Friday 29 December 2017

2017 Retrospective

It has not been a good year for gaming or for blogging. I have not lifted a paint brush in anger at all this year, which is disappointing after last year's successes. I have bought no new figures (this may well be a good thing!). I have not really engaged with gaming at all this year. Certainly no new plans were mooted or initiated and I found little inspiration anywhere. I fear I am suffering from wargaming ennui.

Picture from
On the plus side, I managed to get in a few board games, but no figure games. The games I played were:

  • Advanced Squad Leader (4 games)
  • Arcadia Quest: Inferno (1 game)
  • Fire and Axe: A Viking Saga (1 game)
  • Super Dungeon Explore: Forgotten King (1 game)
  • Border War: Angola Raiders (1 game)

This amounts to 8 separate gaming sessions, although the solo session of Border War: Angola Raiders only lasted about half an hour, so I'm not sure it really counts.

I returned from Ireland at the beginning of this year and moved to Nottingham which has hindered my gaming just as much as living in Ireland did. My regular figure-gaming buddy Steve does not often have Saturdays free, so the two of us managed to meet twice in the whole year, playing Arcadia Quest: Inferno and Super Dungeon Explore. Both games are similar concepts but different executions, and both are very enjoyable to play. AQ:I takes less time to play out while SDE really requires a longer session to finish.

Border War: Angola Raiders is a solo game. It's cheap and cheerful, but I found it a bit random in the game I played. When playing solo, I prefer to have a solid system to beat.

The four games of ASL were good. I have a keen ASL buddy Mal who finds it easier to play on a Saturday, so we managed to organise a few sessions. The scenarios we played were Russians versus Finns and Swedish volunteers in Finland. They were all enjoyable romps through the snow and extreme winter. It's just a shame that we could not organise more sessions.

I managed one game at the board games cafe in Nottingham where I work, but getting away from work in the evenings has proven to be particularly hard this year so gaming after work has not really been on the cards. Who knew that curating an exhibition about Vikings and sorting out a full public engagement programme would require such regular long hours?

Although I played no games in the Talomir Tales campaign this year, I did umpire it to a conclusion, so there was that to be pleased with. The campaign began in early 2009 as a vehicle for our fantasy gaming, and expanded to include half of the continent of Talomir. I am very happy that it lasted for 8 years and actually reached a proper conclusion.

So, that's my 2017. I have had too much work to do, and it has left me no energy for relaxing with a good game. I wonder if reducing the Unpainted Lead Pile (ULP) by just getting rid of most of it might not leave me more enthused to paint, but it is hard to decide what to focus on when I have such a butterfly mind, and time is so limited at the moment that I don't really feel I can sit down and sort through all my stuff yet.

For 2018, I would like to do that sorting. Hopefully work will not occupy so much of my time and I can sit down and have a guilt-free moment to sort out my figures properly. A good sort out and tidy up should put me in a better frame of mind for dealing with the ULP and actually returning to painting. I need to find something that will give me a quick fix, as it were, something easy to complete so that I see results before ennui sets in once more.

In terms of gaming, I hope to play more ASL. We are planning to start the big Red Barricades campaign again, so I hope to schedule monthly ASL sessions to get some good progress on that.

Other games/genres I would like to play this year are (in no particular order):

  • 6mm Command Decision: Test of Battle
  • 15mm science fiction 
  • 6mm Great Northern War
  • 6mm and 15mm Viking Age
I have armies for all of these, so they require little or no additional work on my part, which is a good thing given how little spare time I have. Actually playing them might encourage me to sit down and continue work on the remaining elements of my armies for these periods/rules.

One other thing I would like to work on is my terrain. I feel like I have too little terrain, and I particularly want to develop my 15mm sci-fi setting with new terrain to fight over. All those Mad Mecha Guy buildings won't paint themselves, you know.

Thursday 10 August 2017

Talomir Tales: A tale of a successful campaign

This blog has been neglected for a long time because of my peripatetic work life which led to a lack of face-to-face gaming. My Talomir Tales blog continued, largely because my players were remote, and I did not have to be present for the games. However, the long-running Talomir Tales campaign has finally ended (for now) with a victory for the Mirish empire. What gets me about this is that the campaign lasted for eight years and we could probably have gone on for another eight, had the freakish circumstance of Mirish acquiring all three artefacts not happened. As it is, Mirish successfully did this and thus wins. Presumably, the emperor will take them to the Peaks of Gorath and enact an unspeakable ritual to bring to pass a new age of the Black Moon.
This has caused me to reflect upon what made this campaign successful. To some extent, the reasons are probably nebulous. Steve and I made a connection with this campaign that endured and maintained our interest, where other campaigns that started well have foundered along the way. I have no idea what this connection was. Still, I can point to a number of things that contributed to the campaign's success.

1. We started small and built up. The campaign began with four nations fighting it out. That meant that we could get the armies painted quickly and easily with no downtime while we waited to finish the forces for each battle.
2. The campaign rules were simple with little book-keeping. I could easily run a campaign turn through in 15 minutes. This was a great help. When life got busy, I was still able to find time to run a campaign turn through and work out what the next battle was.
3. The campaign rules were focused on battles.This meant that the game was all about the table-top action, not the campaign actions. Players had little control over when they went to war, because that was dealt with by the campaign system. They only needed to focus on playing games and winning battles for their leader.

These are the practical matters that helped. The campaign was never a burden with loads of record-keeping, although it did become difficult when it expanded beyond a certain point, because we wound up with too many battles to fight. At that point, we recruited more people to help us.

This is where the chosen rules were also a great advantage. Rally round the King is eminently suited for solo play, so no one needed an opponent present to fight the battles. The rules include sections to aid solo deployment and fighting of battles, so that the player can get on with the important task of rolling dice. You can play one side against the system or you can let the system control both sides. The THW reaction system even drives most of the action anyway, so it is all very simple to have players all over the world even if they have no opponent present.

Finally, we got engaged with the story, and I think this is one of the main reasons why the campaign continued to a conclusion. We told stories about the battles, engaged in banter relating to the characters and generals in the armies, and we constructed a whole history for the campaign in our heads. We wanted to continue because we enjoyed the storytelling. The campaign could have been played to a conclusion without that, but I really do think that the storytelling drove us to continue.

So, head on over to the Talomir Tales blog if you want, and check out the history of the past 15 (game) years in Talomir. I hope you find something to inspire your gaming too.