Oldhammer and it's attitude to work!

A gentleman wrote an article on BOLS. In this article he tells us all about his opinion of Oldhammer. Read it. Go on. I dare you. 

Ok, I'll do a TL:DR version of it for you.

Oldhammer is boring cos you'll never get any new toys. Oldhammmer is dull cos your army will never be the newest one with the newest codex. Oldhammmer is a dead end because you'll never be able to find a stranger to beat in an FLGS. And most importantly of all....the author has done fuck all research, listened to something his mate has said, jumped to a conclusion and gone running with it to write an article of spurious content.

Now of course, this being a free world he has every right to air his opinion and I will fight your 3rd Edition Orc army to the death to defend his right told do so. This article and the comments following it and indeed the conversation on the Oldhammer Facebook page do bring up some interesting points.

1. Objects in the mirror may appear closer than they actually are

The distance between the audience of BOLS and your average Oldhammerer is huge. To an outsider, my wife for instance, we all play Warhammer. To my wife 'Warhammer' is a catch all phrase that covers the entire hobby no matter what miniatures or rules I am using/painting/tidying off the work surfaces. The minutiae mean nothing to her, just that I tidy my shit away. But within 'our' world the differences are important. From Pimpcron's (for that is his name) point of view, Oldhammer is simply the people he is familiar with who have refused to move on to the current version of the Warhammer rules. To him this is bizarre. To him, the whole point is that you wait on the next release in order to get the jump on your potential opponents. To him you need to get the latest unit the day it is released so that it can be on the table (in all it's grey, uniform, glory) before his opponents have had time to develop a killer list to neutralise it. To him, this is the point of the game. Crush your Enemies. See them driven before you. Hear the lamentations of the neckbeards. Oldhammmer to Pimpcron is simply a sad and pathetic attempt to hold onto a time when your army was top. He see's you as weak and unable to take part in the great consumerist battle in the high street where you should be able to write a killer list within moments of the newest codex coming out and be able to beat any opponent that approaches you for a pick up game in the FLGS because only by doing so will you be able to declare yourself the besets of those present and be able at win at life. 

Every single adherent of Oldhammer I have ever met has done everything in their power to get as far away from the kind players that spout this doctrine as they possibly could. 

It has never occurred to Pimpcron that you could turn up at a game with a couple of friends and not know which figures you'd be using. That one of your mates would have thought up a reason for your figures to be on the board and that they had a very specific reason to be trying to kill the figures being pushed around by another friend. He wouldn't know what was going on when the friend who owned the figures started making decisions about the course of the game and didn't just quote rules. He'd spit out his kool-aid when the 'GM' shrugged and said he hadn't use points to work out the scenario or the forces, he just went with what felt right. His mind would melt and pour out of ears when he realised that no one was trying to 'win' and didn't give a poop about the odd half inch difference in charge range. 

Yet, to outsiders we're playing the same game.

2. Gentleman, you can't fight in here, this is the war room

Mr Pimpcron makes a point about not being able to find games with other regulars at FLGS (an acronym that makes me shudder with some kind of innate british snobbery). He claims that you will only be able to get games if you are playing the latest edition as thats what everybody else will want to play and you have to have a common standard so you can play each other. So that you can find opponents. Note that we're not talking about games with friends. He seems to only play competitive games. Games with strangers, opponents who have turned up at a designated place to do the nerd equivalent of a dance off. Using your latest moves (and freshly glued plastic) in order to bewilder and embarrass your opponent which will lead you to be TEH WINNER!!

It's such a shame that Pimpcrom will never have the opportunity to meet my friends. The friends that I have made through playing/discussing (way more discussing!) old hammer related subjects. The friends from all around the world who have bonded over the most ridiculous of things but who frienships I cherish and would happily never win a game against as long as our free-rolling mish mash imaginations kept us giggling like helium fuelled 7 year olds for ever and ever and ever!

