Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Depressing Rant and some silver lining

Before I get on with my blacken gloom of a blog entry, my one silver lining news – I got a pay raise!  I think it is the first one in six years.  Next is a bit of chrome lining, (well it is shiny, but not worth as much), with me finally getting in a game of Charlie Don’t Surf in.  An AAR is to follow shortly (hopefully by the end of the end Sunday).  Now on to the gloom with some other bits towards the end.

One few things that some of you may have heard me bring up every so often are my demands at work eats away of almost all of my free time.  It is really hard to have a hobby, friends, etc. when you work basically 70-100 hours a week and have more or less been doing that for the last 13 years and realistically looking at the next five years or more will be same (unless I really do quit in five years…which I am hoping for still).  It makes you really wonder if it is really worth my wild to even pretend that I get to game regularly enough to keep buying stuff.  Back in December, I posted up on my blog that I was going to paint my room and inventory my books.  Well, here it is the almost six months later and I still only 2/3rds done painting my walls and about half way through my books.  Both the Memorial Day weekend and the weekend after, I got nothing done because of various issues (delayed and missed flights, electrical blackouts, etc.)  My Vietnam game was a partial disaster (see the AAR ), which was only compounded by everything that happen just prior to it on the same day, like almost having a head-on collision with some driving down the wrong way on the road.  I am burned out.

Next weekend I get to go home, I am going to make a serious effort to pack some more stuff so I can paint another section of the wall and go into my basement and clean out some junk to have an open walk way to eventually get some furniture out of the basement to be thrown away.  I am seriously looking at throwing some of my miniatures (unpainted…they are always unpainted) away as well.  I am almost even to the point of not bothering to try and put stuff up for sale.  Late in June (28-30th), a local comic book shop (FBN – link) is having a used games/miniature auction.  I am going to put a lot of my RPG stuff in it for sure and probably a lot of my miniatures in as well.  I don’t expect the non-25/28mm to do well on the bids, if any at all, at the auction.  So I will not put any of the non-25/28mm figs in.  But if you are in the area on that weekend, go and bid on my stuff!   I have a nuclear blast bunker in my basement of unpainted lead…it has got to start going…and going soon!

Narrowing the hobby is main goal starting in July/August (hopefully) with the completion of the painting of the bedroom and getting the furniture to be thrown away (bookcase, file drawers, a shelves unit, and a large table), plus my old computer table from my bedroom and getting a “Got Junk” trash bin for all of that, plus an old TV cabinet in the garage.  Then fill the rest of the trash bin with some old boxes (plastic / cardboard), and junk tools and equipment.  That may be when I decided chuck crap loads of 15mm & 10mm figures away too!  Judgment is coming…well, maybe a better feel of a burden lifted off of my chest as the chains break free.   Oh what a moment it will be when the day of Jubilee arrives!

So, where to next?

I have been thinking about that for a while.  Basically, I am hoping to sell more of the unpainted miniatures verses throwing them away, so I can send more stuff to be painted for projects that I am going to keep.  But I need to focus on what I am going to do for the future of my hobby.

Miniature Scale:  I am going for smaller scales because of storage issues more than any other reason.  While 25/28mm tends to be nicer then the smaller scales, their terrain / vehicles take up too much storage.  I hope to eventually get back to doing my Victorian crime & horror project and start getting my paper buildings assembled again.  But as I look at the size of the buildings, I realize how much space that they will take up in storage…and it is a lot!  To prevent having hundreds of storage boxes, I need to have less terrain, which in turns means less area to cover on the board.  So this now leads me to the next item.

Table Size:  In an effort to reduce the amount of terrain needed is to minimize the actual gaming area.  In the US, at least from my experience, everyone wants bigger table area (and armies, but more on that next).  Most US gamers want a game table of 6’x4’ (24 sq. ft.) or even better is 8’x5’ (40 sq. ft.).  But over the years, I have noticed that it never fails that only about half or less of the table space is really used.  So I am really going to stay only gaming on a 4’x4’ (16 sq. ft.) or even 3’x3’ (9 sq. ft.) area.  By even go to 4’x4’ area, I effectively dropped the need to have terrain to about 66% of the area of a typical US gaming table.  Urban games will be the 3’x3’ table space.  This sets up the next paragraph…

