Sunday, 30 August 2015

Manifesto

A manifesto can be defined as being a public declaration or written statement of intentions, aims, objectives, or motives by an individual or group … and what follows is my current wargaming manifesto. It has been written as a result of several months of thinking, and summarises where I am, where I want to be, and how I hope to get there

I didn’t get where I am today …
I cannot remember a time when I did not play war games. One of the first big presents I ever remember being given was a toy fort with a garrison of toy soldiers. It was not new (at the time the UK’s economy was just beginning to emerge for the aftermath of the Second World War, and lots of things were hand-me-downs or second-hand) … but I loved it.

As I grew older more soldiers were bought to expand my ‘army’, and I used to spend a considerable amount of time playing with my toy fort, my soldiers, my O-gauge Hornby train set (also second-hand), and my Meccano set. My soldiers rode into battle in my train set’s coal wagons and passenger carriages over bridges built from Meccano.

By the time I was ten, Airfix had begun to make and sell HO/OO-scale plastic figures … and my allegiance was soon transferred to them. I spent my pocket money buying Guardsmen and their associated bandsmen, followed – soon afterwards – by British and German infantry. My armies grew in size, and by my early teens I had quite a collection of infantry, tanks (Airfix and ROCO), aircraft, and warships with which I fought my wars.

The discovery of ‘wargame rules’ changed what I did with my collection. No longer did I just use them to re-enact scenes from the numerous war films that I had seen … they now moved about on the dining room table or the bedroom floor with a purpose, and ‘fought’ each other in accordance with rules. (My first contact with ‘proper’ wargames can about as a result of my discovery of Donald Featherstone’s book WAR GAMES in the local library. I had it out on almost permanent loan, and wrote my own rules based on what Don had written in a now long-lost exercise book.)

By the time I had reached the age of eighteen and left school, I was aware that there were metal wargames figures to be had, and I well remember travelling up to Camden Passage to buy my first metal figures from Hinton Hunt. They were British Crimean War infantry and cavalry … and I still have them!

I carried on building up my wargames armies and buying more and more military history and wargames books during the 1970s, and by the time I got married in 1982 I had built up large collections of both. I had also taken part in the year-long Madasahatta Campaign that Eric Knowles ran in the basement of his shop – New Model Army – in Manor Park, east London, and in 1980 I had been invited to attend the conference where Wargame Developments was founded.

I have been the Treasurer and Membership Secretary of Wargame Developments ever since that conference, and for the past fifteen years I have helped to organise the organisation’s annual conference. When I was made redundant from my teaching post in 2001 I used part of my redundancy money to have our house extended, with the result that I have had a dedicated toy/wargames room ever since. I continue to fight tabletop battles on a regular basis, either solo or with one or more of the many friends that I have made thanks to Wargame Developments.

I ain’t as young as I used to be …
One of the problems with getting older is that bits of you stop working as well as they used to. Inside you are still that eighteen to twenty year-old … but physically you are past your prime. In my case arthritis is gradually making its effects felt, and although I do take supplements that help reduce those effects, I have to accept that getting up and down stairs is getting gradually more and more difficult. This would not be too big a problem if my toy/wargames room were not on the top floor of our house. Likewise crawling around on the floor taking part in Funny Little Wars/Little Cold Wars battles is all right … until I need to stand up.

My wife and I have therefore decided that we are going to have to think about selling our present house and moving somewhere else, preferably to a bungalow. We could leave this move until we get older, but we would both prefer to move when we want to rather than when we have to. The house hunt has therefore begun … but not in earnest as yet. We are presently just looking at what is coming onto the market in the areas where we might want to live so that we can see what might be available that meets our requirements.

You cannot do everything, so what do you enjoy doing?
I have always thought that my main priority when it comes to wargaming is enjoying it. I have come to realise that unless I am having some fun doing what I am doing, then why am I doing it?

