The year started with me in the doldrums. I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about gaming. Lets face it, I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about anything. I was emotionally and physically drained, and diagnosed with arthiritis in my knees on top of my chronic back problems.
My youngest child Jack was having problems eating solids and also he was waking up every hour throughout the night. I was looking after him up to twenty hours a day, and I was knackered.
With a lot of hard work things slowly but surely improved throughout the year and now Jack eats everything in sight (including a miniature of Napoleon almost!) and sleeps for fifteen hours per day. I took the opportunity to get my gaming life back on track....
You may remember I made a wargaming resolution last year to keep a gaming journal and log all purchases made, figures painted and sold, games played etc.
Time to total everything up and see what a great year 2009 was at Wally HQ.
First, figures painted. In 2008 I managed to paint around 600 15mm figures. I started 2009 with Wings of War repaints, and after getting Gill’s books on 1809, moved onto a Napoleonic Bavarian Division and then finished off my Peninsular Brits by spring.
Mac Smackswell then lent me a magazine (WSS I think?) with an article about the Prussians at Ligny. I'd always fancied them as an army and was soon ordering stuff. Over summer I painted up two Brigades of Prussian infantry, four of Prussian cavalry and an artillery reserve, a total of just over 500 figures. I even got round to scratchbuilding a couple of windmills for our LFS games.
The books featuring Don Troiani’s excellent paintings, and Peter Pig’s lovely characterful castings, convinced me that this was the way forward for me. Autumn and winter saw me paint an incredible 1,000+ Peter Pig figures painting not only a Union Cavalry Division but a Union Infantry Division and a Confederate Infantry Division too. The close of the 2009 sees me finishing off my Confederate Cavalry Division.
This has all been down to taking a factory production line mentality spending a couple of hours five nights a week painting hard and doing bits of prep in the day in between toddler groups, feeding and changing routines and the inevitable housework. Staying at home when you’ve got two kids under three is not an easy option chaps, trust me.
Next years painting projects? Well, I should finish my ACW project by spring 2010 at the latest. I am tempted to continue with French Middle Guard units and Bavarian Landwehr for 1813/4 taking me into summer and autumn. The thing is though you never quite know where this hobby will take you.
2009 Totals 4 x Wings of War Repaints 259 x 15mm Napoleonic Bavarians 264 x 15mm Napoleonic French 8 x 15mm Napoleonic Poles 507 x 15mm Napoleonic Prussians 12 x 15mm Napoleonic Saxons 19 x 15mm Napoleonic British 588 x 15mm Union ACW 475 x 15mm Confederate ACW 12 x 15mm Civilian ACW 15 x 15mm Buildings 2 x 15mm Scratchbuilds 30+ feet of fencing 300+ trees based
Total = 2,144 figs
Next, lets look at games played...
After a lean gaming year in 2008, 2009 definitely improved the situation.
January was still very dodgy due to my son but at the behest of my wife (!!) I made a conscious effort to try to organise some games in February. I hadn't played a game for over six months and I really missed my gaming mates.
Initially I played a couple of games of mini-LFS to get back into the swing of things, my late Saxons doing a real hatchet job on Max's Prussians.
After meeting Paul through the TFL group a swift invite to attend at Wally HQ saw him become a regular attendee at the gatherings at our houses. I set up a Yahoo group called ‘Lardlovers’ so that we could all keep in touch better and post photos scenarios etc.
My newly painted Prussians along with Max’s took on a French-Saxon force, led by Clive and Paul, and achieved a great victory to everyone’s surprise. We screened our army with deployed light cavalry to prevent the enemy march moving, and the threat of opportunity charges. The French under Clive halted but Paul's Saxon Division had to follow his attack orders from Clive. We changed our orders to attack then saw our chips turn up straight away and attacked the Saxon's with two full Prussian Brigades. By the time Clive had advanced to help the Saxon's out, Paul's command had all but disintegrated under relentless Prussian pressure. We then turned our attentions on Clive and routed him too.
A glorious victory that Max and I will dine out on for many a year. It was one of those rare games where the cards came up in exactly the right order for us and the opposition threw bum dice.
LFSIII became introduced to us for playtesting by TFL Daz over the summer and Paul a keen Napoleonic gamer was quickly thrown into the fray, cutting his teeth on it with the rest of us. SELWG at Crystal Palace saw the official playstest/demo of LFSIII with a refight of the second day at Wagram. Paul, Max and I took Austrian roles with Clive joining the ranks of the French. The Austrians lost (typical) after a really hard fought affair. It was still one of the highlights of the gaming year, plus a chance to chat and catch up with Rich Clarke, Zippee, Daz and Biff.
Another famous victory that 2009 saw was when my two Cossack regiments, part of a Russo-Prussian force under Max's command, flanked Nigel's Polish Lancer unit and routed it along with four Battalions of Polish infantry who had also been caught moving, and hit in the flanks. To top it all the cossacks captured a battery and killed a Divisional commander. Cossacks had never before been of much use. They probably won't again either :-) Nigel's Young Guard, led by an Imperial Aide then forced a river crossing pushing back the defending Russians only to be routed themselves by my Prussians who killed the Aide. Sheer spectacle.
It wasn't all glorious victories by any means though. Clive, Paul, Nige and I played a cavalry battle for LFSIII with twenty plus regiments of cavalry per side. It started so well for us with the routing of a French B class Hussar unit. Clive and Paul soon played a blinder as the French whereas poor Nige and me were soon on a hiding from nothing. Our Prussian Kurassiers failed to turn up whilst I deployed our Austrian Kurassiers in the wrong place. The French Light Cavalry and Dragoons saw off the cossack hordes and had basically fought us to a standstill. Then their heavies turned up completing the miserable debacle.
