Sunday, 22 December 2019

Rant No 1: "Eye Candy"

Eye Candy on a B-17
It's time to vent some thoughts about some more general aspects of wargaming...

In the context  of wargame rule reviews reference to "Eye Candy" is most likely to be pejorative. Eye Candy is the seductive luxury of big-business wargaming represented by Games Workshop and Warlord Games as opposed to the honest typescript of those old WRG rules...

The deployment of Eye Candy, so the usage implies, is at best irrelevant and at worst a deceptive indulgence, rendering a ruleset nothing but a painted hussy of a ruleset and masking essential worthlessness.

But hold on. Before we endorse that streak of Cromwellian puritanism, aren't  the toys we play with Eye Candy too?

You don't need them. You can use counters. But they are part of the appeal, even the main basis of the appeal. And seeing Eye Candy in a rule set is part of the pleasure of wargaming...and inspiring!

Please discuss.


  1. I'm more given to history and historical wargaming so (1) troops en masse is what appeals in visual terms and (2) the relative quality of singular figures is to an extent lost on me. I still need the figures, but less concerned about individual looks.

    That said, I can recognise good painting and great terrain, but my greater quest is to find good, exciting rulesets that reward some decision making and resource management, yet have a modicum of complete command chaos - as we would read about in real warfare.

    So the eye candy thing is secondary/tertiary/completely lost on me...(delete as applic)

    I take your point though, the appeal of beautiful figures and terrain is probably a neuro-lingustic-programming conspiracy to make you click on the 'buy' icon...

    To sum up: 'Black Powder' is relatively mehhhh (I'm being kind and not using profanity), but is designed to sell figures?

    This model worked for GW - so why not.

    Does it damage the hobby in the long term? Probably.
    Do I still care, if I can do my own thing? Nope.

  2. Hello Richard,
    I find the corporate eye candy in rules sets etc annoying. Does it make me want to buy legions of more figures? Does said eye candy enhance the rules/publication? The answer is generally no.
    I am not a fan of the Warlord product and certainly not GW. I am a fan of people’s own creativity and imagination. I think some gamers now need that instant gratification when they open up the latest ‘fad’ games box. Sadly said box is certainly going to be overpriced with lots of plastic, spruces or otherwise. The game might be all the rage until a few weeks/months later another game comes along. Is this what the old creative hobby has become?


  3. Good rant!

    This is a phrase I refuse to use. It is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. "Fingers on a chalkboard" dates me, does it not? Perhaps the photos of finely painted figures in rulesets are visual treats but I find them unnecessary and often gratuitous. Are numerous figure photos in a set of rules blatant advertisements or masking some shortcoming in the underlying product. Some times both!

    For those watching their weight, cutting back on candy may be prudent.

  4. I'm inclined to agree. In what used to be delivered in a pamphlet or booklet is now a glossy hardback. The 'padding' of these rule sets make it more difficult to find what I'm looking for when I'm flicking back and forth for the required rule.

  5. I cant say i mind nicely painted figures and terrain adorning a rulebook, however it's hardly a reason for purchasing a set of rules. I feel as if some rules use their lavishly decorated books to justify higher prices when the pictures, unless they are describing a rules situation, are unecessary.

    I do remember as a child drooling over the mail catalog for a local department store that had GI Joe guys posed, fighting in exotic terrain with watercourses and jungle plants! That always made me want to buy GI Joes when i was a youngster. I find my gaming inspiration from other gamers, blogs, and conventions now.

  6. There is certainly a cross-over point between what was and what is and this is no doubt centred upon digital media and the access to cheap colour production.

    Yesterday, colour was hugely expensive, the first general publications to treat us just had the middle pages of the book or magazine in colour - everything else was a wall of text, punctuated by the odd line drawing, done to whatever degree of competence. Putting even a booklet together was hard work and few that owned printing capability.

    Today's world delivers the power of print to the individual, it is plentiful and full colour is relatively cheap. You can cut out the need of an artist with a relatively decent camera and some software and if you have an eye to layout, you can make a superior rules book etc to what went before.

    Fonts are better, bigger and the wall of text has gone and these things are a joy to have and browse. On the downside they are heavier than we want and each of us would question the point at which content has crossed the line into the world of 'filler' content.

    But we have brought that to our own front door, as our eye / brain has become trained over time to look at image over text and the images have become punchier in content with their boosted colour values and pristine sharpness.

    I am guessing that for the publisher, going 'posh' will say only double their costs but quadruple the retails price and once published and your book competes with other shiny new product, you need to be up there 'with the best'.

    I'm sure many of us would like the balance drawn back a bit, but the world, particularly marketing is geared towards a tendency of all 'sizzle and no beef'.

    Milites Mundi has just dropped through my door, 52 pages of colour on high quality paper. It is heavily illustrated and my eye goes straight to the illustrations as I browse it. It is very nicely done and a huge step forward from the good old days of hand typed, wonky wall of dense text, stapled and backed in some sort of scrapbook type paper with an uninspiring front cover. It was all we had in those days, so we took it at face value, but we have been exposed to something that is lovely before we even read the first word.

    This has become even more important in boardgames, because everything is about the print - there are no lovely figures to make up for the loss of the visual.

  7. Bah Humbug!

    Nicely produced rule set with bonny pictures.

    Now't wrong with that - as long as the rules themselves have merit.

  8. Thanks for the responses. I continue to have mixed feelings. I like attractively-presented rules, as long as the rules themselves work for me.

    On the other hand, I share the disdain for the domination of the hobby by highly promoted rule-figure tie-ins aimed at maximising commercial advantage.