Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Medium Victories

Membership has expanded to a mighty six! This divides evenly between grown men who should know better and Sixth Formers who will soon be distracted by more important things. Like women. And beer.

Still, if I can recruit some female players and get in a six-pack we might still retain their interest...

I've also started a Yahoo! Group at So called, because we're technically still just the York Garrison Wargaming Club, or YGWC. Personally, I'd like something a bit snappier, but on the other hand this does have a certain "Ronseal" quality about it.

Next week will be a bit of an experiment, as (a) we're going to play something other than Inquisitor and (b) I won't be there, except to drop in and say "hi" and check that no one's set the place on fire. Talk is strongly in favour of a 40K in 40 Minutes evening.

Soon, we're going to have to broach the tricky subject of money. The hall is free, but we're going to need some income if we're to develop our own resources in the form of gaming boards, terrain, hobby materials and suchlike. This is where our status as a Garrison club comes to the fore. Okay, only half of our membership comes from York Garrison personnel or dependents, but that's still no reason not to ask the Army for money. And although cash is often hard to prise from the MoD's fingers, we're approaching the time of year when organizations start to notice and unexpected underspend and get desperate to give money to anything worthwhile that takes the trouble to ask.

So ask, I shall.

We also need more than six people. Six is good, of course, but I hope to increase that by more than 200% in the next six months. And for that, we need publicity.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Small Victories

Meeting number 2 saw us achieve a 50% increase in our total turnout and we managed a whole 3 people!

So that's me, Moz and Steve.

But I brought minis and rules and Steve brought green felt and terrain and I introduced them both the illicit joy that is Inquisitor. We enjoyed it so much that when we looked at our watches, it was a quarter past eleven, we'd missed Last Orders and run over our official occupancy time of half past ten.

But it's a definite start! I am now wondering how best to coordinate the club's efforts so that people can see what's going on and what's going to be available to play at each meeting. I'm thinking of a Yahoo! Group, but whether that's necessarily the best way ahead, I'm not sure.

But now I have a club, I guess it's time to head back to the GCN and ask their advice...

Monday, November 07, 2005

Well, it's a good thing I didn't get too excited

The two of us had a cup of coffee, looked at the venue, chatted about some ideas and then went to the pub...

But as the venue's not costing me anything, it's really academic. I just need to keep plugging the existence of the club and it'll stand or fall on its own merits.

That said, "plugging its existence" is proving tricky when I'm not exactly overburdened with free time in which to get stuff done. Unusually, it was my boss who prompted me to widen my advertising base (he tries to pay attention to what his underlings do with what little time is left to them; I used to think it was sweet, but now I suspect he's just working out when is a good time to keep me in late).

I reckon a poster campaign is in order. My contacts at the local school can put a few up, I'm sure. Likewise, the local library and, of course, the venue itself should carry a poster or two to raise awareness. We're in a military Garrison here in York, so it's worth contacting the local Headquarters to see if they will publicize the club in their weekly Orders and, if Garrison personnel attend the club, we may even be elligible for funding!

I'm assured that cracking the venue is the hardest part. The venue isn't perfect. It's too far out of the centre for that. But it's got enough going for it (it's free!) that I think it's worth persevering into the New Year and seeing what happens.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

I could crush a grape...'s so exciting! I went to see the proposed venue this morning and it really is ideal.

There's oodles of storage space, a fully supplied kitchen (bring your own food and drink), £4m of PLI and next to no restrictions on use (beyond normal civilised behaviour, naturally). There's a separate area for hobycraft and they can even supply simple materials like glue and cardboard.

There's parking, a bus-stop and a pub all within a two minute walk (there's even some parking right outside the door) and, best of all, there's absolutely no charge for its use!

The only downside is that the venue is some 20 minutes out of the centre of town, making it a bit of a hike for those who live on the far side or in the centre. But it's on a bus route right from the middle of town and what they have to spend on travel they'll save on hire fees.

All (all!) that remains is to gather enough people together on its first meeting night to guage interest and to get feedback on how others feel about the place.

This is where the nascent club may fall at the first hurdle.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

And we're off!

Yes, after a long delay, it seems that things might actually be starting to happen, and I have GW to thank for it!

