Tuesday, 6 November 2012

"Best Laid Schemes" and Proper Wargamers

It was a simple plan.  I’d been before to the Crisis show in Antwerp. The hotel was booked.  A car-parking space at the hotel was booked.  The restaurant was booked.  The figures and terrain were finished.  I was fit and healthy.  My passport was valid and my E111 in date.  I had blogged that I was heading to Antwerp last Friday and kind souls like those reading this post had responded – I was welcome.  Life was good. What could possibly go wrong?

Ahhhh. “The best laid schemes of mice and men Gang aft agley”.  How true.  How damnably true.

I got a call from a client last Thursday lunchtime.  They needed something.  No, it really couldn't wait. Yes it would be finished by … Monday.  Yes, there were meetings involved and when was I coming to their offices to help sort it all out?

So much for my "simple plan", wrecked by having to work this weekend while my other chums from the St Albans Wargames Club had a fantastic time in Antwerp.  

To everyone who I told I was coming – many, many apologies.  I mention that not because meeting me is in any way exciting (it really isn't!), but just because I hate saying I’ll do something and then not being able to do it.  And this is the second time in a month that it’s happened, the first with getting the ‘flu.  I am beginning to wonder if Lady Luck has deserted me this Autumn. 

My next planned outing is with my great chum Mike to Dragonmeet 2012 in December.  I am expecting a hurricane or impenetrable snowstorm to descend in the vicinity of St Albans just in time to prevent me getting to Kensington Town Hall for the event.  I hope not, and I'm only an amateur weather forecaster, but you have been warned...!

Away from simple plans to a great blogpost from the wonderful blog of Phil Broeders.  He posted a super post yesterday “Are you a proper wargamer”.  I’ve seen a few bloggers rising to the challenge, and Big Lee even devised a points system for his response (simple to spot the army list builder there, Lee!!).

Here’s my answers:

* Spent at least £500 on figures / tanks - and you get extra kudos for every £500 you've spent

Yes.  About £500 a year, all told, including paints, brushes, terrain materials and whatnot on the hobby.  This seems an awful lot, but I rationalise it by thinking that its about £10 a week on the hobby I love.  I’m sure there’s worse things I can spend £10 on.

* Pricked your finger or thumb on a pike block - several times
Yes, and yes, several times. 

* Tried at least 10 different rule sets and vowed never to play half of them ever again
Yes.  There must be dozens of copies of rules hanging around my house, supplemented my own home-brewed attempts (mostly rubbish) that I've tried to concoct over the years. 

* Bought an army off EBay
No, although I've purchased figures on Ebay from time to time.

* Sold an army on EBay
No.  I've not sold any figures that I can think of.  Given quite a few away (and been given them), but not sold any.  And yes, the garden shed does stand on reinforced concrete to stop it’s leaden contents sinking into the Hertfordshire soil.

* spent months painting an army - then used it in anger once
Ah Phil, you must be thinking of my 28mm Japanese Samurai army from the Sengoku period.  Not quite used once, but certainly less times than I’d like to have used it.  One day, mes braves, one day …

* tried several different periods and genres
Oh yes.  Just about every period imaginable has seen my ham-fisted attempts at generalship over the years. 

* dropped a box of figures on the floor from a great height
Not that I can recall.

* lost a battle on the last throw of the dice
Yes, a few times.  But defeat usually steals into my camp far, far earlier than that.

* made at least one enemy for life
No.  I’d be heartbroken and mortified if I had done.

* had a proper, stand up argument over a wargamers' table
No.  I can’t think of any.  You tend not to get into arguments when you’re not that bothered about winning.

* thrown a dice across a room
Almost every week.  It is a standing joke at the St Albans club that I'm nearly incapable of throwing the dice on the table.  I have acquired my own dice box to roll without scattering the dice like shrapnel everywhere. It nerves.  Knowing you're going to roll a double 1 is a terrible thing, friends.

* rebased an army for a different rule set
Yes.  Ah, WRG 2nd Edition Renaissance rules, how I do miss you...
* inflicted a whopping defeat on an opponent
Only accidentally or through sheer happenstance.

* suffered an embarrassing defeat due to a stupid tactical decision
Usually a weekly event about 9.30pm every Tuesday (bank holidays excluded) at the St Albans Wargames Club and at every TooFatLardies Games Day yet.  “Run Forrest Run…”

* joined a wargamers club
Yes.  Three clubs – Wolfreton School, Humberside and St Albans – in 31 years.  By far the best things I have ever done in the hobby, giving me a lifetime of wonderful friends.

* bought a ton of lead that remains unpainted
Maybe not a ton.  But my lovely wife will tell you otherwise.

