Tuesday, 31 December 2019

End of Year Review 2019

With the final day of 2019 here, it is now customary in many quarters to take a look back at what I've been up to this year, which is quite an interesting undertaking, at least for myself it is. So without further ado:

Rules Bought
Rebels & Patriots (free copy as playtester)
Blitzkreig Commander IV (free copy to replace BKCIII)
The Portable Wargame
Developing The Portable Wargame
The Napoleonic Portable Wargame
Gridded Naval Wargames 
5 Core Company Commander 
To Ur is Human 
WWII Wargaming by S Asquith
Skirmish Wargaming by D Featherstone 
Age of Hannibal 

I seem to have acquired quite a few rules this year, none of which were planned if I'm totally honest, other than the Asquith and Featherstone books to add to my library. The rules which have impressed my most are Bob Cordery's The Portable Wargame and associated titles. I've loved the elegant simplicity in these. The fact that they are played on a gridded or hexed table is appealing, as it aids game play and decision making. I had planned to play more of these games but a lack of suitable terrain, despite my best plans, prevented me from getting them in.

BKCIV finally arrived and was well worth the wait. As with any ruleset there are bits that need clarifying as there is only so much space in the book, unless you go down the unwieldy tome route where you hopefully cover every situation imaginable. To be honest I've carried on using BKCII as I know the rules so well, but have planned to add in bits from BKCIV, but lack of time has meant this has not happened. Something to address in 2020.

Wargaming Books Bought
Fighting the French Revolution: The Great Vendee Uprising
Paddy Griffiths Art of War of Revolutionary France
von Clausewitz Italian Campaign
On War by Clausewitz
The Hundred Days Campaign by Chandler
The Peninsular War by Glover
War of 1812 campaign guide by Asquith
Bloody Big Balkan Battles
Pike & Shotte To Kill a King supplement
Terrain making book
Osprey Crimean War campaign book 
Osprey Russian & Allied armour of Russian civil war 
The Wargamers Annual 2109 (CWS prize)
The Rifles by urban
Campaigns book by Featherstone
Wargames Through the Ages Vols III & IV by Featherstone 
Wargaming Airborne Operations by Featherstone 
Peninsular War book by Featherstone

I'm surprised at quite how many books I've bought this year, which might explain my current storage issues! Many have been presents for birthdays etc and there has been method in my madness. The Featherstone books are again to add to my library and have been delightful reads to boot, especially the Campaigns book which I realy enjoyed and found very useful. 

I decided early on in the year to try and add to my extremely limited knowledge of the Napoleonic Wars and settled upon the Revolutionary Wars (technically not Napleonic I suppose) and the Peninsula War, with the War of 1812 tagging along. I've only scratched the surface so far but the Chandler 100 Days book was as always a pleasure to read and pitched perfectly for someone like myself.

Miniatures Bought
Pendraken Fenian Raids British/Canadian
Wings of Glory Fiat CR-42
Pendraken WWII Italian, Polish & German additions
6mm mdf miniatures
Irregular Miniatures 2mm 
SYW Limbers 
Pendraken farm animals and shell craters 

Again not too many purchases this year, with the Fenian Raids range being the biggest purchase, where they will form the core of my British mid 19thC force, whether defending the UK or gaming overseas. I have lots of ideas for these but then I do for all of my projects, but more of which later.

Miniatures Painted
Leven Miniatures buildings
8 x WWII German Recce 250 half-tracks
3 x French FT-17s 
2 x Italian AA units
1 x WWII US Airborne Battalion for BKC  
1 x WWII German Company for BKC
Imagi-Nations 19thC Russians 
AWI Brigade for Honours of War
18thC civilians
Farm animals 

For once a pretty good year on the painting front, well at least it was for me! Aside from adding some bits'n'bobs to my existing BKC forces, the biggest achievement was completing a US Airborne Battalion for BKC and more importantly, finally having my own 18thC Brigade with which I could play Honours of War. The latter was a real achievement and I'm happy with the way they've come out and the way that I painted them. I've learnt to concentrate on the look of the unit, not each indvidual figure, which is old advice but has taken a long time for me to take it on board.

Terrain Made
3 x Vineyards
Modular streams
1 x Scratch built wooden bridge  
1 x Leven Miniatures bridge on river section
Cork dry stone walls
5 x Scratch built hayricks
3 x dead trees 
Pendraken shell holes
ACW buildings bases 

I still love scratch building terrain and have added stuff on and off over the year. I've started adding detail to my terrain, such as civilians and more farm animals, which just adds to the overall look and feel of a game. I'm sure this will continue into 2020 but have no firm plans at all and will just see what tkaes my fancy.

