Thursday, 27 January 2011

Jalon Valley Wargames Club


When we moved to Spain in 2006 we thought it would be a good idea to establish a wargames club. It would be along the lines of the one we had run in UK for 20 odd years. We would run if from the house, provide the table, figures and scenery and fight our wargames. It had worked well in UK, and we were confident that with so many retired ex pats in this area it would work well here also.

We put a weekly ad in the local free English language paper, and contacted them to do an article on us. They printed an article with photographs, and we waited to see what would happen

Our first contact was a chap who had never wargamed, but was interested. We invited him along and he turned out to be a really pleasant chap, and he brought a bottle of wine with him. He came each week for a couple of months, but I always felt that he was more interested in the lunch break, when we would sit in the sun and drink his bottle of wine with a plate of sandwiches.

Three or four weeks after the article in the paper we had a second approach. This one was a long established wargamer, just what we were looking for. His period was not napoleonic, but he was willing to give it a try. Unfortunately our first contact did not seem comfortable with the new member, and soon disappeared. No reason, no explanation. One week he was there, the next he was gone.

Over the next month or so we had four or five contacts. All were invited along to sample what we had to offer. All were either completely new to wargaming, or had not gamed for at least ten years. None were prepared to commit to a weekly, or even monthly, game. All went the way of our first contact.

So for a year or so we had just one "member". He came every week and accepted the game on offer. He never seemed to enjoy the game, and he never contributed much to our enjoyment of the game.

About this time I had a call from UK. An established wargamer had heard about us from his father who lives a few miles away. Could he call in next time he was on holiday? A few weeks later he came to visit us for an afternoon. We played a game and he found fault with some aspects of our rules. I never mind this, providing it is constructive criticism. During our after game coffee and cake on the naya he told us that he was involved in writing a commercial set of rules, and he would like to use some of our ideas. He would also like us to play test the subsequent rules.

There followed an interesting couple of months. I never felt that the rule development was going anywhere, and time would prove me right. However I did get a lot of good ideas for my own rules, which we still use today. It also resolved the problem with our sole remaining "club member". He was also involved in the play testing, and when that faded away so did he.

Eventually we accepted that the club was not going to go anywhere. We were not really bothered, we much preferred our own games anyway. We found that putting on games for others was more trouble than it was worth. We both enjoyed the same sort of game, there was no tension or disagreement. If we found a problem with the rules we just changed it, and carried on.

We shelved the idea of a wargames club, but left the free ad - just in case.

Another year passed, and out of the blue a lady rang to ask if her son (aged 12) could join. We explained that we were a retired couple and could not see a 12 year old fitting in. She would not take no for an answer, so we invited them along to see the set up. Very pleasant afternoon, but not a snowballs chance in hell that we would invite the child along regularly.

Last week another telephone call out of the blue. This time a sixteen year old who would like to join the club. We explained the situation, but he sounded so keen to learn that I did not have the heart to say no. So we have another visitor this weekend.

Is there any point in the Jalon Valley Wargames Club? Probably not. If we have not found anyone after five years, then it is a good bet that we will not. However over the five years since we started it, it has provided us with some distraction and an appreciation of how much we prefer our own wargames.

We will leave the ad in the free paper. You never know.............

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