Category Archives: commentary

2012 – A Year in Review…

Well, I started this post back on the 28th and only got as far as a title! Did a little more last week and over the weekend and finally finished it today. So a little late but we shall see how it goes. So, how was 2012? Lets look at it from Highs, Lows, Slight Diversions and then Plans.


Well, it has to be Ayton again! The weekend in May (the Jubilee weekend) was yet again a weekend of great figures, a great game and great company throughout. You could not wish for a better bunch to game with and a better atmosphere. There are some pics from the game in the Ayton 2012 gallery, and the actual battle is written up by the ever faithful Private Lamm in his Journal entry. Getting everything painted and ready for this meant that at least the first few months were productive and quite a few boxes were filled in in the Painting Master Plan.

I did manage to add to quite a few other projects over the year. Added to my FUBAR forces even if I didn’t manage a game!

Patrol 02Started to recreate my ImagiNation forces in 6mm and was quite pleased with my converted Adler SYW lancers!

Savage Swan Uhlans
Savage Swan Uhlans

And added numerous bits and pieces to my Cold War Commander forces even if I didn’t manage a game this year!


I even started recreating the Savage Swans in 15mm Romano-British form!

sabot03So I think there were a lot of good little outputs this year. And it ended on a high with the final meeting of the Tyneside Club where we pulled together the Ayton troops again for a little Byzarbian Interlude!


The cavalry of the Sultan Pasha arrive to help?
The cavalry of the Sultan Pasha arrive to help?

Myself, Ken and Phil did battle for a wagon train and it ended a hard fought draw (well, that’s what MY reports say!).

I made a good few shows as well and as with last year these seem to be moving more and more towards social gatherings rather then just an excuse to buy stuff. It’s been good to meet up with the denizens of various online forums and chat with traders. I look forward to the 2013 calendar.

So overall, not a bad year in a lot of ways.


The real downside has been the lack of games. The two big ImagiNation games and a small AWI participation game at the Pendraken Birthday Bash: and that was it. Not a good tally for the year even if all three events were great fun. Towards the end of the year my painting enthusiasm definitely went AWOL. Haven’t painted anything for a couple of months and although I feel I’m heading back in the right direction with sorting my painting space, until I come up with a PLAN things are still a little vague.

Slight Diversions

The title of the blog was chosen with care! I’ve wanted to do a 10mm project for a while and this year I’ve started (or at least spent on) three. I bought a huge pile of Pendraken Sudan figures. Then sold them. I bought some Italian WW1 figures. And sold them. And I have a pile of 1st Schleswig-Holstein War figures and these I still have and these will get done. Just maybe not this year!

I also almost made a start on my GHQ WW2 North Africa project, then realised it would be madness with everything else going on! I was almost tempted to sell the lot and concentrate on the Moderns but I picked up so much of the stuff quite cheap it would be a huge expense to ever replace them. So they stay….

To be honest, the 15mm Dark Age dabbling is a diversion as I’ve only got a dozen or so figures painted and no one else plays the Lardy rules and in a lot of ways the enthusiasm boat has sailed…

So we move on to…


Now, several yeas ago, after my bemoaning the lack of games that year, my wife said I should aim for six games the following year, one every two months. I think that following year I managed three games so it wasn’t too bad! But this year, 2013, I’m going to aim for something similar. But with a slight twist.

Six games. Six periods. Six painting plans!

I want to use the potential for six games to drive my painting. Either adding to existing forces to enable a game, starting a new force, or even just completing terrain to make a game possible. So here are the six:

