Another wargaming year closes at Wally HQ and another begins. This is the traditional look back at my last personal twelve months of wargaming and a peek in to future plans for 2013, where you can get an insight into my twisted world.
Regular followers of this site will know that for several years now I have kept a gaming diary helping me to keep track of, and focus on, my various wargaming projects. In my diary I log all my wargaming purchases; books, figures, buildings, even paint and varnish, along with items I've sold from my collection.
In addition every game that I've played gets logged too with a brief write up to remind me of what occurred. I also record every figure painted on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. I've found it to be quite an eye opener. Plus of course I try to add some of our more interesting and unusual games to this site.
Again first a huge thank you to everyone who visits this site and regularly emails me with their nice comments and various suggestions.
I've been up and running since 2004 now and each year this site has been getting more and more visitors. I now average 5,000 visitors per month! At times I confess it seems like I have made a rod for my own back as people complain if I haven't updated this site regularly. If you've got your own blog, or site, you'll know how much work this can involve.
I try and post new game reports on a regular basis though, and add pictures of new stuff which I've added to my own collections. The feedback I receive then inspires me further and allows me to engage in the wider wargaming community, bouncing ideas about. Thanks again one and all.
Right, lets have a look at what happened in my 2012.
Times That Try Men's Souls (AWI) x 1 I Ain't Been Shot, Mum 3 (WW2) x 2 Impetus (WoTR, Italian Wars) x 9 Bag The Hun (WW2 Air) x 2 Algernon Pull It Off (WW1 Air) x 4
These are just games involving me. The rest of our gaming group have also played Mud and Blood, Regimental Fire & Fury and Age of Eagles along with IABSM3.
My record in 2012 was that I umpired 1, won 10, lost 6 and one was a solo, respectively.
This year has been quite strange in that due to circumstances, largely beyond my control, gaming on my usual friday evening has been sporadic and patchy. I'm a house husband full time, and part-time painter of wargames figures and such like. Friday used to be the only night of the week I could game regularly, as my wife is a regular gymn class attendee, and a bit of a fitness nut and out most weekday evenings. However, things kept cropping up on Friday nights for us and so, particularly over the summer and autumn, my gaming fell off in 2012.
Fortunately the other chaps in our gaming group, Max, Clive, Nige and the two Pauls, kept things ticking over nicely.
I then really got into Wars of the Roses gaming using Impetus. I had sold off my old WoTR collection way back in the early 1990's but decided to start again using Peter Pig's excellent range. Nige and me played 'The Pretender' mini campaign using the rules in 'Extra Impetus 3' and had a cracking time. This was the first campaign I've been involved in for at least ten years. The first battle at Bristol was a hard fought affair, but ultimately a Yorkist victory. The second meeting, the Battle of Coventry however was one of those disasters that comes along rarely, and lives forever in the memory of the victor. Nige's Lancastrians were totally thrashed, with no loss whatsoever on my Yorkists. This meant that the outcome of the third engagement at Milford Haven was almost a given, with the collapse of the Lancastrian cause, and capture of Henry VI by the Yorkists.
The campaign proved to be such a success that it was started again immediately as a four player campaign, 'The Pretender Extended', with all of our gaming group involved one way or another. This is still running with the Lancastrians under Buckingham (Clive) and Somerset (Paul T) defeating the Yorkists under King Edward IV (me) and Warwick and Lord Grey (Max) at the battles of Lichfield and Colney. With Warwick dead on the field, Grey and Somerset are due to fight near Shrewsbury soon, with Buckingham in pursuit of King Edward who is attempting to embark his force at Portsmouth. This has been a great way of linking our various Impetus games and brining all sorts of strategic factors into the equation with very little effort.
Apart from Wars of the Roses I played a couple of interesting Italian Wars games too also, using Impetus, before the inevitable break from gaming over summer to do D.I.Y and decorating at Wally HQ. Being an arthritis sufferer, this very nearly killed me.
Having a problem attending our regular Friday night affairs I had no such issue with weekend gaming, infact my missus was keen to spend time alone with the kids. The Wessex Wargames Society of Southampton are a large and friendly club on our doorstep who can offer Saturday gaming at their excellent venue at Colbury Memorial Hall. I took the chance to organise a couple of Bag The Hun games in October and an Algy game, 'Bloody April' in November. Really good fun, and nice people. I cannot recommend them highly enough if you're looking for a club. I plan to pay a subscription and attend at least monthly next year.
