Choosing a period to play
How do you decide which historical period or fantasy genre to play?
The answer for me is easy: I simply find something that attracts my curiosity and and stimulates my imagination.
It’s history, dude
With history this usually involves reading something about a battle, a campaign, or a person involved. This can be from any source: a wargames magazine, the Internet, a book, or even just a book review. Inspiration can also strike from seeing a film or documentary.
Visiting an exhibition or historical location is a great way of getting inspiration, and having an imagination helps here! A holiday in Northumberland rekindled my interest in early Roman Britain for example resulting in more Peter Pig Romans.
And off course seeing neatly turned out model armies is always a surefire way of enthusing me. Attending PAW in January 2009 and viewing some of the armies in the ancients competition resulted in my deciding to buy 15mm Second Punic War armies.
Is fantasy different?
Well it’s less of a passion than history and more light relief. After all fantasy gives you freedom to do what you like, doesn’t it?
Not always for two reasons. Some people like to base their fantasy armies on a background as detailed as any historical background and if there is a film or TV dimension there is a rich visual reference as well. Having balanced forces for a competitive but enjoyable game is most easily done using points and army lists, some of which can be surprisingly restrictive.
My take on fantasy tends to come from reading rather than film or TV. This makes a difference because a rule set or figures may be based on an interpretation that is very different to my own. For example Games Workshop based their warg figures for Lord of the Rings on the film, and depict them as hyena like big dogs. From Tolkien’s writings I had always imagined wargs as lupine rather than canine, and with a chilling supernatural aspect not bad breath as a ranged weapon! However, plastic wargs are cheap and I like the orcs so I ignore my imagination here!
Does inspiration end in an army?
It can end in a purchase but not always in an army. I enjoy reading about the War of the Spanish Succession but this is more from an interest in the characters involved and Anglo-dutch political and cultural relations at the time.
Equally I enjoy Games Workshop’s pulp fiction novels set in their Warhammer milieu but it tends to inspire small bursts of modeling rather than whole armies.
Once you start , do you finish?
Sometimes I complete a whole army on a wave of enthusiasm. Often I will add a unit, character, or building to an existing force and be inspired by something else. After all as a cartoon in the Courier pointed out, it’s just a hobby and I can stop any time I want …