Jay's Wargaming Blog

April 8, 2014

The Joy Of Dave

Filed under: General — Jay @ 10:23 am

Soccer referee

When I lived in London I used to wargame with a bloke called Dave. Now, Dave had firm views when it came to tabletop battles. One day we were playing an ECW game at my place using home-made rules (this was way back in the 1990s). Dave’s Royalist musketeers were positioned behind a low wall when I charged them with my Roundhead horsemen.

“My cavalry will be fighting at minus one,” I announced, “on account of the wall”.

“No,” said Dave. “No, that’s not right mate.”

I was perplexed.

“What do you mean? Look, it’s here in the rules – your lot are behind a wall, so my lot are minus one in the melee.”

“No,” he repeated, “that’s definitely not right mate.”

Dave was adamant. His view was that my cavalry would be quite unable to “reach over the wall”, as he put it, so his musketeers were safe as long as they did the natural thing – and adopted a crouching posture. I couldn’t attack them at all. I must have misinterpreted the rules.

“I don’t think so Dave,” I replied. “I wrote them.”

“It’s still not right mate. I’m not having that.”

And so it went on. Dave had very firm views, and generally won out through sheer attrition – in real life as well as on the battlefield.

The Daves of this world are one of the reasons I prefer to play solo. Dave is a bit of a one-off, but you often find pronounced Davidian tendencies in the wargaming community.

Dave lived alone. He’d had a relationship many years before but it hadn’t worked out. “I don’t understand women, mate,” he’d say, as he downed another lager and carefully searched for loopholes in our latest ruleset. “They’re different from us.”

Dave didn’t have a regular job, but he used to referee football matches on Sundays down the park. One day he sent five players off in a single game, and got chased off the pitch by the remaining players. He had to lock himself in the dressing room till the other refs could rescue him. “I’m telling you mate, it wasn’t right. It wasn’t right at all,” he explained plaintively some time after the event. “They didn’t have any respect for the ref.”

After another year of gaming with Dave I was beginning to feel the same way. Eventually our wargaming sessions petered out, doubtless to his relief as much as mine. As for the refereeing, Dave eventually gave that up too. He decided it was, and I quote, “too dangerous”.

Dave and I stumbled across each other again in cyberspace many years later, and eventually I invited him to come and visit me in my new town. We got on well. Better than ever in fact. And we talked a lot about DBA, which Dave had bought when it first came out and which he had tried – unsuccessfully as it happened – to introduce to our little group back in London.

Next time he visited we decided to play a few games. I’d got into DBA in the years since we’d parted company, and Dave had owned a copy of the rules ever since the old days. He still had the figures he’d painted and based for it, and he brought a couple of his DBA armies along with him on his second visit. I had a few DBA armies myself, so we set up our first battle and got stuck in.

Everything was going swimmingly until my wing advanced towards his camp. “Dave,” I reminded him, “you’ve got to protect your camp.” He ignored my advice, so I warned him again. He ignored my advice again. “Fair enough,” I thought, “he must know what he’s doing.”

A few rounds later Dave lost his camp, and consequently – given combat results elsewhere – he lost the game.

“It’s worth two elements,” I explained patiently.

“That’s not right mate.”

“I did warn you.”

“It’s not right.”

“It’s in the rules…”

“It’s still not right mate.”

And that was it. Dave refused ever to touch DBA again. It was not, all in all, a happy weekend. In fact Dave hasn’t exchanged a single word with me since.

By then, in any case, Dave had discovered FoG Online. In the absence of anything else to distract him (friends, partner, social life) it became the epicentre of his existence. By the time a couple of years had passed he’d realised, judging by his FoG forum posts, just how inadequate the PC version of the game was from both the gaming and the historical perspectives (click here for more on FoG). But by then he’d severed most of his links with the outside world. He currently resides in cyberspace. In a keep, presumably. With a moat. With the drawbridge up. I get the impression he doesn’t game much these days, either online or in the real world…

Nowadays I mostly play solo, apart from occasional sessions with my wargaming buddy Jammers. Jammers is affable, good company, and averse to rules lawyers. He doesn’t take his gaming too seriously. In all the time I’ve known him I’ve never once heard him utter the dreaded words “I don’t think that’s right mate”. That’s a big plus in the post-Dave era, believe me.

