Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Has OldhammerFB Jumped the Shark?



Well? I think it's a reasonable question.

Oldhammer as a thing has several different limbs.

You've got all the affiliated blogs of all sorts. Individuals plugging away at their own things. Each with different interests and differing amounts of output. Some are wonderful sinkholes of thought producing idea mashing. Others a repositories of gorgeous painted beauty. Others are hobby tactic, jealousy inducing game porn.



You've got the Forum which is huffing and puffing away like a gregarious old uncle. Still full of ideas an full of friends and funny names. Like going down the pub with a secret society and being infected with all their mad little ideas. A place that links the blogs together and acts a message board and gathering point.

You've got the Google+ community. The cool nerd cousin that you don't quite understand. (well thats how I feel anyway)

And the you've got the Facebook Group. Or to be more precise, Groups. There are at least 4 groups that have the Oldhammer name and one that has spawned in the last week in addition to the several others that have grown like saplings from the main tree. The main group however is the biggest of the  Oldhammer groups by a huge margin. As I write this the group has 3,251 members. The forum only has 1118 users.

In the last couple of weeks I have noticed that I'm not enjoying the group anymore. It has become a place that seems to be fighting to maintain it's individuality. The way Facebook works is that when you join a group with a focus, it automatically recommends other groups to you. So if you join one Warhammer group you get offered others. Oldhammer has become one of these groups to be recommended and the vast majority of newer members have little or no idea of the original themes and ideals. These newer members have brought their own views on Warhammer and their own agendas that they want to discuss along with the age old questions "Does this count as Oldhammer?" and "I've just found this old figure, how much is it worth?" You can't blame the moderators. The guys have worked tirelessly to try and keep the group on track and defuse any raging arguments but when you are talking about the population of 3 decent sized secondary schools being kept in line by 3 or 4 part time teachers there are going to be problems. The guys are becoming fraught and exasperated and it's shown in the last couple of days.

The appearance of Age of Sigmar caused a host of threads wishing to talk about it's implications and many couldn't see the problem as the group was about Warhammer so why couldn't they discuss it? This caused upset and infighting, complaints and splits.

The reason so much upset was caused was because we have so many people with divergent views trying to cram their thoughts into a tiny niche of a tiny niche.

Oldhammer was never designed.

It just kind of, 'became'.

The popularity of the Facebook group makes it incredibly difficult to keep everybody 'on message' about the group of games that the group are trying to focus on when a lot (I think it may even be a majority) of the members are discussing other stuff with other friends on other warhammer groups.

The storm (in a teacup) that the AoS posts caused look like the first sign that the group may have outgrown it's origins and it's original fans/advocates.

The second sign was a rather odd couple of threads that appeared over the past couple of days.


The first involved a discussion about the above illustration from the Rogue Trader rulebook. A variety of posters guessed at the artist responsible for the piece. Many of the guesses seemed a bit bizarre. I simply put it down to enthusiastic errors. We who poured over the old tomes new the styles of the illustrators and all had our favourites (Russ Nicholson and Paul Bonner for me) but the posters seemed to be way off the mark. When a couple of posts hinted at 'Pre-Blanche 40K' and that the old stuff was hilariously stupid, I had to check where I was for a second. Things only got more bizarre as none other then Rick Priestly confirmed that the artist responsible for the above image was in fact Dave Andrews only for the fact to be questioned and doubted over and over again. It took all my willpower to not post a facepalm.


Now obviously I'm well aware that
A) My tut-tutting of others knowledge of old school GW illustrators makes me appear incredibly elitist

B) Just cos Rick says it is so does not mean it is gospel.

However the wrong headedness of that thread was astounding.

The second thread that came in guise of one of the Four Horsemen was one about the Book of the Astronomican.


What started off as discussion of the merits and rareness of the above book descended into a troll war about sexism and resulted in stropping off, half felt apologies and and multiple thread deletions. Sexism reared it's head in another thread that featured a cake (honestly) and resulted in several summary ejections from the group. 

These incidents were odd but they seemed to be signifiers of the drift of the group towards the increasingly mainstream audience (for war-games) and started encountering increasingly mainstream problems.

Is there an answer?

Not really.

It's just the way things go. Things change. As people are attracted to the group the personality of the group will change. We're not a school of fish all trying to avoid the same predator, we all have our own directions to swim in. We aren't all worried about the same shark.

