Oldhammer is dead. Long live Oldhammer.

Punk died when the clash signed to CBS.
Modermism died when the Pruit Igoe housing development was demolished.
Madchester died when the Hacienda was closed.
Grunge died when Dinosaur Jr. featured on the Clothes Show.

Is Oldhammer dead? And if so when did it happen?
When Warhammer Fantasy died? When it became about facebook? When it gained a contract?

Who knows?

Who cares?

A nostalgia fuelled exploration of a hobby that we'd enjoyed in our teens. It brought together a load of bloggers who ooh'd and ahh'd about the misshapen lead lumps that we had found in our lofts or searched out on the internet. We played games like we'd only played in our dreams and we wondered at the lumpiness of the rulesets while the images that had been burned into our retinas came rushing back into focus as we flicked through the dusty books that our Mum's had failed to throw out.

But then it gained a name. When ever you give something a name it starts to require a definition. People need to be told whether they are 'doing it right'.
It becomes a 'scene' that people want to be part of.
In order to do so they need to quantify what the thing is.
Questions are asked.
Replies are given.
Arguments are had.
Opinions lead to disagreements.
Disagreements lead to splits.

The internet brought us all together and I thank it every day, as I have met people I will always be friends with due to its pervasive influence. But with every new person that comes along to peer in at the group, another attempt at explaining what it is your doing is given and another divergent opinion is added to the mix. A thing that had nothing was given a name and now that means everything. And Nothing.

Is it collecting old figures? Yes and No

Is it playing old games? Yes and No

Is it playing a new game with old figures? Yes and No

Is it playing old games with new figures? Yes and No

Is this it? No

Is this it? Yes

What is it? Oh my god if we have to explain it to you one more time!

Oldhammer was a silly idea in the first place. A silly name to try and unite a load people doing different things. There was some commonality in their approaches but they each had their own point of view. At the end of the day this was a nostalgia fest. Nostalgia leads to reconstruction. Replaying. lack of progression. This is deadly. By trying to recreate something that you didn't have in the first place, you are building a dead end. You can not go beyond the restrictions you have placed upon yourself.
All the time other things are going on in the hobby that you love. Look at those new shiny figures. Look at that cool new ruleset. I want to do those things. I want to take part in that. I want to talk about that with the friends I have made. YOU CAN'T IT'S NOT OLDHAMMER.

At that point you need to be throwing the molotov cocktails.

The 'scene' has reminded us of the Joy of our hobby. It has lit a fire of creativity under our cerebellum. It has brought us friendships we would never have imagined. It has reminded us of how awesome the 40K universe used to be before it got all grimdark. It has reminded us how much we wanted a Slann army and how crap a replacement lizardmen actually are. It has reminded how long it actually takes to play a game of Warhammer and how much we hate wheeling manoeuvres.

Oldhammer was beginning. Not an end. To treat it any other way was to condemn our hobby a lingering smelly death.

The entity that is 'Oldhammer' needs to embrace the new rather than close its doors. We should be evangelising about our scenario-centric, games-master led, story driven, humour-filled version of the game. We should be showing what can be done with a pun-laden, individualistic cast of characters and a gorgeous battlefield. We should be mixing and matching which ever figures we like the best, no matter there age and density. We should be the antithesis to the grey plastic army, fighting in a parking lot full of super-heavies.

We should not be tying ourselves into a straight jacket.

We should be using all our weaponry to change everybody's games that little bit for the better.

We should move beyond our starting point.

We should declare, loudly and joyfully.....

Oldhammer is dead.

Long live Oldhammer!


  1. Well said. Inertia leads to decay which ultimately leads to death.

  2. To quote Dale Cooper: What year is this?

    1. This is the water and this is the well. Drink full and descend.

    2. I'm sure 'It is happening, again' was sampled at the end of a record but I can't remember what one. It's bugging me.

    3. 'What does your soul look like' DJ Shadow

  3. Death is inevitable, but I'd like to think that if, I try to be inclusive - playing new games with old miniatures and old games with new miniatures. I'm putting off the inevitable for as long as possible. Here's hoping.

  4. "We should be evangelising about our scenario-centric, games-master led, story driven, humour-filled version of the game. We should be showing what can be done with a pun-laden, individualistic cast of characters and a gorgeous battlefield."
    I couldn't agree more. I'm not sure about Face Book, but I feel like what you just described is what you get when you look at many of the blogs in our (very) loose confederacy. No one's dickish or doctrinaire in the lovely circuit of blogs I visit. Are the games fun? Are the puns painful? That's all that matters.

    1. I think 'Don't be a dick' should be the first rule in every rulebook.

  5. Amen. I like to think of it as doing cool shit with cool models. If I like it then I'll make it "Oldhammer", I don't feel enslaved to an era or manufacturer. Although I am trying to recapture the youth I never had. ;)

    1. My youth needs re-capturing badly, it's running around the neighbourhood scaring the nice folks.

  6. Right...
    Real scenarios, Real stories, and random shit exploding.

    That's a game.