BKCII campaigns
HoW campaign 

For once I actually managed to run some narrative campaigns, which was one of my goals from last year. With Dave back on the scene, this has helped immensely and probably wouldn't have happened otherwise. Playing linked games is much more fun and you think about the game and its outcomes in a very different way.

Games Played
Post of Honour - 4
The Portable Wargame - 4 
Bloody Big Battles - 7 
Honours of War -6
Neil Thomas' Ancients & Medieval Wargaming - 1 
Dragon Rampant - 1 

Despite a slow start to the year, 35 games I'm more than happy with, given the usual pressure and commitments of work and family life. Again having Dave as a regular opponent helped along with visits to Keith to play him or in multi-player games

Wargames Shows Attended
Lincombe Barn Table Top Sale
IPMS Bristol Show
Cotswold Wargaming Day 

I frankly didn't miss attendinging Salute this year and was happy staying local as it were, with Colours being my 'big' show, which I enjoyed overall. The highlight of the calendar was the Cotswold War gaming Day, which was a wonderful day out. The memories are tinged with sadness as it was the last time I saw Stuart Asquith, but he was enthused by our game and as always a pleasure to talk to.

End of Year Thoughts 
So all-in-all not too bad a year on all fronts. As is my custom, some thoughts on the year in no particular order:
  • I'm very happy that I've found a way to paint non WWII units that's to my liking and relatively fast. Thanks must go to Nik Harwood who first showed me his painting technique, some of which I used and to Dave, for showing me that you don't need to paint every detail on a figure as they simply disappear once on the table. As long as they look neat, have good bases and flags, they you're onto a winner.
  • I still don't have a dedicated painting space and am unlikely to have one for the foreseeable future. I had planned to use our daughters bedroom whilst she was away at Uni, but the light is not too good and it gets too hot from Spring to Autumn, so the kitchen will remain my bolthole, which is not the end of the World.
  • Playing narrative campaigns has been the highlight of the year, with out a doubt. This is something we will be playing more of in the New Year, as it adds so much more to the whole gaming experience IMHO.
  • I'm still attempting to downsize my figure collection and made a dent in it with the local table top sale earlier in the year. I think I need to really see exactly what I have (stuff is stored in several places about the house), then decided what to keep then base them up. Anything left over will be given away or sold off. Easier said than done but I need to do it.
  • Core rules wise I think I've hit a sweet spot, with Honours of War, Bloody Big Battles and BKCII/IV covering the 18th - 20th centuries for most of my games. I want to try some more Neil Thomas rules as well as Black Powder, certainly for some of the smaller scenarios in the 19thC.
  • ImagiNations has once again piqued my interest, especially for the 18th & 19th centuries. I have plenty of ideas but need to firm them up so that this can move forward.
  • I haven't missed my subscription to WS&S at all, nor have any of the other magazines interested me at all. I think there is still a place for them but they are no longer for me.
  • I'm more than happy with playing games on a 4' x 4' table, with many being on a 3' x 2' one. Using 10mm figures and reduced distances this equates to an 8' x 8' or 6' x 4' table. This is something that seems to be a theme across a few Blogs I follow, so it's nice to know I'm not alone in this. I even tried BKCII on a 2' x 2' table which after a failed first attempt, worked really well and is something to develop more next year.
  • Storage is a bit of an issue at present as I have stuff semi permanently in the lounge, where my gaming takes place. Luckily SWMBO is accomodating on this front as she knows it is my hobby. However moving forward it is something I want to address and hope to have some units in the lounge in the New Year specifically for my wargames stuff. Of for a dedicated wargames room...
  • Blogging, is it worth it? I sometimes wonder and I know I'm not alone in this, as more often than not, I will only get 2 - 4 replies at most to my posts, despite having some 80 odd followers. Given an AAR can take longer to write about than the actual game, I think is it worth the effort? I have decided to carry on for the present as I think Blogs are more valuable to a gamer than Facebook, Twitter etc, but it would be nice to recieve more comments. Afterall I always try and comment on posts of Blogs I follow. We shall have to wait and see but maybe my gaming is too niche and not big battle 28mm?

