Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year and Best Wishes for 2013!

First, my best wishes for 2013 and Happy New Year.  I'm now another year old, a little wiser, and sadder.  But I look forward to more miniature wargaming locally and completing some painting projects this year.  And for those who shudder at the amount of unpainted lead they still own.  Some helpful suggestions:

1)  Consolidate the figures you are never going to paint due to disinterested, lack of space, or lack of time.

2)  Prioritize what you'd like to accomplish this year.  Do you want to work on a particular project?  Is there something you want to get done.  It could be something as simple as rebasing figures to completing a Napoleonic army.

3)  Set aside time to paint each week.  This is your hobby.  It's a part of wargaming.  If you can't paint, then save up the money for a decent painting service. 

4)  Don't get sidetracked by the "New Shiny Lead Syndrome."  Your significant other or wife will be more understanding of our niche hobby (which is weirder to the general public than chess) if you make a concerted effort to get some unpainted lead you currently own painted than throwing money away of figures you'll never get around to priming.

5)  Work on some area of interest with fellow gamers.  Even if its one or two guys.  I'm tired of doing projects for both combatants.  It's more interested and easier on you if you just do a small project with a friend who won't screw you over by backing out of it at the last minute.

6)  Finally, do things that interest you.  It's your hobby.  If you have two different small projects, you can bounce from one thing to another until they both get done.  And you won't get bored just painting one thing.

Hope this helps,

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Waiting on my Xmas toys

It's been one of those months.  I put together a rather large Old Glory Miniatures order with a friend for 25mm Trojan War armies at the beginning of this month.  He sent off the order.  It's nearly New Years Eve and neither of our figures have shown up yet at his house.  I want three days of my life back from Father Nurgle in his infinite wisdom sending me his Zombie Rot in the form of the flu.  I'm getting better.  However, my friend Don Cox came down with it, too. 

So I have nothing to report.  I spent Xmas night in bed.  I slept the next several days with a sinus infection and generally stayed away from my roommates.  I've done no painting or basing of figures.  I spent an evening writing out bills and watching NBA basketball.  So I thought I'd be into writing.  Alas, I've haven't sat down and written out an outline for a new sci-fi story.  The two speculative fiction novels I have are complete and in need of a copy editor.  2013 is the year I find one and get a literary agent and a publisher.  The good thing about my sci-fi worlds is GW can't sue me for copyright infringement.  I came up with something original.  It was a lot of work.  But I shouldn't cross blog about my sci-fi manuscripts.  That is for Bruckner, Writing, Orchids, and Relationships...

But I'm yearning to get back to painting in early January 2013.  I also want to devote time to writing a new novel.  Gaming related, I tried to rewrite a digital copy of my 20mm WWI house rules called No-Man's-Land.  It's too much work to get it onto a computer.  I lost my digital copy when my computer ran Windows 95.  All I have is about 200 pages of scenarios and rules for the Western and Eastern Fronts.  My next project after the 25mm Trojan War in 2014 is putting together Western Front 1914 forces for my 20mm rules.  It's a large undertaking.  But I feel it would be worth it for the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

Yet, I dream big of another massive painting project.  I did that about fifteen years ago when Britannia Miniatures introduced their 20mm WWI range.  And I didn't like any of the commercial rules available at the time.  So I bastardized my own.  These will always stay house rules.  I don't ever intend to publish them.  But I like the way they play.  Fast and furious.  And very bloody.  Sapper Joe says its like playing with blocks because of the 80% casualty rate.  But does he claim to be a fan of the War of the Triple Alliance?  Didn't Paraguay suffer 90% casualty rates during their war with Brazil and Argentina? 

So I sit here waiting for my Xmas toys to get to me in St. Louis, MO.  I'm sick of being Father Nurgle's chief whipping boy...

