David Bickley's Wargames Blog

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

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Dotting your 'i's and crossing your 't's!

It can't be all fun and games in life, especally if you are a Wargames magazine editor I should imagine! After all, the hobby we all share is so diverse as to be as wide as it is high quite literally. Producing a monthly, or bimonthly, magazine must be a real strain sometimes, especially when you consider that the writers you depend on for articles are mostly willing amateurs who would probably rather be painting, modelling or gaming rather than writing! Now, I no longer buy all three hobby magazines, so this next piece is based rather on what other bloggers have mentioned rather than first hand experience. I gather from this that there has been an outbreak of the perenial question of how to grow the hobby, to ensure it has a future. Why that should exercise folks is a moot point, after all when I have stepped off this mortal coil why should I care what happens to the hobby of wargaming, whatever form it takes? But, being human, I suppose we all do care in our own way, even if it is only to mull over what will happen to our collections when 'the' time comes!

Having been recently thinking of this very question myself after Kevin mentioned the subject on a recent visit here I thought I might address what we might all try to do in our own small way to encourage the continued growth of a passtime we all find so rewarding and enjoyable. But first, a disclaimer: "You can take a horse to water, but you can't make him drink!" By this old English folk saying I take to mean that you can try ever so hard to interest someone in what interests you, but that's no guarentee of interest on their part. Should we shrug our shoulders then and walk away? Well, its probably less trouble but we all like to think we have something to offer our fellows I'm sure, at least I do. So here, in no real order, are my suggestions for fostering the growth of our hobby among others who show a passing interest, artfully arranged under the letters 'i' and 't' to encourage anyone who reads this to remember the crux of the matter!

"Interest" ~ I know it sounds trite and obvious but if someone has no interest in history,things military or playing games then its an uphill struggle to bring them to wargaming I should suggest. First, find a spark of interest in someone who shares your interest in those aspects of life. If they don't, then don't waste your time and effort would seem good advice. Move on, nothing to see here!
"Invitation" ~ I was readng a blogger's account of games at recent shows and was struck by a comment about demonstration games where no effort was made to engage the passing trade. If you don't invite people in, whether it be folk looking at your game or a new potential member at a club night, then you have missed your opportunity to bring into our hobby, and your circle even, a new member. Interaction with other people is at the heart of our hobby after all.
"Inclusion" ~ having broken the ice and welcomed in the newcomer, or the passing punter at a show, inclusion is surely the next step to take. A new club member needs to feel both welcome and included in the club's activities if they are to stick. After all, it takes a while to build up a gaming force, even for those bijou games where 50 figures is an army! So be charitable in your dealings with the new member or the chap {or chapess} who joins in your game. You may make not just a ready opponent, but a friend for life!
"Inspiration" ~ apparently Arthur Harman seems to have been recently suggesting that we should do things badly, or perhaps he meant basically, to avoid putting off the newcomer! Can't agree with that in any form myself! If you have nothing to inspire you, nothing to aim for in any walk of life then where is the motivation to improve? So in wargaming we all need something that gives us the 'Wow' factor and spurs us on to better our own modest efforts. For myself, as a very average painter, modeller and gamer, I'm constantly motivated by the wonderful things I see at shows or every day on the web!

Speaking of the influence of the web, which can often seem more negative than positive on some Forum Boards we could all name, then the 'T's of my offering might be taken on board by us all:
"Temper your views" ~ when someone offers to show you something they've done, a new unit or a piece of terrain, or makes a contribution to a rules discussion don't jump down their throat. Pause, reflect, and then try to find some merit in what they do or say, however small.
"Tolerate others' efforts" ~ such tempering of your views in the short term will encourage you to show tolerance of others. Don't be a lace freak, a button counter or a tankoholic for goodness sake. These are models in what is only a game in the final analysis after all. Encouragement rather than the big stick always works best with most folk in the long run I've found.
"Tutor the newcomer" ~ well, we were all newcomers in this hobby once remember and someone took us into their circle and brought us on, so we could reach our present levels of enjoyment and of involvement. Now it might be your turn to give some time back, don't be found wanting and never confuse helpful advice with sharp criticism!
"Treat others as you would want to be treated" ~ probably the nub of what I'm trying to say really. If you can't or don't give of yourself in our hobby to others then there can be no growth and no future for it beyond the here and now. It costs nothing to be kind and welcoming in club situations or at a show/convention.

Things to think about perhaps? Well, that's really in your laps now I've said my piece. I think I have done, and hope to continue to do, my bit over the last 44 years as a club secretary; a demonstration and participation game host; a contributer to Wargames Illustrated, a teacher; a father; a grandfather now; and latterly as a blogger in a small way. Go you and do likewise, as the good book says.

Finally, on a lighter note, some of my latest painting for my ongoing projects ~
Two new bases of French skirmishers for the FRW project.
Trent Miniatures of course.

Very characterful figures. Think what they'd look like if I could paint!

The long tufts are a new trick for this old dog.

The start of a new VBCW unit ~ The Wolverhampton Workers' Militia.

The VBCW villain, the evil Lord Rawnsley!

The Warlord freebie with "Glory Hallelujah!".

There you have it then, my output for the last couple of weeks, none of it very wonderful but I enjoyed it!


  1. That's a well thought out piece David and I find myself agreeing with all of it especially the invitation and inclusion parts when we put on our demo games. We have often been criticised at some shows that we don't seem to be fighting the game, which is the whole point of the exercise. We put on displays to generate an interest then usually spend most of the time chatting to people about what we are putting on and inviting them to join in. If we wanted a game that's what we do back home. You also do yourself a disservice as I think you are more than an average painter and enjoying seeing what you produce, keep up the good work as you still inspire me even after all the years I have been reading your articles.

    1. Thanks Dave; nice to know someone appreciates my efforts! I always enjoy seeing your games.

  2. Well said, food for thought for everyone there.

    Like the rendition of Lord R, but evil, who moi?

    1. Well, if not evil, definitely naughty!

  3. Wise words there.

    Nice painting too.



  4. I think I have to agree.....fairly new to demonstrations and running my first participation game in a couple of weeks so will have your wise words in my ear 😀

    1. Good luck with your game Matt! Hope it's a winner!

  5. Very well done and fine points made David. Nice additions btw.


  6. Entertaining read (as usual) and excellent advice.

    1. Glad you enjoyed my contribution to the debate Matt.