A Bumper Welcome to 2018 – Podcasts, Videos and the Patreon Option

Welcome back folks, and the surprise opening gambit for 2018 has been not wargaming stuff as such, but a couple of videos I’ve done focusing on health issues for wargamers, board gamers, video gamers, writers and, in fact, anyone who spends most of their life sitting on their behind for one reason or another. I’ll provide the links to the videos below, but first I want to give a shout-out to my podcasting buddy across the Atlantic, Jay Arnold, who runs The Veteran Wargamers’ Podcast.

Jay kindly invited me to take part in episode 31 of his show, ostensibly aimed at discussing Old School Wargaming, a subject close to my heart and, I know, to many of you who used to subscribe to Battlegames magazine. However, the first part of the show turned into a discussion about health, and specifically that of wargamers who spend a great deal of time sitting, painting miniatures, making scenery, playing games, or at the computer posting on social media and so on. We did, however, move on to the intended subject eventually! Here’s the show:

We’re becoming increasingly aware of the dangers of a sedentary lifestyle, and as wargamers we spend a lot of time on our backsides, risking weight gain, RSI, back pain, eye strain, blood pressure issues and so on. And I’m more guilty than most – in an average day, I probably spend 90%+ of it at the computer or in front of the TV. I don’t work in an office, but I do work in my home studio as a designer, writer and editor, and engage in a lot of social media stuff – almost all of it sitting. I’m overweight (currently around 19 stone – 266lbs or 120.5 kilos), suffer from Type 2 Diabetes and I’m on medication for blood pressure too, so I’m guiltier and more at risk from ghastly things happening to me than most.

Well, I got fed up with this, so before Christmas I started an exercise regimen and I’m going back on the diet that helped me to shed nearly 2 stones (that’s 28lbs or about 12.5 kilos) just over a year ago. (If you’re interested, the regime I followed was The 8 Week Blood Sugar Diet by Dr Michael Mosley, as featured in his BBC TV series.) Moreover, following the podcast with Jay and some online discussion on Twitter and elsewhere, I decided to stick my neck out, set my embarrassment aside and make an exercise video.

Here it is – it’s just over an hour long, but you can watch it in parts, or as one viewer has done, jump to the gentle Qi Gong exercises at 21:00 or the Short Form Tai Chi moves at 50:20, or even the press-ups and other final exercises at 53.57. 

Almost immediately after posting this, I received a request to do a shorter video of the Qi Gong exercises on their own, at normal pace. So I produced video number 2, which went online this evening, which you can see below. I performed the exercises quite slowly so that they are easy for a beginner to follow, with some explanation as I went along, but it’s only about 16 minutes long. So, if your eyes aren’t already bleeding from the first video, watch this!

In tandem with this, I’ve also become very interested in mental health issues, partly due to my own battles with depression over the last 18 months or so since I left my post at Miniature Wargames in September 2016, followed by the death of my mother in November that year. Stress (mostly through dealing with Probate issues and my mother’s estate), a highly irregular income, frustration with lack of progress on some personal projects and some niggling health issues really played havoc with my psychological state, so I (fortunately) realised that it was time I did something about this. I also met Katie Aidley, a highly regarded boardgames blogger (see https://katiesgamecorner.com ) who champions mental health issues in the board game community, and she made me realise that the same is needed in the miniatures gaming community – so perhaps I could help bring this to our hobby’s attention.

This has led to me being much more open-minded about possible solutions to my own problems, and just as with my personal weight battle, what I’m discovering might be of interest to other wargamers. So, if you have ideas, suggestions or requests, please do tell me. My intention is to create a series of videos, podcasts, blog and social media posts that will cover wide-ranging issues about mental health in the wargaming community, how we might recognise problems in ourselves and others, and some possible solutions. I’ve already learned from my association with the Combat Stress charity how beneficial certain aspects of our hobby can be, but we also know that many gamers can feel lonely, isolated and suffer badly from insecurities or ‘comparisonitis’.

