|2014 A Gaming Year In Review
|By aiming for a unit per week for myself I painted up a respectable two dozen foot and ten cavalry units in total up until
September when the pressures of painting for others meant I've had to put the project on the back burner. The figures are in
units bags in my organised leadpile and I hope to paint a few more units when I surface in early summer from my current glut of
commission work. I'm also sitting on some new Peter Pig French AWI units and a few more ECW units which I must find time to
Moving on to the games I actually played in 2014, after a fantastic first half of the year which I managed to play 18 games, real life
reared its ugly head and threw a spanner in the works resulting in only six games in the last half. 24 games is actually one more
than last year, but I had been aiming at 30. I guess that's the target for 2015.
24 Games Played;
Basic Baroque (ECW) – 9
Die Kreigskunst (SYW) - 9
British Grenadier (AWI) – 4
Age of Eagles (Napoleonic) – 1
Impetus (WoTR) – 1
As you can see more than half the games were set in the 18th Century, a period where my interest is really peaking.
Summer is always difficult as the wife and kids invade the dining room (my work area), there are usually holidays, and this year I
underwent minor knee surgery too. Now the kids are older and take part in sport weekends are incredibly difficult. This is a
shame as I am a member of a fantastic club, Wessex Wargames Society (Southampton). The club sessions are usually on
alternate Saturdays and at least one Saturday per month is a 10am - 6pm session. This allows for larger games, linked games,
learning games or very leisurely social games to be played in a relaxed atmosphere without a need to keep an eye on the time.
The there is the de-brief in the local pub afterwards. A great way to spend a day. Very friendly, well run and (not overly)
organised with a variety of games on offer well WWS is well worth a visit. Don't take my word for it, pop in and say hello. I
managed eight visits in 2014, up on the six achieved in 2013. I hope to attend at least as many times in 2015.
Also I've had to become accustomed to the fact that Wally HQ has been retired as a venue for multi-player games. The kids are
older now and as Wally HQ is all open plan. Playing games with more than one player per side means the missus has to exit, its
too noisy for the kids, and it takes too much organisation on my part trying to get set up and packed away around the chaos of
domesticity. In addition Albert the Cockador pup joined Missy the Patterdale Terrier meaning a house full of kids and dogs AND
gamers. Fortunately my gaming chums have their own set ups where we can play together and get as noisy as we like, its just
that weeknight gaming is almost impossible due to the wife's frankly ridiculous work schedule. My gaming is all about logistics
My gaming record stank in 2014. 24 played, won 6, drawn 2, lost 15 and umpired 1. Fortunately I couldn't give a fig about
winning. For me its all about the narrative of the game and catching up with mates. There were several stand out games in 2014.
First a Wars of the Roses bash, using Impetus at the club in May. A multi-player game with several new players the Lancastrians
won (booooooooo. I know, I was supposed to be the umpire) in a compelling encounter which saw a quality small-ish bill
orientated Lancastrian army take on a large Yorkist archer heavy host, cashing in quality for quantity. As a result the Yorkists
totally outshot the Lancastrians, who mostly couldn't hit a barn door.
By 3pm the Lancastrians were in trouble but had almost reached the Yorkist battle lines. Unfortunately for the Lancastrian Ally
Scots, who lacking any bowmen and had taken huge casualties, they were almost a spent force.
Then add the 'Chairman Kev' factor. Needing a one to pass cohesion tests, Chairman Kev proceeded to roll one, after one, after
one. He then rolled six after six when needing to in combat....with the same dice! The Scots eventually succumbed and the
command routed but Kev's tenacious response hanging on for at least four more turns than by rights and statistics he should
have, thereby prevented Mark's Yorkist left to help out in the middle.
Happy New Year 2015!
Well that was the year that was. Hard to believe another wargaming year is gone already. Where did it all go? This is my sixth year of
posting my review of my own personal wargaming year.
I have long realised that in all aspects of my life I’m either very organised, or a complete shambles. There is no middle ground.
I’ve been keeping a personal diary since 1977. Well over ten years ago now I also decided to keep a daily wargames journal.