    1. Too right. Distance needs to be conquered some how, in order for us to get some regular games in. Where is the cheap instantaneous travel we were promised?

  7. The one cardinal rule for me is don't be a c$%t, i have never been a win at all costs type-everyone should know how any particular game is going to be played and there should be room for all to have fun.
    Play as many variations of rules as you and your group think is required to get the job done.
    Going forward i will be embracing Kings of war for big games with mostly old hammer models and hopefully 3rd Warhammer 3rd for skirmish at BOYL.

    1. I'm yet to decide on the best way to play big games but I've a funny feeling it'll be a mash-up of various rules and mechanisms from different rulesets.

  8. I've always felt that if what I was doing - much of it making models for the old version of Necromunda - happened to be Oldhammer, then great, but if it didn't, that was fine too. For me it's about putting the emphasis on cool and entertaining stuff, not fluff and rules-lawyering.

    1. If you feel what you are doing is reflected by the group as whole then you are part of the group. No two of us do stuff in the same way. Even the guys that I've become great friends with don't have identical approaches but there is enough overlap for it to make sense.

  9. SO, what did I miss? What prompted this? Is it because you've been been painting some 'Newhammer' stuff? I tend to just look at pics on Facebook and stay out of the discussions so I probably missed it.

    For my two cents, I agree with you. For me it's about developing a narrative, preferably with a GM running the scenario, with people who at least make an attempt to paint their models. It doesn't matter if it's Rogue Trader or Age of Sigmar, you can make it a good game. Hell, Grove, Lopez, and I just played a game of Donnybrook using Oldhammer fantasy minis, making up rules as we went to cover the situation. The we played a version of Rogue Ops using Rogue Trader minis. Both games were fun as hell, but probably fall into the 'NOT Oldhammer' category for some people.

    I just don't get how GAMERS can get so uptight about playing with toy soldiers. The historical community is rife with this as well - God help you if you post pics of an AWI infantry unit carrying the Stars and Stripes in some places (for those who don't know what I'm on about, the 'Betsy Ross' flag was probably never carried by units in the field)... I get that some people don't like the aesthetics of the Age of Sigmar stuff, but there are just as many who will see my Rogue Trader pirates and mock the anatomy of the sculpts. We've all gone to paint one of our beloved antique sculpts and thought 'what the hell is this lumby bit here?' I love both styles, depending on what mood I'm in, and my goal for pushing them around the table is the same no matter what game I'm playing - having fun...

    Sorry to hijack your blog! Maybe I'll work up a rant for mine...

    1. > I just don't get how GAMERS can get so uptight about playing with toy soldiers.
      I think these people equate gaming with historical reconstruction. It's not wrong or right. It is their way of doing the hobby. What IS wrong is judging or imposing your views on someone else because they do the hobby their way. For me, doing the hobby your way is the very soul of Oldhammer.

    2. You hijack all you like Clarence. It would be a real shame to disappear into a fog of button counting pedantry like some people in the Historical scene tend to do. The crys of shock and derision that you can get from some historical gamers as soon as you suggest something even slighty of piste is ridiculously narrow minded.

  10. Well put! Oldhammer, like everything else, has become a label that, like all labels, becomes restrictive and stops you from doing what you originally aim for. I liked the original way Oldhammer seemed to return to narrative play as the central focus of gaming and modelling. I didn't like the endless debates about what is oldhammer, what models are acceptable to play with or debates about rule interpretation when ultimately all that is important about the rules is if they support the narrative and style of gaming you want to play.

    As Anarchopunks Crass might of put it:
    "Yes that's right Oldhammer is dead,
    It's another cheap product for the gamers head,
    Bubblegum miniatures on plastic bases,
    Adult gaming backed by buy it now sellers,
    Ebay promote third edition models,
    But it ain't for fun it's for cash.
    Oldhammer became a fashion just like tournament gaming used to be,
    And it ain't got a thing to do with you or me.

    Ok maybe changing the lyrics of Punk is dead doesn't quite work, but Oldhammer has inspired me even if it has increasingly slipped into debates about how to do it right and an obsession with old figures that resulted in the idea that you had to turn your back on anything produced in the wider gaming community after 1991.

    1. As someone mentioned above it tends to be new comers that are looking to clothe themselves in the trappings of the 'scene' that bring the attitude of needing to debate the merits this and that figures etc. It's this need to quantify what the 'thing' is that will kill it stone dead. Fuck that noise. You only need 3 chords and a drummer!

  11. The fault people often make is thinking that a genre such as Oldhammer can be defined by trappings and paraphenilia, while it is really about the spirit and attitude with ahich you approach wargaming. Much as you don't become a professor by donning an academic robe and living near a campus, or don't become a footballer by simply buying some football shoes.

  12. I purposefully don't use the 'O' word in my blog, or indeed anywhere, as it's really just become a massive millstone around the neck of my particular hobby niche.


Post a Comment