Under no circumstances whatsoever am I posing as an expert about any of this; in fact, I’m hoping to get some guest bloggers and podcast/vidcast guests who are experts, including doctors and psychologists, who can give informed opinions about these matters. if you happen to be one of those people, please get in touch!

WSS front coverNow, the preceding matters might give you a clue that, having been rather quiet on the wargaming scene since I left MW, I really do want to find my voice again and produce more content. I have a regular column with the lovely folks at Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy, but of course that is only bi-monthly and, as they would be the first to admit, a gig of that kind provides just a bit of pocket money, a long way short of paying the mortgage! Whilst I’m pretty chatty online, I’m having to be more disciplined about what I do, and I simply can’t afford to make substantial contributions of my time to wargames writing for free.

As a self-employed creative, I’m in a sphere where income is often perilous at the best of times. I’d love to my a full time living as a writer, but the fact is that even royalties from a relatively successful book like my Wargaming Compendium are a pittance. It’s been out for nearly five years now, and I count myself lucky that all in, it’s paid me about £4,500 in total. It’s been a best-seller in its niche – but it’s a very small niche. JK Rowling I am not!

So, in order to make some of the other activities that I would love to engage in more viable, such as maintaining this blog regularly, creating videos and podcasts and so on, I need to make them a source of income. Advertising simply doesn’t work in a meaningful way: I tried Google Ads, but the income stream from them was pitiful. I suppose it might be possible to attract advertisers to this site, but that’s hit and miss, and you need to generate extremely high traffic to make it a substantial income stream. Only TMP and TWW manage to do that, because they are frequently visited forums, and I would guess that TWW is some way behind TMP in terms of income. A mere blog in our sphere would stand little chance of attracting those numbers.

Another alternative is sponsorship, but again, this blog would be unlikely to attract significant interest from sponsors. Moreover, I would prefer to retain a reputation of complete independence from any corporate influence. I suppose if I were able to attract a significant number of corporate sponsors who would ‘balance’ one another, it might work, but until that becomes a possibility, I’m not sure about this route. (I’m open to being proved wrong!)

Patreon logoThe answer, it seems to me, is to ask for your support in the form of micro-sponsorship via Patreon. In this model, you agree to take out a modest monthly subscription – it can start as low as the price of a cup of coffee per month. You can choose to either pay a set fee per month, or per item created – so, for example, if you agreed to $2 per item, and I went barmy and cranked out a dozen things that month, you’d be billed for $24. But fear not, given my workload, unless the Patreon route proved incredibly successful, the likelihood is that I would be able to create maybe a couple of things a month maximum – say, a blog post or two and a short podcast or video. I’ve learned not to over-promise! If at any stage I think it’s genuinely possible to increase production, I’ll let you know in advance.

As a Patreon supporter, you would gain access to anything I do earlier than everyone else, and there would be a special ‘Patreon Club’ in which members would gain extra time with me for Q&A’s or online chat, and I’d also provide occasional additional content, such as scenarios or artwork or videos. I know that, for example, Neil Shuck’s Meeples & Miniatures blog and podcast has managed to attract some income this way to cover his costs, and Katie Aidley has managed to attract significant Patreon support in the board game community. (She also has over 4,000 followers on Twitter, a remarkable achievement in such a short space of time.) You could also let me know if you might be interested in seeing different types of content, such as short or serialised military fiction.

Realistically, I will need to attract sponsorship of at least £100 a month to make it an even remotely viable option for me to set aside time that could be used for design or other copywriting work, but having run a little poll on Twitter (which has been very sobering because of the proportion of nay-sayers it revealed), I think there might just be enough potential support to get the ball rolling. If the income rose to several hundred pounds a month, then I could really start creating some significant work in the wargaming and military history field that I hope you would really enjoy.

The page I am creating on patreon.
The page I am creating on patreon where you will be able to sponsor me.

