The immediate future

My recent visit from the black dog, followed by the cruise my wife and I took to the Western Mediterranean, has given me the opportunity to think about my wargaming and my blogging. Since I got back from the cruise I have been blogging a lot less than I had previously (I was up to three blog entries a day at one point!) and have felt much better for it … and so I am trying to discipline myself to writing no more than one blog entry per day. During the cruise I also read through quite a few of my previous blog entries, and noticed that I had set myself targets that I had not met … and that I had then stressed myself trying to achieve them.

That will not be happening again.

So what will be happening in the immediate future?

Firstly I have two more blog entries to write about my recent cruise. One will be about Sir John Moore’s tomb and its surrounding garden, which my wife and I visited whilst we were in La Coruña. The other will be about the small military museum that is situated in La Coruña.

Secondly I hope to be taking part next Sunday in a wargame that deals with the 1920 Battle for Warsaw. This is being organised by one of the members of the Jockey’s Field Irregulars and will feature 15mm-scale figures, a large squared terrain board, and Richard Brooks’s OP14 rules.

Over the next week or so I will be very busy on the Masonic front, and this is going to take up quite a bit of my time. In a week’s time one of the Lodges to which I belong will be doing a Third Degree, and the rehearsal for that is taking place this evening at Freemason’s Hall in central London. Tomorrow evening – and on the following Tuesday evening – I am taking part in a rehearsal for the Installation of the new Master into the Chair of my Mother Lodge … and the actual ceremony will be taking place on the following Wednesday. Although I don’t have a lot to say and do at either ceremony, I do need to practice … and the only way that I can do that effectively is to go to the rehearsals.

Over the past few weeks I have also done some thinking about the various projects that I have yet to finish or make some progress with. Since getting back I have tried to paint some of my L-shaped built-up areas … and fell foul of the recent changes Games Workshop have made to their range of paints. As their paints are the only ones that I can find on sale in my area, I have – over recent years – used them for most of my modelling … but I doubt that I will be doing so again in the future. They are now so thin that it takes several coats to cover something adequately, and even then the paint seems to give an uneven finish. They are probably ideal for painting figures where you are going to want to shade and highlight everything, but not for the ‘gorilla with a six-inch paintbrush’-style of painting that I am capable of.

I have decided that I do want to make some progress with my Eastern Front/Great Patriotic War project … and the inspiration for this has come – in part – from the recent blog entries on Conrad Kinch’s blog. He has been fighting a Battle of Kursk campaign using Richard Borg’s MEMOIR ’44 rules, and it looked like the sort of wargame that I want to fight with my 20mm-scale collection. I have therefore taken the plunge and ordered a copy of the MEMOIR ’44: OPERATION OVERLORD set, which contains enough additional cards and dice for me to run games for several players. Being the sort of cussed person that I am, I will probably end up using my own rules rather than the MEMOIR ’44 ones (MOBAT [MEMOIR OF MODERN BATTLE] and/or Ross Macfarlane’s 20TH CENTURY SQUARE BRIGADIER immediately spring to mind), but the option of ‘borrowing’ ideas from Richard Borg’s rules is something that I would be a fool to miss out on.

As to building up my collection of 25mm/28mm-scale Napoleonic figures … well that is going to be a long-term dip-in-and-out project. I realised that this was a project that I did not want to rush, and by doing it as and when I feel the need to do something different I will be able to take my time with it.

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26 Comments on “The immediate future”

  1. Ian Dury says:

    Bob – I think you are very wise to take it easier. I spent far too many of my evenings and weekends since Christmas preparing the CWS Salute Game this year – and am still trying to make it up to my wife! I hadn't realised just how stressful pushing yourself for, what is after all a hobby, could actually be.
    On the paint front, I started to use the range of craft paints marketed under the names of “Anita's acrylics”, “Craft acrylics” and similar. I actually get them from the craft section of a local garden centre, but lots of places seem to stock them. They can also be quite thin to apply – but they are a fraction of the price of the GW paints and come in a far larger bottle. For buildings, I tend to buy “matchpots” of household emulsion, applied on top of household quick-drying primer. Although they tend to be lighter colours, I find that they can be darkened easily by simple washes -watered down basic acrylic colours work fine (burnt umber, burnt sienna for example)
    Ian

  2. arthur1815 says:

    Bob,
    I'm glad to read your cruise has been beneficial, both by giving you a much-needed break and enabling you to make some decisions about what you want to do in future.

