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This section contains a few of my thoughts on various gaming topics, as well as things that won't fit in anywhere else. Feel free to email me with discussion points and reactions.
©1999-2004. All rights reserved.
My Wargaming Biography

I'm always curious about how people get into wargaming, so here is an account of my descent into the hobby with a few links and illustrations.

Aidan

Early Days

Like many others, my first wargames involved 1:72 World War II plastics and the matchstick firing cannon. Historical accuracy was not what it might have been, the pride of the Allied armour was a Centurion, the Russians had to fight on the German side to make up the numbers (the Cold War was still on then), and astronauts and Napoleonic cavalry made an occasional appearance. The German mini convertible pictured here (converted by my friend Jonathan) was a highlight of invention over historical fidelity. The rule system gradually got more complicated, being mostly based on units of roughly 6"- measured by the span of thumb and index finger. A small movement bonus could therefore be gained by pushing down until the player reached his pain threshold.

A friend of my parent's gave me a second-hand copy of 'War Games' by Donald Featherstone. This was written in the 60s, and gives a general introduction to all aspects of table top wargaming. Three sample scenarios are included ranging from an Ancients clash between the imaginary countries of Hyrkania and Hyperborea to aWWII clash between Shermans and Tigers. Bizarrely the model Tigers were made from plaster.

1986

Original D&D diceGaming involvement widened at school when I was about 11. The red basic Dungeons & Dragons boxed set was the standard gaming tool (I still have some of the dice). Roleplaying was kept to a minimum as we slew our way through the local monster population and bagged the takings. I painted my first metal figures - for other people, using enamels. I started buying my own metal figures in 1986, when the standard price for Citadel figs was 40-50 pence, but being a kid I still couldn't afford many.

1987

White Dwarf numbers were in the 80s and they still dealt with non-GW games, which is hard to believe these days. Covers like the WD87 one on the left frequently featured warrior babes and the whole ensemble only cost 95p.

In 1987 I discovered Paranoia, which is still my favourite role-playing game, (not that I get a chance to play it any more). It is set in the future, in an underground city ruled by an insanely paranoid, anti-Communist computer. The background is a combination of 70s totalitarian dsytopias (Logan's Run) and the twisted logic and black humour of Catch 22. Unlike conventional role-playing games the players are encouraged to plot, betray and kill each other, although this must be done covertly as they are all nominally on the same side. Started collecting WH40K , beginning with the excellent value box of 30 plastic marines. I was also inspired to create a grav vehicle from a shampoo bottle, as suggested by WD98. A critical eye years later revealed it to be a pretty poor effort, so it formed the basis for this Epic scale dropship.

1988

Met Alan through an ad he had placed for players in a local model shop, and played a couple of games at Reigate Fire Station. WD108 brought Epic scale WH40K with preview pictures of Titans. These triggered hot debates at school .as it was extremely difficult to tell from the pictures (perhaps intentionally?) whether these were full size for WH40K, or much smaller scale.

I remember being inspired by the amazing painting of Fraser Grey which appeared in White Dwarf around this time. His shield designs were just something else, and each base was a piece of artwork. Sadly I can't find any of his stuff on the web.

Got hold of a second hand copy of Phoenix Command from Leading Edge games. This was a small-arms combat system with a heavy emphasis on realism. Unfortunately the rules were so complicated that they were virtually unusable, but the mathematical modelling used has been an influence on my own rules ever since.

1989

From 1989 onwards I started painting for several Games Workshops in the South East, which provided resources for rapidly expanding my armies. The best perk was access to the 'bits box', a massive crate of figures which had been incorrectly packed, damaged, or were leftovers from shop armies and literally hundreds of my figures came from this source.

Space Hulk came out this year, which in my opinion is the best game Games Workshop have ever produced. It is fast, simple but very tactical, which is the ideal combination. The rules are tightly defined so it can be played competitively without an umpire. Marine vs. Marine was our particular favourite. The second edition of this unfortunately dropped part of the Command Point rules, which in my opinion ruined the game by losing most of the tactical elements.

