Monday, July 13, 2015

Wargamer Profiling and The Holy Trinity?

13JUL2015: Graph update note:
Having received a handful of profiles, I updated the earlier graphic to reflect these actual data points.  Refinements to the graph also included.  Thus far, participants are all above average with respect to Historian v. Craftsman.  More data please!
Below is the original posting.

In a recent posting on his excellent blog, Blunders on the Danube, Peter highlighted an article from a 1971 issue of Courier Magazine (see Peter's Wargamer Profile write-up).  The article featured a Wargamer's Profile by Ted Haskell and attempted to bucket wargamers into five broad classifications.  The purpose of this exercise was to produce an individual gamer's profile based on Haskell's five attributes.  The classifications (or attributes) as Haskell saw them were:
  • Historian
  • Craftsman
  • Collector
  • Rulesmith
  • Gamesman
Now, given that this analysis was conducted more than 40 years ago may have something to do with the classifications used and the components within each.  Times change.  How many today cast their own figures?  I know some who do but I suspect these fellows are in the minority.  I found many of the attributes associated within each classification to be overlapping and confounding.  Overlap existed even between classifications making it difficult to divine exactly how to classify myself.  Part of an attribute was in one classification; the remainder surfaced in a different attribute.  Others may find themselves easier to classify.  

For example, under the classification of GAMESMAN, Rank 4 "Plays Often," Haskell correlates playing one game per week to being a Rules Lawyer, playing for fun in a competitive setting, and using complicated Combat Resolution methods.  Does playing frequently necessarily lead to the other attributes?

I follow what Haskell attempted but each of these attributes could be independent in my mind.  Does a Rules Lawyer necessarily game more frequently than others?  Does a RULESMITH Rank 5 necessarily prefer day-long games as opposed to those of lesser ranks?  I think not!

In the interest of dimension reduction and my inability to visualize five dimensional data in two-dimensional space (I do manage visualization in four, though) as Haskell's classifications present, my focus will be on classifying what I consider the Holy Trinity of the wargaming hobby.  That is, gaming, history, and modeling. To use Haskell's convention, that trio translates to Gamesman, Historian, and Craftsman.  To me, these are the essential components of our hobby.  Each wargamer likely brings a different mix of each of these components into their make-up but most touch all three.

The Craftsman aspect of the trio encompasses the artistic efforts.  For me, these activities center primarily on painting model soldiers, constructing vehicles and weaponry, and building landscapes over which our soldiers will march and fight.  Some may add figure conversion or sculpting and molding their own armies.  For this exercise, I rate Craft on a scale of 1 to 10 with a '1' being "I cannot be bothered with such labors" to '10' "I must do it all and perfectly!"  Of course, most may fall somewhere in between.

Gamesman classification could carry many attributes.  After consideration, I have narrowed Gamesman down to the frequency of game participation.  Also under consideration was a game complexity continuum but was shelved.  Does the wargamer prefer simple or complex games?  This attribute would help define the wargamer's preference on the Playability vs Simulation continuum.  I may add this attribute in later.

For now, gaming frequency is allocated in discrete counts with the value in games played annually.  These counts will be aggregated into 'Weekly', 'Bi-weekly', 'Monthly', 'Bi-Monthly', 'Quarterly', 'Infrequent ' buckets. 

The Historian component wraps up all of the reading, research, and project planning necessary for forming a well-read wargamer and successful period immersion.  Battle and uniform research, and period readings would be included.  Rules writing and scenario design could fall under this broad classification too.

Like Craftsman, Historian is qualified on 1-10 point scale. '1' is associated with the "Who, me read?" while '10' could represent the professional historian at the top of the scale.   