    I've come to the conclusion that the wargame hobby has great potential to make one depressed, for the following reasons:

    1. The grim reality of war that our games fail to portray – though that is probably just as well! – must occasionally impinge upon the consciousness of all but the most insensitive and/or unimaginative; when it does – as it did for me when I read a book about the wounds suffered by Napoleonic soldiers – it may prove difficult to return to 'simulating' or 'gaming' such events. For me, the solution was to withdraw from 'reality' to an unashamed 'toy soldier game' which has no pretensions to be more than an entertainment with an historical flavour/aesthetic appeal.

    Reading a serious book about war to increase one's understanding and historical knowledge has, perhaps, a less dubious moral quality than making a game out of the same events?

    2. The reality is also a reminder of our own mortality.

    3. The wargame heterodoxy of artistically painted troops – thousands of them! – on model railway diorama-standard terrain can be profoundly depressing: either it will take one a great deal of talent/skill, time, effort and cash to achieve, so it may never be completed; or one cannot hope to do so, due to lack of one or more of these prerequisites…

    4. And when one has put all that effort in to producing the armies, terrain &c., will the actual wargame provide sufficient pleasure to justify all that time &c.? As one gets older, deferred gratification becomes less attractive…

    5. Unfinished projects that have no likelihood of being completed in the foreseeable future are just another weight on one's mind, and may distract one from simpler, more achievable – and hence pleasurable – ones. They do tend to clutter up the house, too, much to the chagrin of other family members!

    I hope you find the path through this minefield that works for you.

    If you are 'a gorilla with a six-inch paintbrush' I guess a must a similarly-equipped Barbary Ape!

    Best wishes,
    Arthur

  3. Trebian says:

    Like you, Bob, I use some GW paints because I can buy them on the high street. Same with Tamiya. Recently I bought some boxed sets from Colour Party by post and have been pleased with them.

    However I'd never use them for painting buildings or bases. Much too expensive. I'm sure I've told you before that I use tester tins of the mix-it-to-order Dulux variety. You can get any colour you like, and if you take in a sample they'll scan to get a close match. They even do black and white.

    And it's available at Homebase.

  4. rogerbw says:

    This is probably something you've already thought of, but have you considered allowing yourself to write multiple posts per day but only posting one? That way you can build up a buffer when you're in the mood, and let it go down when you're not. This is what I've been doing with my own blog, anyway.

    arthur1815, for me it was recent discussion elsewhere of the child soldiers in the final defence of Berlin. But I always try to keep the reality at least slightly in mind, so generally it doesn't get the chance to bash me over the head, and even in what you so excellently describe as a toy soldier game I like to put value on preserving my forces as well as winning the day.

  5. You shouldn't let the blog get you stressed. I tend to blog when I don't feel like painting and vice versa. I think a post about once a week is about right…

    I don't worry about never finishing anything for a game as I enjoy the process of painting itself. It's the games that get me stressed as I am so rubbish at games!

  6. Ian Dury,

    Getting a game ready for a show is always more stressful and more time-consuming than you expected. It is one reason why I don't do it that often nowadays.

    I hope to experiment with some acrylic paints that I bought in THE WORKS. I bought a tube each of green and brown paint to use to paint figure bases. They were £2.50 each … which is near enough the same price as a pot of Citadel paint from Games Workshop. If I can work with them then I will look for other acrylic paints from craft stores.

    I will also be paying a visit to my local DIY store to look from some emulsion paints to use on my buildings. I prefer using lighter colours that I can darken if necessary rather than trying to lighten darker colours.

    Thanks for the advice.

    All the best,

    Bob

  7. Arthur1815,

    I think that you are right in much of what you write. If you have a tendency to be depressive, certain aspects of wargaming could easily made you feel depressed. In my case I find that wargaming can help lift my depression IF I AM CAREFUL.

    I put the last bit of that sentence in capitals because if I am not careful, it can make me feel worse. For example I won't paint if I am feeling depressed as I am unable to concentrate and I end up making mistakes. On the other hand a wargame played against an opponent or two can do wonders for me, thanks to the social aspect of the encounter.

    All the best,

    Bob

    PS. You are no Barbary ape. I have seen them on The Rock … and unlike you they are really quite ugly.

  8. Trebian,

    Thanks for the suggestions regarding paints … especially the one about mixed-to-order tester pots. I did not know that such a service was provided by DIY stores nor that they would mix paint to match a sample.

