2018: The Results

The year in review

As December flew by I looked back and wondered where all the time went.  It seems like a week or three ago it was January and I was looking forward to a year of painting, modeling and gaming. I had an ok 2017, and knew to have a great 2018 I needed planning and motivation. Mostly because I am a lazy git.

So I set a goal for painting in 2018.  A few years back I entered a painting challenge over at Heresy-online.net. In it you had to paint one unit or vehicle for a war game each month. There was a guy in charge, and there was a set of rules to abide by. Everyone posted plans at the beginning of the year. One change in armies per year. One mulligan. Miss 2 months and you were out. The prize?  The honor of completion. And a cool graphic for your signature line. The honor was mine. I made it through the most of the year, and painted about 10-12 units. Most were for my Warhammer Fantasy Battles Empire army. A Middenheim army to be exact.  But looking back I see that some were from my sons High Elf army.  How the memory fails me…

Taking inspiration from that challenge, I set a goal to paint 2 units per month from any army, in any scale. That way I could switch around what I was painting to keep my interest and drive up. No way was I getting burned out again. I started out the year painting 28mm World War Two minis for Bolt Action and Chain of Command. German and U.S infantry and a few armored vehicles. I moved into 15mm Ancients after a few months. Then I ended the year painting 28mm again, Dark Age Vikings and Anglo-Saxons for SAGA. Here is a complete list:

Jan: 10 G.I.s and 8 Grenadiers

Feb: 10 G.I.s and 8 Grenadiers

Mar: 6 Waywatchers and 5 Pulp bad guys

Apr: 8 Grenadiers and 5 Pulp Good Guys, a Wood Elf Lord and a High Elf Mage

May: 8 Grenadiers and 10 G.I.s

June: 7 Swarm bases for WFB Lizardmen and 8 French civilians

20180628_235219.jpg

July: 15 bases of Romans and 17 bases of Germans

Aug: Nothing…

Sept: Nothing…

Oct: Nothing…

Nov: 4 Berserkers and 12 AS Levy troops plus 3 SdKfz 251 half tracks

Dec: 4 AS Hearth guard and 12 Viking Archer levy troops plus 2 M4 Shermans and a Panzer IV H

As you can see, I wasn’t entirely successful. But, I do feel that I painted more than I would have without a self-imposed challenge. I also built and painted at least one scenery element each month. Those were houses and stores, my first crack at acrylic caulk roads, a fenced garden and a Wood Elf altar.

I already have a lineup of minis to paint for 2019, and I am hoping to better my painting rate while I paint Dark Age and Fantasy models by trying some colored primers for the first time. If I keep up this rate, and don’t buy too many models, Ill finish painting all my models sometime around 2035. Hahaha!

Painting and modeling was only part of what I accomplished in 2018. In my ongoing search for great games, I explored several new board games and a few new rule sets for miniatures gaming. I’m still waiting on those GMT games I ordered through their P500 pre-order system. So I am short one FIW game and my first sailing game. I have no idea when those will show up, but I am anxious to give them a try. I did play 2 new games in 2018.

One was from Worthington Publishing and is an adaptation of the Richard Borg Command and Colors rules set in the American War of Independence. This game is somewhat similar to Battle Cry! in setup and play. It uses the familiar 3 section map board and hex terrain, as well as similar command cards. The British have troops representing regulars, lights and elites, as well as cavalry and artillery units. The American player has regulars and elites, as well as militia troops that have some unique rules. I believe there are a couple of upgrade packs, adding in Hessians and a set of pieces to move the game back into the FIW.  I definitely need those to add to the playability and longevity of the game. It played well, and like Battle Cry!, I think it represents linear warfare very well.

holdthelinecover

The second game I finally played was GMT’s Wilderness War. It is a grand tactical game representing the entirety of the French and Indian War if you care to play the long campaign. We haven’t yet, but will soon.  One of the more novel things, in my opinion, was supply. Like many games, you must trace supply from forward units through controlled areas back to the coast, or a city or fortress to allow troops to maintain supply. Additionally, forts and villages on the frontier could only support so many troops in the winter layup. Too many troops and you took casualties from “disease” and “starvation”. I believe we lost more troops to those sources than actual combat. The siege rules really worked and demonstrated the difficulties of sieges at the time.  Many forts were raided and burned by the British, and I ran a holding action and concentrated pushes, but in the end came up short. It was a great game, and added in the differences in troop quality that is not present in our favorite FIW game, a Few Acres of Snow.

