As I potter around the electronic environment, observing the lipid prose of my wargaming colleagues, I sometimes stumble upon a post which outlines plans, or an avowal to reduce the number of projects and periods that a given wargamer is interested in, or building armies for, or some such most wargamers, most of the time, seem to be working on at least one project, planning another and thinking about the one after that.
I find myself not immune from this drifting and multiplication of projects. As you might be aware, I have spent a fair bit of the last few years painting ancient armies. Indeed, the very address of this blog suggests as such. The aim of these armies was to test the rules I am writing. The aim of the blog was to document the development, note important things that I read which needed to be incorporated within the rules, and so on. We can note, in passing, that this has not really happened.
In pursuit of my overall aim, however, I have painted a fair number of armies: Romans, of various hues, Gauls, ancient Britons, Germans, Parthians, Pontic, Spanish and probably a few others I cannot remember. From there I shifted to the classical Greek and Alexandrian age. Here, as has been documented on this blog, I have painted a double dose of Greeks, early Persians, later Persians, Macedonians, Indians and now, at my last gasp, Seleucids. And here I hit the problem of wargamer’s drift.
On the face of it, there is no problem. All I need to do is finish off the Seleucids and have a few wargames to test the rules, and then they can be published for the discerning wargamer to enjoy while I rest upon my laurels. But those niggles still seem to come along. It seems to me there are so many ways of drifting into another project.
Firstly, of course, there is the discovery. My first wobble in this saga came about when I discovered serried ranks of Spanish Succession and Great Northern War armies. These spring, of course, from an earlier project (which was published in Miniature Wargamer, I think, and might have sold Mr Berry two boxes of soldiers). My painting technique was not what it is today, but, nevertheless, they are nicely, reasonably painted by my (admittedly low) standards. The bases, however, are plain cardboard. So I consulted my wargame guru, the estimable Mrs P., as to whether I should undertake to rebase them. ‘What else are you doing?’ she enquired. I listed the other projects. ‘I think you have enough on.’ And there the matter rests; the armies are in a separate box, occasionally whispering ‘how about us’, but otherwise the drift in that direction is stalled.
Secondly, there is the desire to extend. An army is not (in spite of our army lists and neat categorizations) a static thing. It evolvers, and this can be quite rapid. So I have been reading up a little about Seleucids, and painting an army to represent early Seleucids. The army was part of a nice pack, which included troop types to make the army a later Seleucid one. So now I have the dilemma of whether I should paint up another batch of imitation legionaries and develop the army to cover all ages. Of course, I would then need to do the same for the rest, and then add in Roman and Carthaginian armies and suddenly I have drifted into another era, another project (and, knowing Mr Berry and his ability to persuade, another set of rules). This drift is unresolved. I like to paint the stuff I buy (ha, ha, says to Polish GNW army still in its box) and imitations legionaries are not that difficult….
The third cause of drift is the book. I have been very good, even if I say so myself. My unread book shelf is down to about 25. I have almost sworn off buying books until it is below twenty (I say almost because I cannot break the addiction of a lifetime; on the other hand my car would appear to need a new gearbox, which will put a dent in the book / soldier budget anyway). But I have brought some books recently on my original wargaming period, the seventeenth century. And as I read these I can see interesting wargaming projects looming. How did Lambert prevent the Scots crossing the Pennines in 1648? How did the Spanish form their empire? And so on. At present, I am holding out against this, but it is becoming a close run thing, particularly with the rediscovery of Flashing Blades and my Musketeer figures.
I am quite sure that there innumerable other factors in causing us to drift from one project to another. I can think, for example, of wargaming ‘friends’ who say ‘I have this half army of Confederated Nrudles; would you like them? I know you are interested in the period.’ And so we accept, go online, buy the other half of the army, and their opponents, just for good measure, and so another project is born which will compete for our attention until we give up on it in frustration and despair.
Another factor in this is the wargame show, or magazine. Often these are trying to push a ‘new’ period, that is, one ignored by most of the wargaming fraternity for a decade or two, or deemed to be too uninteresting or lacking in decent information. Thus there is a plethora of World War One games, figures, rules and articles at present, where, when I was a lad, it was all deemed to be too difficult or uninteresting, except perhaps the Middle East campaigns. To some extent, of course, wagamers who drift into these eras are fashion victims. Perhaps we should have sympathy with them, rather than gallop off down the same route.
I dare say we all have our own drift factors. I have tried to describe some of mine. Only time will tell if this blog evolves into a seventeenth century one, World War one or even becomes about the Confederated Nrudles.