Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Yarkshire Gamer Podcast 39 - Martyn Kelly - Big Gaming in the USA


Welcome back everyone, it's been nearly 2 months since the last episode, doing 5 in December was like setting a flamethrower to both ends of the candle and I had burnt myself out.

The episode is available on all major Podcast Hosts, or via the Podbean link below. If you do enjoy it, please like, subscribe and comment to help increase the Podcasts profile.

But after a good rest and concentrating on my hobby projects for a while I'm back and ready to go again. I've got the next 8 episodes planned with some great guests, I have Manufacturers, Painters, Authors, Big Gamers, Hobby Legends and the like to bring to you, I also hope to bring episodes from countries we haven't visited before and get the low down from fellow wargamers around the world.

In addition to that I have a tester episode with a non wargaming Historian which will follow an obviously different format, but if it works its something I plan to do in the future if it works out well.

But that's the future, it's time to introduce my guest, I first became aware of Martyn Kelly from his Facebook posts regarding some huge participation games he has put on at Conventions in the US. He's done some brilliant Italian Wars games featuring a 196 figure Pike Block which in my opinion really represents the 9,500 men who were actually in that block, much better than 24 figures for sure.

I love talking from Gamers outside the UK and getting there perspective on a hobby we all love in so many different ways. All the usual features are here, Big Game Chat, Quiz, Wargame Room 101, Desert Island Wargame and the usual chat in between.

I talk to Martyn in the Big Topic about the set up of Conventions in the US, how they are organised and what a visitor expects to see. We then move on to talk about what visitors expect from a Big Game at a convention and the differences between putting such a game on between one with friends and one with total strangers at an event.

Its then a deep dive into how my guest goes from that first germ of an idea through to actually playing the game at a show. Trust me its a lot of work and guys like Martyn go a long way to make these events what they are, so if you haven't say thank you to your game organiser.

It wouldn't be Yarkshire Gamer with a bit of Italian Wars Chat (now apparently an extension of the Wars of the Roses ;-) and we start the Pavia Challenge live on the show. Martyn has gone for 1:25 scale so I've gone 1:24 !

It was a great chat and the fact that I thought that we had only done an hour and a half when we had done two and a half shows that the phrase "time flies when your enjoying yourself" is true.

Keep up to date with what Martyn is doing next as well as a wealth of information about his previous projects on his blog, College of Kings.

College of Kings - Posts about my miniature armies.

Thanks for listening and welcome back to the show, don't forget to subscribe, like and leave a review wherever you listen to this. Not much in life costs nowt, but this Podcast does so give us a like.

All pictures above reproduced with the kind permission of my guest Martyn Kelly.

My next episode will be out in a fortnight and I'll be speaking with Steve Shann. I've known Steve for a long time and you will be familiar with the name if you've listened to previous episodes. Steve has a number of publications to his name covering diverse topics like WW2, Leipzig and The Franco Prussian War. On top of that Steve does a spot of painting so get ready for 2 hours on the correct shade of blue for French Uniforms !

Until next time, Sithee

Regards Ken

The Yarkshire Gamer

And here is my usual P.S. Its the Utubes version of the last episode.




  1. Nice to see you back Ken.
    I am late to podcasts (and blogging) but find that they have improved my painting sessions no end. It seems listening to a podcast makes me slow my painting to be more deliberate and so make less mistakes.
    Interesting that you try to pin down the difference in UK and US shows and the games that are put on, participation v demonstration games especially.
    I got involved in an online "discussion" on the topic many years ago. Some US gamers were asking what a " demonstration " game in the UK was, as they simply couldn't understand games that in their words " you could look at but not touch", as to them having travelled considerable distances (4-6 hour car journeys being "local") often flying, meant you wanted to play in games people had put on, in effect participation games.
    It was difficult to explain to someone unused to such things, that often they were not tied into a manufacturer or particular set of rules and that there was no or limited financial gain, sometimes a "best in show" trophy or award. It was therefore difficult to pin down what it was such games "demonstrated" .
    In the end, my conclusion was that while they were often referred to as "showcasing the hobby" or similar grandiose statements, they were often very different from what most gamers played in clubs or at home, unless they were fortunate to have such a set up.
    Therefore, it was difficult to escape the conclusion that they were demonstrating the person's skill in painting or terrain making and the while THERE WAS NOTHING WRONG with that, putting on such games didn't really have any other purpose than as a boost to self-esteem or in some cases something of an ego trip.....
    Needless to say the keyboard warriors went to town on that; despite being clear there was nothing inherently wrong with displaying nice things, there was also no apparent motivation or reward than people saying nice things about your game, some people took exception....
    My favourite was the chap who emailed me to loudly exclaim he "didn't put on games at various shows around the country, at considerable effort and expense, just as an ego trip!"
    Politely I asked him what was his motivation and reward for all that effort? As I genuinely wanted to know. I'm still waiting for an answer...

    1. I think I remember that thread 👍 some people got a touch heavy if iirrc

  2. Yes, oddly people seemed to object to the concept that showing off your skills and having people say nice things about your toys (with the resultant boost to your self esteem) was somehow demeaning or belittled their efforts. Unfortunately, if you put on a game which becomes a static display or slow moving diorama which nobody else plays in, it's difficult to class it as any different from modelling shows where people exhibit their models, which are often breathtaking. And while there is nothing wrong with that, it's completely different to games where you put on a game in the expectation of other people playing in it, which is what they are used to in the USA, often with very nicely painted figures and terrain.
    In the end I concluded that some people take themselves far too seriously and some people would argue with themselves if there's noone else to disagree with!

    1. I think it depends on the level of interaction. I would much rather have a fantastic looking display game where there is little movement if the people putting the display on are speaking with people, passing on modelling tips, history etc.
      Many people including myself don't go to events to play games, I want to see the best of the hobby on display, I can see a couple of guys playing a game across mediocre terrain at the club on a Wednesday night, if I'm paying to enter a show I like to see the best there is.
      But the people I know putting games on as a display definitely aren't doing it for some narcissistic reason. US Conventions are definitely based more around the participation game and people pay to play games, in the UK its very different and a smallish percentage go to play games, others like myself go to shop, talk gaming and drink tea !