Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Rules & music

As I expect most of us are, I am a bit of a music fan. I vividly recall the thrill of going into town on a Saturday morning after a week of uni to check out the secondhand record stores and see what I could find. You'd have ten or twenty bucks to spend, you'd pick up an album, head home, put it on, and really listen to it. You'd play it again. Then again. You'd play it over a couple of riggers with your flatmates. Then you'd play it again when you went to bed.

You'd get news that a new album was coming out, you'd get the date, and you'd go and line up outside the record store to make sure you got a copy. There was camaraderie. There were conversations. You could make friends based on a person's taste in music.

There were milestones. The first time that you heard something on a really decent stereo (INXS: The Swing). The first time you heard something on good headphones (Genesis: Genesis). The first time you bought an album (INXS: Kick). The first time you realised that you could say you liked certain albums and that would not be cool, whereas if you said you liked others it would be (Dire Straits: Brothers in Arms; Def Leppard: Hysteria).

Then there was the musical awakening, when you found something that made you go 'yeah!' (Deep Purple: Machine Head). Then you found something that made you want to tell everyone you knew about it, and lend it to them (Deep Purple: Made in Japan). Then you found something that made you realise music could lift you onto an entirely different plane, even if you didn't quite understand it (Led Zeppelin: Houses of the Holy). Then you find something that made you want to become a musician (Pink Floyd: Wish You Were Here).

And then you discover parties, booze, smokes, new mates, girlfriends, pubs, student flats, car stereos. You find something that you'd learned to play, and discover other people who'd learned to play that too.

Of course, when you buy, you buy vinyl.

And it's really good.

And then you get older. You look for a job. Hopefully you get one. You get married or settle down. You have kids or pets, and slowly music stops being the priority in your life. You still buy, but you listen in the car. You play a bit, but you're rusty, and you don't like the way you sound. You buy CDs. You use the skip button, which you never did before. You couldn't recite the track list of the last album you bought. In fact, you may not even remember where you got it, how much it cost, what else it was in competition with that day, where you'd heard of it, which of your mates would also like it, or its title.

It all gets a bit sad. Music is important, but it's those older albums you remember. You get a bit funny about some songs now. They make you think of people gone. You revisit scenes from your past. You muse over old times and old actions. You wonder if you were really the person you thought you were. Then you find there's some music you can't listen to in company. My uncle? Yeah, you met him at my wedding. Yep, he did love Pink Floyd. Saw them in London, you know. Yeah. He did. It was unexpected. Yeah, thanks. It was just one of those shitty things.  And now you can't listen to Comfortably Numb or Shine On You Crazy Diamond or Sorrow around other people anymore, and there's no way you could get all the way through Wish You Were Here on acoustic guitar for your kids.

And you know, wargaming gets to be a little bit the same. Not quite at the same intense level - there's no passion like teenage passion for music, after all! - but  the same general trend is recognisable. There is an introduction, a fumbling around, then growing certainty. There are significant books, rules, armies, games, people. You buy, read, play. You buy, you read, you might play. You buy, you intend to read, you don't. You buy. You stop buying.

But man, that game. I can't be sure what year that was now. Remember when that happened though? Remember, man? Remember that? That's what wargaming is all about.


  1. Yes, I STILL remember that game! Games have spawned a few memorable quotes too!

    1. Perhaps a blog post topic for a rainy day, Jonathan? Would love to hear some of your quotes!

  2. Late Teenager - The Blondie tickets went on sale for a concert at a venue 30 miles away - running for train, with ticket money in pocket, hands also in pockets, tripped and fell at the back of Woolworths car park. Saved my face, but had a large hole in the left knee of my jeans. Worth the effort - great concert!

