Saturday, January 25, 2014

Some retrospection and taking of accounts

Each year I take a retrospect on my gaming activities. Once more I can say I am thankful because they are good. I have a nice collection, and got a chance to play at least once a week in the last six months.

That said this year made me understand two important things about myself and my hobby.

 1) The most important element for enjoying miniatures war-games for me is the group. Looking back on these last 12 years of miniatures war-gaming I can say that my most enjoy-full gaming period was when me and my 6 childhood friends collected and played Warhammer 40k. We all started together and egged each other on. While 40k is not the best game out there (though it is a good game), and while I was always trying other stuff (DBA), I did not care because here were 7 people who were working on the same project and playing. 

The good old days. My old gaming group. Most of us started Warhammer 40k together. I played something                           like 75 games against these guys and only won 1 game and 1 draw.

Now I have had fun in other places as well (the Dragon’s Table gaming group at Champaing-Urbana, and the guys at Galactic Comics and Games in Statesboro), it has not alas met the level of fun I had back then (SAGA at Galactic Comics is close to it).

While this lack of gamers working on the same project as me has not hampered collection projects that are not so time-consuming or requiring large amounts of miniatures ( DBA to a point, my Naval and Sci-Fi starship war-games, and SAGA) they have halted me from working on some long-cherised but large scale and time consuming projects (Napoleonics and 18th Century Gaming, especially any 28mm stuff beyond the skirmish level). I am thus very hesitant in making the time and money sacrifice for  such projects, however cherished they are, if I am not sure I have people who would like to start in the same time.

2) Over the last two years I also entered the world of board-wargames. And I must confess it has been a hoot! These wargames provided me with the enjoyment of elements of military gaming that miniatures war-games simply could not (Absent a large investment in money and time). The Operational and Strategic level, the role of terrain, of politics, and concepts like reserves, scouting and fog of war, were all elements that board-wargames do a superior job in portraying then most miniatures wargames. Especially for a fraction of the cost.

Trying to capture this in 3d? 

Which got me thinking? Why do I play miniature-wargames? The simple reason is that it is miniature war-games that capture the pageantry of war. I liked miniature wargames for the same reason why I like war-films and military themed painting. The beautiful uniforms and flags, the masses of troops with sparkling bayonets, and the machines of war from mighty sailing ships, to tanks (all of which admittedly give us an incomplete picture of warfare, one that leaves out the broken bodies and broken souls. Which if fine. War-gaming is a game, not a simulation IMHO). Even the most beautiful board-wargame (and there are some that are exquisite) cannot meet the pageantry provided by miniatures. And at the lower tactical and skirmish level of combat, miniature gaming shines. 

Can this be captured in 3d? 

Which has led to a slow bifurcation of my gaming interests. I am more and more focusing on miniature gaming at the skirmish and lower tactical level, while my larger tactical, operational, and strategic gaming is becoming almost exclusively board-game. Exceptions exist. DBA is a large tactical game, but with a small footprint (both price wise, time wise and space wise). Naval miniature and board-wargames are interchangeable to a point.  But I have not found the courage to begin painting my poor War of Austrian Succession Austrians due to lack of others engaged in the same project and being dispirited from the size of the armies required for the larger tactical level.

I cannot say were this will lead me, but I am consciously avoiding entering any miniature game for which a) I do not have any fellow player b) I could not quickly and cheaply built multiple forces on my own (again the increase in naval gaming is due to that).

Collection and Project  wise the situation is as is

Napoleonic Naval 1/2000 (Fully painted/ Completed)

I have twelve ships which I can use for many nations. I have a ruleset I am happy with (Kiss me Hardy) and do not feel the need to expand the navies. One of the best investments in money and time I did hobby wise.

Napoleonic Naval 1/1200 (Fully painted/ Completed)

I have two of the excellent Langton frigates (a British one and a French one). While initially my goal was to build two small navies, the procurement of the 1/2000 line has satisfied that interest. These are more collection pieces nowdays, rather than gaming pieces.

Star Trek Sci-Fi (Fully painted/ Completed)

I have 4 Federation, 4 Klingon, and 4 Kzinti ships (I use Legend of Galactic Heroes miniatures for them). I have a rule-set I wish to try but have not played yet (Klingon Armada). I feel no need to expand this game.

Star Trek Attack Wing (Fully Painted/ Incomplete)

I nabbed a starter set of Attack Wing, and two extra ships (one Romulan, one Klingon). I repainted the miniatures, and intend to buy an extra federation ship. I have played it a bit, but I am not sure I will keep it. This may go on sale to raise funds for my future gaming.

Firestorm Armada (Fully Painted/ Complete)
I have a Dindrezi starter fleet. I played this a couple of times at Champaign-Urbana but have not had the chance to play it at Stateboro. The game is not really something that excites me. I may sell it to raise funds. On the other hand I was hitting my head on the wall when I sold my old Warhammer High Elves when I decided to get into Warhammer. We will see. It depends where I am going to end up in this crappy academic job market.  But I do not feel any need to expand it.

Hand-made Pre-dreadnoughts (Fully painted/Completed)

Initially made for Dystopian Wars, I created my own fast play rules for these. These are not collection items, rather than gaming pieces. I did start a steam-punk aircraft carrier, but I am not sure I will complete it.

