No rest for the wicked

It’s always a temptation, whenever another issue comes back from the printers, to think “Aah, I can put my feet up for a week or two now and take a well-deserved break.” Well, issue 8 is right here next to me as I type and, whilst I think you’re going to enjoy it, the last thing I can afford to do is put my feet up.

Quite apart from the obvious duties of ensuring that it reaches all our retailers, distributors and subscribers in double-quick time, I am also planning the next stage of Battlegames’ development, both in terms of its distribution and availability to the world at large, and the products we can offer. I don’t want to say too much at this stage, but it’s evident to anyone with a modicum of intelligence that the time has come for us to head for the high street and broaden our offering.

It would be a perfectly reasonable suggestion for anyone to make that Battlegames should continue as merely a ‘niche’ publication, and that part of its cachet is that it is the exclusive preserve of the wargaming cognoscenti, particularly those members of the online community who have supported it since those heady days in 1998 when I first launched the Battlegames website and the notion of it ever becoming a ‘real’ magazine was barely a twinkle in my eye. Sadly, staying quite so exclusive is not going to pay the bills!

But there is something else too, a pledge I made to myself a long time ago — to help bring the hobby to a wider audience. And the only way to do that is for the magazine to be seen in places beyond those locations normally frequented by existing wargamers.

Some would ask, perhaps even correctly, “what’s the point?” Well, my simple answer is that I believe that wargaming is a wonderful hobby that deserves to be more widely known and that participation in it has distinct benefits, particularly for a younger generation that is currently being brainwashed by media that lead them to believe that everything they ever need in life can be provided by the elusive fame of reality TV or a degree in Media Studies.

Those of us who already wargame know very well how satisfying the multiple facets of our hobby can be: researching, painting, modelmaking, planning, designing, building terrain, collecting and, of course, the sheer joy of moving our toy soldiers around the tabletop in response to a satisying tactical challenge. And don’t get me started on campaigns of which, of course, you know I’m a huge fan.

I’m also a firm believer that the hobby has a genuine role to play in helping people to understand our history. As the saying goes, those who fail to learn from history are destined to repeat it, and with the current state of world affairs, peace in many parts of the globe hangs by a mere thread. Would any of us pretend that a campaign in a place like Afghanistan, for example, would be anything other than long, bloody and bitter? A wargamer with even a merely cursory reading of history would know that any conflict which treads on differences in race or religion must be handled extremely delicately, and that ‘hearts and minds’ are the key to any possible solution.

Moreover, the current flashpoints in the globe happen to be places where the British, in particular, have several generations of military experience to call upon although, tragically, it would appear that the advice of veteran commanders often goes unheeded by politicians. If lives are to be saved on all sides, I feel strongly that politicians need to do more listening and less talking.

But these are Big Subjects about which I may froth from time to time, but should not divert us from the honourable and delightful pastime that we, as gamers, pursue with passion, and the fact that in order to ensure that wargaming exists as a thriving hobby until I’m well into my dotage and even after I’m dead and buried, we need to continually reach out to each new generation that comes along, and rise to the challenges offered by whatever technogizmos that may currently be holding their attention.

I’ve played more than a few computer games myself over the years. As someone considered by my friends to be ‘a bit of a Mac nut’, I have been suitably evangelical about the advances in computer power and the software that is available both to the public and the professional designer. The increase in complexity of computer games, especially since it became possible to combine them with the Internet, has been staggering, and games like World of Warcraft have created entire online universes, fuelled by the huge hike in processor power in the average PC on the one hand, and the exponential increase in Internet connection speeds, allowing real-time, virtual reality interaction across the globe.

But the one thing that all these games have in common, as far as I’m concerned, is that they leave me feeling empty, unsatisfied — even depressed. I have spent entire days wading through online slaughter or trading, but come away with nothing tangible to show for it.

Compare this with our gentle hobby. If I were to spend an entire day wargaming, as I have indeed done on many occasions, I would emerge with a smile on my face and the feeling that, whether I won or lost, I had had a great deal of fun and social interaction along the way. In addition, our efforts in research and modelling and painting are rewarded with real miniature works of art to add to our collection, to give as gifts to valued friends, or from which to earn an income by selling to those who also appreciate the time, effort and artistry that has gone into their completion.

If you’re someone who shares this passion and has something to share about your own experiences or ideas to promote the hobby, I’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget that I offer an automatic 25% discount off our normal ad rates to all organisers of wargame shows that are open to the general public..

My evangelism for the hobby needs no further explanation, so lets turn instead to what little time I’ve had in recent weeks to progress my own collection, and give you a glimpse of what’s on the table at Battlegames HQ, and we’ll wrap up with a few photos taken earlier this evening. Click on the images for enlargements. Goodnight!

Battlegames issue 8 arrives

Bibby (left) and Chuffy are singularly unimpressed by the first boxes of issue 8 to arrive!

Henry’s painting tray

What’s on the painting tray tonight? A selection of GW Empire troops (pistoliers, greatswords, artillery, captain on foot and general on warhorse), Newline Napoleonic British Peninsular infantry and Black Scorpion Tombstone cowboys.

Close up on the cowboys

I really love these beautifully-proportioned and highly expressive Black Scorpion figures. At 32mm, they’re quite big, but well worth looking out for. So far, I’ve only done the flesh and eyes, but I hope to have them finished for a game with Guy at the weekend.

GW hills 1

Sample hills sent by the folks at GW, after I’ve given them the full works. Note the two-part hill that can be assembled like this, or as a ridge. I started by spraying these plastic hills with Chaos Black, then used artists’ acrylics to build up colour. I used Raw Umber and Raw Sienna in varying combinations, starting with an overall wash, then gradually drier dry-brush runs. I finished with a dry brush of an emulsion colour I had mixed at our local Homebase, a green close to GW Goblin Green. Then flock: Woodland Scenics fine Burnt Grass in patches, followed by a home-made mix of dark brown and straw yellow around the rocky bits and scree, and finally another mix of a brighter grassy green to finish. It all looks a bit fresh at the moment, and needs gaming over so that it sheds a bit.

GW hills 2

This shows the ridge permutation for the two-part hill and another view of the small hill. These are very nice pieces, sculpted by Dave Andrews at GW. For some reason, I just frown slightly at having to buy plastic, vac-formed hills instead of making them at home from scratch, but they are well-crafted and very useful pieces that I’m sure will see many years of action. I especially like the big hill that can sit along a table edge — or you can buy two, and make an extremely large centre-piece hill!

2 comments for “No rest for the wicked

  1. battlegames
    July 19, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Thanks Stokes.

    Yes, I’ve been using a few plastics to test colours on before applying them to the Newlines. That dratted British scarlet, don’t you know?

    As for the felines, you know what they say about herding cats…

  2. ivaraasen6
    July 19, 2007 at 2:05 pm

    Hi Henry,

    Great “Old West” figures! The others and your terrain look nice too. Are those some plastic Napoleonics I spy? And As I suspected when you posted photos of your games with Dan Mersey and Steve Gill last winter, your felines have claimed your painting/gaming table as their own. I suffer from the same problem. Is there no end to the dreaded paw print phenomenon?

    Best Regards,

    Stokes Schwartz

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