This is something of a special post, as my Dad has turned 70 today and I thought I would write something of a tribute to his influence on me as a gamer. Throughout my life I have always been surounded by games of all descriptions, whether they were the board games I got as presents when I was younger, or wargames, either playing them with Dad or seeing him playing with friends. This has fostered an interest which has continued to this day and is evidenced by a room in my home full of boardgames and miniatures.
Here is the earliest picture I have of us as 'hobbyists' together. I was allowed to paint one of Dad's figures for the first time, so here we are, hanging out together in the garden in summer. I'm not sure what happened to that particular model, but it was certainly the start of something!
Here's one of my Dad (left) and one of his best friends who he used to wargame with. Bill used to live in Southend and they would meet up a few times a year for a game. They played AWI and had an ongoing campaign in which they would play out some of the engagements solo and others face to face. I remember Dad's maps and little flags showing the position of various troops, but I also remember their splendid tables of figures and terrain. From my memories, I would say this was gentlemanly wargaming of the highest order!
I was far too young to really be able to play at this point, except for maybe occasionally rolling some of Dad's dice for him, but it wasn't too long before I was playing games myself.
The above picture is one of my earliest memories of wargaming and I remember the moments up to the picture especially well as my Tiger had just destroyed one of my Dad's tanks as it was crossing the bridge, leaving his other vehicles stranded on the other side of the river. Victory was mine that day!
Above is another battle from my childhood. I have no recollection of this at all, or even if I was actually playing or just 'posing' at the top of the photo. Not sure where the rest of my head went! Anyway, it just reminds me how interesting and exciting wargaming seemed to me when I was younger. All the figures and terrain looked splendid, plus they were actual games you played, not just something to look at.
Of course, an interest in historical wargames goes hand in hand with an interest in history, and my Dad took me to plenty of museums, fostering an interest in the subject which remains to this day.
And of course there is living history and reenactment. Below is a picture from when we went to see some jousting. As you can see, my Dad got roped in to helping out, and very good at it he was too!
I'm as much, if not more (depending on my mood), of a boardgamer as a wargamer and Dad has always been willing to give most things a go. Below is one of many intense games of Lost Cities we played one weekend about ten years ago.
My wife took the below picture of one of our many games of Battlestar Galactica and, before the birth of our son, it became a bit of a mini tradition for the three of us to play. I don't think I ever got to be a cylon though...
As fate would have it, my wife and I decided to settle in my old hometown, so I now have many more opportunities to play games with Dad. Here he is pondering how to get his heroes out of a tricky spot during a game of Imperial Assault.
So what I really want to do is just say thanks to my Dad. Thanks for introducing me to the hobby of wargaming, thanks for encouraging an interest in history, thanks for demonstrating the gentlemanly principles of fair play and fighting battles with honour and, most importantly, thank you for being an excellent Dad. I have always enjoyed the games we have played and look forward to many more in the future.
Happy Birthday, Dad!