The image here gives you an idea of how the Patreon page will look – and yes, I’m reviving the Battlegames name both on Patreon and here on the blog. I know that it would be un-economic (sadly) to create a print magazine in the mould of the glossies – tried that, still paying off the debts to prove it! – but I worked hard to create an effective brand, I still own the domain name (you can use battlegames.co.uk to reach this page) and I know it still has a following among many of those who first supported that venture.

So it’s at this point that I need your help: what kind of content would you be ready to sponsor? In-depth blog posts? How-to tutorials, perhaps incorporating video? Product and rules reviews? Video or podcast interviews with hobby luminaries? Or perhaps my own opinion/thought pieces, whether on the blog, or solo video or podcast? (Video and audio can be transcribed so that you can read what has been said if you prefer.) Maybe you’d even like to see some fiction in the mix – I’ve had ideas for stories based in my Wars of the Faltenian Succession, as well as stories set in historical situations (think Sharpe, for example), and epic fantasy too. I’d also like to include some ‘pure’ military history and archaeology. As an example, Professor Tony Pollard of Glasgow University was involved in the Waterloo dig recently and has plans for a huge wargame recreation of the battle, which would surely make interesting reading and viewing.

So the aim is to provide, if you like, a one-man multimedia magazine, so that I can make wargaming a serious part of my career again. I shan’t be commissioning articles from other people, though there may be the occasional guest blogger and of course, I hope to interview the great and the good of the hobby, museums, history and archaeology as and when I can. So please, in the comments below, let me know the kind of thing you’d like to see and, most importantly, would be prepared to fund me to the tune of a coffee or two a month. Without your support, the idea is really a non-starter, so I need to gauge how much effort I can afford to invest in the idea.

And unlike my poll on Twitter, if you’re really not interested or think it’s a stupid idea, just walk on by – I need to find and address the audience who *will* support this potential venture. Thanks!

Thank you for wading through this monster, wide-ranging post. Your support and feedback means a huge amount to me and, oh, I nearly forgot – happy new year!


UPDATE: 03.33, Sunday 7th January 2018

Following the tremendous feedback I have received here and elsewhere, I’ve taken the plunge, and have just launched my Patreon page here. My future as a wargames content provider now rests in your hands.


The Battlegames Patreon Page


  1. Hi Henry
    I’ll post something more thoughtful in the next day or so (getting over a virus at the moment). But for now I’ll say this: I’ve enjoyed listening to you on VftV, bought Battlegames magazines, bought the Wargames Compendium, and consider you to be a pillar of the hobby. So now you’re asking for help? Okay, count me in.
    Paul (Snowcat)

          • I know they’re Patrons. 🙂 I was thinking about you discussing your Patreon plans on their podcasts so that many more people will learn about all of this. I know you were on Jay’s recently, but a guest appearance on the M&M one with Neil and Co (it’s been a while) wouldn’t hurt.

            Perhaps Neil’s already run this idea past you?

  2. Replying to Steve Weaver.

    I used to enjoy the VFTV podcast on my daily 4 hour commute. Henry’s verbous enthusiasm was a great asset. I also listened to the entire “Wargaming Compendium” on Kindle, apparently read by Stephen Hawking.

    Likewise, I prefer audio podcasts, except where an actual “how to” is shown by video.

    I will happily devour any content related to wargaming, because much of it can be nicked for my own games.

    As for exercise, I walk the dog about 4-5 Km each day including a game of football each time. I get a lot of game design done in my head while walking.

    Before I had a dog I used to take the “virtual dog” for a walk and explore the local area in a typical solo-wargamer fashion.
    Take from a pack of cards the A,2,3s and one joker.
    Set out from home. If the first card turned is a red 2 take the second left. If a black Ace take the first right. Get the idea?
    When the Joker turns up, go home – if you have any idea how to get there by this time!
    This has given me walks of 5 minutes up to over 4 hours.

