03 November 2012

Random Saturday Thoughts. . .

Desert island wargaming wishes, anyone?

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?

8 comments:

Peter Douglas said...

Stokes
1. A large room with lots of windows - think solarium.
2. Room for a permanent table 8x6 with room to add leaves and walk around space.
3. Cabinets with glass doors (think Ikea kitchens) to store my toys.
4. Work bench with lots of space (kitchen counter sized) and drawers for tools.
5. Figures - uh lots of 'em in many different eras/genres and ships too.
Thanks for getting the thinkery working.

Cheers
PD

Fitz-Badger said...

Unlimited resources?
My first thought would be to retire so I could have more time and energy for gaming and hobby stuff.
Beyond that? Move to a different house with more space in a different city. I still wouldn't be looking for a huge table, but some larger dedicated space so I could have 2 or 3 tables set up with different games going at any given time, plenty of space for floor to ceiling bookcases and cases for games and glass-fronted cases for miniatures and terrain, a desk for painting and building, and all the conveniences of home.

Bluebear Jeff said...

I would love to have a good-sized collection of 40mm ECW armies.

I find the period very interesting (even though it is difficult here in western Canad to even find anyone who has ever heard of the English Civil Wars).

As for painting controversies, I have long maintained that much too much attention is paid to painting horses. I do mine very simply (less than two minutes of total brush time each thanks to the use of inks) because I feel that the focus should be on the RIDER, not the horse.


-- Jeff

tradgardmastare said...

Stokes-
1) Retirement and energy/time
2)Arts and Crafts cottage ( furnished in orginal style and decor) with an orchard and suitable garden and 54mm Armies to play Funnylittlewars al fresco
3)Dedicated wargames room suitably equipped
4) study with area to leave ongoing painting projects out

Steve-the-Wargamer said...

Stokes, for the merest flavour of how good the writing was in the Newsletter, can I recommend you read the article "At the Colonels Table"... the Vintage Wargaming blog reproduced these, and they can be found (in reverse order) here:

http://vintagewargaming.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/At%20the%20Colonel%27s%20Table

Phil Olley said...

Sounds like the Sittangbad game ended in a "Cat-astrophe" (see what I did there..?!!!)
Nice to see the Desert Island Wargaming idea from Classic Wargamer's Journal being resurrected Stokes.
Best wishes
Phil

A J said...

Ah, Desert Island Discs, with the mellow tones of Roy Plumbley coming over the air on BBC Radio 4, 6.30pm on a Monday! I remember it well.

My list would be...
1. A room large enough for an 8' x 5' table.
2. Cabinets like those Peter Douglas mentions. We spend enough time painting figures - keeping dust off the little fellows is a good idea.
3. Wall space for paintings/posters.
4. Shelves for gaming books.
5. A small fridge for soft drinks.
6. Space for a work bench

CelticCurmudgeon said...

My Dear Ulrich,

The cat skin gloves worn by the choir master's wife is tribute to how justice was meted out to the feline perpetrators of the Great Painting Table Raid.

A number of years ago while browsing for a snack in the pantry, I heard a strange sound of something being crunched. When I entered the room where my painting table was located I saw two sights.
Both were riveted into memory. On the floor sat the arch-bishopal hound happily crunching my newly painted soldiers. But on the table sweeping more figures onto the floor was - The Cat. After I shooed both out of the room I saw to my horror that the cat had eaten all the bristles of my paint brushes. The horror!!! At that point I placed an official ban upon all felines as spawns of Satan. The latter I realize was an overreach - they are more likely the familiars of witches and wizards.
In any case, I hope that you enjoy the pleasure of re-assembling your toys and picking up the game.

Gerardus Magnus

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