2020 Year In Review–You’ve Got To Be Kidding Me.

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.

Ships. That’s all my 1/1250 stuff for now. I have more awaiting paint.

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.

It’s December!! Just five months until Enfilade!!

In fact it’s been two weeks since I began this post, so Enfilade is even closer than it was. Yes, still more than five months away, but time is marching on.

I’ve written before that Enfilade usually guides my projects and 2020 will be no different.  In fact, as the convention becomes more popular, with more people attending and more folks hosting games, Enfilade is no longer left begging for games at that last minute.  When the website opens on January 1st there is a stampede of hosts rushing for the best times and best tables. He who has no plan is lost.

I refuse to be lost.  I have a plan

Enfilade has six game periods and I’ll be running games in five of them. Some are finished, play tested and ready to go.  Others still need a lot of work and I’ll offer more about them later.

Here in the order of game periods is my plan:

Friday afternoonMad Wet Max.  This is the armed version of Thunderboats!  It’s kinda cute.  Lots of fun between missile launches, mine laying and the occasional shore-bound audience participation. Good way to start the convention.  No, I have nothing left to prepare beyond a review of the rules.


Friday eveningThe Buffalo Hunt. Another just kinda rollicking good time. I’ve run two of these games now, and I’ve picked up some very good suggestions both times.  Players pick it up okay, so I shouldn’t have any residual headaches. All figures are painted, so aside from one more playtest, I shouldn’t have a lot left to do.

herd 2

Saturday morning:  Nothin’.  I’m taking the morning off. It’s a good time for me to be lazy, look at games, yak with friends, maybe do some shopping or run down to Rainy Day Records . . . or not.

Saturday Afternoon: The Race to the Dan/ Rebels and Patriots. David Sullivan and I were interested in running another R and P game after the success of last year’s Retreat From Concord game. We both have a love of the Southern Campaign so I suggested a scenario that might fit with Green’s retreat to the Dan River and preparation for the Guilford Courthouse Campaign. It should be good, with about ten units per side.  Some are painted, many are not.  David is wisely hoping for several playtests so I’ve already begun painting and am making progress. But I do have minis on order from the UK, and it is Christmas time, so I’m hoping I don’t stall out.

R and P 1

Lee’s Legion foot (in purple) and three small units of Tarleton’s British Legion dragoons are four of the ten our so units I’ll be providing to the Race to the Dan game.

Saturday Evening: Ploesti/Airwar 1940.  This will be a six-player cooperative game as U.S. commanders try to brave the flak, and each other, as they bomb the oil refineries in Romania.  It will be modeled on the scenario that Phil and Paul created for Mustangs! many years ago.  Again, playtests are in order.  I have 11 B-24D’s to paint, so some work to do, but not a lot. A great way to end a day of gaming.


Osprey released its book on the Ploesti attack at the end of November. I think I was first in line to buy.

Sunday:  My Philippine-American War figures will make their official debut.  I have an idea for a six player game that will involve about ten units per side.  There is still a fair amount of painting to do.  Five units for the Americans, two for the Philippines and some miscellaneous weapons.  More daunting is the terrain that will need to be built.  While I have the bamboo forests and rice paddies finished, there is still some miscellaneous jungle terrain I’ll need to do.  Not my long suit.  Like Rebels and Patriots and Ploesti, this will require some playtesting

Philippine 2

An Enfilade 2019 Overview

400 people crowded into a relatively confined space.  They sought out their friends, and gathered together in their designated spaces.  They became animated, told tales of what happened over the past year, their voices rose to barely below a shout.  It was a very good day.

No it wasn’t the first day of school, it was the first day of Enfilade. The participants weren’t 16 year-old boys, they were 40, 50, 60 and 70 year olds, with a growing smattering of women and young folks.  But, most, like me, were a bit stouter, a little less hair on top, and  maybe a little creakier than 2018.

