Monday 3 August 2015

A Brief (hah!) Note of Thanks.

I imagine that around about this time every year, the people (or machines, quite possibly, but then the post doesn't work so well, so stick with people even if you know better) over at Google and Facebook get a tiny spike in their impossible sea of statistics indicating the sudden and massive upload of images to their platforms. 

Now if we explore that mental image a little further, we might imagine an administrator spotting the spike, and, both out of a sense of responsibility and curiosity, let us imagine that said administrator clicks on the spike to drill in deeper. 

Ah, he thinks to himself as he sees the keywords. That makes sense. 

Bring Out Your Lead just happened. Most popular keyword?


Freaks, our mild-mannered administrator thinks as he closes the log window and returns to his Bratz fan-fiction site.

So yeah. Bring Out Your Lead. Right now, you're wondering across Facebook and Blogger and Google+ and who-knows-where-else, just absorbing the photographs. 

So in the first instance, this blog post is An Apology

To all those people who were not able to make it, as a result of illness, travel, spouses, work or that idiotic thought that you really had something better to do - I apologise for the fact that BOYL! 2015 was so undeniably, inconceivably, implausibly  incredible that you won't be able to sleep tonight for grief at having missed it. I'm afraid there is no cure for this situation, really. It might just be possible that a strong course of electric shock therapy might see you through this difficult time

I mean, Kev Adams sculpting your actual face onto a miniature? Who cares, right?

Or, unreleased rogue trader adventurers? You're right. Meh.

Chaos marines driving a hovercraft made out of a real deodorant stick around a race track trying to blow up the Freeway Warrior car whilst ramping over a Gobsmasha? Oh. Seen that before have we? 


Tony Ackland just, y'know, hanging around, showing his original drawings?

With Nigel and Rick?

Oh yeah. And Bryan?

Tony Yates, drawing your picture on demand?

Free coffee all weekend?

A painting competition where some of the winning entries were painted on the Saturday night of BOYL?

A free miniature just for signing up?

Oh dear. You haven't ejaculated, have you? There there. Go clean up - I'll wait. 

Back? Feeling better? I really am sorry. Deeply, deeply sorry. We will take all of the blame. In the meantime, you want to think about that therapy.

Right, my duty of care to all those unable to attend complete, let us move on to our second order of business. In the second instance, this post serves as An Open Letter of Gratitude. 

The problem with giving thanks to people is that the words employed are so very often unable to cover the scope of what those being thanked did. English is a powerful and rich language and allows us to explore many ways of expressing things, but saying thanks just somehow... doesn't cut it. 

The magnitude of the gratitude just cannot be expressed. 

But, perhaps by supplying an example of something that warrants gratitude, I might be able to convey some meaning. In order to do that, we must understand the organisation of BOYL. The simple truth is (and sorry to underwhelm all of you) - there is very little organisation at all. The thing is an organic anarchy that enjoys some opinion sampling which is then translated into a vague intention, which we broadcast through unclear channels to Diane and Marcus Ansell.

They then distil these whimsical intentions into clear and decisive action, which results in Bring Out Your Lead. 

Anyway. An example. I acknowledge that I cannot remember ever spoken word of the weekend, so any dialogue that follows is roughly made up and I trust that even if it seems rough and ready, you'll be able to imagine it spoken between swift, intelligent and witty gentlemen of considerable character and intellect. You can do that because you know what a bolter is. 


Saturday: ~10:30

Captain Crooks: Hey Gaj, you devilishly handsome fellow. I have figure I'd like to put in the display cabinet?

Gaj: We don't have a display cabinet. 

Captain Crooks: Oh wow. I have a lot of oldhammer that needs to be seen to be believed. What shall we do? Save us, Gaj!

Gaj: Er...okay. Fear not citizen. (exit stage left)

Saturday: ~10:36

Gaj: Hey Marcus, you devilishly handsome fellow. I have a guy who has a  figure he'd like to put in a display cabinet. Funny thing is, I left my display cabinet in my other trousers. (laughs nervously)

Marcus: We have a display cabinet. Where did you want it?

Gaj: (surprised) Really? I mean, excellent, yes. Just like we planned. Over there, please. (points)

Marcus: Give us a few minutes. (exit stage left)

Saturday: ~10:44

(Marcus arrive with helper and cabinet)

Marcus: Is that okay?

