Friday 29 December 2023

End of Year Review 2023

As another year draws towards a close, once again it's time to take stock of what has been a rather funny old year on the gaming front. As always things kicked off with plenty of good intent, but then my mojo simply went South for much of the year, returning for a brief spell in late Summer with a burst of activity, followed by another fallow period. Multiple reasons why which I won't bore you with!

So a bit of a more detailed view of the year as follows:

Rules Bought
Xenos Rampant
Lion Rampant 2nd Edition

I had no intention of buying any new rulesets this year, but more on that later. However any of the new 'Rampant' books by Dan Mersey et al are rather hard to pass up, so I treated myself to these two. 

Wargaming Books Bought
Storming Eagles - German Airborne Forces in WWII
Destination Dunkirk - The BEF in France
The Anarchy - The Relentless Rise of the East India Company
Case Red - The second campaign in France 1940
Osprey Kos & Leros 
1809 Thunder on the Danube Vols II & III
Armies of the Italian Risorgimento
BKC Korean War supplement
Osprey War of the Roses Essential Campaigns
When Titans Clash - The Soviet Union in WWII
Airifx Ancients Wargaming Guide
World Uniforms and Battles 1815-1850
Osprey Peleliu 1944

As is the norm these day, a real pot pourri of books as you can see. Some were bought for my planned France 1940 Campaign, others for general reading and some for future plans and campaigns. The only disappointing purchase was the Kos & Leros book, as whilst it contained lots of good info, it was a really hard read and there was too much detail, so that it was hard to follow the events. Sometimes less is more.

Miniatures Bought
WWII German additions
WWII Soviet additions
WWII Refugees
Sci Fi Aliens
ACW Confederate & Union Army Packs

A quiet year on the purchases front, with most stuff bought to flesh out existing forces, with the exception of the ACW ones. These are for future ImagiNations forces, but I see these seeing the light of day some years hence.

Miniatures Painted
German WWII Infantry Battalion and Support
German Early WWII Armoured Cars
ImagiNations 18thC India

A better year on the painting front I feel, with a burst of activity in the early part of the year and then another in the build up to the Cotswold Wargames Day. The latter with hindsight felt too rushed, as whilst a deadline is good, it did feel too much like work rather than hobby painting. 

Terrain Made
Paddy Fields

Despite my best intentions, only terrain for the 18thC India game at the CWD made it onto and off the workbench. 

BKCII France 1940 Campaign
Leros type Campaign
East India Company 18thC Forces
German mid-19thC ImagiNations Force

A year that began with many ideas, but only one was finished, or at least to a level that I could play a game with! Sadly the others withered on the vine.

Games Played
BPII - 2
Honours of War - 4
WRG 1925 - 1950 Rules - 1
Shadow of the Eagles - 3
Wavre Campaign - 1
Abensberg to Wagram - 2
The Dragon's Lament - 1

BPII & OHW Scenario 11: Surprise Attack.

BPII & OHW Scenario 12: An Unfortunate Oversight

HoW & OHW Scenario 13: Escape

WRG Rules Poland 1939

Shadow of the Eagles

Landshut 1809

Hausen Teugn 1809

India 1755

India 1755

India 1755

France 1940

Forest of Dean 1685

Probably my lowest level of games played for many, many years, for multiple reasons. However, there were some notable highlights, with Norm Smith's Wavre Campaign being one and the games at Chris Gregg's another. For the first time that I can remember, I only got in one game of BKCII, which was a bit of a shock. Normally this heads the table and would have, had my planned campaigns gone ahead. Something to rectify next year.

Wargames Shows Attended
IPMS Avon Show
Cotswold Wargames Day

At least I managed to attend some shows this year, with the CWD being the highlight. Colours would have been better had it not been the hottest day of the year, making it a test of endurance for all involved!

