Monday, June 9, 2014

Question and Answer Time

Conrad Kinch is fine fellow who writes the Joy and Forgetfulness blog.  I really enjoy reading his blog. It's chock full of wit, Napoleonics, Kursk, and kittens at the moment. I luve kittens me, mind you having become allergic to them in my thirties its all sort of theoretical rather than practical now. But I digress.

 It seems the Liebsters are making the rounds again and Mister Kinch was kind enough to nominate me.  By the rules of the thing I am ineligible but I so enjoyed reading Conrad's answers to the questions he was posed, I thought it would be churlish to not reply in kind.

So here now are the question followed by answers. Revolutionary innit? This paradigm shift may change the world as we know it.

1. You have a particular style of wargaming, how did you fix on it and why does it appeal to you? 

OOh stumped at One! It just sort of happened. I have always enjoyed miniatures and like to use them as a tool to try and understand why certain things turned out the way they did. Oddly enough that led to separating the superficial aspects of uniforms and such and concentrating on processes and motivations. It's all very pretentious when written out like that but put another way, by setting games in an alternate reality I can introduce over the top personalities and events just for fun while experimenting in the lab so to speak.

2. A lot of blogs tend to peter out after a dozen posts or so.  Your endurance stands out. What has kept you in the game? 

Simples! If I stopped using my toys my lovely lady wife might want the spare bedroom back : ) Seriously though, taking the time to photograph and write about games has helped me keep some focus and motivation although even so burnout occurs from time to time.

3. Time and money no object. What is your dream wargames project?

Colonial gaming with those lovely 54mm painted metal figures. The spectacle of the thing would be simply splendid.

4. What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?

Generally speaking I slog through two books at a time. One fiction, one non-fiction. The last finished was City of Strife by William King. Mister King first came to my attention as the author of the original Gotrek and Felix stories published by Games Workshop when they first started their literary venture. City of Strife is a non-GW series of books about, well, Kormak, a knight of a holy order who is tasked with hunting down demons and deviant spell casters. It's written very much in the Conan vein although with more of a Medieval than pre-historic setting. It's the fifth book in the series and I very much enjoyed the previous entries.

5. Smoker or non smoker?

Used to enjoy the odd cigar before my circumstances changed. Never cared for cigarettes. Can stil remember the wonderful aroma of my Grand Father's pipe when feeling a bit melancholy.

6. Our shared hobby is full of some pretty odd characters. Whose the strangest chap you've ever come across through wargaming?

You know I can't really think of any to single out.  I've always been something of a strange magnet, and my wife assures me that even a trip to the grocery store will result in odd encounters if I am along for the ride. The man yelling into his cell phone about the frozen chicken was well beyond any wargamer I've encountered.  "Strange" is a continuum or something like that. Perhaps its me?

7. Figure painting. Pleasure or chore?

CHORE. I like to think I'm rather good at it but unless its a special character I would much rather have someone else do it.

8. What is your preferred tipple?

Well I do enjoy gin and tonic when its hot out. Wards off he malaria you know.

9. Do you have a prefered ruleset or did you write your own? How did you settle on it?

I've always been a western history buff, that is the American West. Naturally this is also one focus of my gaming although admittedly not one that has often appeared on this blog. When I got back into the post baby hobby scene in the 90's I stumbled on Piquet which I used to play all the time. These days it is my favorite unplayed game. Don't' know why.

Then having read about a set called "Six Gun Sound" on the Colonial Wars Yahoogroup, I took a chance and placed an order. Correspondence with the the author, Ed Teixeira, led to a long standing friendship and co-authoring. So at this point I mostly write rules that present the kind of game I like to play.

I would be remiss not to mention the various rules written by Gavin Syme of Alternative Armies. These rules include the current incarnations of Flintloque as well as the superb Erin, the last being a game of skirmishes in mythological Ireland. Splendid stuff both in terms of mechanics and dedication to background and theme. do I settle on them? I like to read rules to see how others approach a given topic. These days I really don't read as many as I used to. There are a lot of recycled ideas out there and the increasing cost of rule books in general has put me off speculative buying.

So first comes the research. What makes a given period unique? What did commanders of that period and at that level of command have to think about? Sometimes you get lucky and find someone that shares your views has already written a set of rules that focuses on what you want the focus on. Otherwise its off to write some new rules.

For example when reading about battalion, brigade, and even division commanders in the Napoleonic Wars I found several references to commanders fretting over the skirmishers. Too few and your line is subject to harassment. Too many and your line becomes too thin. Worse yet once you send them out you may never get them back. The skirmish line takes on a life of its own so to speak. Never having found any game that handled skirmishers in a way that felt right to me was one of the reasons Muskets and Shakos was written.

And of course one can always dig out Featherstone and enjoy a good think and a good game! An author encouraging gamers to write their own rules?  Extraordinary!

10. Would you say you are a club wargamer or a loose association of friends sort of operation?

Definitely a loose association type. Mind you adulthood has taken quite a toll as friends move, have kids, and all the usual things that break up such groups.

Back in the 80's I found a copy of Table Top Games' Pony Wars, being a game of movie themed combat in the old west. The great thing about this game is that all of the players take the part of US Army officers and the game system handles all of the hostiles and non-combatants.

This sort of co-operative/solo game approach is one that has stuck with me and I try to incorporate this element into all of my designs. I have much more fun playing with my friends than against them.

Sadly my current semi-regular opponent, my eleven year old, does not share that view : )

11. Are you "out" at work - would your non wargaming friends know about your hobby?

The only work I have been doing lately is sporadically writing wargames rules so that's a bit on the nose. The pay isn't great but you can't beat the working conditions :)

However even back when I was going to school and worked part time in a men's wear store, I did mange to get a fairly active campaign of gladiatorial combat  going using Yaquinto's Man, Myth, and Magic. After school while working at IBM I would often bring figures to work to show my pals. Most never realized how interesting history actually is, which I put down to a failure of our educational system. What could be more interesting than history? Almost every fictional story has some basis in fact and history is full of well over the top characters.

A bit paradoxical given my love of fantasy and sci-fi but that's my story and I;m sticking to it!

If you have made it this far, thanks for stopping by!


  1. Enjoyed reading your answers. I think you do qualify for the award by the way. You definitely deserve it.

  2. A wonderful read, full of insight! Thank you!

  3. A worthy nomination...a darned good read, too.

  4. Great stuff MC. I couldn't agree more on the co operative approach.

  5. Gentlemen, you are all very welcome. I am always uneasy talking about myself. Glad you enjoyed it.