Infact the latter quarter of 2012 has seen a veritable plethora of WW1 aerial games at Wally HQ using Too Fat Lardies 'Algernon Pulls It Off'. WW1 air warfare is close to bordering on an obsession of mine. It may surprise many regulars of this site but in my extensive library I have more books on WW1 aerial warfare than of any other gaming period. Being late to discovering Shapeways 3D printed planes I have made up a lot of lost ground and swelled my collection of late. Air games take very little preparation on my part and this has meant that they increasingly a 'go to' option if I want an easy night's play and minimal hassle. 'Somme Like it Hot' was great fun, pitching DH2's against mostly Eindeckers and Halberstadts, whereas 'Last Flight of the Albatros' saw SPAD's Vs Albatros D.IIIs in a cracking game where our group's self appointed 'Shit Magnet', Nige, got a whole year's worth of good die rolls in one game, much to everyone's amazement. We all agreed that rediscovering Algy in 2012 had been fantastic fun.
One of the best night's fun I had though in 2012 was when I hosted an AWI game in September, using our rules variant 'Times That Try Men's Souls'. 'Greene's Assault at Germantown' was a rare defeat for Clive, with Nigel assisting, in which for the first time the Rebels, under Paul T, Paul B, Max and I had held a British force and inflicted a defeat. We were all a bit surprised at just how well the rebels fought, having mostly played games set in 1775/1776. Clive's British Foot Guards actually broke (Oh, the shame).
The new year will see lots more Algy played as Big Rich Clarke of Too Fat Lardies is working on a new version of Algy and has promised us a playtest copy to try out. I also own five Gotha bombers, and some lovely sea planes all of which need to see their on-table debuts. January sees me running a Wars of the Roses game using Impetus at the So'ton club, and we also have to finish off our 'Pretender Extended' campaign.
Notable exceptions this year were ACW using 'They Couldn't Hit an Elephant'. I love these rules but the other chaps in our gaming group have fell in love of late with 'Regimental Fire and Fury', and 'Age of Eagles' for that matter too. I am keen to join in as soon as possible with all the fun they've been having and get my ACW out for a bash.
We're also hoping to play some more AWI games as our rules need a tweak and a re-write, if we ever get time. Then there's Rob Avery's excellent 'Blenneville or Bust' scenarios for IABSM.
My good mate Max is embarking upon a Seven Years War collection starting with Austrians in 2013 and I may use my Hessians as Prussians, or I may shell out on a few new figures. Then again, I might not. So much to play, so little time.
Shows Attended Last year I made it to only three shows and promised myself that I'd attend five shows in 2012, Salute, Bovington, Colours, SELWG and Warfare. However, I failed again and made it to only two shows, SELWG and Warfare. Both shows were very good indeed though and much better than the previous year. Next year my only promise is that I shall return to Salute. I could say that I don't like the soulless venue, and bore you with how expensive a day it can be when you factor in petrol, parking, admission, food and purchases, the fact of the matter is now I've started my painting service, I really need to be there. I need to meet my customers, see traders and press the flesh, and generally get a good look at the market Lets face it Salute has it all, and then some. So if you fancy meeting up for a natter and a pint, you'll find me at Salute for definite.
Stuff Painted I am indeed a fortunate man. My wife has a good job and is the main wage earner. We ain't rich by any means, but in this time of global economic strife we ain't exactly struggling. I also get to look after the kids. Whilst there is house work to do, shopping and school runs to undertake, I do have more time on my hands than most of you reading this. Both my kids are at now last at school full time, and very happy. I've been looking after them full time since their mum went back to work after only four months maternity leave. I've done my time in the trenches, lined with nappies, sick and worse. Now, I usually manage a minimum of three hours painting a day, and often six to eight hours at least a couple of times a week. I said I was fortunate.
I know myself well. I don't do flitting between projects. I do, focus. I found that to keep my enthusiasm for a wargaming project I need to produce a unit per day, otherwise I get bored. I adopt a 'holistic' approach and read widely around the subject, trying to watch films, even listening to a period's music. Once immersed generally I can churn out anywhere from 8 to 36 15mm figures per day, every day, week in week out. This generally means a 'Brigade' a week, a 'Division' a fortnight, a 'Corps' a month.