DBA (Fully Painted/ Not completed/ Stalled)

My longest running project. I have 5 fully painted armies, and 1 more that needs painting. My initial goal was to build 8 armies. However, I had no DBA gaming in two years. The rules still inspire me, and DBA has the best mix of pageantry and tactical gaming for the best price and time commitment I know of.  But I have had no chance to play. Consequently, I think I will stop at 6 armies. The armies are all matched giving me three pairs of historical opponents. This is one collection I will never sale (barring an extreme need for funds). And if I find a group that is heavily into DBA, I will definitely grow it to the 8.

HOTT (Fully painted/ Completed)

I bought an painted one HOTT army. I have played HOTT once and enjoyed it. I keep the army for gaming with the DBA armies. But may decide to part with it. I have no need to expand it.

Warhammer1000 (Fully painted/ Not complete/ Stalled)

This is the largest program I started to date, collecting 1000 points of all Warhammer armies. I have painted 1000 points of Dwarves and Orcs and Goblins, and 500 of Empire, Beastmen and Brettonia. I have unpainted the rest of the empire and Brettonia, Skaven and High Elves. This is really a project about collection and gaming. While I have played Warhammer and enjoy it, I have had not had the chance to do so over the last year. This is primarily my fault as I have left my painted armies in Greece. But frankly I am not sure I care much about going for the all armies collection. My Beastmen have been going slowly, and SAGA simply is a preferable game. I do intend to finish the miniatures I have, and play games if I find a group that makes me want to play, but I am in a) no hurry to do so b) no interest in expanding.  

Warhammer 40k (fully painted/ Complete)

I have 1500 points of well painted Space Marines. My second wargames army. I have left them in Greece. I do not intend to sell this. If I bring it to where I play, I may get back into Warhammer 40k, even though I prefer smaller points games than most gamers do today. Part of me wants to build one more army for it, but I have resisted well.

Honor Verse Ships (Fully Painted/Complete)

I used several honoverse ships for my Battle Fleet gothic games. I am happy with the combination, even if I have not had the chance to pay it recently. I feel no need to expand it.

Pre-Dreadnoughts 1/2400 (Fully Painted/ Not Complete)

My intention is to build four fleets: The Russian and Japanese Fleets at the battle of Yellow Sea, and the Greek and Ottoman Balkan Wars/ Planed 1914 fleets. I have gotten all the battleships for the Russian fleet and slowly build up. My intention is to do all ships larger than a protected cruiser and use counters for destroyers and light cruisers. I am in trials for rules. This is a small relatively cheap project that excites me. But I do not feel the need to go beyond what I have planned.

Saga (Unpainted/ Not complete)

My current infatuation. I have enough miniatures for two 4 point war bands(with variations), and a large 8-12 points army for Anglo Saxons. I am slowly painting the 4 point warband. I would like to go for also a Viking warband, but this is going to take time and I may just stop at the Anglo-Saxons.

18th Century War of the Austrian Succession (Unpainted/ Not Completed/ Stalled)

I bought enough miniatures for one and half armies in Might and Reason during a period of infatuation with the 18th century.  This has gone nowhere. While I would love to work on it, I simply do not find the incentive to do so. I have no gamers interested in it, and simply cannot afford the cost and time that two opposing forces would demand at the grand tactical level. If I found a good rule-set for lower tactical I may get down to painting them.

Things I would love to do in the future but which require a gaming group(* indicate how much I want to do this):

Napoleonics 28mm (skirmish, lower tactical level) ***
WAS 15mm (lower tactical level) ***
War of the Roses 28mm (I have some miniatures painted, I have a set of rules that excite me (the Perfect captains Coat of Steel), but this would really need another player to build a force). ***
English Civil War/ Thirty Years War 28mm or 15mm (I have rules that excite me the Warhammer ECW rules, Victory without Quarter, the Perfect Captains rules, but non to play)**
28mm Ancient Greeks for Hoplomachia**

Rule sets I have that got some gaming over the last two years ( in order of frequency)

Saga (6 times)
Kiss me Hardy (3 times)
Warhammer Fantasy (6 times,3 solo)
My own Naval ruleset (3 times)
Star Trek Attack Wing (3 time, 1 solo)
DBA (2 times)
Various Naval Rulesets for rules tryouts (5,all solo)

Orphan Rules sets (that have not gotten any gaming at all) ( stars indicate how much I would love to play them)

Warhammer ECW (Tactical-17th century)***
Dystopian Wars (Tactical-Steampunk)*
Hoplomachia (Tactical Pre-Alexandrian Greek)***
Ironbow II (Tactical 12th-13th century)**
Rally Around the King (Tactical Fantasy-Ancient-Medieval)*
Gloire (Skirmish/ RPG elements 17th Century)***
Shako (Tactical. Grand Tactical Napoleonics)***
Smooth and Rifled  (Skirmish 17th to 19th century)***
To the Strongest (Tactical Ancients..i really need to check this out)**
Victory without Quarter (Lower tactical ECW)***
Beat to Quarters (Naval Napoleonic, more detailed than Kiss me Hardy)*
Age of Gunpowder (Fast play rules for 1500-1700)*
Might and Reason (Excellent 18th century rules) ***


Sparker said...

Thanks mate - some useful insights into why we do what we do!

Konstantinos Travlos said...

Thank you Sparker!

Shaun Travers said...

Even though I mostly do solo playing right now, that is only for a few years more. I am hoping to get back into more face to face playing. I agree that the social playing is the best bit of the game. I did a LOT of boardgaming in the last 80s and 90s. I agree with your assessment about boardgaming - they do the operational/strategic gaming so much better but I like the tactile feel of miniatures and the terrain for smaller scale gaming.

Thank you for sharing some insight into why you play and what might be coming; it was interesting to read.