Sunday, 20 July 2014

100th Post

Finally the 100th post is reached on this blog. Together with my previous wordpress blog that makes 299 posts since I started blogging, not including the posts that I've made for the Rotorua Irregulars blog and my Frolics in Frankenberg imagi-nation blog. This is pretty remarkable seeing as I have no real system for my blogging, posting every now and then if I play a game and remember my camera, or I paint some figures.

Puss'n'Boots. One of my favourite miniatures. He is painted in the same colours as my loyal cat Oscar.

Oscar hanging around during a photo session on the tabletop.
For this post I thought I'd do some pontificating about my hobbies, which may or may not be of interest to you gentle reader. It will take the form of an interview, and as I occasionally play solo games, I have no issue also talking to myself and asking myself questions, no matter how insane and lonely that may appear...

N. Nice to finally catch up with you. You seem to have a very busy schedule.
Nate: It certainly feels like it. I'm not sure that I don't actually just waste a lot of time daydreaming. In real life I am a teacher, and that can get pretty full on, especially with exams and internal assessment marking. As a Head of Faculty I also deal with a lot of the paperwork which the government throws in the way of teachers in order to make their job difficult. I love teaching, but the bits that aren't teaching make my teeth grind. 
N. What do you teach?
Nate: Social Sciences. At the moment this means junior Social Studies and senior Classical Studies. I love teaching Classics. I used to teach History, but when I switched schools they had a perfectly good History department already, so I carved out my Classics niche.
N. You don't miss teaching Senior History?
Nate: To be honest I really don't. It is nice to have history as my hobby, not my job.
N. Where else does your time go?
Nate: I have three wonderful daughters aged 2 -7. I help out with managing one of the school rugby teams. I like to read and watch a bit of TV. I also play a bit of guitar, but this seems to be the last thing on the list. A guilty pleasure. I spend far too much time surfing the net - I need to cut down on that. And then there is wargaming.
N: You are a bit of a wargames butterfly. What are your current interests?
Nate: Currently I'm enjoying skirmish games like In Her Majesty's Name, SAGA and Bolt Action. I'm really enjoying painting up 28mm figures. I've played a few games of Songs of Blades and Heroes and really like the mechanic, so I'm looking forward to my first game of Of Gods and Mortals. I played and painted a lot of Flames of War in 2012-3 and have taken a bit of a break from it in 2014, although the upcoming Great War supplement is likely to change that by the end of the year.
SAGA game in progress. All figures painted by me, but I only own half of them.
N: You've just rattled off a whole pile of commercial wargames rules. Do you play the rules rather than the periods?
Nate: The answer is yes and no. I am certainly not a rules lawyer as my placement of last or second to last in the four tournaments that I've entered will ably demonstrate. I pick up games because I like the period, but I haven't got the time to tinker with rules like I used to do. I also have to take into consideration the people I play with. They are mostly Flames of War players who are happy to try something new if I read the rules for them. As commercial rules are printed in books and easily bought and read, we've tended to stick with 'popular'systems. It is one reason why I wanted to adapt Flames of War to the Yom Kippur conflict, and I will be doing the same with early World War One. This hasn't stopped me playing around with simple rules systems like those of Neil Thomas. But these tend to be for solo games.
N: Are there any rules that you won't play?
Nate: The answer is no. I'll try anything. But there are rules that I don't play as my core rules choice simply because it would mean having to convert my fellow gamers. Too Fat Lardies rules fall into this category. I've played in a Sharpe Practice game and I am impressed with the research that has gone into Through the Mud and Blood, but they have aspects of command and control to them that would irritate and alienate most of the people that I game with. So I borrow some of the ideas in them for my solo games.
Wasn't this picture in my last post?
N: So what periods are you playing?
Nate: Well, obviously the Trojan War which I've just finished painting. I teach the Iliad, and every time I read it I want to game it. So now I can. The Dark Ages is a real interest of mine, but in the past was very much centred around the Age of Arthur. It is SAGA that has made me move more towards the end of this period to do the Norman Conquest. I have armies for the Star Wars Clone Wars, but haven't played it in ages. I also have a shelf full of superheroes courtesy of HeroClix which I have rebased. I am waiting for Ganesha Games to release Power Legions to game with. I've tried Supersystem and didn't really like it. I like Andrea's rules - I know I'll like Power Legions.
In Her Majesty's Name has been a lot of fun. I need to play a few more games though. I come up with these companies and paint the figures but some of them have never seen action!
I still play Flames of War WW2, but I've sold all of my armies now, so I borrow armies to play with. I only tend to play FoW when I go to John's for club nights, so I don't miss having them at home.
N: You mention that you have sold some of your armies. Do you regret parting with them?
Nate: The armies that I may have regretted parting with are the 28mm World War One, the 15mm Marlburians and the 15mm Yom Kippur War. These all reside at John's house now, and to be honest have seldom been played with since I parted with them. These were big projects with a lot of love put into them, but when I look at them sitting on the shelf I feel I made the right choice to move onto something new.
Dearly departed Danes.
N: Speaking of moving on, what projects do you have lined up?
Nate: According to the poll the next thing I need to put together is the Gallic Wars for SAGA. I PMed a chap on the Studio Tomahawk forum who had devised battle-boards for Romans and Gauls, so I'm going to give these a go. Caesar is one of my all time favourite historical characters, so I'm looking forward to this. I have all the figures I need bar a bolt thrower and a couple of Numidian horsemen for the Romans.
When these are complete I should have some 15mm World War One goodness in my hands. Lancashire Games are doing Early War and have a pre-order discount, so that is my birthday present. I'm planning on getting Brits and Germans and using Flames of War as the rules system, with some tweaks. I'm also going to buy the 1918 companies that Battlefront are putting out.
Coming very soon.
Lancashire 15mm WWI British greens. I'm sure Allan won't mind me putting these up on my blog.

