Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Playing Favourites - my 300th post

Several estimable people, led by the author of the Too Much Lead blog and followed by others, including Steve the Wargamer, Trouble at t'mill and Grimsby Wargaming, have set down their favourites in a number of wargaming related categories.  Now, as ever, I have arrived at this much later than everyone else (I always post on The Miniatures Page two weeks after everyone has finished a thread) but it is an excellent way to produce a post without having to have painted any figures (although I did finish two today!)  So I will follow the same structure as the others.

I have just noticed that this is my 300th post on this blog.  Imagine how many more figures I could have painted if I hadn't written all those posts!


Some of my Steve Saleh sculpted Foundry Romans -painted for Fishbourne.  If only this range had been completed!

Oh dear.  This is where it all falls down.  Given I paint more than I wargame my ongoing "armies" cover everything from prehistoric cavemen to World War 2.  I have no idea how many periods or armies I have figures for but I think I did calculate once that I was building over thirty seperate WAB armies at once.  Needless to say, I don't have a single completed (if there is such a thing) army.  When I first started playing with my unpainted Airfix figures it was Napoleonics but this is an impossible period for a dabbler. What my favourite is now varies from week to week but if I had to get rid of all my other figures and just keep one army to work on it would be... Early Imperial Romans.  From my first Airfix figures through to my Warlord plastics it's the Romans that inspire me most.  The biggest frustration for me is that I don't think there is a really good range of figures for this period out there.  There are loads of EIR Romans but I can't say that I am really happy with any of them, for various reasons.   Other than Romans it would be the Colonial period or Dark Ages.  Or English Civil War.  Or Hoplite Greeks.  Or Lord of the Rings (the only fantasy gaming I do).  Or...


One of my Gripping Beast Early Saxons

28mm only now.  Fifteen years ago I was painting a lot of 20mm plastic Napoleonics but I was never very happy with them.  It was my first visit to Salute and the Gripping Beast stand that gave me my first sight "in the lead" of modern 28mm figures.  I literally put all my 20mm figures into a box in the loft the next day.   Lots of people use 15mm at Guildford but the anatomy of these is mainly awful and they are too small for me to paint, although I do acknowledge that en masse they can look very good.  The problem is I will never have an army en masse so prefer to paint individuals to the best of my (limited) ability.


Not being a regular player, the easier to understand they are the better for me. I don't play often enough to learn any of the tricks or wrinkles in a set of rules. I remember playing a Zulu wargame at the club using a set of rules that were so complex I totally gave up trying to understand them at all.  So I like WAB (although I realise its many limitations) and I don't like DBX or its derivatives.  I'm not interested in replicating command and control.  I just want to push pretty models about (that reminds me of a story involving a famous supermodel but that is off the point). Probably my favourite rules are The Sword and the Flame.  Simple but elegant (rather like the supermodel).


I can't abide board games of any sort these days.  When I was small we used to play (but only at Christmas) Monopoly which I only liked as we could stay up late, eat twiglets and drink cider as the game went on for hours.  I never played the likes of Risk or, my wife's favourite, Cluedo (too much thinking involved).  For a period, when I was about 15, I had a few of the Simulations Publications Inc games (I still have them somewhere) such as Musket and Pike.  I didn't have anyone to play against so I had to play the games solo.  I remember them being not too bad but one I had (I can't remember which) was very much more complicated than Musket and Pike so I gave up on them.  I do remember that as soon as you seperated the little counters they started to fall out of the box every time you touched it.  Basically, I am not a gamer!

I  painted a whole box of Uruk Hai!

Although I think Perry Miniatures are the best figure manufacturer when it comes to a combination of range coverage, anatomy and accuracy I don't enjoy painting them that much as they are too fiddly.   I will pretty much buy anything Mark Copplestone does and I also really like Crusader Miniatures and Musketeer Miniatures for paintability.  I don't have a strong view on plastics one way or the other. Some are disappointing (Gripping Beast Vikings) some are excellent (Perry Ansar).  They key thing for me is that I have never painted more than a few plastics from each of the many boxes I have bought.  The exception being Games Workshop's Lord of the Rings plastics.


I'm in every picture but, more importantly, so are my figures!