Changes to the shop opening hours and working practices have meant that the Tuesday Night Veterans' Club in GW York (and, I think, across the country) has been axed, with only Thursday night left for in-store gaming. Unfortuantely for GW, a good number of the Veterans had organized their home and social lives around Tuesday night gaming. So rather than move nights, they moved locations and have been meeting in another player's home.

Meanwhile, I made a few inquiries and found a venue supported by a national organization that was able to offer us space and time for free! It's right off a main bus route and within staggering distance of the local hostelry (for Over 18 members only!).

It's not a done deal, however. Haste, I have found, is a critical motivator in getting such a venture off the ground. So I'm going to see the venue in detail tomorrow to ask all of the relevant questions and poke my nose around. Using the GCN guide as my roadmap, the questions I'll be asking are:
  • Is there storage space for boards (and scenery)?
  • Can we use the kitchen and, if so, do we have to provide our own materials?
  • Does the hall have its own PLI or do we need to get some?
  • Can we sell refreshments?
  • Can we do painting and modelling?
  • What are the restrictions on use?

Meanwhile, I have contacted a previous employer who still has my CRB certificate (shame on them!). The plan is to drag in as many potential members as possible, not to start gaming straight away but to discuss a way ahead for the club. Points of discussion will include:

  • How often will we meet?
  • What games will we play?
  • How much should we charge and what should revenue be put towards?
  • If there's money involved, do we need a committee?

And depending on what answers we get to all of the above points:

  • Will we sell refreshments?
  • Do we want to run other events?
  • Who will be the committee members?
  • Do we want to join the GCN?

Of course, this could all still die a quick death. Turn out needs to be drummed up NOW and then maintained at an appropriate level. And if it survives beyond November (first meeting should be 1 Nov 05), we'll need to get organized sharpish if we're to sustain our momentum.

Well, it's off to drum up that support for me! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

And a month later...

Well, it's almost a month since my last post, and I thought you might like an update:

Progress on the school club has been shot down as my contact got fobbed off by the Deputy Head. I intend to take direct action and contact the Head of English, especially as I've discovered they're studying Tolkein on the GCSE syllabus. However, it'd be rude to do so without first getting my contacts in the school to agree to the course of action, and they're still tied up with their exams, so I don't want to distract them just yet.

Meanwhile, I'm desperately trying to move forward my idea to start a club that's more than just a venue to play standard wargames. I'm keen to deconflict with the YWS so that we don't end up fighting for the same audience, so I've started The Holy Order of the Emperor (stupid name, but I was trying to come up with something that could encompass lots of systems, and there seems to be both an Emperor and a penchant for religious fanaticisim in a lot of systems).

The object is for the The Holy Order to be as much an on-line community as it is an actual gaming club, with a focus on the fringes of conventional gaming. To that end, it will focus on Kill Team, Border Patrol, Specialist Games and exploring new options for conventional games - whatever the players come up with: new armies (like Eldar Exodites or Warhammer Cathayans); new mechanics (alternating phases) or unusual environments (jungle fighting, Cityfight, boarding actions...).

There will also be a strong emphasis on the physical side of the hobby: i.e. models, painting and terrain.

If you read this and you're interested, email

Meanwhile, I've got a couple of buckshee days off owed to me and plan to pop into York and hand out flyers at GW - if they'll let me! Ask permission from the management before doing anything like this in your local Hobby Centre.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Twiddling my thumbs...

Whilst I'm not posting any new developments, it may look as if I'm doing nothing. But I'm not.

That is, I'm not doing nothing.

I'm doing something.

I'm waiting.

Now, I appreciate that, to the outside observer, the difference between "doing nothing" and "waiting" may too fine to differentiate. But waiting is more dynamic. It implies that something is going to happen in due course, or that someone else might be doing something.

In the short term, what it means is that I haven't been to either YWS or to Veteran's Night yet. But the perfect opportunity lies on the horizon.

In addition, I am still waiting on contact with the school where I might start a School Club, having had word from one of the players there that he will pass on my details.

I am also waiting for Maurice to come back from his business trip, and I've agreed to meet up with Steve for a game and a few beers. So if I can link Maurice in with the game with Steve, we'll be onto a winner. After that, all we need is to be meeting regularly and we call ourselves a "club" according to the dictionary definition!

So, you see, I'm doing nothing dynamically. Sometimes, it's all that you can do.

Monday, May 16, 2005

There is life in York...

