With my most frequent opponent leaving town, and there being no end in sight to the time I spend away from home with work, I think that I have to be realistic about what can be achieved.
This blog started out as a bit fo fun to help provide a narrative to a campaign I envisaged focusing on the War in Angloa 1975-89. There is still lots to do with that project as we've only reached 1976 and I have just about all the figures and vehicles I need to play out the battles I imagine that will form the story as it unfolds. I should pause to celebrate what I've done so far as this was a major project, involving the collection and painting of the protagonists and all the terrain to go with it.
Interestingly, as I started to play out the battles I found my enthusiasm waning for the subject. Perhaps I'd just spent too much time and effort on too narrow a topic?
The other issue is that I still have sorted out the matter of which rules I prefer for this period. I've tried AK 47 Reloaded and then adapted Cold War 83 and most recently have bought a copy of Force on Force. I suspect that what I need to do is persevere with a particular set for some time until I get really familiar with them so I'm not tempted to flit off and try something else and risk never settling on anything.
The Falklands 1982 proved a pleasant diversion from Angola, allowing me to relive parts of my youth. I've finished painting most of the figures I bought, there are a few British Marines I need to do, and few more to buy so I have roughly a platoon to play with. The Paras, SAS/SBS Argentine Army, Marines and Special Forces are all done. There are one or two items of terrain I'd like to have a go at, specifically a generic farmhouse to be an objective for one of my scenarios and some marshes. I also have a Gazelle and a UH-1 Helicopter to model and paint. I'm pretty settled on Cold War 83 as a rule set coupled with the scenarios and army lists I've adapted from Rules of Engagement.
The other aspects of this conflict I'm looking forward to playing out are the air and naval dimensions. I've bought a pile of 1/600 aircraft from Tumbling Dice and a couple of 1/3000 fleets from Skytrex which shouldn't be too much trouble to paint up. This, I suspect, will form the focus of my modelling and painting for the first half of this year. The rules are sorted, as I found an adaptation of the old Seastrike rules on the web which are easily refined for the Falklands and should be good fun - not too complex but realistic enough to allow one to suspend disbelief.
My other two periods are the British and Russian Civil Wars. I have plenty of figures and vehicles for the latter - extending to an armoured train, tanks, armoured cars and trucks that look like they could barely cope with the East Lancs road never mind the rigours of the Russian steppe...The terrain isn't too bad although a good honest look at it has made me decide that this will be a bit of a priority this year. I have no way of representing Russian terrain in winter which seems stupid given that that it's the winter that is largely the point of difference in Russia. I've just got hold of a Russian railway station and a water tower from Peter Pig (the latter is from the American West range - I'm unsure how water towers coped with a Siberian winter...) and will sort out a cloth to represent a snow covered landscape. That leaves some pine trees to organise - I have some somewhere although they'll need basing. I've been using generic farm buildings that could be be from anywhere from Smolensk to Dartmoor so maybe I should get hold a few with a bit more Russian character. I have a lovely church with copper onion dome so it won't take much to sort out a good table.
What I actually do with this stuff is a bit moot. The Falklands figures and terrain are all set to be played in a series of linked scenarios that will form a campaign almost by default. The Russian Civil War lends itself to an 'axis of advance' style of campaign as most of the fighting was along corridors defined by the railways. All I really need to do is get the little blighters on the table and start rolling dice. This can be a bit of an effort sometimes - I'm starting to see the advantage of smaller tables and smaller games with commensurate short set up and pack away times.
Which leads me into what is still my favourite period - the British Civil Wars of the 17th Century. I can field all the major (and the minor come to think of it) protagonists, and have plenty of good looking terrrain. I have a couple of regular opponents and I enjoy playing the DBR rules. I know many will disagree with me but I think Phil Barker has done a great job with these rules capturing the subtleties of the period - I don't care if I win or lose as each game I play is, to quote Phillip Sabin, an 'interactive history book'. And in the 300 pt, 4 x 3 ft table format it's a doddle to set up and play in an evening.
One thought I have had is to develop a free form campaign - a sort of 17th Century Winter of 79 ('Winter of 49'?). Given that the major set piece battles involving large numbers were the result of several field armies on both sides coming together and given that much of the war consisted of the minor engagements, skirmishes and sieges of so called county warfare I think there is potential to do something here. I've been reading John Barratt's account of the war in Cheshire (The Great Siege of Chester: History Press 2011) and have a yen to develop a narrative based on a fictional county similar to Cheshire that would allow me to develop a few of the characters I've started to write about on this blog as well as provide a structure to the games I play. I'll work this idea up for a future post.