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Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Bolt Action: Light Your Fire!

Light Your Fire! Finding Inspiration for your Bolt Action Hobby.
By Kieran

“I’d rather be a failure at something I love than a success at something I hate.” George Burns

See now that may seem like a rather lofty quotation to start an article about Bolt Action, or even an article about wargaming in general, but while I was looking for a title for this article I put the foundation word about what I am going to write about and it popped up on the old google and I said to myself yes that maybe captures it.

What am I writing about for this article? Well following from the feedback I have received from my first article (Burnout, found HERE) I thought I would expand on it a little and maybe bring something forward that I didn’t really address, the topic of inspiration.

Now no matter what you do in any tier of your life the things that really make us happy and fill the time spent doing them with the most enjoyment are the things that we are truly engrossed in, that have the ability to speak to us on a different level, these are fundamentally things that inspire us.

How do we involve inspiration within the game of bolt action? Well it is maybe something that we have already done. It is having that underlying interest with the armies we put on the table that we put hours into listing, collecting, modelling, and painting. Because I feel, as I know many others do as well, that having that story gives us a hook that will keep us indebted towards any army over a longer period of time no matter how competitive or otherwise it is.

This is maybe why there is that imaginary line between those who produce forces that have a bigger influence from some source or another and those who build for a competitive listing. Now maybe your inspiration comes from that competitive standpoint but I am sure that the turnover of forces that player would play is a lot higher than the other.

So where do we get this inspiration from? Well I suppose the most accessible one and one avenue that many of us will have explored is from the silver screen. I like many have often watched a film that has a World War II theme running through it and have often found myself soon after scribbling down platoon list based on what I have just seen on screen.

Image result for clint eastwood where eagles dare

Maybe it is from some other media form, the written word often has the ability to take us to other times and places, and helps us to see things in a different way so there is no reason why this should not influence the armies we choose to portray in the game, whether the reference source is an historical account or whether a source of fiction each person would find their inspiration from a different place.

I suppose that is the crux of the matter. A person’s inspiration will come from whatever source speaks to them and is as individual as they are so hopefully this in turn means the armies they put on the tables can also be as unique too.

I am going to give you two examples here now. One was a source of inspiration that got me to the point of creating a force based around it, the other was one that has come to fruition. Neither is better or worse than the other but maybe one was more involving to me on another level rather than anything else. Maybe you can see what I mean.

The first then was something that I came across at a very small but very interesting local military museum, and while I was there for the opening of their exhibition of items and history of Sir Winston Churchill, even the full scale awe of the armoured elephant was not the piece that I took away wanting me to try and invoke its inspiration into a game. That was the smaller, tucked away in a small side room, exhibition of the personal story of one Peter Briggs.

Now who you ask is Peter Briggs, well to be honest I have not done any further investigation into the man himself, but what was on show was a number of items his family had on loan to the museum for display. So a number of photos of himself and the other members of No. 4 Commando during their time in the World War II period. It was one piece though that really struck me and that was the de mob papers he was given which seems to carry the names and signatures of all the young men who served with him.

This struck a chord with me as primarily being a role player I have always tried to put a bit more personality into the armies I play on the table and to have a real life story to base it on I thought at the time would have been an awesome thing to do.

Unfortunately this army has never seen the table and I didn’t really understand why until I was looking at writing this article. The inspiration is not as personal to me. Now I know that sounds crazy as how could I have a personal experience from a period of time I would never have been involved with, but I have got that with the other point of inspiration so hang in with me.

One of my other great passions is the hobby of airsoft, and specifically the sub section of that where grown men dress up in World War II era uniforms and using replica BB firing weapons muck about in the ultimate playing soldier games at weekends worldwide.

One main group I am involved with primarily get kitted up to portray the Gebirgsjager, mainly from the campaign around Italy. So an interest and involvement with studying the history and researching the stories has always been there and there is a wealth of knowledge to find. So how has this become personal? Well I suppose interwoven with all that historical knowledge is the experience of on some small level putting yourself into someone else’s shoes, or boots in this case. I know that may sound stupid to some but whenever I play with that force underlying there is a part of me remembering all those experiences and good times I have had with good friends so whether I win, lose, or draw the enjoyment is always there.

So that’s it really, I suppose that what I am trying to convey here is that if you are more involved with the reason why you have chosen the army or armies you run in bolt action then the less likely you are to have your interest wain in not only the army but maybe the game as a whole. There is a wealth of material out there just waiting to be discovered by you so even with the smallest amount of effort you can find something that may speak to you and enhance your experience in the game because sometimes you can make it more than just a game.

Again thanks for sticking with me. I, and no doubt others, would be interested to hear any stories you have about what I've discussed here because, you never know, the tales you tell may lead to the inspiration of others. 

- Kieran

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