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.