A hobby older than five years
1 August 2005 is an occasion not only to look back at five years of India Wargamers web site but also for me to take a nostalgic look at all the years I have spent enjoying this hobby of playing with (or in our case, without) miniature soldiers. The people who are now known as the the India Wargamers started gaming much before the web site came to be. The first wargame was played in Trivandrum circa 1992 under the roof of the local YMCA organized by the founder and dictator-for-life Ravi Mohan. The details remain lost in the dim mists of time but it is safe to say that no miniatures were used and that the rules were home brew. The players were almost entirely university students from Trivandrum, most of them of various Engineering disciplines. The makeup of the group has remained heavy on engineers all through out.
My own first wargame was played, likewise, using home made rules. I recall that each side were given 50,000 points to choose an army. Each man cost 1 point, each horse 2 points; sword and shield meant another 2 points and so on. Though the game was an unmitigated disaster for my side (of which I was a sub commander) I was hooked to the whole idea of "fighting" on the tabletop. The first "printed" set of rules that the group played with were a draft edition of De Bellis Antiquitatis. Later Ravi bought the complete printed DBA and DBM series and the relevant army books. Also gaining in popularity were the freely available 1943 Battalion Level Ground Combat For WWII rules.
The last five years of the 20th century witnessed the group turn its attention away from DBM games and play these new set of rules called Piquet. With its free flowing and fun filled action, Piquet soon became the most frequently played set of rules. This remains true to this day, with the various rulesets by SAGA Publishing coming in second.
Why don't you publish the battle reports?
The idea for a web site came after I had written a few reports of the games we had played. Ravi casually asked me to think about publishing the reports on the web. This was circa 2000, the year the Internet and all things related to it were basking in the adoration of Wall Street. Thus was born the first ever version of India Wargamers web site, kindly hosted by Geocities. The original URL is still up, faithfully directing visitors to the domain name which we acquired not long afterwards.
The picture below should give you an idea about how the site changed its looks from 2001 July through 2002 August. When I first designed this site I was fresh out of HTML school and took grave liberties with the markup and the colours! It is evident that I haven't learned much in the intervening five years except not to make the most obvious mistakes and to go easy on colours :)
The first site lumped all the battle reports together in one page. Later as the site and the number of battle reports grew, separate pages were added for each report. The quality of images also grew in interim. Those who have visited this site early on might remember the rather simple and sometimes crude images that accompanied the battle reports. I used to draw the images by hand and get them scanned later. The net result of combining the rather poor quality of my drawings with the mediocre quality of scanning obtained by flatbed scanners did not bade the images well, to say the least! Around this time I discovered Adobe Photoshop. Thanks to some tips from Abey and due to my own "experiments in creativity", the quality of the images accompanying our battle reports improved over time. So much so that I was finally able to compile and publish the basic tips and tricks that go into making a "battle map". However I am not yet fully satisfied with the images that I am able to make. My current quest is to find a good way to combine detailed photos of the battle (miniatures, terrain etc.) with the usual "cartographic" maps.
Though styles have changed, the basic colours used for the web site have remained more or less the same over the last four years. The hardest thing to achieve in all this has been to stay true to the most fundamental of all design principles, "keep it simple".
Updating the Site
I have been far from diligent when it came to updating the site. With some exceptions, I have always updated this site at the prodding of our noble dictator, Ravi Mohan. I still fondly remember the occasion when I visited Ravi in Bangalore, and was refused permission to his house until I completed the report of our previous game. Consequently I spent most of my day at the nearby Internet cafe, writing one the better battle reports that I have written, the Black day for the Teutons.
Updates to the site were shared with the hobby world through various news groups, mainly Yahoo Groups. Changes have also been announced elsewhere, particularly after Bill Armintrout at The Miniatures Page started a news section precisely for publishing such "Internet news".
What started out as a collection of half a dozen pages has now grown to 67 pages in all. The content is mostly HTML, though there is an odd pdf file out there. The bulk of the content, as well as the most read, are our battle reports which number 30. There are also a dozen articles on various wargaming related topics as well as a gallery of sorts. For a site which has always tried to keep the number of images small to conserve bandwidth we have accumulated a whole lot of images over the years. A surprising 600 images in total, most of these are in JPG format.