Next year it will be back to 28s and an English Civil War project. I'm looking at using Clarence Harrison's Victory without Quarter rules and putting together Parliamentarians and Royalists. I have all of the figures that I need for this.
Then I will put together my Bolt Action WWII armies. I have New Zealanders and Fallshirmjager for an Italy/Cassino project, and a Soviet army as well. Odds are that next year I will get a German Early War army for Barbarossa.
I also have a few other bits and pieces, including some WWI ships which will probably get painted in one of those 'ínspired' weeks when I want to paint something different to the project I'm working on.
Eventually I'll do some Naval gazing.
N: So plenty to keep you busy. Anything on the horizon that is likely to distract you?
Nate: If I win lots of money then it would be 28mm Marlburian using the Front Rank range, but that isn't likely. I keep looking at the Judge Dredd game. I find the figures to be quite expensive, but I so want to do an Apocalypse War skirmish.
The Apocalypse War double page spread, from here
N: Speaking of Judge Dredd, you are also a comics fan, right? What is it that you enjoy reading?
Nate: At the moment it is Invincible by Robert Kirkman. This is a superhero comic done right. No need for turning the main character into a woman or rebooting the series from number one every second month. Just good scripting and great characters.
Well worth reading
N: So not a fan of Marvel and DC at the moment?
Nate: It is sad because I grew up collecting comics in the 1980s with brilliant titles like John Byrne's Fantastic Four, Claremont's X-Men, Simonson's Thor and X-Factor and Giffen and DeMatteis' Justice League. The 90s was a comics wasteland in so many ways, and the propensity to jump the shark had already been signalled by some of the ridiculous crossovers at the end of the 80s. The Ultimates had potential but it frustrated me that they needed a 'new universe' in order to introduce good stories that could have been lavished on the original titles. Good stories had to be found on the fringes - Ellis' Transmetropolitan and Ennis' Preacher. The 2000s have had some real bright spots for Marvel - Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men is brilliant, and I am enjoying All New X-Men at the moment. But the new 52 is ridiculous and a lot of the mainstream Marvel titles are pretty much dreck. Or maybe I'm just getting old.
I've tried picking up 2000AD on a regular basis, but with a limited budget I can't justify the outgoings.
N: You don't blog much about comics. Why?
Nate: If this was the 80s I feel I would be able to pontificate with real authority, but I'm not widely read enough in the comics-verse to be able to offer opinions with as much gravitas as I'd like. I guess it is a bit of geek anxiety - a lack of nerd-cred.
N: Getting back to limited budgets, do you buy any wargames magazines?
Nate: I subscribe to Wargames Soldiers and Strategy and Miniature Wargames with Battlegames. I pick up the occasional Wargames Illustrated if it looks like the content might be interesting. WS&S is my favourite out of these hands down. I really look forward to receiving it and usually read it from cover to cover. MWwB I subscribe to because you can't cherry-pick issues. I used to love Miniature Wargames and Battlegames magazines when they were separate. I can't warm to this new mixture. I miss the the old Miniature Wargames photos which were of soldiers that average people would have in their wargames collection, and Gary Mitchell's fantasy sci-fi columns which were always entertaining. Not that I dislike having John Treadaway in MWwB - I enjoy reading his columns too - it would be nice to have both. Wargames Illustrated is pretty bland, and the most enjoyable part of it is the Flames of War articles.
WS&S - my favourite of the wargames mags.
N: Is there anything that you particularly do or don't like in the magazines?
Nate: Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy has good scenarios with oobs and maps. I like this. They have interesting columnists in Rick Priestly and Richard Clarke. I like this. Their thematic articles are inevitably informative, inspiring or thought provoking - and sometimes all three. It is the magazine most like the old Practical Wargamer - my favourite of all the wargaming magazines.
I can't put my finger on what is wrong with MWwB, other than it seems to be less than the sum of its parts, and maybe that is enough.
WI has great eye-candy if that is what you enjoy. But to be honest some of those clashes with thousands of figures on beautiful terrain just leave me cold. It may be beautiful, but it certainly isn't my hobby and I actually find the Napoleonic games in particular with bloated units crammed onto a board to be quite uninspiring. Mega-wargames actually turn me off the hobby. They have no soul. All I can think about is how grinding it would be to play in a wargame with that many units stepping on each other's toes.