My thinking was that a wargames journal might be a good way to record random musings and help me focus more on getting projects
done, or at least to the stage where I can put stuff on table and play. I like lists, lists and more lists. I write down my thoughts and plans,
record all gaming related purchases, such as figures, paint and books. I set myself targets, and also log on a daily, weekly and monthly
basis the figures I’ve painted and the games played. The very act of putting pen to paper and writing it all down helps to really focus the
mind. It is also quite interesting to look back over previous books and see what I was thinking at the time.
I guess for most of us our hobby is not just about playing with toy soldiers. It’s about research, painting, collecting specific periods but
with a general interest in anything military. However, this has to operate within the pressures of real life. I fully appreciate that I am blessed
with a wife who is a professional and the main bread winner, allowing me to be a househusband (and Dad) first and a figure painter
second. As the kids get older I’m finding it harder and harder to find the time to play games, though the enjoyment I get from meeting up
with mates and escaping real life for a while is much greater.
My health hasn’t been good this year as I’ve struggled with all manner of ailments. Our parents are all in their 80’s and quite ill too, plus
they live several hours drive away, and I don’t drive. It is what it is. I still managed a respectable year of gaming fun though. Sadly this year
saw a couple of gaming friends/acquaintances shed their mortal coils and shuffle off to the table in the sky. All very sad.
One of the big problems this year was technology. I was deprived of my laptop for 11 weeks over summer which led to all sorts of teeth
gnashing and frustration as both myself and my computer chap were ill, and had to undergo operations. Tons of hassle trying to send
photos and keep people updated on their commissions plus research stuff. Also this site didn't get updated for five months. What can I
say? Apologies, nightmare scenario.
Anyhow, off we go on my own review of my personal gaming in 2014.
First, let’s look at what was actually painted in my second full year of painting for others (Wally's/Kev's Painting Service). Well, after 7,000
figures last year, and a nasty eye infection at the tail of 2013, I vowed not to paint not quite as many and take more regular breaks. In 2014 I
managed to finish just short of 4,000 15mm figures almost 25% of which were mounted figures. The majority of figures painted in 2014
were ACW, AWI, ECW and SYW though there were some Renaissance and Napoleonics too. The vast majority of commissions, with a
couple of notable exceptions, were an absolute joy to paint. Next year has much more of the same with a heavy emphasis on ECW and
SYW as I grind out a meagre minimum wage existence, brush in hand. :-)
Just less than 900 figures painted were my own, up slightly on the previous year. One of the things which helped my own personal total
this year was taking part in Rob Avery’s painting campaign, over at Vis Lardica.
Rob's Too Fat Lardies Game Ready Campaign "is not intended as a competition between participants, but rather as an encouragement to
self-improvement. The non-competitive nature of the exercise is also why it hasn’t been labelled a competition or challenge." (Vis Lardica).
I think all those who took part agree it was a bit of fun and a great opportunity to share pics with friends old and new and keep focused. I
shall also contribute to the 2015 campaign. I'd recommend joining in as a means to get through that lead pile.
I started the year finishing off painting ECW for myself and thoroughly enjoying playing Basic Baroque ECW. Simple to learn, difficult to
master, easy to set up and looks great. Busy with stuff for customers it wasn’t until the Cheltenham horse racing festival that things really
changed. I had a very good week on the horses see, up almost £500. I decided to invest in lead for myself, to have something to show for
my winnings other than a mother of a hangover. Being largely a house husband, of limited means, a lot of my collection is funded by
winning on the horses. I've been following the sport for perhaps thirty years off and on though even I have to admit its largely luck.
In my gaming circle we’d been umming and ahing about gaming the Seven Years War for several years. I sold off my Napoleonic
collection in 2012 and it was a standing joke that sooner or later I'd replace it with more. The last couple of years in particular had seen a
rise in my interest of all things eighteenth century, largely due to my growing AWI collection and playing British Grenadier. After a bit of
trawling on t'internet, namely Edinburgh Wargames DKK page, and liking what I saw, I ordered Partisan Press's 'Die Kriegskunst' from
Caliver Books. With time a premium now I admit to liking rules which have similar mechanisms, making them easier to pick up. 'Die
Kriegskunst' shares a heritage with 'General de Brigade'/'British Grenadier' etc both of which are played at my local club, so hopefully no
shortage of opponents.
