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Richard Jones - Member Profile
How did you first get into wargaming?

Well it’s going to come as a shock to many but Games workshop and Citadel had no influence on my getting into wargaming. Heresy? Not at all – they simply didn’t exist at the time!

From childhood I have always loved history and reading. As Churchill said, ‘war makes rattling good reading’ so I think this combination of interests laid the foundations. During my formative years (and beyond) there was immense interest in World War Two as so many adults had been directly involved. My father was just 19 years old when he flew in RAF raids over Germany and my grandfather fought in France, Egypt and Burma, so I had history lessons from contemporary sources! Hollywood and Ealing must also take their share of the blame as my trips to the cinema were fed on a steady diet of war films and westerns plus the occasional epic such as Ben Hur or El Cid.

A definite breakthrough came when I studied Greek & Roman history for A level and discovered the heroism of Leonidas, the brilliance of Alexander and the charisma of Julius Caesar over two years of the most enjoyable studying of my life. Of course there was a downside to all of this. I clearly remember boring my best friend to death by commenting throughout the battle scenes of the original ‘300 Spartans’ film that, in reality, it wasn’t at all like that! Yes, I had developed the curse of ‘wargamers knowledge syndrome’ and it was only after years of therapy that the worst excesses were overcome.

My first wargame came about directly as a result of watching the film ‘Waterloo’ with a friend and our quite intense discussion afterwards on the accuracy (or not!) of the film. During this discussion he mentioned that his elder brother had a collection of toy soldiers of the Napoleonic period and they used to refight battles according to a strange phenomenon known as ‘wargames rules’! A couple of weeks later I played my first wargame and I was hooked. I remember having a great time, though the rules were rather basic by today’s standards, being pretty much a ‘last man standing’ affair!

A brigade of American Civil War Union infantry which I’m building for use with Black Powder.

What was your first army?

Inspired by Greek history, my first army was the Macedonian army of Alexander the Great – yes I know people still debate his ‘Greekness’! This was in a pre-GW/Citadel wargaming world – I know it’s difficult to believe, but one did actually exist long, long ago, in a galaxy far away! There were only about half a dozen wargames companies around, with Minifigs and Hinchliffe being the ‘big’ players. The models I bought were Minifigs (still available today!) and were - by today’s standards - very basic indeed, eg if you wanted belts and other such details then you had to paint them on! I remember the spears looking like the figures were carrying telegraph poles and I’m pretty sure the paint job was horrendous but I thought they were the greatest! I kept them for several years before giving them to my young cousin for his 12th birthday as he’d developed an interest. I don’t know what happened to them in the end but he used them at least until he went to university.

A unit of longbowmen wearing the livery and badge of Lord Audley’s retinue, who changed sides from Lancaster to York after being captured by Edward of York (the future King Edward IV).

These are part of the army I’m building for the War & conquest rules.

What do you currently play?

Well, truth be told I’ve always been more of a historical gamer than sci-fi or fantasy, though I’ve played, and do still play, both. I have to admit that I suffer from being a bit of a wargaming butterfly. Basically I think it’s a problem of too much interest in too many periods or genres. I sometimes wish I could be like some gamers who stick doggedly to a single project until it is completed and then move on to another but alas I have a weakness for trying new projects before having completed existing ones. The result can be half-painted armies or factions but I’m trying to instil a little discipline to get existing projects completed before buying into new.

Currently, I regularly play Malifaux - the Sci-Fi skirmish game, Saga – the historical Dark Ages skirmish game, Planetfall – the large battle futuristic Sci-Fi game and Warhammer Fantasy. I’m also building up forces for Bolt Action – WWII platoon level game, War & Conquest – large battle Ancient/Medieval game, Black Powder – large scale historical game for the horse & Musket period and Tomahawks & Muskets – historical skirmish game set in 18th Century America. Yes, to paraphrase Cornelius Ryan – about 5 games too far!

For Malifaux I’m specializing in the Guild faction, though I also possess Lilith and her crew and an Arcanist force built around Rasputina for a change now and then or even to provide opposition if someone wants to try it out. In Saga I have quite a sizeable Viking warband and somewhat smaller Saxon and Welsh ones and in Planetfall I have taken the side of the oppressed Dindrenzi – ok I like their black colour scheme!