    • Thanks Paul. As ever, your input is unique! It never occurred to me that anyone might listen to the Compendium on their Kindle. Ah well, shows there’s a potential audience for the audiobook version in due course!

  3. I would be interested in short video or podcast tutorials / how to guides on how to make maps for wargames scenarios, battle-reports or campaigns, these could range from doing simple things with PowerPoint up to show and tell with more advanced software, possible with suggestions on what to buy.

    Taking it further you could also do rules tests by running short wargames mini-campaigns (Similar to the ones offered in rules like Dawn’s & Departures, Peter Pig, Two Hour Wargames or that one called Shot, Steel and Stone…..) and seeing how rules sets play out or can be compared over several battles.

    Emphasis could be on whatever is popular in wargames at present (currently skirmish level). These could even fit into your own overarching imagi-nation campaigns or rif off themes from your up-coming campaign book.

    Such mini campaigns might even lead to ‘characters’, ‘events’ appearing out of the wargames that viewers might be interested in following, reading short stories about, or creating scenario PDFs for. You could also suggesting ‘choose your own’ adventure options for the campaign for via twitter polls votes etc.

    • Thanks for that great feedback Tim, some terrific suggestions in there. I like the mini-campaigns idea, very interesting.

  4. Wargaming content:
    Yes to podcasts (I enjoyed the View from The Veranda tremendously during my painting sessions or while in the car), no to videos (you can’t do anything else while watching a video, but you can while listening to audio).

    I also always enjoyed your articles in BG and MWBG. I think you had a good style and sense for content, focusing on discussing the principles and foundations of wargaming, and not so much on any particular commercial system on the market at that very moment. E.g. a scenario should be generic with interesting challenges and explanations why the scenario is interesting, then players can adapt it to their rules system of choice (as opposed to a scenario designed so specifically for an existing rule system such that it becomes useless for anyone else).

    W.r.t. physical exercise: Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but why do people not simply go outside for a walk? I walk my dog for a few kilometers every day, and it’s amazing how much creative thinking you can do during that time!

    • Thanks for stopping by Phil, great to see you here. Interesting point about videos versus podcasts! Some of the videos would, in fact, be taken from Skype interviews, so I hope to be able to extract the soundtrack to be used as a podcast, but people are welcome to watch the chat if they prefer – I’ve seen this done many times by my podcasting heroes in other spheres of interest. Some of the videos will, however, inevitably be very visual in format, such as painting and modelling tips, but there should be enough of a mix to make it worthwhile for you.

      Your central paragraph about the scenarios etc is bang on target for what I have in mind. I may occasionally review certain specific rulesets, including ‘old school’ ones, but scenarios and the like will always be ruleset-independent.

      Exercise: walking is indeed great exercise, and I intend to be doing a great deal of it – you’ll see! I also agree that it can be excellent for creative thinking – or, conversely, for completely clearing the mind, which can often be even more beneficial. But people’s reluctance to do so can also be linked to mental health issues such as agoraphobia and self-consciousness about the way they look (or think they look, which is even more powerful). Getting people to do something at home or work that may only take a few minutes and can be done in private is, I think, the right place to start.

  5. Hi Henry,
    I am happy to sponsor & consume your output, as I always find it thoroughly fun and enjoyable. I am open on content, although I have a tendency towards miniature wargaming and your imagination material. That said, I am very flexible and have an eclectic mind that enjoys the full spectra from academic discourse to whimsy.
    I have never understood why people feel aggrieved for having to pay for others time & creativity. I am lucky enough to be able to cover a few cups of coffee per article, so will sign up once you are live.
    I suspected your relative silence was linked to a dark night of the mind. I am very pleased to see that the sun is rising again, and may 2018 see the dawn turn into a bright sunny day.
    Best Regards & Happy New Year,

    • Thank you so much for your thoughtful feedback, James, and for your kind best wishes. The kind of content you mention will certainly be front and centre of my activities.