    Early Teenager - There was no money at home, the bills were paid and food put on the table, but outside of that things were tight. I had discovered a wargame store on the far side of town. My father took me there, it was like Aladins Cave to me. I spotted a book, Napoleon Wargaming by Charles Grant, a lovely thing, but not something that I could have. Then my father asked me if I wanted it, who could say no, it was bought and taken home. I have no idea where the money came from to get it, probably petrol allowance in the first instance, but I don't know how it was ever sorted, it must have been difficult. Today my wargaming is rich, but is underpinned by precious moments such as this, which actually become more important over time.

    Wargame wise, in terms of product, we seem to have it pretty much fantastic now, but part of me feels that we lost something along the way, a certain naivety perhaps, before everything, including our hobby became somewhat almost professionalised.

    The wheel turns, but perhaps nothing tastes as sweet as our early years of exploration.

    1. Wow, a Blondie concert - that must've been something to see! Also know what you mean about parents finding money for things for their kids.

      Here's to all that early exploration!

  3. That resonated to my core - I found myself haunted by the palimpsest of my previous life until I moved to a different part of the country.
    The early 90s, in my parents’ attic, playing second edition 40k, Faith No More and Nirvana.

    1. Ha, early 90s, friend's basement, playing 3rd edition WHFB. Nirvana, Black Sabbath & bootleg Led Zeppelin!

  4. Aaron I feel you brother, but have to ask, are you going through mid life crisis? I'm in my late 50's and you nailed all the music I used to like and still do. I fumble around with my acoustic guitar and my grand kids run (literally) into the next room. I even have moments of why am I still doing this, I don't feel the same passion.

    So what I do is, do it when I do get the feeling. I embrace it for what it is, and I turn on Pandora (music streaming) and (honestly) listen to music from my generation that made me feel like you describe while I am doing a hobby thing.

    I think it is part of getting older, losing that innocence you wish you could get back, and the damn internet that is just a much of a curse to our old ways as it is a blessing to be able to communicate to someone that lives thousands of miles away that shares your interests.


    1. Nah, no midlife crisis, just the music I got into most was made before or around the time I was born!

      Yes, I have a few little musical appreciation rituals I go through every now and then, too. I suppose it's the same with books too though, isn't it? I will go back and re-read some books or short stories at times too. Amazing how true it is that you begin to appreciate the same music / book / picture for different reasons as you get older and have a bit more life experience behind you.

      (And keep on plunking away on that guitar!)


  5. Blasting Ragnar Blackmane with an Assault Cannon when we had an "agreement."

    Listening through "The Wall" end-to-end on headphones.

    Shooting down a Rams Air Cavalry dude and having him crash into and kill my Nepharite.

    Discovering Metallica.

    Having my Slann Mage Priest killed on the first shot of the game and my entire army fleeing.

    Hots on For Nowhere.

    Watching my Champion of Khorne get run over by a Rhino.

    The Truth from III Sides to Every Story

    Playing Battletech the first time.

    Drivin N Cryin


    It may be a bit less memorable and amazing these days, but the fun will always be there.

  6. Music - All this crap you kids listened to back then was already past my time, LOL. I barely recognize the names of the bands and wouldn't recognize any of the songs if I heard them, LOL. The popular music that I best recall would be late 1960's to the late 1970's. The Beatles of course, Jackson Browne, Al Stewart, Procul Harum, Blue Oyster Cult, Boston, Kansas. But really, even in childhood I preferred classical music. Played in the band throughout grade school, middle school, high school and college. Played Piano through age 18 (My best classical piece - Chopin's Polonaise "militaire" in A Major - super composition, lots of fun to play). Best though was playing in the (Marching) band for 4 year in college - touring Europe with the Band at the end of my Freshman Year (Bavaria, Switzerland, France, and Austria... seeing the bridge at Ratisbon/Regensburg). I was a pretty tame, studious guy, but drinking age was 18 then, and that's what we did on the bus trips back away games, while singing bawdy songs the whole way back. Good times, especially with my freind Tom with me. The time we were walking back from the Ice Hockey Rink parking lot (where we practiced drill when it was empty, which was any time except when a game was on) after an away game, both of us having consumed a pint of brandy over the course of the trip back, and I hit the thin, exposed ice at the corner of the rink (the rink was outdoors, and the enclosed ice oval), slipped and fell right on my butt. Tom, who was following me bursting out laughing at me, and then hitting the same invisible ice, slipping and falling on HIS butt right beside me. Fortunately no injury except to our pride, so we laughed our heads off, siting on the cold ground together for several minutes.

