Tuesday, 25 August 2015

The Five Factions of WarGamia

In the ancient/future planet/nation/galaxy/dimension of WarGamia, there is only waaaaarrrr.

In and across WarGamia, five mighty forces battle endlessly for dominance.

And of these, the greatest and most powerful is:


The forces of ShoulderPadz are defined by having massive shoulders. In our world both strength and military prowess are usually considered hyper-masculine virtues. Men have better strength overall and significantly better upper body strength. The classic V-shape of a pumped upper body and a proportionately narrow waist is both symbolic of, and carries a direct sense impression of male and military strength.

Therefore, if you want your mini to look and 'feel' tough, strong, ultra male and ultra military, give it massive shoulders. It is the simplest and most primal way to turn something into a war-toy.

Massive Shoulders plays best between the 15mm and 28mm range. Below that scale the ShoulderPadz cannot be easily made out, fading into the general mass of the mini. When we get up to 54mm, large ShoulderPadz begin to look increasingly ridiculous.

(Depending on your tolerance for ‘ridiculous which, considering its war mini’s, should probably be high.)

It’s a curious question as to why this happens.

ShoulderPadz also play well into the physical conceptualising of armour. It’s rare for something to have actual massive shoulders, that is more common with AniMonster forces below. The figures of ShoulderPadz almost always carry an inferred inner self, smaller than the armour or mech suit they are wearing. The message they send is of a more vulnerable or human figure attired for war, hidden and protected by its battle aspect, which has also given it massive shoulders.

It is a strange hidden counterpoint of vulnerability in the ShoulderPadz which possibly adds to their story-potential and the way they intermesh psychologically with the user or player. Like the player they are a 'normal' or at least fleshy and vulnerable individual taking on a warlike role and clothing themselves accordingly.

Though the forces of ShoulderPadz have long ruled Wargamia, they are opposed. Most of their opponents are of roughly equal power but there is one which calls upon a psycho-cultural matrix almost as powerful as that of looking really strong and having massive shoulders:


The forces of SexyTwist are almost entirely female and always entirely sexy.

Unlike the forces of ShoulderPadz, the armies of SexyTwist attempt to delude the eye, not into believing they are really big, heavy and dense, but into thinking they are fast, light and caught in the action of movement.

The forces of SexyTwist and ShoulderPadz occupy fundamentally different temporal signatures. ShoulderPadz forces tend to occupy a perceived moment in time perhaps two or three seconds long. Sometimes even longer. They are almost never modelled with one foot off the ground or with their bodies in a state of torsional twist (core muscle asymmetry is often perceived as un-masculine). They may be shown with a weapon raised to strike or fire, but just as common is a stance with weapons held at arms or at the ready, a pose that, if imagined as part of a real situation, could be several seconds long.

The forces of SexyTwist are much more likely to be frozen mid-movement, like high-speed photography. (And in fact this idea of movement could not really full exist before high speed photography, up until that point no-one had ever seen time ‘frozen’, they had to guess what a moment looked like. )One foot will be off the ground, the torso will be twisted, both arms are likely to be engaged in wide counter-movements. Long hair and chains caught in the moment of whipping back and forth will be included to increase the impression of speed and fluid movement.

The forces of SexyTwist tend to have enhanced female sexual characteristics. Long hair is standard, amazing boobs are common. (Though unlike the hair and chains the boobs never shift in response to movement, the forces of SexyTwist have either amazing sports bras or extensive plastic surgery.) Even when this is not the case, a great deal of attention can sometimes be paid to the area of the hips and lower torso. Strong men turn into V shapes, female strength goes on around the hips, buttocks and core muscles. A strong woman is thick and curved like a vase, not V shaped and angular. Women tend to be lighter in mass and more flexible so possibly when we think of female potency and physical power it transforms into movement and twisting more easily in our minds.

While the weapons of ShoulderPadz are usually enhanced by increases in width, depth and size to create an impression of mass, strength and directly-employed power, the weapons of SexyTwist are generally narrowed, lengthened and curved to increase a sense of speed, sharpness and dexterous employment.

ShoulderPadz weapons smash, SexyTwist weapons cut.

The third faction of Wargamia is:


AniMonster forces have bits of animals and people mixed up and extremified with some made-up stuff added on top.

