Saturday, 2 April 2016

Wargaming Nostalgia – Charge

Since the end of my PBEM campaign my wargaming has slowed down.   Consequently I have had more time to ponder and reflect.   I thought it might be interesting, at least for me, to record my early wargame influences.   So over the next few weeks I will write a blog about each major influence.

As a child I was no more interested in toy soldiers than my friends.   Two things stick in my mind.   When I was about 8 years old my uncle bought me a large box of Britain’s metal toy soldiers.   They were British guardsmen.   They were the first present I can remember getting really excited about.   I played with them for years but never added to them, they were much too expensive.

My second memory is seeing a large collection of model soldiers in the window of my local newspaper office.   No idea what make or size, but I remember how colourful and impressive they looked.

In my early teens I made a few Airfix models but never bothered with the soldiers.

In 1967 I painted my first model soldier.   I was in the army at the time and saving to get married.    To pass the long evenings I decided to make my nephew a diorama of the Trooping of the Colour.   I bought the Airfix Guards Band and a dozen boxes of the Guards Colour Party.  The painting was pretty basic, but acceptable.  I made a wooden box and stuck the figures on the bottom.   My nephew was very pleased.

In 1968 I found a copy of “Charge or How to Play Wargames” in the garrison library.   I had never heard of wargames before and was fascinated by the glossy photographs.   The text was easy to read and understand and the rules simple and easy to follow.

My wife was also interested and read the book after me.   I did not find this at all unusual, although I now realise that it was by no means normal.   We had played cards and board games so it seemed quite natural to try wargaming together.

I did not realise what a profound influence it would have on our future.


CelticCurmudgeon said...

Many thanks for sharing those early moments with your readers. In some ways they parallel my own and in others not so much. What is very impressive was the gap which existed between childhood "play" and getting into war games as an adult. In my case, the interim was filled with board games, mostly from Avalon Hill, and I really did not venture into miniatures until I was in my late twenties. My first books were a couple by Don Featherstone, also available from the public library. You are very, very lucky in having a spouse who would be wiling to play and who, I gather, more than tolerated your passion for toys. My wife had her hobbies and I had mine and never the twain should meet!
I'm looking forward to reading further instalments.
Best regards,

Jacko said...

From a lone copy of charge to running a massive online campaign - quite the impact I say ! Cheers Paul

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Jerry

Don Featherstone also had a great influence on us, as I shall explain in a later post. I now appreciate that I was very fortunate that Jan was just as interested in wargaming as I was, but at the time it seemed very natural. Lucky that she was because I doubt very much that I would have become so involved otherwise. Thanks for your comment.

thistlebarrow said...

Hi Jacko

Thanks for your comment. "Charge" was a very impressive book, and very well written. It was hardback and printed on glossy paper. The photographs were black and white, but there were plenty of them. The rules were well explained and there was a sample wargame, all well illustrated. As far as I know it was the first contempory wargame book, and far ahead of its time. So it is not too surprising that it had such an influence.

Not only did it introduce us to wargaming, but also a lifelong interest in anything Napoleonic. It was certainly a lucky day when I found "Charge" on the shelf of that tiny garrison library