The Orkney Wargames Club
Orkney is one of those truly beautiful places - a green and welcoming archipelago located just off the north tip of Britain. It has a proud Viking heritage, and a wealth of amazing archaeological treasures - places like Skara Brae, The Ring of Brodgar and the chambered cairn of Maeshowe, where Viking tomb-raiders once scratched a dragon on the wall, thus giving us our club logo. A club, because now, for the first time in thirty years, it has a wargames club again.
Technically the resurgent Orkney Wargames Club is a part of another organisation, the Tabletop Gamers - a local fantasy and sci-fi group - a really nice bunch of youngsters. However, with luck we'll emerge as a proper entity again some time in the not too distant future.
We meet on Monday evenings, in the Venue in Victoria Street, Kirkwall, from 7-10pm.
Here's some of the "back story" about the club:
I was raised in Orkney, and back in the 1970's when I was at school there my buddies and I ran the Orkney Wargames Club. It was housed in the disused wing of someone's unused stable block. I left Orkney to join the Navy when I was 18, and the club folded soon afterwards, as the small group of wargamers left to go to university, or quit the island.
Nowadays, more than thirty years later I spend about half the year in Orkney, having inherited the family home there in 2010. It bugged me that there wasn't a wargames club any more. I did find a bunch of Warhammer-playing teenagers who formed "The Kirkwall Wargames Club" but it didn't really count. They were an unfriendly, closed shop kind of bunch, and when I visited them and asked them if they ever did proper wargaming they just stared blankly at me. They now call themselves the "Orkney Wargamers", and don't seem to have changed very much. However, a group called the Tabletop Gamers hived off from them a year or so ago, and they have a lot more going for them. So, in February 2013 we decided to throw in our lot with them, effectively forming a historic wing of their largely fantasy and sci-fi group.
I say "we", and that is another part of the back story. In the past few years a few wargamers have now come out of the woodwork, and this happy little band is growing. Right now there are five of us, with a more planning top join us. Better still, a couple of the Tabletop Gamers youngsters are showing an interest in what we do, so the future looks a lot brighter than it did a year ago. Its a healthy beginning to what we hope will be a long-running club. We've also forged links with the Thule Gamers in Shetland, and hold "inter-county" get-togethers with them. The next one is in April - an away visit to Shetland.
Getting this group of historic wargamers together was also an interesting story. One evening in 2010 I was sipping a gin and admiring this view from the garden (above) when I had the brainwave... why not try to resurrect the Orkney Wargames Club?
The mission got underway in early 2010, when I was put in touch with a local deputy headmaster, a friend of a wargaming friend in Edinburgh. He's big on Napoleonics, and although a lapsed wargamer he's now building up a Prussian army. Then in February 2012 another chap got in touch, a freelancer who lives there. He's now hooked, and is collecting 20mm and 28mm modern skirmish figures. Since then three more have appeared - all contacts of Chris - the freelancer. We now play weekly games in the club, and sometimes stage larger, longer games here at the house.
We'll keep you posted as things develop!
If you live in Orkney, and want to join us, or just try your hand at a game, then come by some Monday, or send me an e-mail.
If you're visiting the islands, do please visit us on a Monday night, say hello, and join in a game.
Four off-site links:
The Venue (where we hold our Monday evening games)
Orkneyjar - Orkney's Heritage. Orkneyinga Saga Orkney Archaeological Tours