EXERT FROM APPENDIX 1 from Don Featherstone's Battles With Model Soldiers
(The book that got me started.)

"Nothing in these pages is a dictate, no word says you must or you shall do it this way. On the contrary, the book sets out from the very beginning to stimulate the reader to think for himself, and to use what he has read merely as a foundation for efforts and ideas which reflect his own temperament and character. Only in this way will he obtain maximum satisfaction from the hobby of battling with model soldiers."

-Don Featherstone 1918 - 2013

Monday, February 22, 2010

Speaking Volumes

I managed a few hours at home on Saturday afternoon and since I am in the process of moving my wargaming and history books into my new games room, I decided to get a start on rough sorting them. (They have gotten rather jumbled after 4 or 5 temporary displacements during moves and renovations over the last 5 years). Since my goal is to fit books. miniatures and scenery into the room comfortably, I need to thin the library like I have been thinning the ranks of my armies even though its not a large library to start with, probably under 400 titles including  pamphlets and Ospreys as well as "real" books.

I have dabbled in a lot of periods over the last 40 years and every wargame interest has been accompanied by books and  I've been rather assuming that the number of books would roughly correlate to my wargaming projects. http://www.lochsloy.ca/macduff.htm.

Well, yes and no, I haven't done a formal tally or finished sorting (one day when I retire-retire, I should catalogue it all) but a rough estimate provided a surprise. Now, the one 'period' that has been most persistant has been ancients in the broadest sense.  So, I should have lots of ancients books, right? Well, if I throw  in some dog eared Penguin Classics, some Armies and Enemies and a couple of Ospreys, I'm still not sure that there's a dozen of them! (what??). Apparently, I relied a lot on libraries. There are possibly another 1/2 dozen non-fiction on Arthurian Britain which added to various non-fiction covers the Prince Valiant project.

My 16thC Scots, English and French seem to be supported by another measly 1/2 dozen or so books which can be doubled if I include the earlier Anglo-Scots wars which these armies will stand in for if I get the urge to refight Bannockburn or Stirling Bridge. The War of 1812, a small project, easily exceeds a score of books but the American Revolution doen't even make it to 6.   The Not Quite the 7 Years War project which now carries the entire 18thC on its shoulders has another measly 6 or so, perhaps a dozen if you include the French and Indian Wars. My 2 latest mini-projects, Russian Civil War and fictional 1960's don't seem to have ANY real support!

The last remaining project which is scheduled to remain is the Faraway and Oberhilse project, a fictional coverage of all things Victorian. If we include books on Victorian campaigns from the 1837 rebellions in Canada to the 2nd Boer War, we easily top 100, adding in non-British campaigns in that time period, the Greek War of Independence, Russo-Turkish Wars, the Mexican American War, ACW etc, we're starting to push 150.  That caught me by surprise but shouldn't have really, I have had a fascination with British Colonial Wars since childhood. Inspired by various books, they featured prominently during my pre-wargaming teens when I was converting 54mm toy soldiers into model soldiers and after discovering Featherstone's Battles with Model Solders, the very first Airifx skirmishes were fought with vaguely converted Boer War-ish Canadian troops against some rather US Civil war looking Fantasians (Fantasians being a common enemy for Canadian forces excercises in those days). In the mid '90's I finally allowed myself to dabble in Colonials in 25mm and then in 54mm. Those armies have mostly been sold off with the intent of focussing on the 40mm's but the project has crawled haltingly. In part this is due to my habitual dabbling in other things and in part due to interference from various "life events" but perhaps I have also been subconsciously  "saving the best for last"? 

In any event, it seems that perhaps I should listen to the books and focus a little more time on energy on that life long interest that keeps getting pushed to the back.


  1. Ross,

    Do as I say (not as I do) and focus on only one or two periods (as I am currently working or studying over a half dozen -- which doesn't take in the bulk of my painted armies at all).

    Do you suppose that this "scatter syndrome" is the natural nature of wargamers?

    -- Jeff

  2. Look at the first 2 books of the modern wargamer era, both Morschauser and Featherstone start by providing rules for 3 periods and if it wasn't natural, would Lawford and Young have had to warn against splitting your efforts?

    My first book was Battle with Model Soldiers and it had chapters with tips for playing, Ancient, Medieval, Pike & Shot, 18thC, Napoleonic, ACW, Colonial, WW1, WW2 and modern games and yes I have wargame armies for them all! A few years ago I totted up wargame projects and stopped counting at 25 projects in 5 scales, 1/2 of them insufficient to run a game by myself. I almost have it down to 3 major ones with both sides and a couple of minor ones as an occasional diversion.

  3. I certainly do have scatter syndrome (good phrase Jeff) and always assumed it was caused by being easily distracted, but lately I've begun to suspect that it may also be a form of procrastination, as going off on sideshows avoids having to make decisions about the Big Two, or doing something with them and messing it up.

    Or is it the Big Three... or Three and a Half...