Thursday, 8 September 2016

Butterflies - but flying in formation

Have you ever opened up a wargames magazine, seen a photo of a game, a range of figures, or an army, and just felt a surge of inspiration?
Yes, of course you have. You're a wargamer.
Me too.

These "butterflies" are all around. And over the past 18 months, rather than trying to squash such lepidoptera, instead I decided to get them "flying in formation" - I suppose, getting my butterflies formed up as regular troops, rather then having them haring off in all directions.

In short, I wanted to organise my thoughts (my trusty notebook came out again) and assess what I wanted from the hobby, my collection, and my gaming (which had become practically non-existent).

So, here's what I came up with...
I hope it explains (to those who were wondering, or suggesting "he's gone off track again!") just where this is heading.

1. Firstly, my main collection: the 18th century Pils-Holstein project. This is a large undertaking, a long-term build, with much of the painting outsourced (to David Jarvis and Mark Allen, among others).

Above:  latest arrivals from David- Prussian IR19.

Next job is for me to base them. The thing is, if this was my one and only project, my hobby would descend into a mass of basing. That would be it. Basing. Yeah... you get the picture.
I know, some might say, "But, Phil, why don't you do some of the painting for this project?" Well, knocking out rows of rank and file troops in identical uniforms is ok, but I can't manage the whole task, and don't want to mix my painting style with that of the professionals (Mark and David)!

2. Skirmishing - the other end of the spectrum: this is my Colonial project using TSATF rules, based in my fictional colony of Ghabazaar which has a southern desert (not unlike The Sudan) and northern hills (not unlike The Northwest Frontier) thereby allowing me to depict both theatres.
This has always been a fascinating period for me, and allows the whimsical part of my hobby to come through too, with some off-piste Victoriana thrown in for good measure. For some reason, this project surfaces every winter (perhaps out of longing for sunnier climes!).

TSATF game in progress.

3. Display Projects: love them or hate them, I think the sort of games seen at shows have done more to promote the hobby than anything else. Just look at the early years of the wargames magazines, Miniature Wargames and Wargames Illustrated, and you'll see what I mean. Much of the eye-candy, and inspiration, came from such games (some call them "Demo Games," but I prefer the title "Display Games" as my own penchant is for those which show off excellent terrain, painting, conversions, vignettes, buildings etc. and I'm less fussed about the actual game that's happening, or not as the case may be).
Over the years, I've done a fair few, and I have been thinking it's time to return to that fold. In the past, as well as my efforts as part of The League of Augsburg through the 1990s and up to 2005, I have also presented The Italian Wars, Eastern Renaissance (Cossacks and Polish Winged Hussars), and Thirty Years War.

In fact, when I wandered into Partizan at Newark recently, first person I bumped into was Tricks himself who asked the burning question: "Would you put on a game next year?" This will likely be a joint collaboration with Mark Allen. We'll see.

4. Off-the-Shelf gaming: this is designed to address those periods where I just fancy an army to play games with, against fellow hobbyists, perhaps at events (not competition gaming, no!), so using a standard set of rules, standard basing conventions and so on. It means me creating smallish armies (sometimes these are just 150 ish figures), often ancient period. In the past I did Sassanids, and Mongols. Latest is Macedonian Successors.

Above: Macedonian Successors w-i-p. First few units done. This has been my focus for the past couple of months. Not a bad output for 6 weeks worth of painting, taking account of time away from home.

So, that's the butterflies, flying in formation, neatly arrayed. I'm making no excuses, or trying to defend what I'm up to. Just wanted to explain some of the rationale behind what may look (from the outside) like a lack of focus.

Other news...
I notice the change of editor for Miniature Wargames magazine has taken place. There's no doubt that Henry turned this particular ship round, and did a fine job in returning it to a course that resonates more than the previous version, in my mind anyway. Well done H.
It's true to say that MW (with and without BG) has been through a number of incarnations over the years, and I hope the style of the next version builds on what Henry had done of late.

Also in the magazines this month, this time in WI, it's good to see the name Andy Callan making an appearance in the 1066 article. I well remember the Dark Age Infantry Slog (DAIS) back in MW 7.
And it was in that same issue, MW7, that this picture appeared:

Seleucids, debouching from a city gateway.

This inspired me to build a Successor army way back in the early 80s... in 15mm. And now, 30+ years on, here we go again.
Inspiration from magazine pictures.

... Which is where we came in...

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

A Successor-ful Summer ... so far

My latest workbench picture shows what I've been up to the past few weeks...
Fancied doing something Ancient, and decided on a Macedonian Successor army.

Units at various stages of completion...

Not a bad output so far:
2 x 24 figure phalanxes
8 skirmish archers
8 skirmish javelinmen
and some command figures.
That's in just 4 weeks of very painless painting.
Next - a sort of elite-peltast/ thorakites type unit - is undercoated.
Figures will be based when I pick up the bases at Partizan this coming weekend. And I'll be further inspired when I see Simon Miller's Raphia game, I'm sure.

This is the 4th time I've "done" Successors/ Macedonians. I had a 15mm Seleucid army way back when my brother and I played WRG 5th edition. That army subsequently got sold off when I got out of 15s. I then had a couple of attempts (un-successor-ful attempts!) at building Macedonian armies for WAB a few years back.

This time, I'll be using War & Conquest (the successor to WAB, written and produced by Rob Broom, formerly of Wahammer Historical). There appears to be a good community of players, and the odd weekend to attend for some games, so that will be fun.