There was a pile of great-looking games.  Most were historical, but also some great sci-fi and fantasy to meet the 2019 theme of Winter War theme popped up.  Some I have pictures of, but others I don’ t.  I’ll follow up in subsequent posts with reports and those photos.

But for this post I simply want to make the point that the most important part of Enfilade, for me, is seeing old friends, gaming with buddies, catching a beer or a meal with guys I admire, but only get to see once or twice a year.

Maybe as I near my 64th birthday and retirement, I’ve just gotten soft.  Many of my wargaming buddies I’ve pushed figures with for 25, 30, 35 years and more.  Some of them are like family and our relationship extends well beyond the game table. It is not an accident that I ran four games with David Sullivan and Dave Schueler, ate in the bar with them three times, even though I spent each of the previous two weekends with them.  They are two of my dearest friends.

So, this weekend, which included hundreds of games, beverages with friends, and a purchase or two (or more)  made in the B and B, they were made that much more poignant with the three estate sales hosted by friends and families of those we lost, the most concrete example of the passage of time and the graying of our hobby.

Not to seem too maudlin, Enfilade 2019 was a great convention, with lots of terrific games.  It was a convention without major problems.  It was a little like an annual class reunion.  And to that end, for this entry, I’m sharing pictures just of the guys, doing what they love, playing games on Friday night.  To all those pictured, and those who aren’t, I look forward to seeing you in 2020.

Friday Peeps 5

Thomas Moore navigates Gary Greer’s First Newbury game featuring Armati 2 rules.

Friday Peeps 4

Matt Rocco makes his plans for Knights and Lords, while GM M.D. Preston offers his insights.

Friday Peeps 3

Two young gamers prepare their impis to assault a thin red line in Bill Vanderpool’s Isandlwana.

Friday Peeps 2

Sometimes game turns take too long. Hurry it up guys!! Siege of Vicksburg game.

Friday Peeps 7

The Order of the Fez makes its appearance at Bruce Smith’s Battle of Obeid. Bruce, Bryan Shein and Damond Crump are all fezzed, while Dale Mickel wonders why he didn’t get the word.

Friday Peeps

Sorting out the where’s and whys of Spencer Fisher’s Isola Della Scalla scenario from Lion Rampant.

Friday Peeps 6

This collection of ne’er do wells played in our Skulking Way of War game. I’m the goob with the Mariners cap.

Hey I have been doing stuff!!!

Yeow, it’s been a while since my last post.  Mostly it’s because I haven’t had a lot to share, but I have been doing stuff.  Knowing when to post and when not to is always a tough decision to make, but I think it’s important to have something valuable to say.

But I’ve been painting stuff.  I wrapped up the two companies for the Hibernia Regiment from my Louisiana project.  I like them a lot, and they’re fairly easy to paint.  They are RSM figures from the Dayton Painting Consortium, single poses, a unit of fusiliers and a unit of grenadiers.  Unlike most Spanish units they are red, red, red.  Red jackets, red waistcoats, red trousers, red cockades. They have green cuffs but no collars or facings.  Maybe it’s because they are Irish “wild geese.”

15mm Byzantine heavy horse-no horse armor so Belisarian.  I think they're Essex figures due to the bendy kontos.

15mm Byzantine heavy horse-no horse armor so Belisarian. I think they’re Essex figures due to the bendy kontos.

I also dragged out some figures from the distant past-or at least it seems that way.  I used to play a lot of DBA.  It’s a game I still enjoy when I’m playing with the right folks, and the guys who play a lot of DBA in the Puget Sound area are a lot of fun.  One of my favorite ancient armies are the Early Byzantines and I’ve owned them several different times.  My very first ancient army was an Early Byzantine army from strip Minifigs 15mm figures and played with the Milgamex Ancient Warfare rules.  I have the earliest of the Byzantine armies (III 4a for those of you playing at home,) but without enough figures for all the CV options.  I also knew I had all the lance armed heavy cavalry figures festering in my garage for about a decade, so I dragged ’em in the house and painted them.  Nothing special, but that’s 21 Byzantine cavalry figures I know longer have to worry about not painting.