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Review of "Greetings from Afghanistan" By Benjamin Tupper

I finished Captain Benjamin Tupper's book, "Greetings from Afghanistan:  Send More Ammo," today.  The book was a series of blogs about his life as part of a ETT (Embedded Training Team) with the Afghan National Army during his year long deployment in southern Afghanistan.  The war took a toil on Tupper.  He lost about 40 pounds, wound up divorced, and suffered from Post-Tramatic Stress Disorder when he got back to New York City, his hometown.  But Tupper said it helped him to write down all things that happened as a kind of therapy.  I believe that was the reason he wrote his book. 

Aside from the combat patrols, dealing with insurgents, target practicing, and occasional R&R, much of it was dealt with the daily toil of combat operations in Afghanistan.  The terrain is unforgiving and climate hostile.  Tupper commented on something I already knew but few people actually talk about.  The lack of winning hearts and minds with the local population in the face of a more militarist response to the Taliban insurgency.  And no one is the current political administration or Congress will publicly talk about why we should still be in Afghanistan.  Though Captain Tupper generally supported US policy, his view was we couldn't militarily win in Afghanistan without winning the goodwill and support of the local population. 

This is what happened in Vietnam.  It is now playing out in Kabul and Kandahar.  But I still don't see any public discourse about why America is still involved in Afghanistan.  Tupper commented on the fact that deployments were often extended three months by the Pentagon to cover manpower shortages.  Some soldiers who were coming home to Fort Bragg were sent back to Afghanistan for another 90 days within hours of their "homecoming ceremonies".  MP's had to hauled in to stop rioting Army wives who were throwing food at military officials. 

These are the kind of things that aren't heard on TV or in the newspapers.  And the Obama administration wants to continue deploying US and Nato forces in Afghanistan until 2014?  I don't see the point in wasting anymore US lives in a futile war.  My own opinion is we have outlasted our welcome and the local population wants us to leave.  It would only be a matter of time before the Karzi regime collapsed without US support.  Again, I see many shades of Vietnam in my mind. 

But the Taliban weapon of choice that stood out was the RPG-7 and IED's.  Tupper and his soldiers feared both.  There were also mortar attacks on command posts and the daily possibility of sniper ambushes.  IED's were feared by US service personnel the worst.  There would be no warning when they might hit.  And the effects could be devastating.  Loss of limbs is a real fear.  That combined with an enemy that believes in suicide bombings sickens most troops.

Though I enjoyed reading "Greetings from Afghanistan" by Captain Tupper, I find the lack of suitable reading material about combat operations in Afghanistan disheartening.  The current campaign is being fought similar to a 19th century war of empire.  One of the lessons to be taken away from all this is Afghanistan has traditionally been the graveyard of empires from Alexander the Great to the British East India Company and the Soviet Union.  We would be foolish to think that we are any better with our modern technology and high-tech weaponary. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

28mm 1870 Chasseurs d'Afrique Cavalry Regiment

Here is a photo of my completed 28mm 1870 Chasseurs d'Afrique Cavalry Regiment for Chassepot & Needlegun.  By completing this regiment early, I back on track for my painting this month.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Open Letter to Games Workshop

To:  Games Workshop,
        Nottingham, UK

From:  Blake Walker
            St. Louis, MO

Dear Games Workshop:

I have played your flagship game, Warhammer 40K, since it first came out as the Rogue Trader first edition in 1989.  I have invested thousands of dollars into four different WH40K armies.  I also have recently purchased two Warhammer Fantasy Battles armies.  However, I am now at a point where I will no longer play your games or purchase new product. 

My reasoning is simple.  I can no longer afford to keep up with the constant codex creep and annual price increases.  Your marketing ploy of coming out with new editions of the same game has gotten old.  I also resent the fact you killed off Warhammer Historical Games.  I play Warhammer ECW and have the booklets and rules for Chariot Wars and WAB 1.5.  My next project is going to be 25mm Trojan Wars using the Chariot Wars codex.  The way you handled WAB 2.0 and using Forge World to kill off a viable gaming system is outrageous.  I could go.  But there is no point.  There are still people who play Warhammer Ancient Battles.  But they are few and far between now.  Gamers have moved onto other historical systems like Hail Caesar!  and Clash of Empires.