So what do I enjoy most about wargaming?
  • Fighting campaigns (i.e. planning and fighting a series of interlinking battles that tell a story)
  • Writing the ‘histories’ of the campaigns that I fight (I get almost as much enjoyment writing about what has happened on the tabletop as I do fighting the battles)
  • The modelling aspects of the hobby (e.g. building the terrain and models that I use; painting figures and vehicles; basing figures and vehicle)
  • Solo wargaming (I am not anti-social, and do enjoy fighting wargames with other wargamers … but I get the greatest enjoyment fighting solo wargames)
  • Creating imagi-nations and their armed forces (Although I do enjoy re-fighting historical battles, I enjoy the freedom of fighting wars between imagi-nations more)
  • Fighting wargames set in the period between 1880 and 1950 … although I am gradually beginning to stretch the boundaries to encompass the Napoleonic period as well

Downsizing and pruning
One thing that thinking about moving has made me done is to take a long, dispassionate look at the contents of my toy/wargames room. The chances are that where we move to is going to be smaller than where we currently live, and although having a toy/wargames room in any new home is an absolute necessity, there is no guarantee that I will have space for everything that I own. I have therefore decided that I need to set out some guidelines for what I am going to set aside as essential wargaming resources for the future, what will be optional (i.e. I’ll take it if there is room for it), and what I can dispose of as not likely to be used again.

From the point of view of my book collection, there are very few books in the naval section that are not essential, whereas the rest of the collection could probably be reduced by upwards of 25% without a great deal of difficulty. (I do seem to have acquired lots of books that cover the same or similar topics or information … and frankly they are taking up room that could be used for things that I will refer to on a regular basis.)

On the terrain front it is a bit of a no-brainer. I cannot foresee ever needing to give up my Hexon II hexed terrain. My wargaming has become so wedded to it that I hardly use anything else. The same cannot be said for my other hexed terrain system – Heroscape – of which I have several large crates. I may need some in the future, but certainly not everything that I have. As to buildings, trees, and other terrain items … well a little bit of pruning may be necessary, but not much.

The size of the table that I use for wargaming is something that I will have to look at … although I have already begun that process. Currently I am using two IKEA swing-top tables pushed together. Each table has a top that – when closed – is 2 foot by 3 foot. When opened the each table’s top is 3 foot by 4 foot. When the tops of both tables are closed and the tables are pushed together I have a tabletop that is 3 foot by 4 foot. When the tops of both tables are open and the tables are pushed together I have a maximum tabletop surface that is 4 foot by 6 foot or 3 foot by 8 foot.

(I have recently bought from Lidl a set of three fold-flat tables that are each 100 cm by 60 cm. The tables have MDF tops covered in a black finish, aluminium frames, and can take up to 30 kg in weight. Their legs can be adjusted so that they can be set at various different heights – 73 cm, 80 cm, 87 cm, or 94 cm – and clips so that they can be clipped together to form a variety of different layouts. If I do have to get rid of my existing tables, these will be a more than adequate substitute for them.)

I cannot remember the last time I had the tops of my present wargame tables open, and over recent years most of the wargames I have fought at home have take place on a tabletop that is 3 foot by 4 foot. More recently I have been fighting a series of mini-campaigns on a small 2 foot by 3 foot board made from an office whiteboard, which will hold a 6 x 8 matrix of Hexon II terrain boards. These battles have proven to be extremely enjoyable, quick to set up and take down, and have shown that it is possible to fight wargames in a relatively small space. It is interesting to note that my mini-campaign board fits very nicely atop one of my new Lidl tables.

The most difficult area that I have to look at is my figure collection. This can be summarised as containing the following:
  • 54mm-scale Britains figures for Funny Little Wars
  • 25/28mm-scale Del Prado pre-painted Napoleonic figures
  • 25mm-scale Minifig American Civil War figures (Union infantry only … and painted in gloss enamels back in the mid 1970s)
  • 20mm-scale World War I Colonial/Middle East figures (bought from another wargamer)
  • 20mm-scale World War II figures (mostly organised and based for Megablitz)
  • 15mm-scale Peter Laing Austro-Prussian War figures (bought via eBay)
  • 15mm-scale Peter Laing First World War figures (originally painted in the late 1970s to represent the Bolivian and Paraguayan armies of the Chaco War)
  • 15mm-scale Colonial figures (Mostly Essex Miniatures that represent the armies of Britain, Germany, Turkey, Egypt, the Sudan, and the North West Frontier of India during the late nineteenth/early twentieth century)
  • 15mm-scale Franco-Prussian War figures (Prussian infantry only … and painted in the mid 1980s)
  • 15mm-scale Minifig American Civil War figures (Union infantry only … and painted in the mid 1980s)
  • 1:300th-scale Spanish Civil War figures (painted back in the early 1980s)
In addition there are various smaller groups of figures in different scales that do not form part of the above plus two large wooden boxes of unpainted 20mm and 15mm-scale figures!

