As I write this, I am still reeling from the shocking news of the sudden death of Mike Hobbs, only a few days after his 55th birthday.
I first met Mike on the UK show circuit as he used to help on the trade stand for Musketeer Miniatures with his long time friend Bill Thornhill. I was introduced to him by our mutual friend Rich Jones, who was co-presenting the Meeples & Miniatures Podcast with me at the time.
I really got to know him after he was our guest on the show, discussing all things Saga, as Mike was a part of the playtesting team for that game. We quickly hit it off and became friends – even as I invited him to join the podcast as a presenter. He had a keen enthusiasm for the hobby, as well as a huge amount of knowledge and experience.
His contribution as a co-host on Meeples & Miniatures is there for all to hear from episode 85 until it’s end. Though he was always too modest to admit it, I maintained that he was the major factor in the success of the show. For many people, this is the Mike Hobbs they knew – quick witted, knowledgeable and endlessly enthusiastic.
But Mike was so much more than just a friend and a podcast host. He was a warm and generous man, always willing to share his knowledge and experience with others. He was involved in all manner of projects in the hobby – writing, playtesting or just simply passing on advice. He was easily approachable and always keen to help.
Mike and I shared a love of buying hobby ‘stuff’. He was the one that introduced me to the infamous ‘wobbly shelves’ at Firestorm Games, and was always willing to make just one more purchase “simply for research purposes, you understand“. We led each other astray on occasions too numerous to mention.
Those of us who were fortunate to meet him knew a guy who always had a warm smile and a greeting (and sometimes a hug), was always mindful and inclusive of people, loved gaming of all types, had a wicked sense of humour and was the perfect companion for a night of drinking beer and eating curry (amongst other culinary delights).
That mindfulness of people extended to mental health, and it was Mike’s idea for us to produce a podcast episode on that subject, and our own experiences with it, in an effort to promote more awareness of mental wellbeing. Indeed, it was his idea to start a regular ‘Paint and Chat’ session for a group of friends during COVID lockdown – both as a way of everyone keeping in touch with each other, but also to ensure that we had the opportunity to ensure that everyone was OK during a very stressful time.
When the podcast finished, we had always planned to spend much more time playing games together – something we had only managed to do on rare occasions previously. Sadly, thanks to COVID, that face-to-face gaming was cut short. Instead, Mike encouraged me back into the world of his other love – role playing games – something I hadn’t played in 30 years (excluding a certain ‘Meeples on the Edge’ adventure). We have spent the last year, with numerous friends, exploring all sorts of rpgs on a weekly basis. It has been a brilliant time.
The outpouring of love, sadness, shock and grief on the news of his death has shown just what an impact this man has had on the lives of so many people. Though he was small of stature, if size was measured on his effect on others, he would be a giant.
Mike was the most warm, kind and generous hearted person you could ever hope to meet. A true gentleman.
He was also my best friend. We supported each other through many ups and down – he was always there, ready to lend help, a kind word or the odd rebuke – or sometimes just an ear. The fact that I was the target of his wicked humour on a regular basis was actually a source of joy for both us. We just ‘clicked’ together, and were kindred spirits.
At this point, his loss is simply devastating.
The Welsh Wizzard has passed beyond the veil, and the world is a less magical, and slightly colder place. We are diminished by his leaving.
Rest in peace my greatest friend.