It’s that time of year again – award shows, clip compilations, mascara-dripping fake-crying historical evangelists begging for your dollars to sponsor a grog with a lead pile the size of the Arc de Triomphe. Join our Goon roundtable for the State of Historicals in 2021!
What have you been doing this last year in historicals?
Lupe: I had to actually go and look through my photo albums to work this out and I was surprised to find that I actually did a lot of historicals this year. First of all I built an entire Normandy village in 10mm scale, plus a platoon of British and one of German soldiers using the excellent Victrix minis, with supports for both for Chain of Command.
Later I continued my mad descent into 10mm scale skirmish gaming with Republican Roman and Carthaginian forces in 10mm for Saga: Age of Hannibal (and I have Gallic and Iberian forces waiting to be painted in a box still).
Finally I started work on some Workers Defence Force troops for A Very British Civil War, and a platoon of Early War French reservists destined for Chain of Command and Bolt Action (both in 28mm).
Mugginns: If I’m being honest, mostly reading. Early this year (January 2021) I did paint a ton of ACW guys for FlintCon, though that didn’t happen due to the pandemic, sadly. I finished:
- Union cavalry
- Confederate cavalry
- Military school cadets (could be either side, they’re modelled as VMI though)
- Confederate sailors with rifle muskets
- Officer models of my ancestors
- Hasty works
This was almost all done in January and February, and I really haven’t done much since except read and accumulate rulebooks. Over the summer we did take a driving vacation to my parents house in coastal North Carolina, where we visited some great historical sites – seeing the CSS Neuse in Kinston, NC and the CSS Hunley in Charleston. Both sites were amazing and if you’re in the area, definitely check them out. I had never read more or really been interested that much in ACW naval history, but these two sites really piqued my interest and now I’ve been reading a ton about it.
I also had commissioned heads made of my ancestors who fought in the war – two were in 4th Kentucky (CSA) and one was in 22nd Kentucky (USA). Steve Barber of Steve Barber Miniatures sculpted and cast them and they turned out amazing. One of my favorite hobby projects, for sure. You can see all my stuff in the gallery below.
Mike BS: So this year wasn’t great for my output but it did give me a fresh perspective on things. I’m not sure I successfully got any of my historical projects over the line, but I did take on a large donation on my behalf of my gaming club. The collection primarily compromised of models for Bolt Action and Team Yankee, however there’s a pair of forces for Black Seas and a smattering of other models and rulebooks.
Lenoon: I started this year vaguely trying to work out how to finish off my English Civil War army without spending any additional money, failed at that, then cannibalised half of it for some Turnip28 and Lobsterpot, which makes sense as I spent 2020 wrecking my migration period stuff for Oathmark and Genestealer Cult. Then there was a huge amount of ECW painting and modelling, but not as much large scale gaming as I’d have liked. Lots of skirmishing online and on the kitchen table when social distancing allowed. I was lucky to get in one absolutely enormous >1000 model game at 28mm, which, as these things tend to do, started off with a gentlemanly sherry and ended with a spirited discussion of the relative merits of curiassers and dragoons, historiography and should we go get another beer.
Other than that it’s been a real year of finishing off stuff for me, but I amassed a pile of reading and miniature shame that will take me through to next year…
Ilor: The big thing for me in 2021 was participating in the Virtual Lard games, both as a participant and as a game-master. Running games virtually is an interesting experience, and had I not been utterly captivated by a “Bag the Hun” game I played at VL3 in 2020, I’d never really have considered it. It’s just…different from doing stuff in TTS (where I’ve played a couple of good historicals, including a cracking game of Dux Britanniarum), but once you get the hang of it it’s immersive and fun. It also lets you play games with people from all over the world. The Chain of Command game I ran at VL5 spanned 16 time zones (late night for the Aussies, afternoon for the Brits and Belgians, morning for me, and stupid early for the guy from Seattle).
I got some painting and modelling stuff done, but not as much as I’d have liked (partly because Lupe got me all hot on Dropfleet Commander).
What plans do you have for next year? What releases are coming up you’re looking forward to?