They usually have their mouths open. Snarling, spitting and wild vocalising are considered animalistic properties and these minis feel 'loud' in a way others do not.

The classic physical base for an AniMonster figure is the build of a gorilla, with something else mixed in. Gorillas are human-like enough to soak up human semiotics, they can be a 'person' more easily than other animals. As well they exemplify the classic swole-torso-indicating-strength

AniMonster figures are often bent or bowed over at the waist. Unlike ShoulderPadz minis which are usually straight backed, and unlike Sexy figures which are twisted in motion but not crouched over forwards as a normal means of positioning.

Animonster figures tend to have open simplistic haptically pleasant facial features with big mouths and teeth.

They also get to have HAIR, lots and lots of HAIR.

Though they are always 'savage' indicating the pleasurable absence of deliberate control, the 'evilness' of an AniMonster figure generally relates to its closeness to humanity on the evolutionary scale. The further away an AniMonster figure is from us evolutionarily, the more closed-off and 'other' it seems.

Apelike - Apelike AniMonsters are fun and wild and might still eat you but do not feel 'evil'. People smile and laugh when they play with these mini's and like the creatures shown, are more likely to be loud, boisterous and ridiculous.

Other Mammals - AniMonsters based on other non-simian mammals are a little less fun, a little more aggressive or potentially violent than the ApeLikes but still somehow often 'on our side'.

Reptiles - Reptile AniMonsters are usually a beautiful Other. Though somewhat alien they are rarely utterly evil and even when gigantic in size are more representative of indifferent charismatic danger rather than a personalised existential threat. More like a storm or tsunami than a punch in the face.

Birds - Birdlike AniMonsters are rare and usually carry a similar feel to Reptiles with the added impression of intelligence, awareness and craft.

Insects - Insectoid AniMonsters are almost always the devouring Other. Opposed to human life and human qualities in almost every sense. Not indifferent like the Reptiles or opposed-but-interested like the birdlikes, they simply do not give a fuck and wouldn’t know how to anyway

GeigerShit - GeigerShit AniMonsters are essentially Insectoid AniMonsters with extra alien crap and porn stuff added into the shape. They are always evil as fuck. By this stage the shift in player personality is complete, GeigerShit AniMonster players do not hoot or holler, they are silent.

The forth faction of Wargamia is directly across from AniMonster on the human-monster axis, this is the army of:


Army-Man forces were the first to discover and colonise WarGamia and for a long time, all the inhabitants of the CosmoBellum were Army-Man, except for a few toys that snuck in when people were very young and maybe their sister would play.

Army-Man exemplifies humanity. Its proportions are classically human with almost no massively extended or enhanced physical characteristics but only some shifting of width around the 28mm scale.

Army-Man is also almost-entirely male, even more so than ShoulderPadz, though in recent years some female Army-Man forces have been seen

The Army-Man wears clothes instead of armour and these clothes often have actual folds in them, not of dramatic movement but of simple wear and gravity.

Army-Man forces are based on real-world military forces. Their guns and weapons are smaller than those of any other faction but look like they are heavier. A ShoulderPadz or SexyTwist figure can hold out a weapon almost as big as they are at an angle of almost 90 degrees from the body with no apparent pressure on the wrist or arm, but an Army-Man figure carrying a rifle or a rack of bazooka rounds seems to bow under the weight.

Army-Man figures tend to be more centred. They do not massively extend their limbs. Someone (I think it was Raphael) said a good sculpture is one that you could roll down hill and nothing would break off. Army-Man figures are most likely to match this description. They are contained and more likely to be single-cast minis rather than assembled ones.

(It's almost like Army-Man figures are *about* weight and gravity somehow.)

Though Army-Man figures often embody a resilient bravery and muted resistant machismo, they seem made to suffer in the heightened atmosphere of WarGamia. They do not 'feel' powerful and are much more likely to have a segment of their set which includes figures sculpted as wounded, dying or being carried off.

 They are an army much more likely to have some medical personnel as part of their set. They are also much more likely to have a complex command structure, not only as part of their background but actually modelled onto the miniatures. They have multi-person command teams, commanding officers and sergeants.

These take place in ShoulderPadz as well but to a lesser extent. An Army-Man figure is much less likely to be a single 'heroic' figure. They come in large groups and look like they need them to survive. They tend to have a strong group identity but without an alienating total uniformity.

