Tuesday 18 May 2010

At the Crossroads of the Middle Sea

As part of my much heralded relocation at home I have, inevitably I suppose, given much thought to what I am gaming and those periods that most capture my imagination. As I have often mentioned, I have dabbled at many periods over the years and to be frank, the constant vacillation I seem to suffer from has finally began to wear me down to the extent that I am tired of being so historically fickle! With this in mind I have decided to focus my efforts on the military and naval history of the Middle East and North Africa – and those shores upon which the Mediterranean waves lap. This choice was really easy to make as most of my recent efforts have been focussed in this region – be it 1941 and the war at sea or the Balkan Wars of 1912/13. Of course the rise and fall of numerous empires – the Ottomans being naturally my own favourite – means that the choices of periods to game will be many and varied and so you could be forgiven in thinking that all I have done is to change one set of problems for another. To an extent that may be the case but in my own mind the benefits of concentrating on a geographical area far outweigh the previously global spanning ideas I have tried unsuccessfully to realise!

The Ottoman military across the centuries is a study in itself and at the time of writing I have no less than three 15mm armies to consider for them. They are from three different eras and will need opposition so that is 6 armies on its own – this is before I think about my long held desire to produce a Mamluk army, perhaps with some Ilkhanid opposition so that is another two armies (3 if you include some later crusaders!). The Arab Conquest and Empire, the Moors in Spain, the various colonial adventures of the French and British, the Arab Revolt and even Rommel and his panzers are all grist to my wargaming mill so there is more than enough variety here to satisfy even my jaded palate.

In real terms it means that I will be saying goodbye to some old acquaintances from the collection including a large chunk of my Napoleonic library, the various American adventures including the AWI and the war of 1812, Dark Ages Britain (no more Vikings for me!), the Russo Japanese War, and selected portions of the WW2 section. What is left is very ‘Mediterranean-centric’ in its outlook although a few notable exceptions have made the cut. My WW2 North Atlantic naval section will remain, as will the ACW naval and the Spanish Armada section; together with my small selection of books related to piracy. Naval games really don’t count in this to a degree as from a scenic point of view my blue sea gaming cloth will be used for the deep blue of Aegean to the mud coloured Mississippi via the North Atlantic! I apologise in advance if this blanket description of the colour of the world’s waterways has offended the more nautical amongst us! I have a small selection of models and some rule sets to dispose of as well although this is surprisingly few. I also have some sci-fi kit to offload as well although again, surprisingly small amounts.

The sole exceptions, or rather those land based periods that are in no way ‘Mediterranean-centric’ and that are remaining in my collection are limited to the 1815 campaign (this is for reasons of nostalgia as it was the campaign that started me off on the wargaming path all those years ago), a smattering of D-Day and late war material (primarily as support for Memoir 44) and Vietnam.

I have left out most of my sci-fi and all of my fantasy and VSF inclinations from this process, simply because they are not as measurable against my historical scale and to be honest, fall in the ‘great sideline and a lot of fun category’ which is what this hobby should be all about.

I think, summing up all this ramble, is that I have decided that it is time to ‘grow up’ and refrain from spreading my wargaming oats any further and certainly any longer than they need to be!

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