One of my favorite gaming blogs is Here’s No Great Matter, written by a good friend of mine named Aaron. Whereas I tend to focus on hex and counter moderns, Aaron has an eclectic taste that runs from ancients all the way up to present day.
Like me, Aaron is an ex-pat who has settled down in Japan. Sadly, we live too far from each other to meet up and game but we have played out some Sixth Fleet by email before and had great fun. Besides blogging, he somehow manages to have a full-time job and be a dad too. The guy has lots of energy and talent.
|Aaron demonstrates his war face for the camera.|
One of my favorite posts from Aaron’s blog is the tale of trying to track down two parcels of games after returning from a vacation and…well, you’ll just have to read it yourself. The story is so funny and so quintessentially Japanese that I became an immediate subscriber to Aaron’s blog after reading it.
I wrote a small blurb about Aaron’s blog (and several others) years ago in an article titled “The Blogs of War”for Line of Fire issue 12. Since then, I always wanted to do his blog more justice by giving it the attention it deserves with a good interview. So without further delay, here’s my chat with Aaron about Here’s No Great Matter:
HaH: Can you give me a little background about “Here’s No Great Matter”? Why did you start it and how has it changed over time?
HNGM: First off, thank you for sending these questions my way, Brad. I enjoy your posts and attitude to the hobby so it’s a real pleasure to be approached for comment.
I started the blog back in 2010 as a sort of wargaming diary. I like to record the games I play and it’s easier to document them online than it is to document them in a notebook. Since I mostly game with miniatures, I also hoped that the need to post photographs would force me to improve my painting skills and increase the painting output. I’ve had mixed results!
How has the blog changed? I don’t go back and re-read old posts very much, but I suppose you develop different interests and have periods when you are ‘on’ and periods when you are ‘off’. I’m probably a little less focused on game reports than I used to be. There are only so many times you can re-fight Cannae before you run out of new and interesting things to say.
HaH: I’ve noticed you like to play lots of ancients. What in particular attracts you to that genre?
HNGM: I love the ancient texts: Caesar, Livy, Polybius, Plutarch, Arrian, Tacitus and so on. The people and events are fascinating, and the social and political issues the ancients were faced with are similar to the kinds of things that we are faced with today. There also happen to be some very good games on the ancient period: Pax Romana, Commands & Colors: Ancients and Lost Battles, for starters. The era lends itself well to solo play, and the effect of massed 15mm ancient armies on the table is satisfying. There is also, through the Society of Ancients, the opportunity to write articles on things of interest, which is a good way to keep the old writing/researching/blathering-about-obscure-topics hand in.
|Aaron has some very cool Command & Colors AARs on his blog.|
HaH: Tell me about a game you love and a game you love to hate and why.
HNGM: I have an abiding passion for A Victory Lost, by Tetsuya Nakamura. It’s on Operation Saturn and von Manstein’s backhand blow, and it’s the tensest thing I’ve ever found in a two-player wargame. It’s brilliant for play-by-email, and is one of those “I can’t sleep because I keep going over my last move in my head trying to reassure myself I haven’t made a mistake” types of games. I love to hate chess. As a kid I fancied myself a chess player but the reality is I’m crap. I’ll occasionally have a few drinks and play online, either doing really well and feeling inordinately pleased, or else losing embarrassingly badly and getting extremely annoyed with myself. A legacy of playing against my old man is that I am always very polite when losing. I may be seething and contemplating throwing something against the wall because of a mistake I’ve made but I’ll always finish with a bright and cheerful ‘good game’..
|von Manstein’s ‘Backhand blow’ in A Victory Lost|
HaH:What would your 3 main pieces of advice be for anyone who is looking to get into miniature wargaming as a hobby?
HNGM:Try and find a fellow player somewhere nearby. Collect armies because you like them, not because they are on special. Take the time to learn a few games very well, and make sure at least one of them works well solo.
HaH: What are the big differences/challenges/good points of being a gamer in Japan?
HNGM:I’ve only started gaming seriously since I’ve been here, so I can’t compare to back home. The biggest thing has been having the disposable income to afford games and figures. You can buy board wargames locally through yahoo auctions, but if you want to play historical miniatures you have to buy from overseas, so it can get a bit pricey. Luckily, I got into it when shipping was still relatively reasonable, the yen was quite strong, and the kids were young. I picked up a lot of my figures years ago and have enough to keep me going for a while. Another point is that Japan is a country that embraces hobbies of all kinds and has the population to support manufacturers, so paint, brushes, varnish and everything else you need is produced locally, which over here means the quality is high, the cost is fairly low, and the availability is excellent.
If I were back home in New Zealand I would probably still be playing music and social sports and would not have got into wargaming at all.
HaH: How has this hobby changed your life?
HNGM: I wouldn’t say it’s changed my life, but it gives me something to do in the evenings, and I’ve met a few good people I wouldn’t have met otherwise.