During the last two years the India Wargamers has consistently averaged over 1000 hits a day. The peak came in August 2003 when the tutorial for map making was published. The web site registered an average of 4000 hits a day for a week long period. I suspect the number of hits went up in this case thanks to the many images embedded in the tutorial.
Bouquets and Brickbats
Running a web site is fun, but it is also tedious. What has kept the whole team going are the various letters of appreciation and encouragement that players world over have sent to us. The website has also helped us get to know many players from various parts of the world. People have sent miniatures, books and what not to us after coming to know about us through the web site. Thus when I attended Historicon 2004 last year, I already knew most of the people I was to meet there by name. It was a pleasure to shake hands with them and put faces to the names we have known over the years.
Quoted below are some of the mails we have received over the years at firstname.lastname@example.org. We thank you all for your encouragement! Any errors and omissions in transcribing them are of course all mine.
Hi guys! Greetings from New Zealand.
I've just completed looking through your India wargames site, and wanted to say how impressed I was. I enjoyed reading the articles very much - the battle reports were very funny, and the tales of wargaming in India (for instance, how you got your Piquet rules) makes me aware how much I take for granted here in New Zealand. We also have to order them from other countries, but at least we don't have the payment problems you had, as nearly everyone here has credit cards.
I was also especially interested to read about that Python programme. I have put together a little wargames website myself, and curse every time I have to update it, because changing all the menus on every page is a boring, time-consuming task. So I'm going to investigate that Python programme to see if it is easy for a non-programmer like me to use! My site, by the way, is at:
Like you, I am very keen on Piquet rules. I have only started playing with them a few months ago, but I love the way games develop, the excitement and the uncertainty.
Anyway, once again, congratulations on a very fine site!
Paraparaumu, New Zealand
just a note to tell you it is very interesting. I have an 8 yr old daughter who wants to play dba but with an indian elephant army. So i got her a hindu army and will be getting the historical oponent at the next convention i am going to thanks for you site and keep up the good work
Bruce "brew" Whitver
I never imagined there would be wargamers in India. i lived there for 6 years as a student and played wargames frequently with a few friends. But never meet anyone that was interested otherwise. i live in Australia but if (when) I come back to India I would love to have a game.
If you are into computer games try Close Combat 3: the Eastern Front or Close Combat 4:Battle of the Bulge. They are especially fun on a Local Area Network.
I was very very impressed by your site, especially the battle reports - I've printed them off to read at my leisure! I think your maps are the most impressive I've seen on the web and a quick glance also suggests that the reports themselves maintain that standard. An inspiration for me to start work on my own site again!
-- snip --
Best wishes for your future games,
Just read your wargame battle report on the Battle of Srirampur and wanted to say how much I enjoyed it. (The site was posted on the colonialWars at egroups.com mailing list so you may hear from a few of us). I'm starting to work my way through the rest now. Anyway welcome to the world-wide brotherhood of wargamers.
Ross Macfarlane (Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada) [Wed, 27 Dec 2000]
Dear India Wargamers
Greetings from Manchester, England. I've just discovered your website, and I have to say I'm very impressed. Your enthusiasm for the hobby really shines through.
Hearing how you fight your battles using maps and paper units reminded me of my earliest wargaming days, when I couldn't afford the few wargaming figures that were available then. I too reverted to pen and paper, and fought many enjoyable map games.
May I wish you the best of luck in developing our hobby in India.
Chris Johnston [Wed, 27 Dec 2000]
I visited your website as a result of seeing its URL on the ColonialWars list at e-Groups, and I am very impressed by the way you have made a positive response to the problems of having little or no access to wargames rules or figures. I was also impressed by the battle reports.
I am based in the UK, and I am an avid wargamer. I mostly play games that use toy soldiers (usually 15 mm or 20 mm scale) but I have also played many less conventional games (including Matrix Games).
I also run three wargames-related websites at:
http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~warden/ - devoted to Wargame Developments (including links to a site run by one of WD's members who has loads of free down-loads of Matrix Games and useful clipart)
http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~warden/ww2/ - devoted to operational-level WW2 wargames using 20 mm figures and vehicles
http://www.users.dircon.co.uk/~warden/colonial/ - devoted to colonial wargaming
Please pay these websites a visit as I am sure that you will find something of interest on all of them; in the meantime, keep up the good work!