Aside from that, I decided to put up my WH40K and WHFB armies in storage for a year.  I thought about selling everything off I now own.  I can briefly list what I own, namely, Blood Angels, Dark Angels, Chaos Marines, High Elves, and Warriors of Chaos.  I also bought the 6th edition box set, Dark Vengeance in October 2012.  The figures are now assembled.  But I won't be painting them.  I won't work on the rest of my WH40K armies that are in need of painting like DA Ravenwing and Chaos Space Marine vehicles.  I don't see any reason to work on them in 2013.  I don't see any reason to buy any additional GW products, either.

GW seems to think it's market is teenage boys who's parents will pay for anything they want.  The truth is rather complicated.  There are have always been a certain segiment of gamers who play 40K for the "fluff" aspect.  There are also a number of gamers who have grown up playing the system and have stayed loyal to the GW brand name.  And there are powergamers who game it for tourament aspect.  GW's nebulous product release schedule and arbitary price increases have driven many of its older customers away. 

Privateer Press has also made major inroads here in St. Louis, MO.  I know more people who play Hordes/Warmachine than they do WH40K.  That will continue to happen until GW either lowers their prices and no longer marks up the margins on their products.  Or GW spires into bankruptcy and closes its doors, or is bought by another entity.

For the record, I'm not going to buy or work on any GW related product for 2013.  I have too many other things on my table to worry about missing WH40K.  However, it's the game I have played the most this year and I do enjoy the game itself.  It's the company and current management I distain.

Mr. Blake Wood Walker

Monday, December 17, 2012

2013 Plans

I looked at Sapper Joe's blog this evening.  I laughed.  My pile of unpainted lead and plastic is slowly being painted.  Sapper Joe is hopeless.  I don't have a lead mountain range in my basement.  I just have a couple of boxes of unassembled and based miniatures in need of painting.  However, I still have a lot of stuff.  And I spent the past two weeks organizing books.  The bookshelves are about full.  I am in need of an ereader for for future literary purchases. 

I do have to make some decisions for myself.  Do I continue with WH40K next year?  Do I scrap it and sell the figures off?  Do I just keep going with what I have?  Should I primarily focus on historicals, instead of playing 40K?  What do I do about my WHFB armies?  I'm not playing right now.  They are painted and complete.  I have some more metal 28mm High Elves that are unassembled.  I also have some more Chaos barbarians.  I haven't played Warhammer fantasy in months.  But I have armies painted for other things.  I tried selling them locally.  No one moved on them.  So I just kept the figures...

I'm taking a break from my 28mm FPW Chasseurs d'Afrique light cavalry regiment.  I should get done with them tonight.  Afterward, I'm wondering what to do next.  I have unfinished 40K armies in need of painting and assembly.  I am tired of dealing with Games Workshop.  Kind of like a crack addict gets tired of dealing with their pusher.  The last GW item I bought was back in October with the new Dark Vengeance box set.  I have the new Chaos Space Marines codex to deal with.  And I have to update all my army lists for my four various factions.  I guess it could be worse.  I could be playing Warmachine.

I might just shelve my 40K stuff for a while and continue working on 28mm FPW armies.  I do have more 25mm Trojan War armies coming in the mail this week or next.  I might just make the leap and eventually close out my 40K armies for historical wargaming.  The problem is I'm now gaming with 40K players.  No one is making a move to game historicals.  I know GW will have another price increase next year.  And the cost of their models is getting too much for me to handle.  I don't like the way the system is going.  I hear my friends complain about it.  But no one seems to do too much about it.  I feel like we are frogs in a frying pan as the heat is slowly turned up on us.  The costs for GW products didn't seem too bad at first.  Then, the costs went up and up.  Now, no sane person could afford to get into their gaming systems.  And I have four different armies!  Look where it's gotten me? 

