Thursday, January 03, 2019

Wargames Review of the Year 2018

Victrix Carthaginian war elephants.  A good start to the year.

Determined not to issue my wargames review of the year when the crocuses are coming out I have decided to start it before Christmas. In fact, 2018 saw very little wargaming but an otherwise disastrous hobby year was saved by a late flurry of painting.

Figures Painted

The Army of the Dead from the Lord of the Rings Painted in just five weeks!

I began the year full of good intentions and a nice project of the lovely Victrix war elephants but having finished the pachyderms I had a failure of nerve as regards shield transfers on curved surfaces so haven't quite completed them. I have just four crew to complete so will try to get them done in January. I counted each rider and elephant as two figures so I had completed just four figures come October.  I did do some odd bits on my Fireforge Byzantines and started some Napoleonic British but was stymied by continued struggles with my eyesight and can now only paint in bright daylight.  I have had a series of injections into my left eye and it has really improved my vision in that eye, which was my weaker one but is now the stronger. Today, the hospital has recommended that I get my right eye done too over the next six months.

My painting year was saved, however by the Sculpting Painting and Gaming Facebook Group. Someone had the brilliant idea of having a 'paint 30 minutes a day' challenge. I set to work to do some more figures for the Lord of the Rings and although I haven't managed to paint quite every day I have painted the most for about four years. So my completed totals are:

Lord of the Rings: 89
Punic Wars: 4

Ninety-three figures in a year is my best total since 2014. I have also finished another nine Byzantines in the first couple of days of January.  I tried using washes for the first time (hit and miss) and acrylics (definitely a miss) and I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I just can't see to paint as well as I could even two years ago.  Figures with shield transfers, even though they are a pig to put on, make my figures look much better than they are.

Wargames played 

Just one wargame, again, in 2018 with a Napoleonic game for Richard Sharpe and associates at Eric the Shed's.  Epic scenery, of course, and an entertaining large skirmish which also incorporated offshore naval; bombardment.  Sadly, that was my last visit to the Shed as I am too unreliable an invitee because of evening conference calls as well as my total inability to remember or understand rules. Although I have now discovered the reason for this, as it turns out that I am dyspraxic. This explains many things about me; such as the fact that I didn't learn to tie my shoelaces until I was about fourteen, still struggle with tying ties and cannot do knots for sailing. It also explains my total inability to play ball games such as football, tennis or golf or play computer games. This may also be why I can't use tools, do DIY, constantly drop things, trip over all the time, can't parallel park and have difficulty reversing the car (I cannot comprehend how people can reverse into a parking place at a supermarket and always choose those slots with an empty space on each side). I basically cannot envisage stuff in three dimensions and my brain just freezes.  Difficulty in interpreting rules of games is part of this, it seems, which may explain why I can read them but cannot imagine how they work out in practice.  I'm too stupid for wargaming, basically, as I have long suspected.

So it will be solo gaming going forward, if any, where I don't feel pressured to think quickly, so I am going to focus for next year on rules that allow for this (like The Men who would be Kings and the new Sons of Mars gladiatorial set).


I started a number of scenic projects in 2017 but haven't progressed any of them at all in 2018, apart from some undercoating.  Several projects have got stuck because I started painting them and now can't remember what colours I used on them.  I did buy some more stuff from Grand Manner before they went to only selling painted items, principally a Zulu village and some Sudan type houses. I really hope to move some of this along this year.  I have been buying the occasional piece of aquarium terrain, and plastic plants though, for my Lost Word/Savage Core project.


Sixth from the left

I did get to Salute this year and it was, as ever, nice to catch up with other bloggers but that was my only show as I didn't get to either Warfare (I hate driving into Reading) or Colours, due to having to collect Guy from Oxford for the end of term. Anyway, I really do not need any more hobby stuff!

Lead (plastic and resin) Pile 

I stopped recording my purchases this year so have no idea how the lead pile increase went but I bought a lot, mainly in the second half of the year.  I bought the Red Book of the Elf King figures but may sell these on as I can't do them justice in paint, especially now that I am painting Middle Earth again.  I also bought the Star Wars Legion boxed set but I have seen so many exceptionally well-painted figures for this it has put me off painting them, even though I have wanted such figures since 1977.  I have bought quite a few plastics (Victrix Republican Romans, Perry Zulus, Lord of the Rings Pelennor boxed set and Fireforge Byzantines) and some metal figures too, such as more North West Frontier, Stronghold female Vikings and even some English Civil War.   I also bought some more resin Raging Heroes figures although assembling them looks to be a nightmare!