2020 Vision
Looking forward to the New Year, what plans do I have, if any?:

  • Campaigns and more of them. Already in the pipeline is a linked ACW one based upon the Recce campaign from Grants Solo Wargames Scenarios. This looks to be fun and there will be more updates in January when hopefully thinks will kick off.
  • The American Civil War. It's been on my list for many years but it has never really grabbed me. So I aim to expand my knowledge of this conflict and then see where it takes me. Afterall we've had some great games using BBB, so I expect I will end up taking the plunge and getting some 10mm armies.
  • Basing and Painting. As mentioned earlier, this is something I need to do more of and as well as focussing my mind, it is very cathartic too. With the lead mountain hopefully at a manageable height, I may be able to plan out my future gaming more.
  • Ancients gaming. It still nags at me but it is not a high priority to be honest. I did buy Age of Hannibal as they look a good set of rules for the odd Ancients game. I have loads of figures, mainly Middle Ages, but may end up selling them to focus on my ocre periods.
  • ImagiNations. As time permits I would like to flesh out my ideas more so that I can develop this further. I have plenty of fluff on various bits of paper, bit it all needs to come together in a more cohesive form. This will also aid my planning of what forces I require, so that I can base and paint them. As I have quite a lot of 19thC troops already based, this should be one of my priorites early on in 2020.
  • Books and Rules. Frankly I need to read what I've got and not buy too much next year! Easier said than done with other distractions, such as various forums and Blogs, but one can but hope.
So to end, I would like to wish you all a Happy New Year and let's hope we all have a great 2020!


  1. An interesting review

    Smaller tables and more focus on a few rule sets/periods seems to be a theme

    1. Thanks Paul. Certainly there are many advantages on just playing a few core rulesets and periods, but as with anything, at times it's nice to have a change. Smaller tables work for my current situation and I don't feel the need for larger games. However it is nice when I visit my friend Keith and play in a large multiplayer game, for the banter and the visual spectacle.

  2. Hi Steve J,

    That is a very thought provoking list for the year and you should be rightly proud of what you have achieved. Many of your thoughts will strike a chord with many a gaming veteran (myself included!) and i will be watching with interest how you roll in 2020.

    Happy new year to you old chap!

    All the best,


    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the read David and that it struck or chord or two. I'm in the same postion when I read your excellent Blog! Happy New Year to you too.

  3. Great post, really thoughtful. Enjoy 2020 W

  4. Not a bad year at all Steve.
    Nice to see Imaginations making a come back, surprised at how many new rules sets appeared on your list.
    I too am thinning certain elements with far to many projects that simply don't have enough metal to put on a large scale game.
    The Cotswold day was fun and I am very much looking forward to another outing later in the year.
    Enjoy 2020.

    1. Not bad at all as you say Stu. Some of the new rules were so cheap, it was a bit of a no brainer. I find it interesting just to read them and on the odd occasion, they spark an idea for use with another ruleset.

  5. Blogging can appear a lonely business, and sometimes one feels like you are writing for yourself and then some wargamer will pipe up with a relevant comment and it goes on.A couple of years ago I created a blog dedicated to the late Peter Gilder because it was becoming very evident that younger wargamers knew nothing of the great man and what he did for our hobby. With the death of Stuart Asquith I am again toying with the idea of expanding that blog to include Stuart and others who deserve some sort of acknowledgement of what they have done for wargaming.As the standard-bearers fade away I think its becoming more important that wargamers understand where it all started and who was who in the hobby.So stick with the blog.

    1. Blogging does seem lonely at times but when you get a nice comment or two, it is all worth while. I hope you find the time and inclination to write about Stuart, as well as others in our wonderful hobby.

  6. Happy New Year, Steve!

    From your Year in Review, looks to me that you had a solid year on the wargaming front. You seem to have identified your core interests and are working towards those goals. I congratulate you on that! Something I have yet to accomplish.

    Let me focus on one of your End of Year Thoughts. That is, "Blogging, is it worth it." I have a draft post entitled almost exactly the same in my blog. This post has been in draft mode for years. I have yet to write it but it is regularly on my mind.

    As you say, battle reports take a lot of effort and thought to put down into writing. For me, they are hard work but worth the effort to me personally as I enjoy chronicling my bigger battles. When readers respond to these posts, their comments provide the support and encouragement to forge on. I would likely continue the battle reports even if they did not garner much support but when these posts do evoke responses, so much the better.

    I really enjoy your battle reports on HoW and BKC so please keep them coming. I use HoW regularly for my SYW battles so I enjoy your added insights. While I have not played BKC, each of your BatReps nudge me closer to getting my 15mm WWII collection out onto the table. Maybe 2020 is the year you push me into action?

    For 2019, your post tally was up nearly threefold from 2018 and prior years. This is a terrific step toward gaining more readers and potential responses. I find there are some readers who prefer to lurk and are reluctant to comment no matter the topic. Some readers only comment when a topic is on their favorite period or ruleset or strikes a nerve. Even my regular gaming buddies rarely comment on my posts!

