Monday, 19 October 2009

...and the Survey Says (ED:RESULTS)

Thanks to everyone who voted and took part. As you can see above the survey turned up largely predictable results, combined with some real surprises. The first surprise is that it was the 'lack' of response to a photo battle report that prompted this poll in the first place.

#1 Photo Battle Reports

The irony is that while batrep's can have a bad name online, 'photo battle reports' topped the list alongside the synonymous 'tactica' as most popular blogs (both collecting votes from 68% of voters). It true that certain producers can 'hit the mark'. For me, Arcadia Prime is the 'go-to-guy' for the best quality battle reports and I try to emulate his style. The cynic in me says that maybe this is a sympathy vote (as it all started over a batrep) but perhaps not. The key things I try to pull from a battle report are these:
  • Drama: build up to a dramatic moment. This may occur naturally, it might be a heroic stand, or a 'lost cause', or a triumphant arrival. 40k is all about war, war is conflict and conflict is at the centre of drama. I find that a little 'fluff' can help to bring focus to a particular moment - no matter how futile - and that moment can step the game beyond a purely 'plastic men' affair (which in our heads it so is!)
  • Easy Read Structure: Think about the way in which you write your report, in my latest Apocalyse Battle Report, instead of writing in a linear chronological fashion (IE: each turn, in turn across the whole board), I instead found it easier to divide the board into the four objective areas and describe how the battles for each were made. This had another benefit in that it underlined the close nature of the fight. The fourth conflict zone, the one I was intimately involved with then got a turn by turn breakdown as it was the 'busiest' and ultimately held the key to our victory (although the XV15's actually won that in the countryside!)
  • Keep it light: I have to fight myself to do this. Its very easy to recall every detail in an ubergeek fashion. Think about what the reader want to know and think about the drama... drama is all about pace and crescendoes. Diehard is a classic example of this, where the 'action' set pieces are well balanced between 'lulls' that slow the heartbeat. Think of it like this, when the drama is at its most cucial - focus the mind and the detail, otherwise you can largely 'skip over' the less strategically important turns - detailing the casualties.
  • Diagrams: Without comprehension, batreps can become very very dull very very quickly. Good 'overhead' shots, panoramic shots and diagrams can really play things out for the reader. I use powerpoint ... create basic shapes (buildings etc) and then recycle from one batrep to the next. Diagrams help the player keep a track of the balance of the game as well as giving the opening for the reader to say 'Ooooh ... that was a mistake!'
The usual caveats apply, I'm not the master at this... but the above is the sort of thing I look for in a batrep and try (ED: and fail a lot) to contain in my own.

Note on the other Batreps: I've bunch these two together as they performed poorly. Clearly, both should follow a lot of the input above. The 'word only' version should try to compensate with some great writing and maybe fluff, but creating a powerpoint takes like an hour - so how hard is that. For the video batrep its even more knife edge than the photo. Fritz is the king of these, creating clever, insightful 'over the shoulder' pieces that really get you in there. I've noticed a lot of 'photo-video' batreps recently... perhaps I should just start producing mine in powerpoint shows?!?

#2 Tactica Posts

Why else are we all on the internet if it isn't to glean some 'insight' into utilising our our hard built armies. The blogging arena is actually the second tier of tactica blogging, anyone who doubts that hasn't spent enough time on bolter and chainsword, the imperial guard message board or warseer.

What blogs add is a forum for taking the 'tactica' to a much deeper and darker place. A tactica's all about insight and using the models in an 'alternative' way. The 'clever buggers' are Old Shattered Hands at TauOfWar, Fritz at Wayof SaimHann and the guys at BellofLost Souls.

In my tactica's (like the new 'tough tacticas'), I try to talk about the non-mainstay units that can have a significant impact if played a little different. My particular favourite (which mirrors Jwolfs) is fielding the unloved units and finding them a little 'hole' in my force from which they can actually be very effective.... well that's the plan anyhow.

Remember to make the tactica enterprising, unusual and most of all informed.

#3/4/6 'Conversions posts', 'WIP' and 'How to guides'

I've bunched these two together as conversion posts are hugely popular and require significant input from the author. How to guide is effectively a conversion 'show-off' with the instructions attached (ED: No really?!?). The joy that people get from seeing a good conversion is great. I'd have to say these blog posts often get the most response and have a much higher 'wow' factor than either tacticas or Batreps. A great conversion simple blows you away. For me the kings of conversion are Admiral Drax for his consistently great work, Arcadia Prime for the beautifully converted tanks and Battle Fleet Gothic stuff.

#5 Opinion Posts

Everybody loves a good rant ... or discussion piece or a good bit of attitude. Opinion pieces largely revolve around the metagame, gamemanship or irksome GW decisions. The ranking of opinion directly reflects the variety of the piece. Some are better than others, but CusherJoe over at Ultramarine Blues is a particular ranter ... as is JWolf. The opinion piece should be one of those 'lightning strike' pieces that occurs to you while doing the washing up... and if doesn't stir up attention - what were you thinking!?! A good piece can create lots of attention, lots of followers and lots of comments.

#7 Show Off Posts

By far the most common on the 40k blogging tinterweb. We all do it. It's the online version of 'would you like to see my etchings?'. Depending on the artist, it can be a gobsmacking experience. I'm just going to bigup a new boy on the block (although not to painting ... oh no). I've met Ant through GiftsforGeeks and he's a top bloke with a stunning army. Just check out his Nurgle Warhound Titan conversion - ZOICKS! Also, got to give some love to Ron over at From the Warp, for keeping the blogging dream alive...

#8 Character Creation Posts

Although coming last, this one was a real surprise to me. A third of people chose 'character creation' posts as a preference...? Well without further ado, I better get on with one.


Thanks to everyone taking part - although the results weren't entirely surprising, it might give you some insight (for the Noob) or ideas (for the old crusty like me) on what to blog next. As per usual, give us a bounceback on what blog entries go down well with your readers and who you think are the 'kings' of the sector.

Also I can think of several types of blogs which fall off this list. Can you?

Now how do I classify this one...?