Finally, I will sneak in one more dimension into the profile.  That dimension will identify the Collector attribute by counting the number of painted figures one possesses.  This Collector Rating is qualified on a '1' to '10' scale. Distribution of the Collector ranking is:
  1. Less than 100 painted figures
  2. 101-500 painted figures
  3. 501-1,000 painted figures
  4. 1,001-2,500 painted figures
  5. 2,501-5,000 painted figures
  6. 5,001-10,000 painted figures
  7. 10,001-15,000 painted figures
  8. 15,001-20,000 painted figures
  9. 20,001-25,000 painted figures
  10. 25,000+ painted figures
Of course, collection size is positively correlated to length of time in the hobby or age but those potentially confounding factors will be overlooked for now.

Number of distinct projects might be another useful metric as a measure of a wargamer's collecting status.  The problem with using number of distinct projects is that a wargamer specializing in one or two periods may feel under-represented.  This could introduce bias.  For now, I stick to number of painted figures.  Since the Collector attribute is an augmentation to the Big Three, I will keep Collector as a secondary metric. 

For demonstration purposes, I put in my own data (JRF) and then added five random wargamer profiles to populate the graph.  Raw data below:

 User   History  Craft  Game_Freq   Size 
 JRF         7         6             6            9 
 WG01     5          8           12            3 
 WG02     3          4           26            6 
 WG03     4          1           52            8 
 WG04     2          9             4            1
 WG05     6          5             2            4  

For JRF, I plugged in the following values: History=7, Craft=6, Game_Freq= 6, Size=9.  My rationale for each rating is,
  • History (7) - consider myself an above average history buff with a large library, curious mind, and good research skills.  Would not consider diving into a new gaming period without hitting the books first.
  • Craft (6) - I enjoy painting and modeling and prefer doing it myself but results are not to the level of museum quality that many of my colleagues produce.  Quantity has an edge over Quality.
  • Game_Freq (6) - while I would enjoy gaming on a monthly basis and often average 12 games per year, six games per year is more realistic.
  • Size (9) - with a collection of about 22,000 figures, I fall within the '9' category.  
With the preliminaries in-hand, how would this analysis appear in graphic form?  My initial thoughts prompted the diagram shown below in Figure 1.
From the diagram, JRF-9 ('-9' suffix denotes collection size and corresponds to the size of the bubble) is the large pink circle, centered at Historian=7 and Craftsman=6, signifying a large collection and bi-monthly gaming attendance.

I think an interesting exercise would be to have readers submit their Wargamer Attributes as specified above in the dimension-reduction exercise.  Then, this collection of gamer attributes could be appended into the graphic.  I, for one, would be curious to see where others place themselves within the broadly defined spectrum.  

If you want your profile data anonymous, submit your attribute ratings to me directly via the Contact Form.  I will anonymize your data before presentation.

Like so much, this exercise will remain a work in progress as refinements are considered.


  1. Oh Wow!.. this is is my two cents worth ;o)

    History 6
    Craft 6 (painting miniatures not modeling)
    Gaming 4
    Size 5? (9,000 figures)

    :o) cheers,

    1. That's the spirit!

      Personally, I think you under-rate your Craftiness (painting).

    2. My Craftiness (painting) perhaps should 8? :o)

    3. When I look over at the Landsknechts you painted, I shake my head and mutter, "I'm not worthy..."

      Craft=8 looks better to me!

    4. Self Rating:

      History 8
      Craft 6
      Gaming 6
      Size 7

      When I have time, I have (many) further thoughts on this, but meantime I think you need to flesh out the scales a bit more. I of course present my modest proposals :-)

      More than one published book (history) 10
      One Published book 9
      More than one wragems publication (rules, book, scenario book 8
      One wargames publication, OR Library over 150 books 7
      Library 101 - 150 books 6
      Library 75 - 99 books 5
      Library 51 - 75 books 4
      Library 11 - 50 books 3
      Library 1 - 10 books 2
      No books 1

      More than weekly - 10
      Weekly - 9
      Bi Weekly 8
      Monthly 7
      Bi Monthly 6
      Quarterly 5
      Semi-anually 4
      Annually 3
      Less than annuallly, but at least once 2
      Never 1
      * add one point if you have a gaming blog (still max of 10)

      Top Pro painter 10
      Pro painter, or have won > 1 painting award 9
      Have won 1 painting award 8
      Painting w/ broad use of shading (etc) for most colors 7
      Painting with some washes, shading, or highlighting. 6
      Neat block painting with details 5
      Average Block painting only 4
      Basic colors 3
      Spray Paint 2
      I don't paint figures or make paint terrain 1

      Probably should use Painting points to account for varying scales, genres, etc.

