Monday, 11 December 2017

Year end stats

It is unlikely that I'll get to do much more painting before the fat man comes so here are the stats for the year:

2mm 2 armies for the Acw
6mm 25 bases for my 6ww project.
10mm 304 figures for my acw and crimean armies
15mm 844 figures and 18 AFV including 2 whole armies for the french wars of religion.
20mm 359 figures and 6 AFV
28mm 173 figures and 2 AFV
40k 73 figures.

So overall not a bad year. Still not lead neutral but starting to make dents in the mountain.
My plan for the new year is to only buy stuff if it allows me to complete a project. So command units for the multiple plastic sets are ok but NO NEW PERIODS.
I'm having a wobble about scale, again. The new shed is built but is  unlikely to allow me to have anything bigger than a 6x4   table. This means big skirmishes or packed tables only. My recent experiments with 10mm and 15mm have made me think that this might be the way to go.
What worries me is moving all the sruff back into the shed from storage and realising there isn't room for it all.

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

An interesting discovery.

I was clearing out the hard drive of my laptop as an excuse not to do any work on my dissertation, and found this article which I had written hoping that Henry Hyde might publish it if he needed to fill space in MWWBG. Sadly not long after Henry emailed back saying to keep taking the pills, and then before I could edit it, Henry was no longer associated with the magazine.
So in a extraordinary piece of vanity here it is in it's glory. After all, if you can't be vain on a blog, what's the point?


Wargaming my Way - Losing Frequently!
In the Beginning

Each one of us reading this magazine will have his or her own back story as to how and why they war-game. I grew up in the eighties, and followed the usual path of reading the Lord of the Rings to discovering that you could “play” an Elf in a game called Dungeons and Dragons. This led me to discover my innate megalomania, I needed a sword +4, +10 vs Dragons, and my friend Brian the DM was foolish enough to allow me to get one. This led to the first example of what I have now decided must be a law of nature, Melvyn’s first law if you will. No matter what I do, and no matter how easy it should be to achieve a positive outcome, if it involves dice Melvyn will fail. 100% guaranteed. Hence the death of my character, Fleetwood Plantagenet (see I told you I was a megalomaniac) in single combat to a Red Dragon. This was followed by the death of my Judge to the Dark Judges, and my smuggler to the dreaded space lice of Blaart. My love affair with role playing was waining, but I still longed to do something with Elves, Goblins etc. As I went to Senior School, the D&D group split up and I discovered rugby. This was a sport that I have continued to enjoy although these days it’s as a coach. Rather surprisingly it was a hot bed of nerds, and I was introduced to the idea of wargaming by one of the team who had an older brother with a couple of ancients armies. At the time we thought they were brilliant, even though they were plastic and the paints were Humbral enamels with a gloss varnish. The rules must have been some version of WRG ancients but might just have been the Dead Sea Scrolls for all they meant to us.  Sadly the friend moved away and rugby took over. 
By the time I was 14 or so, I still had an interest but hadn’t played with figures for a while. As part of the school socialisation programme (I went to an all boys school and they were worried for the future of the human race), all the children in the Town spent one week in a central “business experience”. Essentially the “team” would be given a brief by a real company to develop, and the team would split up to pursue different aspects of product design. The week I went the company wanted us to work on a board game with miniatures they were calling “Quest and Heroes”. By the end of the week I’d convinced them to call it Heroquest and had suggested the design of the games master screen. It was only later that I realised how much my youthful enthusiasm had saved them on a professional designer, but still had a thrill when my parents bought me the game for Christmas that year.
I dabbled briefly with Warhammer but couldn’t afford the figures on my pocket money so decided to get a Saturday job to supplement my burgeoning Elf habit. This had two effects. Firstly I bought several boxes of the Citadel regiment sets (Elves, dwarves and goblins in the same box if anyone remembers them), and secondly it caused me to stop playing with toy soldiers as I discovered that the young ladies with whom I worked in the shoe shop didn’t really think it was cool. However, I still kept hand in by painting my brother’s squats for Rogue Trader, which he then sold to buy a guitar. As with most gamers of my generation, I stopped whilst at university and only really came back to wargaming when my wife suggested `I needed a hobby’. Whether she was concerned for my mental health or just wanted me out of the way, I’ll never know. So my second wargaming period started with a visit to Crusade 1998, a visit which has become an annual trip, now with both my sons. 