    My wife's original major was performance violin, before switching to something more practical.

    Smoking etc, heck no. Much too square for that, and no regrets in that regard!

    1. Gaming - started solo in Jr High school, finally found a group of guys to play with circa 10th grade, played almost every week if not more throughout HS. Our first and second campaigns, then discovering D&D and playing well into the small hours of the morning - nothing stronger than Tea with that, though. Cosmic Encounter. Rail Baron.

      Having Joe look up my dorm room a few weeks into college based on an article I'd written for the old NEWA Courier - Napoleonic games in the ROTC hanger with Column, Line, and Square. The wacky "Dukes of France" campaign for the Medieval French throne. Meeting Charlie and David Sweet, and playing at Charlie's home. Killing my own troops with their shooting cannons and catapults. Devising our own Ancient rules with a gridded board and shooting catapults Making our own shooting catapults from Masonite, coat hanger wire, rubber bands, epoxy, and the lids of Humbol paint tins with my friend and room mate Chuck... with replacement of the rubber bands, still working 40+ years later!

      The Warplan 5/5 PBM campaign after college. Geeting back into some regular gaming again in my last year of Medical school when Dave, Joe, and some others returned to the Hartford Area. The Thursday night group D&D with Dave as GM, and playing with noted game designer Joe Angiolillo and the state insurance commissioner at his home.

      The "Europe Way Back When" PBM campaign of exploration, trade, and conquest in Europe circa late 1500's during Residency.

      Discovering Piquet circa 199 and reinvigorating my wargaming for the next 20 years. Going to and running games at conventions (especially Historicon) with Joe, then Paul, then UK Tim and Jared. Winning some awards for same. Meeting Barry, who lives less than a mile away in the same tiny town. Our immense Wagram game at Historicon 2009. Our huge Borodino game at Historicon 2012.

      Writing rules and supplements (Band of Brothers 2nd edition for Piquet, Hostile Realms, Blunders on the Danube for FoB2.

      Blogging and the friends I've made through that... like Aaron! :-) The brief Chancellor Campaign for Starfleet Wars.

      Running our special Campaign in a Day events with Snappy Nappy.

      Discovering To the Strongest and introducing others to it.

      Gad, I love this hobby, and I find it no less fun than I did 45+ years ago. The role of Music in my life is way less than it was decades ago, but I'd happily play in a bugle corps type band again for parades and the like... just need to retire to have time for it all! :-)

      Seriously, my professional life has been very fulfilling, if a huge amount of time and work. I give that another 7 years or so...

  7. Great read, Peter! Thanks very much! Yeah, I've got a couple of Blue Oyster Cult, Beatles and Boston albums! Love the sound of that marching band trip (well, trips if you include the ice falls!). What an awesome experience.

    Ah yes, the Chancellor campaign! I'd forgotten about that. That was fun, if rather short-lived!


  8. Interesting post Aaron. Just listened to Wish You Were Here this afternoon!

  9. The enthusiasms of youth stay with is through the graying years. I have little taste for today's music, but fondly recall the music of my youth from the 60s through the 80s.

    Wargaming is a bit different in that we're living in the best days of the hobby. The variety of figure lines, terrain manufacturers, rules, etc. is staggering compared to, say, the 70s, when I got the minis bug. But somehow, despite all the riches of the present day, I'm still nostalgic for playing ancients or Napoleonics with Minifigs.

    1. Agreed on all counts, David! One advantage of being bald enough to shave it all off is that whether one has gone grey,or is still the golden-haired youth of yore is largely immaterial ;-)


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