    All the best,

    Bob

  9. Rogerbw,

    Funnily enough I have a couple of non-specific blog entries written and waiting for suitable opportunities to be published. They will certainly be useful on a day when the blogging muse is not upon me.

    All the best,

    Bob

  10. Legatus Hedlius,

    Yours is very sound advice. Things had got to the stage where I was doing things so that I could blog about them and NOT blogging about things I had done. The difference is subtle but very important. The former was stressful whereas the latter is much less so.

    All the best,

    Bob

  11. Strangely enough I find artistically converting and painting toy soldiers and mounting them on bases diorama style extremely relaxing. It's important to remember that they are just toy soldiers no matter what the quality. Contrarily and in a somewhat amusing way, my long love affair with hair curler armies also provides me with stress relief. As a history buff I love researching Arthur's “grim reality” of war. Without a knowledge of the reality and our perception of that past how can we mould the future. That however has nothing to do with what we participate in on a wargames table. It's a game, just a game and if it stresses us out, we are doing it wrong.

  12. I guess things affect people in very different ways. I started blogging for myself. Because I live in a wargaming desert I miss the sharing that meeting other wargamers provides I wanted to record the things I do as a modeller to share with friends and other modellers and i guess to give me that wargames chat I have missed for many years. So for me blogging is a release.

  13. sjwalker51 says:

    Bob,

    First time I think I've been prompted to write something 'serious' as a comment, but hope you'll take it in the manner it is intended.

    You, and the rest of the WD crew, were instrumental in dragging me back both to wargaming in general, and colonial gaming in particular, after a 20- year hiatus. So many, many thanks for that.

    But, never forget, we do all this for FUN – especially games with like-minded individuals. There are no deadlines, no targets to meet, no obligations to others – so take a break, just PLAY for a while, and if you go quiet here, that's allowed.

    So pleased to hear you had a great break, looking forward to future blogs

    Another one sometimes stalked by that bl&£dy dog

    Simon

  14. Robert De Angelis,

    I enjoy the modelling aspect of wargaming – which I do find relaxing – but not the figure painting as much as I used to. Part of the problem is that figures come with just too much detail on them; hence my preference for the old Peter Laing figures.

    The study of history is something that I doubt I will ever tire of, however gruesome it may be at times. We are what history made us, and how can we hope to understand the world we live in without understanding how we got here. The one lesson that history does teach us is how we got to where we are. It will not tell us what to do next … but it can sure help us make better decisions.

    As to wargames … well most of what I do is definitely at the warGAME end of the spectrum rather than being at the WARgame end … although most of what I do is what I would term battleGAMES.

    All the best,

    Bob

  15. Robert De Angelis,

    My recent problem with blogging was that the servant had become the master, and I was blogging too much and wargaming too little.

    That is definitely going to change … I hope!

    All the best,

    Bob

  16. Sjwalker51 (Simon),

    You are absolutely right! I had stopped having FUN … and I needed the break to realise that I had lost sight of that fact and was making blogging and wargaming a chore rather than a pleasant diversion.

    One good thing about the black dog; when it 'barks' it is a warning that we should listen to. Recently I did not … and almost came a cropper.

    All the best,

    Bob

    P.S. It is nice to hear that WD has helped to get you back wargaming. To listen to some people's opinion of the group, we are some sort of underground menace to the hobby.

    How wrong they are!

  17. Chris says:

    Bob,

    With regard to the Masons, there are a plethora of books claiming the Masons are out to take over the entire world. Should this come about, can we count on your distributing figures to your loyal minions?

    A would-be loyal minion,

    Chris

  18. Chris,

    You mean we haven't taken over yet? I must query that with my superiors AT ONCE!

    Minions will be treated well, and you can rest assured that figures will be distributed accordingly.

    All the best,

    Bob

    P.S. Some of the books about Freemasonry are so hilariously inaccurate that I read them for a good laugh. Likewise the conspiracy blogs and websites, which often repeat 'facts' that are easily proved to be inaccurate or downright untrue.

  19. Arquinsiel says:

    That Kinch fellow is a damn menace to the wallet I tell you! I've got two boxes of Memoir '44 and a pair of 20mm Napoleonics armies that I am unlikely to ever get around to doing anything with thanks to him, and that's before we take the influence of both into account for my WWI project…. a menace.