I also have a whole bunch of unpainted 54mm figures.  I began this hobby by painting 54mm figures when I was 12 years old.  Not well mind you, but that’s how I started.  Over the years I’ve accumulated a lot of these figures and even larger pieces I hope to spend some time painting.

54mm Abraham Lincoln figure by Imrie Risley.

54mm Abraham Lincoln figure by Imrie Risley.

The first figure I took on was an Imrie Risley figure of Abraham Lincoln.  IR figures are pretty simple and straightforward, though they can be ill-fitting with arms not quite meeting shoulders properly.  The Lincoln figure is simple and straightforward, and the separate arm holding the stovepipe hat fit well with a little filing. The real challenge was making Lincoln a little interesting.  No fancy uniforms with gold braid or outrageous equipage for the Railsplitter.  He wore black.  His hat was black, his hair was black, so the challenge is to give enough shading so there is some contrast. I used a craft (Delta Cermcoat) black and mixed it with gray for shading, though I probably could have just used a commercial charcoal gray.  Just enough to get a contrast in the large, raised areas and the wrinkles.  I used a gloss varnish on his silk hat and didn’t like it.  I may have to look for a semi-gloss. He was known for his tanned face, so I used the Reaper tanned skin and highlights, which worked well.  Just could not seem to get the large, dark eyes, that are deep set.  Don’t think the miniature has these quite right, and I couldn’t quite pick them out.

My next adventure in 54’s will be the old Monogram miniature of an American Civil War Berdan’s Sharpshooter.  I actually painted this figure once upon a time, when I was 14. Painting the figure was fun, and with little extra to do, was fairly easy and fast.

I’ve managed to make it out to a couple of miniatures games.  I played an evening of DBA at the Game Matrix in early January and hope to make it back soon.  Chris Ewick is hosting the games every Tuesday night.  I’m going to try to get out for weeknight gaming a couple of times per month.  I also made it over to Gig Harbor for one of Bruce’s WWII skirmish games.  It was much fun, and I really enjoyed the game and the company.  My goal is to get out more.  Next scheduled game is a walk through of a pair of War of 1812 games on Saturday the 15th.

An Enfilade Gallery

I took a fair number of pictures using the camera on my iPad.  I’ve got a fair number I’d like to share.  There were literally hundreds (like 130 or so) games at Enfilade this year and my regret is I didn’t get more pictures of them, because there were lots of good ones.

Lloyd Mebust and Dave Mebust won the first period best of show with their Viking Run game.

Lloyd Bowler and Dave Mebust won the first period best of show with their Viking Run game.

Scott Williams' street fighting game based on Gangs of New York

Scott Williams’ street fighting game based on Gangs of New York

Guy Bowers' excellent skirmish/ rpg game based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo

Guy Bowers’ excellent skirmish/ rpg game based on Kurosawa’s Yojimbo

David Sullivan's Silent Death Returns game was a big hit in the first game period.

David Sullivan’s Silent Death Returns game was a big hit in the first game period.

Scott Potter gives instructions to his 15mm ACW Pipe Creek scenario

Scott Potter gives instructions to his 15mm ACW Pipe Creek scenario

Interesting take on the War of the Worlds including a mechanized Martian killing machine.

Interesting take on the War of the Worlds including a mechanized Martian killing machine.

Another glimpse at Chris Craft's beautiful Henry V game.

Another glimpse at Chris Craft’s beautiful Henry V game.

Wes Rogers ran two of his 28mm Seven Years War scenarios.

Wes Rogers ran two of his 28mm Seven Years War scenarios.

