Thursday 31 December 2015

2015 Review

So, 2015 draws to a close:
overall mark for me on the wargaming front: Could do Better!
Mitigation: 2 house moves in 14 months, a very active and productive business period, and the growth of some other hobbies.

Wargaming-wise, here's what I'm currently working on:

1. Astrovians for 18th Century Pils-Holstein project:
I've completed the Deuchmeister Regt (IR4). Once all the Astrovian units are done they'll have their bases finished, and hopefully Mark Allen will have completed all the flags, ready for ceremonial presentation!.

2. The Ghabazaar Imperative: Colonial Project
I've assembled, undercoated and blocked in a box of Perry plastic Ansar. These are two units for TSATF rules.

Above and below: a unit of Hadendowah Fuzzy Wuzzies.

Above and Below: a unit of Sudanese tribesmen.

Next step is to dip them, anti-shine varnish them, and then do some minor finishing touches and base.

3. Thirty Years War
This Swedish Yellow Regt was painted by David Jarvis for me a few years ago. The figures are all Brian Rigelsford conversions. This year I based them, and am now working on the flags.
The awful photos (don't know what's wrong with me today!) do not do David's painting justice.

Parting Thoughts.
Amongst the year's highlights, I've got back some painting and hobby focus with the development of my new Colonial project, and the Pils-Holstein 18 Century project is moving along too.
Gaming-wise, it's been a poor year, but the highlight was the AMG forum game, organised by Graham Cummings, at Partizan.

And finally...
If any of you saw the excellent recent TV series The Detectorists (in fact there are two series, both now out on DVD), you will have enjoyed, I'm sure, the depiction of Lance (played by Toby Jones) and Andy (played by MeKenzie Crook) and their thoughts on what it is to be a male with hobbies. In fact, substitute "wargaming" for "Metal Detecting" and the script sums it up pretty well.
Men have hobbies, and women roll their eyes at them. Men need an escape.

As Harry Pearson observes in his marvellous book, Achtung Schweinehund ...
" 'There is no greater sport than the sport of escape', Major Pat Reid noted enthusiastically in the pamphlet that came with the Escape from Colditz board game. Every once in a while you need to go over the wall. And when Arthur and Tony needed to I had abetted them. And they had done the same for me...
... I thought about Arthur on his trudge into work, swept across London Bridge in the grey tide on a dreary winter's morning, his mind filled with the glossy, brightly coloured deeds of the little men. Every man needs a place to go, Montaigne had said, and, for better or worse, this was mine."

I hope in 2015, sharing my hobby via this blog has abetted you as well as it has me in making momentary sorties into our imaginary world.

Tomorrow, I'll share my plans for 2016.

In the meantime, I wish all readers a Happy New Year.

Thursday 24 December 2015

A Day at The Tower

Progress with the 18th century Austrians is going well, but on Tuesday I took a break as Dianne and I went to London for the day, primarily to visit The Tower of London, and to see the Agincourt diorama by Dave Marshall (of TM Terrain), and The Perries.
And all I can say is, if you get chance, go! It's a fantastic spectacle... wonderfully presented. As I posted on Facebook at the time, "Well done guys."
No pictures as photography is not allowed in that part of the Tower, but...
outside Di took a few snaps as we wandered round the site.

Afterwards, we paid a visit to Foyle's on Charing Cross Rd to treat ourselves to a few books... My haul is here, and the influence of the new project is clear!

And today, my fresh copy of TSATF rules arrived from USA. Just in time for Christmas! Now I know what I'll be reading as I preside over the cooking of tomorrow's turkey, with a glass in hand...

And I'll raise a glass to you, dear readers, whether you have simply popped by, lurked, or added comment over the past year. I wish you a peaceful, wargames-filled Christmas.


Monday 21 December 2015

A White Christmas - Austrians!

Well, it's beginning to look a lot like a White Christmas with Austrians (aka Astrovians) dominating the workbench...

Progress is good so far. All battalions have been blocked in, and a couple have been "dipped", plus IR1 (in foreground) is complete, with just base painting still to do, and flags to be added.

More progress as it happens...

Friday 11 December 2015

All of a Sudan...

Following on from my previous posts, (and thank you all who commented), you will have gathered I have decided what to do as a "side-project" in 2016.

The post title might give some clue! ...a clue as to The Ansar (see what I'm doing here?!)

