Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Don't buy from Warlord Games...Ever

Warlord's been releasing dice bags to go along with their Bolt Action game.  The latest one has the unit insignia for the Afrika Corps.  The one with the great big swastika on it.   Yeah, I know, that was the the symbol the actual army used, and historical gamers like their accuracy.  I personally think it's crass to prominently display a symbol historically and still today used as a symbol of violence and hate.  Decals on your 15mm army, yeah fine whatever.  Dice, well, your going with a theme I guess.

At one point are you fetishizing it?  I've played German armies in Flame of War.  Usually Wehrmacht; the common soldiers. At first I did it because I thought they had the cool tech and rules where solid.  It helped that due to their elite status I could build the army on the cheep.  If I had the opportunity to do it again, I probably wouldn't build a German army.  Having though about it, even just the common German solider fighting for the Nazi's is too problematic for me.  Still, back then I sometimes wondered about people who play SS armies in FoW.   Of all the units and all the armies in the whole of WWII, why that one?  OK, you like Tiger tanks.  Aren't there like 8 other lists that use them that are just regular army?

Anyway, I wasn't going to make a stink until I saw this post from Warlord games on TTGN.
Afternoon gents,
This was always going to be something of an emotive product but we would rather give our customers the options to buy the very items they have been asking us to produce than pretend these symbols didn’t ever exist.
Is the swastika a symbol of a tyrannical regime that visited death upon millions be they armed or otherwise? Most certainly. However, we didn’t receive the same reaction to the Soviet dice bag and I’m sure we all agree that the Soviet union had a similar record. Come to think of it the Romans weren’t angels yet plenty of Roman re-enactors, etc. The Waffen-SS were fanatical and responsible for an atrocity or two yet they prove extremely popular subjects for wargames armies. Where do you draw the line? In the end that is up to each one of us to decide.,
Ultimately this comes down to you the customer and your own ideals. If you find the image less than savoury or distasteful then please don’t buy it. For many, this is merely a symbol of the army they choose to wargame with and nothing more. For those players, we have produced this dice bag. It is not intended as a political statement but as a receptacle for your 6-sided gaming dice that follows the theme of the army of toy soldiers you choose to play with.
As this is only available via our webstore it will be up to the individual to decide whether they wish to add this to their wargaming collection or not. It won’t sit on store shelves or be thrust upon the unwary at shows. Any questions of legality or morality falls firmly with the customer – we do not presume to tell anyone what they should or should not buy. We are aware that in Germany the Swastika is banned but, like our other dice bags, it will not be made available to retailers and therefore not pose a problem.
We fully appreciate that this will not be everyone’s cup of tea, just as political correctness isn’t pleasing for others. Please take this for what it is – a dice bag for playing games with model soldiers.
It's totally not a political statement to sell swag with swastikas on them apparently.   I guess symbols magically loose all meaning at the 70 year mark.  Or if you have a problem with it, you're just some PC liberal whiner.   Ok, that's a bit of an exaggeration of his point.  What's more troubling is the apologetic's behind allowing it.  Because Rome and Communist Russian were bad, then it's OK to display Nazi symbols. If anything that's an argument that you shouldn't be slapping any of these symbols on things you're selling for a profit.

You also shouldn't be able to hide behind "giving your customers what the want" when what they want is so freaking problematic.  I'd rather go broke than cater to the Nazi fetish demographic.  You can be a historical wargamer and even play WWII Germans without ever displaying a swastika.  That little bit of historical inaccuracy is worth it to not even be accidentally associated with a genocidal fascist regime.

It's products and apologetics like this that give closeted racist assholes cover to fly their racist freak flags in public.  It's either that or they're ignorant of what that symbol means to people.  Either way, not good. Why would you want to own something with that symbol?  It's short-hand for hatred and genocide.

Play one of these divisions instead.


  1. I always wondered about the guys who get all pumped about their SS armies in FoW.

    admittedly, if I played Germans, I'd probably play Heer or Luftwaffe (because playing creepy uncle Herman's private army is DIFFERENT). I might play some of the volunteer SS divisions, since there were people conscripted into the SS (join or die) The Estonians come to mind.

    I suppose the difficult dividing line is where do you recreate history, and when do you begin romanticizing the evils.

    The same query could be applied to Joseph Stalin. In World of Tanks, you couldn't put Stalin propaganda on your Soviet tanks until recently. He's still a pretty sensitive topic.