Gaj: (swooning) That is one of the finest examples of a display cabinets I've ever had the good fortune to come across. I believe the phrase these days is 'totes amazeballs'. Many thanks. (exit stage right)

Saturday: ~10:55

Gaj: Captain, your display cabinet, as discussed. 

Captain Crooks: You're my hero. Will you marry me?

Gaj: (nervous laughter) I don't deserve you, Captain. Please stop touching me.

Saturday: ~14:30

Ramshackle Curtis:  Hey Gaj, you fiendish bastion of manhood. How is the painting competition going to work?

Gaj: We don't have a painting competition. 

Curtis: Oh. See, there is a cabinet full of figures for display. It would be an awful tragedy if they were not judged and rewarded appropriately. 

Gaj: We have no prizes. 

Ramshackle Curtis: Gaj, I can always trust you to instantly get to the nub of the matter without any further explanation. 

Gaj; What shall we do? Save us, Ramshackle Curtis!

Ramshackle Curtis: Er...fear not, citizen. I have some prizes that have been generously donated from Grumpy Old Tin

Gaj: (shocked) But is it enough, Ramshackle Curtis? Look at all these figures in this display cabinet that wasn't even here this morning!

Ramshackle Curtis; Stay here. I know what to do! (tears off shirt - exit stage right)

Saturday: ~14:35

Ramshackle Curtis: Marcus! We need judges and prizes, or the world will implode with grief!

Marcus: We have judges and prizes. Furthermore, we have the power of organisation. Look, your eyes are wide and you're sweating. Also, you seem to have lost your shirt. We will not judge today, because it will be too rushed. I declare that judgement with prizes will occur at 14:00 on Sunday. you may go now. 

Ramshackle Curtis: You're my hero! Will you marry me?

Marcus: No. I'm busy right now. 

Ramshackle Curtis: (weeps - exit stage left)

Saturday: ~14:45

Ramshackle Curtis: Gaj, you gift of the heavens, I have resolved the conundrum with the power of organisation!

Gaj: What's organisation?

Ramshackle Curtis: I don't have time to explain, but I believe the phrase one could employ to describe it these days is 'totes amazeballs'.

Gaj: I shall google that post haste. Well done, Ramshackle Curtis! Will you marry me?

Ramshackle Curtis: Alas, Gaj, I am an artiste, and demand nothing less than a muse for inspiration. Are you very inspirational?

Gaj: Another word I shall google post haste. Let us pause our engagement for the minute whilst I determine if I qualify!


The weekend was full of examples where either Diane or Marcus or another oldhammerer would end up saving something or other because I had just not thought of it. Looking back at the example - there was no painting contest, there were no prizes, there was no cabinet - it just did not exist. By Sunday at 15:00 or so, vouchers, unreleased miniatures and little laser cut buildings were being handed to deserving painters in front of about a thirty solid entries. 

Try getting that anywhere else.

So, I feel like I've wandered a little. Back to the gratitude. Everything that follows on is quite, quite serious:

An Open Letter of Gratitude

Dear Diane, Bryan and Marcus, Martin, The Foundry Et Al...

I'm writing on behalf of the oldhammer community simply to say Thank You. Whilst there is a nominal awareness that The Foundry is a commercial enterprise, the simple truth is that you are so very open and welcoming with us that the whole affair feels like a large family gathering. Going to BOYL is like going to visit Uncle Bryan, Aunt Diane and Cousin Marcus and catching up with all the happenings in our worlds over the past year. All the while returning to our thirteen year old selves and playing with toys.

I don't doubt that the oldhammer community could extract a good time from any rented hall, with any rented catering and any set of rented tables. The community is good like that. But when we come to Foundry, that extra dimension of familial familiarity (say that ten times fast!) is unheard of. Nobody is nervous, nobody is afraid. We really believe in your warm, unconditional positive regard for us individually and as a community and, well, the words fall short. Simply put, we thank you for it. Lots and lots and lots.

The Foundry is warm, whereas any other location would be cold. And, whilst no-one would dare admit it, I think there were even some manly tears. That is the sort of emotion your benevolence is able to evoke in us. 

