What’s your best of 2017?

By George Arnold

Here’s a fun suggestion (hat-tip for the idea to Jonathan Aird) now that 2017 is behind us:

So, what was the best gaming experience you had in the past year? Was it a new project, an unusually enjoyable game or campaign, embarking on a new period, or just the continuation of something you’ve had fun with in the past? What was it that worked for you?

You can submit your remembrance of things past as a comment to this posting, or you can send your ideas to me through the contact form on the Contact Us page and I’ll format them and post them to the Blog for you. Any photos would be happily received, too.

And, OK, I’ll go first. To choose one new thing or special game from several that consumed me over the past year, I think I’d have to pick my decision to paint up figures and develop rules for a 6mm American Civil War project. The small figures have allowed me to fight (much) larger ACW battles on my limited table space. I still like my bigger figures (15mm and 22mm), but this foray into 6mm has broadened my perspective considerably. Great fun.


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4 Responses to What’s your best of 2017?

  1. George Arnold says:

    ((Rob Morgan submits the following.))

    ‘A Wargamer’s List for Santa?’

    That’s what I was intending to write about when I saw George’s bit for that blog of ours, entitled ‘what, etc did you do, or what was your best event in 2017’ or something similar. OK.

    Well, the other evening I was working my way through a pile of 1970s copies of Military Modellin’ which was never really a wargamer’s magazine but had pretensions in that direction, no more than that. I found a heartfelt letter in a Christmas issue, from a reader asking why manufacturers of 1/600th scale warships (I think he meant Airfix!) didn’t actually make their ships with a waterline alternative! Yes, I well remember using a heated knife blade to cut through the hull sides of an HMS Campbeltown destroyer to try to make it into the very useful wargame model it always could have been. Not long after, Matchbox changed a lot by bringing out their kits, straightforward waterline fighting ships. His wish was granted, but there never was a waterline plastic Campbeltown. The potential for conversion of that was enormous!
    Over the long years I’ve been a modeller and wargamer, I’ve often thought about a ‘wants list’ and Christmas is a good time to think about it, as I sit here, listening to Bach on the radio and sipping my mulled wine. Nostalgia, eh? But, back in the late Sixties, it didn’t matter what was produced by the few kit makers around, we’d use it. Every kit that emerged seemed to have potential. In 1965, the year the Airfix T-34 (with two turrets!) came out, I spent the entire value of my distant Aunt’s Christmas postal order on a rash of them. With the help of Airfix’s C.O. Ellis, you could make 30 or more tanks and afv’s from this one kit!

    When companies issued their new catalogues, or announced forthcoming kits, it was as exciting as opening a present from Santa. Marcus Hinton, of Hinton Hunt, the metal wargame figure manufacturer, sent out Christmas cards, in which he hinted (no pun!) at what was to come in the year that followed. That was a tradition followed in the 1970s by Peter Laing, who’d write under his snowman and reindeer: ‘Next, I’m thinking of a few more medieval items. Maybe a few more Colonials….’ It’s something I’d love to see revived, but these days there are not many gaps in the provision of figures in most scales, if you don’t mind paying out, of course.

    One Christmas, I hoped that my great ally in the wargames world, on the basis of having served in the Western Desert and Italy, Uncle Hubert, would present me with an Airfix HMS Warspite, but instead, and I suspect my Aunt had sallied forth with the Christmas present list, I had a 1/600th scale model of the Titanic. Hm? Well, there’s some WWI potential, but a 1/600th scale hospital ship or troop transport has its limits, so the model became another big part of my bits box. But, there were some 16 or so lifeboats, and by judicious cutting of the davits, and some lengths of plastic brush bristle, I built my first Viking fleet. Had them for years.

    These memories were all evoked by the discovery of a pile of old magazines, Airfix included, which brought back the fascinating conversions, scratch-builds and sheer ‘have a go’ lash-ups of my youth. The best bit of 2017 was when I had to move four big boxes of paperwork in the attic. After 35+ years of marriage I do what I’m told.
    It was a gold-mine, one I owned, but had forgotten!

    Piles of Airfix mags, of Battle, of Military Modelling and of some of the short-lived magazines of the 1970s and 1980s. Sword & Lance, for instance, and I discovered (dreadful memory mine!) around six of the earliest issues of White Dwarf, independent then, and a real gamers’, war, SF, and fantasy, magazine, with plenty of good wargames, and potential scratch-builds and conversions. I have just re-discovered that I own most of the first dozen issues of Miniature Wargames and I was reading one over lunch. Number 11 in fact. Now, rather than wallow in nostalgia, I’ll pick on one article in that magazine.

