I have been fully vaccinated since mid-May, and the two and a half months since then have been pretty good for gaming. HAWKs meetings have started up, my son has been up for a visit with his DBA armies, the monthly skirmish campaign has arrived, and I’ve gotten in a couple of solo and remote games as a bonus, a total of 12 games in 10 weeks. A HAWKs sub-group also started a D&D 5th edition game this weekend, and therein hangs a tale.
5th edition allows the players fairly complete control over character creation, so the gamemaster asked what I was thinking about playing. I said I thought that I’d like to try a bard, and, knowing the group likes to use miniatures, I thought about painting something new. Despite the arrival this week of my Bones 5 Kickstarter package (originally ordered back in the fall of 2019), I didn’t have a figure from Reaper that I particularly liked. As one of my son’s said, I was basically looking for a male in doublet and hose with a lute. So I thought I’d have a look at Stonehaven Miniatures, a company whose miniatures I have backed on Kickstarter in large numbers, but of which few have been painted. I found just what I was looking for
, and, better yet, found that I had backed that Kickstarter and threrefore had it around the house somewhere.
However, ransacking the basement did not produce the box of “Stonehaven 2020 Adventurers”. Considering that it might take an arbitrary amount of time to find a single miniature in the hoard, I ordered a spare. Naturally, the box appeared on the next delve into the basement. 😳. When you reach the point where you are ordering spares of things you know you have rather than search for them, you’ve probably gone too far…
All of the gaming has cut into painting and preparation time, so that has had me considering the question of whether it would be better to decouple painting and playing…that is, play with what’s already done, and paint what I feel like painting without worrying too much about when it might be on the table.
That line of thought suggests that I have four “favorite” projects. These are the 40mm home cast Not Quite Seven Years War
, which I mused about recently, the 40mm home cast 16th century project, most recently played last September
Most recent 40mm Rough Wooing game; time to get these guys out again
small/true/vintage 25mm fantasy, which contains the majority of my oldest surviving miniatures,
These lizard riders have been in my armies since ~1977
and the 1/72 scale project
. Whether this is one project or several is open to debate. As far back as ten years ago, my son proposed that we deploy all the existing or planned 1/72 forces on a single map
, along the lines of Tony Bath’s classic Hyborian campaign. With all of the work he has been doing on the Bronze Age
lately, he produced a draft of what he’s called “Myboria, the Second Age”, with the medieval, classical, and chariot armies generally divided up geographically. Elements of the original map remain, but there have been some shifts in what miniatures we are considering likely to appear.
Myboria, the Second Age
I am currently splitting my very limited painting attention between two different sub-projects in 1/72. I am trying to fill out the other two Northalnds armies (elves and orcs), as well as add a historical Nubian DBA army for the ongoing Bronze Age expansion.
My Northlands map was an adaptation of northwestern Myboria
So, why 1/72 scale plastics?
There is a nostalgia element. I actually have a few of my own original pre-1976 Airfix Robin Hood figures in among the single-based fantasy figures. When I started wargaming with historical seriously again in the mid-1980s, I was finding the newer 1/72s (ESCI, Italeri, etc.) in the hobby shops. This constantly tempted me to have a side project in 1/72.
Vintage Robin Hood figures from Barrage 2019 flea market
However, as I see it, there are two more objective reasons why one might take up 1/72 as a gaming scale. The first is the transportability. The light weight of the figures, even when based (as I do) on wooden bases, makes them easy to carry to conventions. The second is cost. Even with increases in the prices recently, the average box is still about $15, and you can usually put on some sort of reasonable game with 2-3 boxes per side. Less objectively, I also like the fact that most of the figures are cast in one piece (occasionally two) so I don’t have to try to assemble them, that their proportions are generally less exaggerated than the typical run of wargaming-specific figures, and that, for me, they represent the lower limit of what I can comfortably paint well enough for my taste, so are at a good spot for the combination of taking less storage space and being fun to paint.
The Portable Fantasy Game headed to Gencon in the Before Times
There are a few downsides. Because they are sold to a mass market, there is a tendency for the producers to stick to the tried-and-true topics, World War II, American Civil War, Wars of Napoleon, Romans and enemies, and the Hundred Years War, for example, although those topics have covered in some remarkable depth. (Anyone need some WWII German bicycle troops?) However, I guess that most of us are probably interested in at least one of the “common” periods, and if you have a yearning to refight King Phillip’s War, you may have difficulties even in metal. The Plastic Soldier Review
, in case you might not be familiar with it, has an extremely thorough coverage of historical (but generall not fantasy) sets that are, or have been, available. That is another downside; sets come into production and then disappear again quite quickly sometimes, and the recent disruptions to global commerce have not helped. I have been trained, therefore, to buy promptly when there is something that fits into an existing project, but also not to start a new project unless you can buy everything you need to start all at once.
The wide array of sets that have been released does give me a nice microcosm effect for fantasy. I’ve got wagons, civilians, and farm animals, so I can set a scene in a variety of contexts, which is handy when you might be supporting a role playing game as well as a battle game.
Fantasy civilians gather for the market day
So, there you have it, why this works out to be one of my favorites…now back to some playing or painting!