Then there was the game of 'Algy' where our Bristol Fighters escorted by Camels was pounced on by the Hun on the way to their trench strafing target. Both Brisfits went down quickly, before even reaching the target, one even by 'Archie', followed swiftly by two camels. My sprog flew round at high altitude trying to keep out of trouble and survive, whilst Nigel's Ace held off six Huns. He went down to the inevitable whilst my sprog limped off table traumatised.
Enthused by all the gaming and kind comments from many, I decided to renew my website and domain name for another couple of years.
The last couple of months have seen a flurry of ‘Elephant’ games as I try out my newly painted troops and acquire lots of nice scenery. Purchasing of the ‘Guns at Gettysburg’ scenario books has been invaluable enabling me to host some great games at Wally HQ. We’ve played Belmont, Logan’s Crossroads, Iuka, Garnett’s Farm, and Peter’s Hill along with a 'Lardietam' scenario adapted by Paul.
Time to total up. Aside from a dozen or so solo games I’ve played, and five games that I umpired only, this years gaming total has been:
‘They Couldn’t Hit an Elephant’ x 9, ‘Le Feu Sacre III’ x 7, ‘Le Feu Sacre’ x 5, ‘Bag The Hun’ x 3, ‘Mini LFS’ x 2, ‘Algy’ x 2, ‘Mud & Blood’ x 1, ‘I Ain’t Been Shot Mum’ x 1.
An impressive total of 29 games with 13 wins, 4 draws and 12 losses. Not as many games as in some years but the most since the kids were born.
2010 will no doubt see lots more ‘Elephant’ games, LFSIII Prussian glories and some Franco-Prussian games too as Max and Clive are working on their forces at present. We are also waiting with heavy anticipation upon Peter Pig’s 'Washington's Army' AWI range release in spring. Max and Paul are straining at the leash for Brits and Americans whilst I may well get some Hessians eventually. ‘Mud and Blood’ is bound to feature heavily too as Max’s collection of lovely 28’s grows apace.
On the show front...
Again a better year than 2008. I made it to Colours, SELWG and Warfare. I decided not to attend Salute this year after feeling very under enthused by the whole shabang in 2008. I really don't like the venue plus once you've shelled out for petrol, parking and entrance you almost feel obliged to buy something to get your money's worth. I missed out on Bovington this year which is a shame as I really like this small and very friendly show. I had hoped to make it to Devizes this year but it clashed with other stuff. I didn't really get to see much of SELWG this year as I was taking part in the TFL Wagram refight. A bonus was that the items I wanted to purchase were on the stalls nearest our table. Colours felt very weird this year. Max and I went and to be honest it just didn't do anything for either of us, though neither of us could say quite why. Warfare I really enjoyed. Paul and I went with the intention of buying some terrain for him and I wanted a few odds and sods. He must have spent £300+ and I spent almost £150. We took our time, had a lovely wander round, chatted to a few friendly faces and generally had a top day out. Mind you we discovered it can be bloody expensive when we're shopping together.
Now for the financial balance sheet...
All year I have meticulously monitored my wargaming expenditure. All things taken into account, paints, figures, scenery, glue, flock, books etc I spent a whopping £1979.43 in 2009. This is all from a man who is a house-husband with little income. Throughout the last twelve months I decided to sell off some stuff which I haven’t used in a while as storage at Wally HQ is becoming a premium and I needed to fund my new stuff. Frankly there simply isn’t space for the all kids toys and my own anymore.
First sold was my 15mm Colonial for 'Patrols in the Sudan', and then the unusual stuff from my vast WW2 collection. I even sold off a few spare Napoleonic Brits units too. Clive bought my 10mm ECW 'Regiment of Foote' stuff for the upcoming TFL 'In The Buff' and Paul my 15mm Spanish Civil War 'UYCAS' collection. All told I received £1824.39 for my stuff.
I am determined that I will spend less and be more frugal in 2010, though we all say that don’t we?
There are no major projects planned on the horizon at Wally HQ and I plan to play even more games with the tons of nice stuff I already have. I am truly blessed to have such great gaming mates, all of a similar mindset but each with strengths and weaknesses. I am also incredibly lucky to have a most understanding wife who tolerates my painting most evenings and allows her dining to be taken over every week or so.
2010 has a lot to live up to but I start the new campaign season with renewed vigour and optimism. Its going to be an interesting ride.
Happy New Year,
Kev (aka Fat Wally)
Playtesting of 'Le Feu Sacre III' began in earnest over summer.
Through the TFL yahoo group we met new Lardy Paul, and introduced him to our small but very active gaming group of Clive, Nige, Max and myself. He fitted in very well.
The Prussians were soon finished and autumn saw me finish off my late Saxons and Poles, paint up a Young Guard Infantry Division and a Division of Guard Cavalry.
I thought that was that as far as painting was concerned for 2009. How wrong was I?
Max (him again!) persuaded me that I might consider doing a Union cavalry division for ‘They Couldn’t Hit and Elephant’. I had foolishly voiced an interest in the ACW having played a couple of games of TFL ‘Elephant’ and found them a lot of fun.
Before I knew it I was throwing myself into buying ACW books to improve my knowledge of the period.