Thursday 29 October 2020

Big Game Gaming - is it dead ?

 Edited 31/10/20 see additional information at end of post 

One thing I've taken up during lockdown is listening to Podcasts. It's nothing new but I just never got into them before. I was getting fed up with talk news stations endlessly moaning about things so I was looking round for some new food for the ears.

I took part in a Podcast style interview for a fellow Utubes channel,

Whilst listening back to it, to see if I'd made a reet tit of myself I found I was quite enjoying listening to the format, a couple of chaps chuntering on about gaming, now that's what I want to listen to ! So I started to delve into the world of The Pod and started with The Veteran Wargamer (Jay Arnold). The Wargames Soldiers and Strategy, and the Toofatlardies.

I really enjoy listening to them but one common thread seems to run through the episodes, a negativity towards big style games. All are very keen on the Skirmish or Big Scale Skirmish and don't get me wrong there is nothing wrong with that scale of gaming. It's a great way to get into a period but there seems to be no drive to go bigger.

Nearly all modern rule sets are designed for Skirmishers or small battles, 20 to 30 figures (I've got more 28mm farm animals !) to maybe 100 to 120 figures top, and maybe a couple of vehicles seems to be the drive. Bolt Action, Lion Rampant and other Osprey rules. It's all about getting a "force" on a table with no drive to go bigger. Where are the new "let's do Jutland" at 1 to 1 or Leipzig at 1:20 people ?

There are of course exceptions , the refight of Waterloo in Glasgow "The Great Game" being the obvious one. I'm sure there are lots of people out their with big collections they have had for years but are new big collections being built ?

Growing up I saw those huge games at shows and that inspired me to build bigger and more impressive armies. The drive, echoed by the podcasts I've been listening to is for small games at shows 4 x 4, a dozen nicely painted figures, rules that a box of wood could understand, is this the future of gaming ?

I get that people want to get started quickly and many Sci Fi, Fanatsy games have this draw, but when I get involved with a game like that it disappears up its own backside in a couple of years.

Babylon 5 Acta (Mongoose stopped supporting)

Star Trek Acta (guess what, Mongoose stopped supporting)

Malifaux, great game changes versions quicker than a Camelion 

Empire of the Dead - still around but doesnt seem to be played.

The advantage to having say a 28mm Napoleonic collection is that although rules may change people will always game that period with whatever rule set is in vogue.

Hopefully big gaming will keep going and podcasts will start to cover it more, it also got me thinking about how many figures I actually have, it's a lot, I've estimated 20,000 in the past, I'm up to 13,500 in #greatwargamesfigurecount with a long way to go !

The discussion on the Big Game has been quite active on various forums so below is a summary of my response to the main points raised.

Some have questioned what a big game is ? It's an interesting point and historically (in wargames terms) I think it's a very different beast in the 80s when I started to what it is today. The whole premise of the argument is that there is a prevalence of "skirmish" games and those to me range from squad level game with a handful of figures say Gangs of Rome to the large skirmish games like say Bolt Action. 

 So for the purposes of this argument, today a large game is anything bigger than that. But when I started gaming a big game was thousands of figures on a huge table either at a show or a group of friends hiring a village hall for a weekend. I often played and organised these games and have great memories of them, Leipzig at 33:1 on a huge table, 1st Day at Gettysburg etc. I definitely remember those games and not the DBA games I tried in the mid 90s with 10 stands on a 3 ft table. 

Arguments have been made about how boring big games are or how it's just a group of mates playing a game when big games are seen at a (UK) show. I would say they are just badly run or badly organised games. Having run games at shows over the years we always had designated "chatters" on hand to speak to the public about the game and talk about the battle, terrain, figs etc. 

But you cannot deny the joy of seeing a huge game of well painted figures on some beautiful terrain, that is a marvel in itself. A lot of hard work has gone into that. I'd rather see a huge game badly run than 2 people hunched over an exquisite table 3ft sq that I can't see properly unless it's through the lens of my camera. The argument comes up a lot "you need too many figs", I will just paint these 20 figs for this game or that game. Large numbers of figures shouldn't put people off games it should inspire them ! 

I know these big games go on still, the old guard keep them going and it's great to here from you but this isn't a how big is my big game contest, it's an evangelical call for the return of the big game. 
So back to the original question of this additional piece, What is a "Big Game". Honestly it's what you want it to be, it should be about aspiration, aim to play a platoon game if you play squad games now, Divisional games if you play Battalion Games. 
Most people have or have had restrictions of time, space, money or opponents, mostly they don't last forever, dream big before you know it you could be running your own big game. 

Thanks for a positive discussion (so far !) Regards Ken The Yarkshire Gamer

The post even made it onto the Toofatlardies Oddcast as the Big Issue Debate

Tuesday 27 October 2020

Yarkshire Gamer - October 2020 Wargaming Update


Another month of comings and goings has been set to music and released on straight to video here at Yarkshire Gamer, free lifetime subscription avaliable by clicking sub on the Utubes.

A steady away month with some WW1 Mesopotamia stuff added to the collection.

Work in Progress are some 28mm Italian Wars Shot from TAG

I've  even done some solo gaming, I must be going mad (wait till next month when a purchase will prove I have) 🤣 Stay safe and see you somewhere on the tinterwebnet soon.

Thursday 22 October 2020

WW1 Mesopotamia Infantry and Artillery


With gaming still on hold the new units keep rolling off the production line and this month I've added to the 28mm WW1 Mesopotamia collection, it looks like our Xmas 20 game will be off with Pandemic so it could be a long while before these see any action.

I've added a battalion of Indian Infantry (2 x HQ, 4 companies of 8 figures with an MG) a couple of Artillery Pieces and a 4 figure Brigade Command.

