Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire English Civil War, but with numerous discursions into battles from many different periods. The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Monday, 1 January 2018

A Review of 2017 and a Look Forward into 2018

Happy New Year to Everyone!  It has been a very busy year with lots of changes to deal with, but it has been quite a happy year - and not least because I have managed somehow to fit lots of games into the gaps between all the busyness!

Looking Back...

My declared priority was to begin another engrossing campaign, to fill the gap left by the conclusion of my refight of the Peninsular War.  I had hoped to refight the campaign of Caesar's conquest of Gaul (and invasion of/raid upon Britain) using the boardgame Caesar's Gallic War:

With the other alternative being to refight the entirety of the English Civil War (although unfortunately not the entirety of the War of the Three Kingdoms) using the boardgame The King's War as the engine:

Unfortunately, none of this really came to pass.  I did start the ECW campaign but  this lost impetus during a house move and then was hamstrung by some unfortunate data losses.  I did want to resume it, but I haven't had time to do so because I became focused on achieving the Boardgamegeek 10x10 challenge.  In theory the campaign games would have counted, but I didn't get around to spending the time to re-construct the campaign.  I am still unsure whether to do so or whether in fact I would be better off just starting again from scratch and thinking of the first campaign as a test run.  After all, my Peninsular War campaign took three goes I think before I got it properly started and running to a conclusion.  The Gallic Wars campaign never really got started because I couldn't answer the question to myself about how much "bath-tubbing" I was comfortable with.  Broadly speaking, a Roman legion is 8-10 or so bases-strong in Polemos SPQR (and in DBA, if using the suggest ratios in v3.0).  Battles in the Gallic Wars could easily involve six more or less full-strength legions, facing perhaps even more Gauls, implying forces of around 60-bases per side.  Until recently, I had a Roman army of about 20-30 bases and a Celtic force of 30-40.  Without bathtubbing then, I would need another c.60 bases of infantry.  Of course, that might not be the best way to tackle it, but my thoughts didn't actually progress past that.

However, I did however manage to do one of the TooFatLardies pint-sized campaigns.  Not the "Scottish Corridor" campaign:

but rather their other one focusing on the Normandy fighting, Operation Martlet.

The Too Fat Lardies' Operation Martlet "pint-sized" campaign was too good not to have another go at it!

I have still been using the venerable but excellent WRG 1925-1950 rules. 

I did also start the fictional horse-and-musket "Martinstaadt" campaign, written by Henry Hyde, in Battlegames 034:

I was having an enjoyable time with that one, until a combination of having to play other games to fulfill the 10x10 challenge and some annoying data losses meant that I rather "lost my place" about that one too.  Same dilemma here as for the ECW campaign - whether to try and reconstruct and resume, or wipe the slate clean and start again.

But concentrating on the list of things that I didn't manage to do ignores the tons of things that I did get to do.  I re-fought lots of battles from old magazine scenarios, which were full of interest and meant that I played games from a very wide spread of periods this year.  I have played games in 1/600, 15mm and 28mm in addition to the 6mm stuff.  I discovered the Two Hour Wargames stable of games, specifically Nuts! and Two-Hour Dungeon Crawl, which really suit me as a solo player with some times very limited time and space for games.  I went down memory lane and enjoyed replaying some old Lone Wolf game books.  There were really too many highlights to list them all, but suffice it to say I have really enjoyed my gaming this year.

What the year did leave me was in something of a dilemma.  I played quite a lot of DBx, Polemos and Neil Thomas rules this year.  I was rather hoping I would get some kind of feeling as to which family of rulesets I prefer, but it simply didn't happen - all have very strong virtues and a few small but annoying vices!  I think unusually in the hobby I prefer to play fewer rulesets on the whole since the fewer rulesets to learn, the more chance of getting that deep understanding which speeds up play, makes it smoother and allows one to concentrate on the tactics more.  However, if I were to have to pick one family, I am not sure which one it would be.  So I am hoping slow evolution rather than rational argument will help, as hopefully I will unconsciously gravitate towards the ruleset I prefer!

Lead Mountains, Plastic Piles and Dilution Theory

I have rarely had a huge plastic pile or lead mountain but I have noticed the sometimes debilitating effects of these things, so I make a point of avoiding it.  My ideal is to have two small contingents of stuff needing painting at any one time, one in 6mm and one not, ideally in two different periods as well.  As well as avoiding feelings of overwhelm, it allows lots of flexibility in that since no project has more than a week or so of painting in it, I can easily switch projects if I feel like it without piling up the lead.

