Monday, May 4, 2015

State of the Painting Desk

WiP on the painting desk
With house guests over the weekend, the painting desk experienced a drop off in activity (as in none).  Progress was seen earlier in the week, though.  The resolution of the Battle of Raab, which has recently begun raging across the gaming table, has been slowed by guests too.

On the painting desk are an assortment of units from three different projects.  Nearing completion are 12 French cavalry for the 15mm 1799 Suvorov project, 12 Austrian Uhlans and 12 Sardinian Bersaglieri for the 15mm 1859 Risorgimento project, and 96 Roman infantry for the 6mm Punic Wars project.  All of the 15mm figures are Lancashire Games' figures and represent my first close look at Lancashire cavalry.  The 15s should be ready for basing and completed this week with individual reviews to follow.
French battle cavalry from the early Napoleonic Wars
Returning to the topic of house guests, I am often a little uneasy about having to explain my hobby to strangers.  Why?  That is a good question.  Anyway, this unease is magnified when the guest is a work colleague of my wife to whom I have no relationship.  How would I explain this to her and her husband?  Of course, sometimes it can be avoided but not when the primary guest quarters are reached by passing through the game room.  When a battle is out on the table, that is a distraction hard to miss.

In this instance, however, I was quite in luck.  As I brought their luggage downstairs and through the game room, we paused to discuss what exactly they were seeing.  Turns out, he has an interest in history and game theory.  How about that?

After discussions on history, game theory, probability, and game design, I suggested we have a go with an introductory game of Commands & Colors: Ancients to illustrate some of these points.  He agreed and I set up the game as I explained the rules.  The Battle of Cannae was chosen as the battlefield is featureless and no elephants are present.  I took the Romans and we began.  After about an hour of instruction and play, I found myself on the losing end of a lopsided 7-2 defeat.  Ouch!

19 comments:

  1. You raise a good point there Jonathan - how we think other people perceives us and our "weird" hobby. I can really recognize the feeling you describe, but I'm always positively surprised at how interested strangers are when I mention my hobby, and it always ends up offering a comfortable subject to discuss with people you've just meet, and with whom you're looking for topics to small talk about. Also, I like to argue that what we do is actually making history and it's many learning points accessible, playable and fun for a generation raised on digital gaming and with an Ipad as a natural extension of their body. Happy to hear that the tour of your hobby quarters ended up with a great classic game like Cannae!

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    1. I've always viewed such situations as an opportunity to expose people to our hobby (and there's always the outside chance of a new recruit). I can't recall ever getting a negative reaction. Indeed, back in HS I painted my figures at lunch time at the staff tent at Scout Camp - that lead to the recruitment of the main group I gamed with for the next 30 years. In college, I had my ECW army out on top of my dresser as a subtle advertisement, too.

      Now days I'm entirely confident of myself and my hobby. Of course it helps being a highly respected physician - and what have YOU done with your life that you'd look down on my hobby, Bub? :-)

      One more funny story. Back when I was a Freshman in college, there was a group of about 8 of us that would have a game in the cavernous ROTC hangar about 1-2 times a month. On the night in question, we were having a Napoleonic battle on a table in one corner of the building, while a karate class was taking place, the class being almost entirely female. Recall this was just 1-2 years after the Vietnam War was fully over. Anyway, a group of skirt swishing coeds came by the table exclaiming "How Militaristic!" Ok, well I suppose i coiuldargue with that, but seriously... you were all practicing moves designed to disable, maim, or kill another person. We were pushing toy soldiers around (and the Allied players were wearing silly newspaper "fore and aft" hats. We all got a good laugh out of the absurdness of it!

      Finally anyone who thinks wargames encourage "Big War", should read the epilogue to HG Wells "Little Wars"!

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    2. Good points, guys!

      Seeing the gaming table immediately broke the ice and provided a number of interesting topics for conversation. It also provided the two 'guys' an out for excusing ourselves from the work conversations between our spouses.

      I have introduced three non-gaming friends to wargaming via Commands & Colors. Perhaps many guys have a latent interest in wargaming that only materializes in us fortunate few?

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    3. To really n"get" our hobby, one has to have an interest in History, games, and modeling - all three. With two out of the three, you might enjoy C&C/board games, computer games, Warhammer or collecting more. Still, those types might participate in a wargame or two if it's easy for them, and might grow an interest in the third leg they were missing (in my case, games and history were front and center, with modeling being way behind. Of course , that was about 12,000+ figures painted ago!)

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    4. Well said, Peter! It is a fine juggling act to keep the triad of history, gaming, and modelling all in motion simultaneously.
      Not for the weak of heart!

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  2. Great looking projects going on, Jonathan - in spite of your interrupted efforts. BTW, at first glance I thought those 6mm Romans were flame markers :)!

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    1. Roman flame markers! That is a good one!

      Hopefully, they will look less like flaming Romans once I finish.

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  3. Unfortunately our hobby does have a bit of a dodgy name, we do seem to be looked at like nerds! But hey, what man never play war when he was younger. Most none gamers I've (admitted to) that I play wargames always show an interest and would like to have a go, its just that their mrs won't let them!!

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    1. So, inside every adult male is a kid wanting to come out and play war? We are the lucky ones then!

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  4. I have always had an inclination towards model railways, I dabbled as a kid but then stopped. However if I was to walk into a room with a set up I would naturally be hooked for the night. There must be many a lapsed wargamer just waiting to walk into a gamers den!

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    1. Matt, I guess we all are attracted to our toys. Some of us can indulge; others cannot.

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  5. Interesting how the guest situation turned out and in such a positive way! Your desk as always looks full things under way and should prove nice to see!

    Christopher

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    1. Quite right, Christopher! Having never met, I wondered how the weekend would turn out. I was pleasantly surprised, for sure.

      As for the desk, there always seems to be something in work. Sometimes items speed across the painting desk. Other times, I wonder if I will ever finish.

      My lesson is to only paint what motivates you.

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  6. Jonathan, well done! Its not every gamer who can bring someone into a game like you did.

    There was a time when I was shy about my hobby. It is my passion so I'm now very public about it. I bring over painted figures/projects to show off when my neighbors get together for a drink. The ladies really like it and some of their kids too. Guests to my house make a mandatory stop at the painting room to see what's up. Now that I think about it, I may have gone too far!

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    1. Good for you, Monty! Perhaps I need to come out of the closet (er, basement).

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  7. The last house we sold (and I buy and sell houses a lot, thanks to the army), I left my gaming room intact for showings. It was off in a side room in the basement, but I happened to be home for one the showings, and the husband was fascinated. He asked me to explain the game to him, which made his wife quite irritated, because she had seen enough of the house (not enough pizzaz) and wanted to go. I think most realtors would want all my hobby stuff packed and hidden away before a showing, but I took a perverse pleasure in keeping it in view.
    Your French cavalry look fantastic, by the way. Now tell your guests to get themselves gone so we can get on with Raab! :)

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    1. Great story, Michael!

      Since my game room was built to my specifications specifically for gaming, my wife asked what else the space could be used for. I replied that it would make a great space for a huge pool table.

      Thanks for the comment on the French cavalry. I have not compared them against other makers so it will be interesting when I put them up against others. Nice figures, though.

      Another installment of Raab is forthcoming.

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  8. I think that we wrap ourselves in self doubt about the hobby and how we think the rest of the world views what we do. It turns out that most people are very interested in our collections if they have the chance to see them.

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    1. You may be right although my parents to this day ask if I "still" paint little figures. My answer has been the same for the last 40+ years. Some things one NEVER outgrows!

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