End of Year Thoughts
I make notes of games played etc as the year progresses, so it's always rather interesting for me to look back and reflect upon various aspects of the hobby. It certainly has been a year for introspection and thinking about what I want from the hobby and how best I can go about achieving it. So in no particular order:
  • Like many gamers, this year I've taken stock of the figures I have, the periods I want to play and the rulebooks I have. Simply put I have too much and have spread myself too thinly. As has been mentioned before, I have started to have a serious cull on the rules and figures front, which has already been very cathartic. I still have plenty to do and I'm not sure if much of it will be bought. If not a trip to the charity shop will be in order or I will simply give stuff away.
  • Ruleswise I am sticking to Honours of War for my 18thC games, Black Powder II for the 19thC and BKCII for WWII. This will make it much easier to keep track of things so to speak when playing games, so I can spend time on play rather than my nose in the rulebook. They are also solo friendly, something that is very important for my games, given most are like this.
  • Skirmish games, aside from the 'Rampant' stable, are going. I keep thinking I will enjoy say some WWII Bolt Action games, but in truth I will not, as I much prefer Battalion sized actions and above. The 'Rampant' games will sit nicely for quick 'petite guerre' actions that fit in with the narrative of 18th & 19th games and campaign. Also having the same engine and having playtested many of them, they are easy to pick up after some time away. Importantly they are FUN!
  • Having decided to focus on core periods, I need to do the same for the relevant forces. So many got the playable stage and then I moved on to other projects, leaving them in limbo somewhat. I'm also trying to focus on one period, so for example France 1940 or Normandy 1944, to see that I need to prioritise on the painting front to add those small units I've been meaning to finish for years, such as 17pdr ATG's or some German SPG's. 
  • For years now I've much preferred Campaigns, to one off games, as I find them so much more enjoyable. Not only from the games point of view, but from doing the research into OOB, the terrain etc, something that can be done when painting or terrain making is simply not an option. Whether this will be a WWII one or something different such as the Camberwick Green one, I will enjoy both equally as much.
  • Terrain wise I need to spend some time making a few more things, such a fields and woods, as well as BUA's. Also I need to focus on various buildings that I have that have been in storage for too long and need to get painted and onto the table. All of this will tie in with the project that I will be working on for a campaign etc. The aim is to try and maintain focus across all aspects of the hobby.
  • Time is a precious commodity as we all know and is something that is oft in short supply in my role as a parent/carer. This really impacts my hobby time in multiple ways which would take too long to explain here and would probably bore most of you to death! With the aim of the clearout and focusing on core periods, I'm hobby those moments of time that I can spend on the hobby can be better spent than they have this year.
  • Screen time is oft talked about as a waste that could be better spent at the painting table etc. But whilst this is very true and something I agree with, in my role as a parent/carer, it is a precious window on the wider gaming World and a way of vicariously enjoying our wonderful hobby when I don't have the time to experience it myself.
  • Storage has been an on going issue for sometime, both for figures and for terrain. SWMBO has been wonderfully tolerant but it has come to the point that it needs addressing. Even with the clear out that is underway, it is remarkable how much space it all takes up. Fortunately our daughter has moved out as shw is workign in London, so I can utilise her room for a bit whilst I figure out the best way to address this issue. Figures are pretty well sorted into A4 box files, but the terrain storage needs some more thought as well as organising in a more coherent way.
  • Vlogging versus Blogging. This year I have started to watch a few Youtube Vloggers, which can make a nice break during the day, around a time I try and spend watching tv on my own. Whilst interesting for the most part, I can't but help think that much of the content would have been quicker to type and post with some photos (and certainly read) compared to all the post editing etc required. Whilst I will carry on watching, for me the real enjoyment if the written (or typed) word.
  • Wargames Shows wise, whilst I enjoy attending to get inspiration etc, I doubt very much that I will buy much whilst I'm there, other than used books, given my focus on core periods with figures that I already have. So whilst my individual non-purchasing will have little impact, I do wonder how many gamers attend but don't buy and obviously what impact this will have on the future for our Wargames Shows.

Looking Forward to 2024
So what plans for next year? I'm never one to make New Resolutions, but a few aims are below:

  • Complete the cathartic clearout on the figures and rules front.
  • Focus on campaigns which in turn will allow for the painting etc to follow suit.
  • Play more games which naturally will link in with the above.
  • Try and get more FtF games in with friends.
  • Explore the Pacific War in more detail with the aim to possibly gaming it one day. Plans are already underway for a smallish USMC force from Pendraken.....
  • Carry on Blogging!

