Back in '71/'72 I played Napoleonic's, but as a callow 11/12 year old, and being impoverished, this was with Airfix, mounted 4 or 5 to a base, and using Don Featherstone's rules from his book "Wargames". I subsequently expanded periods by getting into WWII (North Africa) again using Airfix, and rules from the same source - though rapidly expanded to take account of all the vehicles Don didn't cater for.
From '72 to '74 I lived in Australia (mine is a services family) which was when I started my most serious solo gaming - wargaming wasn't well established in Oz at that time, though I do remember getting along to at least one club meeting where we played a big ACW game, and I introduced some friends of mine to WWII Desert gaming using Featherstone rules. During this time I became the proud owner of an autographed copy of Don Featherstone's "Solo Wargames" when it first came out, and this, along with 'Wargamers Newsletter' kept me going for the 2 years in the 'wilderness'!
When I came back to the UK, I moved on to WRG Napoleonic rules following my attendance at Portsmouth Wargames Club (meeting in the YMCA in Penny Street in those days!) - a lot of my gaming was still solo however, as at that age transport is the problem! There was also a brief foray into Western Gunfight skirmish games which was prompted by some lovely articles in Wargamers Newsletter at the time (by Ian Curtis as I remember)..
After an all too brief flirtation with girls and beer (about '77/8 if I remember rightly - the flirtation continues with beer, but the wife wouldn't be too happy if I continued with the girls!), I then moved on to D&D, and later AD&D - mostly because I had found a bunch of friends who were already playing.
At university I returned to the "light side" and started collecting Ancients in 15mm - mostly Minifigs (the early one's sold in strips), and Mikes Models (many, many, interesting visits to their shop in Brighton!). I collected Samurai (Minifigs), and Classical Indian armies (Mike's Models) and played WRG 6th edition rules - using solo run campaigns to generate the battles. After university, and with the attainment of 'gainful' employment I then took those Ancients and moved on to DBA; it was around now ('86) I first met DG, who has become my regular opponent ever since...
In about '89/'90 a really good friend of mine (John Corrigan - diamond geezer, now sadly passed on) who'd been painting all his life decided to clear out his cupboards, and having heard of my - doomed - attempts to restart my AWI collection using Revell/Airfix plastics, gifted me with a considerable number of 25mm Minifgs in the period - and all of them painted. His only requirement for this was for me to play with them, and as the reports on this web page should show, I've been more than happy to accommodate him and will continue to do so!
I've since enlarged that initial legacy, as I was short on British line, but heavy on Brunswickers and Hessians due to the fact that John was a great fan of the German units, his primary interest being Seven Years War and the campaigns of Adolphus! I now have a number of Redcoat units, also French and Continentals - my eventual aim being to field all units on both sides involved in the Yorktown Campaign.
Since this time, my WWII North Africa fires have also been re-lit with the emergence of the Minifigs 12mm range (in my view they are absolutely cracking for price/quality and range), and I'm able to put German, Italian and British/Commonwealth troops on the table. I played originally using my own Rapid Fire/AK47 based set of house rules called "Panzer Grenadier" but I was not all together happy with these.. The first WWII campaign I've ever played (based on the British withdrawal to Tobruk, following the landing of the Afrika Korps in Tripoli at the completion of Operation Compass) is now completed... once again, I used the Berthier Campaign management software to run the campaign, and played against my veteran wargaming buddy (*VWB hereafter!) DG ("Strafer") - I've added the campaign diary/background/rules/maps and stuff to the WWII page... Both DG and I have now moved on from those early days, and "Panzer Grenadier" has been put back on the shelf in favour of a set of rules called "Blitzkrieg Commander" - these are considerably easier to use than mine, play fast, flow easily, and we think give a good result..
In terms of new periods, then I've always enjoyed games set in the black powder era - the first games I ever played were Napoleonic with Airfix figures - and in '06 I was gifted with a huge number of unpainted 15mm figures for the Wars of the Spanish Succession by DG (who took the decision to take the 25mm route after starting to collect 15's). I've always had a sneaking interest in the period (I didn't understand much of the history when I started!), and these figures along with a couple of other "initiators" ('Battlegames' magazine, and the Old School Wargaming Yahoo group) have fired a positive "explosion" of painting and collecting - it's been a lot of fun and reminded me what those early days were about - collecting, reading, note taking, painting and gaming.... excellent fun, and now supported by my project blog page for the period. I still have a long way to go - some of the battles were huge and encompassed 100's of battalions of foot, and even more squadrons of cavalry... then there's the various theatres of war in addition to the hub in Northern Europe - Spain, Italy (Turkish armies with Janisaries & Mamlukes now there's a thought!!) etc.
Shortly after I also started the WSS project I also started collecting Colonials - originally for the Omdurman campaign but I've drifted backwards in the period to around the relief of Khartoum, before the Maxim machine gun began to rule the battlefield, and when Gatlings were known to jam.. I've had a yen to do this ever since I first saw those excellent pictures and photographs in Solo Wargaming of Don Featherstone's campaigns on the north west frontier... one of my fellow games mentioned in an email that I seem to have a thing about "sand", he may have a point!
Lastly, after a long time on the back-burner for want of time my American Civil War project really took off in 2010... this is another one of those projects that for me goes back to those very early days, especially the pictures in "Battles for Model Soldiers", and the account of the action in the Plattville Valley... I'm using 20mm figures and after an initial start with "Regimental Fire and Fury" rules we're now trying "Rank and File" - more details on the ACW blog...
So what else stirs the wargaming imagination of yours truly??
- A long while ago I saw the series on BBC2 in the UK on the life of Wellington, narrated by the military historian Richard Holmes (who I managed to meet before he died, and who was actually as interesting in "real" life as he is on the television!). The first in the series was about Wellington's early life, and covered his Indian campaigns in some detail. If I was to return to Napoleonics the Indian sub continent - Seringapatam, Assaye, etc etc. would be a definite pull! I may even be able to rope in my old Mike's Models Indians.... needs further thought! Then again, there are also the campaigns in Egypt... sand again...!
- I've always been interested in the English Civil War and the fire has definitely been re-stoked with the recent issue of the "Warhammer English Civil War" rules. I've read them (worth it for the stunning pictures and painting advice) but I'm also keen to see the newly re-issued "Forlorn Hope" rules.. and now Peter Pig has brought out "Regiment of Foote" and an accompanying range of 15mm's... gah - where do I get the time????