Wednesday 22 June 2011

A minor diversion.

I think anyone who knows or has met me, realises quite quickly that I have the attention span of a knat.
 As evidenced by this group of Foundry figures that I painted,whilst painting Hanoverian Grenadiers and a half regiment of Perry hussars that I picked up cheap at Durhams show.
 A couple of the figures suffer from the 'orc' disease but mainly they are nice figures. Just what happened to Foundry? answers please.

 The last few weeks saw me able to attend two shows in reletively quick sucession, Triples and Durham.
 Triples as has been well documented changed venues. Personally I dont mind it,as I only got momentarily lost as opposed to my usually hopelessly lost at the university venue [even though John and I go every year] The show has lost something,but I cant really say what it is, I think the best description is BUZZ. Perhaps its down to my age, but somehow I dont think so as I really enjoyed York. I still managed to part with a fair amount of cash,but obtained some fine old school books to add to my library.
 Durham was well, Durham. I dont think it professes to be a show,more of a friendly open day,and a place to meet old friends and wargaming enemies.
 Again I managed to part with cash which was needed on other things [ like gas and electricity]

Both shows got me thinking about what I actually want from a show. I think most gamers go for the trade first, followed by a trawl around games that may interest them,and them some bait [ food] and then home, to peruse their purchases.
 Should we not be striving for more from these events?
How can they be improved? Do they need improving?
 Am I talking out my bottom...............
Personally I do think things need a bit of a shake up if we are to progress,otherwise we might as well call them trade fairs and kick out the games,which unless they are jaw droppingly beautiful are just by passed by the public anyway.
 I know as I have staged many games, and the effort rarely was worth the attention we didnt recive.
Mind I think a lot of it was down to the 'prejuidice against 6mm.
 Over 20 years ago Durham group staged what was tabled as a Napoleonic weekend, with living history, a battle, and wargames only from the Napoleonic era. There was an Imperial Garde band, and a book fair.
That seemed to draw big crowds of folk, and certainly the majority were not gamers.
 I have also been to a show where wargamers linked up with train groups, it was certainly different, but I dont think it was a sucess, Too much of a gulf was between the two groups, although the terrain used by the train people was inspirational.
 So whats the answer, a themed weekend or just a big trade fair like Salute.
 Now I have also attended Salute and was totally overawed by the event, and probably missed the best bits. I was too busy entering the painting competition and didnt get to see most of the games.
 I do think prizes should be returned to encourage gamers to put on top class displays.  You cant beat a nice cup to adorn the wargames room for a year.
 I also think guest speakers could be a consideration, and it wouldnt need to be an author, just a person that has something to say about wargaming and its many facets.
 Anyway back to the paining desk, to undercoat my latest diversion, a partly clad female Willie hussar! 
 What a bloke.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

What is a wargamer 2

I have given a bit more thought to what Andy wrote about wargamers,and what we are about.
 I also would like to thank him for giving me an excuse to consider just what it is about wargamers.I think my original post was a tad simplistic re FUN and wargaming.

 One of the reasons why I chose wargaming [mind some days I think wargaming chose me] was my love of military history. As I have touched on before I had an excellent history master, a no nonsense controversial intelligent history master who questioned our thinking. I remember him conducting a lesson where he put forward that eventually someone would reason that Hitler had been a great man, and then allowing us to knock holes through his entire reasoning, quite brilliant.
 Looking back it was a logical progression to start showing an interest in wargaming.

My awakening came when I read Charles Grant's, The Wargame,after that I was hooked.
 I wanted well researched armies of toy soldiers, but I also wanted the thrill of tense games where I felt that I had re created history. Thinking about it now, I still do.
 Hence my quite considerable library of uniform guides. If they were only toys for fun,why do I feel the need to research the uniforms,flags and tactics?
 Additionally if I just wanted a fun game, why do I collect biographies of soldiers, the answer is to try and understand the periods I am interested in.

 In the 1980's John and I used Bruce Quarrie's Napoleonic rules. I loved the book,with its brief accounts of each nation and national characeristics, but I never was comfortable with the actual rules. Were the rules an attempt to far,to capture the accuracy! of the period, I dont think so,they just werent fun to play.