* been to a wargamers show
Yes.  Many, but never enough.  And, depressingly, not Crisis 2012 (see above).

* have more dice than is logical or necessary to own - and have used most of them
Yes.  It’s an addiction.

* have taken boxes of troops down to a club just to show them off to your mates
Yes.  Usually to try and entice clubmates into some new period or to persuade them that even though I am the world’s worst wargamer as regards tactics, I do still have some uses.  Lord only knows what they'll say to me once 3D colour printing arrives, though...

Thanks again to Phil for a great set of questions!


  1. Damn that's a bummer. I hate it when work gets in the way of well laid plans like that. Thankfully it hasn't happened to me that often but its always a risk.

    Great answers by the way, and thanks for the linkback!

    1. Thanks Lee. I may well go through your awesome supplementary questions tomorrow!

  2. Really sorry to hear about the Antwerp trip. I echo Lee's comments. Why does work always get in the way?

    Great answers by the way. A couple made me genuinely chortle out loud.

    Hope you get to Dragonmeet!

    1. Thanks Phil. I don't know why work always gets in the way. I'm sure there's a Jungian answer to that, although it probably boils down to Sod's Law! Fingers crossed for Dragonmeet!

  3. Sorry about the trip Sidney !

    Best regards Michael

  4. You have my commiserations on the trip, I was planning on going this year for the first time too... it was going to be a mini-holiday to include a day in Brugge too! Oh well, maybe next year.

    Great answers, I do like these things for getting to know the odd folk one encounters on the interweb!

    1. "Maybe next year" - Jim, I like that spirit and attitude. Here's hoping we both make it!

  5. Good answers and really sorry about the trip Sidney, you're a calmer man than me!

    1. Fran, I wasn't calm when I put the phone down! Worst of all were the texts I got from club mates telling me what a wonderful time they were having. They even drunk the complimentary champagne the hotel offered me for booking all the rooms for everyone back in the summer. There's no justice in the world, mate!

  6. Sorry about the trip, but these days having a job is (for some) a luxury (at least in in Spain with 25% officila unemployemnt... there's always someone worse off.

    As for the asnwers, brilliant: a wargamer, body, heart and soul

    PS: OK, now after reading the post I understand the question of throwing dice across the room; I thought it meant in sheer anger (for losing a game or similar) but it means accidentally... yes dice bumping on the floor tend to have strange physical properties and to gain speed, defying the laws of friction; this is specially true in wargaming clubs.

    1. Very true, Benito. I'm counting my blessings. As for the dice throwing - I think Phil possibly DID mean to ask whether they'd been chucked across the room in anger. I've not done that, but they've almost gone as far on one of two of my attempts at rolling. The strange physical properties of dice - yes....very, very spooky! :)

  7. Say hello at DragonMeet, I'll be there demoing OGRE from SJG.

    1. Ashley, I shall certainly do so! Great to know you'll be there as well!

  8. I've been practising my English the days before the show so I could understand what you should say. I had to do it with a team mate of you. He had an awfull accent! :-D
    (Just kidding, he was very kind, and had tears in his eyes! Believe it or not!)
    PS: for your team mate, I was the guy with a white t-shirt with the Nappie on it! ;-)

    But now I understand why they laughed when I asked for you. They drunk the champagne! :-D

    Serious now, I wish you better luck for the next show! And we see eachother next year at the next CRISIS!


    1. Peter, I'm so sorry not to have made the trip. I was really looking forward to meeting up. Hope to catch you at Crisis next year!

  9. What a shame about Crisis!! I bet the air was blue? Me and Fran were talking, we may try and make Crisis next year!

    1. Thanks Ray. The air was certainly was blue for a considerable while!! Hope (fingers crossed) to see you there next year!

  10. Sorry about the trip, but the Q&A was full of great answers of which many sound very similar to myself!


    1. Thanks Christopher! I thought you may well be a kindred spirit!

  11. Hi Sidney,

    I used your answers to Phil Broeder's list for a wider analysis of the questions. You might be interested in the results. See here:


  12. And here's part two



    1. Jur - many thanks indeed for these posts, which I really enjoyed!

  13. Hi Sidney, sorry you didn't make it to Crisis.

    I made it, but only just. I did have a quick chat with some of your chums in the bar.


    On the plus side I have nagged my club committee into considering taking a club demo to next years Crisis. Wonders will never cease.


    1. Jim, once again, I am so sorry. I feel so disappointed not to have got there, especially because I mentioned to people like you that I was coming! I very much hope to see you next year, though, and we can enjoy that beer then!!


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