"[...] Wargaming is free to design and miniatures not necessarily attached to rules."Some rules, clearly, exist to sell miniatures. The king above them all is, of course, Warhammer 40K, but if you cast your eyes around you can see countless other examples, many these days via Kickstarter, where someone's come up with a neat idea for a set of rules and a setting, and a range of miniatures to match.
The thing is, some of us are starting to get conditioned to this. We buy the rules, then we buy the figures because they're designed to work with the rules. Depending on how obscure and idiosyncratic the setting is, they may be our only choice. And then (naming no names), out comes Version 2 of the rules, or perhaps Codexes A to D, and we buy more figures, because...
We like to justify it as being because the new rules have given us new choices, and/or because the forces in Codex A are just super cool.
Is the truth perhaps actually that it's because at least in part we're happy sheep and we want to play against everyone else whe's doing the same thing? Not that this is of necessity bad: just.. y'know? Tie your figures to your rules, and the best way to sell more figures is to write more rules! (And then there's the sad knock on effect that this almost invariably results in the infamous codex creep, followed by a re-baselining of force balance in a new version of the rules, followed by new versions of the codices, both of which as previously mentioned cause more figures to be bought... Stop me if you've seen this before!)
Historical gamers have it a bit easier: our settings have a very important attribute, in that they're not anyone else's property. History is not going to get litigious (oo, good word) just because (for the sake of example) Artizan, Crusader, Warlord, Black Tree, First Corps, Foundry, West Wind, PSC, Wargames Factory and heaven knows who else all produce 28mm WW2 figures. (Even if Lucasfilm and TSR may or may not have tried to trademark "Nazi". :D) And, let's face it, this is, when it comes down to, why Warhammer Historical is no more. Because GW aren't a rules company. They admit it in as many words.
But yet, and perhaps bizarrely, we still do it. I'd be intrigued to know how many of the armies at Rushden Phoenix club's recent Bolt Action tournament (at which three members of our club came back with trophies - well done guys!) were made of nothing but Bolt Action figures, and how many of those players had even considered, or were perhaps even aware of, other ranges. I'm as guilty as the next guy - my Napoleon At War armies (ok, ok, I'll admit it - my several kilos of unpainted lead!) are entirely made by, you guessed it, Man At War. And I have no defence (well, except that they're cheap, they come in the right sizes, and they appeal to my OCD :) ).
Admittedly, tournament play can be different - companies can and have set restrictions on what figures you can use, and they are, like it or not, within their rights to do so. And I'm within my rights to choose whether or not to play as a result (and sometimes I do).
Let's look at this the other way round, because (as Neil and Sigur Squrrl point out), just because A requires B doesn't mean B must perforce require A.
It's an obvious fallacy, but... it was quite scary hearing the reports of groups of people who were selling entire armies of 15mm Flames of War in order to play Bolt Action in 28mm, without, apparently, giving thought to the fact that the rules could, with little or no tweaking, be used with their, and their mates', existing figures.
I probably own more Battlefront lead than several of the Flames of War gamers at our club put together (six full infantry companies and most of a seventh). I own part of the contents of three Open Fire box sets. Why? Well, it sure as hell isn't to play Flames of War! I own a fair few GW LOTR figures - one's the most talkative character on this blog, and he's certainly not being used to play LOTR! :D One of my options for a general for my Palmyran army is a Hell Dorado figure.
And this sort of brings us back to the whole thing about the rules.
The very word 'rules' implies a certain degree of inflexibility. And yes, for tournament play, this is inevitable: unless you have an agreed common framework of rules, you have chaos, and you thus pretty much have to go by the book, or at best with clearly documented variations. And it's very easy to slip into the mentality that because the figures go with the rules, the rules mean you can only use the figures with the rules.
Nuts to that :D
There are some brilliant, brilliant figure sculptors, ranges and concepts out there. We're all intelligent and imaginative people. Rules are made to be broken, or at the very least, tweaked. Knock yourselves out!