The figures all come from Woodbine Design Company and mighty fine they are too, once I've added the cavalry I've got in the to do pile I'll definitely do a Troops on Parade feature on my Mesopotamia stuff, probably in lieu of our Xmas Game.

The HQ section for the battalion consists of one figure from a British Officer set whilst the other is a spare from the gun battery. The guns come with 6 figures which is too much for my basing so the extra figures always come in handy for extra commanders.

The machine gun base forms a nice little mini diorama.

I drop my flesh tone triad down a step for my Indian Infantry, base of Hull red, mid tone of Flat Earth and a highlight of a 50 50 mix of Flat Earth and Biege Red. I've also used a very selective wash of Strong Tone on the turban, weapons and leather kit, I find that a complete figure wash dulls the colours down too much.

I'm really happy with the gun crews, I have some of these in the existing collection but always seem to run out of models for games and end up having batteries "off table", these will give me more on table options.

Some nice posing of the models gives a really good sense of a battery in action.

On the paint table at the moment I've got some 28mm Italian Wars, some TAG figures for a Borgia Shot unit to go with my Borgia Pike Block. I am also trying a few different things with some 15mm WW2 German Infantry trying to get a look I am happy with before I go full out on the stuff I need to do.

Friday 16 October 2020

Boxing the Italian Wars - Wargame Figure Storage


Over the last few days I've put a couple of videos up on the Utubes (links below) covering my method of figure storage. The features are aimed mostly at those new to the hobby but there are tips for all including the patented Yarkshire Gamer (TM) "Upside down box method".

I managed to get a slack handful of 24.5 l boxes (hopefully avaliable in imperial measurements soon 😎) and have added 2 mm MDF bases to the lids. 

The picture above shows Box 4 for the Italian Wars Project and in the first video I cover setting out the base of the box to fit the various units in.

Box 1 with my Italian and Swiss Pike with supporting shot, room for at least another Pike Block in there.

The Condottiero Box currently has 10 x 6 figure units with room for another 6, better get painting.

And finally the Light Cavalry box with Stradiots etc and a rogue Swiss Polearm unit. Space for 3 more light Cavalry Units here.

Also on the Utubes is an introduction video to the storage. Thanks for watching.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

15mm WW2 Russians for Project Kursk


Last week I had a look at the Germans I had built up for my Project Kursk, this time it's the turn of the Russians, so here is my "starter" army for the Red Hordes. We don't really do skirmish gaming here 😂

As last time I've done a Utubes video covering the army, including the Infantry and support weapons.

So I have 26 T34/76s, 5 Valentine's, 10 T70s, 2 Field Guns, 2 Anti Tank Guns, 3 Companies of Infantry and some support weapons.

I did have a dabble at the Russians a couple of years ago and did some Infantry but got side tracked with Italian Wars and Crusades. All the models are from The Plastic Soldier Company and I have to say I have been very impressed, the details on the models are really good.

I've got some heavy Russian reinforcements in the spray booth as we speak to bolster the Soviet troops. This time the models are from Zvezda who are very basic compared to PSC but the range covers some gaps.

I've even put a Russian Front solo game out on the table here at Yarkshire Gamer so let's see how that goes over the next few weeks.

Thanks for watching 👍🏼

Saturday 3 October 2020

15mm German Tanks for Project Kursk


Those of you who follow Yarkshire Gamer on the Twitters will no doubt have seen this bunch of German tanks grow during my recent holiday in Scotland. I had bought some 15mm Russians a couple of years ago and painted up a few but drifted off onto other projects. This time last year, again whilst on holiday I bought some Germans having decided to build some Kursk Forces. I have big collections of Early War (Desert) and Late War (Normandy) so wanted something in the middle and Kursk always fascinates.

I've done a short video on the Utubes covering the tanks with the usual still pictures and text below.

There was no real plan to this initial purchase it was simply a case of 1 box of each of the tank types at Kursk, first up is my favourite tank, the Tiger. I've deliberately not gone for a specific unit although I have used Otto Karius (Tiger Ace and author of Tigers in the Mud) number 217 on one of the vehicles.

These are lovely models with various crew options and really look the business. After looking at a ton of photos from Kursk I've gone for a two tone camo pattern which very much seems to be the norm in Summer 43.

Next up Panthers, 5 of them. They had their first outing at Kursk and had a bad time of it, poor deployment and mechanical problems plagued their first outing. I've gone for high numbers on the tanks as that seems to be the numbers I have pictures of, I struggled a bit with the decals I had so they are no sequentially numbered.

Next up the workhorse of the German Army at the time, the Panzer IV, not my favourite tank as I always seem to lose them all in Normandy games ! Let's see how they get on against T34s 🤔

And finally on the Tank front some lovely PzIII, these have got a bit of a sports car look about them. I really mixed up the additional armour on these, photos from the battle show IIIs in all sorts of states.

When is a Tank not a Tank ? When it's a Stug ! and who doesnt love a Stug. I put numbers on the side of these although I couldn't find any pictures of them at Kursk numbered up (only later Normandy pics) sometimes tabletop recognition takes precident over historical accuracy.

So there we have it, the start of Project Kursk, I really don't know where I will go with it, it's been one of those, I fancy doing that, rather than a group project thing. I have some German Infantry, AT Guns and Transport to do before I have enough for games but then with Covid games aren't happening !

I'll probably try and solo a few things with the Kursk stuff to tweek our existing rules for larger numbers of vehicles. I will be adding some more IVs IIIs and Stugs and look at getting some SP Anti Tank Guns, Marders and the like.

Next week I will do a similar thing with the Russians I've done. I'm off to try and persuade myself not to buy a Crusader Castle, somehow I know I'm going to fail 😎