I bit the bullet so to speak, and as is typical of me jumped in with both feet ordering £400 worth of Old Glory SYW Russians and Prussians
from Timecast. I looked at the Blue Moon and Eureka castings but I prefer the OG sculpts for the sheer variety within the packs. Facially
the OG sculpts are better too in my opinion. I still supplant my OG infantry stuff with that from BM and Eureka but the core is Old Glory.
The game was all but lost by 3pm for the Lancastrians, but by 4.30pm they had dragged victory from the very jaws of defeat. A
fantastic day's gaming which saw my face hurt at the end because I had been smiling so much. The humour and rapport in
evidence was fantastic and the noise level of shouts, groans and laughter meant that players from other games frequently came
over to see what on earth was going on, then stay, watch and join in the banter. It was one of the most fun games I'd had in
several years. By the end emotionally we had all been drained. Played in the best possible spirit at the club as always with no
arguments or cross words.
As I've mentioned earlier the Seven Years War was perhaps the big thing that happened to our gaming group in 2014. 'Die
Kriegkunst' is perhaps a more traditional set of rules but its mechanisms are more streamlined than in British Grenadier and it is
much faster to play yet seems to have bags of period flavour. In particular the restrictive methods of moving troops and
challenging command and control systems tick all the boxes for our circle which likes friction, unpredictability and a
dependency on luck. The rules also depend on a lot on thinking ahead and timing assaults. As a result my win ratio with
Prussians was frankly awful. Far too many times my assaults were either badly timed or lacking support but I'm learning better
now and playing more to Prussian strengths that just pointing them at the enemy and ordering an advance.
Enthused by the period we all bounced off each other resulting in a collective paint fest.
Originally I wanted to paint up enough for two sides for a decent sized game. Being a bit of a Frederick fan I of course had to
have Prussians. I'm also a fairly aggressive player and it suits my general inability to defend syndrome. I also happen to like
Cossacks and guns, so the Russians were the obvious answer.
In my immediate circle of chums Max chose Austrians and Prussians, Paul the French, and Derek Saxons. There were several
small learning games which helped us get our heads round the rules and inspire us to even more painting.
Max suggested a big SYW game where we could get our collections thus far onto a table. After a hurried week of planning and
head scratching I came up with a scenario based on Breakout or Encirclement scenario from 'Wargames For All Ages' by Grant
David's, and particularly Mark's, Yorkist centre shot amazingly well but they were facing the quality elite of the Lancastrian army.
Paul managed to get stuck into the centre whilst Kev held up Mark, routing two units in one phase on combat and locking horns
with David's billmen in a fight to the death. David's death. The Lancastrians prevailed, the centre was broken, the Yorkists beaten
and even the Yorkist camp captured.
Over on the Lancastrian left, Mark's ten-year old son, had command of mostly Border infantry, Staves and Currours with limited
chance to add anything to the action all morning. Bless him, he was a patient lad. In the afternoon he was encouraged to flush
woods of Continental Handgunners using his horsemen, which actually worked. He then threw waves of Border infantry into the
pell-mell against the Yorkists of Derek. By the end of the game he had rolled up the extreme Yorkist right flank and was locked
with Yorkist Low Countries Mercenary pikemen whilst the rest of the Yorkists dissolved all around.
It as an ugly merciless game which felt very in period.
Clive and me decided to pick on the Russians and ignore the Austrians and French but our Prussians failed to get across in time
and got hammered from three sides. The fighting was desperate and only the poor command and control structures of the allies
kept the Prussians in with a slim chance. In the end though Clive and I had to admit defeat.
A top day out though for all concerned. As a note I'd now like to say that since the game our forces have almost doubled in size.
