Thanks, Duncan.

It was with great sadness that I learned of the passing of Duncan Macfarlane. Having known and interacted with him for nearly thirty years, it was truly shocking to be told the news. Duncan was a gentleman, raconteur, sage on all things wargaming, better connected than numerous technology platforms and genuinely nice person to be around. His slightly absent minded, avuncular style created a sense of mild eccentricity but behind that, he was acutely sharp minded, a creative innovator and an extremely knowledgable man. 

His stewardship of two publications in particular - Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated set the benchmark for others to achieve. His approach to editorial content struck a delicate balance between hobby comment and not biting the hand that fed him in terms of advertising revenue. I am still convinced that many of the pithy letters of hobby critique which were published in earlier issues of Wargames Illustrated were nom de plumes for the man himself. Despite pressing him on several occasions to reveal who the 'real' Peter Tanner was, he used to smile and say, ' I couldn't comment on that'.

Duncan pioneered a layout and style which begat the format we are all used to these days and even carries over into blogs, and websites. His witty captioning of photos, use of puns and colour transformed a potentially dry as dust approach into something truly captivating to look at. I remember during a bout of illness in my mid twenties which actually brought me back into the hobby after a ten years break in the world of rock n' roll, the anticipation of nipping down to John Menzies for my copy of Wargames Illustrated. That inspired me to pick up the brush again aged 24 having forsaken it at aged 13. It was a truly life changing event for me and I have been  totally consumed by the hobby ever since. 

It was through Duncan's invitation that the League of Augsburg's games first were shared with a wider public audience. Having displayed a game at Warcon in 1993 or 94 whilst sharing a room with the irrascible John T. Tuckey (who was modelling the entire War of the Spanish Succession on a single table as usual) that LoA eye candy first appeared in WI. Duncan encouraged me to write for the magazine soon after and I have continued to do so since that time.

Duncan continued to be involved in my projects behind the scenes, proof reading copy I have written for the magazine as well as several of the books I have published over the years. His breathtaking photography was done 'long hand'. I remember the excitement of seeing his photographic Royal progress through the Moria-like gloom of Kelham Hall as the lights and gear moved closer to your table. That way, you knew your game was likely to get some column inches. That made the twice yearly, 400 mile round trip to Kelham more than worth it.

I have such vivid memories of the meticulousness of those photo shoots at the Scout Hall opposite his house in Lover's Lane, Newark to which many of us paid visits over the years. We'd meet Stuart, Mark and the lads from Derby, Dean Whitehouse and Paul Trickett (sadly missed also), Dave Marshall and many others who provided Duncan with raw material for the mag. Having a few drinks in his favourite Newark watering holes, a Chinese, Indian or French meal in the Cafe Bleu, and so many stories about the Good the Bad and the Ugly of the hobby. He knew everybody and everything.

His two properties within a stone's throw in Newark were curiousities in themselves. Crammed to the gunwales with wargaming joy, his living room and bedroom windows were shelved over with rows of model buildings and you dare not step off the tiny carpet path in the terraced two up two down in case you squashed a wargaming treasure painting by some hobby Michelangelo. He did a lot of the close in photography in a tiny room in that small house on a table less than 2 feet square surrounded by literally thousands of little wargaming gems - collected, bought, donated, swapped, traded or paid as debt recovery for the numerous side deals he was always doing. He was a trader, figure manufacturer, middleman, author, rules writer and any other manner of contributor to our hobby. To quote Malcolm Tucker - a node, the chief node, Node of Node Hall. Duncan was at the centre of the web.

I read on some forum somewhere recently disparging comments about this piece of archive footage with Duncan and John Tilson looking very serious and demonstrating an ECW game on the TV show Battleground. 

I don't normally respond to that kind of bait but felt compelled to point out to the numbskull author that he had contributed more to the hobby than most of the rest of us combined.

Like many people, I knew Duncan, but at the same time, knew nothing about him. I spent a fair bit of time in his company, always enjoyed it and usually ended up laughing at some tale, comment or terrible pun he had offered up. He was a very private man, probably would grimace at the outpouring of tributes which will inevitably surge over the next few weeks as the news spreads but, I think it is appropriate that someone who fed our hunger for high quality wargaming literature should have some column inches dedicated to their legacy.

He originated and passed on the best quality wargaming publication on the market and he put in more than he took out. Thanks, Duncan.