I also own a large number of painted and unpainted ROCO, Airfix, and Corgi 20mm-scale vehicles and a number of 1:100th/15mm-scale Axis and Allies Miniatures armoured vehicles. There is also at least one crate full of unmade 1:1200th-scale model warships(!) and several that contain unmade Airfix model vehicles and artillery.

So what can I get rid off and what can I keep?

Here lies the most difficult decisions that I will have to take … and so far this is what I have decided:
    Definite essentials:
  • 54mm-scale Britains figures for Funny Little Wars (this is what I started with … and there is no way I will give them up!)
  • 25/28mm-scale Del Prado pre-painted Napoleonic figures (as I am still building up this collection and I have ideas for fighting a number of campaigns with them, they are a definite ‘keep’)
  • 20mm-scale World War II figures (I hope to use these for my long planned-for Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War campaign)
  • 15mm-scale Colonial figures
    Keep if possible:
  • 20mm-scale World War I Colonial/Middle East figures (these might be useable as an alternative to my 15mm-scale Colonial figures)
  • 15mm-scale Peter Laing Austro-Prussian War figures (these are nice figures but may need rebasing to make them suitable for the wargame rules that I am likely to use in the future)
  • 15mm-scale Peter Laing First World War figures (I have an emotional attachment to these figures because I painted them at a time when I found painting to be very therapeutic; I may prune the collection but will not dispose of it entirely)
    Not likely to be used again:
  • 25mm-scale Minifig American Civil War figures (I have never used these figures, and cannot foresee ever doing so)
  • 15mm-scale Franco-Prussian War figures (I have never used these figures, and cannot foresee ever doing so)
  • 15mm-scale Minifig American Civil War figures (I have never used these figures, and cannot foresee ever doing so)
  • 1:300th-scale Spanish Civil War figures (they are not particularly well painted figures and do not fit in with the wargame rules that I am likely to use in the future)
As to everything else ... well that is going to require a serious amount of thought as to what to keep and what to get rid of ... and I have yet to make a decision as to when that will take place.

So what do I expect to be doing in five years time?
Assuming that nothing untoward happens, I expect that in five years time I will be:
  • Fighting lots of solo wargames on a small wargames tabletop using very simple rules.
  • Indulging myself with lots of campaigns, some small-scale and others quite large-scale.
  • Concentrating on wargaming wars set during the period from 1800 to 1950.
  • Mainly using imagi-national armies to fight imaginary wars.
  • Indulging my passion for writing up the histories of my campaigns, and to fill them with loads of suitable photographs, maps, diagrams etc.

This then is my wargaming manifesto. Only time will tell if I manage to achieve what I set out to achieve.

40 comments:

  1. Lot of thought gone into this ! , I like a man with a plan ! , Tony

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  2. Nicely Done! I'm trying to figure the same out for myself.

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  3. That sounds like a plan that makes sense for you.

    I really ought to come up with a definite plan for myself. I've got vague ideas at the moment, but never seem to get round to sorting out actually doing them. There again, I'm still in the "just getting back into gaming and needing to build up my collections" phase. However, I really do need to get all the junk in my spare room cleared out so that I can get it refurbished as my gaming (and painting) room.

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  4. It sounds like a very sensible approach. That said, as practical and necessary as it may be, it's not nice to have to get rid of things, especially books or figures!