The second era
I think if it hadn’t been for the boys, I might have remained a collector rather than a gamer. In my mind I needed a complete army before I could even think of gaming, and given that I have what Neil Schuck calls a “magpie nature”, I ended up with several part complete armies for several periods but no opposing armies. Tom (now 14), said he wanted to play with dad’s toys, so I had to finish at least one army. The first game we ever had was a Seven Years duff up between British and Prussians (I know, I know) using the dice from a board game and rules based on my garbled memories of 40K. Even though we’ve moved on to other periods including 40k (Sorry Mr Clarke), those homegrown rules have stuck. I think one of my proudest moments was when Tom explained the rules to his younger brother. We were in a local gaming store, and a “proper gamer” overheard. 
‘Oh, that’s 40K but you’ve got it wrong’ says helpful gamer. Tom looked him in the eye and replied ‘These are my Dad’s rules and they’re better than 40k’. Helpful gamer retreats with a smile, and leaves Melvyn to be beaten again. I will state for the record that I have never ever thrown a game so the boys can win, I don’t need to. When Tom hits 21 I’m taking him to Vagus so I  can retire on the profits. 
Having two sons is also an excuse to try new periods and scales. When my ever observant wife hands me the latest package, I can reply that these are the new Warperrylord figures that I though the boys might like. Over the years we have gamed WW1 with Warhammer Historical rules, AWI with Spencer Smiths, WW2 with 15mm figures and Rapid Fire rules. There can’t be a bit of the Market Garden Campaign we haven’t done using British Paras and Heer, and there’s always a Tiger tank. Plus lots and lots of 40k,(Sorry again Mr Clarke). I think we’re probably using 2nd/3rd edition rules and very few of the ‘fluff’ rules but still have a lot of fun. I think that it’s this sense of making it up as we go along and by negotiating that is why I’ve never joined a club or done a tournament. I was always worried that I’d hear that I was ‘doing it wrong’, and that I’d not enjoy it anymore.

Painting and the Lead/plastic Mountain
I realised a while ago that whilst I like painting I’m never going to be much good at it, and the only way I’d do three colours was if one of them was a dip. However, all of the figures in the pictures accompanying this article are painted by me, and I’m happy with how they look. I will now utter heresy. I don’t care if they have the wrong buttons or facings, they are my toys to play with and I’ll paint them how I want, thank you very much. I might even confess to having played with unpainted figures from time to time! I know, I’ll get my coat, now in a minute.  The point is, that I just want to get big armies on the table, so readily accepted Mr Berry’s mantra of painting the unit, not the figure, and applied it to all my figures. 
I have painted and sold, and painted and sold several armies now. On occasion it has been the same army that I regretted selling so got again only for it to remain in the pile for several years then be converted to paypal balance for the latest trend. My current kick is for all things 19th Century. This has manifested itself as Spencer Smiths and Perry/Warlord plastics for the 100 days Campaign, based for “In the Grand Manner”, together with Perry plastics for the ACW Eastern theatre and Spencer Smiths for the Western, and  finally 6mm Baccus for the 6 weeks War. Not forgetting the 40mm forces for “Sharp Practice” in the Peninsular, some of whom used to belong to a certain podcaster from Birmingham.  Yet at the same time I have managed to achieve something I never thought I would. I have A FINISHED ARMY! Admittedly it’s in 15mm and could use some more heavy infantry but I have managed to paint all the packs I bought. The same cannot be said for the Persians I got to oppose them. 
Each year I keep a tally of what I’ve bought, what I’ve painted and what I’ve sold. It is a vain attempt to keep me lead neutral, and fails every year. However it acts as a chronicle of projects past, whilst keeping encouraged that my output is such that one day I might actually have reduced the mountain to zero. Of course at that point I’ll die but it will have been worth it. Although my wife shakes her head every time I enthuse about a new period and/or scale, she is still glad I didn’t take up golf.  

The Third Age

It was a fortunate coincidence that at around the time I decided that I was happy in how my hobby was going, I discovered the “old school wargaming movement” championed by a certain magazine with a bright red cover. This led to my youngest son getting a regiment of Spencer Smith’s for Christmas painted by Santa (or perhaps a fat bloke without a beard) as the Royal WELCH regiment of course.  At the same time I stumbled upon the existence of the podcast and as a result of this I entered in email conversations with Henry and Neil, and was extremely lucky to be a part of the first Featherstone Memorial Weekend. It is not an overstatement that this led to the third part of my wargaming life, the part where I game with alleged grown-ups (Mr Freeth, I’m looking at you). Although a serious wargame, that Featherstone weekend was full of laughter, awful dice rolls and the making of several new and lasting friendships. All weekend I charged Heth’s division at the Federals, up and down a hill, never achieving a breakthrough but it didn’t matter. I was having fun with a capital F. The second year was Arnhem, and I was Colonel Frost on the bridge, as well as the Polish para’s on the other side. I was shot to pieces but managed to immobilise a Tiger with a grenade in a greasy sock, so left a very happy man. This year I achieved the impossible, I overturned Melvyn’s first law and won. Not the battle, don’t be daft, but the most sporting General. I have never been so proud as when Henry handed me the trophy (ok, the kids’ births may have come close if the wife asks). So what is wargaming my way? Easy- lose, lose,and lose again but always have fun, otherwise what’s the point?

