One of the greatest things about blogging is the way in which it strengthens the wargaming community across the globe. There are hundreds of ways this happens, but one of the very best and most attractive is Wargame Bloggers Quarterly, of which Issue 2 is now online and available.
There’s wargames set in places as varied as the Sudan and New Zealand, featuring action from Durin’s Middle Earth Causeway to the cricket fields of 1930s England and the bootlegging ganglands of Serenity City. Painting, modelling, book reviews and cooking are covered in detail. The standard of photography, the quality of writing and the efforts made by each of the contributing bloggers worldwide to produce the magazine are really remarkable.
In fact, I’d so far to say that the contents are guaranteed to be of interest to any discerning wargamer, wherever you are, whatever you paint and whatever period or game you play. It’s a great way of paying tribute to great bloggers and our hobby, at the same time as sharing their work and ensuring that its preserved in a single handy resource which you can turn to at any time.
Visitors to the small corner of the blogosphere populated by wargaming and painting blogs may already have noticed that Blogging Supremo, Impressario and all round Grand Chap, Mr Curt Campbell, has announced the arrival shortly of the Fifth Annual Worldwide Painting Challenge.
This year's focus seems to be on anti-heroes, which gives a wonderfully dark and dramatic tone to the Challenge, with some great scope for modelling and ... who knows ... perhaps a little "alternative history" (cue evil laughter).
Announced yesterday, and impressively entitled “V” (with the panache of a Soho marketing executive, announcing on the 5th November), the Challenge is something I’ve been looking forward to since the last one ended. Sometimes its difficult to keep motivated painting wargames figures. It can feel like a solitary pastime. Far better, therefore, to have the camaraderie of painters throughout the world over the winter months, complete with all the banter, encouragement and general mayhem which goes with each of the Challenges.
Curt has put together a detailed post on his blog, complete with scheduled “themed entries” which were a huge hit in last year’s competition. I’m already planning my contribution to these, along with thinking about what I need to ensure that the preparation work is finished on the various miniatures I want to enter for the challenge.
First up will be trying to paint the Tirailleurs Sénégalais, which (perhaps fortunately) are still in Head Swap-ville. When I last looked, I had about 30 converted. Luckily (for me), Curt lets Challenge participants undertake their conversion work before the Challenge commences, allowing me a window to finish the conversions before the fun starts on December 5th.
I should probably, therefore, expect more scratched and worn fingers with pre-Challenge conversion work before my fingers get really worn painting like a demon for three months. But the rewards are worth it, and there’s nothing quite like the Challenge as a group activity and for bringing the Blogging community together. I've pitched for a (for me) difficult 750 points, but I'm really focused on trying to improve my score last year, which was in the low 500s. Anything over 600 points would feel like a great result.
So, all I need to do is to do some more head swaps and I'm ready. I wonder where I left that hack-saw....
This weekend just past was the annual trip of the St Albans Wargames Club (now perhaps better known for being the home of TooFatLardies) to the Crisis wargames show in Antwerp. Each year this is one of the highlights of my wargaming year. A combination of the chance to get away for a couple of evenings with friends, the excellence of the Crisis show and the wonderfully cosmopolitan city of Antwerp always make it a weekend to look forward to.
This year was no exception. Six of us went from St Albans – Rich, Nick, Elton, Biffo, Noddy and myself. We had a great time both running our participation game of “Big Chain of Command”, and looking around the show.
Many of the photos below I tweeted on the day on the @RoundwoodsWorld twitter account, until my iPhone battery died. Others come from Rich and Nick’s camera – and you can probably tell those because they’re the good and finely framed ones!
Rich and Nick justly won the Best participation Game award for their Normandy 1944 game, and it was great to see James and Scrivs win the Most Innovative Game award for their stunning game of Keren 1941, which also featured the “Chain of Command” rules.
As for the other games at the show, its hard to know where to start. There were numerous excellent Great War games, many of them (suitably enough) featuring Belgian resistance to German invasion, including this wonderful game from the Maidstone Wargames Club, entitled "Brave Little Belgium".
There was also an extremely finely crafted participation game in 10mm, set in the Battle of the Frontiers in August 1914, which certainly made me think of brushing up my remaining 10mm figures.
The League of Augsburg put on a stunning display of the wintry field at Fraustadt 1706…
... and Dortmund Amateur Wargames staged an equally impressive game on the Russian steppes as part of Operation Bagration in 1944.
The Freebooter crew put on an excellent game featuring sunken galleons and buried treasure ...
…with more than a couple of games featuring the new “The Crescent and the Cross” rules from Gripping Beast ....
I was also struck by the number of really innovative games being put on at the show. The Tin Soldiers of Antwerp offered a couple of really excellent themed and abstract games of the Great War...
… and another group offered a really lovely game of the Balkan Wars of the early 20th Century. All of these were interesting and unusual, and very welcome for being at a show where the more traditional wargames are much in evidence.
Part of the “Crisis Experience” is the chance to visit Antwerp’s old town. For those who have never been, I can recommend it strongly. It’s cosmopolitan, beautifully restored and welcoming. We ended up at the excellent De Pederstaal restaurant on the Saturday evening, to a man enjoying fine steaks and ribs with a couple of fine wines. I haven’t yet found a better way to round off a full day of wargaming!
All I can say is, I hope to see you all there next year!