Army-Man forces have an inferred social reality that exists between them, they care about each other and have a wider social and emotional range than any other faction, though it is not immediately visible through the strong genre-fied signals of ShoulderPadz, SexyTwist or Animonster

Sometimes they are modelled as if looking at or checking on each other.

They seem a bit sad, like something bad might happen to them.

They are people you might meet.

Although less apparently-charismatic than other factions, the forces of Army-Man are truly vast, it is said that an entire other dimension of WarGamia exists, inaccessible to the other factions, where vast tides of Army-Man clash endlessly re-fighting their ritualistic history-battles.

The last great faction of WarGamia is:


One way to think about Robotish is as if the armour of ShoulderPadz had slowly colonised the imagined human inside, resulting in a creature that was entirely-armour.

Robotish forces are defined by the combination of a humanly-recognisable will, but the absence of a human personality. This produces a strong two-toned emotional signal quite different to GeigerShit. GeigerShit figures say simply 'I am other'. Robotish figures say 'I am a creation of yours, like a thought you had forgotten of a machine you abandoned, but my nature is not yours'.

Human intent, or at least human-derived intent, without human fear.

Robotish figures use the strength and threat-signifying signals from the machinery of the industrial age. Oddly, this makes the sense of them more familiar than even Army-Man figures. Relatively few of us have been in the army or seen one fight up close, or been a vampire combat-stripper or that thing from alien, but most of us are familiar with movements of weight and mass in technological form that would ahve staggered our ancestors to behold (and did for a bit when trains arrived.)

We know machines are dangerous, we ride inside them, we feel their power and mass, we have a strong sense memory of them. Stronger, probably than that we have for animals at this stage.

Robotish figures are often the human body transformed, muscles become cables, the heart becomes a turbine or engine, the face becomes a blank, eyes become sensors.

They also incorporate massive military threat-signals incorporated directly into the human form. A Robotish that shoots missiles from its hands is the modern equivalent of greek armour with cast-in abs. And like armour, they can incorporate symbolised or hugely inflated threat signals.

As with AniMonsters, there is a slight twinge of a good/evil axis when moving from a humanid to non-humanoid form. Human shaped Robotish minis are a little bit more likely to be 'good' I think. Multi-legged Insectoid Robotish's are a little more likely to be 'bad'.

Robotish are war and they are our fear of the technology of war

You can describe any wargame mini using the above five ideas BUT there are sub-species and wild cards that some people think should be included as their own faction:

GeigerShit - maybe this should be a thing on its own.

iPhoneSleek - This is often included under Robotish but perhaps is its own thing.

Pirate - It always seems like this is going to be its own thing but it never quite is.

SpaceTolkien - Rubbish till it evolves a new form.

Kawai - whatever.


  1. I wonder if there is a 6th faction - the Noble. They look strong and extremely competent, but not in a threatening way; static, but ready for action. While the ShoulderPadz and the SexyTwist go for an overkill with their armts, the Noble designs are subtler; the strength or sexiness is suggested, but never overtly stated. The Noble use skill and craft in magic or technology to their advantage. Unlike Army-Men, they are professional and don't use conscripts - you don't really fear for them since you know they are ready to die for the good cause.They may have some superficial vices (they tend to feel superior to others - and maybe they are right), but inside, they are the good guys -- accepting parleys and surrenders, relentless only against obvious monsters. They are not the army you fear, they are the army you hope existed.

    Do you think it's legit? Or is it a mix of SpaceTolkien, Army-Men, and SexyTwist?

    1. Mmm I'm not really feeling it. Do you have any examples?

    2. In WFB it's High Elves (Noble) versus Dark and Wood Elves (Sexy), Dwarfs (Noble) vs Empire and Bretonnia (ArmyMen) vs Chaos (ShoulderPadz). In 40k it's Sisters of Battle (Noble) vs Dark Eldar (Sexy) vs Marines, or Tau (Noble) vs the Guard (ArmyMen). In Infinity it's Haqquislam and possibly Panoceania (Noble) vs Ariadna (ArmyMen) and every other human faction (Sexy). In Warmachine it's Cygnar vs Khador and Menoth (ShoulderPadz)... I guess, because it all feels mixed up in Warmachine.

    3. I think you make a good point there, Squid.

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