Gamers in weekly fight for supremacy
IT is 7.45pm on a Thursday night, and a fight is about to break out in the Seager Hall, Wells.
Two members of the Mid Somerset Wargames Group are facing each other across a table laid out with a board, plastic tiles, packs of cards and sets of rules as they prepare to engage in the 1808 Battle of Rolica.
It was one of the first battles of the Peninsular War, explains Andy Woodward, one of the group’s longest serving members – he joined in 1972 at the age of 16.
“I’ve always been interested in military matters,” he says.
“When I started playing the most popular period was the Napoleonic period.
“The reason was the availability of figures. I have a large Napoleonic collection in 15mm, though now my favourite is board games.”
His opponent for the night is Matthew Piotrowski, a senior manager in waste management who is one of the club’s newest members, having joined six months ago.
A video games and board games fan, he said: “A lot of diverse people come to play. It’s a really good way of getting your gaming fix.”
Mid Somerset Wargames Group was formed in 1964 and claims to be the oldest wargaming club in the country. It currently has more than 40 members including a Wells firefighter and Wells school caretaker, a locksmith and a tax inspector.
At least 20 members turn up at Seager Hall at 7pm each Thursday to play games that can go on until midnight.
On another table, Russian and American tanks are edging towards each other through a maze of buildings, while nearby, two Warhammer 40,000 battle groups are about to clash.
“It can be quite addictive,” said Adam French, one of those at the Warhammer 40,000 table. “People enjoy modelling and painting scenery, and you buy more figures than you need.
“I’ve been collecting Bretonia army figures and painting them since the age of 14 and I’m 47 now.”
Adam travels to club nights from Crewkerne, while others attend from Yeovil, Weston-super-Mare, Cheddar, Wincanton and Coleford, though most members live in Wells. They have seen a shift over the years from two players directing armies of soldiers to more multi-player games and board games.
Anyone interested in joining can contact the group via its Facebook page or turn up at one of the weekly meetings.
“It’s a very welcoming environment,” said Adam.