Not until we Jump it.

23 comments:

  1. I've had virtually that same discussion with some of the American members recently. Although we missed some of those events due to the time difference! Excellent blog article. I'm glad someone is saying it.

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  2. I must admit, the 'Pre-Blanche 40k' thing did make me laugh out loud. Fair enough, people may not know as much as I or other people in the groups do, but just blatantly making shit up is a little bizarre.

    I've also seen at least one person join and assume that now AoS is out, all previous versions are now 'Oldhammer', which is total bullshit, IMO.

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  3. Yes indeed. Thanks for saying it. The page is just full of non-Oldhammerers and we've been too accommodating of them. I left the group after the Astronomicon thread went to shit.

    The guys that run it are great guys, but it's just gotten too ridiculous and devolved into the same kind of bickering and nonsense that we all left Warseer and all those other forums to start the Oldhammer forum.

    Oh, and don't forget about the guy who had no idea who Tim Prow was after Tim Prow showed up to claim one of his models.

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  4. I can only share the feeling here, I think part of the fault relies on us not being clear enough on what we want. Being inclusive is the essence of any group but we have to keep a certain focus and that's where we screwed up. Claiming that Oldhammer is just a mindset just leads to people posting SAGA, newhammer, silly memes and stupid comments. Because we feared to be elitist, we were too blurry in what we wanted.
    If we'd wanted to talk about WH3rd ed on a skiing forum it would only be natural to be told to talk about it elsewhere, it would be a question of elitism.
    Although I've been of a flexible kind on the definition of it myself, I do get Zhu's point now about just restricting to Old+Hammer...
    I think your description of the many medias is absolutely spot on by the way !

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  5. It's a toughy as Oldhammer is most often described as not any one game or time but more of a movement. This obviously means that people can interpret Oldhammer as radically different things even though most of us who frequent the various groups/forums etc joined because we did in fact play a specific game or games (40k 2nd being my particular brand of Oldhammer).
    Because of this I can't help but feel that perhaps putting some form of boundary on what is Oldhammer would help, at least in the case of newer members who can seem like they're not in the right place or have the wrong expectations, "This is not the group you're looking for" *waves hand in Jedi fashion*. Now no one wants to be restrictive but I thing most of us would agree that Olhammer can be pretty much anything from Asgard miniatures up until 2nd ed 40k and 3rd ed WFB including all the side games and related miniatures and companies that went with them. This way at least the focus of topics and general discussions would be in the right area.

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    1. If we are to include 2nd ed 40K and I'm not saying we shouldn't the we need to include 4th ed WHFB which came out before it and is very much its contempory in lookk, feel and concept. In truth oldhammer certainly never started with 2nd included in the remit so arguing that it should be included as the cut off point because it happens to be the game you enjoy is a interesting position.

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  6. Nice write up Whiskey and agreed glad someone is saying it. It DID need to be said! As Andrew and Bulldog said above I think us on the other side of the pond missed these threads due to a bit of time difference.

    However over the past months I had been contemplating the watered down feed from the group. Last night I did catch the tail end of the Astronomican thread, and the attack on one of the most Oldhammer of people Delaney. After seeing that, and the resulting nonsense over the past few months I decided it was time to leave the Facebook group as well as the OTC.

    I will keep up on my blog, and the forum, and I do agree about the Google+ group. It's not the group, It is just an odd clunky beast.

    I think JB is right though we just didn't stay on point with our message of course I don't want to get into another what is Oldhammer to you debate. Or trash on the admins. I understand they can't be vigilant 24 horus a day.

    However the spreading of the movement, and the splinter pages springing up makes it hard to keep up with everything the way it is. I think that is why I am gravitating back to the forum. I just need a break from the "what's this cost", "Not Oldhammer but", and Bulldog is right my favorite What's a Tim Prow...that one inspired a whole blogpost over on give'em lead. ;)
    I guess reading your post and the resulting comments I feel a little better that I am not the only one who has been feeling this way. I hoping after everyone's renewed vigor after the upcoming Oldhammer events we might get a little bit more on Oldhammer point...whatever that is! ;)

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  7. I'm beginning to think it is now the forum that captures the essence of what I am looking for in an Oldhammer group now and that place always makes me enjoy something. I think the boundaries of what is considered Oldhammer has been too blurred on the FB group and OTC. It's getting into the range of 4th and 5th and beyond. You have to make an effort to join the forum rather than just click request to join while browsing FB. Maybe that's what has kept it focused.