... and yet it's not just Sudan. In fact, it's not really Sudan at all. But it is Colonial... or at least my take on Colonial.

It's mainly North West Frontier, with a soupcon of Sudan, and a smattering of other adventures set in my own fictional colonial territories - more of which anon. Let's just call it "The Ghabazaar Imperative" for now (Ghabazaar being part of my fictional Colonial world - crikey, Phil, how much  useless baggage and stuff do you carry round in that fat head of yours?!)

These are pictures of my previous attempt at Colonial wargaming, back in 2005 ish.
I never felt I quite pursued it enough, so this time I'm hoping to do better. Stiff upper lip and all that!

Anyway, here we go...
When setting forth on a new project, there's so much to consider, and even when it's just a passing fancy, like this "side-distraction", I do like to have some sort of plan, so that the butterflies are at least "flying in formation!"

So, in no particular order, here are my notes on how I approach new projects, and some of the thinking behind this new adventure...

1. Rationale and project objectives: What are the drivers for doing it? Is it primarily for Gaming? Collecting? Modelling/ Painting? Display Games? Solo gaming? Casual home gaming? Multiplayer games? Club games? A campaign? 

For me, on this occasion, it will be mainly light-hearted solo games in a loose narrative campaign framework.

2. Scope and scale of project: This will be skirmish-sized games, initially with just a couple of dozen figures per side, but with scope to expand. Eventually, I also want to include a few steam contraptions, and other Imperial powers entering the fray - so Russian and French contingents may become involved, and possibly Prussians too.
And perhaps there's a role for the inclusion of a late 19th century Pils-Holstein (but I haven't fully decided that, yet).

3. Scale/size of figures: In this case, I'm going 28mm.

4. Figures (availability and compatibility of ranges). In this case it will be Perry, Copplestone, Artizan. ... By the way, I'm open to suggestions from those "in the know" on all things Colonial!

5. Rules: Commercial, or homespun? Or a mix? In fact, I rarely (if ever) just play "off the shelf" and find I am always adapting/ interpreting rules.

In this case, I did consider Carlo Pagano's excellent Sudan rules, but wanted a more skirmishy feel to this project, so opted for The Sword And The Flame (TSATF).  Long ago, I played a few small games with TSATF, and felt they had the right style about them for colonial games, so I've ordered a new set (my previous copy having been sold off in the great clear out of 2011!). I've also got GASLIGHT on order, and it may be that I'll do a hybrid TSATF with Gaslight elements for the more outlandish "steamy" stuff... We'll see.

6. Basing: Largely determined by the rules and style/ scope of games, this is still an element many wargamers wrestle with, and many interpretations can exist even amongst those gamers using the same rules, at the same club! Basing styles, sizes, and conventions are always a "biggie" for any wargames project. 
For this project, I'm basing singly... with multi-base options (so possibly using sabots or magnetic bases)

7. Reference material: As well as the usual sources for the Colonial period, this time, I will be following the inspiration of the likes of the old Major General website, and Bill Protz's Pettygree character adventures, along with many others. Further inspiration can be found on a number of Colonial bloggers sites... such as Maiwand Day (see links on right).

Interestingly, I've found that the centre of gravity for Colonial gaming seems to be very much in the USA, rather than in UK. This surprised me at first... but perhaps it's the existence of TSATF "over there" and other resources (such as The Virtual Armchair General, the annual Colonial Barracks convention, etc). Or perhaps it's something in the British psyche that is (possibly through some sort of guilt?) reluctant to engage with an Imperialistic past on the tabletop... But let's not over-analyse this.

8. Terrain,: I'm going to keep this as simple as possible, and may scratch-build a lot of it. Whilst it's tempting to aim at modular terrain boards, highly sculpted and beautifully presented, for this project (which is primarily about the fun gaming aspect), I'll be keeping it simple, functional, and practical for gaming purposes. And at first the tables will be small... I'm happy to be starting small and just seeing where it goes.

