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Sunday 24 July 2011

A day in the life....

That splendid blogger Wargaming for Grown ups often seems to have to fit his wargaming in around his life. It's not like that here - and yet curiously it very much is. Merely because I run a wargaming miniatures company does not mean I do a lot of actual wargaming. Now don't get me wrong here - its my choice, I've tried other lines of work and mostly hated 'em all more or less so there is nothing I'd rather do- at least in the terms of the actually possible, so all of the following is rather simply to illustrate what the hell I spend my working life actually doing - as its not all playing with soldiers.
One of the MAJOR advantages or working from home is the total lack of commuting thank God !! Man when I did it was the biggest pain- waiting for buses standing in the pissing rain or freezing cold- sometimes both or standing in a bus shelter that had been used as a urinal - frequently. No I don't miss it . The Civil service can do without me and good riddance says I.
So I can rise at 7.30 and be at my dest working well before 8.30 should that be needful- which it mostly is- sometimes earlier but no sweat.
Check the overnight emails- anything from Half a dozen to 50 or so depending upon what time of the year- or week it is- always more on a Monday AFTER the weekend.
Its a pretty fair bet that the phone will ring a few times too. I'm a tad old fashioned so am still happy to take Telephone orders. If you are planning to buy a fairly sized army its worth using the phone to take advantage of the "6 for5" deal. We can't do this on the website as the possible variants are simply too numerous(4500 to the power 4500 so my tame tekkie says ) . Our Sagepay payment system isn't able to deal with that. .
So sorted the emails - printed the order out - next job pull the orders from the stock bins and make out the order dockets. I still do this by hand as its the most reliable way of knowing the state of play on any given order- less chance of a cock -up - mind you those can still happen Not often though!.
If the order is Old Glory Sash and Saber or Bluemoon any missing stuff will be added to the next order to be sent to the USA(if it hasn't already). If its from a range I make here- Aircraft ,Romanoff Fireforce etc etc then If I don't have it to hand it goes on the casting list for the next casting day..
At this point my wife Carole enters the fray as packer and posting supremo. She's the other half of Old Glory UK . There are just the 2 of us here. My show crew only help me out at shows for the rest it's myself and Carole. Gophers I have none- don't want 'em.
By now its around lunchtime so usually a quick buttie and cuppa- often interrupted by phone calls - some from customers some from cold calling time wasters - " do you a website " "sell you some phones " " waste your time " - I've had up to 20 of these in a day and can get a tad testy- sometime **** off !!as you slam the phone down is really the only way to get rid of 'em . I've tried polite it does not work .
Afternoons can vary a bit. I may have photographs to take for the website or for a magazine article. I may have a bundle of paperwork to do - the bane of my life- or maybe its casting ., I have 4 or 5 orders to cast for tomorrow assuming I can fit it in and it doesn't have to wait until Tuesday.
Perhaps its a posting day so I'll walk the half- mile or so to our local post office with the smaller orders(larger ones may go by courier). We keep it local. We had a Post Office contract but they cancelled it - apparently the 5 grand a year I spent with them was beneath their notice. My local postmaster was more than pleased to take over. He and his girls do an good job.
The point here is that all of this stuff takes time. Some computer dudes forget that the web isn't real they are only pictures - someone has to make this stuff, pack and ship it and it takes time.
For instance photographs. The number of times I've been asked
"Why are there no photographs on your site"-
Give it a rest man there are over 2500 and still growing.
What they usually means is
"Why isn't there a picture or preferebly 27 of the pack I want to look at THIS MINUTE but have no intention of buying"
Now I fully understand but man a French Infatryman is a French Infantryman.
I have currently a bundle of about 100 pics from several chaps who have kind enough to give me permission to use their work. So I have to go through these - decide which I can use - re-size and sometimes otherwise fiddle about with them. Say an average of 10 minutes per photo 100 photos thats just over 16 hours work. Extrapolating this for roughly 4500 products thats 750 hours- doing nothing else - no wee wee or tea breaks no stopping to answer the phone almost 94 working 8 hour shifts doing nothing else to get 1 photo per code. And that assumes that I don't take the pics myself so
its pretty unlikely that I'll ever get everything photographed before I snuff it ! .
Especially as we keep bringing stuff out on both sides of the pond .
Nevertheless photos are added to the OGUK site pretty regularly As of this morning there were 2181 photos on the site not counting the homepage which has a changeing pic everytime you log on . By the end of the week that figure should have risen.
By now in my "normal" working day its pushing 5 O'clock and I've had enough. I needed to get some painting done but that didn't happen. Perhaps I'll do a bit later in the evening but frankly some days I'm sick of the little lead gits by 5 O'clock and want to think about something else. Fast Cars ... maybe... though that is my petrolhead wifes province Jane Austen... possibly A pie and a Pint very possibly indeed. Perhaps I'll cook. A little Penne al Tonno or maybe a Bruchetta or maybe something a little more substantial say a Chargrilled surloin with an Onion and Mustard dressing with a Green Salad and a bottle of Gamay ... . That will depend upon the seasonbor maybe I'll go to the Hoss or the Mary....

