Sunday, 26 October 2014

A Wargaming Review Of 2014

A look back at my Year of Wargaming from October to September 2013-14, and as it opened I was in the process of changing jobs.  Having finished my contract with Wrexham Museum I took what I expected to be a temporary Christmas position working early mornings at Asda in Wrexham.  Nearly 12 months on and I’m still getting up at 5am to be in work by 6am at least three times a week – I must be mad.  I also added a fixed term contract tidying up Chirk Castle’s gift shops with the National Trust so I’ve managed to earn a reasonable bit of cash, but unsurprisingly it went the same way as the rest to keep the family ticking over and wargaming funds have been very thin on the ground! 

In addition to lack of funds to buy more toys my work schedule initially provided me with difficulty getting any wargaming in.  I found I lacked the energy to attend and play on Thursday evenings, with my very early Friday mornings at Asda following, as well as failing to find much time or energy for painting.  However, after a month or so it settled down and I’ve been able to go to most Thursday evenings and paint a fair amount still.  I’ve managed to paint a fair bit, although less than last year, and get in a variety of games throughout as well as playing in, and running, several tournaments.

 Painting & Modelling

In 2013 I spent most of my time painting one specific scale/army, which was my 28mm scale Royalists with the aim of getting them battle ready for the big English Civil War ‘Relief of Hawarden’ Gauntlet game.  This year I was only on the periphery in terms of number of models supplied for the Napoleonic Gauntlet game, and with less of a demand I painted far fewer models.  I did, however, paint more of a variety of pieces as various games systems lured me one way and then another.  A list would seem to be the best way to explain:

  • 28mm Napoleonics - The gauntlet game saw me paint two battalions of 28mm Frenchies (it was to be 3 battalions, but I ran out of time) which I was destined not to use, but I have been able to put them on the table once since.  The 3rd battalion had already been basically painted by Pete and now resides in a box with the rest to be updated the same as the other 2.  I found Napoleonic figures, after my 28mm Saga, Roman and ECW armies, to be quite time consuming which was probably why I didn’t make my 3 battalion quota.  While the period really interests me I ran out of enthusiasm fairly swiftly due to the detail required on each model and the fact that I needed 40 models per battalion.
  • Saga - I got some use out of my Saga this year; it’s a very nice pickup game which requires few models, little setup and pack down, and plays quickly.  I decided their bases were too bland (the initial rocks and flowers combination was something I had never been 100% happy with), and I returned to them to re-flock the bases with a heavy coat of light green which was a significant improvement.  I’ve still got a box of unmade un-armoured Gripping Beast Dark Age warriors to add to these, and I regularly wonder about turning them into a force big enough to enter the Hail Caesar arena, perhaps facing Michael’s developing Normans.
  • 28mm WW2 - As Bolt Action called I managed to paint a squad of 28mm Germans, but stalled before I reached squad two.  I made up a full list of what I wanted to buy to develop this into a decent sized force but was unable to find the funds for the purchases needed and I’ve yet to be fully grabbed by the game although it has a regular following at the Deeside Defenders.
  • Flames of War British – Having bought the Open Fire boxed set last September I finally made and undercoated the 8 Shermans from it, and made the US para platoon, but only moved onto fully painting one Sherman.  I have purchased enough Shermans to finish the armour part of my list from Plastic Soldier Company (a box of 5 to take me to 13 Shermans), and bought the decals from a company called Dom’s Decal’s to make them look the part as a unit during the battles for Normandy.  I’ve also invested in the paints needed to finish them so when I decide to splash out on the supporting British infantry, and perhaps Stuart light tanks, I can get stuck into that.  It would be nice to have an alternative force to the Germans in FOW, even if its just to get away from being on ‘Tiger Phil’s’ side.
  • Flames of War Germans – With Gauntlet past and looking for something else to do after painting Frenchies for several months I had a sudden revolution in painting speed and, spurred on by the carrot of an upcoming game, painted all of my Panthers, my Konigstiger, my armoured cars, my light AA support, and 4 halftracks!  Very pleased with the results too, worthy of a post in itself in the future.  All the models I painted I have had for several years and it was really nice to finally finish them.
  • American Civil War - In 6mm, and plenty of models finished with my Union army reaching a large enough size to play a few games against/alongside Andy and Luke’s Confederate troops.  The quickness of painting Union troops at that scale was somewhat diluted by the slowness of basing them afterwards, but I have achieved that rarest of things: I’ve run out of models to paint!  Apart from a bunch of limbers I’ll need to buy a few more infantry packs to get going again, although that trail has gone quiet at the moment.
  • Wars Of The Roses – Finally painted some of it my 28mm Perry’s plastics, and they didn’t turn out too badly.  37 models later and I’m now the owner of 2 units of bowmen and 1 of billmen, and while their first game was a defeat they didn’t disgrace themselves.  I’ve also made and undercoated the horsemen for the 2 units of mounted men-at-arms, and left the other box of infantry unmade for the moment.  I tried to go for a lighter colour for my WOTR troops in the hope of making them stand out, or perhaps blend in, alongside Aidan’s nicely painted forces for that period.  Although the Dip I used did dull the colours a bit I feel I succeeded to a certain degree.
  • Odd Ball – Having dug out the Wild West 25mm figures for the bio-titan to play with I was enthused enough to paint a couple, and they were joined by a 54mm LGB railway porter and trolley which I had promised my dad I would paint for his garden railway rather too long ago.  I also flocked my GW hills because they no longer fitted the battle field covering.
  • Air brushing – For my birthday in 2014 my parents did something no relative has done for many years and purchased me a wargaming-related present; a basic gravity-fed air brush, and most pleased with it I was too.  I’ve trialled it with a few models, but have yet to get the result, particularly in German WW2 camo, that I was really after.  However its getting a fair bit of use in October this year so results to appear soon I hope.  It has proved useful in undercoating a few figures when the spray isn’t available due to poor outside weather, but it does leave rather a smell still, and enough of one for SWMBO to complain!