I joined Guildford Wargames club some years ago having found it through The Miniatures Page.  Technically I'm not a member any more and haven't been for over a year.  I used to go more often but I lost the habit when I was travelling a lot and couldn't commit to a date.  I also used to get quite stressed by everyone else knowing the rules really well and so I felt like a beginner every week.  There are some very clever people who are members of the club and I started to find it a bit scary! The real reason I didn't go, however, was that I really only like playing with my own figures and as I don't have any completed armies...  Still I have been able to join in some bigger games with my Wars of the Roses, Dark Ages and ECW figures.  One enjoyable club project I did participate in was a two day exhibition game at Fishbourne Roman Palace in 2005.  We interacted with a generally fascinated public and the event even managed to convince my father-in-law that wargaming  was a worthwhile activity.  We got a positive write up in the local paper too, although I think I annoyed the many long-standing members of the club by being the only one who got name-checked in the article (the result of flirting outrageously with the very pretty reporterette).


A very much younger Guy three years ago as we set up a Lord of the Rings game

I always had enjoyable games with Dave, Keith and John at Guildford.  The person who recruited me into the club was Mike Lewis of Black Hat Miniatures and he was unfailingly patient with me and gave me my first game there (Darkest Africa - I lost, as usual).  My son Guy enjoys the occasional Lord of the Rings game and last time we played Darkest Africa. We are talking about having a go at Saga next.



Well, when I was younger there were three main cinematic inspirations.  The first were the endless films about the war in the Pacific that seemed to be on  on Saturday afternoons; The Halls of Montezuma springs to mind immediately.  These got me recreating these battles outside on our rockery for many happy weeks over the summer holidays.  The film The 300 Spartans got me into ancients, even though there were no plastic Greeks in those days! Then I saw Waterloo which got me playing long refights of said battle with my hundreds of unpainted Airfix Napoleonics (all in Charles Grant suggested battalions of 48 figures).  Nowadays nearly any military themed film can get me thinking about getting a new range!


Although Terence Wise's Introduction to Battle Gaming (as so nostalgically illustrated on Too Much Lead's entry - mine lost its cover decades ago!) got me playing my first games with proper rules the book that turned me into a painter was The War Game, which was stuffed full of wonderful photographs by former Penthouse director of photography Philip O Stearns of Peter Gilder's Hinchliffe figures on magnificent terrain.  The reason I still hanker after doing Agincourt (which is palpably insane) is because of that book.  It's also the reason that I have a thing about Thermopylae.  


Although I too love Angus McBride's work (and I own one of his original paintings) the first military picture I responded to was Philippoteaux's Charge of the French Cuiassiers at Waterloo which I got as a postcard during a visit to Les Invalides back in the early seventies.  I used to get Look & Learn magazine every week too and I loved Ronald Embleton's work for that, especially his Rogers Rangers series.  I did bid on one of his paintings of a page from the Wicked Wanda strip (literally) he did for Penthouse last year but gave up when it reached £700.  I have seen it advertised at £3,000 since!


I don't think others have put this section in but music is very important to me when I paint. Currently I am painting some Foundry Argonauts and am listening, naturally to Bernard Hermann's soundtrack from Jason and the Argonauts but also Laurence Rosenthal's Clash of the Titans as well.  I always try to find appropriate music for the figures I am painting. Oddly, the first music I associate with wargaming is Dvorak's New World symphony which I always used to play when setting up my big Airfix ACW games.  It still reminds me of lots of blue and grey figures and the distinctive smell of evergreen twigs which I used to cut off trees in the garden, before sticking them in plasticene, to use as trees on my wargames board.


I discovered The Miniatures Page quite late on but it must have cost me thousands of pounds in stuff I have bought which I would never have known about otherwise.  It is my home page but I don't post very often.  It can be annoying, sometimes, but then I find nearly everything can be annoying these days!  I can't remember whose site got me blogging (Giles Allison's, probably) but my entry into that was originally designed to focus me on one period.  This, of course, has failed totally.  I now have around twenty wargames blogs and four more under another identity which focus on my other great interest: naked women.  Somehow I don't think I will ever get the 200 followers and 2.5 million visits I have had on one of the latter on any of my wargames sites!

So, thanks to Too Much Lead for an excellent idea.  Now I really must try and base a few more Argonauts!


  1. Happy 300th post! Even without naked women you got me started in this blogging game!

  2. I keep finding more 'Playing Favourites' posts :D

    Nice one. You've got me looking for a copy of "The War Game" now! :D