  1. 28mm C19th – This will be the troops for this year’s Ayton game in May. Spencer Smith FPW figures. It won’t be a huge force, just the Savage Swans redone in another period! Plus a few Ottomans
  2. 28mm C18th – There is another WD3 gathering in Scotland in September. I am still hoping things may change and I can actually make so I shall paint new troops (mostly the Old School stuff recently acquired) to take and if it doesn’t happen then I will arrange another mini-WD3 game at the Tyneside Club
  3. 6mm SF – I have enough for a game and enough scenery but there are a few more bits I want to paint/add and some thoughts on rules. But I intend to have a game this year either solo or at the club.
  4. 6mm ImagiNation – I want to complete enough of the 6mm figures to get a small game going. I’ve enjoyed doing these and it will be nice to use them. Likely with Maurice rules which I’ve wanted to try for a while.
  5. 15mm AWI – Now this may seem a strange choice given their lack of activity over the last couple of years but I do like the period and the recent B&D Miniatures releases have got me wanting to paint a few and have a game. Plus, Stephen, at the Club should be a suitable opponent!
  6. Cold War Commander – despite having painted and based quite a lot over the last year I didn’t play a single game! So the plan with this lot is to finish off troops for both sides, finish off terrain and then get a game going. And the VERY tentative plan might be to do enough to put on a demo game at Border Reiver in September.

So there you go. Now I’m not going to commit to the demo game until I KNOW I can do it. If Wd3 Scotland happens then I will be painting towards that and it may be madness trying to run a game the week before! We shall see. Sometime over the next week I will produce a list of actual targets and replace the painting plan to the right. Then it becomes official and I can start preparing the excuses for not hitting the targets!

So on to 2013 and I hope a few of you pop by to keep an eye on progress. I’m going to TRY and be a little more active on the blog. If I’m actually painting then it shouldn’t be an issue.


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Plastics are obviously not for me!

Now, I just can’t be doing with all tis new plastic stuff. I picked up a few a while back and just could not be faffed with sticking the bloody things together. And I am a big supporter of the whole ‘heft’ argument. They just don’t feel right to me. And that’s the crux of it really. I, me. My opinion. Some of them are lovely sculpts. I’ve seen them with lovely paint jobs and they fully hold their own against their leaden brethren. But pick them up and the illusion is shattered. For me… 🙂

So today, my little lad (four in June) was pestering me to show him how I play me games. Now I’m far too much of a coward  to use my own painted kit so I promised him we’d go to town and buy some ‘soldiers’. So in to Model Zone we went and after a lot of ‘discussion’ and dragging him away from the expensive Action Man type models, we came away with a pack of Revell WW2 Germans and Revell Soviets. I’ve got a couple of Corgi tanks I thought we could use as well. So this evening I unpacked them and tried to set up a little table for a game tomorrow. And then I noticed (and this is the reason for the mini rant) that the Soviets were bigger than the Germans. Then I spotted I’d got a pack of 1/72nd and a pack of 1/76th! Now, not a big deal for playing with a three year old, but I’d casually though we could paint them at some point and use them for ‘proper’ skirmish’ games. Damned annoying!

The Germans are quite nice. The Soviets less so. Less defined detail and half of them need sticking to bloody bases! I was really hoping no glue would be involved! Still, I suppose they will do the job and let him try and paint some as well.

Game report to follow if we don’t fall out when I destroy his troops with my superior tactics!


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Despite working in IT I’ve always avoided a lot of the trends and technologies that become popular. I’ve only recently started using Facebook in any meaningful way. Admittedly I’ve blogged for a while! And I don’t Twitter! Never. Ever.

Podcasts I’ve seen around for quite a while, both from the gaming viewpoint and from the Linux community, but I’ve never really bothered. I’ve either needed my PC/Laptop on and if downstairs then I get distracted by kids/wife/TV. And if in attic painting I end up drifting off onto the Internet. So recently, having finally got my HTC Desire, I’ve started listening to some either to and from work and occasionally at work.

First up were the View from the Veranda podcasts from Neil Shuck and Henry Hyde. Now having met Henry and obviously reading Battlegames I knew I liked his ‘view’ of the Hobby. And View from the Veranda showcases that view admirably. Both Henry and Neil chat well and I find I have a lot in common with their views on the rules and the hobby in general. They are well worth a listen. I started with Episode 7 and then worked my way back! It was nice to here Henry chat about the Ayton game as well.

