We have just returned from a two week visit to the UK to spend Christmas and the New Year with our grandchildren. As might be expected there was no opportunity for anything to do with Wargaming, and I was really surprised that I found the enforced break quite enjoyable.
For more years than I care to remember Wargaming has taken up a major part of my life. For more than 30 years I painted model soldiers at every opportunity. Almost every day I would spend at least an hour, and often two or three, painting. The result was a comprehensive Napoleonic army in 6mm, 18mm and 28mm.
It started with 20mm Airfix in 1969, which were replaced by Hinton Hunt and Miniature Figurines 20mm. Those in turn were replaced with 25mm Miniature Figurines, and then by 28mm Elite and Front Rank.
My first 15mm were again Miniature Figurines, later replaced by 18mm AB figures.
The 6mm were Heroics and Ros. This was never my favourite scale, and they were never replaced.
In 2006 I retired and moved to Spain to live. As part of the planning for the move I decided to downsize my three collections by 50%, which involved a lot of selling on Amazon. That in itself was a major project carried out over a six month period.
Throughout 1980s and 1990s my Wargaming was confined to a group of friends who played on my 12 x 6 foot wargames table.
Jan and I anticipated that it would be difficult to recruit a new band of wargamers here in Spain, and so it proved. We had already decided to reduce the size of our wargames table to 6x6 foot, which is quite sufficient for just two players.
But strangest of all was my decision to abandon painting figures and concentrate on actual table top Wargaming. Until 2006 most of my energy went into painting model soldiers and building scenery. One evening a week of Wargaming was all I could manage. And even then I was usually the umpire and got very little figure handling done.
After a year trying to make suitable contacts here in Spain we finally gave up the attempt and decided to concentrate on Wargaming together. This was to prove a good decision, and has led to the best Wargaming I have experienced over more than 40 years.
I spent about three months planning how to achieve a steady supply of good wargames. They would have to provide wargames which would allow me to use all of my model soldiers, plus all of my considerable collection of buildings and scenery. I decided on a fictional campaign based on 1813. It would cover all of Europe from Hamburg in the north to Seville in the south. From Lisbon in the west to Vienna in the east. There would be five theatre’s, each with its own French and allied army.
It started as a solo campaign, but after a year or so I started to lose interest. That was when I decided to turn it into a PBEM campaign. Jan and I would still fight the wargame, but three French and three allied players would command the map movement.
As we enter into the third year of the PBEM campaign I am delighted with the impact it has had on my Wargaming. Each phase of the campaign only lasts about 4 to 6 months, and I can then start again with a new army in a different location. I am on the sixth phase, and am grateful that I have been able to recruit sufficient players for each phase. The PBEM campaign rules have been rewritten at the end of each phase, and are now quite sturdy and have stood the test of time.
I enjoy the PBEM campaign more than ever, and the input from a changing group of players keeps me on my toes.
The short break has allowed me to review the current state of play, and I am quite happy with how things are. I now have to get back into the campaign and sort out the next move. It’s a “pen and paper” type of campaign. I keep the records on the computer, but it is not in any way campaign assisted. All movement and records are manual. So after even a short break it will take a couple of days to get back into it.