    Best,
    Aaron

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  5. Thank you for sharing this, it's a really interesting post to read. I find writing these things myself quite cathartic - knowing it's going to be read by an outside audience helps you to set out your thoughts in order and rationalise things. It's much easier to 'passively' decide to keep a dusty collection of models (by never actually getting rid of them from the back of a cupboard), but much harder to 'actively' put them in a Must Keep column.

    I would never presume to ask direct questions about other bloggers' lives but I always find it hugely interesting to meet other hobbyists and read about their efforts. It's quite an insular hobby and we don't often bump into other wargamers on the streets, hence why I think blogs are a great place just to talk about what our plans and motivations are.

    From your posts in the past I have you marked down as a 'simple games' player - smaller, cheaper, easier, a million miles away from Warhammer and things like that. It's certainly a direction my own gaming has moved towards, I've now all but given up on 28mm and play 2mm historical games. I've recently discovered a hidden library of Paddy Griffith's books in the Sandhurst library and reading these has given me much more of an interest in recreating the mechanics of battles in a simple way as your posts often describe.

    Thanks for sharing.

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  6. Very well written, a poignant view of a wargamers life and times.

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  7. Roughly same start point as you in many ways, but my plans tend to be rather more (dynamic?) As in they change on a regular basis.

    I really feel for you as far as future downsizing goes. Mainly because I'll have to do the same some day. Trouble is, I don't want to get rid of anything. Ever.

    Rob

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  8. Bob,
    This is a 'manifesto' very different to that of the 'mainstream' of wargaming, which invites us to aspire to huge tables, groaning under the weight of large numbers of exquisitely painted 28mm figures and diorama standard scenery and buildings. Rather left wing and old school, and you have a beard...

    Yes! You are the Jeremy Corbyn of the wargaming world.

    Seriously, this seems a very sensible plan, and one that has a great deal in common with my own plans, which also involve Hexon terrain, Imagi-Nations and simple, One Hour Wargame style/adaptations. Unlike you, I do not have numerous kits, armies &c., to dispose of, but my military history library could do with some judicious pruning - if only to create room for the books I shall surely buy in future! And there is no way I shall ever have the luxury of a wargame room, just a cupboard, perhaps...

    Best wishes,
    Arthur

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  9. Since I retired some six years ago my wargaming horizons have gradually shrunk. That is why "One Hour Wargames" plus your various blogs and battle reports on your "pinboard wargame table" and your advocacy of Hexon have been so inspirational! I once dreamed of having a large wargame table but now realise one can do very nicely with something much smaller! Best of luck on the downsizing. My "last to go" item will be my little collection of Britain's "swoppet" "modern" (i.e. 1960s) soldiers, plus one of their Centurion tanks that I've had for years! I suspect that you probably have a large collection of military books. I'm currently trying reducing my library but the second military book market (for a seller) is not particularly rosy at the moment. Look forward to following your progress on your blog. All the best.

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  10. Looks like a good stock-taking and set of plans.

    My own plans hinge on retiring in a few years and moving to a different city. But being that that is still a few years away and lots can change in a few years my plans are really just daydreams at this point. It will depend on what kind of house I can afford, and that could have some effect on what I take with me. I do have lots of books, miniatures, games, etc., to move when the time comes. And I have been very slowly weeding stuff out.

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  11. It seems that you and I Bob are kindred spirits. I am thinking and doing much the same as yourself although I have not made the effort to document the process so much. I do let snippets of it appear on my blog.

    There is one major difference in that I do not intend to move house. My wife and I are quite settled where we are, we have two daughters who still stay at home and all the rest of our family are not far away.

    Another not quite so major a difference is that I think I may have more and bigger collections than you. I hope not to find out too soon though as I can more easily let little bits of it go now and then rather than have a disposal plan.

    However no plan survives contact with real life but I do really hope to have a few more games and campaigns before I go, in fact I hope to buy some more figures this weekend.

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  12. Dear BOB,
    A most extensive documentation of Your current thoughts and status in Your Hobby- an excellent read- well done indeed. It does us good to have some serious retrospection and assessment of where we are going with our interests. I do hope that Your new abode affords a special place for Your Wargaming.