Bob Cordery [Fri, 29 Dec 2000]
Dear India Wargamers,
My name is Arjun and I am one of the Napoleonic Nuts of Singapore. Like yourselves, we are the only group of historical wargamers who game on a regular basis that we know of in our country. There are shops that sell Gamesworkshop games and figures, and they have a large follwoing here; but as far as historical periods are concerned, we know of no one else.
Our url is: http://napnuts.napoleonicwars.com/
Let me first say that I can understand the difficulties you must have faced in the beginnings of your club. When I first started out more than 10 years ago I could not make sense of the WRG 5th Edition rules either. My understanding of wargames as it is came through wargaming magazines, then the internet, which allowed me to follow the developments in the wargaming scene in UK. We are still a small group now, but we hope to attract new and committed players to our club.
Currently, we are playing: WW2 in 20mm, using Squad Leader and soon Battleground WW2 rules, 20mm Napoleonics using a variety of rules such as General de Brigade and our own set; we are also play-testing Elan, and we have recently purchased 4 different 15mm armies for our Crusades campaign, based on the rules available from the Perfect Captain (Ironbow and Princes of the East; see the freewargamesrules page). Next to the internet, mail-ordering is the best thing that's happened to wargaming.
I hope we can learn from each other's experiences in keeping the hobby alive in a far-flung corner of the wargames world, and perhaps one day even have a game together.
arjun [Tue, 03 Apr 2001]
Nice website, I've browsed it a few times with great interest. I only justnoted the part which explains how you dont use miniatures. I bow to yourpersistence!
Melbourne - Australia [Tue, 28 Aug 2001]
just found this site after looking for stuff on Armoured Carthaginian chariots.
Love reading how the battle unfolded.
I feel heavy chariots are quite a lethal weapon, especially if you can protect the horses from skirmishers (armoured). i'm trying to find details that Carthaginian elite chariots had armoured horses. This seems to depend on where carthage learned how to use chariots, phoenica or libya. Armoured chariots are well know pre-post dark ages.
Grant Dinse. [Sat, 15 Sep 2001]
Absolutely stunning PK battle report. In fact, it was so entertaining it isfeatured on the DBA Fanaticus site, even though it is not (obviously) DBA.I must admit I play a lot of DBA because a) my wargaming friends play DBA,and DBA exclusively b) it is VERY fast and simple to play and c) it doesn'tneed many figures to make an army. Which is important since I paint veryslowly. I know you use cardboard, but I enjoy painting...even if it takesme forever.
Having said all that, I think PK is superior in every other respect. As myarmies slowly grow in size, I am tending to play more PK than DBA or DBR.And I am even converting a few of friends to playing PK!!
Have you received your PK campaign supplement yet? (I remember you postingon TMP).
We'll convert the wargaming world to PK yet!
Thanks again for a really entertaining read. Now I feel inspired to playsome BoB! Although I'm actually going to play Anchor of Faith this weekend,so I shouldn't really complain.
Tony Stapells [Fri, 21 Sep 2001]
Just wanted to say that I just visited your site for the first time and it looks great. Nice layout. Good luck with it.
Abe Brown [Sat, 13 Oct 2001]
Hey guys, we really love your site. I don't know anout a crtique- that iswhat all of our battle reports would look like, if we weren't so lazy/busywith other stuff!! Excellent!
Also your treatise on wargaming without figures is a interesting read(though not sure what Colonel Marbles would make of that though, he'll beout of a job!).
I'm working through our links catalogue now and we'll definitely put a linkto your site on our pages (apologies in advance if this takes a whilethough).
Thanks for the feedback- and keep frothing guys!
-Nick "Doc" Ashton, frothers Unite! [Tue, 6 Nov 2001]
I just the battle report between the Gauls and the Romans. Very well written. I enjoyed it very much. You have a fine website. Overall though, how did you like the rules set you used? Will you be posting a review of it? Thanks and good luck.
Jay Browning [Fri, 16 Nov 2001]
Just wanted to let you know that I've really enjoyed reading your ToW and BoB game reports!