Moving stuff

I am about to move my wargaming stuff back out of storage and into the new mancave/shed.
Not being able to access most of my collection has made me really think about what I want to do with my hobby.
Even with the new mancave the largest table I'll have regular access to is 6x4. This means that Waterloo in 28mm in a no go. For that kind of megalomania I'll have to wait for my trips to the Wargames Holiday Centre (hello Mr Freeth).
I'm moving more and more towards less than15mm for everything except skirmishes.
This could mean a second big ebay sell off. I think as I restock the shed, a stock take is in order. So watch this space, interesting times are approaching

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Latest work

The 15mm WW2 American units have made it across the painting table. They are all winter units in greatcoats so essentially have been drybrushed, washed and highlighted. The thing that took the longest was the bases. They needed 2-3 drybrushes with progressively lighter grey to give me the right melting snow look I needed. As the entire point was to develop units for the Bulge, they have been worth the effort. I have lots of Shermans in my XXX Corps army, and I have deliberately left off decals that would prevent me switching them from UK to US ownership. I'm sure someone will point out that they're the wrong colour green for one or the other, but I don't care. Since they are all basecoated in Vallejo Nato green and then washed in green or brown ink, they are meant to look generic. After all, a sherman is a sherman is a sherman.

Most of my hobby stuff is in storage after the shed collapsed, so I am limited to what I can do. For example, I've just done a load of 10mm ACW but have realised that the 1'x3/4 bases I was using for F&F are in the storage unit and right at the back. So I've moved on to some Imaginations stuff. I have 300 20mm SYW Austrians, and at the moment I'm experimenting with colour schemes. One of the nations represents Prussia, but I don't want to follow Austrian colour schemes as the whole point of imaginations is to be as wacky as you want. I'm toying with the idea of Bavarian Blue coats with pink facings and white breeches for the first regiment. They will be the La Reine's Regiment de Fru Fru, commanded by his lordship Le Baron du M'Oncle, who once left his pen somewhere he can't remember.

Eventually these two nations will be joined by one based on AWI British and US Militiamen. I'm doing all this in 20mm plastics, and buying units when I see a likely job lot on ebay. Although set in the Horse and Musket period, I might bring in some Napoleonics, especially for cavalry and artillery since there are few sets of these for the SYW/AWI period, meaning I may have to pay full price for them. Alternatively I could pad them out with a few 20mm metals.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

More work

I have now managed to add 56 Austrian 28mm Landwehr to the done pile. Some 10mm Crimean British guards are next up. As they are wearing greatcoats, I've done a heavy grey drybrush over the black undercoat to everything except skin, and then will go back and pick out the webbing etc. Once done it will give me a reasonable force for Black Powder so I'll need some Russians. Maybe I can get them if I go to Warfare next month.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

I have been busy

In my last post, I said I hoped I could get some hobbying done. That was an understatement! So far whilst off work I have managed to do the following:
40k 8th edition Pox walkers and Death guard army
30 Blood reivers for AoS/40k.
4x30 man 10mm Crimean British Inf Reg
4x12 10mm Crimean British Light Cav
A whole 15mm French wars of religion Catholic army from Essex.

Not bad going. The real rate limiting step is I now have run out of really usfull boxes and need to get some more, but am dependent on my wife finding time and inclination to take me.
I have also managed to redraft 3 chapters of a dissertation.
I will still be off work for around another 3 weeks, so hope to get more done, ready for the new man cave to be finished.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Ongoing Work

I have ruptured my achilles tendon so have 5-6 weeks on crutches. This is making getting any hobbying done very difficult. I have painted the Primaris marines from the new 8th edition 40k box as blood angels, and am reasonably happy with the results. I started with a dark red then a red wash followed by 2 layers of highlights. The trickiest part was applying the transfers for the chapter markings as they didn't want to slide off the backing paper easily.
The Nurgle marines are just waiting for their bases to be done, and then I'll start on the pox walkers.
At the same time I've managed to do 2 frost giants from Bones. This look like oversized viking dwarves so will be an addition to my Dwarf army. At the moment this has a regiment of pike and shot dwarves that are true 25mm but look like gnomes next to GW or Mantic dwarves. I think I will treat them as gnomes, but they are still a great unit. My ongoing plan is to develop armies for 3rd Edition Warhammer from a variety of sources. For example, I have some of the new Chaos Warriers from the Age of Sigmar and will use them both as Khorne cultists for 40k as well as Chaos marauders for Fantasy.
With my leg injury it is unlikely that I'll get to either Colours or Warfare. Hopefully this means I can work on the lead mountain.