Completing the basing of my 28mm FPW armies

I spent the weekend completing the basing of my 28mm FPW armies.  The French and Bavarian infantry are now based along with Bavarian and French artillery.  It was a lot of work.  I figure I must have prepped and based hundreds of figures.  I did it over the course of five days.  I got done with it last night. 

I went back and put the finishing touches on my 28mm 1870 Chasseurs d'Afrique cavalry regiment this morning.  I assume they were a light cavalry regiment.  Different authors have given me the impressions they were more mounted infantry.  But I'm using them as a light cavalry regiment. 

However, one of the problems I had was Foundry shorting me on 1870 Bavarian infantry command.  I'm going to have to get three more packs of 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry command to complete my 1870 Bavarian infantry brigade.  I'm not sure about dismounted Chasseurs d'Afrique.  At this point, my 28mm 1870 French and German armies are complete.  The only thing lacking is light infantry.  But I've run out of room for any additional figures in my storage boxes! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

How I defy probability and December projects

I am tired of losing WH40K games.  Wednesday was the last straw.  Afterward, I didn't want to play yesterday.  I didn't bother calling my friend who I normally play 40K on a weekly basis.  I guess he must be upset with me. 

Let me explain somethings.  As my friends such as Steve Hood (Combat Colours), Joe Collins (Sapper Joe), and Curtis Turner (Hostile Contact) can testify, I have the worst luck for dice rolling of anyone on the planet.  When I run my 40K Deathwing terminators, I need "2" or better on armor saves, I'll roll several ones.  I needed a "2" or better to hit with my Terminator captain and chaplain with their storm bolters.  I rolled four "1's"!  Then I needed a "3" or better to hit with my terminator's assault cannon on 4D6.  I rolled two "1's" and two "2's"!  Needless to say, things went downhill from there Wednesday evening.  I didn't feel like play 40K this weekend.  I don't feel like playing 40K the rest of the month.  My luck is consistantly bad.  If I need 10 or less on a morale roll, I'll roll "11" or "12". 

Statistics should be on my side.  I should be rolling at least average.  That doesn't happen on a consistant basis.  Let's say I won't be playing craps at a local casino anytime soon.  In fact, I won't be doing any gambling.  My luck is horrible.  Ask Hostile Contact about our 40K games?  Occasionally, my luck will turn around and I'll win.  But usually, it goes downhill.  It's like I've offended God or Satan and they've cursed my dice.  It doesn't matter what dice I roll.  They'll do awful for me whatever 40K game I'm playing.  People joke they don't me handling their dice in case I cursed them!  Anyway, I'm tired of losing 40K due to horrible dice rolls...

I spent the last several days basing 28mm Franco-Prussian figures.  I based an entire 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry regiment this morning.  I come to find out Wargames Foundry only put four command in their command packs.  I'm short three command packs for my second regiment of 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry.  That means I'll have to order more 28mm 1870 Bavarian infantry command from Wargames Foundry next month.  I'll also need to get two packs of dismounted 28mm 1870 Chassuers d'Afrique for my dismounted French infantry, too.  Small things like that kill me.  The second French infantry brigade was easy to assemble.  Everything got based except for the artillery stands.  That is on my to do list next!  Besides finishing up painting a 28mm French Chassuers d'Afrique cavalry regiment this coming week...

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

My experience with Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance

The Big Muddy Historical Gaming Alliance is a local historical gaming group in St. Louis, MO.  I've been involved with it since 1995.  The club has expanded, declined, and stagnated during that time.  It still puts on several conventions a year.  Barracks Battles/Die Con in June, August Spearhead during the summer, and Command Con in November.  There have been monthly game days in years past.  Now, gaming is ad hoc and localized.  People seldom leave their gaming circle to play in other games.  Hopefully, this is changing. 