N: OK, we are obviously at the venting stage of the interview. Anything else you want to get off your chest?
Nate: Yes. Episode Two is better than any of the other Star Wars movies. The prequels get no love because Episode One was so bad (and it was so bad). Seeing Yoda take on Count Dooku was one of the greatest movie-going moments I have ever had.
Not from the movie, but still Yoda in action
N: No surprises what your favourite movie is then?
Nate: Actually it is Joss Whedon's Avengers. If only he had been handed the X-Men as well. It is obvious that he cares about the characters.
N: OK, some quickfire questions - favourite food?
Nate: Lamb baalti.
N: Favourite fiction book?
Nate: The Iliad
N: Favourite non-fiction book?
Nate: George Malcolm Thompson's The First Churchill.
N: Favourite TV show?
Nate: Game of Thrones
N: Favourite band?
Nate: The Eagles. And the Beatles. And Velvet Underground. And Pink Floyd. And Radiohead. And Nirvana. And... what just one? Sorry, I can't do that.
N: Favourite song?
Nate: So many to choose from. I can't narrow it down. I couldn't even give you a top ten list. I'm finding myself singing Vienna by Ultravox a lot at the moment. This will pass.
N: Favourite historical period?
Nate: The First World War/ beginning of the 20th century.
Picture from Joe Colquhoun and Pat Mills' Charley's War. an epic comic series for an epic war.
N: Why the love for World War One?
Nate: I've gone into it in depth elsewhere, but put simply when I think of WWI I have this nostalgic reaction that takes me back to memories of different times throughout my life where I was immersed in this period, from the age of about 6 until today. I guess you could say I feel like a stakeholder in WWI history and it is the one field of historical debate where I am compelled to argue with people. It is easy to hold 'heretical' views on this war - and I hold views that tick off both sides of the debate!
N: Can you give us some examples?
Nate: Sure, here are few in rapid fire:
1) The Great War was not inevitable, in fact it was completely avoidable.
2) It would probably be better for the world if Germany had won in 1914.
3) The generals in the First World War were not incompetent butchers. Some of them were very good indeed.
4) The fighting was not mindless slaughter. It was very mindful...
N: You're holding a dinner party for any six people in history. Who do you invite?
Nate: Socrates, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Peter Cook, Peter Sellers, Stan Lee.
N: No military men?
Nate: No. I think they'd make quite boring conversation and behave quite appallingly. Napoleon would get drunk and abusive; Alexander would get drunk and kill someone; Marlborough would try to steal the silverware when nobody was looking and Caesar would try to steal someone's wife. Hannibal might be a bit of fun, but he's likely to get drunk and punch Lao Tzu for staring at his missing eye...
N: So you'd invite partners as well?
Nate: It would be interesting to meet Mary Magdalene, but no, symposia are a male affair (although I'd have to warn Socrates that we weren't going to be totally Greek about it...)
N: Do you enjoy blogging?
Yes, but I find it very time-consuming. If I managed my time better I could probably do it more.
N: What do you think about other gamers' blogs?
Nate: The wargaming blogosphere is a wonderful world. I just keep discovering more and more great blogs with fantastic projects and the people are all so friendly. The comments left on each other's blogs show a real sense of community.
N: You've won a couple of prizes through blogging.
Nate: Yes, I won a competition run by Tim Knight over at Heropress, a draw run by Dan Mersey at Merseybooks and just this week a book from Millsy and Evan's Canister and Grape. It will be my turn to run a draw soon, but probably in October or November so that I have some money spare. Postage from New Zealand to the other side of the world is not cheap. I envy the British their Royal Post. Things may go missing and they may be a bit stupid when it comes to posting paint, but they are dead cheap compared to NZ post!
N: Finally, why do you wargame?
Nate: I like the toys. I enjoy painting them. I love the history too. I've thought about not gaming and just modelling, but I do love playing wargames. It is a tactile expression of so many interests. That is why I'm prepared to game things like Star Wars and Superheroes. The interest comes alive in painting up the figures and gaming with them. It is a way to immerse yourself in what you enjoy.
N: Thanks for your time.
Nate: No problem. Have you seen the mess that the girls made while we were typing this?

