Thursday 31 December 2020

That End Of Year Post - 2020 Edition

   I don't think any of 2020's end of year reviews are going to start with anything but, what a year we had. This year has a lot to answer for.

   This year I have read much much more than ever before (173 books!) and gamed a lot less, I've been to battlefields and Roman forts, all of which has inspired new armies and new projects. I've had a year of trying to buy up models I might want in the next year or so when I am pretty sure I am going to be skint, all the while being distracted by an idea I've had from the last novel I've read or last place I have visited. We've played D&D on Roll20, recorded podcasts on Skype and had a son.

   The stat that threw me the most was blog posts - this is my 2rnd highest year in a year that I didn't think I was keeping up with posts.

Here are the aims I set for myself at the end of 2019 - oh sweet summer child:

1. Play 52 games - of with 26 must be 30k - As I am on a 30k podcast I really need to know what I am talking about and make sure I don't have a dry spell like 2019 - 54 games played but only 9 games of 30k (and 6 of those were two day events in January and February and a bulk of the games played this year have been quick games that you can play 3 or 4 games of in an evening with only 26 of the 54 games being wargames (actually still better than I expected). Not going to beat myself up about this after the year we've all had. 
2. Paint more than I buy - Especially after failing in 2019 and going to add that my bought figures must never go higher than painted numbers - Failed but I sort of failed on purpose. . .
3. Really must not buy into too many more projects - Ultimately this will tie into aim 2 as this is another backlog aim - I started more projects than I planned to but I don't think it was as bad as it could have been. Mostly the problem has been the size of some of the projects.
4. Look to finish some older projects properly - Baggage, non-coms, appropriate scenery etc all make a battle feel more realistic - just painting 24 points of a Lion Rampant army doesn't quite cut it - I think this is something I've gotten better at. More armies are hitting 30 points as a basic instead of 24 and there is more gumpf appearing with them, but next year will be better.
5. Replay (mini versions of) famous battles - 2019 saw us play a mini (and it really was mini) version of Hastings, and this is something I'd like to do with other periods. Get a feel for what each side had and what the conditions were, then replay it, so looking at Agincourt, Nasby, Towton, maybe even Bosworth? - Sadly this was as affected by a lack of games as anything else. We replayed a small version of Agincourt as one of the first games this year, but it went south pretty quickly after that. Even without the weird year we've had, I suspect I was always going to fail this one, going into a aim of playing 4 battles when you only own the figures for 1 is going to make it hard to achieve.

There are a few other interesting stats that I want to share:
  • I only played 3 armies more than once this year - Ultramarines x6, Sons of Horus x3 and Napoleonic British x3. While, my new D&D character was joint first with my Ultras but doesn't have a figure yet.
  • My Top 3 most played games were; 30k x9, D&D x6 with a joint 3rd place of Hey That's My Fish x5 and Ultimate Werewolf x5, with only one other wargame coming in my top 10 (Rebels and Patriots)
  • I painted the most models in a single year than I have before - 1178!
  • 8 of the armies I played with this year were on the table for the first time.

After playing a lot of ACW last year using Rebels and Patriots it became obvious that the rules would work for Napoleonics too, so we played a few games of that this year.

I got my WW2 armies out for the first time in a couple of years. I had planned to play a few games of Bolt Action this year, but that was in Feb . . .
Also, it feels weird looking at a photo of a game played at Wayland Games - not been in the place for almost 9 months at this point.

I got to my first doubles tournament this year and it was as fun as I was told they would be.
Also winning my first physical trophy was a definite bonus.

I got my Ultramarines to their first Tournament and almost got them to a second (with the tournament being postponed twice in one year).

The Dutch Navy saw their first action this year - one of the benefits of the first lockdown was getting time to do those projects that had been put by.

The first planned game of 100 Years War was loosely based on Agincourt, following games fell by the wayside but I aim to pick it back up with the extra figures I've since painted. This project still needs more knights . . .

Getting some ECW on the table was another big highlight of the year - I'd been meaning to play that for a few years now.

My Lancers getting their first charge in was one of my gaming highlights of the year - sorry Neil. . . Hot knife through butter comes to mind.

