Well it’s been a funny old year… ‘Funny’ that is, in much the same manner as Ricky Gervais, Miranda Hart or Mrs Brown’s Boys are ‘funny’; i.e. Not remotely funny whatsoever.
Thankfully, I’ve remained in employment throughout and I live in a remote corner of Wales, so it’s only in the last week that I’ve known anyone personally who has come down with the dreaded ‘Flu Manchu’ [edited to add that I’ve just heard that my aunt’s mother has just died of covid and my cousin, is ill… Shit’s gettin’ real!]. So I can only count my blessings, as it’s been a hell of a lot harder for many others. The only mild embuggerances for me have been a succession of cancelled holidays and trips away, the pubs being closed for long periods of time and wargame shows being closed down. So all things considered, I’ve got away very lightly and I sincerely hope that the readers of this blog have had as easy a time of it (except that bugger who sold one of my armies without telling me, obviously).
I’ve not done a proper review of the year before, but it’s been an unusual year! I’ve put quite a few links in the text below, but a lot of the pictures are also linked to the relevant article if you click on them.
It’s certainly been a good painting year for me. I’m doubly fortunate in that I do all my painting at my place of work AND my workload was reduced, so I had a lot of spare time on my hands in work. I started the year by painting a heap of 15mm Cold War stuff, mostly Canadians and Soviets, with the intention of doing a demo game based on the book ‘First Clash’ later in the year. However, lockdown killed that idea and in any case, I was getting sick of Olive Drab! I haven’t done any relevant blog-posts yet, but here are some of the models:
With the arrival of lockdown and the cancellation of all games and club-nights for the foreseeable future, I decided to look at the vast list of projects that needed finishing. Most of it was 10mm American Civil War (ACW) and 15mm Napoleonic. So I started off with some more 10mm Reb divisions and half of the the Union XII Corps for Gettysburg. I got distracted onto other things, but I’m now within sight of my goal to complete the order of battle for the full first day of Gettysburg. I’ve now only got Anderson’s Rebel Division and half of the Union XII Corps left to do.
I finally finished off the French Imperial Guard Cavalry with the long-delayed painting of the Mamelukes of the Guard. However, when I say ‘finished’, it was always my intention to add some Young Guard cavalry and Eclaireurs if and when AB Figures produced them. As luck would have it, Tony Barton has just sculpted the Young Guard Chasseurs à Cheval, so those will soon be added to the ‘to do’ list in 2021! He’s also sculpted Westphalian Cuirassiers, Saxon Hussars and several other bits and pieces I need to complete my armies, so I’ll be getting all of those as soon as they are available to buy! 🙂
Staying with the Napoleonic theme, I then moved on to the Army of the Duchy of Warsaw, painting Poniatowski’s VIII (Polish) Corps and Kellermann’s IV (Polish) Reserve Cavalry Corps for 1813, which gives me enough Duchy of Warsaw troops to do any historical scenario. That said, I will eventually get around to adding some infantry in French-style uniforms for the Peninsular War, as well as the infantry of the Vistula Legion.
Then some Russkis, starting with a massive re-basing and re-flagging exercise of my large and rather ancient Russian army. This actually consists of three former collections; My own original collection consists of the first AB Figures I ever bought, plus a load of Old Glory 15s cavalry and Battle Honours artillery (back in the early 90s AB only did Russian infantry and dragoons, so the other cavalry types and artillery were sourced elsewhere). The second part of the army belongs to my mate Jase, who emigrated to New Zealand about 15 years ago and left his collection with me ‘in trust’. This collection consists again of AB Figures and Old Glory cavalry, bought and painted at the same time as my own. The third collection is that of my mate Martin, who swapped them for my old 15mm ACW army. This consists mostly of Lancashire Games figures and a load of infantry of unknown origin.
A lot of troops were still based in single ranks for WRG rules, which we stopped playing in the early 90s, so a major re-basing effort was long overdue! All of Jase’s flags had turned brown due to age and bad varnish, while Martin’s old printed Revo flags had fallen apart, so they were all replaced with lovely GMB flags. My own hand-painted flags didn’t look as good as the GMB ones, so I replaced those as well! You can see my last remaining hand-painted Russian flag at the back of the toolbox above (the purple one). 🙂
While rebasing and re-flagging the Russians, I realised that a lot of my cavalry and artillery were very ropey and my army would be much improved if I finally got around to painting the stack of unpainted AB Russian cavalry and artillery that had been sitting in the Lead Crypt for over 20 years! So I then set to work painting all the Russian cavalry, artillery and grenadier units I’d need for the Battle of Liebertwolkwitz that we were going to play after the end of the pandemic… These units have been painted for over six months now… 🙁 I will eventually get around to doing a proper blog-post on the newly-painted Russians.
