatures for some time before meeting in the first year of the all-boys school, they would have been 11 years old.
Jamie: “I distinctly remember Tim getting his Ultramarine codex out before registration one morning. I knew we’d probably end up being friends.”
Tim: “Back then Ultramarines were still cool; donning blue armour with yellow trim and wielding red guns, if these guys were brave enough to wear all three primary colours I could be brave enough to pull out a Warhammer codex in school.”
It was 1995 when they met. It would be 24 years before they actually played one another at a wargame.
Firstly Tim collected the sci-fi Warhammer 40,000 range of Games Workshop’s miniatures. Tim was also a collector and painter first, and hadn’t really played the games. He just loved the lore and the aesthetic of the dark universe in which Warhammer 40k is set.
Tim: “Actually I remember one game of Warhammer Fantasy in your garage, it wasn’t really a game at all, we spent a couple of hours setting up and looking at all your miniatures then went out, that’s pretty much how all my “games” go.”
Jamie had played some games, he was one of the kids who camped out his summers in the actual shop-come-games-club which Games Workshop stores acted as for their fans.
Jamie was (and still is) a real fantasy fan, and played Warhammer Fantasy Battles (now affectionately known as ‘Oldhammer’, as a newer fantasy game, Age of Sigmar has become the Games Workshop fantasy flagship game).
Jamie: I must have been about eight of nine when I saw my older brother’s friend had a painting table with all these cool looking figures on them. They were goblins from the Fourth edition of Warhammer Fantasy Battles. That Christmas, I received the same set, and it’s still the best Christmas I had (don’t tell my wife).
Jamie continued to collect, and expanded his collection into the other games that Games Workshop had to offer: Blood Bowl (an violent fantasy take on American football), Necromunda (a cyber-punk type of gang warfare set in an underworld of disused industrial cities) and later the excellent Lord of the Rings games.
Gateway to Glory
Jamie and Tim had begun playing board games together in a bigger way in their mid-twenties, finding the deeper strategy games available were enjoyable, concise and their less geeky friends would join in too.
They’d not thought about the plastic delights of Warhammer for a long time, until playing the wonderful Sword and Sorcery by Ares Games.
A miniature heavy game, there was a lot that reminded them of their Games Workshop days within the adventures of Sword and Sorcery.
Jamie: “I’d been talking to Tim over our adventures about the reboot of Necromunda, which ticked Tim’s sci-fi box, and my nostalgia box. It didn’t take long for us to begin planning a joint purchase.”
Tim: “Jamie talks up a lot of things, often his wins at board games. But this was something I was interested in. I was particularly excited about getting back into painting. With a family and work responsibilities it’s great to have some relaxing hobby time.”
Necromunda: Industrial, Punk, Survival, Skirmish
Tim and Jamie began to competitively play Necromunda… Before long they’d painted up their gangs and were quickly demolishing each other’s carefully thought out characters.
Necromunda, is a ‘skirmish game’. A scaled down version of the larger wargames, where you take on the management of a small group of miniatures (around 5-10 usually). This meant a lot more individual management of the characters you created within your gang. With a bit of roleplay optional, it’s fun to think of names and anecdotes about your characters, (which really develop as you play) the enjoyment of Necromunda is two fold. The actual clash of gangs on the tabletop, but also the meta-game, the management of their progression.
Like many popular RPG video games, Necromunda has a perpetual progressing story associated with the gameplay. When one of your fighters is injured, or does something exciting, a reward or punishment is logged. This brings a growing feeling of colour to the world you develop. Your characters gain new skills, but might lose an arm and struggling in certain combat situations. Layer on top the array of weaponry that can slowly be bought or accumulated and you can see your own little universe forming in front of you, that’s different to anyone else’s experience of the game.
Jamie: “For me, the metagame is where Necromunda really shines. I love all the hiding behind the ruinous industrial terrain, and mini strategies the game had to offer. But when it came time to choose a skill or spend some creds, my imagination went wild. I began to associate character stories with my miniatures, their successes and failures, and fell in love with each (or hated some in other cases).”
Tim: “I love the market side of the game, and equipping each ganger in the way you want. That opens up loads of combos and great synergy within your gang. It makes it feel like you can really personalise your dudes.”
In Love and War
Tim had been lusting nostalgically over the Warhammer 40k miniatures he’d seen while buying his Necromunda gangs. Slowly but surely he planted the seed in Jamie’s head that he didn’t have to commit to buying full armies, there was a game called Kill Team. Where you could play smaller skirmish battles with the troops from the Warhammer 40k universe.
With more emphasis on the tabletop combat, but still with a campaign, Kill Team ticked boxes again for both players.
Jamie and Tim loved Necromunda. They are both highly competive when playing together (especially Tim), and as their campaign rolled on victories became sweeter and losses more bitter.
With each game having such an impact on the next, it became almost too intense at times. Kill Team was the perfect remedy.
It featured all the fun of trying to outwit your opponent even before the game started by customising your team to elegantly and efficiently dispatch your opponent. Then the quick 1-2 hour skirmish battle where, your models act individually, and you can really attempt to out-strategise your opponent. To finally ending the game without consequence. It was a great opportunity to sit back afterward and shoot ideas around and discuss our errors and fun tactics.
Why we Love Wargaming
Jamie: “Wow, it’s easy to say why I love wargames, but hard to nail down the main reason. I love the miniatures, the painting is a welcome chillout to some music, with no parental responsibilities… Proper me time. Finishing something you’re pleased with gives you a real feeling of satisfaction.
Perhaps it’s the lore, which in the decades Games Workshop has existed, has grown relentlessly (check out The Black Library... whoah!). It makes all these static plastic miniatures take on so much character and meaning.
Is that what I love most? I’m not sure, it could be the collection aspect. There’s certainly something to be said for the addictive nature of building up a selection of gorgeous sculpts, especially with some of the really fantastic customisable sets available now.
It might have to be, though… the shaky handed dice roll, when you make an ill advised but successful charge or shot at the key turning point of a battle. Those moments, whether in the impactful journey of a Necromunda campaign, or just a one off skirmish in Kill Team just deliver such great story telling. Moments to remember and laugh at, and grit your teeth at and grumble at. But you’re doing it all with your friend, and that is unbeatable.”
Tim: “Kill Team really worked for me. I love the Warhammer 40k universe and Kill Team allowed a level of customisation not a million miles away from the cool bit of Necromunda.
Being able to play with small teams, with varied units means less of the painting hundreds of rank and file troops over and over. So the painting side of things remains fresh and fun.
Overall it’s the personal involvement it requires. You start with soulless grey plastic pieces, infuse them with character then deploy them to a land of ruined plastic cathedrals to fight and die.
I can’t really elevate one feature above the rest. It’s the entire process that makes the experience. Choosing a faction, designing loadouts, building models, painting them, reading the lore, planning strategies and tactics, deploying squads moving for objectives, arguing over rules, then having it all ruined by one cretin who can’t aim his autocannon.”
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