   The other thing I thought I would do in this round up, simply due to how many books I have read this year, is have a quick bit about what books or series of books I have discovered this year and really enjoyed:
1. Mercy Thompson - Twilight in concept but actually good

2. Honor Harrington - just properly good sci-fi

3. Alan Lewrie - an easy going naval series

4. Shogan - wow, just wow

5. Anything by Ben Kane - good Roman novels

6. Anything by Sam Willis - naval history at its best

   Before this becomes a book blog, my aims for 2021 are going to be somewhat different - for obvious reasons I hope;

1. Play 25 games - I want to keep this low as I would like to spend a bit more time at home early this year. I'd rather set an easy target that I smash than spend the last half of the year chasing numbers when I should be at home.
2. Paint more than I buy - again, for obvious reasons money will be a lot tighter this year, so I'm not really aiming to buy any more than the odd top up for a unit or army if I find I am really missing something. I purposely built up my backlog to make life next year easier.
3. Play a big game - I want my gaming in 2021 to be about quality rather than quantity (he said saying he wants to play a big game). I'd like to go out once in a while and play a really good game and chat with real mates than be rushing out at every opportunity and losing a once in a lifetime chance to watch someone grow up.
4. After saying all that, I would also quite like to see if I can get a non-30k army to the top of my most played this year, but not going to purposely break the spirit of Targets 1 and 3 to achieve it.
5. Add much more gubbins to my projects - I want every project to have at least something in the way of wagons, civilians, camp followers and scenery. I'm getting much better at this but I'm still lacking in a lot of places.

I might as well use this opportunity to get some confessions in too. I've been putting some projects aside (as mentioned earlier) so that I don't need to spend money that I potentially don't have and while I don't want to dedicate myself to getting them finished without knowing what my free time looks like I expect the following to appear on this blog at some point:
  • Scots Covenantors for ECW 
  • Some Royalist Highland Scots (not a whole army - yet)
  • War of the Roses - both sides (big-ish armies) - you've seen the first batch
  • Late Imperial Romans (lots) with Goth allies
  • Early Republic Romans
  • New Kingdom Egyptians
  • Haradrim
  • Thousand Sons for 30k
  • Lizardman Blood Bowl team
  • All the cavalry for my Moorish army
  • Plus extra units for projects including Napoleonics, ECW and others
  • A fair few non-combatant units for older armies inc wagons and scenery - I'll be honest, I got carried away buying stuff for this bullet point
  • And I'm sort of tempted by a little foray into AWI or the Seven Years War
Thanks for reading

Sunday 27 December 2020

The Land Of The Rising Sun

   I'm still not doing much in the way of hobby but I thought I'd go back over some projects that never made it onto the blog for whatever reason.

    One of the books I was encouraged to read during Lockdown 1 was Shogun by James Clavell and this led to an undesirable outcome, a new project in a bit of the world that has never held much fascination for me beyond liking Pokemon.

   I decided to do it as cheaply as I could but still make it worth doing, so I bought a starter warband for Test Of Honour from Footsore Miniatures, an extra pack of figures from Steel Fist Miniatures and a few bits of scenery from Blotz and got going. I've not actually bought the rulebook yet, so that might need to be the next thing I look at. 

   I try not to be negative on this blog as its not the tone I want to go for, but there is something I'd like to get out of the way before I bring the tone back up. I'm really not a fan of the tiny wrist joints on metal models that the newer multipart Footsore Models have started to put out - I think its the bits not sculpted by Bill - so the stuff for Gangs of Rome, Mortal Gods and Test of Honour, it just makes some of the models* a nightmare to build and I doubt they will survive much in the way of gaming, even with pinning. The banner poles particularly worry me but I'm not sure what Footsore could have done about those.

*Not every model but a handful

   The figures in this post are a single Samurai away from a minimum warband - which is just my laziness on show, but I have all the Footsore Ashigaru finished (with just some Wargames Factory ones that came free with Wargames Illustrated to add to my painting list). This is one of those projects where I'm not 100% if it will ever make it onto the table, but as a hobby project it's earnt it's money back, so who really cares.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Welcome To The World

    I try to keep this blog pretty hobby-centric but every now and again I've got a good reason to break that rule and this is one of those posts.