Diane - we know that you are the organisational powerhouse behind the whole thing. We were glad that a small token of gratitude could be presented on Sunday, but again, we know that it is hardly a fitting compensation for the considerable effort you put in, all the while making the thing look graceful and effortless. 

Marcus - thanks for rolling with the punches. The speed with which you were able to move (on just about everything) made the world of difference to us.

Bryan - The resources you put at our disposal just cannot be accounted for! It was great to have you gazing benevolently on the various expressions of games and figures you've created (and helped to create) over the years. Also, thanks for taking the time to sculpt that hand especially for James - it was a small thing, but, you know - also a big thing. Thank you. 

It feels a little banal to refer to 'the rest of the Foundry staff'', but unfortunately, I don't know all of their names. I'll call out Martin and Darren (I think?) for their top assistance over the weekend - the casting demo was great! To the rest of the staff - those that fed, served and cleaned up after us - those that carried things all over the place (a working beer fridge being topmost on that list) - to those involved in preparing the site during the week before hand - creating the bloodbowl tables, moving the 7' behemoth into place - all of these things - thank you. 

Kev - what an incredible idea for charity! To sit sculpting the ugly mugs of the oldhammer community in 28mm is simply genius, if somewhat disturbing. Thank you for immortalising us in green stuff and furthermore - donating the proceeds to charity!

Tony Ackland - you thorough gentleman, you. We loved having the opportunity to gaze at the very drawings that shaped our imaginations and seeded them with rich and varied outputs. It was fascinating to get your take on your art and get yet another insight into the fascinating world of Games Workshop in the mid eighties. We're especially grateful for your time and the effort in your travelling - thank you!

Tony Yates - always a pleasure to see you. I know we always have good chats, but this is equally good for everyone else too. I'm thrilled with the drawing you did for me (her name is Ellen Degenerate, by the way) and I know there are a lot of oldhammerers that, even now, are trying to find the courage to suggest that something you've drawn be framed and hung on the living room wall.  

Finally, I call out to Rick, Nigel and Tim and say thanks to you all for coming out to see us - it was great to see you guys (again, Rick :) ) - we hope it filled your hearts with joy to see us playing your games with childish abandon, lost in a made up world of space elves and goblin fanatics - it certainly filled our hearts with joy to see you all!

Our greatest thanks go to all of you. But especially Diane. Especially you. Thanks.

We look forward to the next family visit!

Lots of love
The Oldhammer Community


Another Open Letter of Gratitude

Dear Oldhammerers, attendees of BOYL! 2015

I just thought I'd write to say thanks to all of you. I am a natural pessimist and I expect the worst at every stage of my life. Whilst this does mean that I'm usually pleasantly surprised most of the time, I still keep an eye out for the worst. 

We reckon that there was a peak of about a hundred people at the event (probably around the time of the photo on Saturday). That's a lot of people. In spite of that, the thing ran without a hitch. A league of gentlemen* is the most frank and honest description. 

You were courteous with each others figures and storage boxes. 

You were accommodating and patient with the rules (and lack of rules).

You were merry and inviting to the new faces. 

Conversations were inclusive - games even more so. 

You trusted each other with your trades and your in play miniatures. 

You went the extra mile for each other - sorting out accommodation, lifts and other logistical enablers. 

The level of trash talking in games was spot on - not too much, not too little.

You shared figures with each other. You shared figures with people you'd never even met. Your actual, old, lead, rare figures. Wow. In many cases, even your life partner doesn't get to do that. 

Looking at the list above, one might suggest this is what utopia ought to look like. It could actually be possible that we had a glimpse of what heaven might be like. 

Anyway, before we all start gushing with manly man-tears (damn dust!), there are a few call outs I'd like to make:

To Curtis - thanks for manufacturing a painting contest out of nothing! And for contributing so much stuff to so many games. Actually, I think you're the only guy capable of playing two games at once! Also, your gifts to the various players were most welcome!

To Drew - you came all the way from San Francisco just to come and see us! And bring robots! I'm sure if you check with everyone, they'd agree its in that order too ;) - Still, it's a hell of an investment for a weekend and we love that you chose to spend it with us.