So, there you have it...
You might think I'm going totally Mahdi, or that it's all a tremendous red-herring, or that frankly I'm taking the pith.
But, it's my own barmy version of NW Frontier wargaming, all the way...
Well, NW Frontier ...with a little bit of Sudan, some Steam contraptions (but not too many!), a smattering of gunboats, and even an aerial element. Plus an imagiNations dimension aswell. Certainly the setting is fictitious (I'm sketching a map of the territory over Xmas). In short, this will owe more to Hollywood (or Olley-wood?) than reality. More to The Man Who Would Be King and The Four Feathers than the actual period history.
And, there's no doubt that the pages of The Ghabazaar Gazette will once again be overflowing with rumours of war, tales of derring-do, and whimsical despatches from the frontline!

But don't expect too much just yet. The 18 Century Austrians will continue to dominate the painting table for a little while ...

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Can you Guess what it is yet?

I've got...
Bought it a couple of weeks ago whilst in London.
And I've ordered...

... because I had sold my old copy a few years back.

And I've added to our family Secret Santa list...

So, I'm sure you can guess what I'm up to... or at least see roughly where this is heading.

Thanks to all those who offered ideas, suggestions, and comments to the previous post. Most welcome!!

I'll post more details of the new project in a few days...

Friday 4 December 2015

Many options...

I've had my notebook out again... And that spells danger...

Actually, in all seriousness, I had become a bit bored and stale in Wargaming terms, and felt that whilst tickling along with my 18th century Pils-Holstein project was all well and good, because I am outsourcing most of the painting, I wasn't really engaged enough with the hobby.
Having had a pretty busy year on other fronts, that didn't matter too much. But I've been missing the escapism and creativity and artistry that the hobby offers.

So I've been dabbling, and painting a few Austrian (aka Astrovian) infantry, as I mentioned on a previous post, and there will be more about progress with them soon...

So, whilst regular readers will know that I firmly encourage a focused approach, I've also been looking at what to do as a "side-project" in 2016. Something small, limited in number of figures, and with no particular objectives other than as a passing fancy.
For the past 3-4 months I've been considering the options.
Right on cue, I also bought the latest wargames magazines, and therein I'm treated to even more ideas!!

Time to make a shortlist, I think ...
So, in no particular order... (Some of these will raise an eyebrow amongst those who think they know me!)

1. Pils-Holstein 1676: The North Star / Copplestone 1672 range is a delight, and I've painted a few in the past. BUT... more figures required for this than I really want to do. And it could be considered a bit close to the main project anyway. Perhaps need something totally different?
2. Pils-Holstein 1716: Front Rank WSS range... ditto all of the comments above.
3. ECW: I'm enjoying my re-enactment involvement so much that it was inevitable that this would feature as an option.
4. Medieval / HYW:  see my notes a couple of posts ago... And I'm getting chance to visit the Agincourt diorama at The Tower of London in a couple of weeks too.
5. Middle Earth:  some of the wonderful little Vendel figures... Not too fantasy-ish. My mind's eye view of Tolkein's world, which is very much Anglo-Saxon with a little magic thrown in.
6. Colonial/NW Frontier: I've done it in the past, but felt I never really did it justice, and sold it all off. The recent sad news about Larry Brom had me sifting through the rules pile for my copy of TSATF...
7. VSF: but no Martian walkers though... that's a step too far. I'm more thinking along the lines of some escapades in Victorian England with the odd steam contraption thrown in.
8. Back of Beyond.  the Stuart Asquith article in November WI has a lot to answer for. Having not been in touch with Stuart for some years, I penned him a note and we recently spoke on the phone. Blame him if I take this route!

Actually, I've already chosen the probable outcome here, but your thoughts and advice are welcome...
Particularly interested in your thoughts on rules suggestions for any of the above, and even figure ranges, and websites/blogs to visit to add extra distraction and inspiration...

Santa is going to receive quite a little list...

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Blogroll and Links - are you there?

Having had a couple of days off last month, I did some house-keeping around the blog, and have managed to create a list of blogs I enjoy visiting (see blogroll on right). This is primarily for my ease of use, as I often find myself surfing around the web on a Saturday morning with a cuppa, and sometimes I miss stuff! There's so much out there...

Above: Gentlemen having a chat (that's what the web is about, right?!)

Now, the list is simply a start point, so if you don't see your blog there, and you would like to be, then let me know in the comments. I'm particularly keen to reciprocate with those people who have included this blog in their links/ blogrolls. I sometimes stumble across blogs and see a link to mine, and come over all guilty! Please spare me that guilt!!

I'll also be adding some other (non-blog) links shortly aswell... forums, interesting webpages, and the like.
Meantime, all the best...