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.
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
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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 -
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.
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.
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).
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.
In 1996 I decided to start collecting a historical period - Vietnam,
as everything I owned (see cabinet to right) was currently sci-fi or
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.
Can't remember anything of gaming significance from this year at all.
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
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.
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).
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.
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