I left off last time hinting at the first time that trait of the wargamer that today is called "Oh Shinny" or shinny'itus. That diversion from one project into something else entirely. With the 25mm Feudal going nowhere and the 1/72 WWII ticking over with the purchase of the odd model (this scale was to die out a few years into my gaming time as we found other scales and mediums better suited to the period). I was casting my eye for something else and my main opponent at that time was into The English Civil War and lent me a book. Whilst it was not THIS book it was a copy of this book.
It just captured my imagination and I was hooked. It was not long after this I think that Matt joined Andy and me in our gaming and agreed to raise his own army. Andy had the Royalists and I had a soft spot for the New Model Army thus Matt took an early Parliamentarian Army based on Essex and Waller. Scale was heavily discussed and as we were mostly fighting battles on the floor or on a dinning table so this limited our options and thus our commitment to 15mm was started and remained the main stay of our spending for years and years to come. Indeed today I still paint and wargame in 15mm having never gone for 25/8mm in more than skirmish level.
I still remember clear as day that first army, I bought it from Derby Wargames show at the Assembly Rooms and it was a starter boxed army by Essex no less. I still had that box a few years ago and just seeing it would bring a smile to my face.
The first Regiment I painted up was Sir Thomas Fairfax's foote regiment,most of which is pictured below. Since then we have used a number of rules and these are now based for Field of Glory : Renaissance though we have yet to actually try the rules. The ECW was to remain a main staple for years but became a victim of our heavy play and was replaced by other shiny but for a time it was king of the table and we had so many great games through time.
During this time we learnt campaign's, multi-player gaming and that all rules are not good rules. On the darker side I got my first experience of club gaming and it goes a long way to explaining why I don't tend to gravitate to traditional clubs, indeed I have little interest in them. It was at the very old and I believe defunct Mansfield Wargames Club that both Andy and myself were enjoying yet another ECW game when a club regular offered to play the both of us the following week/month or what ever. Just 1200 points or such and we eagerly agreed, after all it's good to play other guys and we would belong etc etc.
We turned up and started to lay out our troops he did the same, except gone was the pike and shot formations we expected. Instead Elephants and other exotics were placed on the table. What followed was a fairly comprehensive defeat, we stood zero chance but whilst it was bad form that this guy had deceived us into a battle we could not win he took quite a poor attitude to our taking of defeat lightly with comments like what's the factor for sword and two mice? Seems we should have been driven to despair and gutted by our loss. To the clubs credit another bloke witnessing the other members churlish actions offered us a game another week but we soon stopped going as at the time it had a bit of a negative atmosphere running through it mostly surrounding anyone playing in the other room. This happened to be where the fantasy wargamers (Loud) and the roleplayers (LOUDER) hung out. It's where new guys like me and Andy tended to play as the best tables were for the old timers. Not that most of the best room guys know what we played, we just had to be part of the problem as we were from the other room. I wonder how many players have been lost to mainstream this way? All I can say was that whilst the Loud crowd were, well load they were fun and whilst the odd jibe was thrown our way it was always in jest and always returned in jest. In the end it was easier to stay at home, play each other and not pay a club fee because apart from the very odd occasion we played each other anyway.
Going back to the figures for the final segment. Whilst I did buy other makes of figures from time to time the majority of the army was made up of Essex and only later was I to learn that the equipment was so very far off in most parts but that is another story. I had just started to move over to Acylic's at this time and for the most part actually used tube acrylic and due to having an artist for a mother, good stuff as well. I actually used oils for the horses for some time but the dry time forced me away from them. Probably a good job I never thought of popping them in the oven in those days!
I kept with a mix of tubes, Humbrol tubs and eventually Colour Party which replaced all but all my original paints over the years. It's kind of ironic that I bought my first three Vallejo bottles just before leaving the hobby and the idea of using inks was not even on the horizon, boy things have changed.
Next time I think it's time to look at a few outside influences.