Sometime in late 2001, wargamer and rule designer Terry Gore (of Saga Publishing fame) put us in touch with John Graham-Leigh of the Society of Ancients with reference to an interesting idea. Terry had kindly passed along one of our battle reports to the Society, and John was interested in knowing more about our club especially in the way of anecdotes. With due thanks to both these Gentlemen, we present some of the anecdotes related to India Wargamers.
Please note: Some of these have been covered in separate articles, some are being published for the first time. Part of the content was inspired by mails we received from wargamers world around. Thanks to all of you for your mails!
The Money Rule
One of the most innovative (and drastic, as you will see) ideas in the history of India Wargamers is the Money Rule. There was a phase when some of the players lacked proper thought on tactics, appreciation of rules, visualising the battlefield etc. While this may not have been intentional, it certainly affected the quality and enjoyment aspect of our games. One of the factors to blame was the lack of "Ego" on part of the players - victory was coveted, but there was no conscious thought or action aimed at being victorious. After witnessing several games of dubious quality Ravi Mohan , our most experienced player, decided to take things into his hands and bring about some change. Thus the Money Rule was found.
Ravi suggested that each player should commit Rs. 500 (equivalent to $50 in terms of value though only about $10 by direct conversion) for every game he plays, the net amount to be taken by the victor. (He also suggested possible uses for this money, the most notable being taking ones flame to dinner!)
Voila! Tactics adopted by players changed suddenly and quite visibly with very good results. While the less experienced still lose, they tend to go down fighting than surrender meekly. There was an additional advantage - the rule strongly discouraged those who played for social or other reasons.
Some of our friends in the Piquet Discussion Group suggested an interesting alternative for the money part - the winner gets to take all the miniatures he kills or captures!
Credit for nothing, Publicity for Free
On a related note, one of our erstwhile players(who shall remain unnamed) sent us a mail after the India Wargamers site received several complimentary emails from global wargamers. The player claimed that he(she?) was "proud" to find his name in our website. But there was no mention as to when he would play another wargame, if at all. After several such incidents involving totally uninterested people who liked the results but abhorred the effort behind it, we decided that enough was enough. Mind you, India Wargamers does not charge a single penny for membership - even the website is run from the personal incomes of a few dedicated players.
As a result we threw out several members and issued warnings to several others. All they had to do to retain their membership was to play!!! And to show our respect to some people who would have made excellent members we started a new category called Honorary Members. These are people who cannot make it to the nearest venue for reasons like distance, work pressure, familial constraints etc. What merits them the membership is the commitment they have shown in the past when we were less organized and the interest which they still maintain.
Challenges and Challengers
There is yet another incident of a similar nature, detailed in our article Games Gamers Play. As an addendum, the incident mentioned in the article (Challenger vanishing after making the challenge) occurred yet again, featuring the same cast as earlier!
Genesis : Punic Times
Several people have commented on the quality of our battle reports. There are a few things of interest behind this. The origin of our battle reports can be traced to the time when we first started playing De Bellis Multitudinis and decided to have a "war daily" of sorts. Named "Punic Times" - we were mostly playing with Polybian Rome and her enemies - the first edition of our "Daily" was typeset in MS Word and printed in a home ink jet printer. As colour copies were costly we circulated photocopied duplicates of the master printout. Buyers were charged Rs. 2 (about 5 cents) to cover the charge of photocopying. We sold 7 copies, and put up two on public display at the local French Cultural Centre.
The credit of the idea goes to Ravi. As the ever resourceful taskmaster, he breathed fire down all of our backs until we had done the job. Abey Mullassery giving Manoj his first ever taste of the software.
The Punic Times made only three editions. For a while we did not have any chronicles until the website was created. Again, Ravi (yes, I can see you grinning!) came up with the idea. The site began its life in yahoo! geocities, and moved to its own domain by the first anniversary. We now have 50 MB of dedicated space, with a bandwidth of 3.5 GB per month. By the way we strongly recommend Linux Web Host for your hosting options.
Content makes a site
Our first concern while designing the website was content. Content, content and only content. After seeing several successful and jazzy but unsuccessful sites, we had learnt our lesson. This was further modified by Ravi, who insisted on unique content. Together, these factors led us to the decision that we would put up content that nobody did. Given our experience with Punic Times, battle reports were our first choice. At a time when Internet was slow, expensive and difficult to access, all our searches to find battle reports and other useful material on the web had drawn blanks (This was 1996 - '99). With a few exceptions (like Ed Allen for instance, whose site we liked very much) most websites we located were hardly interesting. Our site had to draw people for content only it could provide.
Our Battle Reports quickly became the main content of the site, supplemented by articles. One of the turning points in our reporting history was when we first read Kenneth Baggaley. His battle reports were(are) *so* well written that we decided to rewrite many of ours. (Ken has always been a very helpful friend. Thanks!) To our gratitude and satisfaction, a vast majority of the appreciation mails the site has received to date concern battle reports.
In the Battle of Al Kasba certain references were made to the on-off liaison between Brother Anandos and a certain Princessa of Renaissance Europe. Peter Anderson (aka Gonsalvo) of the Piquet Group wondered aloud whether these incidents had anything to do with real life of the concerned players. The India Wargamers officially declines to comment on this ;) It would suffice to say that any resemblance to real or imaginary persons or events is purely coincidental :)
Wargamer and history buff Mark Ross wrote to us commenting on one of our battle report where a commander orders his arquebusiers to take careful aim and fire. As Mark correctly pointed out, the troops of the Renaissance era wouldn't bother to aim as firing itself was a minor miracle on occasions. "They [The Arquebusiers] would point the matchlock at the enemy, and just before firing, tilt their head down so the hat brim was between their face and the firing pan, protecting their eyes from the powder flash". We thanked Mark and corrected the mistake, one more nugget from history stored away.
There are no miniature makers in India (Read story). Several wargamers have asked about the absence of miniatures in our battles. Some have even gone to the trouble of sending miniatures to us (Thanks in particular to Fred Pacquier and Matthew Irsik and his friends) The only instance when we actually bought miniatures was when Abey made a short visit to the US. We are now the proud owners of 15mm Polybian Roman and Later Carthaginian armies. But in spite of such great miniatures, we are still addicted to our little coloured pieces of paper!
Even though India Wargamers is listed as located in Bangalore, our players are spread through out Southern India. Most gamers reside in Bangalore, Chennai or Trivandrum. A typical wargame involves one or more of the players travelling anywhere between 370 to 900 km (7 to 17 hours by road/rail) dragging with them rolls of paper, scissors, rulesets, dice and several other odds and ends. Consequently games are played only once or sometimes twice every month. The most preferred venue is Bangalore because of its cool climate. Anyone who has experienced the Indian Summer particularly in Chennai will readily attest this! Trivandrum, the town where it all began is referred to as "Rome", for similarities to the Byzantine split up as well as for the barbaric hordes which dwell there now ;)
Power Tool: Adobe Photoshop
All images in this site were created using Adobe Photoshop. We have been using it from the time of Punic Times, after scanned copies of hand drawn maps failed to impress. Manoj recommends Photoshop as an excellent tool for the wargamer. All the needs of this site were met by using less than 20% of its full capabilities. The GNUs GIMP has similar capabilities for those interested in Linux.