What does the future hold?

Ross Mac wrote a very interesting and thought-provoking blog entry yesterday that set me thinking about the direction my wargaming is likely to take over the next few years.

To set the scene, I am sixty one years old (but feel like a twenty year-old [don’t we all! – it’s an old joke, but …]) and have been a wargamer since the mid-1960s. I played with my collection of toy soldiers before then, but I count myself to have become a ‘real’ wargamer (whatever that is) from the time when I bought a copy of ‘Charge!: Or, How to Play War Games’ by Brigadier Peter Young and Colonel J Lawford and I found a copy of Donald Featherstone’s ‘War Games’ in the local library.

My wargaming interests have been very varied over the years, but in the main they have been concentrated on the period 1850 to 1950, with a particular emphasis on:

  • The American Civil War (both on land and sea)
  • The British Colonial Wars of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (including the conflict in Africa during the First World War)
  • The Inter-War period (but especially the Spanish Civil War)
  • World War II (especially the Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War)

I have owned numerous armies – and navies – for these conflicts in a variety of different scales, but over the years I have ‘rationalised’ my collection so that it is mainly 15mm or 20mm-scale, but with the recent addition of quite a few 54mm/1:35th-scale figures and equipment.

My ‘retirement’ from full-time work is now only a matter of weeks away (twenty one working days, to be exact!), and after my wife and I return from our Summer holiday I will have to give serious thought to my wargaming future. Certainly my budget for buying new ‘toys’ will be more limited than it is at present, and the space I have available for all aspects of my wargaming – including storing my figures, terrain, and books – will need to be reorganised. But before I undertake that task, I need to set down some initial thoughts and ideas:

  • Solo wargaming is likely to be my main wargaming experience, interspersed with the occasional game with one or more members of the ‘Jockey’s Field Irregulars’ and my annual attendance at COW (the Conference of Wargamers).
  • Building up my collection of imagi-nations as the background for most of my solo wargaming. I have already created a number of African and South Asian colonies/countries (Dammallia, Mankanika, Sultanate of Marzibar, Deutsches Sudan, Zubia, and Chindia) as well as two Northern European countries (Opeland and Upsland), two small Balkan states (Laurania and Maldacia), and a South American country (Cordeguay). If I could tie these together into some form of imagi-world, I would have a whole range of possible conflicts that I could ‘fight’.
  • I need to rationalise my figure collections or at least try to avoid unnecessary duplication. I currently have several 15mm-scale Colonial armies (both on single and multiple figure bases) and quite a lot of unorganised 15mm World war II figures and equipment, 20mm-scale World War II Russian, German, and Hungarian armies (mainly based for MEGABLITZ but with a substantial number of single figure bases as well), and a 54mm-scale collection of American Civil War figures that are going to form the basis of my FUNNY LITTLE WARS Army of Cordeguay.
  • The fact that I have several collections of figures and equipment in three scales creates problems with regard to the terrain that I need to keep and store. I have a large collection of Hexon II hexed terrain that can be used with all three figure scales as well as an equal substantial amount of Heroscape™ hexed terrain. The latter works well with 15mm-scale figures if the figures are mounted on single figure bases or small multi-figure bases. It also takes up less table space than the Hexon II terrain if one is solely looking at how many hexes one can get onto the tabletop. Add to this the number of buildings I own in different scales (including HO/20mm and N Gauge railway scales), and the storage of my wargames terrain could begin to become problematic if I acquire more items.

I may have to make some quite drastic decisions about the direction of my wargaming future over the next few months (although I hope that the decisions will not be too drastic), but whatever the end result, I intend that it will remain my main hobby for as long as I am capable of throwing a die and moving a figure.

30 Comments on “What does the future hold?”

  1. Arthur says:

    BobStrange synchronicity here, just this morning I was watching the wife do breakfast (her turn) and the thought crossed my mind to develop a war game which can be served on a tray with my food when I am old, drooling and bedridden!I am 59 years old and the wife is a loutishly youthfully incendiary nearly 40 so that may hold the age at bay for some time but come it must!Ah, what the hell, think young, think dirty.. then reach for the medication..Regards

  2. Tim Gow says:

    Hmm. Given the state that Southern Cross are in, I wonder if 'residential homes for elderly wargamers' might be a niche market too far…

  3. Chris says:

    Bob,I'm facing the same dilemma–how to rationalize my holdings. My main problem remains "seeing the possibilities" when I consider whether hanging on to some stuff is worthwhile: "Hey, I could do such-and-such with these!" All true, maybe, but will I live long enough to do it? Last year I sold off a large part of my boardgame collection on eBay, for a preposterous amount of money, and even managed to live through it, so I guess my piles of lead are next.Drat mortality anyway!Best regards

  4. Ross Mac says:

    Something old, but also something new. How about considering a late 19th/early 20th C South American campaign fought out on land and sea, wrapping several themes together. Entirely allowable to double up 54mm and 15mm armies, different functions you see.Lots of time for contemplation and deliberation before acting.Now as for Tim's home, hope its an international consortium, would hate to lose my benefits to check in.

