I guess this is the page where I prattle on about who I am as a person, but above all else a hobbyist. For some reason people like to know the geek behind the screen, so here I am...
In the beginning - Maggie Thatcher and miners strikes
Well, I don't want to go too far back, but I guess my 'hobby' days began as a nagging 5 year old kid. You see I had a geek for a dad, somebody who liked toy soldiers and board games, he was a big RuneQuest fan. I can just imagine the horror and fear he must have had now, when a small icky, stinky 5 year old, most probably with strawberry jam all over his fingers, took and unhealthy interest in his painted miniatures and board games. For those of you who are struggling to keep up, I was that 5 year kid. I'd totally freak out myself were the roles reversed, if some grubby little urchin decided my Infinity models or board games were the coolest toys ever! Get away from my stuff you imaginary snot laden, germ carrying little shi...
However, my dad wasn't perhaps as 'precious' about his toys as I am now, or maybe he was and he secretly wanted me dead. That is a possibility you know, he did try encouraging me to do ever more dangerous hobbies, the shark baiting was a bit dangerous now I think of it. Most likely though I was just a really whiny persistent little bugger... still no doubt covered in jam. Whatever the truth, he eventually relented and actually let me play some games with his toys. My first ever game was playing something called Battle Cars, you can read my thoughts about that experience Here. I think it's fair to say I probably didn't have the foggiest idea what I was doing. Some might say nothing has changed in nigh on 27 years of gaming, but one thing was definitely true, I was hooked.
The early years - Stock, Aitken and Waterman
I'd somehow told myself much of my early years playing with toy soldiers was wargaming, perhaps it is what I wanted to believe. Or maybe it's just those games were more easily remembered than the myriad of products I did play. The truth is though, after thinking about it, very different from the one I initially remembered. Sure I played some games of Warhammer Fantasy with my dad, and by play I mean rolled dice while he acted out and did voices for the characters. But as I say, the truth is that much of my gaming was based around board games, much of them dungeon crawlers. I remember WizWar fondly, as I do Dungeon Quest, both great games that kept the addiction going if you will.
I guess the first Games Workshop product I probably fell in love with properly, wasn't Warhammer Fantasy at all, despite my growing horde of skellies and undead stuff. Nope, it was almost certainly Blood Bowl, yet again another board game. I'd played the first edition copy with my dad, and I remember all too well, getting the second edition Blood Bowl as a Christmas present roughly circa Christmas 1988. For those of you who don't know, that was the version with the polystyrene playing field. Luckily my dad wasn't stupid and didn't let me aerosol undercoat it before we painted it together. Sure I started being able to understand the concept of wargaming more, but it was still board games I played the most.
Becoming a Wargamer - The age of the shell suit
In my formative years I had probably played 1st, 2nd and indeed 3rd editions of Warhammer Fantasy Battle, without probably ever realising the differences. Sure I remember the White boxed first edition with the green dice and the two subsequent hard back editions. I can picture them. I even remember briefly coming into contact I'm sure with a game called Fantasy Warlord, but it wasn't probably until the simplified 4th edition of Warhammer that the love affair truly started. Yes, so it was 'dumbed down hammer' Or later when 5th edition was released 'Herohammer', but it was this game that migrated me over to wargamming properly. Warhammer taught me the basics of wargaming, and as an entry product into that side of the hobby at that time? It was priceless! It also started my long love affair with High Elves, and well Elves of any variety really, my skellies were put away in a box... but they did come back.
You see other things quickly followed for me after Warhammer. I remember playing Rogue Trader, and later I remember friends all giving me their Ork Boys from their copies of second edition Warhammer 40,000. I don't actually remember buying, or owning a copy of the boxed set myself. I also don't really ever remember finishing a single bloody game of it either! But I did decide that perhaps sci-fi wargaming wasn't so bad after all. But I have to confess that for me the delights of Space Marine or Epic were where I really fell in love with the Wathammer 40,000 universe. I jut loved the scale of it and the size of the battles it represented on the board. Nothing has come close to those games since for me. My Phantom titans stalking between skyscrapers and Eldar hover tanks stalked their pray. This was how futuristic mass combat should ave been played, sorry but Apocalypse has never even come close for me.
