Monday, May 2, 2016

Thrones of 'Mail (Redux)

So, after some reconsideration I am probably NOT going to do any type of Chainmail mash-up with Game of Thrones. Probably. And for a couple reasons (neither of which has anything to do with me lacking the time, or having too many projects as is). No, instead I've realized:

A) The project has limited usefulness considering my actual resources. Which is to say, I have neither the money nor the time to purchase and pain hundred of different minis of different Westeros armies, much as I might like to. Even using a Chainmail scale of 20:1, we're talking about battles featuring thousands of troops on both sides. I mean, who runs that kind of thing? Well, war gamers (obviously), but I've never been that hard core. And folks who are tend to be pretty devoted to a single genre, historic time, and/or game system. And I'm just not that devoted to GoT.

B) Despite its popularity as a television program, a lot of fans quite frankly "don't get" what the show is about. And I don't mean "blood-and-soft-core-Tolkien-porn;" I'm talking about the overall story of the show.

Take my wife as an example. She is a very smart lady. She is a fan of the show and has watched every episode. After watching last night's episode (twice...something we tend to do as we'll often miss parts of the first broadcast while putting kids to sleep and whatnot), we had a brief conversation and I realized she has almost no clue as to how the whole backstory-plot ties together. She didn't know why the blonde girl is on the other side of the world, or who Ned Stark's sister is, or why those Dornish chicks seem so upset, or...well any of the setting's history, really.

Which is fine: you don't need to know this stuff to enjoy and be a fan of the show. There's plenty of Hatfields-McCoys stuff to latch onto ("You killed my brother/sister/father/child/cousin, so now I must kill you.") She knows Ramsey is an asshole. She thinks Jon Snow is the hero. She thinks Tyrion is great (though she doesn't get why he's helping the dragon lady). She knows Cersei has problems with the religious zealots.

Etc. There's plenty of engrossing, immediate things going on to keep one's interest. But when you ask "do you know who these people are" or "what their relationship is" or "why are they doing these terrible things," my wife is like, huh, I don't know. Hadn't thought about it.

And honestly, I would probably be the same way if I hadn't read the first two novels of the series and spent a ton of time surfing the A Song of Ice and Fire wiki researching Martin's world and characters for various projects over the last couple years. That to me is the most fascinating part of the fantasy epic: the fictional world, its history, and the complex way in which its history unfolds.

[the wife's special area of interest is actually in the technical side of filmmaking...she can tell you all the gaffes and editing snafus that occur in a show, which such things go right over my head]

But as I said, you don't really need a "deep understanding" to enjoy a thing. One of the few memories I have from when I was five years old is the first time I got to go over to a school chum's home without the presence of my parents. My best friend at the time, his name was Eric idea what happened to him, he left the school the following year and I never saw him again. Anyway, we spent the morning watching Spectreman on a television in a shady basement, then emulating the show the rest of the day. To this day, I honestly don't know any more about Spectreman now than I did then...some guy turns into a giant (hero) robot and fights giant monsters, generally by flying around and shooting bullets/missiles out of his fingers...but, really, what more do you need to know? Do you like giant robots shooting bullets at giant monsters bent on destroying the Earth? Here you go!

It's the raised arm that gives
you the "Shazam effect."
[I realize there was a similar, more popular Japanese import called Ultraman, but that was a show I never did get into, and thus no little about. Why not? Because I already had Spectreman...duh!]

[on a mostly unrelated note: considering how little I actually remember from when I was five...the same age my son is now...I wonder if our years spent in Paraguay will leave more than a handful of memories in his mind. I don't know. My parents were never ones to rehash the past and retell old stories, whereas Diego's father is an excessively long-winded dweller on "what-has-gone-before" and spends a lot of time conversing and reflecting with the boy. Who knows. He just went over to his best buddy's house (Seba) a week ago...the first time he's been allowed to go on a playdate solo]

SO...(getting back to Game of Thrones)...while for me, Chainmail (or something like it) might be a good way to model the basic (fantasy) war-game of the setting, I'm really not sure it would appeal to anyone but me. People fascinated with history and war (and war-games) often could care less about a fantasy world like Martin's, and folks interested in fantasy worlds like that in Martin's books don't need to recreate the fiction they're enjoying.

I'm a strange duck.

Painted by a different strange duck.
I would also like to say, for those who did read my last post on the subject, that I was talking out of my ass when I started talking about "Braunstein sub-plots." I don't know shit or shinola about Braunstein...other than what I've read about its part in the historic origins of the hobby. However, a game that could be used to model the political machinations and alliances of Game of Thrones (as an add-on to a war-game) can be found in the old Dragonriders of Pern board game (which, in the past, I've compared to a kind of "proto-RPG").

In fact, if I did change my mind about doing something with GoT, I would probably START with Dragonriders of Pern (rather than Chainmail), as there are some strong similarities in its premise: like Game of Thrones, it features a world of bickering, feudal lord types who must find a way to resolve their differences to combat a greater, world-threatening menace.

[yes, they both have dragons, too, but they're not really used the same...]

Yeah, that's an idea...but NO, no, no it still doesn't change my points A and B above! Plus, my copy of Dragonriders is back in Seattle so there's no way for me to cannibalize for rules at this juncture. So I'm going to stop talking (and thinking) about it now.


Well, I'm going to try to stop anyway...


  1. Print those armies out of paper. It works, it's cheap and yuo save a lot of time gaming instead of painting. Sure you have to spend some time copying and pasting and rescaling but it'll work.

  2. Heh, I didn't think anyone knew about the Dragonriders of Pern boardgame but me :D