About Me

Robin (Rob) Shackleton’s the name, and (dear God!)  I am now the wrong side of fifty.

I paint toy soldiers, study history, I like castles and cooking (curries especially one up for Bradford!) and travelling. I sort of support Bradford Bulls.

I completed my education late, studying History at Leeds 1992-95, being lucky enough to meet and be taught by Bill Speck, Mike Broers, John Gooch, Graham Loud and the irascible John Childs- who all , (often with wit) pushed my learning along. I was lucky enough to have Steve Brumwell as a peer (nice bloke- there will be a link to his website along shortly)

I played with toy soldiers from about the age of 13, from the comfort of Richard Lawrence’s cellar, where my young mind was astounded by rows upon rows of wonderful soldiers (this was the 70s). I think it was this that proved the greatest inspiration.

I enjoyed playing games well enough, but by the early 80’s all of our group had become quite cheesed off with the likes of WRG and other poorly written rules that seemed to miss the point that the games were supposed to reflect history.

Then at the Sheffield Triples 1981 (I think) Richard bought a brightly coloured box (from the fragrant Nancy of Hearsant’s) -it’s a sort of game she said. A board game we asked?, no – you need figures. Lots of figures.

Well we opened it up – never having seen a set of rules that had had some thought put into its design organisation and art work. It was (quite remarkably, for the time) written in English! -the readable kind, the kind that flowed easily and made sense – indeed each sentence had the same meaning no matter how many times you read it- which was refreshing.

And it just oozed a love of the period.

Empire III, for us, ushered in a fantastic decade or so of gaming with lots of laughter and an ever increasing thirst for knowledge as to how armies and battles worked. All of our previous armies were sold and turned into Napoleonics.

Thousands of em!

I know Empire is still not the most loved set of rules. It is very complex. It does start from a perhaps unpopular set of basic presumptions (i.e. the relative quality of troops).

But if you ‘get’ what Bowden and Getz were aiming for, these are the best things since sliced bread wargaming wise.

I do think it is a case of taking a risk and putting yourself in the hands of their model of how a Napoleonic battle worked. And once you have mastered the basics, then actually it does become remarkably easy and simple to use. Much more so than many shorter and less ‘historical’ sets of rules where one has to constantly refer  back to.

We loved them.

Stars and Bars were nowhere near as good though. We went into that in a mega way. But it did not inspire.

Then Richard moved and we lost our cellar.

I have hardly touched gaming since. Oh I have tried. I have got a very large 28mm Seven Years War collection – which I would like to revisit sometime.

Unfortunately I dabbled in the dark side and tried DBA and DBM – both of which are quite the antithesis of fun.

I don’t game now. It’s not the same.

But I do paint. I have always painted and year on year the quality has improved. Competitions have been won and money has been exchanged for my work.

I love painting and converting and building bases. But like my gaming experiences these figures have got to be more than toys glued onto rectangular card board.

And so…

Feel free to explore my site as it grows.

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