Monday 18 July 2011

"Charge- your Pike " and comparative pricing.

An ongoing thread on the Old School Yahoo group about converting Young's Charge rules to the ECW got me thinking so there I was searching for appropriate info on what ECW stuff was available in those far off days when I came upon my copy of Military Modelling ISSUE 1 January 1971.
Afew comparative prices are absolutly intrigueing. I quote
Lamming 20/25mm Cavalry 2 per box - with horses- 7/-each Now as Mil-mod was only 3/- per issue at the time this would make1 cavalry figure more expensive than the magazine.
Translate that to today and you'd be paying a fiver for a single 28mm cavalry figure- given that most of todays glossies are 4 quid plus each - current Miniwargs price £4.25 . Around 3/- (15p) seems to have been the norm for mounted figures back then-(Garrison were 3/- each with fpoot at 1/3d each a box of Airfix would cost you about the same. Some outfits were more expensivew some less so but while comparisons are not exact its interesting that the actual models are in real terms cheaper than they were then - 3 bob was a lot of money certainly 2 or 3 pints (I was a bit young to know precisly) Now asingle pint will cost you about the same as a 28mm Cavalryman Hmmmm choices....
For me -despite the nostalgia for the old days - we have a better hobby now with more competititon - more companies and, on the whole, far far better product- at least as regards figures.
Now the photo is a depiction in 40mm - using my own Jacdaw and Romanoff figures a "battalia of foot a la Peter Young as depected in his article in the december 1969 issue of Bayonet. . I have placed the figures as he had them in the diagram- with the exception of the CO who I have placed- dismounted at the head of his regiement as would have been practice in the 17th century.

Wednesday 6 July 2011

In Search of Reality? part 3

The Gentle Art of the Active Umpire

Funny chaps wargamers - at once very broadminded and incredibly narrow in outlook. Now I'm long past the time where I expect my opinions to influence another. Almost 40 years a wargamer has taught me that rarely happens .
The ongoing discussion on the OSW has revealed little except entrenched opinions- at least in the more wordy cases. Its not really a matter of "wood for the Trees" but rather more often - "this is what I want and all others are wrong because they are not me" - these are the more vociferious you understand - by no means everyone
So it once again strikes me that perhaps I'm not a "true" wargamer in that sense at all but rather a historian who plays with toy soldiers in as historical a manner as he feels like at the time.
One of the surprising things has been the way quite a few chaps simply ignore or dismiss the Umpire as either totally unnecessary(because their chosen rules are perfect?) or merely a scorer or if present limit his role to simple adjudication.
By Gum they- and especially the Umpire himself- are really missing a trick there.
Perhaps Umpire is a poor word.
Borrowing from Role players perhaps he should be the "Gamesmaster" In India he would be "Janghi Lat"- the Lord of War .
In our group his job is to organise the game set up the scenario provide the toys- other chaps help of course- and then run the game to his rules his way. We all take turns.