    Perhaps consider why you began blogging initially. For me, it is a form of relaxation, expression, and self-chronicling of my hobby activities and thoughts. The camaraderie gained through my blogging activites is priceless. I suggest hanging in there and carrying on as before. Many are reading even if they choose not to comment.

    Well, I think i have gone on long enough!

    Looking forward to your gaming activities in 2020!


    1. Wise words indeed Jon! I'm glad you enjoy my AARs and find them useful, especially the post game thoughts, which I find useful for myself too. I will continue to Blog as I think it is the best way to find out various things within our hobby. Plenty of plans for 2020 so just hope they all bear fruit!

  7. Hi Steve, good post and certainly some common sentiments that I think are common to many of us. Thanks for a year of interesting posts, sharing and supporting other blogs - Best Wishes for 2020.

    1. Thanks Norm and it's always nice to hear from other Bloggers, especially ones who share similar thoughts, ideas etc on our wonderful hobby. Hope you have a great 2020 too.

  8. You have achieved a good deal this year Steve and the number of games played puts me to shame! Some great looking books there too.

    One of my new year's resolutions is to comment more on blogs I follow, so hopefully you should see more from me. Like you I appreciate comments, especially on my AAR's which I have made the centre piece of my blog. I agree entirely with Jonathan Freitag's sentiments regarding blogging.

    Like you I have turned away from magazines as I find all the content I need online and in particular, what interests me. I started my blog purely as a way of recording my games and publicising a style of gaming not too common in 6mm with the trend towards large bases combined with fast play. It has certainly helped to keep me focused on a smaller number of periods and provided motivation in improving my terrain collection.

    Keep going Steve as I like your approach to the hobby especially gaming in smaller boards. Thanks to your recent BKC game on a 2' x 2' board I am revisiting my forthcoming Russian front mini-campaign reducing the size of the boards. It should make the campaign easier and quicker to play through without losing anything.

    All the best for the new year (just 4 hours away now!).

    1. Thanks for you kind and encouraging words Jon! One reason I started to Blog was to publicise the BKCII rules as well as 10mm gaming, as there was little if any coverage in the magazines etc. Maybe this will change with some of the 'Big Boys' producing 12mm miniatures in the New Year, but we'll have to wait and see.

      I'm glad that my 2' x 2' AAR has been of use, which was the aim of recording my trial attempts. In fact our forthcoming ACW campaign came about after reading your Blog which mentioned the campaigns in the Solo Scenarios Book, so many thanks for that!

      All the best for 2020 which is about 30 minutes away...

  9. I find AARs very interesting when they coincide with a new game I want to start playing, but the world moves on and I think the best of these are now in video format. I’m not planning to film any myself, but I’ve recently been spending a lot of time watching them.

    1. Interesting that you like the video AARs, as personally I don't get on with them. Maybe it's the at times wobbly camera work and my age, but they leave me feeling a bit dizzy! Give me old fashioned AARs any day but as you rightly say, the World moves on, but each to their own.

  10. That is quite an impressive list, I should say. As to blogging, I know I do not comment as often as I should, but I always find your AAR's interesting (especially the BBB ones), in particular the general thoughts at the end which are an original addition and provide food for thought. On that score, I also liked your "opinion piece" on wargames shows. I really appreciate bloggers like you, who provide inspiration and valuable content and keep me up to date on the state of the hobby. So please, keep doing what you do so well in 2020. Happy New Year!

    1. Thankyou for your kind words and it is really nice to hear you like my AARs and especially my post-game thoughts. I will carry on doing what I do in 2020 safe in the knowledge that some fellow gamers enjoy my postings. Happy new Year to you too!

  11. Lack of comments doesn't equal lack of interest!
    The people above put it better...

    1. Very true but it's nice to know that your Blog is being read and is of interest to other gamers.

  12. Like you (and most other bloggers) I would like more comments on my blog. From the start I had hoped for a greater level of communication and opinion from like-minded hobbyists.

    However, I have contunued to post because having a blog is a great record of where you have been in your hobby over the years. Blogging has helped to clarify my thoughts and priorities around the hobby.

    And if I may say so, I feel we are both (along with many others who often do it better) setting an example of thoughtful and useful posts that further the hobby, even if only in a small way. Not for us the quick posting up of dozens of poorly taken photos with little or no explanation!

    Keep the faith my friend.

    1. Thanks for your encouraging and kind words Keith:).