"Dilution Theory" has had some discussion this year on the Meeples & Miniatures show.  The linked articles discuss it well but this year has been interesting for showing me in my own gaming the realistic limits of what can be achieved.   I managed to get in just over 100 games this year and it is difficult for me to imagine playing that many more.  This provides a somewhat fuzzy but higher boundary to the amount of gaming I will do in any one calendar year.  Therefore, for me, the ideal collection of boardgames, rules and figures will support about that many games per year.  Of course having a bit of choice is nice too, but this number shows the order of magnitude.  I don't think I have reached the peak for miniatures, although I do think I have as many, or more, boardgames and rulesets that I can reasonably expect to get to the table in even a two-year period and I will look to try and rationalize the collection in the next few years, to keep its cost and the space it takes up within the limits I am happy with.

Shopping & Painting 2017

I'm not a very assiduous recorder of such things, but off the top of my head, I bought and painted:

A 6mm Medieval Arab army
Reinforcements of Horse for my 6mm ECW armies
Reinforcements for my 6mm Late Republican Roman armies
A few extra reinforcements for my 6mm Napoleonic armies
Some 1/600 WW2 aircraft, early war British and German
A 15mm US WW2 Rifle Platoon
More 15mm Normandy MDF terrain
All the 28mm miniatures in the Conan boardgame, plus a force of Shieldmaidens and a force of Cultists, plus several heroes and heroines from various manufacturers.

Some lovely new Baccus 6mm ECW foot have just arrived to add to my lead pile, which is pretty small - just a few Gallic foot warriors and some C18-19 Native Americans, plus a box of Grippping Beast 28mm Arab warriors.

I also got given the boardgames Churchill: The Big Three Struggle for Peace and Labyrinth, which I am looking forward to getting to the table.  I have played a game of the first already and it was very interesting.

Plans for 2018

In a way, the plans for 2018 will look a lot like the plans for 2017 since so many of them were not quite achieved!

1 - Caesar's Conquest of Gaul campaign - after I have mulled through the last teething problems.  I have got the VASSAL module to work, which will help though.

2 - Re-fight of the ECW campaign - I think I am ready to go with this now, as soon as I make that decision between resurrecting my old campaign or simply starting afresh.

3 - The Battlegames' Martinstaadt campaign - exactly the same position as the ECW campaign.

4 - The Scottish Corridor campaign - I'd like to convert this and Operation Martlet to campaigns for Nuts!

5 - Design and fight an air warfare campaign.  It will be early war - perhaps France and the Battle of Britain - to get some more games of Lacquered Coffins to the table.

6 - Try out some new rules.  I have bought the re-released version of WRG 1925-50 so I will have a go at that.  I want to try out Lost Battles, and maybe Armati too if I can find a copy.  I am sure I have some others knocking around that I want to try.  I'd like to give the Et Sans Resultat Napoleonic rules a go too, they look interesting.  They are a lot more expensive than the rules I normally buy, but I am tempted to stump up for them.

7 - Continue to play through old magazine scenarios, as they help give width as well as depth to my gaming!

8 - Look at the Thirty Years War, as an adjunct/extension to my ECW/WotTK gaming.  I don't know which rules for the period can handle that number of troops mind.

9 - Give the War of 1812 a go, using the Polemos Ruse de Guerre rules.  Since I am a heretical gamer, I'll probably proxy stuff for the FIW and AWI as well.

10 - Get as many boardgames to the table as I can, in particular ones that have hardly had a run out - although for practical reasons, this may be hard to achieve.

11 - Be completely and totally lead mountain & plastic pile free by December 20th next year.

12 - Play lots of THW wargames as a way of playing more games with an emotional investment - normally I try and avoid this in my solitaire games, but THW games positively encourage it.

13 - Develop properly some of my extensive modifications to Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, in case anyone else may be interested...

14 - I am also toying with the idea of branching out into another theatre - France 1940, Desert War and Eastern Front all suggest themselves.  The Spanish Civil War is also vaguely interesting me here.

15 - And I still have some ambitions to begin C19 colonial warfare...

Shopping List for 2017

I am really past the point of "needing" anything - most things would fall within my tolerance range of proxying (and noting that other people have very different attitudes to this).  But to fulfill the plans outlined above, I am looking at:

1 - Some additional 15mm WW2 stuff -  a few civilians, a few partisans, a few more buildings, a few more vehicles, a couple of anti-tank guns etc.

2 - Maybe some additional Romans and Gauls for the Gallic Wars campaign.

3 - Maybe some additional troops for the ECW and TYW  - more cuirassiers for the latter.

4 - A Scots' Covenanter army and Montrose's army when the re-sculpts are done by Baccus 6mm.  When the Highlanders come out, I may do a small British force for the Jacobite rebellions too.  Or I might just proxy some Napoleonics.  We shall see!

5 - A few extra 1/600 aircraft.

6 - I'd really like to improve the look of my terrain.  This is more of a long-term project since I can't do everything I would want modelling-wise where I am, but it is definitely something I want to look at doing.  Any helpful hints and tips very gratefully received.

7 -  A hard copy of the Ruse de Guerre rules.  And maybe a copy of Et Sans Resultat.

8 - A few extra 6mm WW2 odds and ends, for my existing forces and maybe start a new theatre too.