    I've always done things in a bit of reverse order - at any one time in the past fourty years I have only had two or three collections going at any one time - preferring to sell-off my collections to fund a NEW Project. What I have had in terms of completed painted armies is absolutly frightening - with well over thirty complete armies along with completed Scenery & Buildings to go along with the Armies etc....all gone now. It has always been a case of a very limited budget and a real lack of storage space.

    Fortunatly now I do have a substantial largish lined shed which is my Workshop and also functions as well as my Gaming area- it has a 5'6" x 13' Wargames Table.

    Now in August 2015 - I have just one Project - 'The TINKERTON Project' in 28mm which features my own Sculpting, Casting and Painting..I have only just begun this last Project - about one week old at this stage...THIS is my only Wargames Project Collection. True, I have a small smattering of unpainted 6mm and 15mm in the cupboard and every time the small-scale bug bites I take out these figures - look at them for five minutes and then put them back away again -deciding that they are just too SMALL!!!

    In terms of Wargames related publications - I have been even more ruthless: I currently have three books- One is: The Illustrated- 'Uniforms of the World', the other is a Movie Lobby Booklet - on 'Charge of the Light Brigade'(Crimea)- the David Hemmings version..and the third book is a most important title for Wargamers and Collectors of Toy Soldiers - 'LITTLE WARS' by H.G.Wells....and that is about it.

    Well basically that is where I am Bob. Oh, on gaming- as I am a bit of a recluse I will be preferring to game SOLO- have not done a great deal of this and Solo will be relatively new territory to me - Also,there will be the occasional Game with my good friend Lt.Col Greg.
    All the best BOB. Regards. KEV.

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  13. Bob,

    You have done what I surely need to do. My planning has proceeded as far as keeping a firm grip on the old saw that one will not die so long as he has unpainted figures on hand. In my case, this means I can expect to live until I'm 147.

    Best regards,

    Chris

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  14. Fascinating manifesto, Bob. Interesting read. I've had to to a bit of soul searching myself this year - though I admit that much even of that has been put off. My problem is that i can still imagine using at some point, all of my collections of figures. That makes downsizing a wee bit of a problem. I may have to do much the same sort of bullet-biting you have done!
    Cheers, and all the best,
    Ion

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  15. A very interesting read, Bob, and something that many of us would probably benefit from. Certainly I have been gradually downsizing my projects almost by accident since discovering One Hour Wargames. I share many of the same characteristics as yourself in terms of what I enjoy in the hobby - small solo campaigns in particular.

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  16. A.W. Kitchen (Tony),

    This has been whirring around in my mind for some months, and I decided that I needed to write it down in order to marshal my thoughts. As a result, I have a plan … of sorts … and a point from which I can now progress.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  17. Mark Ryan,

    Many thanks! I suspect that there are quite a few of us who need to do something similar every once in a while. Good luck with developing your own ‘manifesto’!

    All the best

    Bob

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  18. TamsinP

    I have been thinking about doing some sort of ‘what next?’ plan for some time, and I think that writing this has helped me do that.

    Good luck with sorting out your own painting/wargames room. Speaking from my own experience, having one is a great asset … and once you have one, you will always want one!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  19. Prufrock (Aaaron),

    Getting rid of stuff is always difficult, and I suspect that most wargamers are – quite literally – closet hoarders. But sometimes we need to be honest with ourselves, and if someone else can get use out of something that I am not going to use, then at least disposing of it has benefited both of you.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  20. Colonel Scipio,

    Writing my ‘manifesto’ was very cathartic … and also helped me to marshal my thinking about what to do. One of the benefits I have derived from blogging is the fact that by making my thinking public, I feel an obligation to do something about it.

    You are right about wargamers being a rather insular lot, and I suspect that it tends to make us introspective. Blogging allows us to be less so … and I have certainly benefited as a result.

