Thursday 8 September 2016

Butterflies - but flying in formation

Have you ever opened up a wargames magazine, seen a photo of a game, a range of figures, or an army, and just felt a surge of inspiration?
Yes, of course you have. You're a wargamer.
Me too.

These "butterflies" are all around. And over the past 18 months, rather than trying to squash such lepidoptera, instead I decided to get them "flying in formation" - I suppose, getting my butterflies formed up as regular troops, rather then having them haring off in all directions.

In short, I wanted to organise my thoughts (my trusty notebook came out again) and assess what I wanted from the hobby, my collection, and my gaming (which had become practically non-existent).

So, here's what I came up with...
I hope it explains (to those who were wondering, or suggesting "he's gone off track again!") just where this is heading.

1. Firstly, my main collection: the 18th century Pils-Holstein project. This is a large undertaking, a long-term build, with much of the painting outsourced (to David Jarvis and Mark Allen, among others).

Above:  latest arrivals from David- Prussian IR19.

Next job is for me to base them. The thing is, if this was my one and only project, my hobby would descend into a mass of basing. That would be it. Basing. Yeah... you get the picture.
I know, some might say, "But, Phil, why don't you do some of the painting for this project?" Well, knocking out rows of rank and file troops in identical uniforms is ok, but I can't manage the whole task, and don't want to mix my painting style with that of the professionals (Mark and David)!

2. Skirmishing - the other end of the spectrum: this is my Colonial project using TSATF rules, based in my fictional colony of Ghabazaar which has a southern desert (not unlike The Sudan) and northern hills (not unlike The Northwest Frontier) thereby allowing me to depict both theatres.
This has always been a fascinating period for me, and allows the whimsical part of my hobby to come through too, with some off-piste Victoriana thrown in for good measure. For some reason, this project surfaces every winter (perhaps out of longing for sunnier climes!).

TSATF game in progress.

3. Display Projects: love them or hate them, I think the sort of games seen at shows have done more to promote the hobby than anything else. Just look at the early years of the wargames magazines, Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated, and you'll see what I mean. Much of the eye-candy, and inspiration, came from such games (some call them "Demo Games," but I prefer the title "Display Games" as my own penchant is for those which show off excellent terrain, painting, conversions, vignettes, buildings etc. and I'm less fussed about the actual game that's happening, or not as the case may be).
Over the years, I've done a fair few, and I have been thinking it's time to return to that fold. In the past, as well as my efforts as part of The League of Augsburg through the 1990s and up to 2005, I have also presented The Italian Wars, Eastern Renaissance (Cossacks and Polish Winged Hussars), and Thirty Years War.

In fact, when I wandered into Partizan at Newark recently, first person I bumped into was Tricks himself who asked the burning question: "Would you put on a game next year?" This will likely be a joint collaboration with Mark Allen. We'll see.

4. Off-the-Shelf gaming: this is designed to address those periods where I just fancy an army to play games with, against fellow hobbyists, perhaps at events (not competition gaming, no!), so using a standard set of rules, standard basing conventions and so on. It means me creating smallish armies (sometimes these are just 150 ish figures), often ancient period. In the past I did Sassanids, and Mongols. Latest is Macedonian Successors.

Above: Macedonian Successors w-i-p. First few units done. This has been my focus for the past couple of months. Not a bad output for 6 weeks worth of painting, taking account of time away from home.

So, that's the butterflies, flying in formation, neatly arrayed. I'm making no excuses, or trying to defend what I'm up to. Just wanted to explain some of the rationale behind what may look (from the outside) like a lack of focus.

Other news...
I notice the change of editor for Miniature Wargames magazine has taken place. There's no doubt that Henry turned this particular ship round, and did a fine job in returning it to a course that resonates more than the previous version, in my mind anyway. Well done H.
It's true to say that MW (with and without BG) has been through a number of incarnations over the years, and I hope the style of the next version builds on what Henry had done of late.

Also in the magazines this month, this time in WI, it's good to see the name Andy Callan making an appearance in the 1066 article. I well remember the Dark Age Infantry Slog (DAIS) back in MW 7.
And it was in that same issue, MW7, that this picture appeared:

Seleucids, debouching from a city gateway.

This inspired me to build a Successor army way back in the early 80s... in 15mm. And now, 30+ years on, here we go again.
Inspiration from magazine pictures.

... Which is where we came in...