   About a week ago my wife gave birth to our first child, a boy we have called Edward. As you can imagine he is taking up nearly all of our time at the moment so my hobby is definitely suffering, but its been totally worth it so far.

   I've got big plans for my hobby next year and have been buying up armies since we found out (giving fair warning that I have failed at least one of my hobby targets for 2020) but I suspect posts will dry up a bit in the immediate future.

Thanks for reading 

Thursday 10 December 2020

World War Of The Roses

    This post has been written a bit earlier than I planned it to, but I've had a week or so of a complete lack of hobby mojo (not obvious from my posts) so I decided the best thing to do would be to look at something fresh for a bit before going back to my Britannia AD43 project.

   A couple of weeks back, I came across a group of posts on Twitter talking about something called the World War Of The Roses and it intrigued me.

   As you can see from the picture, I helpfully downloaded from Twitter, the aim is to have as many games set during the Wars Of The Roses played over the weekend of May 22-23rd 2021 as possible. While I didn't have anything painted up for it, I did have two armies bought and in line to be next, so why not set myself a deadline - of nearly a full 6 months.

   I've decided to go with my painting plan of doing mixed batches of troops but taking it to the next level and doing the whole of a single retinue in one go - although over a batch or two to keep numbers down. I'm going to mix the size of retinues from 6 up to maybe 16-20 depending on the lord, so some colours and badges will be more common in the army than others.

   This first retinue is Andrew Trollope who I picked because I liked his heraldry and his name - how could you not. He was a Lancastrian which is also the side I am starting with (and also the side that I have bought the most for as I think one of my gaming group plans to do a Yorkist force of their own in the future), although I do plan to continue my normal thing of painting armies for both sides as it always means I have the ability to get a game in.

Sir Andrew Trollope WotR Billhooks

   The aim is to get two side painted as and when time allows - although I suspect it'll be fairly quick as the figures are fairly easy to paint - and then bulk out each side as the deadline gets closer. I'm sort of hoping this might end up being a fairly big project.

Thanks for reading

Saturday 5 December 2020

Building Up The Strength

    I'm on the home stretch with my Ancient Britons now, with the two units in this post being the last full units of their type - although there are another 2 full units of other types and some stragglers left but that's a different problem. It was only as I waited for my laptop to warm up enough to open Chrome that I realised this army has outgrown the boxes I bought for it and will now need extra storage, so the temptation to add more units is overwhelming, something to have a stop and think about I suspect.

   This post is the last unit of regular warriors and the second (also last - for now) unit of horse. I gave the warriors a couple of flaming torches while I was building them as it occurred to me that I would like the option to play an attack on a Roman town as a scenario, as I have Roman buildings for Gangs of Rome already. In hindsight I should probably have made more than 2 with torches. All figures are Warlord Games still and I've included the guy from Boudica's chariot in this unit too.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Last Of The Legion

    I've set myself a bit of a deadline for project Britannia AD43 (or so) that I suspect I am going to fail to achieve but I'm still getting a fair few figures from it moving to do my best. This post is about the last unit of Legionnaires inc the command elements, while I have a few stragglers coming along and I'm not going to rule out another unit one day in the future but we are done with legionaries for now.

   With just a couple of units of Auxilia left to paint for this half of the project, I had better get back to the painting table.

Thanks for reading

Saturday 28 November 2020

British Laager

   I've definitely mentioned this before, but my Wagons, Carts & Civilians* label is probably my favourite option in my blog side bar as it lets you do some really fun things, although it was in writing this post that I realised I have a lot less wagons than I thought I had - something to rectify. This post was particularly fun to get ready and will hopefully address the balance a bit..

   Laager was not a word in my mental dictionary until I sent Simon Miller from TheBigRedBatCave a message asking where he got his Celtic Wagons from as I couldn't see any mention in his Celtic label search of manufacturers. At the point I asked, I'd bought 3 wagons from a couple of different sources** but wanted a bit more variety and my google-fu was failing me. Simon's very helpful response included where he thought they had come from but also told me to search Laager on his blog and it was an eye opener.