    I think that your assessment of me is quite accurate, although like a lot of wargamers I have been through the ‘complexity = accuracy’ phase. I am sure that you will find that reading Paddy’s books will give you a different perspective on wargaming. I certainly did, and although we did not always see eye-to-eye (not an uncommon experience, I understand), he had a clarity of thought that was – in my opinion – unsurpassed.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  21. Ross Mac,

    Thanks … and my motivation for writing it is in no small part thanks to you and your recent blog entries.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  22. Francis Lee,

    Looking backwards can sometimes help us to see how to better deal with what is coming.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  23. Xaltotun of Python (Rob),

    I suspect that there are quite a few wargamers ‘of a certain age’ who are in a similar position to ourselves. As to my plan not changing as I begin to implement it … well watch this space for my excuses as to why I have not done ‘x’ or ‘y’!

    I would love to have the room to keep everything that I currently own … and will buy in the future … but unless I win the National Lottery, that isn’t going to happen. If and when we move, I am going to have to sort everything out in my toy/wargames room; all my plan does is to help me do that at leisure rather than in haste … I hope!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  24. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

    I think that thirty five years membership of Wargame Developments ‘cured’ me of my desired to take part in ‘ huge tables, groaning under the weight of large numbers of exquisitely painted 28mm figures and diorama standard scenery and buildings. That is not to say that I haven’t taken part in such wargames … but I always seemed to sit around for hours on end with nothing to do.

    Am I the Jeremy Corbyn of the wargaming world? Well according to your definition, I must be … but I suspect that I stand more chance of being elected Prime Minister than he does!

    It is interesting how our interests have converged over the years, and I hope that you have gained as much from our friendship as I have. One day you might get yourself a wargames room. (Your children will eventually grow up and leave home!) If you ever do, I hope that I will be able to be one of the first to ‘christen’ it by taking part in a wargame in it.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  25. David Bradley,

    I am pleased that my ramblings have been of help, although ‘inspirational’ is not a word that my wife would use to describe my blog!

    I remember some years ago being asked what would I grab and take with me if a fire broke out, and I must admit that my toy soldiers were high on the list. I suspect that if that is all that I had left, they would at least bring back memories of what I had had, and would inspire to me rebuild my collection.

    I am not quite sure what I am going to do with my surplus books. As you say, the second-hand military history book market is hardly buoyant, even at the best of times. Perhaps some will go as present, and other might go via eBay. Who knows?

    All the best,

    Bob

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  26. Fitz-Badger,

    It is better to have a plan – even a not very good one – than to have no plan at all … and it sounds as if you have a plan.

    I suspect that when you move, it will be to somewhere where the houses have somewhat more space than their UK equivalents. Unless one is very lucky or very wealthy, most houses in the UK do not have large rooms or basements or outbuildings that are suitable for use as wargames rooms.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  27. Jim Duncan,

    Is it something to do with our age? We have lived through similar times and probably have had similar experiences, so I suppose that it is not that surprising that we share similar priorities at our age.

    To be absolutely truthful, I would rather not have to move because my wife and I are very settled where we are, but the stairs are getting me down. An alternative might be a stair-lift, which would be cheaper to install than the costs that we would incur just moving … but we live in an area where house prices are rising at an alarming rate (Crossrail will become operative in three years time, and as we live about a mile from one of the stations, house prices are expected to rise by at least another 25% in that time) and we may be in a situation where moving might actually mean that we have more space rather than less in our new home.

    Having seen your wargames area, I suspect that you might be right about having a larger collection than I have. That said, at least you have had recent experience of disposing of wargames bits and pieces, and probably know what you will be able to get rid of easily if and when the time comes.

    Will my plan survive in its current form? Who knows? … but I suspect that there might be a few changes along the way.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  28. K.C. Robertson,

    I know of wargamers who never, ever look at what they have in their collections … with the result that much of it goes unused … if it was every used in the first place! A bit of introspection and thought are good things, just as long as it doesn’t become depressing.

    It sounds as if you have adapted your collecting to suit your pocket and/or space, and that sort of discipline is worthy of note … and something that others of us could learn from. As you will have noted, I have stuff in my collection that was painted forty years ago … and is still unused!

    Your TINKERTON project is one of the things that I had in mind when I began to write my ‘manifesto’. It is something similar to what I have in mind, although I will not be modelling my own figures like you will! I look forward to following your progress … and possibly following in your footsteps.