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    1. Nail and head sir. What is likely to be more rewarding, 1000 people that took the trouble to find other like minded people or 3000 people that were found by a program and asked to join? I have no doubt that the FB group at it's core is identical the forum but that the good stuff just gets watered down.

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  8. Hi!

    To be honest, I seem to have drifted away from the Facebook page and Oldhammer forum over the last few months. I still check through the various oldhammer blogs on a daily basis as I know they contain interesting gubbins without having to put up with the occasional outbursts of nonsense that seems to crop up from time to time.

    Its a bit of a shame to be honest, as there's some fantastic stuff to be found in both sources but I can't be bothered with the guff one sometimes has to wade through to find them. I suspect that its what I like about the blogs. You can read interesting articles, see great miniatures and fascinating background from people and easily ignore the tosh.

    If I'm honest, I doubt I am a 'proper' oldhammerer as I do like other games, miniatures and settings but do still find the ethos of the oldhammer movement something that I can aspire to and enjoy, even if I don't feel the need to adhere strictly to limiting myself to oldhammer figures!

    All the best!

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  9. Thanks for an informative article. I had found myself drifting away from the FB groups for some time and couldn't quite pin down why that was so. A lot of the information you shared above has answered that, it just didn't feel the same, I just wasn't aware of the fact.

    I've been keeping up with blogs mainly and when I saw Delaney's post on King's Minis it was a sharp shock and I've just sort of caught up on the tail end of events. I think I'm just moving away from most social media in general, every social group has a saturation point and then it just isn't the group it was at the start.

    That's not that I want to be part of an elite group, but just part of a comfortable one. I think I'm mainly going to stick to blogger from now on, it suits my sporadic jaunts onto the internet.

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  10. Great post, W.P.
    I take it as some king of a sign of success that the Oldhammer movement is experiencing the pains of self-definition and over/under inclusiveness. It means that more and more people are attracted to the virtue of the old school. But as you say, now the FB group may have outgrown it's original fans/advocates. One of the sad laws of history is that its rare to survive you own revolution. Once the young'ins come into action, the ground shifts beneath the old-guard's feet... just ask Marat, or Kerensky.

    For my own part, I tend to agree with Richard Smith above. I love Oldhammer but more as a general approach to gaming, rather than as a well-defined and exclusive enthusiasm. Despite calling my own blog Oldenhammer, I can rarely keep it focused on the WFB of the mid-1980's (which in my view is the most exclusive definition of Oldhammer) or the golden age of GW more generally.

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  11. I think some of the problem with the "Oldhammer movement" .....if there is such a thing? Is that some people are actively trying to grow it, when it's just a niche hobby. Why can't it just be enjoyed as a niche? Does it have to get world recognition? What's wrong with being part of an exclusive hobby? For me, as along as you've got a handful of people who you can share your interest with, then that should be enough.

    Trying to make "Oldhammer" appeal to everyone by continually stretching the generally accepted ideology will only result in disappointment.

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    1. Effort was put into growing the community in the first place because to begin with there were perhaps five to ten of us, mainly in the UK but also other countries. We wanted to find peopel to game with. We do have that now so do we still need to be evangalists?

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  12. On the miniatures / art snobbery thing, did you miss where one of the moderators claimed Drew Williams had sculpted the Nick Bibby Space Marines. Those comments have now been conveniently deleted, which while hilarious in itself, does speak to wider problems with the group.

    Not that I'd know anything about it of course.

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    1. I did make a mistake while glancing through the posts in too much of a hurry yes, Drew actually sculpted replica RTB01 marines of course, not Naismiths originals. I never deleted my comments, I edited them instead to prevent people taking my mistake for gospel but standing by the cock-up. I think Drew reposted the pic though, for reasons of his own. It's a shame that even after I have made a real effort to mend bridges with you, you are still behaving like such a childish cock.

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    2. Oi! You Two! Play nice or I'll phone your mums!

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  13. I am proud to have my name associated with standing up to Zhu's lies and bullying. I am also not ashamed to admit my mistakes.

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  14. I hadn't realised this Forum place was so exiting. But seriously, if a few people post some silly remarks on an open Forum can't we just ignore them and move on. I don't think its fair to expect moderators to pick up on everything (or be perfect themselves). The spirit of Oldhammer for me is the friendliness and inclusivity of the people involved. Nothing more and nothing less. Long may it (and all associated Forums , Blogs and people who show an interest) continue.