   A few of orders later (that escalated somewhat) and I had bought another 9 wagons from various sources for this project and for a couple of other projects. For this project I ended up with; 2 from 1st Corps, 2 from Front Rank, 1 from Redoubt Miniatures and 1 from Wargames Foundry along some screaming women for heckling purposes. This ends up being just less than 2 foot of Laager if you are using the Simon Miller method of counting wagons - must try harder.

*Slightly amended  

 **One of which was later requisitioned by the Romans

Front Rank

Redoubt Miniatures

Front Rank

Wargames Foundry

1st Corps

   I am now in the weird position where I can rank different companies wagons in a single post and while I don't think there are any bad kits in this batch, some deserve a bit of praise. 

   The 1st Corps wagons are my go to place when I first decide I need a wagon, but I do think the lack of variety is a bit of a shame, saying that they go together really nicely. The Redoubt Miniatures wagon was a dream to put together but the other wagons I picked up for my ECW project - coming soon - were a bit more of a puzzle to get built, although, as some of the cheapest wagons on this list, they definitely rank highly. The single Foundry Miniatures wagon went together fairly easily and is a really good basic wagon, but it is the Front Rank wagons that I want to really single out as they were a dream to put together and left me wishing I had bought another one or two**.

   The figures are a mix of the Foundry Germanic women (heartily recommended to me by Simon), a couple from Crusader Miniatures and one or two from Warlord Games. The woman holding a baby in one hand and a Roman helmet in the other was a limited edition figure from Warlord, I think you got free when you placed an order, and I knew I had one somewhere - it turned out I had a few of them. I've still got a few more non-combatant type figures to do for this project but if I keep waiting for everything to be finished I'll never post this up.

**I did but that's a story for another day

Thanks for reading

Wednesday 25 November 2020

The Dreaded Praetorian Guard

    The Praetorian Guard is a unit that I had no plans to include in this project, but a chat with a mate on the best source of replacement shields for GW's Minas Tirith troops* reminded me that Wargames Illustrated had two free Roman sprues in a row, I've already used the Veteran Legionaries (mixed into my Legionary units) but I also had something else. A search through my Pile of Potential and I found it was a sprue of Praetorians. So, on my last (so far) Warlord Games orders I added a couple of packs of decals for their shields and an extra sprue to make them a useable number, figuring if I didn't paint them as part of this project they would languish in my sprue pile forever.

*If anyone has any ideas we are still stuck

   Then a couple of weekends ago my Podcast mates decided to do a hangout and hobby session to have a catch up during Lockdown 2 and I decided that instead of doing the next thing in my painting queue, I would use the chance of being 'forced' to paint to get on with a project I wasn't looking forward to, a few things came to mind, but a full batch of 20 models won. I don't like painting in batches bigger than 6 (which allows me to do a Lion Rampant unit in 2 batches rather than 2 and a bit of most people's 5 in a batch) but as my Romans had already been worked in batches of 12, what I really wanted to avoid was painting the 12 I needed then leaving the rest of the unit in my painting queue to catch up with later.

   While painting 20 models at a time is horrible and I don't know how you people that do it, actually do it, doing the boring bits while having a chat was a better experience than I expected (damned with faint praise?) and it meant the project was well on it's way by the time we called it and got back on with our weekends.

   I've also given them pretty bad stats, instead of making them an elite unit as other games seem to, for Lion Rampant and at this point I'm sort of looking forward to another player finding that out mid game . . .

   Then with the Praetorian Guard being painted the next obvious thing was someone for them to guard. As Claudius only got involved in the invasion at the point where it was basically a photo op and Nero had other problems on his hands during Boudica's uprising (fiddling while Rome burned?) I didn't want it to be an emperor, so I went for a Legate or Tribune. I'm pretty sure this pair are from Warlord, although I have got a bit lost in where bits are from at this point. I only plan to use a single one in a game, but it's nice to have options. The extra figure is a mob figure from Gangs of Rome that I have spare and I plan to use him as a freedman of some sort to give the leader some advice during the battle.