Well I think that's it for this year's review. Time to go and do some other gaming related activity or maybe even a walk, if we can dodge the torrential downpours we've been having!

So it just remains for me to wish you all a Happy New Year!


Monday 25 December 2023

The Xmas Haul 2023

Well another Xmas lunch has been and gone, so whilst recovering from some rather nice food and before the King's speech and Toy Story 4 (assuming I don't fall asleep😉), I thought I'd take a moment or two to post what Santa brought me. A nice mixed bag of stuff, which admirably reflect my interests and some nice surprises too.

The haul.

On the gardening front, a really nice book which from a quick flick through, looks to be everything I hoped it would be. I imagine I will be using lots of the ideas contained therein in 2024 and beyond. Some lovely bulbs from my wife too, so something to do tomorrow when we look to have a bit of nice weather for a change.

Then of course my sweet tooth is rather happy, with the perennial Xmas treat that is a Terry's Chocolate Orange, something I've had every year since they first came out! A recent family favourite are unbelievable rich Belgina truffles that are dangerously moorish!

Finally, the wargaming stuff. A treat to myself in the form of the Osprey book Peleliu 1944, as part of some 'research' into the Pacific Campaign 1943 - 1945, possibly for some future wargames campaigns. Early days yet but always good to get into a new period. Then a really nice surprise from our son, with an Airfix kit, something I had been pondering getting for a pure nostalgia hit. The kits have come on leaps and bounds since I last made a 1:72nd kit, which most likely was in the late 1970's! Where I will display it when finished I'm not sure, but a nice problem to have!

So I hope you all have had and are having a lovely Xmas Day and that Santa brought you some nice treats.


Friday 22 December 2023

Merry Xmas!

On this Winter Solstice day, I just wanted to take the chance to wish you all a very Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year!

A review of the past year will feature at some point between now and the New Year too, should you wish to find a cure for your insomnia etc😉.

Thursday 21 December 2023


As my first love in wargaming is WWII, I had somehow missed the fact that next year will be the 80th anniversary of Operation Overlord, amongst many others of course. Thankfully this was highlighted on Sparker's Blog and got me to a thinking as they say. I had planned on something for France 1940, but Covid and the lockdown put pay to that, ditto for 1941. But what to aim for and play?

Of course we are pretty spoilt for options to put it mildly, given that there was an awful lot going on in 1944 across multiple theatres. Options I have considered so far are:

Well a very obvious choice and one that we always seemed to play as kids, in our own way with a few AFV's and Airfix or Matchbox figures. Such a wide choice it's almost too hard to choose.

Operation Market-Garden
Another perennial favourite, at least here in the UK. Probably second to Normandy ever since I read Cornelius Ryan's 'A Bridge Too Far'. I did play a mini-campaign inspired by this operation a year or so ago, so it might be going over old ground again?

Whilst of interest, I feel that it had become a bit too attritional for my tastes, but still I haven;t discounted it and need to read up a bit more for some ideas and inspiration.
awhat to play?

Operation Dragoon
Not something I've seen played before, but it does have some possibilities. I think the downside for me is that it is really a race for the Germans to escape and the Americans to catch them.

Operation Bagration et al
Rather like Normandy, so much choice, but interesting without a doubt.

Well this could be fun and certainly different to what I've gamed before, but this would be a major project for sure. Possibly too much to take on given other real World issues that always need addressing.

Pacific Islands
As with Burma above.

So where do I currently sit? 
Currently it is Normandy in some shape or form for the following reasons:
  • I have pretty much all I need for both sides, with some stuff needing fleshing out, such as AA units, Engineers etc plus some AFV's. So minimal effort required from me and it would be nice to finally finish off those bits'n'pieces that have lurked on the fringes for years.
  • Terrain wise I'm pretty much there, unless I want some bunkers to do the invasion beaches.
  • I've long had the figures for some British Airborne units, so this would be the perfect spur to get a Battalion based and painted. Then of course they could be used for Operation Market Garden, which would be nice.

A Campaign
Which ever option I go for, I would run it as a narrative campaign using BKCII, as I find these linked games much more fun and challenging, with the story almost writing itself. Plenty to think about for sure with updates to follow in due course.