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  15. People aren't joining the OldHammer Facebook page because the system recommends it to them - the group is closed. People are only joining because they're invited.

    I, personally, was invited to join some time ago, by a guy who trying to put together a gaming circle, and I love it, because to a great extent it feels like home. Newer Warhammer fans have no sense of context, whereas I remember it, if not as it began, then as it entered its modern form, from about 1992. People discuss a Warhammer I can relate to. As someone who can barely glue a kit together or undercoat a model, and who lacks the detailed knowledge of the earliest beginnings of the brand that others obviously have, I usually confine my contributions to a few "like's", and I can see why it might be upsetting to more hard-core fans to have people like me spoil the atmosphere.

    The thing is, though, that the less hard-core, such as myself, are always going to seek you guys out, because what you have to say and discuss is so interesting, and the only alternative to relentless modernity and ret-conning.

    There's no middle ground. No "fairly-old-but-not-really-all-that-old-hammer". It's Oldhammer or nothing.

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  16. The Age of Sigmar changes seem so radical that they were bound to excite controversy, just as WFRP 3e did when it first appeared. I expect this will rumble on for some time. A few will go to extremes, like the fan who posted a video of him burning his entire Warhammer army in protest or disgust. Once everyone has had their say, though, I think people will move on (back?) to focusing on their love of Oldhammer.

    As for the thread about the picture, I think a lot of that happened because some people didn't read the previous comments before posting their own, and didn't realize that both Rick and I are fairly sure the artist was Dave Andrews. I don't necessarily think anyone was calling Rick a liar: they had just missed his comment among all the others.

    I have to admit I missed the other two incidents you refer to, but these things happen and the group moderators are usually very good about taking care of such things. In time I expect tempers will cool and the roup will get back to its usual business.

    Regarding the "what is Oldhammer" question, I'm reminded of another thread discussing when the "golden age" of GW games was. Someone posted that it was always the couple of years after you first discovered GW, and I think that's true: everyone has their own "golden age," but it's very subjective.

    Passionate interests lead to passionate opinions, which inevitably lead to passionate arguments. Those discussions can be one of the best features of the Oldhammer movement, which might otherwise become a rather dry online museum of GW past. So long as everyone tries to keep their good manners and edition preferences don't degenerate into edition wars, everyone will get along just fine. It's inevitable, I think, that as the group gets larger it will spawn sub-groups, and maybe some people will splinter off if they truly can't stand a group where not everyone sees things exactly their way. But I don't think that automatically dooms the Oldhammer FB group as a whole.

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  17. Wow! I totally missed most of this. Partly due to the time difference and partly due to the fact that I tend to ignore a lot of stuff on facebook that would elicit a visceral reaction if I dwelt on it. In not reading the title carefully I thought it was about Oldhammer et al jumping the shark, not just the FB group. What I like is seeing peoples painted figures, links to blog posts and talking about new figures being sculpted in a style that harkens back to those figures. Collecting old miniatures has become less appealing to me as I never really developed an attachment to most of them in the first place. My WD's are in a box in storage and I only really "played" for about two years before real life made me pack it up. Even then I couldn't fully bring my friends in so sat on one battle, a Mighty Empires campaign and one game of Blood Bowl. I'm pretty firmly in the 3rd ed camp, to quote Graeme Davis:

    "Regarding the "what is Oldhammer" question, I'm reminded of another thread discussing when the "golden age" of GW games was. Someone posted that it was always the couple of years after you first discovered GW, and I think that's true: everyone has their own "golden age," but it's very subjective."

    I can't abide Night Goblins, the robes just seem lazy and boring to me. But my original intent was to play Oldhammer with 1/72 plastics and any ruleset I felt like. That hasn't happened, but I have started painting and buying 28mm again because of Oldhammer. So maybe that's a plus. Also I never would have known about Oldhammer Weekend USA if it weren't for the OldhammerFB.

    Sorry I think I've rambled here. Life is too short to argue about bullshit. Let's show off our toys and encourage each other in the hobby. Sound like a plan?

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  18. Ahh the old 'Peoples Front of Judea' situation.

    So does this mean with the AoS that all WHFB is now Oldhammer by technicality >:D

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