1990

Inspired by WD127 and Jes Goodwin's beautiful sketches to start collecting Eldar and also started collecting 6mm Epic WH40K. I once made a full-size Eldar Falcon gravtank in a morning, which was pretty swift. Unfortunately it has taken over a decade (and counting) to finish painting it.

1991

Tried to get an entire Company of Dark Angels together, something which I never quite managed and have since lost interest in. My Dark Angels are in the original black with a red stripe, as I started painting them before Games Workshop changed their mind and decided they should be dark green. I made up a lot of detail to flesh them out a bit, because at this time there wasn't any. Here you can see a squad from the 3rd Company, 'Firewing'.

1992

Won a prize at the finals of the Golden Demon, but I still don't know what for. My entries also sustained some quite heavy damage - click here for the full whinge. Massive expansion of Warhammer armies, fuelled by a plentiful supply from the Croydon bits box.

Went paintballing for the first time in a semi-derelict hospital near Leatherhead. The first day I think I hit one person - who wiped it off and played on. The guns we had were atrocious, and they had let a team of at least 12 play on the other side, who all had their own guns and boxes of paint. Although we were annihilated, we still enjoyed it enough that it became a temporary obsession.

1993

Fought a three way 'Mighty Empires' campaign, I fielded High Elves against Dwarfs and Dark Elves. Every battle consisted of an 'into the valley of death' style charge by my heavy cavalry into the teeth of the Dwarven guns.

1994

Went for the first and last time to the university wargaming club, but found that they were all playing 'Magic -the Gathering' instead of proper wargames. (Disgraceful).

1995

Started going to the Simulations Association of Sussex club at Horsham on a reasonably regular basis. They play a wide variety of games, generally with one or two people providing the rules, scenario and miniatures and 6 to 8 people just turning up and playing.

1996

In 1996 I decided to start collecting a historical period - Vietnam, as everything I owned (see cabinet to right) was currently sci-fi or fantasy.

I chose 20mm for the scale as it was the only one in which all the helicopters were available. I considered 15mm, but although there are a reasonable number of suitable 1:100 helicopters, the figures seemed to small for individual basing, which I felt was necessary for simulating the patrolling and sniping which formed such a large part of the war.

1997

Can't remember anything of gaming significance from this year at all.

1998

Started collecting a bit of Necromunda stuff. I never bought the game but played a few games, mostly with the motley collection of WH40K and cyberpunk figures I have gradually amassed rather than 'proper' Necromunda gangs.

AK47 caught my attention when I was looking to start a 15mm collection. I liked Spanish Civil War stuff, but the SAS club already had a vast quantity. Peter Pig's neat style appealed as well as the potential for motley bands.

1999

Finally finished my architecture diploma and started work in Sheffield, so lots more money available to spend on figures. Concentrated on lots of SHQ Vietnam to replace the ESCI plastics that I started with. Went to the Sheffield Polish Club for occasional games and ran a few Vietnam games with a rules re-write in between each one.

Started a website that was the precursor to WarFactory. (Now disbanded).

2000

Churned out lots of Vietnam stuff (an entire US platoon in a weekend, which is pretty fast for me), as well as scenery and vehicles. Bob infected me with an interest in WWI East Africa, and the exploits of Spicer-Simpson, possibly the most eccentric of Britain's naval officers. (One day I might create a tribute page). My AK47 collection was also gradually expanding in tiny increments bought from Sheffield's Wargames Emporium.

Bought a digital camera, which has been enormously helpful (and cheap) for getting pictures for the site.

2001

Moved down to London between Christmas and New Year, but have not got round to finding a club in the neighbourhood. This year I have mostly painted WWI/Colonial stuff, and have made a start on the large quantity of Star Wars figures that I bought just before Christmas. Also as I hope you all appreciate, I have been hard at work on the website. Had a big burst on arid scenery including sci-fi elements. On the painting bench at the moment are Wargames Foundry's new Street Violence figures.




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2001-2005. All rights reserved.
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