To James - you came all the way from Australia! With Deathrace, a stack of cars, a wife and a small child. We know that one doesn't simply travel with children - one deploys children with expense, difficulty and considerable planning. Equally, your project management of the production of Deathrace ranks right up there with initiatives from giants like IBM and NASA. Perhaps we could convince you to manage BOYL! 2016? Anyway, we cannot imagine the investment on your side to enable us to see your cheery face, but we were overjoyed that you did - may it be one day that somehow something like this could happen again!

To JB, John and the Pauls - good to see you guys again (and even to play with you this time!) - it is still a hell of an undertaking to cross the tiny tracts of ocean in between our countries, especially trunks full of figures - thank you for coming!

I'm just going to call you Nibbles. Niibl, on the forums. I apologise, because I don't recall your name rightly - but we know you came from Germany and had to drag figures all the way with you - so to you - thanks very much - it was great to have you along!

I knew of no other international travellers (Scotland doesn't count yet, I'm afraid), but we were jolly glad to have you along!

To the game organisers - Harry, Chris, Jamie, John, Aiden, Chico, James T, James A, Colin, Geoff, and JB. Although the organisers (that's you lot) will no doubt defer the glory on to the efforts of those that created the figures for their games (the ships, the cars, the warbands abundant), you are entities around which the weekend congregates - the nominal reason for us all to pitch up. Sure, there were other games, and lots of effort went into those games - but each of you outdid yourselves in the pursuit of gaming excellence. Oldhammer salutes you. 

Some may think it sounds silly, but having access to what I now believe is the Voice of Oldhammer is hugely valuable when it comes to herding oldhammerers. Colin - the verve and delight with which you shout brings real, actual fear to our hearts. I can only assume your students are the most obedient in education today. Thank you for, well, shouting a lot.

Finally, thanks for reading this far.

Here's to Bring Out Your Lead! 2016.


*I suspect we'd all agree that Chico is gentle in every way - the title might be challenged on its use of the term 'man' however. I am happy to accept gentlething in his case ;)


  1. You are such a wordsmith Garth. You seem able to so eloquently communicate the inner most feelings of an entire community. And most beautifully put too, but what about your own essential contribution to the event? As I sit here and type, I imagine you late in the evening pouring over your registration programme thingy that helps us collide with the right kind of table for our games. And it is easy now to picture you rushing from here to there on the Saturday or Sunday because you were concerned that someone would have a large enough table, nor needed a bit of superglue or that there was no IPA left at the bar.

    Its a dedication that can become lost in the chaotic glare of mad death races, remote harbours and the high seas. So I shall play the part of the Oldhammer Community now and thank you for all that you contribute too.

    So without much further ado, from all us Oldhammerers to Garth/Gaj/Weazil (why so many names?) THANK YOU!

  2. The Voice of Oldhammer? I'll take that. So very well said. Hear, hear to all of the above but and extra special Thankyou to you for taking the responsibility of accepting the term 'organiser' and not caving your own head in with the amputated copy of the citadel giant. Cheers man!

  3. Hehe I was enjoying that Blog post until the footnote, but you are such devilishly handsome fellow you may get away with it :)

  4. Well said, Gaj! And just to echo James, thank you for all your hard work.

  5. Well said Garth. You chaps have set the bar very very high. We will try our best this coming weekend.

    1. I appreciate that I've done you a mis-service, Mr Grove - of course, I should have highlighted your arrangement of the miniature that I gave to all and sundry. That was a big thing for everyone - I'm looking forward to seeing the various renditions of the figure. Thanks for getting that organised - I'll have to fawn over you when you lot post your pictures and what not this weekend coming!

  6. Great post which sums up how I think we all feel rather well. Oh and thanks for letting me drop in on the game of WH and play with the fantastic frog army ;)

    1. Oh yeh, my real name is Phil and there was that game of Skull in the monkey pub :D

    2. I know. I own the registration form, remember? In fact, I was watching you when you wrote this ;)

  7. Hear Hear G/G/Weazil. Couldn't have said any of it better myself. As the others have said - giver yourself a well deserved pat on the back.

  8. An excellent summary of all of the feelings we all had. Cheers to you to Gaj, not only one of the most organised of organisers but also one of the most approachable. I would liken you to a reverse swan, you may try to give the impression that it's Chaotic but we all know you to have it under control, I just hope you never mistake this for us all to be taking your efforts for granted! Well done mate, a top notch effort as ever!

