David Bickley's Wargames Blog

The occasional ramblings of an average gamer, journeyman painter, indifferent modeller, games designer, sometime writer for Wargames Illustrated and host of games in GHQ.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

The Triumph of Pompus Maximus

As we start the second half of the year basking in the sun, or taking refuge in the shade, depending on your approach to the heatwave we are experiencing I thought I would take a few minutes away from painting Early Saxon warriors to take stock of the year so far here in GHQ. I must say straight off that this year has been most remarkable for the final completion of the conversion of the garage into GHQ2, thanks to Martin my neighbour and friend these last 25 years or so. What was GHQ is now the master bedroom with an attached sitting room for TV and Radio, and for the deaf, reading! So, all of us are pleased by this development and I have gained both a bigger room, more storage, a bigger table and brownie points for our new bedroom! Win - Win there I think.
While gaming has been interrupted by several weeks away on various holiday jaunts, I see we have still played 23 games in the first six months of the year. Of these I won 10 and lost 9, the remaining 4 being draws. I'm still pretty average, so no change there. On the painting front I have completed 315 28mm figures, the vast majority for my Wars of the French Revolution project featuring mostly the Trent Miniatures range originally sculpted by Matt. Lately though, I've needed a break from this project to refresh my approach and avoid becoming casual and slapdash, so I've been painting up some units for my Late Roman Armies: of the Emperor Pompus Maximus and of the Pretender to the Purple, Baldinus, and the usurper, Albinus. Phil and I played a game with these on Monday last after we got back from our week's sojourn in Devon and Cornwall. While I did n't take any photos during the game I have taken a few since to showcase the collection for anyone who is passing by ~

The first picture shows my new unit of Heavy Infantry, the second a unit of Medium Infantry. I've moved to basing several collections now on large Impetus sized bases for ease of movement and reduction in damage during storage. It also gives you the opportunity to make the base more of a diorama to enhance the look of the games. We currently use Neil Thomas' "Two Hour Wargames" rules with heavy modification to suit our outlook for what are occasional outings in the late C4th, but may try Impetus later in the year for a change. To round things off I've taken a few shots of Pompus Maximus and his army taking the field for yet another triumph over Baldinus ~

When I first acquired these figures about 13 years ago now as the result of a modest inheritance I found myself unexpectedly demotivated to paint them, on reflection I was probably overwhelmed by the numbers I'd acquired all at once. I solved that by having about half of them painted for me by Andy Dumelow, while the other half I've slowly painted for myself over the last few years. I can now, almost, field an army for Pompus entirely painted by myself, leaving those Andy did for my opponents. I need to add a unit of Light Cavalry, some Light Archers, some Saxon archers or slingers, and finally a unit of cataphracts. Perhaps I'll pop over to Foundry during the summer and pick up at least some of these.
So far in 2015 I've managed to stay considerably under budget in my spending on new toys. Actually, quite a few purchases have been in the area of buildings and scenery ~ you can see the ones I got for the Ancient and Dark Age period in the pictures above by the way. They are from Caliver Books before anyone asks. Other purchases have mainly been for the ongoing Wars of the French Revolution games, mainly from Trent Miniatures of course, but also from Front Rank and from Foundry Miniatures; I've even branched out by buying a unit for the British Foot Guards from Riever Castings while I was at the Carronade show in May.
That leads me rather nicely to my last thoughts. I attend far fewer show now than I did say 10 years ago, for all sorts of reasons I expect, but one common factor has been my increasing boredom after I've done my shopping ~ where would we all be without our lists? In fact I did n't attend a Wargames show at all until May, when I went up to Carronade with Phil while we and our wives were on a short break in South Queensferry, and I marked my 65th birthday at the end of that month by attending Partizan in Newark. All sorts of factors must have combined to bring about my increasing disengagement in the events others so selflessly put on for us, but one has been my progressive hearing loss year on year. I am now functionally deaf in large crowds and find conversation even with family and friends stressful most of the time. I do make an effort, only sometimes I have to admit, but it is far from easy. Another reason might also be my advancing years. At Partizan I looked around and was somewhat concerned to note how few of the gamers in attendance I actually knew.  {On the plus side this must mean that the hobby is growing and going from strength to strength, which must be counted as a 'Good Thing'!} Of course, its easy on an intellectual level to accept that I have more years of wargaming behind me than ahead of me, but on an emotional level its more difficult to come to terms with one's own mortality. I have toyed with three new projects for 2016, but so far only one has resulted in new figures {and they are being painted for me by Phil} whilst two others have n't got beyond the drawing up of lists and the perusal of websites to view potential figures.
To avoid ending on too melancholy a note though, William, my middle grandson, shows real signs of interest even at 19 months. He sat happily, brush and figure in his little hands, at my painting desk yesterday, despite being covered in Chicken Pox poor mite! So, my son turned out to be first a wargamer, then a master painter and now also an accomplished figure designer and at least one grandson  has started out on the road so I think I have done my bit to further the hobby, along of course I might add with my many articles for Wargames Illustrated and a number of sets of wargames rules, which stil sell strongly I'm told. Perhaps scaling back all the planning of new games and collections and the painting of countless figures is an inevitable stage in the ageing wargamer's life. Only time will tell I fear... In the meantime, back to those Early Saxon warriors I mentioned at the beginning, or perhaps not?


  1. The new additions look mighty fine, two splendid armies with more in the offing I see, which are and will be a delight to lead to the slaughter.
    A thoughtful few paragraphs, perhaps I should contemplate another project before I'm even more passed it. ;-)

    1. Thanks for taking the time to comment on my thoughts, as well as my poor painting efforts.
      Makes you wonder why I bother to post stuff, I might as well just put it on Facebook where it gets more feedback from the general wargaming public.

    2. What a great looking army David!! Simply put big bases just look the best and like you said far easier to pick and move around and has the added benefit of creating dio's on a base. Also keep posting as blog is great way to measure progress and watch your collection grow plus I like viewing it!:-)


    3. Thanks for those kind sentiments, Christopher! If I had the energy I'd rebase all my armies on such large bases, but...