Personally I had a good Royal Ascot, and Epsom meeting which meant more recruits to the lead pile. We've had so much fun with
'Die Kriegskunst' that it is being played more, and also now at the club with perhaps plans for a whopping game in May. Watch
Sticking with the 18th Century I was lucky enough to dust off my Peter Pig AWI collection and playtest a couple of re-fights of the
Battle of Bennington 1777 possibly for the future British Grenadier scenario book. Written by fellow club member and opponent,
all round good egg and gentleman, Brendan Morrissey both were hard fought actions full of drama and fun. I lost both, but its the
taking part that counts don't you know? :-)
Its always an absolute pleasure to take part in games of such quality against a like minded opponent. More of that for 2015
Essentially the Prussians were trying to get off table, in good order, with Allies arriving on three different points to try and trap
them. Clive and me took command of the Prussians with Max; Austrians, Paul; French, Derek Saxons and Club Chairman Kev;
Russians. To give you an idea the Prussians fielded 12 Battalions, 4 Cavalry Regiments and two batteries of guns to the Allies 23
Battalions, 9 Cavalry Regiments and three batteries.
What made the game so special was that we had started the project in March and by August had managed to paint and field just
over 1,000 brand spanking new figures. Apart from myself, my comrades all have busy full time professional careers yet had
managed to keep up with myself in producing lots of soldiers. A remarkable admirable feat gentlemen. The table was a mass of
colour and a satisfying feast of eye candy. The pictures just don't do it justice.
Another cracking AWI game, again using British Grenadier, was when I took part in a club refight of Brandywine in September, on its
anniversary in fact. Top bloke Andy brought along his lovely 28mm collection, with hefty contributions by Mick, and organised and
umpired the day for us. Being a 15mm man it was so nice to actually play 28mm for a change, especially when they're as nice as
Andy's and Mick's.
The game proved to be a challenging one for both sides. Fantastic dice rolling from my American comrades not only kept us in the
game but actually made the result far from a foregone conclusion.
I keep harping on about narrative in games. Well this one had it and then some. Club Chairman Kev did a remarkable
demonstration of his ability to hit anything in sight, yet again, whilst I managed to destroy an enemy gun from long range by
rolling a double six just when it was required. Derek put up a hell of a fight in repelling the British whilst poor Brendan, famous
for his inability to roll even averagely just when it matters, fancied his chances when a unit of cavalry charged American Militia.
Predictably his cavalry baulked, were forced to retreat sideways off table, whilst the Militia actually rallied and returned to the
Sheer weight of numbers eventually ensured the forces of the Crown proved to be too strong, but the Americans gained a moral
victory by inflicting horrendous losses on the lobsterbacks and their Hessian lackeys. Two brigades of the enemy were broken
and there were some grim red faced looking British players whilst the American players were elated. You'd think we'd won, not
lost, but there is victory to be had in even the small stuff. A fantastic day's gaming with top company at the club yet again.
So, numerically not a great year but quality wise some outstanding games full of drama and the narrative that I love about this
hobby so much.
Next year I hope for more of the same. Certainly the SYW flame is burning ever brighter in my circle. With my immediate
comrades still painting up, and folk at the club dusting off/rebasing their old collections it looks like being a bumper year for it. I
think between us all we have almost every nation covered in some quantity. I've also recently purchased the first two of CS
Grant's 18th Century excellent imagination campaign books 'The Annexation of Chiraz' and 'Raid on St Michel' with a view to
using them for some SYW fun very soon.
Our circle is also considering playing 'Guns at Gettysburg' for our ACW. Early trial games have been very positive and of course
it shares a similarity with DKK, GdB and British Grenadier. Almost a given I'd say. Interest is also there for the Franco-Prussian
war as Clive and Max have considerable forces all ready painted.
Basic Baroque needs another run out not least because I have Nigel's Covenanters to finish plus hundreds of other ECW figures
to paint for customers. I find it really does help if I play a period that I have to paint. Keeps the lead in the pencil, or more aptly
paint on the brush.
