Hello and welcome to Grimdark Gaming, a miniature wargaming club based at the Hobby Bunker in Malden, Massachusetts.
Our mission is to foster a community where wargamers of all stripes can have fun playing together, with no regard to competitiveness, hobbying skills, or level of experience.
We come together through the shared medium of Warhammer 40,000. Many of our members are consummate wargamers who enjoy a variety of game systems, but 40k is our shared focus. As such, our Sunday meetings and all official club events are dedicated to 40k.
This document exists primarily to let you know what we’re about at Grimdark Gaming, as well as outline our basic rules and expectations.
Part 1: The Core Values of Grimdark Gaming
Our club culture rests upon three core values. Each of them is discussed in more detail below.
We want everyone to feel welcome in our club, no matter if they are a member or visitor, a participant or spectator, a gamer or hobbyist. Miniature wargaming is a huge universe with many facets, and everyone approaches it from a different angle. Our foremost goal is to bring all of these people together.
With respect to gaming, we believe that miniature wargaming is very much a social endeavor. While the games we play are, at their core, a competition, we are partially responsible for our opponent’s enjoyment of the game we share. As such, we expect the highest degree of sportsmanship and transparency before, during, and after each and every game. Regardless of whether we win or lose, or whether we are playing a serious competition or a casual narrative game, our primary goal is to have fun together. And we can only do that if we contribute positively to the experience of the person across the table from us.
When it comes to attitudes towards the game as a product, the general rule is not to rain on anyone’s parade and to stay positive about the game and the hobby as a whole. No one wants their excitement over a new model or game expansion to be ruined by someone loudly complaining about prices or rules. It is fine to not like something, and to say so, but do so in a manner that respects the feelings of people who do like that thing.
The bottom line is that we are in this hobby together, and we want everyone to have a positive experience with it.
We at Grimdark Gaming strive to make our club feel like a community of friends and comrades, rather than a loose conglomeration of strangers that meet once per week. We strongly encourage all club members to be active participants in discussions on our forums and to attend club meetups when they can, whether to play, or model, or paint.
Of course, life happens sometimes. But just as creation of a positive environment requires consideration of others, a fun and engaging community requires that people take an active part, whether electronically or in person.
In accordance with our core value of fostering a positive environment, everyone should feel welcome to contribute. We’re eager to hear your opinion on the forums. We’re excited to see the new miniatures you’ve just painted. And, of course, we’d love to square off against you on the tabletop, no matter how skilled or experienced you are.
Ultimately, everyone has something unique and valuable to offer, and we feel that everyone’s contributions make our community better.
As mentioned above, miniature wargaming is a huge universe with many facets, and everyone approaches it from a different angle. We strongly feel that it is not for us or anyone else to decide what is right or wrong, or what is the best or worst. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions and preferences, and everyone should be free to seek out the activities that they like best. Our official stance is that everyone should enjoy the hobby in whatever way makes them happiest.
When it comes to arranging games with an opponent, we are big advocates of “The Conversation”. It is important, in our busy lives, that the few hours we get to play a game be fun for everyone, even the player who ultimately loses. Discussing your expectations for the game with your opponent beforehand is critical for the enjoyment of all parties. If you want to bring your most powerful, tournament-level list — Great! All that we ask is that you ensure that your opponent is not taken unawares. If you want to kick back and relax with a game that is silly and casual, that’s fine too; just make sure your opponent knows not to bring his strongest competitive game.
As long as we are mindful of maintaining a positive environment and contributing value to the community, all of us wargamers can enjoy our hobby together, regardless of our specific likes and dislikes.
Part 2: Some Helpful Guidelines
The core values above comprehensively describe our community attitude. But since these ideas are abstract and ideological, it can help to have some concrete examples of how to live up to them. There are some basic rules of thumb you can use as a standard.
Some gamers use wargames primarily for relaxation and escape from the daily grind. Some gamers live for intense competition and no-holds-barred battles. Despite their differences, these two personalities can still share a fun game that satisfies both of them. But in order to do that, they both need to be clear about what they’re looking for up front.
For example, in the scenario above, the competitive gamer might deliberately build a suboptimal list, in order to match the casual gamer’s power level. If he does this, he can play as crisply and intensely as he wishes, and the weaknesses built into his army will keep the game even.
In addition to competitiveness and power level, “The Conversation” should include things like use of Forge World units, non-standard mission types, and homebrew or house rules. You are under no obligation to share your exact army composition with your opponent—that’s giving information to the enemy! — but you should make every effort to avoid giving your opponent a nasty surprise that spoils their fun.
In any wargaming community that includes a hobby aspect, there is often contention about painting and modeling standards, and the implications of meeting or flouting them. In the spirit of our core values of positivity, community, and the full spectrum of interests, we have adopted what we call the “Tryhard Standard.” This standard rests on two factors:
When modeling and painting, you should do your best to make your models look cool. The game-official miniatures and paint schemes are typically great for this, as you pay a premium for the quality of the sculpts and the materials.
However, some people can’t afford the official miniatures, and/or want their personal collections to be unique and characterful. At Grimdark Gaming, we don’t care exactly which miniatures you use, or how you paint them, or how complete your paintjob is at any given moment; all we ask is that you do your best to make your miniatures look good and fit the aesthetic of the game. It is a sign of respect to your opponent to do so.
Of course, artistic ability varies. Some people can get amazing-looking results in a very short time; others struggle with modeling, and have trouble getting the paint exactly where they want it. This standard of Effort is NOT meant to judge people based on their ability. Instead, it is an attitude that you should take when building your own miniatures.
In brief, you should always do your best to make it as clear as possible what a given miniature represents and what wargear it is carrying. Again, the easiest way to do this is by using the official miniatures and following the classic standard of WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get).
For those who extensively convert their models, or who use models from a third-party manufacturer, you’ll need to work a bit harder to avoid confusion. As a rule of thumb, models with the same profile should be visibly similar to one another, and models with different profiles should be visibly distinct.
The level of variation, of course, will vary depending on the faction. Orks don’t have a true standard for wargear, after all, while Space Marines are highly standardized and regimented in their equipment. But as with Effort, the standard of Clarity should NOT be used to judge others’ work, and is instead an attitude you should use when building your own miniatures.
Always remember that miniature wargaming is a huge universe with many facets, and everyone approaches it from a different angle. We value your thoughts and opinions, but be mindful of the fact that others will differ, and it is their right to do so.
For example, if someone is looking to build a fluffy and narrative-driven army list, it isn’t appropriate to dismiss it as “bad,” or suggest massive reworks in order to make it “more competitive.” Conversely, if someone is trying to build the strongest list they can using all available tools, they should never be disparaged for “violating the fluff.” We all have different goals and preferences.
That said, it is perfectly acceptable—and greatly encouraged—for the competitive gamer to suggest in-theme ways to strengthen a fluffy army, or for a narrative-driven gamer to suggest ways that a competitive list could be made more thematic and compelling. Everyone has something to offer! But be sure to do so in a way that respects your comrades.
In the end, all of us are here because we love wargames. To be sure, for the most part they are not perfect things, and there may be legitimate grounds to be dissatisfied or frustrated about some detail or other. However, there are innumerable places on the internet where you can complain loudly, anonymously or otherwise, and receive significant support for it. There is no need for Grimdark Gaming to be another of the same.
Recall that Grimdark Gaming is a diverse community that encompasses a myriad of viewpoints. The thing that bothers you so much might be someone else’s favorite element. So, in the spirit of maintaining a welcoming community for all, please focus on the positive aspects of our shared hobby while you’re here.