Saturday, 4 October 2014
For my first post I thought I’d give you a quick resume of my wargaming life, which will also explain the title of the blog. I started as a modeller – for my seventh birthday I got an Airfix Spitfire, and that was my course set. Duck Egg Blue for the undersides, in a little glass jar as I remember. So my childhood was all Airfix kits and soldiers – I remember when my pocket money went up to four shillings a week, and Airfix put up the price of their Series 1 kits to 2s 3d, so I still couldn’t afford two. My friend and I would play games, each lining up a box of the figures on a green cloth and knocking them down alternately. Then we realised that just meant the one with an extra man would win, so we started rolling a dice to get a kill. Then one day in a bookshop I found a book by Donald Featherstone, and I realised with a huge shock that what we were doing had a name, there was actually a hobby called wargaming, that grown men wrote rules and played games with them.
The rest of my teens were Featherstone’s rules and Airfix kits. I wrote some rules for myself, highly derivative, but as far as I was concerned, if Airfix didn’t make it, then it wasn’t important. The only Russian tank was the T34, the only German tanks were the Tiger and the Panther (the PzIV was a late addition to Airfix’s range). At university I began to branch out a bit, naval rules and tiny ships from Leicester Micro Models, WW2 rules from WRG (I was amazed that you had to have specific base sizes) and 6mm models from the likes of Scotia and H&R. But then I bought three small books in a box with the odd title of Dungeons and Dragons, and the next ten years were lost to role playing.....
In 1987 I really got back into wargames – I am not sure what the trigger was, but I picked up with Ancients, designing my own continent with nations based on Rome, the Viking, Burmese etc, the whole Hyperborea thing. I got quite serious, I even entered a competition (Armageddon, now Colours, in Reading) but I did not enjoy the experience. My main motive for wargaming is to create a narrative, hence the personal continent, the nations with dynasties and generals rising and falling. “Working” the rules outside any connection with reality in order to win a match doesn’t fit my idea of the hobby – you might as well play chess.
The next diversion came when my son brought home a Space Marine and asked me to paint it (then complained when it was the wrong colour blue). So began years of 40K, Warhammer, Necromunda, Warmaster and the rest. And to be fair the Games Workshop style, the Brettonians and Tyranids, the Elf dragon riders and the Ork Dreadnaughts, they all allowed me a lot of painting and modelling fun. Through all of this I always still thought of myself as a wargamer, still bought WI and MW and went to the occasional show, but there was little time to do anything practical, especially when I got into an online space game called Eve which ate up all my time.
It was Flames of War that pulled me back in. I got a pair of Pak 43s as a free subscription gift for MW, and had great fun making them. I spent a lot of time (and money) building up a collection, and playing the rules, but I became dissatisfied with the look of the games, the FoW parking lot, with opposing tanks touching gun barrels. For a while I tried playing the FoW rules using 6mm models, which looked better, but about the time of 3rd Edition I could see the old GW “Codex Creep” starting up – new rule books, new army books, new super units and heroes with special abilities. So I began to buy and play various different rules Bolt Action, IABSM, Chain of Command. I also revived my interest in the smaller scale, 6mm, buying the GHQ models which are head and shoulders above their competition and replacing my armies with improved versions. I have played a lot with the GHQ sets (Micro Armour and Micro Armour 1:1) with their models, and also with a set called Panzer Grenadier Deluxe, which is nice. Most recently I have been playing a set called Panzer Korps, a Division level game which has really caught my imagination.
So that's me up to date. There's a huge amount I've skipped, Sci-fi and the Falklands, DBA and the Wild West, Colonials and Age of Sail. And who knows what next?