Saturday, January 16, 2010

Looking back on 35 years of Wargaming: part one

Well it’s my 40th Birthday today and I am looking back at all the fun I’ve had in our wonderful little hobby; boy have I seen some sweeping changes. Over the next few days I’ll be covering the changes I have seen come and go in the hobby of Miniature Wargaming.

My Pops, Big Jim SR was and is a Wargamer, so I have literally been rollin’ them bones for thirty-five years. My first ever game was against my Pop, I was five and just basically rollin the dice. It was Ancient Egyptians verses Ancient Assyrians. I actually beat my Dad and he did not let me win because my Mother still loves to tell the story to rib him on occasion. So for the next few years I was basically a dice monkey for my Pops, going with him to play and getting to hang out with the adults.

I started to really ‘get it’ about the time I was eight, I understood the rules and started to understand the strategy involved in a game. This was also the time I started to paint models that weren’t a mishmash of colors. This was also about the time my Pop moved from 25mm minis to 15’s, how unfair was that on a new painter!

My Dad sold all of his 25’s to help make ends meet and fund his 15’s. I cried when he sold the Assyrians and Egyptians; I know it’s sappy but I was eight and they were always our go to armies for a game. Now at this time miniatures were pretty basic with very little fine detail, but there was this company called Mikes Models. They were putting better detail in their 15’s than most companies were putting in their 15’s.

Terrain in the late 70’s and early 80’s left a lot to be desired. As sometimes tables were just a huge piece of Butcher Paper with terrain features drawn on. A Cadillac gaming table used broken up corkboard for hills and Lichen on felt for woods. I gotta say we still had fun even though the terrain was bad.

Nineteen eighty-three was a break out year for us. There was a brand new model railroad shop that opened right next to the grocery store that we shopped at, and after one trip in my Pop had big plans. He had been working through his ‘Nam’ issues through wargaming the conflict. He wanted to educate the local gaming community about the war. So he undertook the task with the help of my little brother and I of building a fully 3-D gaming table to help showcase the game. It was something that we had never seen done before.

When we were bring in into the Games Caucus (now Kublacon) the Organizer stopped us. She was so impressed she moved our event from one of the gaming rooms to the middle of the Dealers room. She then asked if my Pop could run the game during the day on all three days of the con; which he did.

That same weekend I won my first ever-painting competition with the original Harry the Hammer mini from a young Citadel Miniatures!

This was also the year my Pop brought Warhammer FB back from a business trip to England. I have been playing ever since. We played for many years amassing large armies and really having a good time! Then came the divide in gaming between my Pops and I where I really came into my own, as he was getting back into ancients. In Nineteen eighty-seven Warhammer 40000 Rogue Trader was released. My high school buddies and I were hooked! It was the OMG moment for Wargaming, Plastic multi-part miniatures. That’s right history was made with the epic release of RTB-001 plastic Space Marines!

That’s enough rambling for now, next time I’ll bring it up through the 90’s to today. Then I’ll cover miniatures and painting over the last 30+ years.


Big Jim


  1. Haha! Now I don't feel so old! Okay, okay, you only have me by a hand-span of years, but still have to raze you.

    Interesting article....the insight was....intriguing.

  2. Happy 40th Jim. I'd better hurry up and send you that Vindicator!

  3. Thanks guys! I'm scouring through piles of old photos to see if I can dig up some pics of old minis and gaming tables. I've found a few and wargaming has come really, really far in the art of terrain making and usage.

    I should have part two up tomorrow morning and part three up tomorrow night or Monday!

    It is really fun looking back and talking with my Pops about the good Ol' days!


  4. Happy 40th! Thanks for sharing this, the stories made me smile. Also, tell your Pops that the Vietnam board looked stellar! Given the leaps that terrain (and terrain support) has made over the years, I would never have guessed it was that old.

  5. Happy 40th birthday Jim, many happy returns of the day!

  6. Nice. Love looking at the old stuff. I still have bitz from those plastic space marines that I use in conversions from time to time.

  7. Thanks again guys, part two should be up in a few hours.