Another big plus is the ability to play solo. As time goes by more and more creative systems are being produced to facilitate solo play, to turn solo games into a challenge that is constantly fresh and endlessly rewarding. Of course, it’s never going to be cool. People turn their noses up and ask “why on earth would you want to do that?“. I’ve got an easy answer for them. A one word answer – “Dave”!

Footnote: This article is not intended to offend people called Dave. In fact, “Dave” is a pseudonym – using the guy’s real name somehow just felt wrong. Anyway, some of my best friends are called Dave…



  1. Yeah… I knew a few “Dave’s” way back in the 70s when I first was wargaming at a local club. One of them (and still wargaming!) used to insist on fielding Tiger tanks for early war WWII !! With folks like that, I, too, turned Solo and have been ever since.

    Comment by "Squibzy" (James Squib) — April 8, 2014 @ 4:17 pm

    • Going solo is the ultimate fix for this particular problem, though it’s only one of the reasons for soloing of course. I find as I get older that I just don’t have the patience for the “Daves” of this world. Life’s too short ;o)

      Comment by Jay — April 8, 2014 @ 5:20 pm

  2. I had a similar experience in a Wild West scenario game. The bad guys had to escape with bags of gold from the bank. The only way out of town was over a ford. I placed a figure at the ford to stop anyone crossing. My ‘Dave’ got a move and decided that he could just run past my chap with nothing happening because ‘it was his turn’. The argument ended up with him screaming and swearing. I just said ‘Ok you win’. I wasn’t in the mood for a fight.

    Comment by briansmaller — April 8, 2014 @ 11:20 pm

    • “He could just run past” – love it ;o)
      Of course, in the end it’s just not worth arguing with them, is it? They’re so determined to win at all costs they forget it’s a game…

      Comment by Jay — April 9, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

  3. I have encountered a few “Daves” myself.. and one of them is actually called Dave!

    Comment by Anonymous — April 9, 2014 @ 10:27 am

    • There’s quite a few of them out there, sadly… A minority, but one that’s hard to ignore!

      Comment by Jay — April 9, 2014 @ 12:33 pm

  4. Oh my, I think I live next door to ‘Dave’! I thought I’d won the lottery when I ‘accidentally’ moved in next door to a war gamer. For a couple of years I persisted with a growing sense of unease. Then, one evening it came to a head when I could take the Davian approach no longer – we had a terse exchange, and from that day I have barely darkened the other side of his table. Sorry Dave, its been a busy week/month/year/life, mate. Maybe next week? He was so persistent, to avoid playing, I’ve literally change rules / scales / periods etc. and month later he’d have armies ready (having endless funds to throw at it!). Playing solo is my only haven – that and teaching my kids to play! Thank you, this therapy session has helped!

    Comment by Dave's — June 7, 2014 @ 4:10 pm

  5. My own hobby disappeared after I met Antipodean Dave. Yes, Dave made it to the colonies. Although I had been a dedicated wargamer, after several Daves infested my club and gaming group – I left. I left them to Dave at each other with a mild curse upon all their houses.

    After a decade, much deep thought, an interstate move and many years of missing the hobby, I recently attended a local club. I certainly noticed more than one Dave, but my gaming re-introduction was a bunch of chaps who also have an issue with Dave-like behaviour, play a range of periods and rules which pace thermselves with amiable chat and a few beers. I shall avoid Dave and I hope you can do the same, now we know their habitat and behaviours.

    Comment by Anonymous — June 30, 2014 @ 8:05 am

    • Hmmm, my Davie is of the Antipodean variety too. I hear you about clubs – fewer options in the colonies as well. There has to be a place for those of us displaced by Dave.

      Comment by Dave's neighbour — June 30, 2014 @ 11:39 am

  6. “Yes, Dave made it to the colonies”

    Er…one of my “cunning plans” was to organise a collection so that we could send Dave to the colonies. So this could all be my fault…!

    Comment by Jay — July 1, 2014 @ 3:32 pm

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