, , ,

Day 1) What got you started?

BFWGIn 1978 I was a teenager and a wargamer. Being a wargamer in New Zealand in 1978 meant Airfix 1/72 plastic soldiers and Airfix rules. The choice of periods to play was limited as well. You either had American Civil War (who cared? Not me living in The Empire), WWII (as the son of a one legged WWII veteran that seemed in terrible bad taste), Cowboys and Indians (kind of fun but the propaganda was clear: the Indians never won), or Napoleonics. So Napoleonics it was. In an early sign of contrariness I chose Prussian forces, a range that was not manufactured, and so consigned myself to converting French and British.

At that time I had access to only two magazines: Military Modelling which was about just that, and Battle – For Wargamers. Both British. It’s all you could get in The Empire. Battle exposed me to an exciting International world. I learnt about the English Civil War (or what Churchill referred to as the ‘Real’ Civil War) and this has become a lifelong fascination. It also had a long running series about a fantasy game campaign called Hyboria – The Campaign that Grew, by Tony Bath. This exposed me to a whole different world of possibilities. Games could be about anything at all – they did not have to be about specific battles and campaigns in history. I did not have to know the exact regimental colour piping for a regiment, I could make it up. Or at least I could base it on other sources such as Tolkein.

Then, in the April edition of Battle I found an article on a new game called Dungeons & Dragons and my outlook was transformed. This was a revolution in thinking. Individual man on man wargaming, for a start (think of the cost savings!), but more importantly the opening up and legitimising the use of imagination in games. Sure, every wargamer imagines the scenes in his mind’s eye, but there is a qualitative difference between imagining a thousand men forming a square and a single man climbing a rope ladder. It wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I loved it; still do.

Based on the scanty information in the article I wrote my own rules. Since I’d only ever heard of six sided dice that’s all it used. Since I had no examples other than the article the only contents and traps in my early dungeons where those described. But I learnt fast. I still have my original notes.