Then or course we shouldn't forget that it will be the 85th anniversary of the Invasion of Poland. So many ideas, so little time!

What Would You Play?
So those are my ideas cum options, but what would yours be, assuming you would want to run some form of campaign next year? I'd love to know!


The Camberwick Green Chronicles

During my recent (and ongoing) sort out of my wargames stuff, I came across two storage trays of figures for use with 'The Pikemen's Lament' and 'Dragon Rampant' rulesets. Like so many of my projects, I had a burst of enthusiasm of planning, purchasing and painting, only for it to fall by the wayside as my interest wained for a variety of reasons. Looking at the figures anew, some of the ideas I'd had for both sets resurfaced and so I decided to look through my notes and see if I could get a game or two in before Xmas.

Essentially the original idea was to have a bit of fun with a narrative campaign set in and around the Forest of Dean and the Mines of Gloria, with Dean being some sort of Demon and Gloria well, just the person who owned the mines. Obviously a bit of a nod to JRR Tolkein's Mines of Moria, but the whimsy tickled my fancy! This led to the idea of setting it in and around the village of Camberwick Green, inspired not only by my love of the whole Trumpton tv series, but also of Norm Smith's Piggy Longton chronicles and Keith's Border Reivers Ballade's verse.

Plenty of ideas abound for sure, all with a very whimsical slant, but first and foremost I need to reacquaint myself with the rules. Looking at them I've decided to have a mix of both rulesets, calling the mishmash 'The Dragon's Lament'. I'm not sure how well they'll play, but looking at them there is very little difference between the two. Time will tell. At least I made up some basic unit cards for a game, to try and speed things up and set up a very simple encounter type scenario, as it didn't need to be anything fancy at this stage.

To set the scene:
Somewhere in the Forest of Dean, 1685.

The Glorious Revolution has caused chaos in the area and rumours abound. One such is:
"You fear to go into those mines. The miners delved too greedily and too deep. You know what they awoke in the darkness of Hazard's Doom ... shadow and flame."

The scene is set.

The miners are defending their church.

A 'Basset's All Sorts' force.

Some of Camberwick Green's finest.

Commanded Shot lead the way.

The action underway, as the Miners see off an attack by Goblin Scouts, routing them.

The 'Basset's All Sorts' force closes in on the church.

Treemen watch on in case anyone wants to damage their trees.

Reckless, rowdy Rupert counter-charges the Saddleback Pigs...

... and is driven back...

... but the Saddleback Pigs rout! Oh the shame of it in their first battle.

Gerald the Giant easily sees off the Commanded Shot.

A few Turns into the game.

Goblin Shamans throw fireballs at anyone in their way.

That reckless and feckless rogue, Rupert, decides to charge Derek the Devil, which is not a good idea as he routs from the table!

Gerald the Giant charges Jones's Pikemen...

... who force him back despite taking losses themselves. He doesn't like it up him!

The end of the game.

Derek the Devil is happy to see more Saddleback Pigs arrive as reinforcements.

The Camberwick Green Militia have taken losses and are waivering, so decided to call it a day and retire to the pub for a pint of cider or two.

Post Game Thoughts
Well it's been quite some time since I've played these rules and I'm happy to say it all came back to me, bar the odd query, which was nice. So a few thoughts on how things went:
  • First and foremost it was fun! I loved the mix of figures and scales which I think helped give it that real fantasy look that I remember as a kid, something I was hoping to achieve. So the Giant looked like a Giant rather than a slightly bigger figures on the table.
  • The unit cards I made really made it easier than looking up on a unit roster. As I get more au fait with the rules, I will make more bespoke cards for the fantasy figures to better reflect them than the current generic Great or Lesser Warbeasts for example. As an example Derek the Devil will be able to fly, maybe the Treemen will be more vulnerable to fire attacks etc. 
  • The mash up of the rules worked fine and I saw no issues at all in this first game. Early days of course but given this will be a solo outing, I can always fudge things if need be.
  • I think the Camberwick Green Milita (as they are currently called) might need some fantasy input in terms of units they can call upon. Dwarves are on my list for sure as Bellicose Foot and probably a Cleric or Wizard. Maybe even a Solomon Kane type hero?

