It’s hard to know what to say when this hobby desperately depends on the social interaction we are virtually forbidden by law and common sense from having. Let me simply posit that 2020 has been a shitty year in almost any quantifiable form.
I’ve probably been more fortunate, or dumber, than many of my gaming friends. I’ve been able to squeeze some games in. I’ve commented on Dave Schueler’s summer gaming series. I squoze a few games into George Kettler’s gaming bunker. I managed to host my first ever gaming hoo-hah in my garage.
No Enfilade. No Fix Bayonets. Enfilade 2021 has been moved to Labor Day Weekend. Drumbeat likely won’t happen. No Museum of Flight. Not much of anything on the calendar. Even gaming with my friends looks like a springtime activity if we can play outside.
The worst part is not being able to see my friends. Play a game, grab a beer, talk about wherever gaming nerds go after a game, I miss that most of all.
Still there were some memorable games. David Sullivan and I ran our Dan Crossing game at Drumbeat in February using the Rebels and Patriots rules. The Dave Schueler Outdoor series was a bunch of fun games, but my favorite was the Philippine Insurrection game from August. Had a blast with George and Michael playing Ironclads. Of course struggling through the chill of the Manila Bay game was fun, if a bit tingly. Unfortunately, I’m left with that empty “but when are we going to get to play again” feeling.
If we missed out on a lot of games, there were also some good things that came out of the pandemic year. Here are some of them.
John Gee. John is new to the Pacific Northwest. He and his wonderful wife Susan left the Bay Area for Bellingham, which is not terribly close to Puyallup, but much closer than Richmond, CA. John was always a memory from my gaming experience in California from the early 70’s. He’s a bit older than me, but as passionate about the hobby as anyone I’ve ever known. John has pushed the expansion of the Tiny Ships project and I so appreciate him. New friends are better than new stuff.
Which segues nicely to the Tiny Ships. When I began the year I had a dozen 1/1250 scale ships. They were really nothing. And what was I going to do with them? Today I have 105 ships. I have another fifteen models that need building. The majority of them are American ships. About a quarter of them are Spanish. They are largely of the Spanish American War era. I also have some Germans, some Chileans and a few Swedes. The project began as a no modeling, no painting project but a few things threw a monkey wrench into that plan. One is cost. The Hai, Navis and a couple of other makers models are really spendy. Another issue is because they are largely of German and Austrian manufacture, they are mostly unavailable. My suppliers can’t get the ships even if I could afford to buy them. I have become a ship model dude. But most importantly, I really enjoy building the ships. I’ve pretty much stuck to Wartimes Journal and Brown Water Navy miniatures. I’m happy to build masts, and painting is simply no big deal. The Spanish-American fleets are almost built out, but I’m sure I’ll continue to add other pre-dreadnought ships, because they’re sort of like Lay’s Potato Ships.
Projects. It’s been a good year for painting. Except for the ships and few planes early in the year, I really haven’t bought many figures. I also made it a practice to juggle a few things at once. Ships, planes, and 28mm figures kept me from getting bored with what I was doing. I did finish some important stuff in 2020:
The Philippine Insurrection project–It took three years to finish up the 400 figures plus for this, but now they’re done and I’m really pleased with how it all turned out. I just need a chance to use it a bit more.
1/600 ACW ships–When the pandemic began I had about eight unpainted, unbuilt ships. I’m down to two. That’s after ordering and building four plus what I had. It was a very useful activity for me. I enjoyed the painting, as always, but the rigging was something I never thought I’d be able to do. It was fun.
1/300 planes. I’ve focused on Japanese planes the last couple of months, but planes just make their way into my painting plans. There were A-6 Intruders, Australian P-40’s, Beauforts and Beaufighters, F-8’s, and A-4’s. I have lots that need paint that I’ve acquired over the years, but like most things I work on, I just enjoy doing them.
So what will 2021 look like?
There will be more ships and more planes. But as with each year there will be projects. I did make progress on painting leftover figures from America Rampant. Those units were originally sized at ten figures. But I really want to do Rebels and Patriots, which require 12 and 18 figure units. I’ve filled out my American units and added a few more. I have about 50 Woodland Indians to paint. I run into trouble with my Spanish figures. I’ve painted all I have and need more, so I’ve placed an order for the RSM figures I use to fill them out a bit.
I don’t usually let new and shiny figures suck me into a project, but the Gringo 40’s Vietnam range is just super. Lots of action, great detail. I’ve ordered a handful of figures from them–Marines and NVA for Hue. I’m thinking Flying Lead! by Ganesha Games. In many ways this is just a vanity project. The figures are nice, I like to paint. I want a shot at painting these really nice figures. David Sullivan may join me. There’s plenty of room in the pool.
I could name all the projects I have to work on, but that would be a bore. Just be assured there are plenty of things to paint and I’ll be posting them as I go along.
Most of all, I’m just pleased for 2020 to end. I’m hoping that eventually we’ll all see one another in person, worry less about elections and vaccines, and enjoy that post game beer together.