Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Monday, March 21, 2022

Society of Ancients Battle Day

Yesterday the Society of Ancients held their battle day. This year it was Adrianople; last year it was Bosworth. 

I have nothing against those battles of course, but as I do not have figures for them those battle days have passed without much comment or fanfare from yours truly. 

Battle day for 2023 will soon be announced. Apparently, the person who will do the presentation for it next year is Duncan Head, of (amongst other things) Armies of the Macedonian and Punic Wars fame. 

There is a flutter in my Macedonian and Punic Wars breast....

I am hoping that it will be Magnesia. 

Elephants, scythed chariots, Antiochus the Great, phalangites, cataphracts; legions, a camp, Eumenes of Pergamum and - da-dum-dum-dum - Scipio's younger brother?

EDIT - as it turns out, the battle will be 2nd Mantinea, which is an excellent choice, especially as I have a swag of more Xyston Greeks to paint. This might be just what I need to get started on them!


Thursday, March 17, 2022

To everything there is a season

Goes the verse. 

I was lucky enough to get into wargaming seriously at a propitious time. I had long had an interest in it, had borrowed books from the library as a kid, had played rules-based games with a friend and his older brother, but had never really collected armies, boardgames or rules. When I did decide to get into wargaming in 2005, the variety had never been better, information had never been more freely available, and, because of the internet, wargaming was accessible to a degree it had not been before. I had disposable income (this is before children!), shipping was relatively cheap, and it was possible to collect figures rules and games from all around the world without the cost seeming burdensome. I could buy a 15mm army for the price of a night out. Being in Japan, I could get hobby paints for about US$1. What could be better?

I hoovered up painting guides from helpful people on I joined yahoo groups to learn about rules. I ordered my first figures through Magister Militum in the UK, then happened upon some old stock sales in the US and picked up masses of Xyston Greeks and Macedonians at $1.80 a pack and Old Glory 15s in the old 50 foot/16 mounted bags for $7 each. What a way that was to kick start a collection!

I discovered Commands and Colors: Ancients, joined the online VASSAL tournaments, and won a few of them. I met my Italian gaming buddies Roberto and Andrea. I wrote quite a lot on Boardgamegeek. 

In Japan where I lived at the time I found fellow gamers Luke and Pat. I was introduced to Phil Sabin's Strategos II (later to become Lost Battles) and joined the yahoo group. There was stimulating conversation, intense discussion (mainly courtesy of the late Patrick Waterson), and a set of rules you could get behind. I became a member of the Society of Ancients. 

It was a brilliant, exciting time. Armies got painted, games were played, articles were written, friends were made. Everything was new and fresh.

I started a blog to record what I was doing, and to write those sorts of battle reports I had loved in the books I borrowed from the library as a kid.


Fast forward to 2022, and the landscape is different. Theminiaturespage is a shadow of its former self. Yahoo groups, those rules petri dishes, have vanished. Figure suppliers have gone out of business, passed away, or sold their ranges to others. Prices for 15mm figures have doubled in the UK in some cases. International shipping has become almost unaffordable. Consolidation of manufacturers and pre-packaged plastics sets appear to be the way the market is moving.  

Blogging has lost a lot of its early zest and joyfulness. Bloggers have quietly stopped updating, have moved on in their lives, or had adverse events intervene. The ever-increasing reach of social media has shortened attention spans. Who wants to read a thousand-word blogpost any more? Who wants to write them? 

As people get older, focus changes. You get a little over-familiar with the actual playing of games and start to think about 'legacy' elements, such as bringing new gamers into the hobby, promoting games that you like, building a following, or changing attitudes. When 'legacy' becomes the focus, the hobby becomes less about sharing your own joy and more about getting responses. If you don't get the responses you feel your efforts deserve, dissatisfaction and frustration find a way in. Desire wanes. 

There comes a point when you have to re-evaluate what it is that you enjoy about the hobby and what is it that gives you satisfaction. Is it playing a game with friends? Is it writing up a report of a solo game? Is it researching and painting armies? Is it writing rules or scenarios? Is it bringing other people into the wargaming? Whatever the things that you enjoy are, you have to find them and respect them, because once aspects of how you practise the hobby start to seem like work, it is no longer fun.

I write this because one of my favourite bloggers, Norm Smith of Battlefields and Warriors, is downing tools for a spell. I'm sure we all feel a bit of sadness about that, but also understand it, because we go through those phases ourselves.

I guess the point of this post and my message to Norm (to all of us, really) is that how we interact with wargaming and what we get out of it changes over time. That's natural and to be expected. There is no shame in it. The important thing is to recognise that a hobby has to be about enjoyment. It can't be about meeting expectations - well, it can be for a while, but that is unsustainable. Enjoyment is what first attracts us, but it is also the easiest thing to lose when we start getting caught up in other, more peripheral, things. 

Wargaming will be here when we are ready to come back to it. And Norm, we look forward to seeing you back writing if and when that again becomes one of those things that gives you joy.

Until then, cheers, and thanks for all your efforts. Much appreciated.  

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