 I still think wargamers were attempting to justify their use of toy soldiers, and wanted to show the skeptical public that we were more than a bunch of freaks [geeks came later]

 Question,how many wargamers actually tell their workmates and friends that they wargame? 
 I certainly didnt,and I still am very reticent about letting people know what I am about,why? 
 I justify this by acknowledging that I work in a very macho enviroment,and always have, and I dont think I could handle the piss take that would inevitably follow. Is that wrong,probably.

So on deep reflection,I think being a wargamer is,
1] someone who loves history.
2] someone who enjoys playing games [ per se]
3] someone who probably enjoys their own company.
4] someone who also enjoys the company of likeminded people.
5] In my case a person who likes painting models.
6] and the most difficult to explain,someone who likes to escape by using their imagination.
The list is not complete,and no doubt will change.
 But thanks again to Andy for getting me thinking and giving me a bad head.
 Oh well back to my Hanoverians. 

Saturday 4 June 2011

What is a Wargamer.

Fresh from recovering from a cyber attack on my e mail system [ thanks T**t] I have been catching up on other peoples blogs.
Having just read Andy Copestake's blog [ glorious little soldiers ]about what is a wargamer, I think I would like to attempt to put my spin [horrible word that] on Andy's question.
 Wargamers come in many guises,which is great really,otherwise it would be a very boring hobby.
 The best ones in my opinion,enjoy the hobby for what it is. It is Enjoying military history,reading copious amounts of books which are either directly linked to ones interest, or indirectly linked through fictional accounts of people in history. 
 It is about painting [ and now to a lesser degree modelling] toy soldiers. You dont have to be a Kevin Dallimore but you must give the figure your best shot. Its about enthusiasm and encouraging people who would like to be a part of the hobby, dont turn them away,communicate with them.
 Most importantly its about enjoying the hobby for what it is and just having a bit of fun,without taking it too seriously.
  In the 80's and early 90's the fun was taken out of the hobby. I think to a certain extent it was an attempt to be taken very seriously, [no we are not playing with soldiers,we are re enacting history with actual scale models and terrain,coupled to piles of rules, blah,blah.] 
It was a ridiculous concept which still permeates through the hobby. Lets be truthful we enjoy collecting beautiful toy soldiers,the brighter the uniform or costume the better.
 I used to love looking at pictures in the Blandford book of world uniforms and getting strangely excited at the sight of Simon Bolivars bodyguard [ its probably an offence now] or the 7th Neopolitan line regiment [ Africa]  Just enjoy the hobby for what it is. I cannot think what I would have done if I hadn't trod the wargaming path, I certainly would have been a lot richer,monetarywise, but I would have been a lot poorer knowledge and ability wise.
 When things  got too much in my life,I could always switch problems and focus on my latest purchase,or figure that needed finishing off.
 I still think there is a lot of people who simply collect figures and have no desire to move them around a table,or throw dice near them. It doesnt make them wargamers in my eyes,but they still contribute to the hobby through their research.
 What doesn't make a wargamer in my eyes is a person, who criticises other peoples painting,game, rules or view of how certain battles were fought. History was always written by the victor, witness Tony Blairs view of the Iraq war [ war criminal or visionary?  answers on a postcard to the Hague] so really we cant give a definitive answer to any battle in history,the daftest view might actually be right. 
 Saying that I can remember being pulled at a show where we were exhibiting a lovely reconstruction of the Battle of Austerlitz and being criticised for having swans on the frozen lake!!! They couldnt have been there, [oh yeah,were you at the battle mate,my game my swans] It still rankles [ probably because they were right]
 Getting away from my rant, there are a couple of things that I disagree with on Andys blog. Fantasy does have a place in the wargaming world, it certainly is an oppourtunity to capture younger gamers, and Lord of the Rings is a great piece of literature, [discuss]
 The last thing to being a wargamer is bathing regularly, enjoy.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.

My 6mm Napoleonic set up.
Austria 1809.

Austrian Hussars

Austrian Hussars
Hinchliffe figures

Austrian Grenzer

Austrian Grenzer
Austrian Grenzer

Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2013
Smoggycon 2013

Smoggycon 2012

Smoggycon 2012
Smoggycon 2012

Smoogycon 2009

Smoogycon 2009
My French getting another beating