JWH, in his Heretical Gaming blog, recently put up a post - inspired by the late great Peter Young - on the advice he would give to a wargamer just starting out. It is a post worth reading and as an added bonus leads naturally to a person wanting to put up something of their own on the same topic.
So what would I tell a younger person starting out on their wargaming adventures?
1) Do what you enjoy. Obvious, but harder to keep to than you'd think. There are times when a person buys into something for some other reason: because it's good value; because you feel you should; because you make a plan with another gamer or group; because it might be good for a rainy day. You really don't want to waste time and energy into armies or periods or rules that you won't enjoy. Life is too short.
2) Build both sides. Wargaming is often a solitary activity, so don't be reliant on others. People move; people get busy. Keep your independence. Make sure that you can use those figures solo.
3) Expand on what you have. Easy when you play ancients or WWII, but it applies to other periods too. Why build Romans and Britons in 2mm when you already have part of what you need in 15mm? If you have Carthaginians, you're not far off being able to field an army of Spanish, Gauls, or Numidians. Have Marian Romans? Build a few more units of legionaries and you'll be able to play out Roman civil wars till the end of your days. But see point 1 - choose your expansions wisely!
4) Make wargaming friends who know more than you. I was fortunate enough to make the acquaintance early on of a couple of grizzled wargame veterans. They show you the standard, give you good practical advice, and help remove mental obstacles. Invaluable.
5) Get things while you can. You have to be sensible (well, maybe not all of us!), but work on the principle of get what you need when it's available. Vendors close down, lines disappear, prices go up, and personal circumstances change. If you can afford to get what you need now, do it. You can paint at your leisure, but you may not be able to pick up 240 Macedonian phalangites from that manufacturer at that price ever again...
6) Push yourself to paint hard while your eyes are good. Once they go, you'll wish you had painted more when it was easy!
7) Invest in making your table look good. You can have the loveliest armies in the world, but they only look as good as the terrain they are situated in.
8) Be as consistent as you can with your basing and painting styles. Try to do things in such a way that what you produce now will work with what you will produce in ten years.
9) Find some board games you like. They are easy to set up (provided you have some space around the home) and they offer a different perspective. You can game when you don't feel inspired, they are portable, and they are a great way to introduce non-gaming friends to the hobby.
10) Take things seriously, but not too much. You need a certain amount of fire and motivation to get projects underway and finished, but we're only playing with toy soldiers. It's not worth making enemies over and some of those rants a person can go off on don't always look so righteous five years down the track!
11) It's a big hobby. You will have times when you're on for certain aspects of it and times when you're not. Make the most of it all - writing, blogging, rules-writing, painting, researching, playing, youtubing, terrain-building, podcasting, and whatever else. Enjoy the variety and don't stress when you're having a fallow period.
12) Be aware that your gaming will go through different phases. Life will intrude. You will have times when there are funds to use and times when there are not. Use the former to help you get through the latter!
13) Have a big idea to work towards.
14) Have fun!
Thanks for the inspiration JWH (and many others at different times), and anyone reading please feel free to add comments or link below to your own takes on this.
Cheers, and hobby on!