Wednesday, December 28, 2022

Reflections on 2022

 My brother and I had a chance to play a couple of games during our family Christmas visit.  We had agreed that the game this year would be Dragon Rampant, and that the theme would be “No Ral Partha”.  I certainly have nothing against Ral Partha, but we have been playing a lot of Ral Partha Chaos Wars in a demo game context, and we usually feel obliged to stick to Ral Partha figures when we do. We thought it would be nice to allow some of the other figures a chance to shine on the table.

My 1977 Minifig NS spearmen fend off my brother’s Archive wolfriders

1974 vintage Minfig ME Gondorian spearmen face some Adina hobgoblins

As you can see, we were restricted to a small space

We had intended to set up on a larger table at the local games store, but they have not yet re-opened their gaming tables post pandemic, so we made do with a space of about 4’ by 3’ at our parents’ house.  It was good to see all the very vintage figures on the table.  We had each brought two warbands, and, apparently inspired by the same thought, each had a warband of orcs and a warband of humans.  It was a bad day for orcs all around; my humans defeated his orcs, and my orcs were defeated by his humans.

While there are a few days left in the year, and while I do have a Five Leagues from the Borderlands solo skirmish game pending, it is likely that this will have been the final game for the year. (In my counting, I generally count multiple sessions of a single rules set played back to back as a single log entry.) If so, it was number 40 for the year. While short of the 52 games that are my notional goal each year, it is still a respectable total, and one that I am pretty happy with. Similarly, I might get another miniature or two painted, but if I don’t, I finished about 173 figures of 1/72 scale or larger this year, plus a handful of 6mm ancients which can’t be counted in the same way as larger figures.  It’s a few more than I completed in 2021, but it is a number which should prompt me to a bit of caution when it comes to taking on new projects.  

There was a thread on the Lead Adventure Forum recently, and someone was musing about whether the new projects that we are all prone to take on would ever see the table, and, if so, how many times.  I realized that I had some actual data on that.  Being a very Old School gamer, my logs are hand written, and contained in a series of notebooks.  I dug them all out, and was interested to note that I have been doing this for longer that I remembered, with the first year logged being 1999.  So I have 24 years of data (less the balance of December after the 5th when I did the counting) covering 805 games.  With an average of 33+ games per year, this year’s 40 is solidly above average.

Attempting to answer the question of which of my collections of figures had been on the table more frequently, I might be off by a few games here or there.  The results were tallied by hand, and the data was spread across about 15 different notebooks.  Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether a 25mm fantasy game played in 2003, say, had any of my own figures in it.  These counts are divided by the miniatures, and most of them represent the same collection being used with multiple sets of rules.

As you can see, the 25mm fantasy collection takes the top prize with about 96 appearances on the table, followed by the Not Quite Seven Years War collection with 74 appearances.  By the time you get down to a tie for 6th place by 25mm Dark Ages and 40mm Renaissance at about 21 games each, one might note that those projects have been on the table less than once a year on the average, and with a frequency less than a quarter of that of first place. I should note that both of those projects have been in a playable state since before 1999, when the records start.  Two of the most frequently played projects, 1/72 scale fantasy/medieval/ancients and 54mm medieval, are younger than the records, both having been started around 2003.  I was also interested to note that the French and Indian War project is still solidly in 4th place, despite not having been on the table since 2016.  There were a lot of F&IW games early on in the records.

When you put all those numbers together, I think that I am coming to the conclusion that it would make sense to try to concentrate on doing more with the top projects.  I would like to work on one side project which isn’t yet playable, with the main candidates being 54mm medieval/fantasy flats and 40mm 19th century/Franco-Prussian War from Schneider and other vintage German molds.  This is where this year’s painting numbers are a caution flag; even a simple One Hour Wargames pair of armies would amount to 10 units of 2 stands each per side (well, not the artillery), with 4-6 figures per unit, or something like 88 foot, 16 horse, and 4 guns with crew total, which would represent somewhat more than two thirds of the total I painted last year.  That’s not unthinkable, but would be a major commitment.  I suppose it’s time to paint a few of them and see what I really think about working with them.

Monday, December 5, 2022

Home Cast 40mm Renaissance Revival and Other Random Events

 A lot has been going on since I last blogged, both in life and in hobby activities.

My younger son has returned to this part of the world, so, with both sons relatively nearby, we are looking forward to some family wargmaing time.  However, moving just before the holidays has meant that everyone has a lot of activity already scheduled.  We did manage to get a good game in on the margins of the Thanksgiving feasting last week:

We played the Battle of Montebello scenario from Neil Thomas’s Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe. There’s a full report on elder son Norman’s blog.

I managed to get my limited French Revolution collection on the table for a solo game recently.  

This was in service of a playtest of some new horse and musket large skirmish rules currently in development, so I won’t comment on that part of it, but it was good to see these figures on the table.  While Norman ran a game with them at an HMGS convention in the mid-teens, I personally haven’t had them on the table since 2009.  Until November, they had been my second longest unplayed project, topped only by my neglected little 6mm Spanish Civil War collection, which was last on the table in 2005.  I plan to bring out the French and Indian War figures (last played in 2016 when Ross came down for Fall In) for the next playtest, but with the holidays, that might be a few weeks yet.

A few weeks ago I visited Days of Knights, my friendly local game store, and was surprised to find that the latest release in Osprey’s series of role playing games was a “clockpunk” Italian Renaissance game, set in a 1510 that included advanced Leonardo da Vinci technology.

Now, as it happens, I have a 40mm 16th century toy soldier project already in hand, and I am currently the possessor of some Leonardo-type machines built by my friend Chris Palmer back in the late 1990s. I dug them out to take a look, and found them all to still be in good shape:

We used these for a year or so and then got distracted (as is so often the case).  Chris dug out some print pictures of them in action back around 1998.  Here’s a sample:

So I have spent much of my reading time these last few weeks gathering inspiration to jump back into the period, with a historical book on the early Italian Wars, and a historical novel (Prince of Foxes) on Cesare Borgia.  In podcasts, I’ve been listening to quite a bit of the Yarkshire Gamer’s Reet Big Wargames Podcast lately, and Ken Reilly, the eponymous Gamer, has been displaying his Italian Wars project lately, for additional inspiration.  So, we’ll see what becomes of that.  I am always glad when the Muses grant some inspiration relating to something already in my collection at a playable level.

I have been trying out the “slapchop” painting technique on some old Hinchliffe Byzantines.  That deserves a separate report later…

Sorry about the picture quality there…

I tried out Nordic Weasel Games fantasy solo skirmish campaign system, Five Leagues from the Borderlands, a topic which also deserves its own post.  Just for fun, I am playing it using my collection of 1/72 fantasy/medieval figures.

And, last for today, I sent Ross Macfarlane the one good copy of a semi-flat lady riding sidesaddle recently.  This is from a mold by the Adolf Hoehmann company, which apparently operated up into the 1990s and produced a series of molds, both copied from Schneiders and originals.  Information on them was found in the book on German molds I obtained in the summer.
Here’s the catalog page, as provided in the electronic add-ons to the book.  The lady is part of a series of molds making a convey and escorts, and is really intended to be 16th century, although her dress looks generic enough to me to pass for other time periods.  It is unfortunate that these molds are very scarce; the lady was the only one from this series in an estate being broken up on eBay this year.

So, that’s the news from here; lots happening, for a pleasant change!