The Grand Duchess is away at another conference this weekend, in our old stomping grounds -- the delightful Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Minnesota -- darn her, so it is just the Young Master Paul and me plus the cats at home. A nice quiet, chilly and wet November day outside. My favorite kind of weather. So, while the Young Master plays with his cars and trucks just overhead on the first floor, I have stolen away down here to Zum Stollenkeller for a hobby little thinking and writing on the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog.
Speaking of cats, those dastardly beasts Gunnlaug and her brother Onyx (much as we love them) have recently discovered that they can jump up onto table surfaces. And where do you think they went first? Yep, the wargaming table here in the basement not terribly far from where their litter tray resides. And they laid waste to the Neu Sittangbad game that has been unfolding very gradually since last February between General de Latte (graciously played by Mr. Greg Horne of Australia) and me. Luckily, no toy soldiers were actually damaged, but I had to gather, organize, and put everything away for the time being. Blame our last cat the late Princess Rannveig for my complacency and false sense of security. She was never interested in the wargaming table or the figures upon it and only made off with one plastic artillery figure from the painting table once several years ago. Neu Sittangbad is, returning to the present, temporarily on hold. Sigh.
But, all is not lost. On the suggestion of the Grand Duchess (she really is great), I will move the table from the large central room of the basment into the slightly smaller southwestern section, which can be closed off to the cats. The only catch is that the room dimensions will require shrinking the table from it's current 6'x10' to 6'x8', but it will still work well for battles in miniature, and, as one wargaming friend pointed out, that extra space is probably unnecessary anyway unless one is refighting a massive battle like Leipzig, Borodino, or Gettysburg. So, problem solved, and I should be able to lay out our game once again, which we can hopefully resume and conclude before year's end.
On other fronts, I'm slowly developing another article on painting, and this time I will attempt to be controversial, hopefully provoking some heated debate and discussion, something that seems largely absent from much the hobby press these days. A blogging acquaintance made that point in a recent entry of his, noting that, for example, that much of what appears in the wargaming press these days is useless eye candy, too often featuring professionally designed/assembled terrain that is meant more to support the advertising and marketing of various hobby related gear than it is to supplement well-written articles.
By contrast, the old newsletters once edited and issued by Don Featherstone, while featuring few if any illustrations or photographs, were thought provoking and sometimes controversial, but always with an eye toward presenting honest opinion and assessment of one feature or another of wargaming. Now, I've never seen any of these old newsletters myself, but I certainly like the idea of generating a bit more thought and (heated?) discussion than seems to be the case currently. Just an idea. What are your own thoughts on the matter?
Finally, desert island wargaming. Although I'm not British, I am more than familiar with the various series of Desert Island Disks radio programs over the years thanks to my one time addiction to the old BBC World Service via shortwave radio, which sometimes featured these programs. . . before its funding was slashed during the late 1990s-early 2000s, and the range of programming severely reduced. Once in a while, I still tune in online or via my wife's I-pod, but frankly a rolling news format hour after hour is duller than dishwater. . . and even soul destroying. It may be much cheaper to produce that sort of programming, but that's about the only advantage I can see. I am, however, now a big fan of BBC Radio 4 which comes very close to presenting the eclectic mix of news and interesting programming that used to be presented by the World Service. But I digress!
The point is this. If your resources were unlimited, how would you indulge yourself with regard to wargaming? A question that has come up recently in my tiny circle of wargaming friends. So, maybe not quite desert island wargaming in the strict sense, with limiting yourself to only a few (or just one) particular thing, but an interesting and amusing mental exercise in any case. So, here is what I plan to do if I win the lottery tomorrow.
If time and money suddenly were no object, I would stay the course with mid-18th century fictitious armies but add a few more units (which I am doing slowly already) and increase my table size to, maybe, 6'x12' or 6' x14' simply because I've got a lot of nice scratch-built scenery that cannot possibly all fit onto my current tabletop and leave adequate room for troop maneuvers. Otherwise, I'm really extremely happy with where my hobby has finally landed after many years of dabbling in 15mm late Napoleonics, flitting from one unit to another without ever truly finishing very much.
What I would REALLY like, however, is a larger room NOT in the basement. As pleasant as the semi-finished Stollenkeller is, I'd prefer something more along the lines of an early 20th century country gentleman's study, or my perception of that type of room. Tasteful oriental rugs (nice imitations would do), leather wing-backed armchairs, and built-in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves along one wall. Plenty of wall space would also be nice, for some military print reproductions that I've never managed to frame and hang despite hauling them around with me since the 1980s in some cases. Finally, a nice bar table in the corner featuring a selection of single malts, good rum, brandy, gin, etc. Pretentious? Moi? ;-) And of course, the wargaming table in the center of everything with easy access to all four sides and room beneath for the secure storage of scenery and figures.
But wait! There's more. If we are to get really expansive, small armies of early mid-19th century (the 1840s more or less) 30mm old school figures (Spencer Smith, Holger Eriksson, Tradition, and Willie), painted variously in the uniforms of Prussia, Bavaria, Wurtemburg, Hannover, Brunswick, Denmark, Britain, France, and Russia. A totally fanciful and whimsical combi-nation (Oh, oh! There's a new wargmaing term there) of figures and uniforms in the spirit of H.G. Wells armies as seen in Little Wars.
So, that is my wargaming wish if resources were unlimited. What are yours?