I started out the year painting WW2 stuff for IABSM my winter warfare project. By February, I was satisfied with the couple of hundred figures I'd completed and so the project was more or less finished, for now. Prompted by the fun Max and Clive were having with Impetus I then rediscovered the Wars of the Roses. I sold off the last of my collection of Minifigs and Tabletop Games stuff in the early 1990's but the appeal of the period, colourful, dramatic and full of interesting characters was too much to resist. I am a huge fan of Martin Goddard of Peter Pig. He makes some lovely figures but amongst his best in my opinion has been those for the Wars of the Roses. If you use washes as I do, and like figures with bags of character and period feel, look no further friends. Well, February to April saw me churn out almost 900 figures for the Wars of the Roses before I had knee surgery in mid-April.
Whilst I was recovering and resting on my laurels, I began to think back about another collection I had sold in the past, my Italian Wars. Again this was sold in the 1990's to fund my growing WW2 collection. I'd just spent a couple of months painting armour and, well, I saw some Venexia Gendarmes in the flesh and I was sold. What can I say? I am weak. Unfortunately, bad timing for me Venexia were selling up and so it was a case of grabbing all the mounted castings I could get my hands on. I had used Freikorps for some of the Wars of the Roses infantry and been surprised at how well they'd turned out so I turned to them for rank fillers. Well Landsknechts, turned into French, turned to various Italians, then of course Swiss and then Spanish. By the end of summer and the inevitable DIY I'd painted up almost 1,200 Renaissance figures and five Impetus armies.
After the Olympics and the agonising and frequently embarrassing attempts at DIY, I realised the old lead pile was a bit on the low side, as were finances. My enthusiasm for painting figures was still hot. In Autumn, I sold off some 'spare' AWI regiments (I mean, who really needs 48 regiments of Continental Line and 17 of Hessians anyhow?) and bought a few (well 350) of Peter Pig's new figures including some marching figures as part replacements. I also sold off my Peter Pig and Hovels ACW/AWI 15mm buildings, replacing them with smaller footprint 10mm Timecast and Star Fort models then going on to buy more Timecast ones suitable for the Italian Wars too.
With both kids returning to school I did actually look for paid employment. Not surprisingly, there ain't much about for an albeit educated forty- something arthritic who's been looking after pre-schoolers for the last five years. I still needed something to keep me busy, yet fit in around the kids. [Deep Breath]. Resurrect the painting service.
Ten years ago I painted myself into a proverbial corner by taking on too much, too soon. After 9,000 15mm figures in a single year I was a bit of a basket case. OK, I sent out a few emails and let it be known I was available on a couple of forums. Well, the rod that I made for my back, namely this site, proved to be my saviour. Within the space of a month nineteen commissions were received, based upon what figures people saw on this site, providing steady work for until Spring next year at the earliest. I also advertised my fencing for ACW and AWI and made over 200 feet of it.
If anyone wants a quote by the way, please feel free to email me on Fatwallyuk@yahoo.com.br . Unfortunately, the service is only available to UK residents as it just isn't worth the hassle sending stuff abroad. Sorry folks.
Painting figures for others is great. The commissions thus far are all quality figures with Blue Moon, AB, Khurusan, Tumbling Dice and Splintered Light in the offing with lots and lots of Peter Pig AWI, ACW, Wars of the Roses and Vietnam, and even Shapeways planes. I am living the dream. I still have to pinch myself that I am earning a wage from it. So far its working out. Obviously the kids are priority, so when they get the Noro virus the week before Xmas, and my father ended up in hospital too (shit happens), the wheels came off the wagon albeit temporarily. However, we're back firing on all cylinders.
The rediscovery of Algy, saw me discover Shapeways 3D planes. Painting planes has always been like therapy for me and Shapeways planes are nice and easy, so I added thirty odd planes to my own WW1 collection in the last couple of months, and repainted a fair few Wings of War/Glory and F-toy biplanes that I got my hands on too.