I looked at many other games in a variety of genres throughout the year. I continued my hunt for GDW’s The Third World War and bid on several offerings on eBay. And I got sniped every time. I’ve decided until I am willing to spend at least $150, I am probably NOT winning an auction for that game. So I settled for Victory Games’ The Next World War, another WWIII strategy game. It was un-punched when I got it, and I am still trying to decide if that is a bad sign!  Have read the rules once, and need to read them again before my son comes home for Christmas break. That is one of our must-play games for his time home from university. One rule I did remember was if nukes get used. If they do, there is a 50/50 chance the player that deployed them loses the game. That is a big risk!

In the hunt for a WWIII game and reading blogs and websites and reviews, I kept coming back to Team Yankee by Battlefront. I have a long association with Battlefront, playing their flagship WWII rules since the playtest days. I have watched the rollout of Team Yankee with great interest, and even read Harold Coyle’s Team Yankee book this summer. Heavy main battle tanks? Yes please! A-10 tank busters? I’ll take a pair. Cool anti-air assets, helicopters, armored personnel carriers and modern war have a bit of a draw for me. I even picked up the main rule book to give them a look. But, then I stalled. While I love the size and detail of 15mm models, the scale is just too big for the space I have to do justice to modern combat. In modern war it is the weapon ranges. I wrote about this previously for mortars in WWII. Missile ranges in moderns are even worse. So I am still on the fence for the era and scale. There aren’t any modern tanks or APCs hiding in my lead mountain. Yet.

For most of the year I only bought models I needed for the current emphasis projects I have going. The TY rules were one of only two rule sets added to my bookshelf. Then I went to Fall In!…

As reported in my Fall In! post, I picked up the Lion Rampant and Dragon Rampant rules. I am still looking at them as a replacement for WFB. But the more I work on variant rules, the more I think I’ll just stick with WFB for gaming with all the GW models I have. If I was just starting out and looking for a fantasy set of rules, I’d be all over Dragon Rampant. But, I have largish WFB armies and the skirmish nature of the DR rules makes them unsuitable for mass combat.

The other “rules” I decided to add to everything I have, is Wings of Glory. After playing Peter’s fantastic Balloon Buster’s game at Fall In!, I had to get this game. I ordered the duel pack with the Albatros D.Va and the SPAD XIII from Miniature Market and the No Man’s Land game mat from Noble Knight Games. I’ve already introduced my daughter to the game, and she is a fan. She prefers it to X-Wing as it is simpler to play than X-Wing, and she liked the 3 phase planning. I have been going over a long list of models to buy to play this on a larger scale, with more scenarios, and to ensure that I can play through the 4 years of the war. There are cool campaign rules from the fan base and the increasing capabilities and lethality of the planes begs for campaign play. It is the second must-play for the break.

20181130_224355[1]

The last game we will fit in is Triumph! rules from the Washington Grand Company. I am looking forward to teaching both of my kids to play this one, and really looking forward to expanding my armies so all four of us can play together. Romans and Visigoth allies along with Germans and Dacians threatening the Empire should make a great game and campaign.

So what do I have enough painted stuff for at this point? I lack terrain for everything, but do have enough buildings for 15mm and 28mm WWII. I have a couple Dark Age buildings close to being finished, but not enough for a village, yet.  What I really lack are roads. They are so expensive to purchase ready-made, and a bit time-consuming to make. So I don’t have enough. I’m going to have to suck it up and build enough dirt and asphalt roads this coming year, and buy some cobblestone streets. I need a solid week of nothing else on my plate to knock out the bocage and fences and roads and tree stands I need. Then I need another week to build the jungle terrain (thanks Mel… Your Burma board has me super jealous) and Lizardmen temples and spawning pools I need for a half-planned WFB campaign involving an island that reappeared off the coast of the Old World and is shrouded in mist and jungle.

