For the uninitiated, or perhaps those who have not felt the need to explore, a newsgroup is a collection of postings maintained by a news server. These are typically free-for-all environments where anything can be posted, and frequently is – although the old days of spamming adverts for sex and pornography web sites seems to be over. You select, subscribe (and unsubscribe) these newsgroups through your email browser, and you can read the postings at your leisure. If you feel sufficiently enthralled, you can post a message or reply to an existing posting.
There are a few newsgroups of special interest to wargamers:
These first three have quite a bit of merit. There are a wide range of questions posed by anxious wargamers about miniatures, rules or terrain all of which get rapid replies. These newsgroups seem to have a large reader base, which means there are many experts out there to help you. Unfortunately it also means that within a day or two a particular question has disappeared down the list of postings to be ignored and forgotten. After several weeks I was unable to identify any major difference in the topics discussed in these newsgroups but I found rec.games.miniatures.historical to be the most interesting.
One of the standard features of these newsgroup sites is the use of postings to announce auctions and sales. A little bit analysis gives the following statistics for ebay, AUC (auction) or FS (for sale) postings: the most commercial is rec.games.miniatures.misc with one in every 4 postings, next comes alt.games.wargames with one in every 10 postings and lastly rec.games.miniatures.historical which rarely suffers from the delights of mammon.
rec.games.miniatures.warhammer is a the rotten egg of the wargaming newsgroups. Although there are similar question and answer postings to those found in the above newsgroups, there is the typical adolescent “I’m right so you must be wrong” attitude to comments. Reading some of the postings made me feel like I was back teaching a bunch of pubescent teenage schoolboys. Here you will meet caustic nerdyness and cyber-shorthand at its worst. It is the home of in-fights about the “worth” of Games Workshop – yes there are people out there who believe that GW is a VERY GOOD thing and that they can do no wrong. A quote, to give an example, from a Warhammer neophyte called “cypher”:
“This is a hobby, its about both figs, and gaming. Theres a legit reason tournaments insist minis b painted, cos there is a thing called the “spirit” of the game. Its a bundle package, take it or leave it. The reason the GW stores exist it to allow newbies to get 2 grips with things.