  6. Hi,

    Just a quick thanks for being open and honest regarding mental health. I have struggled recently myself and feel encouraged to know I am not alone.

    As for Patreon I would like to support and I would like to see just what you and others are thinking. I would also like some more 2d terrain and maybe even some paper armies, if possible?

    Cheers Kev

    • Thanksfor the feedback and ideas, Kev, though sorry to hear that you too have been having a tough time. 2d terrain and paper armies are certainly options tha, in fact, are already on my ‘to do’ list.

  7. Glad to see the BG name will rise again, Henry. Most interested in things relating to miniature wargaming in its various guises leaning toward the old school side of things by not exclusively. Text and podcast strike me as most appealing, but I wouldn’t rule out an occasional video either. And of course I would be happy to donate a few bucks a month for the pleasure of reading/hearing what’s on your mind.

    Best Regards and Happy 2018,


    • Thanks so much for stopping by, Stokes. Your opinion ishighly valued and I’m pretty certain that you’ll find me posting plenty of interest.

  8. Coffee costs 20p a cup, right?

    My body is a temple so I flatly refuse to go anywhere near the videos (yet), but count me in with the Patreon.

    I don’t know what to expect or how your enterprise will fit with my lifestyle so I’m somewhat reticent to put any restrictions on the content. I’m very happy to leave my entertainment/education in your very capable hands. If I don’t like something I can let you know. Nicely, of course.

    One thing I will say though. My attention span doesn’t cope with anything that takes more than half an hour to digest. I’m happy with a couple of sittings but pod casts, for example, which go on at length on a single subject don’t tend to get a look in.

    I wish you all the best with this rather exciting venture. I’m a big fan of your writing so feel free to bung anything in my direction….of a hobby nature, obviously.

    • Thanks for your input, Iain. that’s interesting about the attention span thing. There seem to be two camps: one, in which there are people who like something of a fixed length of 30-60 minutes maximum, like a ‘proper’ TV or radio programme; and the others, who perhaps listen to podcasts whilst painting or doing boring jobs, who seem to enjoy the longer, rambling stuff of 90 minutes or more (though I’d be the first to admit that some of my epic shows with neil Shuck would test the endurance of even the toughest). So, you’ll be relieved to hear that I plan to make my stuff generally 30-60 minutes – it would have to be something special to go over that, because of the sheer effort of editing etc.

  9. Hi Henry, I’ll keep it shortish and simple. I’d willing support any and all hobby content you’d produce. Everything from expositions on specific historical periods through to how to write for the hobby market would be of interest. My range of curiosty, and your range of knowledge, is broad enough that I’d welcome it all and be willing to make a contribution towards it.

    The key for me is that the content be regular at a rate, say, of two fully developed items a month published on a centralized source. Currently, if I want to stay abreast of your content I need to look across multiple platforms and various sites.

    Stay well and all the best this coming year. Thanks for looking out for the health and wealth of our hobby and those that are involved in it.


    • Thank you Sean, really great feedback. I completely agree about centralising my activity and in fact that’s one of the key factors in making this viable. I would post everything here, in essence (though it will be broadcast to Patreon sponsors first) and then links to the content will appear on the FB page and Twitter.

  10. Henry, thank you for such an interesting post and the information on Patreon which is new to me. As an artist (for extra retirement income) and blogging wargamer (who has never charged anyone for wargaming content) I wondered “Why should I pay a monthly fee to this guy hoping to get something out if it?” but the answer is that I have respected all you have done with “Battlegames”, much of “Miniature Wargames” and in particular “Wargame Compendium” so to me you are the modern Don Featherstone, and I’m sure i would have subscribed to him in his day. In addition you bring the wargaming world your fantastic software and photoshop skills. So I am very much with John’s comments – focus on gaming content, OSW stuff, software and maps. Podcasts are good as I can listen while I work, but videos are harder to fit into my life unless the contest is to the point and not long winded. If they are too full of verbiage or unnecessary pausing etc I tend to terminate them. If I could get one good piece of input from you a month for the price of a cup of coffer that would be good. More within the month would be a bonus but my budget can’t risk running up any higher fee per month. Thank you for all you have done and plan to do, and stay healthy. Chris G

  11. Henry,
    Happy to help for a coffee a month.
    Anything you produce is worth at least that. Tje real losers are the magazines who are now struggling without your hand on the tiller.