9 - Maybe acquire a few bits and pieces for 6mm C19 colonial games...

10 - Try and acquire a copy of the Fall of Rome boardgame.

 I'd like to thank all those who have encouraged, commented and/or read my blog or my postings on the various forums.  I'd also like to thank those many bloggers and posters on the forums who have inspired me by the quality of their content to try out new ideas.

Anyway, that is the outline of my plans - I hope that your plans go well too!  Happy New Year


  1. Lofty goals for the new year. I am still in awe of your successful completion of the 10x10 Challenge. Seemed you were posting a new BatRep daily. Some day I hope to return to some these reports for closer examination.

    As for your proposed ECW campaign, I have often considered using Clash of Arms’ The King’s War as a campaign system. If you plunge ahead on this notion, I will be watching closely.

    Happy New Year!

  2. Happy New Year to you too Jonathan!

    Thanks very much for your kind words. I am definitely going to do the ECW campaign using The King's War as the engine. The only question is whether I start again from scratch or revive my previous campaign. I am going to have a look this afternoon to see if the latter is a realistic possibility or not, then proceed from there.

  3. Happy New Year to you! I try not to make plans for the coming year out as I know I will not follow them :-) I do have things I would like to do and play but if it doesn't happen in 2018, it is likely 2019 or 2020.

    And I feel only slightly bad in I recognise that I may have been a "bad" influence on a couple of your goals. Regarding Armati, the version you really need to get Armati II (not Armati or Advanced Armati). And Fall of Rome definitely needs to be the 1973 version, IMO. In reverse, I have already scoured my Wargames Illustrated PDFs for Ancient scenarios and picked out ones I think would be good to play, and have got out Polemos:SPQR and want to try and give them a go in 2018.

    1. Ha! No need even to feel slightly bad, I'm really looking forward to giving both games a go. I like Shako and Spearhead so I'm confident I will like Armati II and the Fall of Rome just looks brilliant.

  4. A thoroughly enjoyable post, John, and I can really identify with the lead/plastic mountain and Dilution Theory issues...

    Here's to a great year of gaming!


  5. Thanks very much Jack. Your own blogs have been a great inspiration - in particular I want to inject the skirmish games with more of the character that you give to your AARs, to make it more fun for myself (and hopefully the readers too). I think it just increases the sense of engagement with the story of the fight.

    1. You're too kind! And I'm here to tell ya, it makes the games loads more fun! My only problem is trying to follow too many platoons; I blame Joe Legan! His "Platoon Forward" product and blog is what did it for me.


    2. The only thing I haven't quite worked out yet is how to make it all hang together in a credible way - perhaps more difficult for WW2 than for your imagi-nation games. How did designing the background for KG Klink and the Java Sea stuff compare with the 90s stuff?

    3. John,

      Not too bad, actually, because it's still sort of an 'imagi-nation.' Obviously I don't make up the countries, but what I do is create imaginary formations (at least I don't think there was a KG Klink in real life). I make up a fake battalion/regiment/division, then I look at the real life campaign and figure out what fights I want my made up unit to be a part of, then I look to see what real life units were there, and then I attach my made up formation to the real life one.

      So, my made up Marines in the WWII Pacific will be attached to the 1st Marine Division for Guadalcanal, 3rd Marine Division for Bougainville, 2nd Marine Division for Tarawa, 5th Marine Division for Guam, back to 1st MarDiv for Okinawa, etc...

      It's the ultimate in wargamer flexibility. So, if you've got some Brits you want to follow from Caen to the end of the war, call them the 44th Queen's Ranger of the Shire Light Infantry (QRSLI), and they can be attached to the 50th Infantry Division, the 51st Highland Division, the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division, the various Armored Brigades, whatever you fancy. It's beautiful!

      So I figure out what fights I want to have, figure out what units were there, draw up a timeline, and then come up with the scenarios. Another cool thing is that it doesn't necessarily matter if you win or lose the tabletop fights and that outcome goes against what happened in real life, because you're attached to the larger formation, and they can either save your bacon or take the blame!

      That is, if I fight a tabletop game and lose, but in real life we won, well, KG Klink got its butt kicked, but 7th Panzer Division carried the day secured victory despite my failures, and vice versa. I may have won my little piece of the fight, but the US forces in the Philippines were getting their butts kicked, so we still had to fall back from that area, despite the tactical victory.


    4. Well, it is a winning formula, one I am highly tempted to follow, or at least do something similar.

  6. Thanks for a year of interesting rule / battle comparisons, these are amongst my favourite type of post. It looks like 2008 is about to deliver more rich content. Thank You.

    Best Wishes for the New Year.

  7. Thanks very much Norm, I have appreciated your support and encouragement this year and your wider enthusiasm for the blog as a good forum for the discussion of gaming. The quality of design and content in your own blog is one that I aspire to emulate.