I did buy into a number of Kickstarters.  I couldn't resist the 28mm Bunny Girls from Dark Fable miniatures even though I have no idea what I will do with them but I did create this Osprey cover for them!  Not that I would need an Osprey as I know pretty much everything about the evolution of the uniform! At least these have arrived, as has another load of Ancient Egyptian ladies, also from Dark Fable.  Other ones I backed and am still waiting for are the John Carter of Mars roleplaying game figures, the Black Hallows townsfolk and the War and Empire Dark Ages figures.  I am still also waiting for anything from Kongo Acheson Creations African scenery which I supported back in 2017. In February, nearly four years after I ordered then, my Wargods of Olympus figures arrived. I am not planning to play the game but use the figures for Jason and the Argonauts.

Wargames Rules

I didn't get many sets of rules this year, which is just as well as I never use them! The new consolidated Middle Earth rules were in the battle of Pellenor Fields set. I also got some Back of Beyond scenarios. The main rules were the Red Book of the Elf King ones and the Sons of Mars gladiatorial rules which are supposed to work for solo play.

Wargames Blogs and Facebook

I only posted twenty times on my main blog (this one) in 2018, which is the least ever. Mainly this is because, of course, I didn't really paint anything until the last quarter of the year. I also only posted on four of my other blogs.  The most popular of these, with nearly 200,000 visits, is my Sudan War one and I haven't posted on that since 2012, although it still gets around 2000 visits a month.  I passed 750,000 vies on this blog this year and the most popular post, with 2025 views, was my Salute post.

I am posting more on Facebook, hence the lack of blog posts and in the last few months there have even been some wargaming posts! This time last year I had 151 friends and today I have 246, although I have deleted a lot due to political posts. The real positive aspect of Facebook for me is the groups and I have joined a lot of these this year. The most influential was the Sculpting Painting and Gaming group as someone came up with the idea of a paint for thirty minutes a day challenge and this has re-energised my painting.  In the last 9 weeks, since the challenge began at the beginning of November, I have averaged four hours forty two minutes painting a week.  I hope to keep this going!

Plans for this Year

I want to keep my painting momentum going but need to finish a few odds and ends including the War elephant and the Byzantine spear unit. I have the first unit of Byzantine archers ready for painting now (undercoated today). I also want to dig some figures out of my 'under way' pile which I can complete fairly quickly. I'd like to do some more ACW, some more North West Frontier and also some more on the 1864 Danes. If I am brave I will go back to my British Napoleonics too, although I am stymied on those by not being able to work out which arms I need to fit for which pose and I don't want to paint them all and find I don't need half of them! . It's the dyspraxia again!  I have also, at last, found the painting reference I have been looking for for my Franco-Prussian War figures so they might get some attention this year too.


Another Facebook group I joined was the Mediocre modellers group on the basis that I might have to move onto making model kits if I couldn't paint figures any more.  The name proved to be a total misnomer, however. with people posting the most amazing things. any of these (and on some of the figure groups too) have the poster saying something like "Hey, guys, this came out OK, I suppose, what do you guys think". They then show some incredible example of construction/painting.  One day I am going to tell them not to fish for compliments because it is vulgar, desperate and arrogant. The false humility does not fool me. These are my most hated hobby group of people of the year (even more than the 'we shouldn't paint small figures of objectified women' types.  Sorry, I will continue to appreciate women as beautiful objects (as long as you don't treat them like objects) and that includes tiny sculptures of them. You are girly men (like Chris Boardman banging on about abolishing podium girls at cycling races).

Anyway, I bought a Tamiya Sherman to have a go at in the a dark evenings when I can't paint.

Musical Accompaniment

While writing this post I listened to John Williams' soundtracks for the first three Harry Potter films although I am not really a fan of the films and certainly haven't read the books. I have just ordered the limited edition seven CD extended soundtracks for the first three films.  Charlotte has been trying to persuade me to get the new Harry Potter miniatures game but I have heard bad things about the quality control of the set: broken and missing parts, mainly. The real issue is that I just wouldn't be able to paint them properly!

Next time it will be my non-wargaming review of the year.