Mike BS: I’ve ambitiously planned to paint a pair of starter forces for Bolt Action, but the first hurdle here is understanding what actually goes in a list! I’ve at least sorted through it and have a rough grasp of what there is, and I’m confident I have more than enough for a couple of lists. I still have a rather large Byzantine Age of Crusades force, languishing built and half painted. On reflection it was perhaps foolish to build and then try to paint something like 7 points of Saga. It didn’t look like a lot on paper but I ended up feeling overwhelmed pretty quick.
Mugginns: AdeptiCon is in late March and I’m currently thinking about how much I have to paint for that. I’m running a French and Indian War Sharp Practice event where people show up with their minis and play. I am going to paint an extra force or two for people to borrow and make sure I have a ton of terrain ready to go.
I would also like to paint my Gauls for Infamy, Infamy (and learn the rules really well). I know very little about this time period and war so I will have to do a ton of research on this. At some point I’m going to paint some Napoleonic dudes for Silver Bayonet / Forager and play those rules.
Lenoon: Goddamn Napoleonics. I think everything else I’m working on in other games and genres will fall before the relentless and generally amazingly stylish Old Guard army I’m slowly piling up. The idea will be to have a reasonable 28mm based for mass battles, a heavily converted grimdark skirmish set and then a matching 6 or 10mm force. It might end up being all I bloody read about as well. That Napoleon chap, cool eh?
Ilor: I am really looking forward to the Far East book for Chain of Command. (which is long delayed and due out “any time now”). My hope is that that will give me the incentive to finally get my Japanese platoon built and painted.
I’d also really like to increase the amount of usable terrain I can put on the table (for a variety of theaters). I have an idea for some modular terrain that I think will really help elevate (pun intended) my tables from largely flat to far more interesting and nuanced settings. This is especially true for ACW games, as even a 1” elevation change at the right area of the board can radically alter the lines of sight for 15mm miniatures.
And I want to paint more Vikings and Romans.
Lupe: Well I want to get those project finished (tiny Gauls and Iberians, slightly less tiny socialists and French) but after that I’m not sure. I’m considering maybe doing something early modern – I’ve never dipped my toe into the English Civil War or anything in that period, and I have a skirmish game or two in my probably.
That said there are some very tempting things on the horizon. Atlantic Wargames continues to pump out top quality plastic kits, and their upcoming Aztecs and Conquistadors have caught my eye, as has their Three Kingdoms Chinese. Those should be great kits for really underserved eras.
I’m also watching with interest some of the continuing developments in small scale models. Victrix keep threatening a Soviet set to go with their 10mm/12mm/1:144 kits and that would likely sucker me in. I’m also very very excited by Cromarty Forge’s foray into historicals. Their Imperial Roman range is absolutely stunning, and the previews suggest the Gauls are going to be as good if not better.
What do you think the state of historicals is right now? Is the hobby in a good place?
Mike BS: I feel like it is. There’s been an explosion of availability in terms of sculpts, both physical and virtual. Resin printing has opened up many options and eras which were potentially awkward to find models for and the scope has grown fantastically. I’ve really been enjoying the sculpts produced by Asgard Rising Miniatures for 28/32mm and Lupe introduced me to some lovely 10mm figures but I can’t recall the name of the producer.
Lenoon: Better than ever, I think. People are getting into historicals through weird historical rules outside of WW2, Warlord are making more small scale plastics which might get people thinking about scales outside of 28mm, you can 3d print a whole army in 6mm in about ten minutes etc etc. It’s an exciting time! The crowd in historicals is getting younger and more diverse as well as more people get into it, explore different areas, feels and genres. Thinking about it though it could just be that I’m getting older.
Mugginns: I feel like Historical gaming has never been in a better place. Tons of cool rulesets get released all the time, plastic minis are more available, and 3D printing is really coming to a place where the quality is good enough for me to really appreciate it. In particular, I’m having a friend print up more 1/600 ironclads so I can paint them for my ACW naval engagements.
Social media makes it easier to engage with other hobbyists and schedule stuff. We can publicize our events more and (when the pandemic ends!) introduce a ton of new people to it. Join the Lard America group on FB, folks!
Lupe: I am broadly positive about where historicals are (there are a lot of new kits coming out, STLs are changing the game, there are lots of new players, etc) but I am a little worried about the ongoing impacts of the global pandemic and shipping crisis. Though most of the larger companies (and those making STLs) will continue to do well, small producers and sculptors have always been the lifeblood of historicals and a lot of them are struggling right now. As a community we need to accepting of price rises, especially on our metal minis (tiny prices are going crazy at the moment).