Doug gives pre-game instructions to the massive 28mm Napoleonic game

Doug gives pre-game instructions to the massive 28mm Napoleonic game

Andrew Mah and Denny Hartung play Check Your Six Jets

Andrew Mah and Denny Hartung play Check Your Six Jets

Bombing the Tirpitz

Daveshoe and I ran the Tungsten, bombing the Tirpitz game.  Actually, Dave ran the game.  I was called away frequently enough that I wasn’t too much help, though I did aid the Germans in getting set up.  The British mission was to drop enough bombs on the Tirpitz to seriously damage it, while keeping the Germans fighters occupied enough to keep the bombers safely on their mission.  The Germans had a pair of FW-190A fighters and two ME-109 G’s, while the British players took six Barracuda bombers and an assortment of American-built Corsairs, Hellcats and one British Firefly fighter.

The fighter combat ended up being an uneven mix, as the outnumbered Germans did their best to tangle with the British.  The Corsairs got to the Focke Wulfs early.  Though both FW-190’s were shot down, they did manage to take a Corsair with them.  The Messerschmidts seemed to travel above the whole business and never seemed to engage either the fighters or bombers.  The Barracudas were unhindered by fighters and merely had to deal with the flak.

Flak was the Tirptiz’s true defense against air attack.  (During the Tungsten raids there were no defending German fighters.) Unfortunately the flak was woefully unprepared for this battle.  Though the German players had a clear and good plan, the execution was not so hot.  Die rolls for the flak seemed to average about 1.5 on a 10-sided die roll. The six bombers rolled in unscathed, and when it was time to drop their bombs, they didn’t miss. The Barracuda pilots rolled up three critical bomb hits and at least one lesser hit for the victory.

Thanks to all the guys who played: Tom Bieker, Gill Fussell, Sr., Andrew Mah, and Dave Creager played the British.  Bruce Harborne and another fellow whose name I’ve forgotten played the Germans.  I hope everyone had fun.

German fighters prepare to intercept British planes lining up for the attack

German fighters prepare to intercept British planes lining up for the attack

Barracudas prepare their bomb loads.

Barracudas prepare their bomb loads.

British player Tom Biecker watches as the bombers enter the wall of flak.

British player Tom Biecker watches as the bombers enter the wall of flak.

The bombers begin their approaches on the Tirpitz

The bombers begin their approaches on the Tirpitz

The battleship is wreathed in fire and smoke as the Barracudas recover from their bombing runs.

The battleship is wreathed in fire and smoke as the Barracudas recover from their bombing runs.

Enfilade Day Two: period one

Almost a full house this morning. One table empty due to a no-show. The hall is buzzing. Life is good. Lots of good games from lots of periods.

Here are some of note.


Neil Marker’s The Battle at Bjork’s Drift. A 28mm battle on Mars.


Dave Schueler’s Second Battle of St. Leonard’s Creek.


Doug Hamm and Seth Terry run the Battle of Hanau in 28mm


Chris Leach runs his Conquest of Empire game in 28mm. Can’t have too many Zulus.

Best of show winner for this period: assault on Crete.


Enfilade live blog?

It’s Friday!!! I’m so excited for the convention. Usually I go with this feeling of foreboding and am totally stressed out. But I don’t feel that way this year. Maybe I’m just too dumb to know better. In any case I’m looking forward to it.

I thought I would try my hand at some live blogging this year. Of course that’s all contingent on having access to wireless at the hotel. If there’s no free internet, no live blog. I’ll try to keep anybody that reads this blog up to date as I go along. One more caveat: there are six game periods, I’m playing in one of them and running games in four of them, so it may be difficult to get around a lot.

1:30 at the Red Lion. Half hour short of the first game period. Here are pics of games being set up.


Lloyd Bowler and Dave Mebust’s Viking Run Game.


Fix that damn Bridge game 28 mm Civil War


Chris Craft’s Henry V game.

Playing in Chris, Agincourt game. Old friend Kim Harris and I split a command. Unfortunately the English have not covered themselves in glory. Arrow fire has been fairly ineffective, so archers have been driven from their stakes. The French have been un able to totally take advantage of the situation but things are looking bad.