"The Umpire is ALWAYS right - especially when he's wrong"

is the only rule we have in the T.W.A.T.S. We find we work better that way. Any printed rulebooks is almost always secondary to the Umpires knowledge. In essence the rules provide the mere statistics the Umpire provided the "reality" - period colour, fog of War - general military Friction basically all the stuff that a mere rulebook just can't do the stuff you can't legislate for unless you want a rule set that's like Britannica.
A computer can't do it its too impersonal and it won;'t work with "win at all costs" or "gamey" players.
However we find it does work with chaps who have a sense of period and who would rather play to period than to rulebook.
We've been doing this for years- certainly since the mid 90s if not before ands=d see no reason to change though there are fellas out there who find our approach a bit odd.
What it means is that we tend not to be stuck in a rut. We'll play lots of different games in many different ways- depending upon who is running the show .
For instance - our last game was the Durham show game.- see the earlier post. Our next will be a WW2 Naval affair run by Floating Jeff most likely in the Pacific. Jim the painter wants to do a FOG based ancients game - we haven't tried these yet so the first few games will probably be "by the book" . But we'll see - thank God we are not predictable.
As for the pictures- they simply show that I've dug out my Indian collection and am adding to it. The white background shot shows a recently completed unit of Matchlockmen- from the Old Glory Muting range . Then another shot of my small Dikh wars group and also a shot of WSR Hodson - Rugby school boy - cavalryman and possible purloiner of Mess funds - setting about the mutinerrs with some of his troopers.

It takes all sorts...

Sunday 3 July 2011

The Search for Reality- part 2


The ongoing debate on the Old School wargames Yahoo group which started as my poor first impressions of "Black Powder" has expanded beyond all recognition into dicussions of scale, battlefield Casualties and weapons effectivness. Some of it is pretty esoteric and basically boils down to the differences each of us has when we examine what we do. As an debate it's interesting but unlikly to change opinions. I've learnt a few things so its not been a complete waste but as ever I'm mildly surprised by - in what is a history based hobby - how many apparent "history haters" there are out there. Now that's deliberatly a bit strong and its probably truer to say that its the "empiricists" vs the "gamers" with perhaps a third faction - a small one- the "humanists" - having a bash at both sides as occaision serves .
For myself I'd say I'm a humanist with a shot of empiricism on the side- for me both are important. The "numbers racket" of the empiricists is a foundation and helps us quantify the quantifyable- weapon range movement speed etc. But the human element - mewmoirs battle reports history books prints and paintings put the flessh on the bare skeleton of the number crunchers.
Were our hobby a mere "gaming excercise" for "FUN" I'd be doing something else - watching paint dry perhaps or reading Paradise lost .
There are - contrary to the "Funsters" (another faction perhaps) many kinds of enjoyment and while I find some of them peurile that does not make them wrong in any way. Live like you wanna live Dude but that works both ways surely?
Now to be honest there is no such thing as a perfect set of rules - various systems do various jobs at various times. I shudder to think how many rulesets I've tried in 40 years but that doesn't stop me trying, maybe I'll get a bit of insight into how this or that worked.
In 40 years I've solved the odd problem- at least to my satisfaction latterly I've found most problems can be sorted by an Umpire who knows hisa stuff.
Quite why so many wargamers are anti- umpire I can't fathom. Its seems to be based around the fear that they may end up being one. Twaddle !.It's fun - in the broadest sense- espeially with adult players who also know the period. Its the normal way we run games at the T.W.A.T.S.. The idea of 2 player "head to head lead" no longer has appeal- I've done my shareand want a different experience one that - in an ideal world is intellectually stimulating , socially diverting and yes even that overused word !fun" - oh and preferably with beer in it ! .
What I don't want is to be patronised by over glossy rulesets with buckets of eye candy and comparatively thin content . Told that they are the best thing since sliced bread (to be fair NOT by the publisher) and if I don't like 'em I don't like fun - well not that kind I prefer to use my own brain thanks You can continue to plumb the shallows if you like
I'll not be dumbed down ...
The Resistance Lives on....