Monday, January 24, 2022

Some thoughts on the hobby for 2022

 2021 was a bit of a slow year for gaming.  I am hoping to have a bit more fun in 2022, and have been thinking about what that might look like.

I have been trying to separate my desire for painting from any particular “get a game ready” goals, figuring that everything that gets painted will be used sooner or later, and there are enough periods and projects that are already “table-ready” to keep me pleasantly occupied painting.  That said, it would be nice to finish up the Bronze Age Nubian DBA army I started over the summer:

I would also like to add a few units (mostly specialized troop types) to the Not Quite Seven Years War. The last unit I added was an artillery piece and crew back in 2018 (or 2019 …).

  I started a group of six Prince August figures which are intended to be a light infantry detachment (for the reduced scale rules we have been using lately), but I’m still a painting session or two from finishing them.

I also have various 1/72 plastics ready to hand to fill roles in the Portable (solo) Fantasy Campaign, and a selection of vintage 25mm fantasy figures.  So whatever gets done will be good.  I had a nice string of “one figure per day on average” months, but it does look like January is going to be a break in that chain.

I did no casting in 2021, although I bought a fair number of used molds.  I would like to start casting again, when the weather is warm enough to work outside, and figure out which of the vintage Schneider molds will cast reliably.

That will allow me to decide whether I will be doing a mostly historical toy-style Franco-Prussian War project, a 19th century imagi-nations project, or neither.  I hope that this effort will resemble my 2020 project to cast from all of my old Prince August fantasy molds.  

As far as gaming goes, I have accumulated a stack of new rules that I would like to try.

I’ve also got a few older favorites (e.g. Knights and Magick) which I would like to dust off and get on the table.

I also have the ongoing solo fantasy campaign to play with, and am considering what it would take to put together a workable campaign on some sort. I suspect that the KISS principle needs to be kept firmly in mind…

I’m currently in a Dungeons and Dragons (5th edition) game, which has been running approximately biweekly.  I have posted a few things about my interest in reviving my original D&D campaign, so it seems likely that there will more RPGs this year.  

The elephant in the room, though, is downsizing.  I’ve accumulated more than I can reasonably expect to use, as each shiny new thing flashes in front of me and captivates me briefly.  Norm, over on his Battlefields and Warriors blog, has described his downsizing, and I need to take a serious look this year at what I can get done, and get some of the excess moved on to people who might be able to make use of it.  

Sunday, January 16, 2022

The Battle of Newkeep

There was a brief discussion this past week over on the Reaper Forums about solo games.  This reminded me that I had left a battle pending in the Northlands campaign.  Since the last Northlands related game I played was a skirmish game back in June, that probably means that it has been pending since some time in July or August.

So, I decided to set it up.  I had been avoiding it because it looked like a blow-out; one kingdom’s army had advanced into another’s territory, and, due to bad intelligence (as provided by occasional die rolls to assist in decision making along the way), was attempting to attack without realizing that they were outnumbered about 2:3.  But, having been reminded, I thought that I would like to resolve it, so as to clear the way for something more interesting down the line.  


I decided to roll at random for one of the 30 scenarios in Neil Thomas’s One Hour Wargames book, and got scenario 7, “Flank Attack”.  Not only that, but the dice decreed that the larger force was the ambusher.  I thought, “well, that’ll be that”, but then noticed one little peculiarity in the line up.  The smaller force (the King of Darmis and his army) had a Magician unit, and the larger force (the King of Verdance and his army) was led by a Hero (i.e. the King, in this case).  This being a full scale battle, the rules to be used were Hordes of the Things, and a Hero is particularly vulnerable to a Magician.  Hmmm…could be more balanced than it initially appeared, I thought.  I rolled a die to see whether the Verdancers were aware of the presence of the Magician, and they were not, so I set the King up to be boldly leading the flanking force.

The Darmish army is on the two hills at the bottom of the picture, facing down the road, and the Verdancers are on the hills by the tower and the edge by the woods, prepared to roll the Darmish up from the left flank.  To make this short, the battle lasted two turns (so two moves by each side).  The attackers rolled up the hill immediately destroying the unit on the left end, and pushing back the remainder.  This brought the King (Hero) within range of the the Magician (Cassara, the Blue Sorceress), and her side got enough activation points each of the two turns to move 1 unit and make one magical attack.  The second try succeeded, and, having lost 4 army points (in the form of the Hero/General) to 2 army points (one stand of bows), this amounted to “more and the commander” and the battle was over. Had the Verdance attack killed a second foot soldier unit on their second turn, it would have been 4 and 4 (i.e. not “more”) and the loss of the general would have been serious but not immediately fatal.  


This made a good solo game; if someone else had come over to play this, I would have felt bad about giving them either side, knowing from experience that it was going to be a pretty random thing as to whether the magic attack would succeed.

Since the actual game only took a few minutes, I decided that I would write it up in proper style.  Now it’s back to the map and notebook play, to finish out the campaign year’s record keeping, and figure out the next map moves.  With the capture of the King of Verdance, I suddenly have a need to know more about his family and possible factions within the kingdom.  

I also note that the campaign year included only two pitched battles, with the other one being the Battle of the Crossroads, which was fought all the way back in May 2019.  Both of these battles were ended when Cassara the Blue Sorceress took out the opposing general.  Perhaps the Blue Order will be looking for some increase in its standing within the Kingdom of Darmis as well?  I have considered the question of whether I might use this campaign map for a roleplaying game as well as a wargames campaign, and it is starting to look like adventure hooks just write themselves …

I am hoping that the second campaign year will move along a little more quickly than the first.  

Friday, January 7, 2022

Last Stand of 2021

As I mentioned before, I took a couple of hobby projects with me at Christmas, but ended up working on the maps rather than painting any miniatures.  December had already been a good month for miniatures, in the grand scheme of things.  However, after recovering from the trip, I wanted to get something done before the end of the year.  My desk was clean, so I decided I would use the travel paint kit to keep my choices down to a reasonable level, and inspire some creativity by accepting limitations.  I had one Strelets (006, Henry V’s Army) axeman in my travel miniatures box with a few colors on him, so I started off on the morning of the 31st by finishing him up.  After painting the last sorceress, I did a bit of quick ear surgery to turn a Caesar elf into a human, and that figure was also primed and ready to go, so finished up quickly.  

Hordes of the Things (and Dragon Rampant) are both very open-ended about what a stand might consist of.  I’ve done a couple of stands with two foot figures on them, and they look just a little thin to my eye, so I decided I would go for a third figure.  The archer is also from the Strelets set 006.  I had to stick him to a painting handle, prime him, let the primer dry, then paint.  In between I took a nap and played some online board games.  Before supper, all three figures got a layer of brush on varnish.  I pushed the basing a bit, handling things while still wet where I would ordinarily let things dry between steps.  

Nevertheless, what with staying up late to welcome the New Year and all, I was able to allow enough time for everything to dry and to put on the final spray varnish coat before I went to bed.  So, it went into my painting log as a 2021 accomplishment. So, there you have it, another Hordes Magician stand, bringing me to a total of 164 things (figures, buildings, and other scenery pieces) finished for the year.  This is the fourth year in a row with between 150 and 200 figures painted.  What that says about future projects is for another day…