Brent Oman [Mon, 19 Nov 2001]
A well done web page!
Your battle reports are fun to read. Especially interesting is your campaign in Japan.
Have fun and keep writing!
USA [Mon, 10 Dec 2001]
I am writing to say, first, that I enjoyed very much reading the battlereport of your latest DBA battle, Arrow at Dawn and I will share it with mygaming friends at our next meeting.
Second, do you have a mailing address? I have some battle reports usingthis system I would like to share with you from our ongoing campaign we callJustinian's Wars. We have been meeting once a month for the past 2 years tofight 6-8 battles each time since our campaign map covers all Europe andNorth Africa. Sadly, they are now only in hard copy.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Roger Deal, Columbus Ohio, USA [Sun, 30 Dec 2001]
I like your site with the battle reports and I access it every time I see an announcement on The Miniatures Page. Does your club not use miniatures on purpose or are they difficult to obtain in India? If you need figs we can help you out! I run the website for our club http://www.wfhgs.com and we have literally thousands of miniatures that we will never paint in our lifetime! If you're interested and want to give me an address we will ship you a ton of stuff as we are always trying to help clubs out where possible. We have WWII in 15mm, 25mm Samurai, 15mm Napoleonics, 15mm ACW, 15mm Seven Years War, etc...(it's all good stuff, too, such as Old Glory, Essex, etc...), that you guys are more than welcome to have. Let me know and keep up the good work!
Matt (Matthew Irsik) [Mon, 14 Jan 2002]
Your battle maps are simply beautiful! Could you possibly tell me what program you use to make them? Thank you in advance! And, I find your website also pleasing to the eyes!
Moshe (Moshe Malyevshevsky) [Mon, 4 Mar 2002]
Some days ago I came across your excellent website while browsing the web. As an amateur student of History, I can appreaciate your efforts to start and maintain a wargaming club in India. I currently live and work in a small place in northwestern Spain where this hobby is quite nonexistent, and a few college friends are quite reluctant to join in (lazy bunch!). However, your enthusiasm makes all my troubles seem paltry indeed!
Keep up the good work! It is a first-class web-site, and a sure model to follow.
Jose Luis Mato Ahcan [Thu, 28 Mar 2002]
Hello, I've enjoyed reading your battle reports of your campaign on your site. One question: what figures do you use?
Thanks for your time,
Jaye Wiley [Wed, 6 Mar 2002]
Caught reference to your report on the miniatures page. I do not play the game, but thought the report was well crafted. In particular, what do you use for the images included with the report?
They are good enough for me to think that a specific program for gaming was used rather than a standard image program. Am I wrong?
Noel Weer [Mon, 4 Mar 2002]
I did really like your battle report. It read like a good history, informative in a wargamistic way and really enjoyable. Well done. And morover, the maps are really nice.
Patrick (Crusiau Patrick) [Mon, 04 Mar 2002]
An excellent Battle Report gentlemen.
It reminds me of a campaign between Normans and Saxons some 20 years ago.It was bloody and the penulitmate battle ended with Duc de Rouff slayingthe Eoarl of Wessex and capturing the evil dwarf (who was the true brainof the Saxon resistance)Cedric. It was impossible to kill him because hehad secured the protection of the church of Rome. After a brief momentsthought I smiled gave the dwarf 1000 ducats and released him. Wargamersbeing the trusting people they are, his character was swiftly assassinatedby the Saxon side.
Thanks for an entertaining read and some fine reminisance
Luxor [Fri, 7 Jun 2002]
Just wanted to say how much I like your site. I found it through 'The Miniatures Page'. I always like to read battle reports from other wargamers but don't tend to write my own because I never think anyone else would be interested. 'Last of the Patricians' sounds like it was a lot of fun to play, ancient Rome is very much what I'm into. Just one tiny thing, though. Isn't the Latin for India actually 'India?'
Anyway, keep up the good work! Bye.
United Kingdom. [Sat, 15 Jun 2002]
For the first time I checked out one of your battle reports. Oh My God!! That is awesome.
Your descriptions and maps were amazing. The only way one could do better is if one had the battle animated.
Great Site. Too amazing.
Rob. (Morris Robert) [Sun, 16 Jun 2002]