Saturday, 2 March 2013

Return of the wargamer

In a lounge far far away.......

cue star wars music.

After my long winded rant yesterday about the struggle to get games and the poor local club, i sat down and took a bit of a look at the options.
I have been wargaming since i was 10, that gives me 26 years nearly 27 of constantly being involved, be it as a hencman for wyrd, a full time red shirt at GW or a geeky little kids in the local game store.
It's a long time and a long commitment, let alone small fortune and big part of my life.

So what could i do.
Give up, possibly but i don't really have many other hobbies outside of the hobby.
Nut up or shut up, another possibility. Simply put, suck it up and get on with things.

I took the nut up option.
First step google. I had a good idea of local clubs from my henchman work. Though i had only visited a couple i knew others were out there.
Then came finding one that fit around our lives.
Work. kid, dog, not being a driver all work into the equation of finding a club.
But maybe the gaming gods finally turned their smiles on me. For the first club i clicked on was 'coltishall cowards'.
Based a short train journey away, easily done in 15 minutes, it also checked the box of being a Friday night club, the only night we can get a baby sitter.

So off went an e-mail, a bit of a feeler for what they played and how they were run. A few hours later, a friendly reply and the decision was made to go and see.

Those who read yesterdays whine, would know my experience of the local club.
Well polar opposite was the only fitting description. On arrival a few people introduced themselves, showed us around, introduced others and made us feel very welcome indeed. Banter was exchanged and by 8pm carol had been dragged off for a conquest style game and i was sat down playing 'star wars-x wing' by FFG.

I kinda needed to pinch myself as it was like the twilight zone.
We only intended on staying an hour to get a feel for the place, in the end we were there 3 hours. We started to make our excuses as we needed to get the last train home. But here i was almost blown away as several club members offered a lift home and went on to offer lifts into the club as they came through/near our town.

What madness is this. Coltishall Cowards isn't as its name suggests in Coltishall, it moved a few years back to a town called Wroxham, but it elected to keep it's name. It is in travel terms a mere stones throw away and yet it couldn't be more different from the local club.

I must extend my thanks to all the guys at Coltishall Cowards club. For making us feel welcome, for the games, giggles and banter. But most of all for providing a salty old sea dog of a wargamer, with a fresh hope and new lease of life.

Btw, Star Wars - X Wing... if you haven't tried this game yet. DO SO NOW! It's, fast, fun and easy to pick up and play. The models look great straight out of the box and the play system is a real change and makes for some great scenes. I'm sold on it and come next payday i will certainly be getting at least the basic set.

Friday, 1 March 2013

clubs that aren't clubs, just cliques

Recently i have been doing a lot of thinking and not a lot of hobbying and absolutely no gaming and it got me wondering.

I read an article by Jeremy Vetock in white dwarf a couple of months ago, about his little group of friends and fellow hobbyists. In truth it didn't so much as strike a note, as it did strike up an entire orchestra.

You see i live in what is jokingly referred to as one of the biggest towns in North Norfolk. It had a wargaming store all of it's own many moons ago but that was lost. It did though leave behind a club.
Outside of this, the nearest clubs and stores are about a 20 mile hike if not more.

With all that considered you would think the club would thrive.
It doesn't, on average it's lucky to get about 8-10 people in a week. But why?

Simply put. it's a clique of gamers and not a club.
They play 40k and that's it. Every now and then when the moon and stars align, 1 or 2 might venture a game of WFB. But god forbid you step outside that norm.

But lets step back in time a little.
Back to late 06. I move to the hobbity town of North Walsham from Milton Keynes.

I was spoilt in MK. I had a network of wargaming friends, 2 vibrant, dynamic clubs that played everything from dbm, to 40k, to flames of war and everything in between. We also had a couple of good stores that supported that need.
Every few weeks we would all get together (my own little circle of friends) and throw down a painting evening instead of gaming. It drove us all on, it got armies painted and it inspired you to work it over the next couple of weeks.
All in all it was gaming nirvana.

Then i split from my wife and had the choice of being homeless or moving up to my parents to get back on my feet.

From gaming nirvana to the unknown...soon to become known hell.

I'm not an overly shy person, i worked at Games Workshop, spent a few years full on in your face as a senior paintball marshal too.
So as soon as i could, i looked into the local scene. Found the local club, packed up my khador army, space wolves and dwarves, along with my flames of war 7th armoured brigade. I wanted the variety in case a game was going.
Nervous anticipation kicked in at the thoughts of new people and new challenges as i walked into the club.

Boom that was all shattered.

You know that scene in the westerns, where the stranger walks into the bar and everyone just stares....well that was the scene as i walked through the door. Every set of eyes stared at me, uncomfortable....i checked my coat in case a bird had crapped on me or something. It apparently hadn't.
I tried my best to strike up conversations and about hard work.
So i sat at the painting table and cracked out some models...maybe i could spark up some interest. A few curious glances at my 40k were had, but everything else was passed over like some sort of plague victim.
I was getting the jist of the group.
So the following week i turned up with just my 40k army, in my gw backpack and waited. Games unfolded and still i waited. Tried approaching a few people and still i waited.
This went of for a few weeks. Only the club 'chairman' made any real effort and spoke to me despite my efforts.

After about 5 weeks i gave up, slunk home and pretty much quit wargaming unless a friend was visiting.

Swirly smokey fadey in and out effects and come forward to 2010...yes that's 4 years of not really gaming.

I got talking to my now fiancee carol. Both of us former wargamers. Introduced her to my few visiting friends from MK and sparked her interest.

We both rebuilt 40k armies and got to grips with the game again. I also discovered Malifaux and became a henchman to promote the game.

With a new drive we both headed out to the club. Screeech boom. Just like before the western scene repeated itself. The same people, no fresh blood, no new faces.
Attempts to demo the game ended in tragedy, rocking up with my own terrain etc didn't work.
Eventually i gave up trying at the club and haven't been back since.

So we fade in the swirly smoke and come to today and my feelings and thoughts.

Try as i might i cant seem to find drive or inspiration to do more than a brief visit to an army. In truth i feel like the hobbyist within me is dying a slow painful death.
Am i outgrowing the hobby, i don't think so as i still love everything about the games i look to and want to try.
But a distinct lack of playing and varying opponents is killing the hobbyist.

I don't really expect any answers, i guess i just needed to vent or rant or something. But if your thinking about starting a club up, please try to avoid letting it become like Blackfish gaming club in North Walsham is.