Monday, 24 December 2012

A Wargamers Christmas Message

Seasons Greetings one and all, and a 'Merry Christmas'! I must say I for one refuse to be reduced to wishing people a 'Happy Winter Festival' or whatever guff the P C police are trying to get people to say at the moment. What rubbish!

Ahem, moving on. My post on Worldwide Campaigns is coming on, but slower than I planned. It is becoming more involved than I had envisaged, and I have found that I can't actually remember everything I thought I could. The result is that I will be having to climb through the Garage o' Doom to retrieve a number of campaign booklets to refer to. It'll be good when it's done, promise...!

Now I can't just let Christmas go by without posting something wargaming and Christmas related, so I started thinking about my Christmases as a younger gamer. Before I got into playing wargames, my brother and I would sit for hours analysing the Argos and Index catalogues, making long and unrealistic lists of what we wanted for Christmas, directed squarely at our parents because by that age we knew full well that parents funded Christmas, Santa was just the delivery guy...

Now I must thank my parents, though I know they'll never read this, because I consider myself to have been very lucky as a child, receiving far more gifts than I probably deserved or my parents could comfortably afford, so thanks mum and dad. As for the kinds of gifts I received, before wargaming there was wonderous variety. We got many of the latest toys, and later, video games, though I was as happy to unwrap a shoebox crammed with writing implements and paper as I was to tear the brightly coloured paper off the Manta Force box, or the newest Transformer or WWF action figure. It was great.

After I started playing wargames, things changed quite a bit on the gifts front. My list of demands became far more focussed, and while my younger siblings were still ending up with gifts of all shapes and sizes, my stack of gifts got smaller and smaller as the stuff I was asking for became more and more expensive vs its relative mass. It may have seemed like a lot of stuff in boxes, but by the time it was all assembled, there wasn't much to show for mummy and daddys hard work. Yet more proof to add to that of the Crisp Packet that 'air' is certainly not free. That's the nature of the hobby I guess.

If I recall correctly, HeroQuest was a Christmas gift, as were many of the boxed games from GW. Games Workshop seemed to go through a spate of releasing a new or revamped game every few months or so, unless the years just went by faster than I remember, waiting for me under the artificial Christmas Tree throughout the 90's were HeroQuest, Space Crusade, Man O' War, Space Marine, Warhammer Quest, and numerous editions of 40K and Fantasy.

It's true what they say. There's nothing like the smell of a freshly opened boxed game, and doubly so on Christmas morning. All that plastic and card. Also, there's no smell like a new Big Rule Book either. Goodness, what is to be that young, and not worry about where the money for that new edition of Warhammer is coming from. I am lucky enough to be a parent myself now, though our son is still a few months off two years old and therefore not old enough to make the kinds of demands that we all used to approaching Christmas. It's another fact that you don't really appreciate what people have to do to provide for their kids at Christmas, until you are a parent yourself.

My wargames buying habits haven't changed much over the years either. I used to mainly get new stuff at Christmas or for my birthday in January. Now I'm lucky if I even get that. As we get older, we seem to have fewer people buying us gifts, as if Christmas is just for kids or something! After I met my wife, and experienced a decidedly strange Christmas for which her family, not knowing what to get me, provided me with no less than four (possibly five) Lynx packs! It wasn't because I smelled bad, if that's what you were thinking.

I took a brave step that year and said that if people couldn't think of what to buy me, just get me vouchers for GW. Best thing I ever did as far as I'm concerned, getting the inlaws to fund my gaming habit. My wonderful wife thinks I already have too much wargaming stuff, and of course she is right. I think that's obvious from the amount of stuff I have that has never seen action on the tabletop.

The irony is that when you are young, you can ask for stuff at Christmas, but to a degree, you get what you are given and should be glad if it. When we become adults and earn our own money, we could buy whatever we wanted for Christmas, if it wasn't for stuff like bills and kids and heaven knows what else. Thank God Forgeworld wasn't around when I was a kid, that's all I can say. My parents would have had to re-morgage!

As I write this, I have no gifts left to wrap, except for our son's main gift, which will require assembly and wrapping late tonight ready for the morning. I'll be putting my wargames craft skills to use for sure! Garish Christmas jumper in the wash ready for tomorrow, (more) mulled wine ready to be drunk, and brussels ready to be boiled to oblivion.

I wish you all a happy Christmas, in every sense of the phrase, and a dice and tape measure laden 2013. See you on the other side...