It’s almost, but not quite, too late to wish everyone a happy new year. So….Happy New Year to all the readers of this Blog!
If Christmas passed quickly, New Year was a complete blur. What with family and friends visiting, entertaining my kids on holiday and a blur of painting for Curt’s Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge, I missed the chance of posting a traditional Happy New Year message on this Blog first of January.
But better late than never! I hope each and every one of you has enjoyed a wonderful start to the year, and that it continues long into the future!
So, with that message out of the way, how was my 2013 wargaming year? Very much the story of two halves, to be honest. Half of the year seemed to be filled with wargaming goodness: trips to wargames shows at Abingdon, Salute, Crisis in Antwerp, Blog-Con in Nottingham and Colours were very much the high points of my wargaming year, giving me the chance to catch up with people and try some new games.
The other half of the year’s hobby plans were derailed by having the busiest working year for over five years. All good news in many ways, but definitely not great for wargaming.
As all of you will know, it’s difficult keeping a focus on hobbying when you’re very busy at work and family life is pretty hectic. There’s only so many hours in a day, after all. Now that’s not a complaint, although it can be a little frustrating sometimes. Part of the real pleasure of wargaming is planning, envisaging and (sometimes) day-dreaming about ideas and the next project. Not being able to embark on those projects can lead to a sense of frustration when there’s just not the time to start a project, or see it through to completion.
By the early autumn of 2013 I knew that almost all the targets I'd set for myself way back last January were not to going to be met. In a way that made the time I had hobbying, painting, gaming and convention-ing all the more precious, and I’m grateful for that. It also made me realise that instead of making any wild new year’s predictions for 2014, this January I'm just going to carry on where I left off last year before real life and work threw the wargaming train off the railroad.
I ‘m hoping to keep working steadily on the late Great War French project during this year. The Poilu are nearly done - just another 30 to do to make up the hundred I set out to paint at the start of last year. There's some support weapons to paint, then about 60 Tirailleurs Marocains and Tirailleurs Senegalais. And with half a dozen tanks, that's really about it for the French.
Painting the last of the French figures is hopefully going to combine well with Curt's Painting Challenge. I've posted below the gas-masked Poilu which I finished around New Year’s Eve, and which I'd converted up way back in October.
I'm now working on some veteran hardened infantry - the sort of grimy, rugged, indefatigable French infantry who utterly refused to be broken at Verdun.
Aspirationally, I’d like to post more hand-outs and supplements on the Blog here. I've a slightly updated painting guide to the late war French as a result of experimenting over Christmas. I've also got a longer hand-out on French “Big Men” (using TooFatLardies' "Through the Mud and the Blood" rules) which I'll try and post here during next week.
One of my long term aims is also to post here a Verdun-related campaign background of the sort I prepared for some games at the St Albans Wargames Club in 2011 for re-fighting Passchendaele engagements. I've quite a bit of material for this, but it's a question of getting the time to put it together and play-test it. Hopefully this will be a post-Challenge project for the Spring of 2014. If that goes well, I'd love to follow that campaign background up with something similar for the Chemin des Dames campaign of April 1917, perhaps better known as the ill-fated “Nivelle Offensive”, taking the starting point the excellent “Prelude to Victory” by Sir Edward Spears. Thanks entirely to a very kind and generous gift from Blogger-Chum and all-round polymath, Jur de Jong (whose excellent blog I thoroughly recommend HERE) I have some superb material on the French tank forces of the Artillerie Speciale. The bravery of both sides in the Chemin des Dames campaign could do with a lot more coverage in English, and a number of the engagements make very game-able scenarios.
Reading the above, you might be puzzled at my earlier resolve not to make any predictions for the year......when I then proceed to set out some predictions and plans. Ah well, old habits die hard!
To finish up this time, I've also posted the pictures of the trio of war reporters that I painted for the first theme of Curt's Painting Challenge, being “non-combatants”. These were fun to do, and the Bicorne Miniatures range of war reporters in 28mm has a wonderful and unique charm. The middle reporter is a conversion from Melton Prior of the Boer War and Egypt, here translated to a French reporter covering front line action. I drew a complete blank trying to locate the names of any French reporters from the First World War who visited close to the front. If anyone has any details, or even ideas of where to look for more details of the French press generally in the Great War, I'd be really interested - feel very free to leave a comment below on this, or indeed any topic.
Next up, I'll post more images, including work-in-progress shots, from the Mata Hari figures which I posted this weekend for the second themed event in Curt’s Painting Challenge. Until then, keep well mes braves!