Thursday, December 31, 2020

The End is Nigh ... of 2020, at least

We are finally almost to the end of this annus horribilis.  The year end is traditionally a time to reflect on how things went, and consider how one might improve things in the year to come.  I should note that I am grateful that I have remained employed this whole time, and that we have had what we needed.

My plan for the year had included several conventions which were cancelled, of course, and my effort to get back to regularly attending club meetings failed due to the lack of club meetings. Irene and I had been planning a wedding, too, but that did get done, albeit in an appropriately down-sized and socially distant format.  

Some people managed to get additional miniatures painted and additional games (solo or played with remote players), but I ended up taking advantage of my former commute time to brush up on my baking skills, and to learn how to make sourdough bread.

At the beginning of the year, I had been working on the Bronze Age project with my son, using the DBA 3.0 rules everyone got for Christmas last year.  I had also planned to be working on French Revolutionary Wars figures for a joint game with Ross Macfarlane at Huzzah, but the cancellation of Huzzah! for this year pushed that project to the back burner. 

Norman and I had a test game with DBA 3.0 in February, the most recent time that we have been able to play face to face.  We’ve gotten in a couple of remote games of DBA this year, although we dusted off the old HaT Punic Wars figures for one of them.  My painting time was more limited than I had expected, but I did finish up my Bronze Age Libyan army. My son is much farther along with his painting.

Instead of the French Revolution, I ended up working on scenery improvement, on Prince August home cast fantasy figures, and on 1/72 scale plastic figures for the Portable Fantasy Campaign.  Without regard to size, which ranged from 1/72 scale sheep to medium-sized 28mm resin buildings,  I will have finished about 165 miniatures for the year. That’s not too bad (I’ve certainly had slower years, especially when I was a sports parent), but it doesn’t support too many new projects...

Here is my thinking.  Most of the “battle” rules I gravitate toward have units of 12 infantry or 6 cavalry (which are about as hard to paint as 12 infantry). Examples would include Chaos Wars, Dragon/Lion Rampant,  and A Gentleman’s War.  All else being equal, 12 units is a good force size, allowing for some variety in scenarios. Years back, Brent Oman advocated for the 12 unit army in the pages of MWAN, and I thought that made good sense and have adopted the idea for planning purposes. I usually anticipate that I will need to provide both sides of a project. Put all of that together, and a completely new project is approximately the equivalent of painting about 12 x 12 x 2 (or 288) infantry.  At this year’s painting rate, that would make a new project the equivalent of a little less than two years’ worth of painting. That’s not impossible, but it does suggest that these things should be considered carefully, and not started on a whim. (My record years, by the way, back around the turn of the century, ran closer to 600 figures; starting a new project when it amounted to less than half a year of painting was a bit more casual.)

Of course, all of my painting is seldom concentrated on one project for more than a few months.  Smaller projects would be a possible answer, I suppose.  With DBA becoming the house standard for ancients gaming, army sizes seldom top 80 figures, but, on the other hand, project planning tends toward three or four or five armies instead of two.  I am intermittantly working on some sort of urban fantasy skirmish game, which will most likely not exceed fifty figures, but which will need some scenery.  That’s the sort of thing which is a nice break from ranked units.  

As of right now, I have three potential new projects that look interesting.  The first was mentioned recently, the potential 19th century project using home cast figurs of one sort or another.  The second was alluded to in an earlier post as well and is some level of DBA classical Greeks and Persians using 1/72 scale figures.  The third would be a completely new start, a portable Not Quite Seven Years War for conventions, using 1/72 scale Zvezda plastic figures for the Great Northern War as the basis for imagi-nation armies.  The rules would probably be A Gentleman’s War.

Ongoing projects that keep getting paint include the French Revolution expansion, the Not Quite Seven Years War, the 1/72 scale Portable Fantasy Campaign, and the 25mm vintage fantasy collection (in which I have been primarily working on a Middle Earth collection using the original Minifigs range from 1974). 

So, there is a lot to do in 2021, and I’m sure that by March I will be totally derailed into something else...

According to my gaming log, I was involved in 24 miniatures games in 2020.  After March, of course, they were all solo or played remotely.  Somewhere in the summer I ran low on enthusiasm for remote games, and the lack of a space to leave a solo game set up for a week or two has made it more challenging to use solo gaming to make up for the lack of conventions.  Nevertheless, I did play a couple of games generated by the Portable Fantasy Campaign this year, most recently an encounter between the humans and the orcs, and will be keeping that going.  To encourage solo gaming in general, I joined the Solo Wargamer’s Assocation early on in the lockdown, and have been gradually reading through back issues of The Lone Warrior to try to collect some inspiration.

Another PFC game, played remotely with Chris Palmer
Back in April, I went through my projects list and noted that I had 16 projects that were available to play at home (i.e. had at least two forces and scenery), of which 7 had not been on the table in over two years.  We were able to address one of those project with some remote 2nd Punic War DBA,  and one project was 

thanked for its service and sent on its way (28mm colonials).  So I will be entering 2021 with 5 projects which haven’t seen service in over two years, three of which are 6mm portable projects, and one of which (French Revolution) is being worked on, however slowly. (The 5th is the 40mm French and Indian War project; I’d like to try that with A Gentleman’s War sometime soon.)

Going forward into 2021, I have hope that we will see conventions again by the fall.  I still want to do more with solo games while waiting for the world to open up again, especially games that advance the solo campaign.  I am also looking through material I started preparing recently (ok, 2013 still feels somewhat recent) for an NQSYW campaign.  I’m sure there will be more on that as it develops.

2021 holds three significant anniversaries; I will be 60 in March, and my introduction to Dungeons and Dragons will also be a multiple-of-five at the same time, since it will be 45 years since I was given the game for my 15th birthday.  Even more significantly from a miniatures point of view, though, at some unremembered date in early 1971 I was introduced to the idea of rules for toy soldiers when a friend lent me a copy of Terrence Wise’s Introduction to Battle Gaming.  Since I don’t have a specific date, the whole year will be a celebration of 50 years in the hobby.  I think that it would be fun to put a small game on the table using these original rules, however odd they might seem to be by modern standards.  Perhaps an updated version of the 2nd Punic War as demonstrated in the ancients section would be the most appropriate. It would only be updated in the limited sense of needing a tweak or two to use the multiple-based figures I already have, and, of course, being fought with HaT figures instead of Airfix Romans facing Carthaginians improvised from Robin Hood figures.




  1. Doesn't sound like such a bad year, if not the one that was planned.

    For new, stand alone projects the DBA/Morchauser route is probably a good way to go. You could do OHW mid/late 19thC scenarios with Morschauser style units (1 stand) with a total for both armies combined of 8 cavalry, 4 guns and crews, 8 skirmishers and 30 infantry (assuming 3 per base, 40 if 4 per base. Less than 50 figures, hardly make a dent :)

    Here's to 2021, may it be a good year for all of your family.

    1. It was a better hobby year than some years. I’ve been intending to try a couple of the period variations on OHW, just for fun. The Spanish Civil War, for example, is my longest-idle project, and could be used for a compact OHW game using the 1900-1939 rules.

  2. Ah, the Punic wars, maybe the first Ancient battles that I've played with 1/72 figures. Lots of good memories :)

    1. My early years with 1/72 figures have certainly continued to influence my gaming, a bug which I have also passed on to my sons. :D