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A Curious Year: A Look Back at 2020

Updated: Aug 16, 2022

This year Heston and Ealing Wargamers have largely been left to their own devices wargaming wise.

The Covid-19 pandemic from March onwards has seen our meetings at Northfields Community Centre cancelled, and no meaningful gaming taking place in person using real figures in a face-to-face way.

Some of us have been in touch with each other by email or telephone, even by Zoom (really?). While I never did any solo wargaming (although Mark passed on a solo mechanism to me around April), and I’m not sure what happened with Richard’s WW2 Pacific theatre campaign, I did manage to make progress on the following painting projects:

• 42mm November Uprising (10+ battalions and 7+ cavalry regiments + artillery per side) • Age of Bonaparte (Napoleonic card-game – finished + grided gaming sheets and terrain) • 28mm Eastern Renaissance (added singly-based figures for skirmish game incarnation) • 6mm Austrian Napoleonics (some infantry and cavalry added) • 15mm Seven Years’ War (a few battalions of Prussians; figures repurposed from a dormant Jacobite project) • 20mm ACW (completed) • 20mm Napoleonic (singly based for regimental size games in movement trays)

I’m now working on 6mm French Wars of Religion, with several units of pikes, musketeers, gendarmes, mounted arquebusiers, reiters, artillery, and command stands completed. I have Swiss pikes, and Catholic gendarmes currently on the workbench.

Rob was kind enough to deliver 20+ pizza boxes worth of 20mm plastic Ancients from Miniature Wargames’ contributor Chris Jarvis’ collection to my house a couple of weeks ago. I haven’t had a chance to properly look at these yet, but they seem promising.

Heston blog-wise, I passed the time this year by producing five posts on my various

projects and armies, while Rob updated us on his D-Day project, and Jonathan produced a Quatre Bras battle report.

So what’s been giving me the wargames itch since March?

Lately, I have been tempted by 28mm Fantasy wargaming, having bought the ruleset Oathmark (by Joseph MacCullough) from Osprey. Since Warrior Miniatures produce nice and cheap Fantasy figures, I may well go with them, if I get round to it.

I like the idea of not sticking to one fantasy world dogmatically (i.e. Games Workshop) and painting up units as I see fit. I’ve never considered Fantasy seriously before, but there is scope for creativity and interesting games here. It’s also ‘just another’ brand new period...

I’ve also come to the conclusion that I can use the 1:72 ACW plastic figures’ 2.5x5cm bases and corresponding movement trays for other projects too. So the same bases and trays will be used for 6mm French Wars of Religion, 15mm SYW, 6mm Chariot Wars, and 2mm Marlburians. They fit well, and there’s no point in buying different size bases or trays when I already have loads. Simples.

I spent a while this past year contemplating the Marlburian period (War of Spanish Succession). I concluded that I could not justify doing it in 28mm or 15mm, since Noel already has that covered. With lots of generic 2mm horse and musket period figures languishing at home, I will now be using these for the period.

I’ve also bought a number of wargames-related books this year. These include:

• Battles of the French Wars of Religion, 1562-1598: A Wargamer’s Guide, by Ray Lucas • The Swiss at War, 1300-1500, by Douglas Miller (Osprey Men-at-Arms) • Arms and Uniforms: The Age of Chivalry, Part 2 (Liliane and Fred Funcken) • Several works on the November Uprising (in Polish)

I’ve been lazily reading up on the Seven Years War and Marlburian period, and dipping into some other books too.

Without regular wargaming sessions, you do begin to lose some motivation and inspiration when you can’t even leave home or meet people. This was especially the case between March and August, when I was unemployed: between the first lockdown and looking for work, I didn’t get out much.

Since August I’ve been working as a Domiciliary Care Assistant, so have had less time on my hands, which oddly enough has meant that I have more interest in the little I can do painting-wise at home in my spare time.

Who knows what will come out of this strange period for the club or for our hobby?

Personally, I have not bought a wargames magazine in quite a while, but have visited blogs online instead. The impression given by manufacturers is that they are making big bucks out of the fact that people (or, middle-aged men) have more time on their hands at home. Perhaps the pandemic has forced us to focus more on tackling the lead-pile, or maybe just to increase its size.

Even so, without a regular audience of wargamers and games to put on, things have been disjointed and isolating of late. When (next year, hopefully) we can finally get together in person for a game, it will compensate for the enforced separation of the past year, and provide a forum to share our completed projects, new rules, and new ideas. Who knows, we may even have a few new members along? I have also missed going to shows with fellow club members, particularly to Salute and Warfare (I'd expect these to bounce back with a vengeance if and when we get back to normal).

Who would have thought 2020 would bring such misery and stress to our cosy world? It’s shown that wargaming certainly has its place as a distraction and stress-reliever, but is somewhere down on the list of things to worry about: life and death, health, work, employment, family, future. Maybe though we need to keep things in their right perspective. While it’s good to paint and model as a solitary activity, perhaps the lesson of 2020 is that nothing can beat actually sharing our hobby in a friendly atmosphere of real people.

Happy Christmas, and best wishes for 2021.


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