    • It’s not live just yet Alan – if decent levels of support looks likely, I’ll launch the page over the weekend and announce it here and via other media.

  12. Very interesting and informative article. I have watched your second video. I have been meaning to give Qi Gong and Tai Chi a try for some time, so this has motivated me to have a go and follow along with your video. Thanks. I will support your Patreon page and look forward to seeing your future output. All the best Henry.

  13. Dear Henry,

    Since you have asked for feedback and ideas, I will do my best. What I would be most interested in backing you is for gaming stuff since that is why I read you now. If you want to post fiction and history, I’ll give it a read since you are a good writer: but it would have to be very good for me to regularly back anyone as a fiction writer.

    For potential gaming content, I think the strongest pieces you have done are your how-to guides: I am thinking of your photography guide, your maps for scenarios guide, your digital media guide and your painting and terrain-making guides. Your scenarios in their own right are good too, but perhaps one of your niches is in showing the rest of us how to leverage new hardware and software to improve our research, blogs, articles and games and so on.

    Otherwise, although I know that you don’t spend all your time playing refights of Blasthof Bridge with Spenser Smiths using the Charge! rules, I suppose that you are one of the highest-profile wargamers who does play this stuff. So maybe there is some interesting content to be made out of looking at these older rules and scenarios with a more objective eye: how do they stack up today? What are the valid criticisms that can be made? Were they dead-ends in design or are they waiting for a genuine revival? Were there some things done better back in the day that have now been forgotten. And so on. I mention this because so much of the OSW content I’ve seen either focus on the nostalgia of the project or the aesthetic or both. I want to know about the games.

    Lastly, you are obviously in high demand as a podcaster with Neil and Jay and Jonathan; and Neil has proved that people are willing to support that financially. So perhaps more podcasting could feature in the same approximate “View from the Veranda” format but with a wider range of co-hosts with you, to discuss the ‘big issues’ in wargaming and game design more generally. People did seem to like that format of long episode, wide-ranging discussion. Would discussions on game design between you and Mike Siggins be a good podcast? Or on project design with Steve Jones? Or scenario writing with you and Arthur Harman? And so on.

    And lastly, since you are interested in cartography, one thing I think that we are definitely missing is good modern mapping of historical periods and situations. In books on the Norman Conquest, the Wars of the Roses or the Great Italian Wars (or whatever) there is usually only a basic B&W line map. But perhaps there is some interest out there in better maps for this type of stuff (like Osprey mapping or Nick Lipscombe’s Peninsular War mapping)?

    Anyway, best of luck, and every success to you. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with.

    • Thanks for that incredibly detailed response, John. That really useful feedback and gives me a great deal of food nfor thought. I would certainly be covering some, if not all, of what you suggest. The mapping thing is really interesting and the clinical assessment of rulesets – ols school or otherwise – will certainly be on the menu. And I’ll certainly want to interview lots of people about their special skills.

  14. I would love more how to videos based around a specific theme, depending of course on what is on the painting/modelling/gaming table at the time. I don’t know maybe a monthly focus on a particular aspect, or a ‘long build’ type of video series. The issue there being is finding the right subject to attract and keep the attention of enough people, as we gamers are a pretty disparate bunch.

    Video and audio content is the ideal format for me but then again it is the most time consuming to produce.

    • Thank you Steve. Solo video/audio isn’t too bad, as long as there isn’t too much coughing and spluttering to edit, and things like Skype have made interviews a whole lot easier. We’ll see!

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