    Your wargames library sounds very pared down, but thinking about it, how many more books would you need for your project? It’s a good job you don’t live in the UK or I might be round with a boot full of second-hand books that I think that you might find useful!

    Solo wargaming does have lots of advantages, even if some ‘mainstream’ wargamers think of us soloists as being ‘Billy-no-mates’. (This is, of course, untrue; I have yet to meet a solo wargamer who does not have friends who are wargamers and with whom they wargame … occasionally.) Being a soloist means that you can do things at your pace, using your rules, your terrain, and your figures without having to make compromises to suit your opponent. What’s not to like?

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. Greg has just got in touch. Thanks for making it possible for us to get re-united.

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  29. Chris

    I think that if I managed to paint one figure per day, by the time my lead mountain was painted I would be well past 100 years old as well!

    All the best,

    Bob

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  30. Archduke Piccolo (Ion),

    I am glad that you have enjoyed reading my ‘manifesto’ … and even if you haven’t got around to setting out your own yet (and why should you?) I hope that mine will help you to draft yours.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  31. Natholeon,

    From the comments I have read so far, I suspect that there are quite a few of us who are in this sort of situation … and I must admit that the publication of Neil Thomas’s ONE HOUR WARGAMES has shown that it is possible to be a wargamer without having to have huge collections of figures etc.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  32. In Reply- BOB,

    Yes, indeed if I lived close by- Your book collection disposal may be my saving grace- seriously I've trimmed down to the bare minimum requiring no other references. My Tinkerton Project is indeed Fictional which does require my imagination to generate most of it- I do not specifically need to reference anything for it except my own ideas and such forth- yet, to obtain some sense of believability there should be some connexions to History in it's conext and form...Yes, indeed Fiction has significant advantages and an 'Imaginations' styled Campaign is indeed very free from restraints - You have only Yourself to please in this regard to it's Form and Function - You can DESIGN all that You wish...and THIS is what attracts me to it.
    Yes- Greg has been in touch and he has expressed a very pleased excitement to again communicate with You Bob.
    I do hope that You follow up Your Imaginations Project..I certainly will follow Your progress and thoughts. Tankyou for responding. Best Wishes. KEV.

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  33. K.C. Robertson (Kev),

    Using our imagination is part of keeping our minds young and fit ... even if our bodies aren't! For my part I have always had wargaming imagi-nations. The first was called Opeland, and was a vaguely Scandinavian country. It was opposed by Upsland, which my brother created ... mainly as a background for his Subbuteo soccer league. The armed forces of be two countries were equipped by Airfix and ROCO, and fought many battles during the early 1960s.

    You have hit the nail on the head regarding believability. Whatever the nature of an imagi-nation, it needs to have some historical context that makes sense if it is to work.

    I hope to answer Greg's email later today. He sent me some interesting photos and a few details about his post-military career, which sounds quite different from his time in the army.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  34. In Reply - BOB,
    Yes indeed I can appreciate Your interest and activities in Imaginations going back to the 1960s- it all has been very much a real part of Your Gaming for a very long time - it all certainly challenges the mind and intellect. I have not Gamed all that much as a Solo gamer - however, in a future Blog Post I would like to outline my first success with Solo going back to about 1994...stay tuned Bob. Also, today I've had an excellent delivery from the Postman- my Moulding material has arrived at last from Melbourne and I can now relax with great relief- that I now have the necessary materials to do the Project. All the Best. KEV.

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  35. K,C. Robertson,

    Where would we be without our imagination? We would not be able to appreciate literature, listen to the radio, or think about the future ... and yet I am always amazed by the number of people who seem to have little or no imagination.

    I see solo wargaming as an aspect of wargaming that requires imagination, otherwise how could we play against ourselves and still enjoy it? For me, the two go hand-in-hand.

    Good news about your moulding material! I am looking forward to seeing your first figures cast and painted as it will mark a major step forward with your project.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  36. Dear Bob,
    I'm very glad you feel you have gained something from our friendship: I shall be forever in your debt because your blog and replies to my emails enabled my interest in wargaming to survive when I was battling with depression, and I have derived a great deal of inspiration from your Portable Wargame and OHW projects.