  9. Hear hear! I totally concur! Thanks to everyone who hade it happen! The missus and I had an absolutely great time! I'm looking forward to seeing you all next year!! J

  10. Nice one Garth. Your contribution is at least as important as anyone else's and far more so than most.

    A large part of the reason that the event atmosphere is as calm and casually efficient as it is is because of your example. We all owe you one.

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  12. Yeah, good write up. You are very good with the words Gaj, I acho what Orlygg says at the top. Cool!

    Its great to get a handle on name vs moniker, too. I am not great with names. I usually have to ask 3 times before it sinks in! However, as this was BOYL 2 for me, the names are going in!

    I want to just make some comments:

    Amazing place to suddenly find friends. I had never met cpt Crooks before, and sort of enforced his joining CHeetor and myself in a really self indulgent game. He jumped at the oportunity! What a dude, I was impressed with him last year when he wasnt even there, so to meet the antipodean in the flesh was a real treat.

    Talking to Curis and Paul (Steve?) about gaming was great too. Those two guys really share my attitude to play, in really minute detail! So cool to make friends like that.

    But biggest "shout out" for me has to go to Marcus. He is such a chilled guy and really doesnt realise how much respect he gets from us in general. Mediating with him is a real dream, you just say what you want and he doubles or triples it! So generous, accomodating and wise!

    1. You are right about Marcus - there is a lot of wisdom there and you're probably right - he may not realise how well respected he really is. Well done to call that out!

  13. Very impressive as always, Gaj! Such a wonderful follow-up to what must of been an amazing event. But Gaj, what seems even more amazing to me is how a mere few years ago you were waxing poetic how about how great it would be to play third edition Warhammer with someone, and now, Boom, you have orchestrated your third successive oldhammer event that drew a hundred third edition players and fans! Not to mention that hanging out with Rick, Bryan and the boys is now a regular occurrence for you!! Yeah, good on you, Gaj! I think what you have accomplished is incredible! I look forward to reading an eloquent thank-you for BOYL 2016...(but please, some regular postings before that!)

    1. This is very kind of you to say, Private. You are right - it is interesting to reflect on where this blog started and the unusual situation we now find ourselves. As for regular posts...well...I sure would love to! As things are going, I might get another one in before Christmas. Also hoping to paint another figure before then. That would put me at 6 this year! *sigh*

  14. It's no mean feat to drive this chaotic enthusiasm of ours and you managed just that, letting us enjoy one of those moments where you just feel like youv'e spent time with life old friends (when you have actually never met IRL before).
    Being easy going and so careful at once, man...
    Oh and I didn't want to make this 4 hours car trip home awkward so kept that to myslef but you are indeed one devilishly handsome fellow.

  15. My only regret was that no one proposed to me ; )

    Many thanks to you Garth for over-seeing (if organising is a bit strong!) the whole thing and it is always a pleasure to spend time in your company.

    Thanks also for putting into lots of extremely apt and pithy words what we all, as attendees, are still basking in - the warm glow of gratitude for having just experienced three days of gaming utopia, generous hospitality and warm friendship with like-minded folk with the same mania for this odd little hobby we all enjoy so much!

    1. Alas, poor Steve, what with Marcus, Curtis and myself in the area, you hadn't a chance. We will agree to wear paper bags over our heads next year - you'll be sure to bag yourself a winner! Failing that, we could enter into one of those marriage pacts if you find yourself unwed by BOYL 2018, perhaps?

    2. The current wife may well have got round to divorcing me by then so I'm, definitely up for that!

      Might even have finished the Shrine of Rigg by then which some might consider quite the dowry ; )

      Can I request that any paper bags worn next year be in this style (the guys with the masks on!)

  16. We came to Church Lane with wild expectations. They were met and exceeded. It was the stuff of legends! What a weekender. Mind blown.

  17. Well said sir, thank you for sorting it all out too.

  18. An excellent post. And a personal thank you to yourself for organising and GMing the great scenario which I had the pleasure of playing on the Saturday. Thanks again and until next year...

  19. Hi all - er...thanks to all of those for giving thanks for giving thanks. I think?

    Seriously - much appreciated chaps - it was an absolute pleasure!