Thanks for reading

Monday 23 November 2020

Hit And Run

    I'm at that awkward point in what I have started dubbing my Britannia AD43 project (just because it sounds flashier than Britannia somewhere between AD43 and AD60-61 but with the option of AD83 - sorry Boudica) where I can see the end of the project looming and that means it's easy to take the eye off the ball and let the last units drift down the painting queue (like pretty much every other project I have done in the last year or few). I'm trying to show a bit of self discipline and make sure everything for this project is built and sprayed, then close to hand so painting carries on with as few distractions as possible.

   That is where this post comes in. I have made no qualms about my dislike of painting cavalry in the past, and as this project only has 2 units of cavalry a side (actually really small numbers all things considered) they could so easily become the casualties of my end of project drifting, so I'm aiming to make sure I have some horses on my painting desk at all times now.

   I finished the first unit of Roman cavalry a couple of weeks back, so this time it is the turn of some British cavalry. I've mixed horse colours as I normally try to I've basically just been adding a horseman or two each time I've painted a batch of warriors to try and keep a mix of clothing colours and patterns.

Thanks for reading

Friday 20 November 2020

Last of the English Archers

    Another slight detour from my painting plan but linked to another recent project. Posting about the wooden stakes for my 100 Years War project got me thinking about the last few units that still needed to be finished. There is still another plastic box set I'd like to buy to complete (?) both sides, but first I have another few units that I already own that need to be done.

   For the English I have 3 units left to do and it dawned on me that I should really get them built and sprayed ready to fit into my plans. The archers (already having been built) were the closest to being ready, so they jumped the queue and got onto my painting table.

   There isn't a huge amount to say about these, they are Perry Miniatures plastics like the rest and I painted them to match a couple of the banners in my stock pile.

Thanks for reading

Tuesday 17 November 2020


    This is the first chariot that I've given it's own post to, rather than hiding it behind a full unit and that's because I've got a few bits to say about this model.

   The model is the Warlord Games Boudica Chariot and I bought it to be one of the chariots in my only planned unit, but the more I thought about it the more I wanted the option of whether Boudica is involved in the chariot charge or not. In some games I think she makes more sense as a command element at the back of the board, while in other games she shouldn't be on the board at all - Mons Graupius for example - so being able to swap her in and out made more sense.

   Then the model itself, the way Warlord sell the model with Boudica at the front and a big bloke with a Roman standard behind her pushes Boudica herself into second place on her own model, looking more like the driver than the queen of the Iceni. So the obvious answer to that was to make the bloke at the back fight on foot and add a new driver to the chariot, giving Boudica pride of place again.

   Lastly, paint jobs. I've purposely given the chariot two different colour horses which is something I've been avoiding doing so far - I have a weird memory from a tv program that reckoned horse siblings make a better team than two unrelated horses, whether this is true or not is a different matter, but its been a guideline I've worked to. But with this chariot, I wanted something to make it stand out even if* I get more chariots, plus I'm reading the Boudica series of novels by Manda Scott and in the first her two horses are grey and brown, so that's what I did. Also going with that series of novels, each tribe wears a different colour cloak, with the Iceni being blue so, again, I made sure I included that**.


**ignoring the fact Boudica wears grey in the books 

Thanks for reading

Wednesday 11 November 2020

The rambling post about warmachines and distractions

    I've been building up to this post for a while with multiple bits needing to be finished to make it work. 

   It all started when I had a bit of a tidy up and found I had bought two Black Tree 100 Years War ballista*, these were added to my spreadsheet of unbuilt models and pushed to the top of my to do list, but didn't get any further than being sprayed before they got left on the side.

   I've painted them pretty roughly to match the rest of the collection - it turns out my painting style has got a lot better since then. I doubt these will ever see the table and I still have no idea why I bought them but they are nice to have.

*Still not actually sure when these were actually bought.

   Then just before lockdown I had placed a Gripping Beast order and I added a Scorpion for my Arthurian-British army partly to get into the free postage bracket and partly as a nice stand alone project, this didn't even get to the building stage before I got distracted. 

