I was working on another battalion of Austrians for my Minden Project game at this year's SYW Association Convention and think that I might have finally hit the proverbial wall in this hobby. It is the first week of March and there are three more weeks to go before the convention. So should I go all out balls of fire painting to finish all the things that I would need for the game, or should I just give up and run the game some other time?
A good general knows when he has pushed his troops to the breaking point and if he is smart, then he backs off so that he does not destroy his army. I guess that I am a good general, because I decided that there was no way that I could finish all of the artillery support wagons and limbers, two more battalions of Hungarians, and a partridge in a pear tree. Oh, I could probably pull it off, but at great cost to my personal life. So I threw up my hands and said, "I quit!"
I don't want to end up like the unfortunate Captain von Kleist, above; so I have cancelled my games at this year's SYW Association convention. In fact, I am not even planning on attending the convention at all. Furthermore, I am going to take a long break from running convention games at all. Too much work and not enough appreciation for what I do. I have been running games at this convention for 25 years now, and everyone of them was a beautiful game with well painted figures, superb/realistic looking terrain, easy rules and fun scenarios.
You won't have to look at anymore cruddy games like this at the SYWA convention. This was my game at the 2010 convention.
Or this stinker, a skirmish game, that I hosted at the 2009 SYWA convention.
I think that I have set such a high bar for myself that people have become rather blase about my SYW presentations, to the point where they pay them no heed. With that in mind, I feel that it would be best not to attend the convention and give my armies a rest. I will let others pick up the colours and contribute to the convention.
Are we gamers, painters or collectors?
The wargaming hobby has a number of different facets to it. I started in the hobby back in 1985 because I was captivated by the visual splendor of watching a SYW game hosted by the original owners of RSM Miniatures. I couldn't paint worth a lick, but I really enjoyed playing wargames. So I started out in the hobby as strictly a wargamer.
After awhile, I had the desire to start painting some of my own figures and so I started out with Austrians, figuring that guys in "all white" would be easy to cut my teeth on as I learned how to paint. Over the next 25 years my painting improved. The more figures I painted, the better my efforts became. In fact, I can almost say that I now prefer painting figures to actually playing in wargames. I certainly spend a greater proportion of my hobby time painting figures than I do in running games at conventions these days.
At some point along the way, I made the mistake of painting a few Napoleonic figures and ended up with thousands of them. One of my friends started ACW armies at 1:10 using the original Dave Alsop-sculpted Old Glory figures. Ah yes, those were the glory days in my hobby life. So I built up some huge 28mm ACW armies at 1:10 ratios. Then I ventured into the ancient world with Late Romans versus Barbarians. I had evolved into somewhat of a collector of wargame armies. I was acquiring armies and figures, but I did not seem to be gaming with them very often.
The ultimate thing for me was the appearance of Frank Hammond's Minden Miniatures range of SYW figures. The lifelike sculpts of artist Richard Ansell were just the thing that I was looking for. I had grown tired of figures that were charicatures of the human body. No more over-sized heads or baseball mitt hands or 'strong faces' for me.
A Minden dragoon officer painted as a Jager officer. I acquired this figure from Ioannis to add to my collection.
At about the same time, I became acquainted with John Ray and I really admired the way that he could stick with one historical period (in his case, the AWI) and really develop his collection in great depth. I then realized that this is what I wanted to do with my favorite historical gaming period -- the Seven Years War. So I resolved to start all over with my SYW armies and rebuild the Austrians and Prussians using the superb Minden Miniatures. Not only was I going to paint battalion of infantry and vast regiments of cavalry, but I was also going to work on historical vignettes, as inspired by such people as Phil Olley, Barry Hilton and the master, John Ray.
So that is how I evolved into a collector of historical miniatures. I intend to foresake wargames at convention settings, but continue to play the occaisional game with my gang up in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. So I have not given up gaming completely. You will continue to see battle reports and glorious photos on this blog, but you won't see me running convention games for awhile.
I will continue to work on my Minden Project, but now that I no longer have the pressure of artificial or real deadlines, I can enjoy the painting part of the hobby and add more units at my leisure. So you will continue to see the progress of these armies as I add to them and as I drill down and work on more vignettes. For example, I would like to develop the camp scenes in even greater depth, add a cavalry encampment with stables and the cavalry regimental commander's headquarters tent, etc., a pontoon train and a number of other bits and pieces that occur to me along the way.
So for now, I am a painter and a collector and my hobby will be something that I pursue at a slower, more measured pace to ensure my own relaxation and enjoyment, rather than a frantic arms race with paint brushes and tin figures.