To my mixed delight and chagrin, the York Wargames Society does have 40K and other GW game players. Apparently, Monday nights from 8pm is the time to go along for a game of 40K. I will see how my other half feels about my going along this very evening (not to play, but just to get an idea of who's there, what they're playing etc). I have in mind either to throw in my lot with YWS or - if it doesn't seem that it would severely damage the club's viability - to start a "seed" club, parented by YWS. Which would be a better option will depend upon those who go to the club.

Meanwhile, there's more good news on the horizon in the form of my old comrade-in-arms, Steve, whom I've just heard has made his own way up to North Yorkshire. As I haven't communicated with Steve since he left the Adeptus Arbites Yahoo! Group, then his appearance is either a tremendous coincidence or he's stalking me.

However, Steve is a hugely experienced wargamer and modeller with a perfect temperament for running a club (massive ego, great intelligence, no social life) and a remarkable capacity for strong ale. Getting him on-side would be terrific... I guess I'd better hope he doesn't read this 'blog, then, hadn't I?

Thursday, May 12, 2005

School's out...

Thanks to Jack for reminding me that, what with GCSEs coming up, now won't be the best time for starting a School Wargaming Club to distract them.

Of course, although I was only vaguely aware of this (GCSEs being thankfully no more than a distant memory for me and still a long way off for my son), it actually works in my favour. Because it takes a while to set these things up, to arrange the agreements and rules and parameters, and aiming for a start date of September seems like a good plan to me.

The other advantage is that my wife is considerably more supportive of this idea than of seeing her kitchen invaded by marauding teenagers on a weekly basis (funny, that). I should add that its not just a fear for the best china that motivates my dearly beloved. She sees me helping to set up a school club as much more of a real contribution to the community. She thinks there aren't enough good clubs and activities run in state schools and if we stay in this area then this school might even be the one that my little boy goes to one day...

Yet another distraction...

I thought I had covered all the bases, I really did.

I contacted people I knew in the areas, and they said there were no wargaming clubs in York. I checked with GCN, and they have no clubs recorded in York. I asked on on-line forums: no one knew of any gaming clubs in York. I even went to the local GW and asked them if there were any gaming clubs in York. They said that there weren't.

There is.

York Wargames Society has, by all accounts, been there for quite a long time. Long enough to have their own wargames conference and trade fair, the Vapnartak (which presumably means something in Viking). GW York even takes a trade stand there, so you'd think that they would know it existed!

So, anyway, I've contacted them. This could be the end of the project, of course. After all, I don't want to be setting up a competing club, because then everyone loses out. However, I know from experience that if you find a wargaming club that doesn't have good links with GW, that doesn't register with GCN and which doesn't make in-roads with local schools to garner fresh members, well...

Look, to be blunt, they're usually inhabited by hairy geography teachers who wax lyrical about the Sumerians or Napoleon's Legions or the Confederate Cavalry. When I mention Warhammer, they get all superior and start sneering at "primitive, turn-based gaming systems" and "the fallacy of science fiction wargames". They get hostile if I mention Warhammer: Historical and if I should so much as breathe the word "Bloodbowl", they start fashioning surprisingly realistic mock-ups of Rick Priestley* and Tom Kirby**.

Now, I'm not saying for a second that York Wargames Society is like that at all. For a start they do LARPing (Live Action Role Play) and normal RPGs (Role-Play Games), including Warhammer Quest. But part of me is kind of hoping that they don't support GW games. Because however much I would welcome players of historical wargames, personally I find them a bit dull.

But this is a potential learning experience, so I thought I share it with you.

*Author of the world's most successful wargames... for GW.
**GW Chairman and the man who made those games the most succesful in the world.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


I said I'd put up a link to the Gobstyk's guide to starting a club, so here it is:

I haven't read it yet, but I'm sure it's very good.

Going off at a tangent...

Well, I've got three more people interested in coming to the club... but they're all doing GCSEs!!

However, I'm a great believer in turning a problem into an opportunity. It so happens that all of those I've contacted so far are at the same school or live in the same general area near York. So an alternate direction suggests itself: an after-school club.

I'd not considered this before, because - as I said - I'm not really in this for running a youth club. But some schools have after-school coordinators, and I wouldn't mind acting as an advisor if there's interest. Frankly, once there's a room, some big bits of wood and a box or two of terrain, an after-school club should run itself... shouldn't it?