What is your favourite game system?

Whilst I enjoy all the games I play to a greater or lesser degree (otherwise it would be a bit silly to play them!) I’d say that currently my favourite is Malifaux. There are several reasons for this:

  1. The game system itself is highly original and tremendous fun. This is obviously a good start! It uses a card system for combat and casting spells and both players can ‘cheat’ by replacing cards they have flipped from the deck, with cards from their ‘hand’ should they want to improve their score. The downside is of course that you only hold a very limited number of cards in your hand so you really need to prioritize your combats. This is such a simple system but immediately offers great player interaction with howls of despair and delight as battle occurs.

  2. Each faction has several different ‘master’ characters, each of which plays quite differently. This offers players a wide selection of playing styles and brings plenty of variety to the game. They also have a bit of a ‘rock, paper, scissors’ approach in that all masters have strengths and weaknesses so there isn’t really a uber-master that is all conquering. The general effect is that players usually take masters that suit their style of play.

  3. The models themselves are generally superb and really do reward a good paint-job. Although quite expensive, being a skirmish game you only tend to use 6 or 7 for most games so overall it isn’t an expensive game to play.

  4. The wide variety of available models with their differing abilities means you never ‘know it all’ and each game is also a learning experience. Thus the game doesn’t ‘stale’ even when you’ve played it a significant number of times. The ability of the game to keep ‘fresh’ is highly important as there’s little worse (IMO) than spending many hours creating an army or force for a game, only to become bored with it after half a dozen outings…

  5. Finally, but still importantly is the enthusiasm of other players once they’ve played which helps create an excellent gaming atmosphere. When I game I’m looking for an enjoyable time above all else so the atmosphere of the game is very important for me.

My Lady Justice Malifaux Guild crew.
This is a particularly strong close combat crew but is susceptible to magic (rock/scissors/paper).

I’ve tried to recreate the base scenery to match each characters picture on their game stat card. However, after a game in which Lady J did particularly well in killing 3 Silurids (lizard type creatures) I updated her by adding a Silurid skin handbag with matching shoes and belt!

What is your next project?

I have only recently started my next project, which I’ve designated as my ‘winter project 2012’. The idea behind this is to have a target date by which to achieve a certain level of gaming ability. The project is built around the new Bolt Action WW II rules – which I really like the look of – and involves me building 2000pt American and German forces for the post D-Day Normandy campaign. My aim is to have both sides completed by March 2013. In doing this I’m pretty much going back to my wargaming roots as my Great Uncle served in this campaign and, although he died many years ago, I can still clearly remember some of his stories. I’ve been waiting for quite some time for a set of rules that strike a good balance between playability and accuracy and I think Bolt Action appears to have achieved that.

German Wehrmacht infantry from late WW II (Autumn 1944 onwards).

I’ve made a start with boxes of Warlord American and German infantry as core platoons but I intend to reinforce each side with a paratrooper platoon plus some armour and support weapons. One of the fascinating things about the post D-Day campaign (for me) is the chaos of intermixed units fighting alongside each other, typified by the American push to link up with their own widely scattered parachute divisions – desperately trying to seize and hold their designated objectives - and the German use of their own Fallschirmjager to counter-attack allied inroads or reinforce weak points in their line. The result was a chaotic and desperate battle that can hopefully be reproduced on the tabletop. We shall see.

Anything you’d like to add?

Well it’s certainly tricky discussing some 35 years of wargaming in a couple of pages. I’ve left out years of competitive gaming, the various clubs in England and Wales I’ve been a member of, the field trips to famous battlefields I’ve undertaken and the patient understanding of my wife who, though no doubt still puzzled as to what I actually do with my little men (as she calls them!) is content for me to carry on doing it! I’m sure that the vast majority of wargamers will agree that you can allocate many hours of researching, assembling and painting your armies for each hour they actually spend in combat upon the tabletop. For some that part is a real chore but luckily for me I enjoy that side as much as the actual gaming.

Ultimately, it’s an interest that is enjoyable and has made me friends and acquaintances I would otherwise not have met. It has also allowed me to escape the pressures of the real world into a world I can share with like-minded individuals for a few hours a week. Priceless!
Submitted on 26/10/2012