However, whereas my first wargaming love had been the generic Tolkien themed fantasy settings, my first geeky loves had all been sci-fi based, from classic Jules Verne literature to really bad TV programs with dreadful special effects and even worse sets. We'll gloss over the dire scripts. My dad brought something home that really got me hooked on a game system like no other before it. It spoke to my inner geek in ways Warhammer couldn't and Warhammer 40,000 only hinted at. The thing that peaked my interest was a robot, with guns on it, and it was fricking awesome. It looked like it had come out of one of those badly dubbed Japanese Anime cartoons I was into. It was Battletech and I loved it to bits.
Seriously, Battletech was probably the first game I had personally taken 'seriously', it changed the way I viewed wargaming, and the hobby in general. I became competitive. I wanted to win games, to prove I was better than my opponents. I also started taking painting a little bit more seriously. Sure I played mainly Games Workshop games during this time, Epic in it's various guises, Necromunda, Man-o-War and various others. However, it was Battletech though that genuinely changed my hobby for me. This competitive streak started to permeate its way throughout all my gaming activities, and my High Elves and Wood Elves became highly tuned killing machines. Also with a switch to an Eldar army, my Warhammer 40,000 gaming also became more serious too.
Teenage Gamer - Girls, Guitars and Gundam
Bang smack in the middle of the 90's was High School for me. I had obviously grown up a bit, as had my friends. You see I discovered Girls, Guitars and Gundam... my hobbying time probably retracted considerably as I somehow thought chasing girls, playing guitar badly and watching Japanese cartoons was more 'mature' than playing with toy soldiers. Yeah, I know. My gaming group briefly flirted with RPGs and decided we didn't like them. Around this time Warhammer Quest sort of came into my life. We still played the odd wargame, mainly Battletech and Fantasy, but there is no doubting that from about 1994 to 1998 the majority of my gaming time was either devoted to Warhammer Quest or pulling girls. What? Pulling girls was a game too, not that I leveled up much.
Accepting I was a geek - University
It wasn't until I got to university however, that I rediscovered fully my love for wargames. Flicking through the university societies, I realised that joining just the rock / goth soc and the cock soc (cocktail society before you ask) might limit my circle of friends somewhat! It was here I meet a bunch of like minded wargamers, way more than I thought there would be actually. They all had wargames and armies to many of the games I myself had played, and some I'd never really seen before. I made friends with a few American's who were still into Battletech in a big way, but other more niche things too. I ran Necromunda and Blood Bowl campaigns and arguably the longest Mighty Empires campaign known to man, 2 years. It only stopped because there was this thing called a dissertation that needed doing.
I'd always kept in touch with the hobby and I'd never really become a relapsed gamer, it was just after I'd discovered girls loved guitars and not toy soldiers it seemed more prudent to learn how to strum chords than spam hydras. In university though I just finally accepted I was a geek. The contents of my suitcase probably told me that, half full of comic books (I kid you not) and T-Shirts for various anime. I was the very model of a modern nerd. Here though at university I found the girls quite liked that I was a nerd, in fact they positively loved the fact. Result! Finally knowing quotes from comic books and painting toy soldiers was paying off. So I felt far more comfortable with just being who I was a damn what the world said.
While in my final year at University, I took a key timer job at the local Games Workshop. This allowed me to buy cheap toy soldiers on my meager student budget and buy the odd course book too. This kind of set me back on the path of mainly being a Games Workshop gamer. Despite much of the preceeding two years being centred around none Games Workshop product. Battletech had died, and many of the alternatives I'd gotten into had really only lasted long enough for me to get the miniatures out of the packaging, before they too went the way of the dodo. This led to some serious frustrations in my hobby as I was really yet to be fully resold on the delights of Warhammer and 40,000. Historical wargaming wasn't really for me, and I'm not too sure it is even now.