The current and new episodes are on their own site here and earlier episodes can be found on the Meeples and Miniatures website here.

Which leads me to the Meeples and Miniatures podcasts! I’ve got to admin I only came to this via the VftV podcasts and having heard Neil’s enthusiasm for the hobby, both figure and board games, I thought I’d give them a go. I started with Episode 78, the latest, and an interview with Richard Clarke of Too Fat Lardies. This was an excellent interview. Informative and funny at times and giving a good insight into the thinking behind the whole Too Fat Lardies approach to rules and gaming. I found a lot to like. I have a copy of Sharp Practice but have yet to play (like lots of other things!) but as I’m finally starting to dabble in WW2 (I blame Henry for his Western Desert GHQ project!) I’m on the lookout for rules and I really liked what I heard about I Ain’t Been Shot Mum. As Version 3 is due out later this year I shall be acquiring a copy!

And since then I’ve been working my way back through episodes and currently on Episode 70. There are some excellent reviews of products, explanations of new rule sets, interviews with gaming alumni (so to speak). I particularly liked the Force on Force related interviews. And it’s proved a good way of getting an overview of the hobby over the last year or so and hearing about things I’ve missed. You can’t fail to hear Neil’s enthusiasm for the hobby coming through and I envy the amount of gaming he manages to get in. I tend to be quite insular in my gaming. As I don’t get many games in I have a focus on the painting (and blogging) and tend to stick to my own little periods so if I get to a club I want to play with MY stuff! :).

The podcast related posts are here. And include the Incoming shorted reviews which I’ve yet to get round to. Neil is to be congratulated on keeping this project going for so long and still keeping it interesting, so long may it continue.

I’ll be keeping current with these podcasts and slowly working my way back through them. I can’t see me really seeking out other podcasts, if only from a time commitment viewpoint but they are proving an interesting addition to my hobby. Go listen!


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Current Reading….and Another Slight Diversion!

I had hoped to get a little more painting done before the end of the year but kids have been ill and shopping for Christmas has taken more time (and money!) than planned. So in lieu of a painting update here is a reading update…

Current reading matter is Chieftains by Bob Forrest-Webb. This seems rather hard to get hold of and the cheapest copy via Amazon is £69.99! There was a copy at £30 but that went and I suspect has been re-listed at a higher price. Anyway, having bemoaned the fact and expressed a desire to obtain a copy, the Fates eventually conspired in my favour and Andy1909, who has commented here and on TMP and lives local to me (although we’ve never met), contacted me and offered me his copy. This was a very generous gesture and one for which I shall be buying him some beers when we finally do meet up!

The book covers a hypothetical WarPac attack and is mainly told from the viewpoint of the crews of a Chieftain tank and, surprisingly for what I thought was a British based book, an M1 Abrams. I’m about half way through and rather enjoying it. It has that peculiarly British feel to it in tone and characterisation and even the depiction of the US crew seems fair and not stereotypical. I’ll post a little more when I’m done. But once again, thanks to Andy for giving me the chance to finally read it.

Magazines…well, I’ve still not renewed my Wargames Illustrated subscription but I will be getting a copy of Issue 278 as the Ancient Naval rules are apparently good and there is an article on building a Carthaginian army. I’ve also taken delivery of the latest Miniature Wargames. I still like this mag.

The two columns (Steve Erdley’s High Ground and Gary Mitchell’s Dark Horizons Sci-Fi/Fantasy column) are proving a good and often entertaining read. The article on DBMM may yet get me to dig out the copy of the 2nd Edition rules I bought months ago. The WW2 article is of less interest as is the Rick Priestley interview. The article on drybrushing may come in handy as I am soon to dabble in 28mm again! The photography still leaves a little to be desired on occasion but overall I think I’ll be sticking with this.