Nate
and N

13 comments:

  1. Interesting!

    Having recently discovered your blog, your interview gives me a glimpse of the man behind the blog. Nice job!

    Your WSS Danes look stunning by the way. It would have been very difficult for me to part with such an excellent collection.

    Since I have a large ECW collection in the larger 30mm figures of Redoubt and Renegade, I will be watching the progression of your project with great interest.

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    1. Yes, I'm really looking forward to that project. I stayed up late last night reading through the Victory without Quarter rules again, thinking through what changes I might make. I have some ideas about what I'll do with dragoons, but it definitely won't happen until next year.

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  2. Very nicely done. Thanks for sharing that bit of personal stuff.

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    1. Thanks. I don't think I got too personal, but I hope it puts some of the blogging into context.

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    1. Cheers Barks. Embarrassing confession time, this is actually post 99. I didn't realise that blogger counted unpublished drafts as a post until I went back into the dashboard... Still, might as well party like its not post 99...

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  4. Great post, your interviewer really did his research! Sounds like we have quite a lot in common. Congrats on the milestone, bring on the next 100 :-)

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    1. We could be doppelgangers! Thanks Paul - maybe we'll end up at tournament together at some point?

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  5. Great 100th post and an interesting read!

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    1. Glad you enjoyed this little bit of self-indulgence, Simon.

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  6. Ha! I really forgot you were interviewing yourself! Great questions and answers!

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    1. That's OK - I forgot which one was me while I was writing it!

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  7. Are you paying more than $5 per pack of cigarettes? I'm buying my cigs from Duty Free Depot and this saves me over 70% from cigarettes.

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