Coming of Age - Post University, to present day
Yeah so that's a long winded background to get me to where I am now. Since about 2003 to about 2007 I was pretty much a predominantly Warhammer Fantasy and 40,000 gamer. During that time, I painted Vampire Counts (I told you the skellies would come back), High Elves, Chaos Warriors and laterly a Dwarf army in Fantasy. Meanwhile in 40,000 I pretty much stuck to my Elves in space Eldar, although I did a Tyranid army (they got nerfed). My Eldar slowly but surely became boring to play with as Fire Dragons and Wave Serpents aren't really much fun. So I started an Ork army and have started my biggest ever hobby project. I started building the Ultramarines Chapter, I have in miniatures the 1st, 2nd and 10th Companies with a lot of support in the shape of tanks and suchlike. I also started collecting the 4th Company in Drop Pods. This was the first Imperial army I ever started collecting and actually the first Space Marines I'd ever painted. I know!!!
However, that project has ground to a halt. Not because it was a mammoth task, although it clearly is a huge undertaking, but mainly because I got really tired of 40,000. My hobby retreated pretty much to being exclusively Warhammer Fantasy based, but I think it's fair to say that the army book creep in 7th edition, in the shape of Chaos Daemons, Vampire Counts and my all time favourite Dark Elves started to kill my enjoyment of the game off. I awaited 8th edition Warhammer, with the hopes it would save my Games Workshop hobby. In short it didn't and it hasn't. It became about big blocks of infantry, and negative points denial games, with stupid magic and random charges. It's not the random elements that kill it for me though, no, it's the mind numbing predictability of it all. I don't want to enter rant mode because actually the death of Warhammer for me and many of my friends has actually re-ignited other passions and I've turned it into something positive.
Luckily for me though towards the end of 7th edition I'd rediscovered Warmachine and Hordes and had found it easier and easier to entice fellow gamers away from Games Workshop with the delights of steam powered robots. I've not looked back since!!! Reveling in finding new games I've taken up Infinity, Hell Dorado, Malifaux, Anima Tactics and the Spartan Games systems of Dystopian Wars, Firestorm Armada and Uncharted Seas and many. many more besides! There is so much cool stuff out there right now to enjoy, and with people looking for other things to occupy their time now I've finally found a wealth of opponents to play them with. I've started playing board games again and have discovered how much fun you can have with them. It really is the Golden Age of Gaming, and I love it. So that's me as a gamer and hobbyist...
We're living in the future - The Frontline Gamer blog
So why did I start the Blog? Why did I get involved in web 2.0? Well, mainly because I'm an arrogant, narcissistic, opinionated jerk, who loves the sound of his own voice! Well, that's one opinion I've heard. The contrary view is that I love the hobby in its many guises and I just wanted to communicate my passion for all things gaming to like minded hobbyist. Forums aren't really the greatest platform for that, and so I began a Blog to communicate my thoughts and experiences, and to get feedback from you lot, the guys and gals that make this the best damn hobby on the planet. Although the articles might all be written by me, this is very much a two way dialogue Blog. I want to hear from you in the comments section, or via email, you can contact me here:
and I really do want to hear from yo all. Even if it is just to tell me how wrong I am, or that you think pink was a bad choice of colour for a Blog! Also just to be brutally clear, this is a Blog, I try to be as objective as I can be, however lets be blunt here, it's my opinions you're reading and as such much of it is going to be subjective. I don't present my opinions as 'facts' or indeed many facts at all, because reality is there aren't many facts. What life really is, is just a great big mass of opinions, often masquerading as fact. I don't pretend otherwise, so if you get bent out of shape because you don't agree with my opinions, that's your fault for reading them, not mine for having them, and communicating them. I'll be cordial with you if you are cordial with me. I hope you enjoy this Blog and the journey it is on, oh yeah... Peace out!