Thursday, 15 November 2007
When you ask most war gamers about their pride and joy, hobby wise at least, they usually tell you about an army, sometimes a unit and sometimes a particular figure in a unit. It is usually the thing they have painted and based the best, more rarely it is because of its past glories and to hell with how well it is painted.
I’ve been a war gamer for over 30 years now. Starting when I was about 10 with a small, and I thought incredibly well painted at the time, 25mm Napoleonic collection that a lapsed war gamer (an RAF photographer in intelligence) gave to me because he thought he had no further use for it. I understand he did start war gaming again later and probably regretted his generosity. He has a lot to answer for.
However, although I always have my latest best army, unit, figure, I have never thought of it as my pride and joy. That is probably because I have always had enough soldiers and I’ve always been a reasonable painter, (I’m considered by many to be quite good these days), so I’m always moving on to the next thing and don’t get time to think of my toys in that way. Painting for a living possibly has something to do with it as well. As for war game unit battle honours, it takes all of my memory to remember to put my trousers on in the morning, so remembering what a particular unit has done in the past is quite beyond me.
So what is my pride and joy? I’ll tell you. The one thing I never had as a child, or in my teens, was a dedicated war games room; somewhere to have a permanent table, troop and terrain storage, a painting desk and book shelves. The first war games room I had, if you discount a cellar in a shared “student” house (where the landlord also housed baby partridges and was all for me paying to heat it), was in the first house I bought in my late twenties. But even this had to double as a spare room on occasion, and consequently the 8’ x 6’ table which was erected over a bed had to be taken to pieces from time to time – sometimes for weeks!
About four years ago I purchased my current home. When looking around properties at the time my wife was well aware that it HAD TO HAVE a war games room – as big a possible. I hit lucky. The house was a bit of a wreck when we moved in (some of it still is) but its saving grace was its size. My war games room, on the top floor (of four) is 14’ x 18’ at its widest / longest.
For months, whilst the builders hammered and bashed, I had to make do with the old table, bare floor boards and soot falling out of a disused soot-box for my gaming, but after a while things started to take shape. I already had quite a lot of troop storage boxes and book shelves, I even had a desk. What I did not have was terrain storage. Again I hit lucky. Hearing a friend talking about some kitchen units that he had bought for a property that he had sold and no longer needed, I had a brain wave. With bemused looks of horror on the face of my wife I bought the kitchen units, lock stock and barrel, sight unseen. He brought them round next day. I ordered some chip board and other stuff from the wood merchants and began building straight away. Now I have a purpose built war games table 10’ 8” x 6’ (the last 2’ 8” of which can be folded down) with built in storage (two banks of kitchen units back to back), at the correct “working” height and solid as a rock.
My pride and joy is my war games room, with my table running a close second. I wish we could all have one.
Written and photographed by James Roach