3. Here's looking at you kid

Is that the way the kids see us? Is that article an example of what current players assume Oldhammer is. Just a bunch of refuseniks? 

The comments about this article generally sigh a breath of relief at this state of affairs. Generally thanking the lord that we don't have to play the tournament version of a wargame any more. Thats we can relax and socialise and not have to compete. The rest of life is such a competition why would want to do it when we are supposed to be relaxing? Sure we still show off our latest paint jobs and we subtly boast about collecting that full set of figures or getting that ultra rare one that loads of us are after, but it's all part of the collective pleasure. It's a shared Nerdgasm and it's part of the fun. You might get to play with that rare figure, or have the pleasure in seeing that ancient unit across the table and your soul will get a massive hug from it. 

The sad thing about the BOLS audience reading that article and walking away from it with that image of Oldhammer is this.....the article promotes the absence of imagination. Why go to any effort to come up with an great scenario for a bunch of your mates to play when you can wait two months for a new codex and waste all the guys down the FLGS. You don't do anything unless it is officially sanctioned. You are not playing. 

Oldhammer is the opposite. Oldhammer is rediscovering that imagination that spends it's days locked up in our heads who we try our best to be adults and deal with the competitive drones that inhabit the real world. The imagination that delighted and entertained us as kids has, for some of us, been rediscovered and is fuelling a renaissance in our sad little cerebellums. The idea of this brilliant new dawn being screwed down into a competitive format is an anathema. Long may it be so.

4.  Toto, I have a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore

One of the largest misunderstandings in Pimpcron's article is that Oldhammer is the game, that all it takes to be Oldhammer is to refuse to buy the new game, or the new codex or the new figures and to simply play with what you already have. This version of the Oldhammer myth seems to have appeared around about the birth of Age of Sigmar and looks like the coopting of the old hammer name to describe the phenomenon of players not wanting to give up on WFB. If this is the case then Pimpcron and his likely huge audience is missing out what the Oldhammer movement actually is. 

Oldhammer started out as a bunch of bloggers ploughing away in their own furrows. Doing their own things. All of them different and for different reasons and none of them thought of themselves as Oldhammer. Slowly they got in touch with each other and started to find common ground. A forum was born.A name was found. And then the forum was reborn. More people were drawn to the idea. A community developed. Games were played. Miniatures were swapped. Paint jobs were admired. A meeting up was suggested. An Oldhammer weekend happened. A Facebook group was created and another. And from there the exposure of Oldhammer has expanded exponentially. The mad little group and their unformed ideas have been exposed to the glare of the internet and have been unable to pin done exactly what it is they do. 

This is because Oldhammer is not a thing. A thing can be described. Measured. Classified. Pigeon holed.

Oldhammer is a community. A community that has lots of differing opinions. Has had its fair share of arguments. Has members that don't like other members. Has cliques and sub groups. It is a community that is growing and it is a community that is living. Amen for that.

5. Thats what makes me sad : Life is so different from books

Pimpcron goes on to describe Oldhammer are stale bread. Never being fresh. Never getting a new book or army or ruleset means that you end just playing the same army and never getting the opportunity to improve it. Never seeing it change. 

This viewpoint does more to put me off playing the way Pimpcron does than anything else he says. I can't imagine a situation where I only got to play the game the way it is written in the rule book. I can't imagine the only variation that I encounter being the way i'm allowed to set up or the victory conditions that were randomly determined from a choice of six which I had already built into my army choice any way. I can't imagine ever playing a game where some kind of story hasn't been developed as we play, where the other players and I chat and laugh as much as we play. The thought of not having fun and simply playing to win by using the rules is fairly tasteless. A lot of old hammer players have been there. I've played 4th edition 40K when I got back into gaming. I played 5th and I played 6th. It was the constant need to update and change that became bitter to me. There was no investment in your army, why bother, it was going to change soon anyway. The endless cycle that is only in place to ensure that there was a constant supply of new products to ensure a constant income (actually the ideal is a growing income) to keep the investors happy. It's what businesses do. It gets old.