    I would prefer my German dice to either have an Iron Cross, or the simple Black cross superimposed on a white cross (like the Heer Tanks)
    or you know, just plain Grey dice with black pips

  2. Honestly I don't see why people shouldn't be able to use the dice/bags that they want. yes what the Germans did was terrible but as was said Stalin did worse and forget about Mao who's tally is ~4x as many people. would you feel the same if someone had hammer and sickle or communist star dice? Guess the point I was going for is some people just want to match their gaming supplements to their armies.

    1. And my response to that is, yes, you probably shouldn't be running around with either of those symbols plastered to your stuff. This bad thing is OK because other things are also bad is not a valid argument.

      Wanting to match tour gaming regalia is a pretty poor reason when you compare our fun little hobby to the historical context we extract it from. This stuff has meaning. There are still people in this country and others who use this symbology for its original purpose. When we choose to brandish these symbols for trivial reasons we give cover to some truly despicable individuals.

      While the 1st Amedment gives us the right to display whatever symbols you wanted to, why these over some symbols that actually have some positive meaning? Or at least something benign?

    2. It really just depends on the person and their local gaming community/country/culture.

      I know the ancient history of the Swastika, and the alternate meanings for it in places like Japan, where it's commonplace on Temples. But is that something that I want to bring into my local gaming group? Is it worth offending even 1 in 10 of the people I might want to play with? Not in America.

      Elsewhere it would be different. Nobody in China would care about a Swastika one bit. But start rolling dice with Japanese army symbols and you might find yourself in a heap of social trouble.

    3. "When we choose to brandish these symbols for trivial reasons we give cover to some truly despicable individuals".
      Sometimes what happens when you trivilise something powerful, you remove all fear about it.

  3. And the US and British flags never stood for Slavery/racism/ or mass genocides.... oh wait. I guess we should not allow any of those flags either.
    I think you need to get down off of that soapbox on top of that high horse on this one. People are going to sell what people are going to buy. The sooner you learn to live with this, the better.

    1. The difference is that the US and Britain have some pretty good redeeming qualities. Bad things have been done in the name of those flags, but it is by far not the core values behind them. Though I would have the same argument against a Confederate flag.

      I don't have to learn to live with hate symbols. It's my right to counter with as much of my own speech as possible. To make the arguments that buying, selling, and displaying things like this for trivial reasons is unacceptable. If I'm allowed to get pissed of about dumb game stuff, I'm sure as hell allowed to get pissed of by something of actual merit.

    2. And mostly I shrug stuff like this off, but Warlord weak ass excuse is what got me angry, It's a pretty pitiful excuse to profit off of some pretty objectionable symbolism.

      Of course I'm lucky enough to shrug stuff like this off. There are people who aren't so lucky.

    3. It's only a hate symbol in the WWII context. Hitler took the swastika (unknown previously in Europe) from India and flipped it. But the symbol itself (flipped the other way) is common as a symbol of peace in India, Japan, and even amongst Native Americans.

      By the same token, the Christian cross would not have been a symbol of peace and salvation to anyone in the Roman Republic or its territories. It only acquired that meaning much later.

      So the moral of the story is... Know your context. Know your audience/peers. Don't poop in people's yards if they're not OK with it.

  4. Look up the history of the US 45th Infantry Division. Before their Thunderbird they had a swastika as their banner symbol.
    They changed it to the bird because of the Nazis.
    But yes, the swastika definitely predates any Nazi thought.

    So if you frown upon the players using the Swastika for historical wargaming, what about all the Confederate players that play the American Civil war?...

  5. Before the Nazis adopted it, the swastika was a symbol used by many ancient societies, for peaceful purposes, or, as a symbol of supernatural power. The supernatural aspect is what the Nazis liked best about it. They believed they were destined to rule the world, and they believed the swastika symbolized that destiny. Gamers play wargames, because they are a way to compete in a bloodless way, on imaginary battlefields. In order to have conflicts, at least one side has to be the "bad guys". Unless the player who chooses to play the "bad guys", has psychological problems, they still play for fun. Even "historical" wargames, are fantasy, played with toy soldiers. As in all fantasy games, both sides symbols are as real as the imagination of those that play with them. If you imagine those symbols represent true evil, you are giving them power they should never have. If you treat them as the impotent symbols they have become, or should be,they will have no real power to generate fear, or hate. It's another example of how Free Will should work. I choose to live without unreasoning, superstitious, fear, as much as possible.

  6. Swastikas were around long before the Nazis used them, so those in the know will not get worked up about them. For those who hate swastikas because other people have told them to, time to get out and find out more about life for yourself.