Ground Scale / Frontage:  As my table size is reduced, I need to look at movement / range combat distances.  Needless to say, if something moves 12” per turn, a 3’x3’ table will be small.  So my measurements might be all done in cm instead of inches for some rules.  This will be an easy fix, but might mean redoing some items to a different scale (like the Too Fat Lardies’ blinds and artillery burst templates.)  But what also ties into this is going back to the Too Fat Lardies’s motto, “Play the period, not the rules”, and that is using real frontage for figuring out what would be on the table.  This means depending on the games ground scale will give us roughly what should be available in a game.  In WWII an average platoon of infantry, regardless of nationality was expected to defend a 200-300m frontage.  On the attack, each platoon was expected to attack on one half to one third of that defense frontage (70-150m).  Even German tanks were expected to have a 100-120 yard gap between tanks.  To put this in simple terms, using the upcoming TFL’s game, Chain of Command, the ground scale is 1:120, so a 4’x4’ table means, a half to a full platoon defending and one to two platoons attacking, plus no more than four tanks on a side.  That is pretty reasonable for an enjoyable game.  So, really there is no need for one table edge to be 6’ or 8’ long and trying to get up to double the number in troops.

Size of the forces:  Given the example up above assuming the average infantry platoon will be about 30 figures, all I need about combined force (with both sides have enough figures to have platoon of infantry & tanks to be on the attack) of 60 figures and 8 tanks to have a decent game for Chain of Command or another rule set on a 4’x4’ table.  So there is my future “goal” for the maximum number of miniatures I will allow for a new project.  Big battles / forces are out.  But what about big battles, like a block of stands representing a battalion or a brigade or a division?  Well, again it will go back to the ground scale and what was expected a larger unit to have for combat frontage and not actual area in occupies.  So I might have to change the ground scale to meet the table size.

Final overview:  So it looks like I will only be considering skirmish game projects in the future beyond what I have already started.  Plus, I am not going to start any new projects that I have to build / buy more new terrain then what I already have (not necessary built yet), except maybe the odd piece or two.  However, the future of naval and aviation gaming is looking better as a simple blue mat with no / little terrain is needed.  Plus, with naval and aviation battles, the movement / range is so vast, there will even be the need for less figures on the board.

Some final notes on future project:  I made a Shapeways order a while back for the three sets of ships for the 1/1200 Cod War.  One set had an issue where they could not print it.  But that has been corrected and got the one set on order.  Also from Shapeways are some 1/144th scale biplanes for the 1932-35, Chaco War between Bolivia and Paraguay.  Thanks to Steve Blease on his blog (Link), I discovered that they were available.  I have been intrigued with that war for some years (about 12) and decided to take the leap on ordering the models.  Basically, it will be a small / medium affair for me by order two of each type of fighter and one of each of the bombers / scouts.  So it will only be 14 models.  I am going to have to look for decals now. Finally, I have discovered Victory Point Games.  They are a board game manufacturer of a lot of solitaire games.  I am going to pick up a few as I am looking into more into board games in the future to get away from massive amounts of lead and terrain.

Hopefully this was not too depressing of a rant.  I plan to continue on miniature gaming with my friends when I can, but I plan to make a serious change what I own and what I will allow myself to do in the future.

Be seeing you



Itinerant said...

I'm Lake STL and curious what you might have in 15mm WWIi, or 6mm.

Are you talking about the Fantasy Shop?

Pete. said...

Sorry to hear about your job work load- must be pretty high pressure to work such long hours- what do you plan on doing after 5 years?

I good sort out should do you good, clear your gaming space and gaming head too. Though it does seem a shame to chuck stuff out....

I think fitting your gaming to your space is the way forward. Although we'd always like giant collections and giant games it's not always practical. As you say the terrain takes up the most space (one of the reasons I'm so keen on naval and air war these days). With space (just)for a 6 foot by 4 foot table I mainly skirmish game these days, though I'm lucky to have storage space in the shed. A smaller table should get you quicker more decisive games in.



FlyXwire said...

Joe, I like your thinking about downsizing your play space, and then having terrain that works with this size of a board. I've been doing this a bit with my tree-terrain building lately by having their overall size workable for 20mm skirmish games, 15mm pitched battles, and 10mm-12mm too. This can be done with building scales to a degree, having "15mm" scale buildings sized to work for using with "N-scale" up to even 20-25mm figs.

I was lucky to be able to play in your recent 10mm Vietnam game, and your figs and the game board (yes, I know you wanted to do more) rendered a very immersive presentation....well done!!! So your plan to do small-board wargames is very doable of course. To me the "secret" is having the figs represent units, ala the board game scaling we assume is appropriate for cardboard & chits, but which we seemingly dismiss if we're doing "miniatures". I'm not referring to game systems that require unit attrition thru stand removal, but games and rules that allow each unit base to be attrited/affected w/o needing to remove figures. Once this is embraced, then your miniature pieces can be used for any ground/battle scale you need to upscale the board (size)......resize your game scale appropriately. :)

Dave S.

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