  5. Mosstrooper says:

    Oh dear you have got me thinking about my wargaming future!, I have a lot of figures/collection which I have not used for years and it might be sensable to get rid of them and reinvest in things I do use .

  6. Can you add a shed to the yard, dedicated to storage of your bulkier items?Here in "New England" I have a substantial cellar beneath my home (perhaps you have one too) that is half dedicated to my hobby and its "impedimenta".I like the idea of homes for the elderly wargamer.Regards,Don

  7. Be careful! when I retired i move 90 miles from my previous wargame club and left most of my figures, terrain, etc. with them. No room in a small 2-bedroom house on a lake for a wargame table. BUT I discovered another club within 20 miles and I was back to gaming every thursday again and had to start building armies again. Then that club came apart and a third group formed with few resources and at 77,l I am build new armies to stay "in the game'. Long and short – don't get rid of figures, etc. You may find yourself having to rebuild armies again later on.Dick Bryant

  8. Arthur,It sounds like the PORTABLE WARGAME might be the answer to your 'wargame on a tray' problem. Mind you, you won't need it for some years to come … I hope!All the best,Bob

  9. Tim Gow,It certainly might be … but on the other hand it might end up being – COW365!All the best,Bob

  10. Chris,It is a problem that we are all going to have to deal with at some time … unless we are very lucky and/or wealthy.I sold some stuff on eBay some years ago … and besides raising some money that I was able to spend on items that I wanted (including a copy of Richard Borg's BATTLE CRY!) I made contact with a David Crook, whom I had wargamed with back in the 1980s.I found the whole process very cathartic as well extending my range of wargaming friends … so it was a win/win result,All the best,Bob

  11. Ross Mac,You could almost have been reading my mind! I was seriously considering adding at least another opponent to my figure collection for the Cordeguayans to fight in 15mm or 20mm-scale, and the time-slot was to be somewhere between 1880 and 1910.As to Tim's suggestion … well if it ended up as a sort of COW365 – with occasional trips to museums and battlefield across the World – I would be just behind you in the queue to get in!All the best,Bob

  12. Mosstrooper,If the process ended up with you having an even larger and extensive collection of 42mm figures, it would get my vote!All the best,Bob

  13. Brigadier Dundas (Don),Unfortunately my shed is already full of wargames stuff … and it is one place where a 'cull' might not go amiss!I would love to have a cellar to store my stuff in, but the houses in my part of London were not built with them. My next-door neighbour has built an undercroft as part of his house extension, but that was not practical when mine was built.A home for retired wargamers does have a certain appeal; if I had the money I might give it serious consideration as a project for my own 'retirement'.All the best,Bob

  14. Maximus Gluteus (Dick),Wise words from someone who knows!I would never advise getting rid of an entire collection, but 'culling' a collection so that it is manageable does seem to make sense, especially if the funds that are 'realised' as a result are put to good use.All the best,Bob

  15. BobI can give you a few years, but our introduction to wargaming is very similar. My first taste was also "Charge….", closely followed by Don Featherstone's wargame books as they were published.I also faced the retirement problem/opportunity. I decided that I would start a completely new project. I would abandon the endless, and previously very enjoyable, painting of model soldiers. I would instead actually play with them.I spent about six months planning how this could be achieved.I started with the wargames table, and worked back from there. I designed a campaign which would allos me to use my model soldiers and model scenery on my wargames table. A campaign would provide five different mini campaigns, each of which would utilise one of my five allied and five French armies.Five years down the road it is going strong. I have expanded my solo campaign into a PBEM campaign.My wife and I play the battles/wargames, and the outside imput comes from eight international PBEM players.It has been the most satisfying five years wargaming experience since I started in those far off heady days of the late 1960s.Be of good cheer. There is certainly life after retirement.Best wishesPaul

  16. Paul,Thanks for your very helpful comment.I have followed your progress via your blog for some time, and your approach is an excellent model of what can be done.Today's blog entry was by way of being a step in the 'planning for the future' process. I find that writing things down both helps the thought process and acts as a reminder of one's intentions.All the best,Bob

  17. Hi BobThe important thing to remember is that you have to work just as hard at being happily retired as you ever did at earning a living.The big difference is that you can spend ALL your time doing thing your enjoy – not just Saturday and Sunday.If wargaming is a large part of your life before retirement, it makes sense it should be an even larger part after retirement.I found that I needed a much bigger project to fill more hours in the day than when I had to work. Not by any means all of the day – that would be too much like only eating cake.On your past performance I am sure that you will fill the extra hours with much more enjoyable and satisfying tasks than you ever could when you had to work full time.I look forward to following your adventures on your excellent blog.best regardsPaul