At one point, I was an elected officer in Big Muddy.  I gave that up when I moved away.  I now feel no need to be directly involved.  I know the limitations of the club.  Gaming conventions are what I expect.  An occasional Game Day will happen at a local shop.  I've moved on with running my own games at local shops with my own friends.  I always would welcome more players from Big Muddy. However, that usually doesn't happen.  This is St. Louis.  What happened to Big Muddy is just a large microcosm of what goes on in St. Louis.  Other places where I've lived aren't like this.  People are willing to travel in order to game.  People aren't afraid to cross rivers or bridges. 

Big Muddy had the potential for campaign gaming.  There are enough people with similar interests that could support an involved campaign.  Some local campaigns have been ran involving Coral Sea and WWII Pacific airwar.  There's also Napoleonic and ACW gamers.  But people talk more than they do.  The lack of campaign gaming has forced me into annals of WH40K.  If I had my way, I get rid of my WH40K stuff.  I lose many of the games I play.  And I have too many figures as it is.  I play GW games because that is what the majority of the gamers I hang out game.  The only thing I can say about WH40K is that it's miniatures gaming.  The price of the models has gotten to the point where I can't afford to purchase anything.  You can't play 40K if you're broke.  You can if you play historicals...

But I digress.  Big Muddy runs gaming conventions.  There is ad hoc gaming locally.  One has to make a effort to leave one's pond if them want to game someplace else.  I publish the games I'm going to run a year in advance.  I have a feeling I'll probably just wind up gaming once a month, instead of the weekly gaming I now do.  Whether by circumstance or happenstance, that remains to be seen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

WIP, 28mm Franco-Prussian War Figures

Here are some photos of 28mm FPW figures I've been working on the past two months:

                                         Incomplete 28mm 1870 Prussian Infantry Brigade.

                                    WIP, 28mm 1870 French Chassuers d'Afrique Regiment.

                                          Completed 28mm 1870 Prussian Cuirassier Regiment

28mm Darkest Africa Game, 09DEC12

I ran a 28mm Darkest Africa Game today at Wargames Cave in Granite City, IL between Steve Hood (Combat Colours) and Don Cox.  Steve ran the Arab Slavers.  Don had the native Africans.  The game started out with Don Cox advancing his Africans against the Arab slavers.  Steve shot up the first attacking wave of spearmen.  A second wave of native spear attacked his right flank and engaged the Arabs in hand to hand combat.  The natives were wiped out but forced a squad of Arab muskets/rifles to retreat off the board.  Two more units of Arab rifles and Ruga-Ruga mercenaries were forced to fall back due to casualties.  But both groups were able to regroup the following turn.  Don lost five units of native African spearmen and lost army morale on turn 5. 

We were using modified The Sword in Africa for small unit games.  Several things to note.  I didn't have enough trees for the native spearmen to hide behind.  I intend to resolve that when I run another game sometime next year.  I want to buy jungle terrain for Darkest Africa and 28mm Vietnam games.  Getting palm and jungle trees is on my list of things to do.  I'd also like to get a tribe of Masai warriors for native African tribal warfare.  I'd also like to use the Masai for German East Africa and games vs. Arab slavers.  However, the rules worked out well for a Darkest Africa game between native African spearmen and Congo/East African Arabs...

Here are some photos from the game:

                                          Initial deployment before the game.

                                          Arab slavers armed with muskets and Remington rifles.

                                          Steve Hood (Combat Colours) moving his troops.

                                          African spearmen moving across the table.

                                          Ruga-Rugas holding the left flank against native spearmen.

                                          Don Cox moving his native spearmen into battle.

                         Arab slavers fend off the attacking native spearmen on the center and right flank.

Star Trek Full Thrust Game, Dec. 6, 2012

I played one game of Star Trek Full Thrust with Don Cox, Adam Jones, and another player from St. Charles Thursday afternoon at Game Nite in St. Louis, MO.  I ran a Cardassian cruiser against a Klingon cruiser.  Photon torpedos crippled my ship.  I lost my FTL drive and was forced to limp off the battlefield with the second Klingon cruiser finished off the other Cardassian ship commanded by Adam Jones.  Adam and the other gentlman played a second game of Full Thrust while I watched. 