What I do have is enough Germans and Americans in 15mm to play any number of scenarios of WWII combat. I have enough Germans and Americans in 28mm now to play almost anything I want in that scale as well. I have two armies for Triumph! all painted up, plus some felt terrain. That needs to be upgraded at some point, but for now we can play. There are four 1,000+ point fantasy armies painted, and a bit of terrain. Before my son went off the college he played WFB with a friend or friends quite regularly. I have 2 points each for Vikings and Anglo-Saxons. Not quite enough to play a game of SAGA. But, 2019 will definitely see more minis gaming along with the board games.

2018 also saw me start blogging. And not do a great job all summer. No excuses. I’ll try to do better. I am amazed at the people that can put out great content month after month. And I understand why some slow their posting. Good ideas are hard to come by! Winter is here, so I have a bit more time to write and post, and hopefully some good short story ideas crawl out of the shadows of my brain.

I was able to attend two Cons through the year. One Comic-Con and one gaming con. I am hoping to fit in at least 2 more gaming cons in 2019 (FlintCon and Historicon) and possibly another Comic-Con. Oh, and I am going to the Star Wars celebration in Chicago in April. I’ll be attending with my friends from over at The Credible Nerds podcast, Justin and Marc. That should be all kinds of awesome.

2019 should be a heck of a year.

What I am reading

A few books arrived recently.  Three were directly related to some comments form da Gobbo. Three others are a continuation of a series I have been reading since 2006.

46 books and counting, the Horus Heresy is one of the greatest sagas in science fiction. Set in the war-torn 31st Millennium, mankind is taking control of the galaxy from her home on Terra.  Great hosts of warriors do battle with alien species, and defiant human worlds. Greatest among the warriors are the legions of super-human Space Marines. Greater still are their gene-fathers, the Primarchs. Mighty warriors of incredible intelligence, fierce combat strength, and powers beyond our own, they lead mighty legions in war. But treason lurks in the hearts of some.

These three books:

20180221_115339.jpg

are next in my collection. Due to the way the Black Library publishes its books, I am a several books behind. These three just showed up though, and I am eager to see what is new in the 31st Millennium.

In a previous post I talked about fantasy books from my teen and college years. A trilogy I always wanted to read but never got around to was mentioned. A comment from da Gobbo led to a visit to Thrift Books, and a quick search led to these three books showing up:

20180301_141151

Set in the Moonshae Isles of the Forgotten Realms, a great evil arises at a most inopportune time.  I have just started Darkwalker on Moonshae, and I like what I have read so far.

That’s it. Just a quick post about what I am reading currently.  What are all of you reading? Share your favorites and inspire someone to pick up something new.

In the Beginning: Part 2

Along with a steady diet of models and games, I was into the usual movies and print media.  Well, usual for what I consider normal.  Sci-Fi, fantasy, military, action and James Bond movies were at the front.  Of course I watched any super hero movies that came along, though late 70’s early 80s weren’t loaded with offerings! Until college my sci-fi and fantasy reading was limited.  I was enthralled with military history and that was much of what I read from early on.  Secret shame?  I didn’t read The Lord of the Rings until after The Fellowship of the Ring was released in theaters.  Go ahead.  Throw stones.  I deserve it.

51qvs9i5a2bl

I didn’t buy a lot of comic books as a kid. G.I. Joe mainly, as well as the occasional X-Men or Spiderman.  I had a hard time spending money on something I could read in five minutes.  And I never bought a comic book to keep in mint condition until after 9/11.  That Heroes issue was pretty cool, so I bought 2 copies.  One to read and one to keep.  I kept up on comic story lines with friends, but never really bought tons of paper.

