Tuesday, 27 January 2015

2015 and all that...

"We are now beginning our approach to Liverpool, KG 606
 Airways hopes you had a pleasant flight".
Like many of you, the Christmas and New Year holidays are for me a time of both reflection on the year past and anticipation of the year to come. For me it was very different this year as I had to travel roughly 1500 miles to visit my family for the first time. I never really ever thought I would be saying "I'm off to England for a holiday", but there you go...

Despite the ensuing insanity that generally marks a Hale family Christmas, there were those rare occasional quiet moments and of course having a few days of holiday left when I returned, I was able to devote some time over the holidays to myself, my hobby and my plans for the future. 2014 brought some dramatic, if not unwelcome changes to my life, not least my relocation to Spain, along with a new job with a company which is only just now expanding into the area where I work. 

Essentially I have gone from being time-rich to time-poor, especially as I used to work in solid blocks of time, giving definite beginnings and ends to the day. Now my working day is broken by periods of travel between venues and other periods of useless or 'dead time', which comes out of my 'free time'. When you add in a new environment to explore, a more hospitable climate and being only 500 metres from the beach and sea (and I'm not talking a travel agent's '500 metres' either), the inducements to devote time to what is essentially a 'indoor hobby' are somewhat fewer too. Nevertheless wargaming and military history are interests I have had since as far back as I can remember and I could never abandon them.

However this new reality has meant a re-think. Figures, books, paints and all the impedimenta of our hobby, are  all mostly back in the UK and until I settle into some form of long-term accommodation, they need to stay there. I have my 'online library' and some 'essentials' here of course, but with clothes, teaching stuff etc, my world currently fits into three suitcases and it may remain the case (no pun intended) for much of this year. Even once this is resolved space is likely to be an issue, so any grandiose plans for multitudes of periods and projects to dabble in need to be reined in.

Past experience has taught me that it is terrain and buildings which take up most space, especially as whatever clever storage ideas you come up with, they seem to defy all logic as regards stacking and similarly sized 'storage solutions' (what we used to call boxes). The ideal solution would seem to be as small a number of geographic terrain types as possible. This will also drive the selection of periods to game, as to say the least a game set in North-West Europe is going to look a bit unconvincing on anything but very verdant terrain. 

This is sort of how I imagine my wargaming scenery will look. The reality might be a cloth thrown over some books... we used to roll like that back in the day y'know? Some people still do of course and I have seen some fantastic looking games on an 'old school' cloth; it does not have to be all modular boards to look good.
Buildings are perhaps the most problematic things, but even then some are imminently adaptable across a number of periods and regions, while others are not. The Empress Spanish Church could be used in Spain from the Medieval period to the Civil War and look just at home in the Caribbean or the Portuguese African colonies into the '70s. The Perry 'black and white' Medieval Cottage is limited to North-West Europe within the advertised time frame of 1300 to 1700. Spanish-style tiled roof houses are pretty much as ubiquitous as the previously-mentioned church, as are flat-roofed 'Arab' types to a point. Thankfully the bulk of games use few buildings, nevertheless wargamers tend to accumulate them quicker than a slum landlord. 

The decision of what to go for and what not to has not been an easy decision. Obviously some choices were very easy; the Spanish Civil War is an obsession of mine, so no contest there. That single factor has to a point driven some of the other choices, with the exception of one; my love for '40s - '60s Americana and the 'Concrete Jungle', which admittedly is largely buildings rather than terrain per se. While I will still be writing on all things Late Medieval North West Europe, my gaming focus will shift to Spain and/or Italy, so as to make best use of the 'SCW Terrain'. A couple more projects are still at the deciding stage, so more on those another time!

*Edit* - Sorry folks, I may have caused confusion with my 'holiday in England' remark. England is a fantastic place to go to (if the weather is not high on your needs list), with so much to see and do pretty much anywhere you can stick a pin in the map.

I meant that as a 'native' I'd never thought I would be 'going to' England for a holiday.