2021 proved to be another weird year. It was, of course, heavily disrupted by Covid-19 and this led to an odd imbalance in the wargaming hobby, with in-person gaming being severely limited. This doesn’t mean I played little in 2021, but it does mean that playing shifted to a new medium. I’ve been playing online for years – Phil, who I play most often, lives in Hamburg, while I live near Dublin – but this year saw an increase in Zoom-based gaming. This is an interesting innovation and certainly has a place in the wargamer’s repertoire of ways to play. Like many innovations, there are pros and cons. The main pro is being able to socialise with and play physically distanced players. Being able to play a wider variety of games is also great. There is a convenience to it as the commute time is zero. This is also a con, however. Like many things that have shifted to Zoom, there is now less downtime between one activity and another. For example, I could finish eating dinner just in time to connect into a Zoom game. This tends to leave one a little less prepared, or at least, less mentally prepared. The juxtaposition between convivial dinner conversation and the intellectual intensity of a game can be harsh. A second con, again somewhat related, is that it was ‘yet another Zoom activity’. My job involves a lot of meetings and computer time, so there were times when the prospect of another Zoom activity was wearisome and I have to admit I ran out of enthusiasm for it as a medium for wargaming.
That said, I think the pros outweigh the cons, and as we (hopefully) return to a more in-person way to work and socialise I think Zoom gaming has a place in the wargaming repertoire.
Not counting solo-gaming, I only managed to get a handful of in-person games this year against people who don’t live in my household. I recall a game of Necromunda, a couple of small games of 40k and three games of Warcry. They were very welcome releases and reminded me how fundamentally important the social aspect of this hobby is.
One of the great pleasures of 2021 has been wargaming with my son. He turned 10 this year and has been collecting a 40k Necron force. We played small Crusade games of 40k, games of Kill Team, Space Hulk and some Ravenfeast. He’s also played around with any models that have been left on the table, which is great to see.
Solo-wargaming was a feature this year, often with rulesets not designed for it. I revisited older games: Warmaster, Epic Armageddon, Epic 40,000 and Battlefleet Gothic this year as well as playing several WWII rulesets: primarily Battlegroup (which has become my goto set of rules for Platoon to Company-sized games) and Nuts!, which I think I finally ‘get’. For the former, fantasy games, it was a way to justify painting investments, where I added models to older forces. For the latter, it was a way to explore different theatres/operations in WWII, specifically Market Garden and The Battle of the Bulge.
Playing games against Phil, via Vassal, proved a mainstay (as it is in an ‘ordinary’ year). We played a diversity of systems and had a lot of fun. Our Cophichi campaign is ongoing, but has come to a natural pause.
Hobbying and Painting
Yes, I certainly did some painting in 2021, but like many things, it was a little weird… I reckon I painted about 45 models this year, which isn’t too bad. Some of those were relatively large, like the Custodes Dreadnoughts and the Reaver Titan. The Custodes were fully printed and painted early in the year, but they contributed to a problem that has been building since 2020. It’s ‘unplayed with toy syndrome’ – catchy name, right? My painting output in 2020 was higher than in 2021, but when summed together there is a pretty large backlog of models that are ready to be played with, but that haven’t seen table time because of the pandemic. That has been a little demotivational. My painting this year has also been impacted by a large building project we had done on the house, which in turn led to me doing quite a lot of 1:1 scale (wall and ceiling) painting!
Again, like with the gaming, it’s been great to see my son get involved. He’s continued to add to his Necrons and painted his first historic miniature, a Viking Jarl named Bjorn Axe Bringer.
On the terrain side, I’ve done little. I hand built some Viking buildings and printed/painted some buildings for Adeptus Titanicus.
All told, not a bad year, but the model painting tailed off towards the end of the year. Anyway, here’s a gallery of some of the models, as I haven’t tended to blog about my painting in the last few years. I’m not exactly sure why, but maybe the painted model is the record of it having been painted, unlike a game that needs recording if I’m to remember it!
I outlined my 2021 plans here. Here they are with a commentary on how I got on:
- Continue playing games with the kids.
- Success! Yes, definitely played more games with the kids, my son specifically.
- Print and paint an Adeptus Custodes army.
- Success! I’ve a full 100PL/2000pts+ army painted. It’s obviously a super-elite army, so was easy to paint. It has highlighted a problem, though. This is ‘too many armies’ syndrome. I’ve GSC, Tyranids, Blood Angels and Custodes now. I don’t want to play that much 40k! With that in mind I’ve decided not to try to keep up with Codex releases. If I want to play an army for a campaign or games day, then I’ll pick up the codex. Otherwise, I’m just collecting paper.
- Add to my Legio Mortis.
- Paint up another legio (probably Legio Ignatum).
- Not done and I’m okay with that. I like Adeptus Titanicus, but I’m just dipping my toe in so far. More games may prompt more Legios, but for now I’m happy enough with Legio Mortis.
- Continue the Cophichi campaign with Phil.
- Done. We played a variety of systems this year and have plenty more things to explore on Cophichi.
- Play an Eastern Front campaign with Steve.
- Barely done. Steve and I played an Epic Kursk game, but it fizzled after that. It may have been a victim of online gaming weariness. It is something I’d love to rekindle though.
- Try not to out-print my painting capacity!
- Almost done. I’ve printed a small Empire army for Warmaster. I plan to paint it this year.
- Related to that, look at printing some ACW armies.
- Collected the printable files, but (wisely) decided not to print them.
- Get back to face-to-face gaming…
- Done, but only to a limited extent.
Let’s see… what would I like to achieve this year.
- Play more games with the kids, both wargames (including multi-system campaigns) and boardgames.
- Paint my backlog of models:
- GSC Ridgerunner
- Palanite Subjugators
- Splintered Fang Warcry Warband
- Blood Bowl Ogre
- Warmaster Empire Army
- Collect, build and paint a Dark Ages Irish army for Ravenfeast and Saga
- Decorate my wargames room/office
- Complete my Aeronautica Imperialis squadrons
- Play some multi-system campaigns (40k setting, Old World or WWII)
My wargaming motivation is poor at the moment, so that’s why the plans are a little bit muted. I think that’s down to having lots of toys that have been painted, but not played with. Covid-19 continues to limit the prospect for in-person games. Anyway… let’s see how the year goes.
Until next time,