This was one of the few times I didn't have to GM a game.  I'd like to play more often than GM.  That doesn't seem to work.  The only time I just get to play is when I game WH40K.  Then I mainly lose!  But todays 28mm Darkest Africa Game will be my last historical gaming for the month.  I get one last 40K game Wednesday with Scott McCoy before the X-mas holidays.  Afterward, it's just get together when we can to discuss things until January 2013. 

My X-mas Book Push and Other Possible Projects

I spent Friday afternoon reorganizing my bookshelves.  I have a lot of books.  It's getting to the point I need to invest in an e-reader or a tablet.  I've run out of storage space for my books.  I moved my rule folders to the closet to make room for my general military history books.  I moved my colonial war histories to another bookshelf to make even more space for books.  The Ospreys got their own bookshelf that is almost completely filled.  Wednesday and Friday were the days I got my latest shipment of books from Barnes and Noble.  I organized the Ospreys by series and title.  The other books are organized alphabetically by author and then title.  I took the oversized books I had and shelved them back in by turning them on their side.  So all my military history books are shelved together.  I also have a small group of orchid related books on part of my bookshelves, too. 

But most of what I own is military history.  I also picked up two more books on the Vietnam War.  One was a unit history by a LRRP member of the 101st Airborne.  The second books is a general history of the US Marine Corps in Vietnam from 1965 to 1975.  Those are my two read list once I get done reading about Afghanistan.  The Ospreys were a CAM:  Dunbar 1650, CAM:  First Ypres 1914, and MAA:  The Belgian Army in World War I.  I also have two more Ospreys on order.  The first being ELITE 190:  US Marine Uniforms and Equipment 2000-12.  The second is MAA:  The Adowa Campaign 1896.  That should round out my Osprey buying for the year. 

There are other titles I'd like to buy.  I'd like to the MAA:  Armies of Fredrick the Great for my reference collection.  One thing I'm doing different is trying not to do everything.  And affording within my means.  However, there are some projects that interest me enough to consider doing for the next five to eight years:

28mm Western Front, 1914; 28mm Russo-Turkish War; 28mm Vietnam skirmish between US forces and Viet-Cong; 28mm Adowa Campaign 1896; 28mm Sudan 1881-1898; 28mm Masai warriors for Darkest Africa; 15mm SYW Prussians; 28mm 1864 Danes; 28mm 1859/1866 Austrians.

I spent yesterday working on 28mm FPW Chassuers Afrique.  I'll have pictures of them and my 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry as a work in progress later this weekend.  I'll also have pictures from a 28mm Darkest Africa game scheduled to be played today, too.  I'm running 28m Arab slavers vs. Congolese natives.  Should be a different kind of game from the usual WWI "Great War in Africa" games I've run...   

28mm Masai are on my list for figures to buy for next year.  So is 28mm US and Viet-Cong figures for Vietnam.  I'm thinking about using Ambush Valley.  I'll need to see about buying the rules and playtesting them.  I'm thinking about a 28mm platoon of VC at most with jungle terrain and a village.  I like the 28mm Eureka figures.  I also like the TAG's Up Country 28mm Vietnam range.  They are nice figures.  I'm shying away from 15mm.  It sounds great in theory until I start painting them.  I'd also like to have 15mm SYW Prussians for completeness. 

However, I'd be better off affording a painting service for the figures than attempting another 15mm SYW project.  My friends like Sapper Joe, Hostile Contact, and Combat Colours are sick and tired of me complaining about painting 15mm figures.  I don't think they'll put up with any more of my complaints.  I nearly drove them made this past year when I painted up an entire 18mm SYW Austrian army... 

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

28mm 1870 Painting Update

I spent the weekend working on a regiment of 28mm 1870 French Chassuers d'Afrique.  They are my light cavalry regiment.  I just have one mounted 16 figure regiment.  I'd like to also have a regiment of dismounted Chassuers d'Afrique for gaming purposes.  Maybe that will happen later.  For now, I'm putting together a second regiment of French cavlary.  The 8th French Cuirassiers are done. 