Painted Vs Purchased Results

A lack of cash meant that I purchased very few models this year, and sold a few old ones to fund new purchases at Triples.  This has meant I managed a good Painted/Purchased ratio as I started to paint things I’ve had for years!

Purchased – 32
Painted – 167

Wargaming Shows

A less active year for wargaming shows compared with 2013 as out of three I had hoped to go too (Vapnartek in York, Triples in Sheffield and Gauntlet in Broughton) I managed only the one; Triples.  York in February saw me mostly penniless and I decided to wait until May and the annual trip to Sheffield instead, where my reasonable fortune on eBay on the day enabled me to spend a bit of cash, with the majority going on modelling supplies rather than models, with only 7(!) models purchased.  It was an excellent trip with 4 very good friends as Michael reappraised his driving role, and his large Ford Mondeo enabled us to fit Luke, Red and Aidan in the back, which looked much more of a squash than they admitted either during or afterwards! 

Gauntlet was, for me, an anticlimax because I didn’t get to go.  I was organised to take part in Aidan’s beautiful 28mm Napoleonic game, and I had even painted 2 battalions of French specially and booked the day off at Asda.  However a couple of days beforehand I had to pull out, leaving my models and scenery for use by those lucky enough to go, because SWMBO was feeling quite unwell and needed my help guarding the bio-titan. 

Gaming & Campaigns

Despite my best intentions being to focus on just a few periods rather than last years spattering of many games/periods/scales I ended up doing something similar.  Apart from dabbling in the odd Napoleonic fixture, wandering around the 15th century with Aidans Wars of the Roses, and the 6mm American Civil War spluttering into life a couple of times I’ve mainly played the below:
  • Flames of War – I ran a 4 month (4 game) Western front late war ‘campaign’ between November and March which was really more of a tournament system and ended with the Allies winning.  Martin picked up the top award for the Allies and the tournament, and Dennis finished top Jerry.  Phil was the instigator of this by drumming up support for a FOW tournament in the first place which I then ran, and following the end of this he decided to run his own (mostly identical) tournament but in mid-war Africa.  It is still running and I’m waiting for it to finish so I can launch my own creation; a battle for Berlin!  This has meant my Flames of War Germans have been out a fair few times this year in various guises, and using some mid-war models I hadn’t used properly for years.
  • Bloodbowl – Dumped out at the Semi-final stage in late 2013 by Paddy and his invincible Chaos Dwarfs.  I expect I should feel good that he respected my ‘talent’ not to give me any chance and I only saw the ball once in a 2-1 defeat.  Didn’t enter the 2014 tournament, too depressed!
  • Dreadball – The Carbis Bay Buccaneers (Corporation and the only team I have!) have had a handful of outings, defeating Paddy a couple of times, embarrassing Laurent thoroughly, and teaching James the finer points of the game.  The one day special returned, and despite my hopes of going one better than my 2nd place in the 2013 tournament I could only manage 3rd due to a heavy defeat against Adrian’s Nameless.  Late 2014 sees the start of a full tournament run by Pete, first game to be against my old adversary Mark and his Veermyn.
  • Saga – The Welsh have been active, in particular managing a couple of introductory games, and an excellent evening of multi player action at Michaels before Christmas.   I even set up and ran an evening-long tournament in Broughton which 8 players took part in, and which Michael won by virtue of having more whiskers on his face!  Good fun.
  • English Civil War – A few games, including one big battle which I missed half of, definitely needs more use!

This has all turned into a ramble, and I need to do something more productive with my time, such as read up on Thursdays Dreadball rules and fixture!  Heres some photos.  Cheery-bye.

First air brush experiments.

28mm Germans and Frenchies.

First air brush panzers - not my finest work,

My Saga Welsh getting extra grass.

Battle of Oulstree - 6mm ACW.

My Union troops advancing.

FOW Panthers.

Carbis Bay Buccaneers @ the Dreadball tournament.

Big ECW bash. 
Wars of the Roses Troops.

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