7294152444147-webofspider_man0062356454-wolverine10ross20heroes

I bought a fair pile of Dungeons and Dragons books.  I started playing near the end of what became 1st Edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons.  One of my first characters came out of Unearthed Arcana, the cavalier.  I think I still have his character sheet in one of my boxes of papers and rules.  I picked up the first 3 Basic D&D boxes at a garage sale one afternoon.  I’m guessing that kid was pretty pissed when he found out his mom sold three mint condition boxes.  It was the red box Basic rules, the blue Expert set, and the teal Companion rules.  I still have them.  I must have read through each book 200+ times.  I don’t remember buying any 1st edition books since the DM had everything.  But I did buy a complete set of 2nd edition books when our beloved DM moved away.  I eventually sold all of those; only to buy another set back in 2012.  I always thought if I ever played again I would just jump into 2nd Edition.  Recently my son started playing with his friends in 5th edition.  Now I am thinking of selling my 2nd edition books again and buying 5th edition, the rules are that good!

advanced_dungeons_and_dragons_dd_players_handbook_1st_edition_second_coveradd-unearthedarcanaimage

Locally there was a decent game shop.  The name has slipped away into the cobwebbed recesses of my mind, but it was a cool shop.  Mid 1980s miniatures, loads of dice, all the role playing games around, plus loads of Avalon Hill boxed games.  That place took much of my spare cash.  It was there or Waldenbooks that I found Top Secret S.I.  I loved James Bond movies, and RPG with spies seemed great.  I bought everything I could find, but played very little.  The game store had Twilight 2000 on the shelf, which also followed me home.  I created a dozen or more characters, but never could find anyone interested in playing.  I held on to those rules for years, buried in a box of gaming books and rules and codices.

51xhmsvlm2l-_sx258_bo1204203200_200px-twilight2000cover

In college I started buying books like crazy.  I was in the military book club and quickly filled a bookshelf of hardbacks.  I mentioned before that World War Two is my main interest, and the books reflect that.  Ground war, aerial campaigns, and the war at sea, all of it is fascinating and represented in my collection.  I would buy more if I had more space to display the books, and a library is solid on my list for my next house.  There are more wars on the shelves, but WW2 dominates.  Vietnam, World War One, the American Civil War, the French and Indian War, the War on Terror and Revolutionary War are among my favorites.  Very American centric, I know.  I’m trying to branch out now that I am into historical war-gaming, and every time I think I have a solid grasp on the European wars, I read an article on some other conflict.  You fellows across the pond have been at it a while!

I toyed with a degree in history while at university.  I could read and write history for a living!  Then I realized I’d have to teach mainly, and while I don’t mind it, I wasn’t sure a career in teaching was for me.  I’ll just read and collect books, thank you.

I started into fantasy and sci-fi books while in college, too.  I had to pass through the bookstore nearly every day as I went to and from classes.  There were always displays of new books, or re-releases, or advertisements for book signings crowding the main flow through the store.  If I had a little time I would browse and read book jackets.  I vaguely remember one of the first books I picked up was Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker Fury.  The blurb seemed interesting.  I liked sci-fi movies, so why not?  I bought and read it.  Only to be sorely disappointed by the plot.  Spoiler alert:  It’s the Battle of Midway in Spaaace!  It might be interesting for a 10-year-old, but not a veteran military history buff and novice sci-fi reader.

18388

I grabbed Conquerors’ Pride by Timothy Zahn next.  It had some intriguing plot and story in it.  Enough that I picked up the next book, or what I thought was the next book, in the trilogy.  Turns out I bought Conquerors’ Legacy, the final book.  I was seriously confused at first, so much seemed to have happen off paper!  I was dumb enough to finish it before I realized my mistake.  That series could use a reread.

192525

 

Another bookstore grab was Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game.  Way before the movie, there was a short story.  That short became a novel.  And it entered legend.  I was blown away.  Gob smacked is the phrase I think my friends from the U.K. use.  Mind-blowing in its concept.  So much better than what I had read so far.  So of course I picked up the complete Ender’s series.  I was expecting more of the same, but Card is a surprising author.  The other books are vastly different in story and message.  Much slower to develop, more intellectual, and harder to grasp, they are deep books with sometimes profound lessons.  Ender in Exile was much more like Ender’s Game, and left me in tears.  It was that powerful.  I haven’t read everything else in the saga yet, but I highly recommend all of them.