    If any of the following, J.B. Knott, S. Hall or I. Bristow (very formal back then eh?) are reading this, then your article on ‘The Midianites. A D.I.Y. Army’ and it’s an ancient army of great beauty and simplicity, needs reviving — now. ‘Peter Pig’ makes a superb 15mm range of these Biblical warriors, I recall.

    Well, the first of these Pandora’s Boxes is open and bringing forth great joy. I wonder what I’ll find in the next one?

    Oh, by the way Santa, I’d love to see a range of WWII Japanese light coastal craft in 1/600th, or if you can’t manage that, how about a 1/300th Korean Turtle ship? An Eberhardt WWI German armoured car in 1/72nd, maybe?

  2. Rich Barbuto says:

    Well, my best gaming experience from 2017 was the climactic battle of Quatre Bras. This project took several years to bring to fruition. It included quite a bit of research to develop terrain and orders of battle as well as special qualities of the fight that I wanted to demonstrate in my rules (Ney’s impetuosity, high fields of grain, fighting in woods etc.) I went all out (for me) in painting new units. Some were new acquisitions such as Waterloo 1815’s French lancers. Others were metal figures that had been hidden away, unpainted, for decades. I fought the scenario three times. Perhaps what gave me the biggest satisfaction after playing the fight, was in developing the article that appeared in Lone Warrior 199. I had to build images of new maps and photograph some of the units. Thanks again to Mike Crane for his wonderful images of the soldiers involved! I also had to write up the article so that it would take the reader through each step of the multi-year process. Whew!

    I have that behind me now, but I still enjoy looking at the figures and photos. Afterwards, I had a couple choices for my next project. One was to develop a three battle campaign in which the results of Ligny and Quatre Bras were carried forward into Waterloo (or a final battle elsewhere, depending on the results of the first two fights). However, I’m moving forward with a second option – Guilford Courthouse, a major fight in the American Revolution. To that end, I’m busily acquiring and painting (and repainting and remounting) figures. This will take awhile to fight and write about, but it has captured my imagination and focused my wargaming energy.

    Now, I want to add a second ‘event’ from 2017. Every week or so, my son Daniel and I meet with George Knapp and other gamers to fight one of many, many games that George hosts at conventions. We are, in effect, playtesting the game so that George can incorporate modifications to increase playability. A favorite game is “Not Your Grandfather’s Waterloo.” Readers of Lone Warrior will learn more of this innovative game in the future.

  3. JAird says:

    One of the major highlights for me in 2017 was my annual trip to Salute – it’s great to have a whole day dedicated totally to gaming! It’s the perfect blend of inspiration, actual games and a major shopping expidition. I always come away full of ideas and fired up for new projects.

    Sadly my levels of actual gaming didn’t meet expectations – however I did get in many games using the Neil Thomas One Hour Wargame rules and scenarios: some ancients and a lot of American Civil War. These are fairly abstract and simplistic rules, but they do give a reasobnable game that really can be completed in just 60 minutes. A few weeks before Christmas I started to try out a Science Fiction variant of these rules, giving an opportunity to make use of some of the (many) Star Wars vehicles I’d picked up over the year. The only problem is not to get carried away on troop types and special rules otherwise the games might run to 90 minutes!

    Perhaps the best thing of all in 2017 was starting to play several collaborative boardgames which also use miniatures. As all the players are meant to work together this makes them very suitable for solo play. My favourite so far is Reign of C’thulhu, the mythos variant of Pandemic. This has some very subtle mechanisms which are driven by the simple fact that there is one way to win and half a dozen ways to lose! Everything seems in hand and the forces of sanity are preventing The Great Old Ones from taking over the world, and then in a single move one finds oneself on the verge of losing in three or four different ways and very little chance of being able to stave off defeat. Great fun, and I’d recommend it to anyone.

  4. Paul Le Long says:

    2017 was a terrible year for me – we moved house and everything you can imagine and more went wrong resulting in all my stuff being packed away in boxes for nearly the entire year; I’m only just unpacking it now having packed it all last February. Consequently my wargaming activities have been close to zero. In wargames terms 2017 was by far the worst year ever.

    Even so, I did manage to get to Salute which was great fun. I bought a couple of games there, including a Strategy & Tactics magazine game of Hastings 1066 which I not only managed to play but even cranked out an article on it. Lone Warrior was the other positive thing – it kept me going with inspiration and interest even when I couldn’t actually get to the table.

    Ultimately, as hard as the move was, it was the best thing of 2017 – yes, it made the year a wash-out but we’ve moved to a larger house which is not only really nice, but also has a converted garage which I’ve turned into a games room. This is a dream come true for me and will make playing games so much easier; just having all my stuff out and in one place is a delight. So that’s the highlight.

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