    The older GW colours are still available from Coat D'Arms in the UK somewhere, but I have no idea about the last lot they just ditched “for quality reasons” *cough* Some of my CDA paints from nearly 20 years ago now are still perfectly usable, but if I buy a pot of GW anything in the most recent pot style it's dry within three months.

  20. Arquinsiel,

    I am sure that Conrad Kinch will help you find a good home (his perhaps?) for your unwanted MEMOIR '44 sets and your two Napoleonic armies. He is – after all – a menace with a most pleasant persona … otherwise we would not fall under his spell!

    I will look out for the Coat D'Arms paints at the next wargames show I go to. I would have ordered them by post, but new Post Office rules about sending paint through the post seem to have rendered that option out for the time being. In the meantime I am experimenting with some artists' acrylic paints from THE WORKS. They cost me £7.99 for 18 tubes of paint, each of which is at least five time the size of a pot of GW/Citadel paint.

    All the best,

    Bob

  21. Lindsay says:

    We have just done our installation meeting on Monday. I'm the secretary and the DC is faily laid back. I always think trying to organise a bunch of masons is like trying to herd cats. The problems on Monday included the JW not turning up, only one out of 4 stewards and three of them then saying they didn't want to dine. Still as always despite the aggro the whole meeting and FB went well and everyone had afine time. I can only second you that there are no conspiracies etc and I whole hearted lay recommend it if anyone asks you to join. Just don't agree to be the secretary!

    Regards,
    Guy

  22. Lindsay (Guy),

    If non-Masons could see some Brethren in 'action' it would end all speculation that Freenasons were planning to take over the world!

    I was at an Installation recently when the outgoing WM phoned an hour beforehand to say that he was unable to attend … and the IPM had decided to resign on the same day! In the end we managed to do the work between us. (During the meeting I acted as IG, SD, and ADC … and did the Address to the Brethren! Another PM did everything up to the Inner Workings, which were done by the DC. We had visitors standing in as SW, JW, and JD. It is not something that I would like to repeat!)

    The same Lodge has had to cancel doing the Third we had planned to do next Monday as the WM has to go abroad on business and we only just have enough confirmed attendees to hold the Lodge. In place of the ceremony I will be doing a lecture about Sir Charles Warren. The Third will now be done in October.

    (I must point out that this has happened in a Lodge where I am a joining member and NOT my Mother Lodge, where we take pride in doing the best ritual that we can whilst still having fun doing it.)

    All the best,

    Bob

  23. Arquinsiel says:

    It's not that the Memoir '44 boxes don't get used, it's just that I've ended up with multiple sets from donations. The Napoleonics though… they're not likely to see a lick of paint for decades yet. Mr. Kinch has weaponised civility alright.

    The new post rules for paint are just plain bizzare. I can't see the retailers in the UK doing well out of it, I used to buy all my Vallejo paints from Wayland, but it seems to be easier to just go into town and pray now that the local game store has started to carry some of that range.

  24. Arquinsiel,

    I also own two copies of the original MEMOIR '44 game … but I had to buy mine. (I wanted the additional set for the dice and playing pieces.)

    The Napoleonics will no doubt get painted one day … but they never will be if the paint needed becomes so difficult to acquire. The nearest place to where I live that sells any type of modelling paint (GW/Citadel and a few Humbrol paints) is nearly five miles away … and I live in London! The new rules about sending modelling paint through the post are just daft … but we are stuck with them for the time being.

    All the best,

    Bob

  25. Arquinsiel says:

    For a city of such size and importance London really does have a lack of decent toy soldier shops. I think Leisure Games out in Finchley is probably your best bet for fancy paints, from my occasional shopping visits.

    Worst comes to worst, you can always head into the Oxford Street Games Workshop…. I know it's still there because the local manager has just been sent to it.

  26. Arquinsiel,

    The problem with London is the cost of running retail units. The turnover required to generate enough cash to pay for the rent/lease of premises, business rates, and staff costs is higher than most model shops can hope to generate … which is why retailers like MODELZONE have failed.

    Finchley is almost on the opposite side of London from where I live … but might be worth going to IF they have the stuff I need in stock. As for going to Oxford Street … well at this time of year it is full of tourists buying all sorts of old rubbish. I am surprised that Games Workshop has kept their store there, and that the premises has not been taken over by a fast-food outlet, 'sports' shop, or 'fashion' retailer.

    All the best,

    Bob


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