SWINDON and District Wargamers recently held a 25-hour sponsored gaming marathon to raise cash for charity.

Club members love tabletop games with model armies in which victory is a matter of great strategy – and often a little luck in the form of dice rolls.

It’s a pastime that’s been around in one form or another for centuries, and promotes deep thought and resourcefulness, so it’s a shame that more people don’t know about it, or take part.

Perhaps there should be more games involving situations ordinary people are familiar with. Historic battles are all very well, and so are conflicts between exotic alien species, but they’re not the sort of thing large numbers of us can always relate to.

I’d like to see war games involving more common scenarios, such as when we go to an unfamiliar pub and don’t realise until our drinks have been poured that the place is full of menace and we probably should have gone somewhere else.

Players of the tabletop version would have to decide whether they were combatants or innocent bystanders, and whoever got to be combatants would roll a dice to decide who had the initiative. It would have to be something like threes and fives for a Did You Spill My Pint? and ones and fours for a Broken Pool Cue Bonus.

As with conventional war games, combat would be turn-based, but instead of features such as cavalry charges and flanking manoeuvres there’d be nutting, gouging, chair-chucking, and nicking cash from the till when everybody’s back was turned.

Players taking the role of random civilians who only turned up in the place by mistake would also have to roll dice. The numbers would decide whether they managed to drink up and escape without someone spotting them and demanding: “Oo you lookin’ at?”

With just a little imagination the principles of tabletop gaming could be applied to all kinds of everyday situations.

The criminal justice system, for example. In the tabletop version players could take the roles of criminals, crime victims, lawyers and judges.

The ones playing the police officers would have to try to catch the criminals, but unless they rolled a certain number or above they’d be given handicaps, such as the police station having been shut down due to cuts.

Or being so busy due to a recruitment freeze that they were unable to reach the scene of the crime until the following year. Players taking the roles of barristers and judges would have to roll special numbers to discover whether they were among the tiny number who actually regard ordinary people as full human beings.

The ones playing the crooks, meanwhile, would roll the dice for bonuses to reduce the likelihood of conviction and punishment, such as having been forced to sleep in a draught as a child or having been at the same public school as the judge.

Mess should have been avoided

THE Averies debacle reached its final stage in the criminal court.

Lee Averies was given a suspended sentence, while brother David was fined £4,208 and ordered to pay £50,000 in costs.

You may remember that this pair presided over two waste sites where environmental regulations were breached.

One site burned for a week and the other for two months, blanketing the area in disgusting, stinking smoke and bringing misery to residents and business owners.

Some of the blameless people who suffered may well be wondering whether there will be any long-term effects. They can at least reassure themselves that the effect on certain insect life has not been permanent.

For proof, all they have to do is go in their back garden and say out loud: “It was the duty of a swathe of environmental officials and elected representatives to ensure these sites were competently inspected and monitored.

“It was their duty to prevent environmental calamities.

Anybody who says this and then listens is guaranteed to hear nothing but the soothing sound of crickets.

The bill for clearing up the mess, incidentally, ran to about 700 grand – every penny of it from the public purse.

Perhaps if certain people had acted to prevent the mess from happening in the first place, which is the job they are paid for, we wouldn’t have to shut down libraries.

  • IT’S sad that BT is considering getting rid of 44 phone boxes across Swindon, but hardly surprising.

    With even the most heavily used attracting only a couple of customers a day, the company cannot be blamed for wanting to get rid of them. I only hope there aren’t too many unforeseen consequences, though.

    Just because phone boxes are no longer used to make calls, they’re not necessarily completely redundant.

    Surely it wouldn’t be too much of an expense to put opaque coverings on the glass, take out the phones and replace them with toilets.

    We might as well make the unofficial use of the boxes into the official one, if only for the sake of our pavements and doorways.