David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occassional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Age Shall Not Weary Them...

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!


  1. A really thought provoking and also for me enlightening piece. You've got a few years on me (not many) but I have also made some big decisions about my wargaming as you know. The game at WI was a pretty significant experience insofar that our combined enjoyment of the hobby, the FRW, and being able to put the world to rights made it such a great couple of days, and I am quite chuffed that we have an article in WI as a result of our efforts. Till the next time.

  2. Very deep Mr. B, but something that will effect us all at some point so worth our consideration sooner or later, the problem is our little men are always worth more to us than folk wish to pay, but I suppose one has yo bite the bullet.
    Never did find any of that strange banana elixir myself.

  3. Much to think about for me ( I am in my late fifties) in your post. My late wife,when terminally ill, like your friend, took up a new hobby learning new skills and really got much out of it. I guess it was something she had always wanted to have a go at.
    I continue to buy but have been reflecting on this too of late. I try to fill a void with lead. Perhaps I will give up adding stuff but not quite yet...

  4. A very thought provoking post David. While I'm quite a bit younger then yourself at 48 I've already found myself wanting to reduce my periods and focus more on what I already have. The same could be said of rules as I find myself less inclined to learn new ones.


  5. An excellent piece, I too have decided no more new periods even if I do threaten such now and again. I now have my two main periods and a few skirmish type games and I really need to be happy with that. I do enjoy painting and may add to what I have, does that count?

  6. Thought provoking as always David. Whilst I have gamed on and off for a long time my hobby is currently at an all time high. I am not sure it will stay at this level or reduce. As a youngster of course I can't commit to no new periods but I am careful and expansion is planned rather than random.🙂

  7. A thoughtful post.
    I didn't start the hobby until I was 66, some 3 years ago, so haven't your memories but even in that time I've managed to make many (expensive) mistakes with scales, periods and rules :)

  8. Interesting post recently I went 2 years without buying any figures because I wanted to concentrate on getting my Italian wars figures painted. Now that I feel I'm making progress I've started buying, building and painting for the next project, if there is a pile of unpainted figures when I go I don't really care as they will have given me pleasure if only in the possible.
    Best Iain

  9. Well stated David although I am a young 60 I too have considered what I have to paint and what I play with my last great purchase was some Indian Mutiny Figures from Empress, for use with Sharp Practice, but also like you I have stopped buying other sets of rules and concentrate on the one or two sets I have for each period, otherwise its new learning and more terrain for another period or rule set and that is not what the hobby is about, when I left school we only played WWII& ACW, and then thanks to Lamming Miniatures Napoleonic's, but very simple rules and much enjoyment from our games. I still like Featherstone and Grant rules for that reason, also Black Powder and you ECW set are the most used. If you do wish to sell the Vietnam 20mm let me know.

  10. Thanks to everyone who took the time to reply, I enjoyed reading and thinking on your responses. I hope my following post will restore confidence that neither I nor the Blog will be disappearing any time soon (DV)! It is the first with pictures hosted on Imgur, that 'Other Site' and its blackmail can go to hell as far as I'm concerned!