    Although my dream was once to have a dedicated wargame room, I'm now far more interested in man-portable wargames that are quick and easy to set up/put away. I did have a 'cunning plan' to stage games using the spare bed as a playing surface, but family demands put paid to that! There is, however, a possibility that, when William departs for university and Charlotte takes over his room, I shall once more be able to use the floor-ceiling bookshelves in the box room to house my military library, instead of it being scattered between a hall cupboard, various bookcases around the house and a potentially dangerous, tottering pile on my bedside table.

    Although I disagree with many of Corbyn's ideas, I do admire him for sticking to his convictions, rather than trimming and twisting like most career politicians simply to increase his chances of being elected. In the wargame world, however, your manifesto certainly gets my vote!

    I glanced through the latest copy of Wargames Illustrated at the weekend, was rather depressed by the lack of variety/originality/ideas of the games described therein - all seemed to conform to the stereotype of my earlier post - and quickly put it back on the shelf. There has been some discussion of late on whether pictures of elaborate, beautifully constructed and painted armies and terrain attract and inspire people to become involved in the hobby, or risk deterring them by suggesting - albeit unintentionally, perhaps? - that the only good wargame is one that conforms to that standard. My view, based partly on my experience working with schoolchildren, is that the absence of many pictures of armies &c. of an easily achievable style does put many off engaging with wargaming. One of the great virtues of your blog is that your photographs show that simple painting styles and scenery can be equally aesthetically pleasing - and do not require inordinate time, effort or expense to achieve. If only there were more such illustrations in the mainstream magazines...

    Best wishes,
    Arthur

    Wargam

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  37. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

    Thanks you very much for your comments. I do value our friendship because you are always honest and fair-minded, and have given me very sound advice in the past … and I hope that you will continue to do so.

    As you know, I also suffer episodes of depression, and my family and friends help me get through them. If my blog entries have helped you to cope with yours in any way whatsoever, then that alone has made my efforts worthwhile.

    You never know, you might get a dedicated wargame room one day, but even if you do I feel sure that you will continue to concentrate your efforts on developing and playing man-portable wargames; I know that I am!

    Having your books in one place will be a boon. I certainly found that, although I still find the odd book that has sneaked out … mainly due to me reading it and forgetting to put it back! I recently sorted out my bedside cabinet because the pile of books on it was causing the bedside lampshade to tilt over. I decided to put the books inside the cabinet … and found that it was already full. Mind you, I did find a book that I thought I had lost, so some good came of the exercise.

    It is nice to have politicians that actually seem to believe in what they are saying, even if their policies don’t always seem to add up financially. In Mr Corbyn’s case, I suspect that if he is elected to become leader of the Labour Party we will see it move back towards the Left … but also become unelectable in the process.

    I have just come back from a visit to the shops, and I also have had a chance to glance through Wargames Illustrated. I was not impressed … and share your views that it ‘sells’ the wrong image of what a wargame is to present and potential wargamers. They don’t have to be elaborate moving dioramas featuring thousands of over-painted figures. (Why do figure painters think that such detailed results look realistic; don’t they ever look at real people?). To mis-quote Stalin, ‘simplicity has a quality all of its own’.

    As to my efforts regarding terrain and figures … well I do my best with what I have, and I am pleased with the results. Luckily for me, quite a few other people – including yourself – seem to like the ‘look’ I go for as well.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  38. Bob, thank you very much for writing this. I read this at a time when I was far away overseas (and unable to reply) but it really helped me use the time away from my gaming stuff to think long and hard about how I can improve my gaming: not in the "glossy magazine" sense, but in how to produce more engrossing games. Reading your analyses of what you have and what you want has really inspired me to do something similar; not because I am unhappy with my current gaming but because I think there is still much room for improvement.

    Thanks again for this inspiring post.

    All the best

    John

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    1. JWH,

      I am very pleased that my somewhat rambling thoughts have been of use to you. I am trying to keep to my manifesto, but as yet I have not quite managed to fulfill all my goals ... and somehow doubt that I ever will ... but at least I can say that I have some sort of plan!

      All the best,

      Bob

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