901

I find most of science fiction to be hit or miss.  The hits were wonderful stories with interesting technologies and alien races.  The misses suck so bad that I wonder how they ever got printed…

During this same period I discovered Warhammer 40,000, which led to the Black Library.  If you aren’t familiar it is the publishing house for Games Workshop.  When I picked up my first paperback they had a couple serial magazines and were just publishing short stories.  Into the Maelstrom and Deathwing were the first two books I bought.  Shortly followed by First and Only and 13th Legion. To say I was hooked was an understatement.  40K fiction is a topic for several articles, since for years I only read 40k books.  That genre still dominates much of my shelf space, and I still buy most of the books as they are printed, especially the Horus Heresy series.

51n8vkesz0l-_sx291_bo1204203200_firston13-j-legion_317182

Dan Abnett is my all-time favorite 40K author, and anything he writes for the Black Library is a gem.  I first encountered him in First and Only, next in Ghostmaker and Necropolis. When I read Xenos I had another awakening.  Gregor Eisenhorn became fictional idol.  I couldn’t wait until Malleus was released.  Hereticus was just as good.  The Ravenor series continued the incredible story.  Gaunt’s Ghosts are up to 14 books and counting.  Each one as good as the last, better actually.

1009259150737511965

After years of reading mostly Warhammer 40K books and a steady diet of WW2 books, I expanded my reach a bit. I picked up a handful of Warhammer Fantasy books (a big leap, I know) and finally read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.  I read a couple of forgettable fantasy offerings in the Forgotten Realms setting for D&D, and still wonder about the Darkwalker series that used to be heavily advertised in Dragon and Dungeon magazines.  If I can find a used seller with the whole set I’d probably buy them.

darkwalker_on_moonshae_book_cover

I confess, I find fantasy books much the same as sci-fi.  Good ones are great, bad ones are terrible.  I bet there is a website out there somewhere that breaks them down and lists them in order of various characteristics.  I haven’t looked, because I am so far behind in my reading list that I really don’t need more books to think about.

I slowly read Horus Heresy books, trying to time completion of one with the release of the next.  I reread favorites, about once a year or every other year.  At one time I was reading more than 10,000 pages a month.  I’ve slowed a bit.  I can’t afford to keep that pace up!

horus-rising

I missed the beginning of the Harry Potter craze.  My sister left book four, The Goblet of Fire at my apartment in college.  I picked it up to see what all the hype was about, and just opened it randomly.  Muggles and spells with strange names and Quidditch and the Tri-Wizard Cup were so foreign and strange to me.  I figured I needed to start from the beginning.  A walk to class led through that same bookstore and a display of Harry Potter paperbacks.  I bought the first, read it in about a week, went back and bought the next three.  I picked up the final three books in the series in hardback as they were released, twice going to midnight parties to get them.  Well, sending my wife, since I was working nights and as a junior guy on the shift never had a say in days off.  4 paperbacks and 3 hardbacks looked weird on the shelf, so now I have all hardbacks.  My kids have read them all multiple times.  I try and reread the series yearly, just to keep up with their knowledge of the minute details.  Yeah, I read Harry Potter.  What ya gonna do about it?

hpsorcstone

A few years ago my dad told me about a book by Brandon Mull called Fablehaven. He highly recommended it, even though it might be considered a kid’s book.  I ordered a copy and was hooked.  My kids were hooked.  My wife was hooked.  We all eagerly awaited each new book in the series.  Mull has crafted a fantastical world and interesting concepts.  It would be a great movie series.  His other books are just as good, though very different in scope and story.

446521113545

That brings me up to date.  Waiting on the next Horus heresy book.  Waiting on a new Brandon Mull book.  Reading some military history book.  Oh, and even trying my hand a writing a little historical fiction mixed with the supernatural.  The reason behind that are fodder for a future post, but I’ll add a link and big thanks to Jez over at Carrion Crow for giving my gaming a little kick and a lot of inspiration.  Thanks Jez!

Until next time.