Readers of the latest copy of Miniature Wargamers may have noticed a small piece neatly secreted on page 44 where much of the following information can be found. Apologies if you think you’re seeing double!
My first contact with wargaming as a hobby came on my first week at senior school when I accidentally picked up a copy of Don Featherstone’s War Games Campaigns. I was absolutely amazed at what I had found and very fortunate that the school library had many of Don’s other wargaming books as well as those by other authors such as Terry Wise and Charles Grant. It was, of course, the start of a long and very happy relationship with the hobby: a hobby which is now both my chosen career and my primary leisure interest. It must therefore be said that I owe much to that chance encounter with a library book.
More recently, a couple of months ago in fact, I was having a conversation with a gentleman who works at a school in Wales who had been asked to form an historical wargaming club for the students. With the passage of time it is hardy surprising that the wargaming books of the 1960’s and 70’s have long since disappeared from school library shelves, and I was very conscious of the fact that any member of school staff undertaking such a worthy project would most likely be lacking much in the way of budget and support materials. Indeed there seem to be few books on wargaming which ever come to the attention of the general public in these days where the internet can mean that niche markets are often invisible to those who are not “in the know”.
However, one recently published book does seem to me to fit the bill in that it is a fantastic guide for a newcomer to the hobby, but also a great resource for the more established wargamer. This book is, of course, The Wargaming Compendium by Henry Hyde. I donated a copy of Henry’s book to the school in Wales as I felt that it was a venture well worth supporting. And that got me thinking.
There must be similar schools across the UK where such projects are being run or are being considered. It seems to me that with all of the hard work being put in by volunteers it would be an excellent opportunity for those of us who feel a debt of gratitude to our school wargames clubs and libraries to repay that by donating a copy of the Wargaming Compendium to schools who are in need. I have decided that to launch the project I am happy to donate a dozen copies to schools who get in contact with me to let me know about their historical wargames club. After that it is my hope that by acting as a link I can continue to be contacted by schools and donors in order to get more wargaming books into more schools.
So, how will it work? Well, this piece and that in Miniature Wargames (and we hope other hobby magazines in the near future) is the first step. If you are a teacher or a member of school staff who is running such a club then you need to get in contact with me. All you need to do is tell us a bit about the historical wargaming that is going on at your school. We can then wok with you to make sure that your school library is happy to receive such a donation and then we can get the book to your school librarian and onto the shelves.
If you are a willing donor who would like to do something to help historical wargaming in schools then please do get in contact with me. At this stage we don’t want anything other than an indication that you are willing to donate when we find you a school in need. At that point we will contact you again and ask you to make a donation. We will then arrange for the book to be delivered and deal with all ancillary issues such as postage and packaging. It’s a very simple process.
What is worth noting at this point is that we have no idea what level of uptake we’ll get from schools or from donors. It will, we hope, allow us to get an appreciation of what is happening around schools and then respond to that in an appropriate way. We certainly hope that seeing historical wargaming alive and well in the education sector will encourage new clubs to form in the future.
Thus far I have been asked a few questions which I feel are pertinent and worth addressing here.
What does it cost to get a book to a school?: Pen & Sword have very kindly undertaken to provide us with the book for £21. That’s it. No hidden costs.
How do I contact you?: Well, presumably you have access to email as you are reading this. If so please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Are TooFatLardies making a profit from this?: No, quite the reverse. This is about assisting the growth and development of historical wargaming through a charitable act. No profit to be seen.
Does this involve Commercial Sponsorship?: No. This is not about TooFatLardies or any other business. The book will be pristine and unblemished by advertising inserts or similar.
Is this project international?: We would very much like to see that as a goal. At present the pilot scheme is limited to the United Kingdom. We’ve got to start somewhere! As time progresses we hope that we can recruit volunteers from around the world to undertake a similar role in their home country or continent.
What sort of schools can apply?: Ones where there are students doing historical wargaming.
What constitutes historical wargaming – in other words does this exclude clubs covering fantasy gaming?: Historical wargaming is where the periods being gamed are based on real warfare which actually happened in the history of the world. Whether that is Ancients, Napoleonics or Modern doesn’t matter. Your club can have a fantasy gaming element, but we would want to know that historical wargaming makes up a significant part of your activities.
That’s it in a nutshell. If you’d like more information or have any further questions then do get in touch. We can add to the list of FAQs here if we get anything pertinent that needs adding.
As a final issue, I should mention that I am hoping to get this project named in honour of a late friend of mine, Dr Paddy Griffith, who spent his life using wargaming for educational purposes. I believe it would be a fitting tribute to a great educator and wargamer. But more on that later.
Since the Sharp Practice and Chain of Command videos have been running on Beasts of War we have had dozens of people asking where they can get hold of the hedge sections that we use for our games. The simple answer is that Andy at The Last Valley make them for us, but they are