Thursday 5 September 2013

A Master Plan

The first week in September always signifies a fresh start, a new term perhaps. We’re almost hard-wired, probably because so many fresh terms began at this time of year.
Yes, whether it was a new school, university, or when I joined the forces, it all happened around this time.

And in all cases, it began with...
...a plan, a timetable, regime, schedule.

Which is what happened when I started to scope out this project. I needed a plan, an overall orbat of how many figures were required, how many masters to go into the moulds, how many spins of those moulds to optimise the numbers and avoid waste/ left-overs, and a plan of how to get them painted.
Don’t want this to sound like a management project, but... we do need a plan, don’t we.

A man outstanding in his field? (or out-sitting in it).
No that's not me, it's a generic stock photo...

Now, if such “seriousness” seems at odds with a hobby, think of it as a plan of campaign… a military plan. An outline strategy.
And let’s hope it survives first contact with the paint brush!

So, wargames notebook in hand…
When I first started considering this project, as I was on my business travels a lot during that period, in airport lounges, and on trains and planes, and in hotels up and down the land, I carried my notebook and scribbled my thoughts…

Gradually, a plan emerged…
...then got ditched, was re-written, ditched again, and re-written. The notes and dreams bounced between the dipsy-fanciful and the highly-practical. And like a swinging pendulum, gradually settled.

Now, it would be foolhardy to recreate these notes here, as most of it is purely personal, subjective rambling about what I want this project to look like, and would make dreadful reading.

Suffice to say, I have a plan - with clear objectives and groundrules  and a timetable/ schedule- and heartily recommend it before committing to your projects.

Mine includes a set of criteria, and acceptable fudges and compromises (decisions I’ve willingly made); a clear idea of the “finished spectacle” (something to aim at including an ideal ultimate order of battle; a stage-by-stage building process, creating balanced forces for both sides at  each stage; a painting schedule; a casting plan (moulds, number of spins required, etc).

Yes, I know it sounds almost too serious, and some would say “get a life, it’s only a hobby”. But often those same people end up with a whole load of unfinished projects and growing levels of frustration.

For me, creating a robust plan of campaign is very much part of the enjoyment, so it’s the way I do it, and at least I’m happy!

The other point of course is that when so much time and money is being invested in figures, painting, flags, terrain and so on, I think it’s worth having at least an outline plan to work to.

Oh, and just so you know, the Schedule looks like around 6 years’ worth of painting! That’s ok then!

Over the coming posts I’ll share with you some chunks of the plan.

Meanwhile, since you have read so attentively to this point, here’s a couple of pictures to be going on with:


Nassau Saarbruchen Volunteer Hussars… a single squadron.
These are John Ray figures (with the exception of the officer which is a Suren), on horses from various sources… mainly connoisseur.
Painted by David Jarvis.
Flag is my own invention.

I wanted this unit to represent the early incarnation of what would become the Royal Nassau Hussars in French service. So there are some liberties and best-guesses on some aspects of the uniform, but I’m happy. And delighted with David’s painting.

Thanks for visiting and reading.
Next time I'll tell you why I'm already flagging with the project!!!


  1. Nice to see a man with a plan, I am still to decide what I want to do with my life :) as I only turn 40 this year I think I have a few more years to get it right.
    I think a detail plan for a project like this is a must. I find I make outline plans for my projects but non have been as big as yours so I get away with it. Plus I am like a dog with a bone once I start a project.
    Peace James

  2. Oh just love to see this kind of thing in action - gotta have a plan! I'm so glad you get time to write the posts about the stuff I think about too! very sad to hear you're flagging though...
    Best wishes, JJ

  3. A few years ago before I launched into Colonials again, I said to myself, "Self! The project must be gameable in 24 months give or take a couple of months. Otherwise forget it." I got Gen. Pettygree going in about 26 months and naturally have added on afterwards. A simple plan lest I have an unfinished project like the ones you mention Phil. Way to go!
    Cheers and companionable pats on the back for you.

  4. One of my favorite quotes (passed on to me by a yacht racer) is . . .

    "A plan gives you something to deviate from."

    Just like on the battlefield as circumstances change . . . but you have to have a plan first or you are just reacting without any control.

    -- Jeff

  5. Sounds like you've been thinking about some sort of plan Phil ;O)

    Great to see some of Mr Jaris' work. i must pop over to the durham club and catch up with everyone. i think I told you at Partizan that haven't been there in over a year!


  6. I agree with you Phil, you need a plan. Just finalising my own plans for my 20mm Napoleonic (Gilder style)collection. Love the cavalry, excellent sculpts, painting, flag and basing.

    Large projects always run risks, certainly in a hobby like ours. I hope you get things back on track, your project is not only interesting but also quality.


  7. Thanks guys.
    Plans are essential... as long as they are not used as an excuse to avoid taking action!
    Glad a few other people take their wargaming "seriously enough" to have a plan.