12 years of “professional” wargaming

Due to the lack of conventions and events this year, I had a look through my archives to see if there would be content that would be interesting for a throwback. While looking through the documents and pictures, I noticed that I have my 12th anniversary of "professional" wargaming this year.

Games Workshop Warhammer Store Darmstadt Salute 2012 with Mike McVey RPC 2011 Huddle

(Left: 1999 Warhammer Store Opening in Party in Darmstadt, Germany,
Middle: Mike McVey at Salute 2012 London, UK
Right: RPC 2012 Kick-Off in Cologne, Germany)

What do I mean by that? I am wargaming since 1996, but in 2008 I got a trade licence to run a blog. A trade licence for a blog? Seems a bit oversized, don't you think? Well, it depends on what you're going to do.

Somewhere around 2007 I joined a German wargaming e-zine that was published as a pdf file and free for download. We tried to do overhaul the concept, as we basically had the same problems a print product had, like deadlines, old news and "limited" space, but weren't using the advantages of the internet in a proper way. As the editorial staff was made up entirely from volunteers and many were students with changing schedules, the process took quite a long time and at some point Tobias, the editor-in-chief back then, called it a day and wanted to cancel the domain and everything.

2008 Portal Snapshot 2010 Portal Snapshot

To be honest, I can't really tell you, what got into me at that point, but I asked him, if he would sell the magazine. We found an agreement and there I was, 24 years old, in the middle of my apprenticeship and just having "bought" an online magazine. I didn't want to continue the e-magazine format, so I set up a blog using WordPress, which I still use until today, and started gathering news. It is worth mentioning, that blog roll was in German. Back in the day, there were several boards, mostly in English, you had to keep up with multiple of them, for example portent, Sphärentor or wargate, and the non-GW products were much more niche than today. So it was quite work to keep up with rumours, novelties and such. The intended purpose of the blog was, to have a single point where the German speaking readers would find their information on all kind of wargaming, without having to read dozens of boards and to get an easier to access to content beyond the big brand.

Spiel 2010 Pizza Kick Off - 2020 Stephan Huber, Ich, Paul Hicks

(Left: Spiel 2010 Post-Show Pizza-Party with Warlord, Mantic and Riverhorse in Essen, Germany
Middle: First Kings of War Demo with Alessio Cavatore at Mantic Towers, Nottingham, UK
Right: Stephan Huber, ProGloria Miniatures and Paul Hicks at Crisis, Antwerp, Belgium)

Even though not making any real money with the blog (remember, we're talking wargaming, ad revenue covered the costs of the server and a bit of hobby budget as well as some of the basic expenses of the trips, but nothing to build an existence on), I tried to be as professional as possible and used a lot of the skills that I learned from my parents business and my apprenticeship as a merchant. So proper and reliable communication with the companies and shop owners was very important for me. Feedback in the first year quite positive and already after a short time, I wasn't taking care of the blog alone but had others that volunteered as editorial staff and supported the cause by collecting news or writing reviews. The blog really grew and became the largest German speaking wargaming news portal in the next years. When I finished my apprenticeship I continued my educational by enrolling at an University. Being a student gave me the flexibility to still take care of the blog; conversely the blog gave me the opportunity to be a "sandbox" for the things that I learned, running a portal and coordinating the editorial staff (in todays business lingo you'd probably say leading a virtual team).
As I finished my degree in Business Administration in 2011 and was aware, that doing a full-time and running the blog with now a dozen editors wouldn't work on a level that would be beneficiary to both sides; I wanted to make sure for a succession plan. I talked with advertising partners and "business connections" within wargaming and sold the portal to a befriended publishing house that was already producing a wargaming magazine and handed over the position of editor-in-chief to my "second in command". After that I was still around for a few years, leaving everyday business to the others, but taking care of event coverage and reviews, of which I have written more than 400 until today.

Nottingham Bugmans Bar 2010 - Jes Goodwin Kick Off - 2020 Hamburger Tactica 2019

(Left: Jes Goodwin at Bugmans Bar in Nottingham, UK
Middle: Post Bit-Box chat in Mülheim a.d.R, Germany
Right: Wraith and Sickhase at Tactica in Hamburg, Germany)

It was a very interesting time and I got to know a lot of great people, many of whom I still see today on the various events I visit. But I am glad that I don't have to schedule news for every morning and don't have to take a look up every novelty when I am at a convention. I set up this blog, chaosbunker somewhere in 2009, as a side project, to split my personal hobby content and the official published / news content, and kept with the things that I enjoy, for example the reviews. I like building kits and models, and I like to share my experience with these products and to provide some attention for items that would likely be missed (that was more important a few years ago, but thanks to the improving quality of smartphone, generating and publishing content has become much easier). And of course really enjoying wargaming events, but now I can write much more freely about them and enjoy the stay. Not having to worry to publish the news as soon as possible, to generate the maximum reach for the effort put in, but have a more relaxed approach, enjoying a game without having to keep an eye on the clock. Especially Games Days in the pre-facebook era were quite the ride, but more on that later this month.

With 2020 being 2020, we did not and are not going to have a lot of events going on this year. Beside maybe some die hard tournaments or private gaming nights. And with 2010 being one of the most active years of my time as an editor-in-chief, (organizing the first Tabletop Demo Area at RPC, doing a press tour to Nottingham and so on) I think it's good chance to do some throwbacks, some more journey down memory lane articles and revisit some events, with some background info and behind the scenes coverage.

Posted by Dennis B.

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