Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Warhammer Podcasts

I have a twenty minute commute each day and so I use the time to listen to podcasts. Painting or hobby time also provides further opportunity so generally over the course of the week I tend to get through a few.

The one thing you get to understand about wargaming podcasts is that most gamers think they have something to say - a bit like bloggers - and that they have an audience who needs to hear it. So you get things starting off with a bit of a rush, much gusto, full steam ahead etc etc.

A lot die after 10-20 episodes - typically a year or so - but they are replaced by new offerings. Then you get the granddaddys that go the distance and hit the three figure mark for episodes. I have nothing but respect for that type of commitment.

Given I've been listening to Warhammer podcasts for over seven years now I thought I'd give my observations as to what makes a good podcast.

1. Structure

The best podcasts are tightly scripted with defined segments and a plan of attack. By having this structure they stay on script and deliver their key messages. It also allows variety in the content with all the hobby buttons being pushed - gaming, painting, news, tips etc. A great example is Heelanhammer which has reinvented itself in the past year with a much tighter structure.

A lot of podcasts eskew scripting and go free form. Typically this will be against the background of a tournament review. What you generally end up with is three plus hours of round by round "and then I rolled a three". Very rarely is it great listening for a wider audience. Interestingly this type of podcast is typically unlikely to make it past 12 months as the hosts run out of something to say.

2. Humility

A bit of humility on a podcast is a wonderful thing. You may be the greatest Warhammer player in Slough/Inverness/Albuquerque/Khandallah but people don't want to hear it continually.

Rather than tell listeners how good you are, demonstrate it through content (a great example of this is the videocast Furion does. He may not be everybody's ideal prom date but he constantly demonstrates why you should listen to him.

Arrogance might be a great trait in a Dreadlord, not so much in a podcaster.

3. Variety

Your show has to have some variety. Five episodes in a row of how you crushed a bunch of newbs rounds one to four with your Malekith list gets a little "same-y". Far more interesting is imparting some of the wisdom on how the newbs could have countered Malekith or how you made your Malekith conversion (because hopefully you didn't use the shite Sly Stallone GW model.

Tactics, tips, possible game direction - all hold more attention than a blow by blow of your latest 20-0.

Final Thoughts

I won't to finish up that I understand that these offerings are generally a labour of love and offered free. However that it is a competitive market out there - only so much listening time - and to "win" the podcast wars you really need to appeal to as many people as possible.

IMO Heelanhammer is currently the tightest of the available podcasts followed by Pointhammered (which constantly demonstrates that you don't have to stop being archaic). Bad Dice has been great in the past - especially Ben's Daily Show - but I suspect RL and burnout have got in the way over the past year.

In the end I appreciate everybody's efforts. They all take time and commitment. However unless there is an ongoing audience I suspect they will soon get disappointed and despondent.

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