Stale bread? Panzanella. Bread pudding. Breadcrumbs. Casse-croute. Ribolitta. Croutons. 

It's about using your imagination.

So TL:DR version of my ramblings

Pimpcrons world = Rampant consumerism to crush strangers in shops

Oldhammer world = Playing imaginative games against friends and having fun

Nuff said


  1. I felt all warm and stuff inside reading this. We'll done indeed.

  2. Have any of you guys noticed YOUR power curve becoming stale?

    Just as an aside, I hate the term "codices"...the plural is "CODEX ARMY BOOKS" not codices, codicii, codswallop etc etc

  3. The comments are really the funniest version of "What is oldhammer?" I've ever read. Oh, and Oldhammer is the game.... it does have a great community of players and enthusiasts tho. :-)

    1. Maybe i'm too literal but i always see the game as Warhammer and Oldhammer as the community who play it. Apples and oranges. Swings and roundabouts.

    2. ...eggs and chickens! What's the point of games without players... or players without games :-) Heads or tails! It's still a coin, either way up. Anyway, yours was a really good post in response to a rather poor one.

  4. Nicely done Whiskey :)

    The only point that Pimpcron makes that I agree with is that it is quite hard (and for some of us nigh impossible) to find opponents/friend's to play with. That doesn't mean that the path he's chosen is an easier one though. Once the new edition/codex/uber force comes out he's screwed too.....unless he upgrades with a big fat wad of cash? And the point you make about his playing with stranger's instead of friend's is valid too.

    Similarly, we may have created a vibrant community on the net, but for most of us I'd predict that we still don't have anyone "real" to game with. For those of us lucky enough to live in countries that had/have a hardcore following of the oldschool gaming mindset, that community is real, tangible and something that brings people together.

    So, I can understand why some people would wonder why we would partake in this solitary hobby. I for one chose WFB 3rd/RT/ROC because I liked the setting, the aesthetic, the endless possibilities presented to me that inspire my imagination.....and the minis from that era rock :) I didn't choose this game as a tool, to show how much I can smash my enemies. I admit that might be fun for a short while, but just like movies, it will become boring, real fast, if it doesn't change. No matter how much I like movie "X" I can't watch it ad nauseam.

    So, what keeps me interested in this Oldhammerer malarkey then, if I've got nobody to play with on a regular basis? It's the collaborative process, the sharing of ideas, the critiques & pointers that we give & receive from each other to help improve our creative pursuits. It's also cool to engage with different people from all over the world that have a shared interest.

    I hope that one day I'll get to meet & play with some of the people I've "met" online via the Oldhammer thing, but if I don't, I'll still be grateful for the shared experiences we've had :)


    Sorry for hogging your blog space Whiskey.

  5. Great article.

    The sad thing is that GW have spent 20+ years cultivating this attitude that the game can be 'won' in the shop / army book, it's not surprising it's become fairly entrenched in some minds.

    Do you (or your commenters) know what impact if any the Age of Sigmar / no PVs thing has been? I hear there's been a fair amount of retro-fitting PVs back into the system, but does the opposite viewpoint of "bring some stuff and play a game" seem to be gaining any traction?

  6. Your summary really does hit the nail on the head. Personally I have zero interest playing a game that comes down to the winner is the person who splashed out the most cash on the force which has the best army list. My day job has a fair bit of that in it (I'm a tax lawyer) and I have no desire to bring that behaviour onto the gaming table...

  7. A very well thought out and presented response to that ridiculous article...he obviously did zero research into what he was actually talking about.

    Though I must side with Zhu and say that Oldhammer is also version specific...wfb 3rd ed or earlier and RT 40k. The community that has formed around it is fantastic and the reason I stay involved...but in my mind it has to be centered on these systems and their related supplements.

