Saturday, 19 March 2022

It's Only A Game..

Sad news for the wargame blogging community this week, with the ( I hope temporary ) suspension  of Norm's brilliant 'Battlefields and Warriors' blog.  He says  "I have come to realise that a far too significant proportion of my spare time / behaviour is being drawn to the screen to the point that other areas of life / wargaming relatively diminish."  Also as an example, he mentioned his latest post about boargaming Ligny, which was 4000 words long "and yet by today had garnered just 5 different voices in the comments". That last point makes me feel particularly guilty. I have hugely enjoyed Norm's blog since finding it, especially his fantastic extended game reports, but I haven't very often commented. I think that's probably been at least partly because I haven't felt able to add much that would match up to Norm's very high standards and wonderfully thoughtful writing! Of course one could just say 'great post, thanks!' but there's a limit to how often you can do that..  Ironically I had only just got round to reading the Ligny post, and was thinking about leaving a grateful comment (yes, honestly!), when Norm announced his break and disabled comments on his blog. Sorry Norm!

I think Norm makes a very good point about screen time vs. 'real' time : there are so many blogs out there, let alone Facebook groups, YouTube channels, etc etc, one could just spend all one's spare time on them and never do any actual gaming, let alone post to one's own blog! In Norm's case, he must also spend quite a large amount of time commenting on other blogs, again always giving greatly perceptive and thoughtful input. On this blog, I feel I've been amazingly lucky with the quantity and quality of comments I've received from the start, and I'm very, very grateful to all who have contributed. I think one should probably write a blog mainly for one's own enjoyment , or at least 'what sort of thing would I like to read?' , but it's always a great encouragement to get some nice comments - and it must be rather depressing to put the effort into a blog post, and get no response, as one sometimes sees. Having said that, despite the prevalence of 'bots' skewing the statistics, one can also be encouraged by the numbers of views on the blog - and I note that Norm said he was getting 12,000 views per month, to which all I can say is, wow! I am really chuffed if I get one-tenth of that number - and thanks again, to all who look in now and again and add to those figures.

Anyway, I do hope Norm's absence is not a long one, and I promise to leave more appreciative comments in future! It was great to see the many positive responses to Jon Freitag's post on the same subject, and I must also mention a really fantastic post, also inspired by Norm's announcement, from Aaron/Prufrock on his 'Here's No Great Matter' blog.  He makes the crucial point that "The important thing is to recognise that a hobby has to be about enjoyment. It can't be about meeting expectations - well, it can be for a while, but that is unsustainable."  ,  and I think that's what we should all remember - it's only a game, after all.  Post on your blog when you feel good about it, enjoy it, and  don't feel under pressure.  If a post is getting too long, you can always split it up, and give 'em a cliffhanger! ( I am seriously guilty of doing that with my recent game report, I know!).  

Soldier King: first real outing in decades!

In other news: I  recently ventured out, for the first time in over two years, to 'Drafts' boargame cafe in London's Waterloo, to meet gaming buddies Napoleon Dave and Rupert the Boardgamer, and for a not-too-challenging return to gaming we had a go at 'Soldier King' , the game I've been using to drive my 7YW campaign for this blog. I think I bought it pretty much on first publication, which I see was 40 years ago ( ouch!) , and I doubt if it has been actually played since the 80s ( Simon Bryant and Tony Toms of the Medway area, are you out there? ) .  The cafe was scarily noisy and crowded with 'young persons', which I admit unnerved me somewhat - we debated, was it always like that? (we were always the oldest customers in the place, that's for sure!) But the game was fun, and went well, despite a quirk of the map design that seemed to give a distinct possibility that one player could win the game on turn one!  I failed ( luckily for my popularity!) to  exploit that, and we got through a good number of turns in a 3-hour session, and enjoyed a chat ( over the noise!) and some decent food and drinks - and as far as I know, none of us got Covid, somewhat to my surprise! Thanks, Dave and Rupert. 

