After another stimulating chat with my buddy Kurtus, during the none recorded part of last night's paint and chat on Tabletop Commanders. We got to discussing the whys and wherefores of wargaming, in particular what it means to us and why we enjoy it so much, what do we actually get out of it, both of us being mainly solo gamers.
I personally am proud to say I never really grew up, still a little boy at heart. I can still recall the pleasure and excitement of playing with those ubiquitous Airfix 1/72nd scale armies on my Mum's kitchen table, books for hills and pencils for fences. I was down there on the table with the little fellows, urging the boys on to heroic deeds.
Coming back to the hobby after half a century, I still feel that thrill as I lay the troops out on the table in anticipation of the coming battle, a lot older, but seemingly only a little wiser, I am once again down there on the playing surface with the troops I have so carefully painted to the best of my ability.
Only now of course, a lot more research and attention to detail occurs before any of the metal and plastic warriors form up to face the foe. Being a strictly historical gamer, I have, in many cases, a true OOB to work with, or at least a best estimate, by scholars far cleverer than me, to assist in the purchase and collection of armies.
But it still comes down to the thrill of recreating a piece of history, be it a real or fictitious battle of the period. Both can be just as entertaining and instructive about the period we are attempting to recreate. Of course we are at the whim of the dice gods, constraints of the rules system, but that just adds to the uncertainty of what will happen on the tabletop.
I play solo mostly, and become so engrossed with what is happening on the table before me, I am still down there, urging the boys on amid the crackle of muskets and the roar of cannon, spurring on my horse as we crash into the men at arms before us. Attempting to rally and encourage wavering or routing units.
At the end of the turn, it is time to walk around the table and don the helmet of the opposing general, and try to extricate the army from the predicament that I have put it in during the previous bound. Playing solo, I can break off for a coffee or a sip of ale whilst I ponder the next move, will I have enough command points to both shore up my weakening left flank and advance on the right?
I am now retired, so have more time to spend on the hobby, a pastime so stimulating that it keeps the old grey matter active, the eyes focused on my brushwork and a constant thirst for knowledge. Add to that the thrill of being down there in the midst of the battle with the boys. Have I grown up? No I haven't, nor do I want to.
The alternative is of course daytime television! Need I say anymore?