    1. Don't get me wrong, I'm pretty much 3rd and Rt myself. I just never thought of calling the game itself Oldhammer. I don't think "I'm playing Oldhammer", i tend to think "I'm playing Warhammer 3rd because of i'm Oldhammer". In the end they are the same thing and the universe is large enough to contain both concepts at the same time. More paint and lead please!

  8. Pimpcorn's point that it's difficult to find an opponent has some truth to it, but I would rather play a handful of games a year with like-minded people rather than play two games a week of modern warhammer. It's funny that he believes Oldhammer is stale. The guys at my local store have basically been playing variations of the same 40k scenario for the past decade. "Line up on either side, grab a thing, make it the objective and put it in the middle of the board, roll dice and argue". I've been playing this game since I was 9 and every game of 40k from 3rd edition on is pretty much the exact same game.

    1. I read the 'article' mentioned above. It's just the standard Bols crap that they spew everyday. There used to be a time, about 2006-2010 where what was published was readable. Nowadays the site just spews regurgitated shite. It's really sad to see such a decline in a site that brought the Horus Heresy to life before Forgeworld.

  9. "Hear the lamentations of the neckbeards."

    Hah! I'm going to remember that one.


  10. Fantastic - although I do think we are privileged in the UK to be able to regularly meet up and play this kind of game. I reckon if I was in the US, or Australia, say, it would be much harder to get this sense of community you're talking about.

    Though having said all that, I did play Oldhammer in Mongolia!

    I shudder to think what Pimpcron would have made of our little games last weekend and their absence of power curve.

  11. Tournament hammer has to be the most boring game ever, i once met a guy in a GW shop (not staff) who`s first question to me was "Whats your best 1500 pt army", i told him i never play games of that size and like to play with a different army list for each game (at the time i had only one regular opponent and we would play 5-10k Games alternating who hosted from game to game but each game could last up to 3 days usually played on a Saturday and left set up as long as needed.
    We both had large tables that could be left in situ so this was no problem and would often call an end to gaming then eat a meal and talk Geek (rules bashing, roleplay, music, anime, fantasy art, Fantasy/sci-fi literature) for a couple of hrs, the guy in the shop didn`t miss a beat before reciting his "Omni-list" verbatim including all magical weapons - i could not get away fast enough.

  12. Spot on, mate. Now who's turn was it? Oh, but before that, is this your beer, how did you get that verdigris effect, and do you remember the last game when the unit you're charging with threw all ones for their first attack? Must have been a dodgy kebab the night before the battle....

  13. Well said brother. Maybe it's a maturity thing and one day Pimpcron will come to understand that the whole reason we game is to have fun in one form or another? For his sake I hope so...

    Blue said "...he obviously did zero research into what he was actually talking about." which is almost a given I'd say. Goodness knows what would happen if you take the time to understand something properly or accept someone else's viewpoint. That could lead to all sorts of madness! What if you realise THEY are the arbitrators of what they consider fun and not YOU or someone at corporate HQ? Cats and dogs living together, that's what!

  14. Here is the funniest part of Pimpcron's article...

    "You may have heard this term bandied about quite a bit during the whole birth of Age of Sigmar. Many people who thought negatively about the Age of Sigmar rules decided to just keep playing 8th edition Warhammer Fantasy Battles."

    I posted a link to Zhu's contract in the comments and he responded that he would take a look, I really don't think he had a clue about the term Oldhammer and meant the article more as a shot against Age of SIgmar than 3rd Edition WFB.

    Now to me, Oldhammer is more about a style of play than a set of rules. I've played Age of Sigmar with my 3rd edition armies and found it an enjoyable experience. No points? No problem! I just put everything I had painted on the board.

  15. I always thought that "Oldhammer" was a German word for the unpleasant feeling induced by watching someone else getting a paper cut. Thank God for the BOLS. Now I know the truth.

  16. Well bloody said, WhiskeyPriest. Well bloody said.


Post a Comment