I'm also quite keen to give DBA 3.0 a whirl. I sold off my Ancients this year, excepting an Alan Sarmatian DBA army. However,
there is a 900 point unpainted Late Imperial Roman army for Impetus in my lead pile which can be quickly painted up as another
DBA force if required. My son Jack is almost seven and having played DBA 2.2 with me a year ago I could easily see us playing
several games. DBA is also showing signs of resurgence at the club with the recent release of 3.0
Clive now has a proper room for gaming (no longer a cold double garage) and Derek is moving to a house where he can have a
permanent set up so the loss of Wally HQ as a venue seems less of an issue.
Talking of Derek, he joined our erstwhile band this year and then joined the So'ton club too. A most welcome recruit to our band
of brothers Derek immediately painted up Saxon's for SYW and has taken part in many of our best games this year. Nice to have
you aboard mate. This hobby is not only about playing with toy soldiers it is essentially about the people you play with and I am
indeed blessed with the chaps in my various gaming circles. I just don't get to do it often enough. A big thank you to all my allies
and opponents in 2014.
On the show front 2014 was the worst in perhaps 20 years. The only one I made it to was Salute. I enjoyed meeting up with so
many friends, old and new, but paid a heavy price for this social fest. My arthritic knee required a week of R&R after the show and
I have to face the reality that perhaps its a bit too much for me in my current state of health. Until I have my knee Osteotomy I can't
really contemplate visiting Salute again. So no Salute in 2015 for me I'm afraid. I failed to make it to Bovvy, Attack, SELWG or
Warfare, and Colours was missing from the calender in 2014. I'm hoping to make a couple of shows this coming year but......
Now for the financial bit. This is painful but also actually quite interesting to look at. I am incredibly lucky that the missus is the
breadwinner and I'm just the help with the kids and house. My expenditure is largely books, paints and lead. This year I sold all
my Ancients (to Derek) plus several AWI regiments that were surplus to requirements.
NET + £ 297.59
I am planning in 2015 a massive reshuffle.
I've got to face facts, I just can't keep spending like this. The plan is to reduce my expenditure to less than £1,000, sell off the
majority of my 15mm WW2 collection along with lots of buildings in an effort to rid myself of clutter. Most of my WW2 stuff has
been sat in storage in my loft for three years and is becoming a PITA. I shall keep a small force but part with the rest I think, to
free up some cash and space. My interests for several years have been more horse and musket orientated than anything with
ACW, AWI and SYW forming the core of my collection along with Wars of the Roses, Renaissance, WW1 and WW2 aerial. WW2
has largely lost its appeal to me. Don't get me wrong I think WW2 is having a golden period, not least with the success of Too Fat
Lardies innovative Chain of Command, its just WW2 isn't doing it for me.
Over the last few years I seem to have bucked the current trend for preference for smaller skirmish type games involving less
than a hundred figures. I much prefer up to twenty units of perhaps 24 figures per side in my games. Trust me to be different.
So whilst not an outstanding year, not bad at all. The mantra for 2015 is spend less, play more. Sell what you're not using, play with
what you have, and paint what you've already got. For several years my lead pile was a minimum but since painting for other folk
my own collection has stalled somewhat. I'm so busy with commission work that in all likelihood if I get one unit done per month for
myself I'll be doing well.
I've probably got close to 900 figures in my pile now and I plan to reduce that before any more purchases are made. I can see no way
around the fact that next year my own total of completed figures will probably be no more than half what it was in 2014. Painting for
others is feast or famine. If the work is there my own stuff comes a very poor second. Its not that I don't have many figures. Even
with my regular annual culls I still have well in excess of 10,000 painted 15mm figures.
Then again, as we all know plans are made to be amended. I suffer as much from 'Ooh Shiny Syndrome' as the next gamer.
I really hope to be able to update this site more regularly now the laptop is back and plan to add a DKK/SYW page to this site. I'll
even post some of the battle reports that are written and stored on the PC.
I just want to say a huge thank you to friends, comrades in arms, allies, opponents, painting service customers and cyber friends for
making 2014 another good one. 2015 offers some particular nasty challenges for my family which the community that wargaming
offers helps make bearable.
HAPPY NEW YEAR ONE AND ALL IN 2015