Also landing last week was the latest Battlegames which for me is still by far the best mag around at the moment. Diane Sutherland’s articles continue to provide good ideas and with the background of their Cretan Wargames adventure has planted the seed for a trip there – wife and kids permitting. The Terry Wise ‘thoughts’ highlight what a loss the hobby has suffered and on top of the other losses over the last year the hobby has taken a real hit. I still have and read my copy of Terry’s Battle Gaming book. I don’t think I would ever play the rules now but the fun and enthusiasm that comes across is still great.

Keith Flint’s ‘New Wargaming’ article provides some food for thought on current trends in wargaming. Is the commercialisation of the hobby a good thing? I don’t think we can really complain about the opportunities now open with the figure ranges, rules, terrain etc. all easily available (at a cost!). Yes, if you run a business you are going to want to push your products and tie in customers. But it’s still a free world. We don’t HAVE to buy the stuff. So maybe some new gamers have it easy and are spoon fed their history, but I think there is a trend for some gamers to be in it for the game only and the collection of figures is just a tool to that end. When they change period, rules then the figures get sold. They are not the treasured product of years of research and painting/modelling. They are a ‘tool’. It’s not everyones viewpoint and not mine but if it’s a choice between having an opponent or not then I don’t really mind.

The mag goes from strength to strength and although this issue marked the end of the current round of Teasers I look forward to more input from Mr Grant and also to see other scenarios by other authors.

And finally, Another Slight Diversion! There is a large Imagi-Nation game planned for next April by chaps at the WD3 Forums and having secured permission to attend I am now faced with the need to paint up some 28mm Horse and Musket chappies. Now I haven’t painted 28mm for a while and as the game is likely to be more ‘Old School’ in character I wasn’t sure what to paint up for this. Whether to go for a ‘real’ Seven Year War unit or just paint up something Imagi-Nation-ary? I’ve always like the look of the Minden range of figures and this was a temptation, especially the new AWI range due in the New Year. However, as they are quite hard to get hold of at the moment, and after bouncing a few messages with Der Alte Fritz, (Jim Purkey) he very generously sent me some RSM95 Austrian figures. So I now have 36 musketeer, 6 mounted dragoons with 6 dismounted, and a mounted officer. Given my current painting rate I SHOULD be able to get these done by the end of April! They are nice figures and I’m looking forward to painting them and hope I can do them justice.

So soon you should see the progress of ‘Donovan’s Legion’, the famous ‘Savage Swans’ under the command of their fiery leader, Oberstleutnant Seamus Gunter von Donovan!

BLOG: was pleased to see the site visits pass 30000 and the Followers now at 98. If I don’t get chance to post again before the big day, Merry Christmas and thanks for viewing/commenting. Hope you all have a productive wargaming 2011!


PS. The last paragraph seemed to not appear in the first posting!


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Obsessions and Diversions: is it just me?

My original miniatures blog was called AWI Stuff and Nonsense and followed from my Advanced Squad Leader blog, ASL Stuff and Nonsense. It was intended to chronicle the building of my 15mm AWI armies, and for just over a year the entire content was AWI related. In late 2009 as I started to get a little more involved in my local club the ‘Diversions’ began and I chose to rebrand the blog as a general wargaming blog rather than period specific.

So my current projects and diversions are:

  • 15mm AWI, of course (inc. my witch and zombie stuff!)
  • 15mm Carthaginian
  • 15mm Republican Roman
  • 15mm Ancient Spanish
  • 28mm a few WW2 Germans which I’ll maybe get round to adding to
  • 6mm 1815 Prussians for Grande Armee
  • 6mm 1806 Prussian for Lasalle (and Grande Armee)
  • 6mm 1806 French for Lasalle (and Grande Armee)
  • 6mm Early Byzantines for Impetus
  • numerous odds and ends like 15mm werewolves and ninjas!

and finally, which brings me to the subject of this blog entry, my 1/300th for Cold War Commander and Future War Commander. It is this ‘diversion’ I want to examine in a little more detail.