Having expressed this new interest to a fellow wargamer who I hadn't seen for a while, Steve Gill, he too decided to pick up the reins and dabble with some Parthian type chaps. We got together, over a very nice lunch at a convenient midpoint in The Cotswolds, and shared many ideas and plans. No promises, no great pressure - just for the fun of it.

That's all for now. For those who are taking the trip to Newark this coming weekend, see you at Partizan...

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Here is the News...

Not a lot has been happening in my wargaming world...

Following a period of reflection as to what to do next, my birthday came along at just the right time and allowed me to make a few purchases: a new set of rules, some figures, and further books for background reading.
I've decided to dip a toes back into some ancients, just for the hell of it... we'll see where it goes. More on this at some point.

Last weekend, I happened to be up in the north-east where Dianne's parents were holding their Diamond Wedding Anniversary celebrations. Imagine my surprise to find there was a show on in Stockton (Muster on the Parade Ground), just 15 minutes from where we were staying. So, off I trot on Saturday, with just a small list (just a couple of bits n bobs).
Sadly, the show was, in my opinion, pretty poor. No demo games (and therefore precious little in the way of eye candy to inspire) and only a smattering of traders... and as far as I could make out, very few "punters".
Anyway, I got what was on the list, and within 40 minutes we were heading away...
The show billed itself as "Participation only" games, and the only one that took the eye was a Sudan affair, using Carlo's rules, and Connoisseur figures:


Well done to the guys running that game.

That's all for now, but I'll share more on the Ancients front when I finish something worth showing...

Thanks for dropping by.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Roaming to Rhodes

At the risk of turning into Alan Wicker, here are a few snaps from our recent holiday in Rhodes, posted here simply because some will be of interest to those who like fortifications and can build such things in miniature...

The moat walk affords an ideal view of the imposing walls...





The old town, in parts practically unchanged for hundreds of years, has a fantastic atmosphere.





Our hotel provided lovely views from the 11th floor restaurant balcony out over to Asia Minor, just a few miles away. I can imagine ancient peoples looking across the short stretch of water and wondering what could lie within those vast lands...


That's all for now.
Not much to report in the way of wargaming, although being in hot climes with ancient histories always stimulates thoughts of new armies!

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Austrians and Prussians

Have finished 3 battalions of 1770s Austrians, which will act as fictional Astrovians in my mid-18th century Pils-Holstein campaign.
The figures were created by John Ray, who sold me a whole load of them several years ago. I hadn't done anything with them until recently when I decided on a speed-painting experiment.

They were awarded their flags (courtesy of Mark Allen) last weekend as we journeyed to Partizan.
Regiments shown are: Kaizer, Deuchmeister, and Salm-Salm.

 Figure painting by me, flags by Mark Allen.

Also not shown before, the Prussian IR5 battalion...

Figures, from my own range, painted by Dave Jarvis, flags by Mark, based by yours truly.

I came back from Partizan as inspired as I had been by Salute. Met lots of people, enjoyed the chatter and the games, and the new venue. Well done to the organising team.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Partizan Bring n Buy

Partizan Bring n Buy ?
Apparently there isn't one...
Which is a shame, because I was going to sell a few bits n bobs...

...such as these:

Above: Austrian Command vignettes: £ 30 for the pair.
Update: Bought by Henry.

Above: Austrian artillery - 2 guns and crews, plus a couple of spare figures... £30 the lot.
Update: Bought by Chris G.

Above: Prussian fusiliers - 14 figures. £ 30.
Update: bought by Stuart Parkin.

Above: Artillery - gun + crew, + 8 single-based artillery crew, plus officer and 4 artillerymen marching (unbased). Total £ 30.
Update: Bought by Chris G.

Above: Jagers. These are dressed in black coats (an imaginary uni), but could easily have green applied to make into historical unit. 8 figures. Just £10.
Update: Jagger's bought by Alan (Tradgardmastere).

So, if you are going to Partizan, and want to buy these, let me know in the comments below, and we'll arrange exchange.

On the subject of Partizan, I'm very much looking forward to it, and to the new venue. Looks like some good games are on, and I have a couple of traders in the cross-wires at the moment!!

See you there.

Friday, 22 April 2016

Late, but inevitable, Salute post...

I can't believe it's a week since the event, and I'm mindful Salute posts aplenty have been seen elsewhere, but as it was my first experience of the show, I couldn't let it pass without putting up a few pictures.

The day began with an early start (even though I had been staying over in London on business the Friday night), and the journey from Gloucester Rd to Excel was made easier by the sudden arrival in my carriage of two familiar faces: David Shuttleworth (of Wargame Amateur blog fame) and Steve Ayers. "Of all the gin joints, in all the ... etc..."
We changed trains at Canning Town and, lo and behold, Dave Jarvis is in the carriage we choose for the final leg on DLR.

Arriving at Excel, I expected a queue, and I got one. But by just after 10am I was in the hall, and on a mission to fulfil my modest shopping list, before seeking out some of the games I was especially looking forward to...
And here are some snaps of my favourites...

Bill Gaskin's remarkable SYW game:


Ian Smith's impressive 40mm Napoleonic game:


Next... ECW Siege of Bristol by the Crewe and Nantwich Club. Dave Marshall was largely responsible for terrain and town. Superb:

NW Frontier (again Dave Marshall terrain):

Met so many pals, throughout the day and chewed the wargaming fat until it was time to head back.
And I returned inspired...
Well done to the organisers, the gamers and traders, who put on a fine show.