   The extra character on the left with sword and round shield turned up in my pile of potential a while back, I suspect he is from a Gripping Beast Roman-British command pack I bought a while back but I'm not sure, made sense to paint him at the same time as the crew for the scorpion, though.

   Lastly, we have the plastic Warlord Games Scorpions for my Early Imperial Roman army and it was at this point when I was sitting in my man cave building them ready to slot into my painting backlog and I saw the ballista on the shelf behind me and this weird thought in my head told me to do a post with all 5 warmachines in.

   So off I went and got on with them, until another thought jostled in for attention. One of the things I wanted to do with my projects this year was make these small armies look more like they could be able to move through the landscape, so my cannons (nearly) all have limbers now** and are starting to get ammunition wagons too etc, and the early imperial Roman scorpions shouldn't be an exception (he says ignoring the other 3 weapons for the moment). I've been buying wagons for a Celtic wagon train (Laager) / battlefield obstacle (think Wattling Street) since the first order I placed while in Northumbria and one of those wagons was the Warlord Games Roman/Celtic wagon which looks like a perfect fit for a Scorpion, so the Roman army requisitioned the one I had and got a second in my last order, with a suitable replacement wagon found for the Britons elsewhere. 

**More sitting on my painting table

   I added the auxiliary instead of a slave on the first base as I wanted to emphasise the Roman feel of these units and not make it look like I'm just using a few of my Celtic wagons on the Roman side for a game and while it is a legionnaire unit, it felt more appropriate to have the wagon guard be auxiliary than legionnarie. I plan to paint a few extra auxiliaries to have scattered around the wagons too.

   While the second wagon I left a bit plainer and left a bit of the wagon off to make it look a bit different. I had planned to put a pack mule on the base but found I just didn't have the space, so that will end up being painted at a later date - I have a new plan for it now anyway. 

Thanks for reading

Sunday 8 November 2020

Rock & Rock Pt.II

    Another strange post that doesn't fit anywhere but something I am quite proud of. When I was painting up my English archers for my late 100 years war armies all those months ago, I wanted to do something with the stakes that came on the sprues, but I wasn't sure how to base them. I eventually decided to do them in blocks that could be lined up in front of the movement trays I use, but needed a big enough Warbases order to make the postage worth it.

   The bases are 80mm by 25mm so it takes two to match the length of my trays, but allows for more uses if I'm playing a skirmish game or with smaller units. There are enough to protect 4 units of archers which does mean I have a 4th unit of archers waiting to be painted . . .

Thanks for reading

Friday 6 November 2020

More Yellow Shields

    With a bit of a delay, here are the promised 3rd unit of Roman Auxiliary troops, the same Warlord Games plastics as the last two. I have one more unit of these left to do - but it includes more metal figures and the command elements, so that should break up my routine a bit.

   I'm going to work on the theory that I failed in my self imposed challenge for last week and have succeeded this week instead of trying to rush to catch up, but lets see what else I can get done with my free time as the week goes on.

Thanks for reading

Wednesday 4 November 2020

How Many Of Them Are There?

    So I missed my self imposed deadline to post my second unit for the week and while I hadn't finished the promised unit of Romans, I had finished another unit of Ancient Britons that I had planned to post after them, as it is the start of a fresh week, lets look at them now and try to finish the Romans for later.

   First up is the unit of regular warriors, a complete mix of models from a chief, slinger, skyclad and more Warlord plastics. There are also a couple of Crusader Miniatures models in here from their Religious Fanatics set to mix a the look up a bit. I also tried some new checks on the fabric in her shameless stolen from the internet, although I have no idea from who, and I've also started to paint the shield rims in different colours to add even more brightness to the units on the table. In time all my units will get mixed in, so it won't end up with a single unit with painted shield rims and other units with plain.

   Next up is the last chariot for the unit of chariots. I had bought 3 Warlord Games chariots, but I've moved one into its own thing - coming later - and replaced it with a Wargames Foundry chariot which mixes in really nicely. The only real difference between them is the length of the shaft connecting the horses to the body of the chariot, but as they are hand made (in different places) I'm not expecting them to be perfect matches of each other.

Thanks for reading