And some more Cold War Cloggies…
I did slightly burn out my painting-mojo with the Russian Napoleonics, though that was largely due I think, to the increasing realisation that this bloody pandemic was going to be with us for a very long time and me getting slightly depressed by the whole bloody thing. However, during our brief respite from lockdown during the late summer, I managed to get a game in with my mate Phil and that led to a resurrection of my old Seven Years War (SYW) armies (along with my mojo), starting with the complete re-flagging of a rather large SYW Austrian army, which had been left to me by my mate Doug, who shuffled off this mortal coil some 15 years ago.
That was shortly followed by the painting of a whole new SYW Württemberg army and the purchase of a lot more new SYW figures! 🙂
I’ve since painted some more SYW units (mostly Imperial and Prussian units) and have bought a whole new SYW French army from Eureka, which will be painted in the new year once I’ve finished my SYW Bavarian army. With the SYW and Napoleonics in mind, I’ve also painted a load of new buildings and village ’tiles’ by Total Battle Miniatures to supplement my very old and battered scenery collection (articles to follow soon).
In terms of actual gaming, I kicked off the year with the second outing of my (dare I say, award-winning?) Cassinga Raid demo game in January at ‘Crusade 2020’ in Penarth, though a further outing to Partizan 2020 was of course, cancelled. Warfare 2020 at Reading was also cancelled, so I’ve got to keep their Best of Show trophy and bask in the glory for another year! 🙂
In February we also played a WW2 Burma game at club (the Battle of Wetlet 1945).
In March we had a refight of Marshal Masséna’s counter-attack at the Battle of Wagram 1809. Sadly, the country went into lockdown immediately after this game, so that was pretty much it for a very long time…
Thanks to the brief easing of lockdown during the late summer/early Autumn and as mentioned above, I managed to get a game in at Phil’s in early October. This was a historical refight of the Battle of Medellin 1809 and the Spanish won! Of course as a gentleman, I could not possibly reveal the details of the comprehensive hoofing that Phil received at the hands of my Spaniards… 🙂 This game was played with Shako rules and this, along with the linear nature of the battle, was what re-kindled my enthusiasm both for the rules and for the 18th Century, hence the recent drive on SYW. Of course, having utterly crushed Phil, seen his armies run before me and having heard the lamentations of his women, this may have contributed toward my enthusiasm, but I don’t like to go on about it…
Much to the wife’s disgust, I was also found playing with myself on the dining room table a couple of times during lockdown. The first such solo game was a refight of ‘Sickles’ Salient’ during the Battle of Gettysburg 1863, which I enjoyed enormously.
And most recently, a rather compressed solo refight of the Battle of Mollwitz 1741, which was my first run-out for my SYW collection and Shako rules since the 1990s!
So while the gaming has been sparse, it’s been of high quality and with luck will be surpassed in 2021! If our luck holds, a lot of the shows will be back on during the second half of the year, so I’m starting to think about demo-game options… My original plan had been to do ‘First Clash 1984’, but it rapidly became apparent that I’ll have to make a massive further investment in ‘heavy metal’ as well as 20th Century scenery, so that might have to be pushed back a year or three. Then there’s the ‘Sickles’ Salient’ ACW scenario above, which is a cracking scenario and has the advantage of being an iconic action, fought on very well-known ground. I already have almost all the troops required (excepting some Zouave units, the Irish Brigade and the correct HQ flags, which will only take a few days to paint) and I’m sure I could make some superb terrain for it. Then there’s the SYW, which has massive visual impact with densely-packed serried ranks of troops, usually with relatively simple terrain and which using my variant of Shako, can be played in a single day. I have done some epic SYW demo games in the past. Decisions, decisions…
It has been a rather epic year for the blog, however. With not many games to write about, I did a few research articles and photo-shoots for old armies of mine, which proved extremely popular, especially the articles on my Napoleonic Austrian Army, SYW Prussian Army, SYW Swedish Army, Churchill Tanks, Hobart’s ‘Funnies’, the Royal Marines Armoured Support Group, the XIVth Army in Burma and the British Army of the Rhine.
My daily hits absolutely shot up with the start of lockdown in March and have only kept going up! Hits on the blog seem to be doubling every year since I started in April 2018: 20,000 in the first year, then increasing by 40,000 to reach 60,000 in the second year and last week I just passed 100,000, so am on target to reach 120,000 at the end of my third year of running the blog. So as mentioned before, while it’s not exactly viral, my blog is at least a persistent yeast infection… But do not fear! I will never put ads on this blog, as I hate the bloody things with a passion and in any case, I only do it for the adulation, free drugs and groupies…
Anyway, that’s me done with 2020… A very Happy New Year to all readers of this blog!
Well, most of you, anyway…