In Bristol there are only a couple of wargames clubs that I’m aware of, and we are the 8th largest city in the UK. There are others spread around the local area, another 2-3 that come to mind. Why so few? A few thoughts:
- Finding a venue that is cheap enought for a club is tricky. Portbury Knights existed due to the fact that the chairman lived in the village and got a 50% discount. Even then it was £5 per night, which is expensive compared to other clubs I know off. Add in travelling costs (excluding time, which for me was an hour each way) and the odd drink at the bar and it was averaging £20 per night. Many members found this prohibitive in the long run and simply drifted away.
- Finding a night that is good for most people is another issue. Friday night was the Portbury Knights club night so not suitable for everyone. One local club meets on a Sunday afternoon which for many of my chums is set aside for ‘family time’.
- Trying to find people to run a club can be awkward. Again Portbury Knights was run by the chairman really and relied upon his energy.
- Club politics. In the end the club folded due to the weekly squabbles between a few core club members. The chairman simply got tired of it and handed over the reins and the club folded within a year.
In the end due to some of the issues above my regular gaming chums decided that we would rather meet up at each others houses as and when it suited us (To be honest the whole gaming experience is much, much more enjoyable all round). With the advent of the internet we no longer needed to attend a club regularly to find out what was going on.
To be honest I no longer miss going to a club. Solo games and a few regular chums give me my gaming fix on a regular basis. Add in a few shows a year and I’m a happy wargaming bunny.
Wargaming is still going strong in the UK given the amount of new figure ranges, rules and wargaming books that come out each year. There is still a good show scene, but some such as Colours are now just a one day show, which may be the future for most. The club scene I can’t really comment on given that I’m out of it, but at least there still appears to be one in and around Bristol.