Finally I want to highlight a couple of recent magazines, if you'll indulge me. First up, 'Miniature Wargames' issue 467 ( March 2022 ) - John Treadaway has excelled himself with this issue, there's some really good stuff in it, I think, such as: 

 (a) Conrad Kinch's regular column,  featuring  a fun '18th Century Kriegspiel' game he has played remotely with his friends using a simple magnetic whiteboard and home-made terrain and unit markers, with a scenario pinched from C.S. Grant - quite inspiring, and emphasises how such setups can be a surprisingly realistic 'command experience' for the players.    

(b) a really excellent 8-page article from Peter Warren of Anschluss Publishing, the  'Malati Bridge' scenario for Sicily 1943,  designed for their 'The War on the Ground' rules, but adaptable to other Battalion/Battlegroup level WW2 rules.  I remember their excellent game at 'Salute' lat year, and I quite fancy to get the rules, if only for the sake of reading them! 

(c) John's report on the 'Broadside' show in December -  can't see myself in the pics, though! Maybe that's for the best..

(d) Dave Tuck's 'The Battle of the Ginnis, a tribute to Peter Gilder's Sudan Campaign Rules' with the players all being British commanders and the umpire controlling the Mahdists,  or equally playable as a solo game. Interesting ideas, vintage figures, and  Peter Gilder's legacy lives on.. 

(e) Gerry Sutcliff's 'An Army in a Day' - painting an entire 2mm scale  army in a day. Which makes me strangely tempted to try it, albeit this would be a gratuitous piece of 'mission creep'! Hmmm, 1859 Italy, maybe? 

(f) book reviews including Arthur Harman's review of 'Paddy Griffiths' Game of War: Reflections of a Lifetime of Wargaming'  from the History of Wargaming Project. Pretty much  everything Paddy Griffith wrote is worth reading, surely? 

... 'and many, many  more' as the K-Tel TV ads used to say..


 and finally 'Arqubusier' , the journal of The Pike and Shot Society, volume XXXVII number 5. This has been rather delayed, for which the editor apologises ( did I hear a rumour that he had a major IT malfunction? ) .  I like the editorial comment where he says 'The Chairman has given the Temporary Editor a very stern talking to!'   -  the Chairman being  Stephen Ede-Borrett, and the Temporary Editor - Steven Ede-Borrett...

I've not read it all yet, but here's the contents page, with some interesting stuff as always: 

They seem to have a bit more wargame-y content these days, alongside the purely historical. I'll be interested to read Robbie Roddis' account of The Army of Cesare Borgia, and also David Flintham's pieces on London and King's Lynn in the Civil Wars -  I think these may be versions of the on-line talks he has given for the Battlefields Trust .   I do very much  like the P&SS;  the period  was my wargaming 'first love', mainly thanks to Goerge Gush and C.V. Wedgewood, and I really must get it into this blog!  One article I have read is a glowing review  of Barry Hilton's 'Every Bullet Has Its Billet: a guide to wargaming the late 17th Century'.  I may or may not ever game the period, but if the review is to be believed, the book will be well worth reading anyway. 

That's probably too much from me, but I have enjoyed writing it, so that's the main thing. Next time, I hope to finally complete the account of the Battle at Zouache - which has been three months in the making.. I can reveal that the actual game has been completed at last! 

Until then  keep  safe, and well, everyone, and keep enjoying your hobby - it's only a game, after all.









  1. I can’t say I’ve really read Norm’s blog. Sounds like I’ve been missing out!

    I’ve been toying with joining the P&SS. Don’t know why I haven’t really. The period is certainly challenging my 18th C collection on my bookshelves.

    1. Thanks Nundanket, I would thoroughly recommend both 'Battlefields and Warriors' and the Pike and Shot Society!

  2. Not sure if I have left a comment before but given the topic of the first half of this post, I will do now! I have never played a boardgames and thetfore occasionally struggled to find words if much significance to leave on Norms extended coverage of this area of gaming, but I did always attempt to leave a comment, for the reasons already outlined on Jons PWJ blog. I personally don't count page views....they are pretty much irrelevant to me....I want people to be engaged enough to leave a comment! If I got to a stage where I only had two or three comments, week after week, I think I would give up. Most of my posts are just the latest painted figures, unfortunately at present, I am lucky to get a game per month, so if I was only blogging AAR's, I would average twelve or fourteen posts per year! I have a regular readership and most posts have around 28 - 32 comments (including my replies) some are as low as 10 and occasionally I get up to around 40. As long as that continues, I will be happy! I do enjoy checking out others blogs and often leave intermittent comments but generally (although not always) if I have left three or four comments and not had the complement returned, I stop commenting. Supporting each other's blogging efforts by way of a comment is an important part of blogging in my opinion, even if it's a rather inane or generic "Great report on a wonderful game" or something similar......and if I have left that comment on a blog of anyone reading this, I meant it, most sincerely!