The Chassuers fought with the Armee d'Afrique.  They were the mounted infantry that fought with the French Foreign Legion.  A brigade of Chassuer d'Afrique were also massacred at Sedan on September 1, 1870 trying to break the German lines.  1st French Corps, 2nd Division is the order of battle for my 1870 French division.  I still have an entire 28mm brigade of French Zouaves and Turco infantry to paint.  Along with another battery of 1870 French artillery and command. 

That is in addition to the 28mm 1870 Bavarians and Prussian infantry I need to finish.  I look at this project and I question my sanity and resolve.  I'll be painting 28mm 1870 armies for at least the next seven months.  Maybe longer...

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Gaming Blues and Resolutions for 2013

I am wrapping up my gaming for December 2012 next weekend.  I am running another 28mm Darkest Africa game at Wargamers Cave on Sunday, December 9th at 1 PM.  Afterward, my friend, Don Cox, and I are calling it quits until January 2013.  I should be scheduling games for next year.  I haven't.  Even though I assume the world will continue and I'll get bills each month, I'm am uneasy about Friday, December 21, 2012.  I don't think anything will happen.  But who knows?  Anything is possible. 

If I didn't spend money on myself, I wouldn't have any gifts for myself that I wanted.  So I did the responsible thing and bought presents for others.  I have gifts for my family.  Now, I feel I can spend on myself.  I caught up on spending with the purchase of a half dozen books.  Most are Ospreys.  Two are actual books.  I could have bought a Nook for my troubles today.  I wanted hard copies for my bookshelves.  I focused on the First World War.  I bought Ospreys on Dunbar 1650, Russo-Turkish War 1877, First Ypres 1914, and the Belgian Army in World War I.  I also bought a book on Cattleya Orchids and another book on the German Army on the Somme 1914-16

I also got my friend, Don, a check for some 25mm Trojan War figures from Old Glory Miniatures.  I would have rather had 30mm Redoubt Enterprises or 28mm Wargames Foundry Trojan War figures.  Old Glory Miniatures is what I can afford.  This is my entry in 28mm ancients.  The problem is I love too much ancient history.  I settled on the heroic Bronze Age and the gates of Troy.  I would have liked to expand my collections to include New Kingdom Egyptians and Hittites.  There is a limit about what one can do.  I would have loved to gotten into 28mm Greek Successor States with Hail Caesar!  Now I am going to game Warhammer Ancient Battles 1.5 with 25mm Trojan and Greek armies.

Alas, I never did get done with my 28mm Franco-Prussian War project.  That is for 2013.  I should be more realistic and gentle with myself about getting things painted.  The 25mm Trojan War figures can wait for the autumn of 2013.  They shall be here collecting dust whether I get them painted or not. 

There are 500 figures in this 28mm FPW project.  There are another 300 figures in my 25mm Trojan War collection.  It took about 14 months to get 380 Zulus done.  It was one of those things I questioned my sanity when I got halfway through.  Colonials are great.  It's the painting that's the problem.  My painting speed has increased.  I just have too many other things competing with my attention.  I got fed up painting 144 figure 28mm 1870 Prussian infantry brigade.  I switched over to a 16 figure 28mm 1870 Chassuers d'Afrique cavalry regiment.  I should have that done in about three weeks.  I started on it early this morning.  I'll be working on it as the weeks progress towards X-mas.  The 28mm 1870 Prussians can be finished in January 2013.  There are other projects I'd like to attempt.  28mm Darkest Africa Masai, 28mm Sudanese Ansar, 28mm Russo-Turkish War 1877, and 28mm Western Front 1914.  Even if I bought figures for the 100th anniversary of WWI.  I wouldn't get them painted in time for August 2014.  It would have to wait until the fall of 2015 before I could do anything with them.  I do have a method to my madness.  It's just finding the time to get them completed!