Painting Totals for 2012
349 x AWI figures 223 x WW2 figures 896 x Wars of the Roses figures 1,159 x Italian Wars figures 19 x WW2 Vehicles 2 x WW2 Guns
34 x 1/144th WW1 Planes 41 x 1/144th Wings of War/Glory/F Toy Repaints 7 x Buildings (10mm) 2 x Bridges (10mm) 1 x Bridge (15mm)
The total of 2,627 figures is prolific (up on even last year's 2,131) but is actually only really nine month's worth, less six weeks for DIY too. Since September I've painted only planes for my own collection but with commission work I've painted almost 4,000 figures this year. Next Year looks like breaking the record books as I have literally thousands of figures on the books. The eyes are still good, the painting gets easier and improves each year. Whilst it continues being so, I am happy.
The Balance Sheet
This is the bit I really don't like, but feel the need to do each year, particularly with the economic climate as bleak as it is. My wife is incredibly tolerant of my hobby, but if she ever finds out how much I spend on it, divorce will be the very least of my worries. Fortunately, I am very mercenary in being able to view all my collections as a means to fund other collections. Hence stuff that isn't played with, or surplus to requirements, is recycled as cold hard cash for other purchases. I do also like a flutter on the gee-gees and whilst I don't bet much I do usually get several big wins each year which are always turned into lead.
I sold off spare AWI Continental and Hessian regiments in 2012 and then decided to part with my entire 15mm Napoleonic collection. I parted with the British and Austrians a few years ago as they didn't suit my playing style. Well, I just got fed up with the rest all in the loft, so I offered the lot to the same chap. He agreed to buy them all and so my entire collection is reunited, and I have funds.
All things considered, this year has been ridiculously expensive. Now I'm a legitimate business some of this will be tax deductible in future. I spent a fortune on books, paint, varnish and particularly Silflor and static grass let alone the figures themselves. Next year I won't have the same time to spend on my own figures as in 2012 so 2013 will be a frugal year for me personally.
Bought - £3,802.40 Sold + £3,982.00 __________ Net - £179.60
In 2013 I might yet still sell off my Renaissance. Truth told, I really enjoyed painting it more than I enjoy playing with it. I've had a couple of generous offers for the whole lot and I'm sleeping on it still but don't be surprised if its gone by this time next year.
So all in all another interesting year, in which I came, I saw, I painted....lots.
One of the most memorable things in 2012 was when Guy Bowers, editor of 'Wargames Soldiers and Strategy' came to Wally HQ for a photo shoot a couple of months back. Man, was I flattered to be asked. I lined up my AWI collection, ACW and Napoleonics (now gone) for some pictures and we 'chewed the fat' for several hours. Guy is a genuinely nice bloke and in my opinion the mag is the best on the market featuring the column of Lardmeister Rich Clarke.
Now a few thanks. I must pay homage to the guys who also feature on this site, my erstwhile comrades and opponents; Clive, Max, Nige, Paul B and Paul T. We've been playing together now for several years and you couldn't wish for better wargaming chums. We all have our own spin on things and pet projects but we really enjoy each other's company. As with most gaming groups we have our own forum, and all bounce ideas off each other and get led astray by others enthusiasm for projects, yet surprisingly there are never any arguments or rows, never any resentment. This is why we've never been club animals where petty rivalry and club politics often raise their ugly heads. That said, we've all been along to Wessex Wargames Society of So'ton when it suits us, and been well received, so maybe we're changing. I'm planning on joining officially in 2013 and attending at least once a month.
I must also thank Too Fat Lardies for their wonderful rules, Rich Clarke in particular, whose sheer ruddy enthusiasm has infected and driven much of our group's wargaming journey for the last few years. Long may it continue mate. If you've not met Rich yet, either through his fairly regular appearances on Meeples and Miniatures/View from the Veranda, his regular column in WSS magazine, or when he's umpiring at a show I suggest you seek him out and shake him by the hand, or buy him a pint even. An informed and interesting man and a giant of our hobby in many ways. A shout out must go to the entire Too Fat Lardies Yahoo Group who continue to prove themselves wonderfully entertaining and learned and a sounding board for all sorts of ideas from shock points and friction, to cheese selections. The WD3 community also gets a mention for their support and advice over the last year too.
Martin Goddard of Peter Pig gets a thanks for putting up with my constant requests for more AWI figure and head pack releases. There is something about this chap's figures which cry out for my paint. Keep it up Martin. You keep sculpting 'em, and I'll keep painting 'em.