– Is that a Tiger? someone cheerfully asks behind you.
You close your eyes and you answer:
– No, it’s a Sturmtiger.
– Aha, i knew it was some kind of a Tiger!
You cry a bit inside.
Let’s face it, we all have these guys (some are even our friends) around. You know the type. Cheerful, polite, friendly, lovable, but by Sigmar they can’t tell a Roman Legionnaire from a Macedonian Phalangite. It’s not that they don’t care. Far from it. You’re not going to find a more patient person and a better listener when you try to explain that the Romans were generally armed with Gladius and Large shields while the Macedonians had big long pointy spiky things. Those big wide eyes will listen to you and will seem to comprehend everything that you say. And when you are finished you will hear:
– Yeah, well, you can’t blame me for not knowing. I mean, they totally look the same.
You think i am exaggerating of course, however think about it. We are a small minority in a world full of people that have completely different interests. My own family, exposed heavily to miniatures, tanks and airplanes, have come to understand my passion and stop considering it a child’s play. And I’m happy stopping at that. There’s no point in me trying to teach them the differences between a T-34 and a Panzer IV. Or explaining to them that StuG III’s have 6 while StuG IV’s have 8 road wheels. I’d be happy if they knew that Russian tanks were green and Germans used extensive camouflage. They don’t even know who fought at Kursk (and I’m not talking about specific units, but about the actual countries involved). Telling them that the Battle of the Bulge was fought in the winter of 1944 will only get blank stares. The 5 minutes of Midway? What’s that?
Depending on what your period of expertise is (some people are ancients buffs and can recite by heart all major battles that Alexander fought, some focus more on the Napoleonic era and don’t you dare paint those cuffs black and some like WW2, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, you name it) you might be well tempted to pop a vein facing such lack of knowledge stepping on everything you believe in (i mean, who doesn’t know the difference between a Panther and a Tiger, for goodness sake). But stop, take a breather, and think about it. It’s not that they want to make you angry. It’s not that they are simply trolling you. They simply don’t know better. You know who doesn’t know better also? Children. You don’t dismiss them or get angry at them or ignore them, do you? No, you teach them. You patiently set them straight and you hope they’ll remember it for next time.
Some of us (hopefully not all of us) are jaded veterans (i can only count 12 wargaming years under my belt so I’m young by most standards) that are frankly sometimes too tired to invest in people and to teach them. But you know what is worse then the lovable yet completely clueless friend of yours? Having no wargaming friend of all. Having no one taking an interest in this wonderful hobby that we all enjoy. Sure, you can solo play as much as you want (and i respect that side of the game as I’ve done it many times also) however for most of us the social interaction plays a big part in the enjoyment also. It’s nice to talk to people, share opinions, friendly argue on rules and have a beer after the game. Not to mention a healthy community will only benefit the Local Friendly Shop and ultimately you.
So please. If you have a lovable friend that is genuinely interested in wargaming, don’t lose your patience. Don’t lose your stamina and most certainly don’t lose the will to teach and have fun. That is the only way our rare species is going to survive. Don’t be this guy!