What's Next?
Well more playtesting for sure, then firming up the background story too, along with character and unit names. Then of course the ever present need to paint figures!


Sunday 10 December 2023

The Return Of The Prodigal Son

A few posts  I mentioned that over the years the only figure that I have ever regretted selling is the original White Dwarf sculpt I bought as a teenager. Luckily for me and yet another example of the wonderful generosity of fellow gamers, Iain of caveadsum1471Blog fame had a spare figure, that he very kindly sent to, free of charge. I was so happy to receive it and it instantly brought back so many memories of my early forays into wargaming, at this time a mix of WWII and the original D&D. 

Having received it, I dug out a tin box from the attic that had other figures from this period too, to have a bit of a wallow in nostalgia, and very pleasant it was too. As is the wont of these things, it then re-kindled some ideas I had pre-Covid for some Fantasy games, using Dragon Rampant, but more on that in another post.

For the moment I thought I'd share a few images of some of those figures that I had to hand. There are a few more but they are tucked away behind other boxes at present and so will have to await their moment in the limelight.

The Prodigal Son himself. I'm not sure the manufacturer but he has FA19 scratched into his base and some other text, which I cannot make out.

 Medusa and a Zombie. From a time when I was playing Mordheim and using white primer. How times have changed since then!

A Warrior Monk I believe, from my D&D days, as are all of these figures.

A Dragon that would be a mere baby compared to the huge sculpts you see these days. There are some wings somewhere that I took off another figure.

A Chimera and still a lovely sculpt IMHO. It looks like I had planned to have a rider mounted on the back.

A Wind Elemental and I have the Earth one somewhere too. Both are great sculpts.

A Giant of some description with ES69 on its base. Possibly Ral Partha as it is very dynamic for that time.

A Balrog, that is in complete contrast to the above, being very static and two dimensional in its pose. Still, it was a figure we all coveted at the time.

A Frost Giant that I attempted to improve by adding Milliput to, to make it look more Viking in appereance. A failure really, not helped by a really bad paint job, from a time when I just got back into wargaming in the mid-1990's.

A Fire Giant from the same range as above. Again very static, rather poorly proportioned and based as per the GW style then.

A minifigs Pig-Faced Orc, from a batch that a friend bought me some 20 years ago. The moulds are pretty shot, so there was lots of flash to clean up in places. I loved this figure back then and still do, but again it shows its age in terms of pose and detail.

A Ral Partha Barbarian from 1977, which inevitably was called 'Conan'. At the time a big improvement on what was on offer then and he seemed rather dynamic to our eyes. Still one of my favourite figures though, with 18/00 stats!

Well I hoped you enjoyed that trip down memory lane and maybe even recognised or still have some of these figures.


Saturday 9 December 2023

Property For Sale

Whilst sorting through my various boxes of wargames figures etc, I remembered that tucked underneath the bed was one with some 10mm buildings that I haven't used for years. To be honest I'd forgotten they were there, given that I've used 6mm buildings for quite some time now. Shocking I know, but sadly easily done with stuff spread all across the house! Given they  were now deemed surplus to requirements, I took some quick snaps in an attempt to sell them locally, given the cost of postage these days, talk less of them potentially getting lost😞!

So I thought I'd share them as I was rather surprised at how much time I must have taken to paint and base them and was pretty happy with how they looked. All of them are from Timecast unless otherwise stated.

A simple Spanish house, for when I was into the SCW, before the AVBCW took over.

Another, larger, Spanish house. I think the roof tiles could be a bit lighter and more terracotta like, as looking at them now they are too 'red'.

A complete mix of scratch built ruins, originally for when I was gaming in 15mm. They still look OK for 10mm at a push. A complete mix of materials, but mainly Will's Plasticard and cork table mats. I had great fun making these.

A farmhouse with attached barn.

A house with attached workshop or smithy.

A scratch built barn, made from Will's Plasticard.

Scratch built terraced houses that I made for Pendraken, that they briefly sold some years ago.

A rather nice church that I never got round to making a base for. Shame that.

Well I did enjoy looking at these after so many years hidden from view. Looking at them now I realised that I had less projects on the go and so less distractions, allowing me to spend more time on each piece of terrain. Something I really need to bare in mind moving forward!