  18. Bob,I'm about your vintage (I'll turn 63 on Sunday) although you got into wargaming about a decade before I did.One suggestion which I'll make regarding "culling" your collection is to not cull it to the extent that all remaining figures/periods play in the same general mode.My two major periods (we won't talk about the score of others right now) are 18th century "lineal warfare" (WSS,WAS,SYW) and late 19th century "colonial skirmish".I find that the fluidity of the latter provides a nice break from the former; and that the formality of the the 18th century is a delicious relief from the skirmish style of the latter.Now I'm not suggesting that these be THE two periods for you . . . indeed, it isn't so much a difference in periods, but rather a difference in style that I suggest you be sure to leave yourself as you cull your collection . . . and, of course, you don't need to limit yourself to two major interests.– Jeff

  19. Paul,Thanks yet again for your very helpful comments. Along with all the other comments that have been made, it will help me to formulate my future plans.I think that you may be right about deciding to have some form of project for my retirement … possibly my imagi-nations idea? We shall see!All the best,Bob

  20. Bluebeard Jeff,Happy birthday for next Sunday!I think that your advice makes great sense. I already have plans to develop at least one more FUNNY LITTLE WARS army (which is very different from my other types of wargaming), and I am coming around to the idea of some form of 'big project' based on my imagi-nations idea … with the possibility of other, smaller projects running alongside it.All the best,Bob

  21. Dr Vesuvius says:

    BobA spring chicken here at 40, but I have been going through a very similar process. Having not actually done any wargaming for about eight years, I had to decide whether to simply sell up everything, or organise and streamline the collection and start actually playing some games. It's been highly cathartic, and in the process my long lost enthusiasm for the hobby has been rekindled. This evening I spent a happy couple of hours painting 28mm Brits in Home Service uniform for GASLIGHT, with a slightly out-of-period Waterloo playing on the TV in the background. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to another couple of hours painting to get them finished and ready for the tabletop, then starting on the next unit of Almost-Prussians. And I really hate figure painting, mainly on account of how awful I am at it!Thing is, if I hadn't gone through the exercise of taking stock and inventorying all the unpainted lead & resin I had stored, I wouldn't have been enthused, and those Home Service Brits would still be lying there in the storage case where they've been since they were undercoated back in '04.So carry on, Brother Cordery. Good things will come of it.

  22. Dr Vesuvius,Thanks for your very supportive and encouraging comments. I hope that once things have settled down, I will be able to do some figure painting again (I have not done any serious painting for some years, and used to enjoy doing it to the sound of voice radio … particularly Test Match Special!).All the best,Bob

  23. johntheone says:

    Since having to downsize my accomadation due to divorce I find myself in a place to small for my wargaming ambitions having board as well as figures. Also the march of time goes on Im 60 next month. Ebay here I come.

  24. Johntheone,Good luck with both your downsizing and for your birthday (and I hope that your eBay sale goes well).All the best,Bob

  25. Conrad Kinch says:

    Fascinating post – that would put a fellow to thinking.

  26. Conrad Kinch,Time spent thinking and planning is seldom wasted! It is something that I should try to do more often.All the best,Bob

  27. Anthony says:

    I think we all go through a period where we have to rationalise what and perhaps more importantly, how many, periods we wish to be involved in?I know I have and even now face the same dilema.One thing I will be interested to se is how you reconcile the solo wargaming and how you go about making sure that "battles" are at least still somewhat meaningful and "chanced" given the lack of an opponent? (Since I face the same lack of physical player problem)

  28. Anthony,I am hoping that the rationalisation should lead to a renewed enthusiasm for my wargaming.As to avoiding bias when wargaming solo … well I tend to use the card activation system used in the RED SQUARE games. The activation dice determine the number of cards dealt to each side's Units. The colour, card suit, and number on the card determine the order in which each side's Units are activated. This – combined with a dash of common sense – is my solution. It may not be a perfect solution … but it is a workable one.All the best,Bob

  29. Bill says:

    I am 59, and have been wargaming in one way or another since I was about 17. About 4 years ago I decided I needed a change and sold everything but a copy of Charge! a couple of other books. I tried radio control airplanes, till I proved to myself that I had no natural ability to fly them. I finally came back to wargaming. There was a group I gamed with who was happy to have me back, even though I had no toys. 🙂 I am now building a 28mm 7YW army for Black Powder. I am also seriously looking at your Portable Wargame as a shorter term project.I sometimes wish I had some of my stuff that I sold, but at the time it was the right decision.

  30. Bill,I am a few years older than you and have been wargaming since the early 1960s.I have had the occasional clear-out of stuff over the years (thank God for eBay!) but never got rid of everything. I have had periods when I have not done much wargaming, but I have never considered getting rid of everything. That was a brave decision to make.Good luck with your 7YW project. It was one of the periods I wargamed back in the 1960s using lots of converted (and long lost) Airfix figures.The Portable Wargame rules were designed for small-scale wargames that only needed a handful of figures, and would be ideal if you wanted to have a small side project to run alongside your 7YW project.All the best,BobPS. The first ever wargame book I bought was 'Charge!', and it inspired me then … and still does.

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