Well, I guess it's off to the GW School Clubs page to find out more...

As an aside, I was very conscious, when contacting Sam about this idea, that I was an adult contacting a minor over the Internet. This is dodgy territory and I was keen that should Sam mention this to a parent or teacher that there not be any concern that I'm a weirdo (I mean, I play wargames with toy soldiers, for heaven's sake - I must be a bit odd, musn't I?). As a result I was careful not to ask Sam where he goes to school, but instead to ask him to pass my email address to an appropriate teacher and for him/her to get in touch with me direct.

Word to the wise, eh?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

A Minor Problem...

So I've contacted this chap, Sam. via The Conclave and got a positive response as well as the news that his friend Dave is interested. But there's an issue. Sam's 15. Okay, he turns 16 in August and, frankly, I don't really care. But it raises an interesting question:

I'm following the advice in the Gaming Club Manual and starting small. I plan to have games in my garage and painting in the kitchen, followed by pizza or somesuch in the living room for those who want to just shoot the breeze about wargames and suchlike.

But what if most of those who're interested are on the spotty side of their majority? I feel a bit like I'm setting myself up to hang around with a bunch of teenagers. Not that there's anything wrong with teenagers, but... No, hang on, they're teenagers! Of course there's something wrong with them!! What have I done!?

Calm... calm...

The answer seems pretty obvious, really: I need some other adults around. These will dilute the atmosphere of hormones and hairgel, provide me with some moral support and make me feel less like the one running a youth club. I determined immediately that I would not start this club unless there was at least one other over-18 involved.

CLUB RULE 1: At least 2 adults must be present at every meeting.

Apart from anything else, it gives me someone to go to the pub with afterwards...

Now there's this bloke Maurice, from tech support. But he's based south of the city and while I hope he'll come along, I doubt he'll be able to make it every week. I need to get someone else on board. Preferably someone who already has a Criminal Records Bureau clean bill of health, like me.

Now, where can I find a CRB-checked adult with an interest in wargaming...? Looks like I'm off to Veteran's Night this Thursday!

Seeking wisdom...

Whatever my personal assessment of my organizational abilities, life has taught me that it's always worth trying to learn from the experiences of others. "Time spent in reconniassance is time rarely wasted", as my old instructor used to say.

So it was off to Games Workshop's clubs page. There, I was able to download the Gaming Club Manual and the GCN's Introductory Handbook.

Now, these are both good documents, but the GCN's (incidentally, their website is here) is much more for established clubs joining the GCN. Even the GW document assumes that you've already got the basic format of "three or more people meeting together regularly to pursue a hobby or interest". I didn't even have that.

At this point, chance intervened. My PC at work broke and I called tech support. It took him until the next day to turn up, but when he did there was a moment of double-take as we each realized that we had met before at GW York's "Veterans Night". I took the chance to ask him if he fancied the idea of an independent club and he was enthusiastic.

Motivated, I headed on-line to look for others in the area.

I already knew of at least one from The Conclave and so it was back to there (it's the official forum for the Inquisitor game) that I went. Fortunately they have a fixed thread called "The Index of Where We Live" and I was able to email another N Yorks local to see if he was interested.

He is! And he has a friend who wants to play, too!


A shot in the dark...

It's pretty simple, really.

I like wargaming. That is, I enjoy building and painting armies of small metal and plastic soldiers and marching them to battle other people's armies of small metal and plastic soldiers. I also like building the battlefields over which they fight. I even like talking about wargaming and coming up with new ways to play them.

So when I moved to my new house in North Yorkshire, I was keen to find a local club to test my mettle against other, similar enthusiasts. Knowing that Yorkshire has more Games Workshop Hobby Centres than any other area of the UK except London, I was hopeful. But my hopes were ill-founded.

So it falls to me to make the attempt to start a Wargaming Club for the York area.

I should state from the outset that I've never done this before, but I'm generally reckoned to be pretty good at organizing things, so I think I stand as good a chance as anyone of getting it off the ground. However, it occured to me that - stand or fall, win or lose - there might be some mileage in starting this 'blog to inform others out there of what I'm doing, how I'm doing it and what works and what doesn't.

So if you're thinking about starting a club yourself, pop in occasionally. I make no promises about how often I'll be posting, nor of how long I can maintain any attempt to start this thing, but I'll do my best to be constructive, honest and useful.