Out of context I know, but I think it's an appropriate starting point for what I want to write about today. Well, I best make a start then: Age and the Wargamer. I've been thinking a good deal of late about the issues arising from age as they affect my hobby, my participation in various aspects of it, and the future likelihood of continuing along in the present mode. At the turn of the year you may recall I decided that I would start no new periods in future but restrict myself to additions to the several we already play here in GHQ. I've found this surprisingly liberating as you'll have read and I see no change in my stance as likely to occur. Of course I still pour over new releases, but in a third person kind of way. I like figures I see, I know I'd enjoy making lists, collecting units and painting them up as best I can, but I have no urge to buy anything different any more. I am content with what I have to play. In fact I'm considering a modest cull, a small exercise in downsizing, by selling off my 20mm Vietnam skirmish game complete and also the 28mm figures for my Sherlock Holmes Pulp Game. Nothing may come of this, but the thought is planted front and centre, so who knows? We shall see.
What prompted me to write today was a visit I made last week to an old acquaintance, ostensibly to play a Black Powder game set in the imaginary British Intervention in the USA during the 1860's. We did play a few moves, but my friend's ill health brought the game to a sudden stop. I say ill health, but in fact he is terminally ill, but still keeping up with his hobby as best he can. There were masses of figures on the painting table in the process of completion to add to the hordes around his games room. In his circumstances I don't know if I could do the same, but it certainly made me reflect on my own issues of aging in the hobby. Another event earlier today also provided food for thought, as I went to Barrage in Stafford for a couple of hours. After two hours wandering around the three halls, shopping, and chatting to a few chaps I knew I found I was glad to leave, I'd actually had enough. But I think back to shows of yore, we set off so early the birds were still asleep, gamed and shopped all day, packed up in no time and then drove home! Maybe even painting the same evening. I just can't, and indeed no longer want, to pursue my hobby like that.
I'm still buying new figures though for existing periods. Take today for example: a pack of Footloose Workers' Militia Characters; two packs of Warlord British Snipers in Ghillie suits; a pack of the same company's BEF Infantry Section;and lastly, two packs of Bolt Action dice. I almost bought a collection of 28mm VBCW figures for £15 for 24,but on reflection thought I didn't need more, and walked on by. Painting, although still a joy, is occasionally difficult with hand and eye issues but I hope to carry on for now. When though, I ask, will I stop? Gradually, fading away like an old soldier? Or suddenly, as a friend I know just stopped on his 65th birthday? Will I even know until I arrive at the decision? I certainly couldn't afford mass painting by a third party, so for now I must chip away at The Lead Pimple as and when I feel like it.
We come to gaming next in my discourse. Rules are my particular problem, or rather remembering them correctly. Here in GHQ I have come to the conclusion that as far as we can all the games from the SYW to 1914 will be played using Black Powder. We play too many games you see and use too many rule sets. Even the five sets I've written I find I confuse, a kind of Hail Powder & Shotte problem! Age may not weary them, but the years certainly condemn.
All is not doom and gloom though. I still get great pleasure from this wonderful hobby and my many friends and acquaintances which fill it. Joy abounds still, though perhaps not with the same degree of intensity I once felt. Wargaming has become for me as much a social as a gaming hobby. Only two weeks ago I was over in Nottingham for a couple of days with Colin Ashton at Wargames Illustrated HQ playing a large(for me anyway) FRW game. Since coming home we've written an article about the experience and exercise and written the captions for the 18 pictures in the layout. But I got as much pleasure from the company of Colin, his wife Katherine, Dan, Duncan, Jamie and all the Battlefront chaps who kept popping in to see how it was going as from the game itself, which I lost after seven turns if you ask. I hope this aspect will continue as long as I do and that I never become one of those curmudgeonly chaps who lament the passing of plasticine and banana oil and the glory days of real wargaming!