    5. Excellent, Peter! I look forward to your thoughts, rebuttals, and discussions. This might provoke a good debate!

      For History, you weight size of library as the dominate factor. I look forward to your method for picking this factor to qualify the History classification.

      For Size, I figured it would be hard enough to count all of the painted figures without computing size based upon Painting Points. I agree, Painting Points would be a less biased method for determining size especially if we are interested in quantifying effort required to produce said collection.

      Great ideas All!

  2. This looks like an interesting exercise.
    History = 9
    Craft = 8
    Gaming = 5
    Size = 2 (I keep selling off my painted figures)
    It will be interesting to see the diversity in the results.

    1. Thanks for your ratings, Nate!
      As for figures, you show great control!

  3. Jonathan,

    I found this a really interesting exercise. Here is my result:

    History 10
    • I have in-depth knowledge of more than five historical periods
    • I have published books
    • I have a significant historical work in final draft
    • I have a hard copy library in excess of 300 titles and digital library of around the same size

    Craft 10
    • I have designed my own miniatures and had them cast
    • In my early days I had cast miniatures
    • I spent 15 years in a business that manufactured miniatures
    • I designed and manufactured complete ranges of miniature buildings
    • I make and use my own designed buildings in games
    • I have always written my own rules

    Frequency 22

    I play in two groups, in one we try for 24 games a year, but really only manage 15, in the other I try to attend once a month, but usually miss a few, so 7 a year.

    Size 6

    I have around 5200 figures. If I was to counted everything I have painted the score would be 10!

    1. Excellent and quite an impressive vita!
      You set the bar very high!

  4. I honestly wouldn't know how to rate myself as I'm just not very analytical about the hobby other then I enjoy most aspects to include painting, gaming, research and collecting, but do find your results very interesting!


    1. If you enjoy all aspects then you should qualify for at least a '5' in Historian and Craftsman. I will lend a hand...

      History = 7 or 8 ?
      Craft = 8 at least!
      Gaming = How many games do you play per year?
      Collection Size = How many painted figures do you have approximately?

      You are almost there!

    2. I've done some thinking over.

      History-6/7( I enjoy reading quite a bit of history and researching, but I wouldn't trust myself to give lectures on it so I'm probably between a 6-7.
      Craft-8/9( I'm pretty established in my painting, but haven't produced my own figures or written books on painting or given long tutorials so a 9 might be generous, but it is my most focused area.
      Gaming-6(roughly 12 to 16 games a year)
      Collection-5(I've been at it almost 25 years so my totals are pretty small when viewed in that light, but I'm a slow painter is my excuse, however I am getting quicker:-)


    3. Excellent, Christopher! I have your data point entered.
      Thank You!

  5. History 7
    I would quibble with Peter over number of books owned, as it omits time spent researching in college libraries. (That used to be a thing pre-internet, remember? I spent days in the Armor library at Fort Knox in the early nineties doing a lot of non-class specific research!)

    Craft 5

    Gaming: 4

    Size: 7

    I would say 'collector' should include unpainted, although that would push many of us over the 25,000 mark I am thinking.

    1. Another data point!

      Counting unpainted lead, for me, what be an exercise in frustration. I really don't want to quantify the depths of my sins...

      Appreciate your input, Jake!

    2. I'd agree with you, Jake; I chose books as an easily quantifiable, finite thing. As we complain about in medicine (and teaching, etc), just because you can easily measure, target, and track a variable doesn't mean that you're measuring the things that actually matter!