My Reading for the Past Year

2012 was bad year bookwise for me.  Borders went out of business in September 2011.  My local Barnes and Noble folded its doors on December 31, 2011.  I didn't get to a book store in July 2012.  I didn't buy any books until the summer.  I went shopping for some light reading.  I picked up a Black Library novel called Legion of the Damned.  I never got into it.  It was too poorly written to excite my interest.  I did have military history to read from the local Border's fire sale and liquidation.  I read about three books before I tried another GW book called Fear to Tread.  I'm about 120 pages into it.  It's a good read.  I'm enjoying it.  I only read when I have downtime now. 

I have too much competing for my attention to just sit down a read a novel like I used to when I was young.  I look back in amazement at the free time I had to read when I was a young adult.  My mother still reads a book a week in her retirement.  I wish I had that kind of discipline.  I've noticed my tolerance for reading has lessened since I've taken up writing.  I feel my writing and editing should come first.  I'll save that for another blog I have dedicated to writing, music, and relations.

Needless to say, I thought I'd put together a list of the books I've read over the past 18 months in my down time.  It's mainly military history.  So here goes...

I was on a Vietnam kick when I started purchasing books about the conflict.  I thought I'd game it.  So I wanted background unit info on what it was like to be "in country."   I started out with American Warrior:  A Combat Memoir of Vietnam by Brigadier Gen. John "Doc" Bahnsen, Jr.  I then moved onto Steel My Soldiers' Hearts by Col. David H. Hackworth about 4/39th Infantry Battalion.  That was followed by Force Recon Command:  3rd Force Recon Company in Vietnam 1969-70 by Lt. Col. Alex Lee and Inside the VC and NVA by Lanning and Craig. 

I developed a deeper understanding for what it was like to be in combat while those on the homefront wanted to ignore what you did.  Never had the divide between soldier and civilian seem so complete.  I am still torn by the service our men and women provided America during the Vietnam War and the total disregard our politicians held those who served them.  Fortunately, I was only born during the end of the conflict and I didn't have to make a conscious choice whether to serve or actively resist being sent to die for an unpopular regime in Saigon.  So the more I read about Vietnam, the more it has killed any desire to game it for a long time...

I aslo read one of my Border liquidation purchases called Fortress Raboul.  It was on the airwar in the southwest Pacific during WWII.  The difficulties that particular theater presented reminded me of Vietnam.  The cost in Allied pilots and planes was also straggering.  It was an education for me, since I know the bare basics of the Pacific campaigns.   

I also picked up Ospreys on the Viet Cong, NVA, and special operation forces in Afghanistan.  Those were relatively easy reading.  I also purchased Greetings from Afghanistan - Send More Ammo by Benjamin Tupper and New Dawn:  The Battles for Falllujah by Lowry.  They are on my to read list.  I also have Queen Victoria's Little Wars by Bryon Farwell.  Though I did get some more Ospreys read about the Russo-Turkish War 1877, Bronze Age Greek Warriors 1600-1100 BC, and Mons 1914. 

I'm taking a break from heavy military history right now.  Fear to Tread is pure escapist garbage.  Enjoyable but not serious reading.  I have to be in the mood for serious military history and analysis.  My tastes ebb and flow depending on how I feel.  Sometimes, my tolerance for violence will allow me to read about accounts on the Eastern Front during WWII. 

Other times, I rather not deal with it.  Reality doesn't fit into neat boxes.  Real life can be ugly.  There is nothing glamorous about people dying.  People shouldn't die violently.  Yet, it happens all the time.  More oftern than we care to admit.  Even though I play with toy soldiers, I believe there should be an end to war.  We own it to our children and those who come after us to at least try to make a difference in this world.  I'm tired of listening to people who say we are doomed to repeat history. 

That isn't true.  I study history to learn from the mistakes our forebearers made.  If you look at most history, its military history.  History soaked in 5,000 years worth of blood.  It doesn't have to be this way.  What matters is that we try to make difference in the lives of others so that people in the future learn about military history by playing with toy soldiers instead of sacrificing their lives for a worthless piece of real-estate....