    1. I feel a sense of an unwritten social contract to blog reciprocity. I think that reciprocity helps build community and receiving comments is a motivator, for sure.

    2. Thanks rross, yes you have commented before, for which thank you very much! I'm impressed with the levels of comments and involvment on your blog, you are obviously doing something right! I will have a look at your blog, and may even comment now and then :)

    3. thanks Jon, I do at the very least make sure to answer and thank every commenter on here, it's fantastic that people take the time to respond - not least your good self!

  3. Hi David, thanks for the mention and generous sentiment. Please don’t feel guilty re the comments thing, the Ligny post simply gave me an opportunity to step back and assess the issue of my spending too much time with both the keyboard and the screen.

    In truth, we are awash with internet content and it is very difficult for us to service all of that as readers, never mind the time we spend creating material.

    As I take my mind back to pre-internet days, for wargaming media we really only had magazines and Featherstone type books to get any wargaming insights beyond our own four walls and yet that seemed ample to ignite my passion for the hobby and keep it burning, so I am quite content at this point to significantly reduce my internet screen time and to just enjoy the less ‘virtual’ aspects of hobby - for now at least :-) cheers Norm.

    1. Thank you, Norm, I was not sure if you would see my post, very kind of you to comment. I did 'feel your pain' ( in your case, actual pain ) as you drove yourself to finish the Ligny game in order to be able to write it up, I can quite understand why you decided enough was enough.
      I agree, there's so much 'out there', it's impossible for anyone to keep up and that can be oppressive. Indeed, we managed to get into all this with so few resources, and the only interactive forum was the 'A Whiff of Grapeshot' letters page in Miniature Wargames mag - not that I would have had the temerity to actually write in.
      All the best to you, Norm, enjoy your gaming!

  4. Dave, I enjoyed your thoughtful and provoking post on Norm’s publication stoppage. I hope Norm sees from all of these posts and comments that a lack of comments does not correlate to a lack of interest. Far from it!

    Interesting point about reluctance to contribute to the dialog due to Norm’s command of the topic. Even a “good job” is a welcome comment when you cannot add materially to advance the conversation.

    I ought to look at Arquebus and the P&S Society. This is another favorite of mine too. Also thanks for the magazine reviews. Very helpful and I hope you keep at it.

    1. Many thanks, Jon. As you may have seen, Norm has responded graciously to my post. Maybe I do need to be more liberal with comments myself, even if only brief 'thumbs-ups'.
      The Pike and Shot Society is well worth joining!

  5. David,

    I’ve had to take a couple of enforced breaks from blogging over the past couple of years, and I must admit to more than a degree of sympathy for Norm’s decision. I read his blog regularly, but commented rather infrequently, for which I apologise … but even if I didn’t write a comment, I always found his writing stimulating.

    I hope that Norm will start blogging again soon; in the meantime, I shall continue to read and support your blog.

    All the best,


    1. Thanks Bob, I can understand that a break can sometimes be for the best. I agree that Norm just can't help but be always stmulating.
      Not sure my blog will be quite a sufficient substitute for Norm's(!), but I'm very glad to know you are following here!

  6. Good comments and observations.

    I appreciate the comments on my blog and enjoy and appreciate even more, the occasional questions and the dialogue inducing comments, BUT I also keep a vague eye on viewing stats, not for absolute numbers but for trends to see what sort of posts seem to attract more views and which seem to be ignored, similar to "likes" on social media. (Spam rarely seems to vary by content unless I accidentally write something that attracts a Bot.)

    1. Thanks, Ross. I agree that comments are the best thing, but viewing numbers are a good measure, too. Suprisingly, my 'most viewed' post has been my think-piece about the current war in Ukraine - I think I am rather glad of that.