      Back in the day when I had far more time than space or money (and pre-internet), I spent a lot of time researching in the library, or taking out boos - I still have a few notebooks with the gleanings from that. Certainly on line sources, pdf's, and the like have become increasingly important for amateur historians!

  6. Very interesting, I notice with collector its painted figures in a collection, what about those of us who have a considerable amount more unpainted than painted in our collections ☺️

    1. As I noted above to Dartfrog, that could be a depressing exercise. Besides, I view unpainted lead as a commodity and not a part of my collection.

      What are your ratings, Paul?

    2. I'd say unpainted figures is a measure of "Oooh, Shiny"), or "perceived lead deficiency dysphoria". :-)

      Not at all he same as collecting, but another, somewhat related variable. My painted figure to lead pile ratio has always been very high (ie many more painted than unpainted).

    3. The Lead Pile is a related variable, for sure. I would prefer a "Collector" to include effort in having to build up the collection by time spent at the paint desk. Simply buying the lead seems to let the collector off the hook too easily. Others will disagree.

      Peter, you are disciplined collector to maintain control over your Lead Pile.

  7. Oops sorry I missed dartfrogs comment before I posted.

  8. a self reported survey, there might be problems with the data. But you takes your choice.

    History = 6 - the history is important to me, but I'm quite interested in the processes as well. I would not describe myself as a historian by any stretch of the imagination.
    Craft = 4 - I commission a lot of figures. I enjoy painting and I'm not a bad hand per se, but I'll happily play with figures I haven't painted.
    Gaming = Four or five a month? I tend to go through periods of feast and famine.
    Collection Size = 8,000 painted figures at present.

    1. Quite right about the potential pitfalls of self-reporting but in any subjective rating survey some bias can be expected. I bet my pain tolerance of 2 does not match your pain rating of 2.

      In this exercise, I am more interested in a gamers' perception of their mix between historian, craftsman, and gamesman. Does one attribute tend to dominate or all three major components, on balance, balanced?

      Appreciate your feedback!


  9. History (7) - consider myself an above average history buff with a large library, curious mind, and good research skills. Would not consider diving into a new gaming period without hitting the books first.

    Craft (8) - I enjoy painting and modeling and prefer doing it myself. Results can vary but are usually pretty good - usually. Quantity has equality with Quality.

    Game_Freq (7) - while I would enjoy gaming on a monthly basis and often average 12 games per year, 8 games per year is more realistic.

    Size (7) - with a collection of about 8000 figures, I fall within the '7' category.

    A reporter who reports on himself has a fool for a subject. Jon, I didn't see that as a category. I rate a 10+ in this category !

    1. Bill! Great to hear from you!
      Thanks for adding your data point into the mix.
      Problems with self-reporting? We are all honest men, right?

  10. History - 6 I like my history, but don't read or research as much as I could
    Craft -7 I try to only play with painted models (though I'm slow) and enjoy making scenery
    Gaming - I aim for weekly, but reality is fewer. 40 per year?
    Size - This was interesting to try and work out (without the effort of actually lining them all up and counting). A solid 4 I reckon.

    1. Thanks for participating and a Big Welcome to you!

  11. Hmm,

    I would class myself as:

    History: (7) My engegement with the history of a period depends on how closely favoured a period it is. There are some I do just for games (i.e. opponents dictate army choice) others are projects I really am fascinated by and will do extensive research for. As I do fantasy games too I guess I lose a point for that ;-)

    Craft: (8) Painting and building is important to me and I will not use unpainted models in a wargames (though their ok in board games). I like to make scenery and so on too when space and time permits. A best army award is the only thing I've ever won in a tournament!

    Game Frequency: (8) I attend a weekly gaming club, but not everything we play is figure dependent, so about 25 games a year seems about right; in the past it's been much higher and lower...

    Size: (5) TBH it could be a (6) but I've not audited what I've got for years and I've sold a lot over the years...

    1. Terrific! Your profile has been added into the graphic.
      Thanks for participating.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...