Ilor: I share some of Lupe’s concerns, but I do think that supply chain issues have been a boon for the 3D printing shops. Lots of studios are selling off phenomenally detailed STLs, which often have the benefit of being scalable to other sizes to match other minis (or terrain) already in your collection. And it’s not just miniatures, some really good work is being done for scenery and terrain. From the perspective of people wanting to get into new eras, conflicts, or scales, I think a good 3D printer is a sound investment.
What would be the best new addition to historical wargaming? What historical period deserves more love?
Mike BS: I know it can be a little bit of a questionable era in terms of sensitivity but I’d like to see a beer and pretzels modern skirmish game in 28mm. It’s a tough arena to write for due to modern tactics and requires a level of sensitivity but I haven’t seen an offering that really grabs me.
Working backwards a little bit, can we have a Cold War Chain of Command please? I didn’t mention it at the start but I have a cubic metre of Team Yankee models, which judging by pictures is roughly enough for two armies. I love seeing all my tanks lined up as much as the next hobbyist but I feel like your in play game shouldn’t look like a parking lot.
Mugginns: I’d echo the sentiment of skirmish Modern stuff in 28mm. I’d love that. I’ve read many rulesets and haven’t really loved any of them. There are a lot of sweet 28mm models out there including vehicles, we need some good rules for them!
I’d also love to see some more models for Bleeding Kansas – the small, vicious conflict that happened before the American Civil War. There are some out there but not many. They’d be more civilian-dressed ACW period models with mixed weaponry. There’d be plenty of mounted models as well. I’d like to use Forager or Sharp Practice as rules.
I’d really like to finally finish the ACW campaign I’m writing. There have been ACW scenarios written in the past for Sharp Practice but I’m focusing on a narrative campaign driven by interesting characters. This one takes place in rural Georgia toward the end of the war – after that I’d like to write one that takes place in coastal North Carolina.
Ilor: Moderns, yes please. I’d love to do some small-scale brush-fire wars in Africa and the Middle East. Not even necessarily operators operating operationally, just basic dudes unloading on each other with automatic weapons in varied terrain. Give me an STL or model of a beat-to-shit Toyota Hilux with a Russian 20mm AA cannon mounted in the back. That’s the stuff!
Like mugginns, I also have it as a personal project to put out another “Pint-Sized Campaign” for Chain of Command this year. I really enjoyed the research, play-testing, and balancing that went into my “Totensonntag” campaign, and I love the way it plays on the tabletop. I ran the first scenario from it for a Virtual Lard convention and it was very well received, with players being very surprised at the dynamic nature of the terrain. I have found myself buying a lot of books about the Marshall Islands campaign of late, so a Kwajalein PSC may be forthcoming.
Lenoon: Moderns aren’t for me – anything post-Napoleon is just a bit too new with exception of WW2, but I don’t aim for any form of moral or intellectual consistency. I’d love to see more love in the community for pre-Roman ancients, particularly if we can agree on a skirmish rule set that lets us put bronze age tech equivalents from all over the place, like some kind of pre-collapse thunderdome (DBA manages this on the mass battle level, and there’s a thousand million other rule sets that might do it). Plus, it might give us another period we can all get into that doesn’t devolve into arguments about whose civil war is more interesting to play (it’s the one in the Holy Roman Empire), or ok let’s just all do ww2 again but this time the Nazis are competent. Wouldn’t it be great to see if Ashurbanipal can beat the shit out of Heracles? Basically I want heavily armoured Assyrians from 1,000BC up against Hellenist Greece, Pharaonic Egypt and whoever the hell the Boat People were, because I am a heretic and I’ve been playing Rome Total War again.
More contemporary than that, I’d like more love for African middle ages and pre modern period – give me the armies of Mansa Musa, or 19th Century Ethiopia, full ranges, not just “colonial opponents”. There’s a real space there, with plenty of source material, and it’d be such a painting and modelling opportunity, and so far poorly serviced, or presented as Victorian era “small wars.”
That wraps up our round table but join us next month when we dive back into regular Historical content. In the meantime if you have any questions or feedback, drop us a note in the comments below or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.