Back in April this year I was contacted via the Tyneside Wargames Club website by someone wanting to sell off their son’s wargames collection. Cut a long story short, I eventually agreed to do this for him and over six months disposed of a wide range of gaming stuff for fair prices. Amongst the items to be sold were two boxes of Modern micro armour. Now, I saw this as a way to acquire opposing armies for a reasonable price. All were painted to varying standards and there was a lot of it:


Enough to do Soviets, West Germans and Belgians. Now I hadn’t really looked at Cold War type stuff since I read Hackett in my late teens and dabbled with some of the SPI games of the time. But help from club members (especially Ian) and, having decided on Cold War Commander as a rule set, the CWC forum were a great help, as was TMP.

Now in all my periods I like to do a little background reading but the perceived benefit of buying these models was to give me a Cold War gaming setup for minimal cost. With that cost saving priority clear in my mind the following happened…

I bought:

  • Ospreys – about a dozen on related vehicles and forces.
  • Novels –  Hackett, Coyle, Rouch, Clancy. Lots of ‘period’ books
  • Reference – mainly books on Soviet armour
  • Boardgames – the SPI Central Front series, several NATO games. I was even tempted to pick up Next War but knew I just did not have the space!
  • Painted Lead – lots via eBay. More Russians, some Brits, Canadians, Americans.
  • Belgians – traded 15mm Punic War stuff for a large Belgian army of which I have only used three models in the Belgian army I have put together so far for CWC!
  • Unpainted Lead – God! Waaaay toooo much! I sorted out the spare unpainted I had the other night and compactly filled a shoe box – and I have big feet!
  • Buildings – lots of ‘modern’ stuff none of which had been painted yet…

And on the back of this I picked up Future War Commander, two painted armies for that and a stack of unpainted lead still to do!

All of this for a ‘diversion’ who’s driving force was a low cost entry to Modern gaming! Now, I have a decent Soviet force put together:


and am close to finishing my Belgians.


Brits and Americans only really need infantry but I’m sure I’ll end up doing actual TOaEs and need to buy more. Germans need a full repaint. Canadians need a lot more though and work. But all of these have resulted in the purchase of more units. Some have been painted up and added to the rolls, others, like the Lebed hovercraft are in the shoe box ‘waiting’.

And in this 6-7 month period I’ve played precisely two games of Cold War Commander! And I’m STILL thinking of models I could buy to add to the forces, and I’m still watching 1/300 stuff on eBay!

Is this just me? Do all wargamers get hooked on a new period with little ‘planning’ ? And then throw themselves (and their credit cards) at it with abandon? Am I going to get diverted again soon and the 1/300 armies fall to the wayside? It could happen. Last night I started painting 15mm Balaeric Slingers! I’m planning to make the great WD3 Imagination game next year and have some 28mm RSM figures coming to do a unit for that!

I dread to think how much I spend on this – I think I have a lot of lead but I know others via TMP and blogs who probably buy more, but they seem to have the time to devote to it whereas with two kids and work I have to scratch together what time I can. My great 2010 Painting Plan ended up faltering mid-year. I’m starting to twitch again and thinking of making a start on the 1806 Prussians but who knows when…

Anyway, what’s the point of all this? Do I spend too much? For my current circumstances, yes. Do I have enough time to devote? No. Does that stop me buying more? Starting new projects? Buying books I’ll possibly never read as I get diverted to another period? No to them all.

However, I get great satisfaction from what I do manage to do and from the feedback I get here and on other forums. I’d like to get more games in next year though. The 4-5 I managed this year is not a good average. On the WD3 forums a few months ago I posited he idea of going ‘Wargaming Neutral’. Basically my gaming should be self funding. I can’t buy new lead until I have painted the same quantity. And the only money I can use to buy must come from selling unused/unwanted lead/books. This should at least keep the finances in check and hopefully provide me with an added incentive to paint! Yes, that’s the plan for 2011! Honest…

Hopefully the Balaeric slingers will be done in a week or so and over the Christmas holidays I can get a few more things done and make a plan for 2011. I know no plan survives first contact with the enemy but hopefully this one will lead to a great victory next year!

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