Saturday 28 January 2017


I fear that I am becoming a bit of a one dead horse beater, having written far too much this month about text, interpretation, authority and all that stuff. Important though I think it is, it is not the be all and the end all of the wargame world, even of my wargame world. I suppose, therefore, it is high time to find something else to talk about.

To start with, I could review my wargaming 2016. It did not go all that well. While a played a few games and ditched major parts of the rules, progress was limited. On the painting side I was decidedly hampered by an eye problem in the summer, but I did manage to finish my doubled Moorish army. Actually, I cheated a bit. My first aim was to finish by the end of November, and then I could justify obtaining more shiny metal at Battleground. I think Mr Berry was a bit surprised when I demurred from any purchase there. I was 24 figures from finishing. I actually completed the painting on New Year’s Eve, but basing took into January. Still, they are finished now.

The major project of the year was 150 tiny, tiny galleys. They were done by the middle of the year (I think) but for all my efforts, the campaign has yet to yield a naval encounter, so they remain in the box. But it is nice to know they are there. In fact, I think most of my painting effort is directed at knowing that I could field x army or navy at a moment’s notice, but that I rarely, in fact, do.

Along the way I somehow also managed to paint five houses, or, rather, four hovels and a house. These were Leven Miniatures Arab / Mediterranean range, I think and they painted up quite well, even given my limited abilities. They, at least, have been in action, masquerading as Asiatic Thracian homes in one of the main battles of the year.

I started to paint some of Irregular’s big classical buildings as well, but somehow they dropped off the road map after being partially undercoated and stuck on bases. The reason for this, if I recall, was that I noticed after having started that the insides needed painting as well as the outsides. As it has been snowing here as I write, I could be quite envious of a Mediterranean climate.

As far as the blog goes, discounting the hiatus in the summer, a lot of the recent posting has been about how to read ancient texts. I guess that this is something of a niche activity for most wargamers, even those of a historical bent. We prefer our history processed and dished up for us, I think, rather than having to chew on the raw data and interpret it for ourselves.  But I have been writing about that far too much recently, as I said above, so enough, and move on.

Reading has continued, and there have been some fine works consumed over the year, including Mary Beard’s SPQR and Geoffrey Parker’s Global Crisis.  As I said at the time, and in the Christmas Eve post, the latter is an amazing work of historical synthesis and unutterably depressing. I followed this up with a stab at the fourth volume of Sumption’s Hundred Years War series. I only made it half way through before the greed, stupidity and playground politics approach of most of the participants annoyed and depressed me so much that I had to give up. I fear that the resonances between both Parker and Sumption and contemporary politics were part of the mix as well. I will return to it, sometime.

Enough, I hear you cry! What of the future? A new-ish year beckons, vistas lie open before you. What are you going to do?

Well, next up on the painting table is another Spanish army. This is part of my doubling project, of course, and I am hoping that it will not take all year, this time. I have already undercoated a large number of skirmisher type figures, so the intent is there, even if the execution is a bit lacking. I also have the aforementioned classical buildings to finish (or, viewed from another perspective, properly start) and a few bits of a Roman marching fort to complete as well.  Having entirely failed to acquire any more figures or buildings in 2016, everything this year is eroding the unpainted figure pile, which has to be a good thing.

In case you are wondering whether there is a plan here, the answer is, inevitably, vaguely, sort of. I have noted that a certain Mr Hannibal used a fair number of both Spanish and Moorish troops and so my ‘master’ plan is to complete them and then I might have less to do if I ever decide to go for some Punic War activity. I am not holding my breath for that, however. Maybe when I retire….

In terms of reading stuff, I shall certainly continue doing that. I really ought to get around to Livy and Polybius, Xenophon (his other writings, not the historical ones) and Plutarch, but I doubt that will be this year. I have a fair pile from my winter reading box and a few Christmas present books to wade through (no, that is the wrong term – I enjoy them). I have a few of wargaming interest, such as Plataea, the Siege of Vienna and a biography of Cato. Interestingly, one of the selling points of the latter was George Washington’s use of Cato in the Valley Forge. Either that is an unlikely historical link or a cunning marketing ploy by the publishers, given that most people’s reaction to ‘Cato’ is ‘who?’

I will of course, continue to blog about the failure to achieve most of the above, and report on the very occasional success. As to what will appear on the blog aside from that, I have no real idea. I tend to blog, these days, from week to week, and it depends on what I have been reading, thinking about or trying out. We shall, hopefully, see.


  1. I confess that I would love to read original texts rather than relying on translations but I have a hard enough time reading photocopies of 17th & 18th C French and English printed and hand written texts etc. Greek text in greek script is well..

    1. Oh yes, so would I. But I read only English and mathematics, so most texts are beyond me without translation. Mind you, there are various levels of reading, translating and interpretation, and each is a specialist thing, in some part.

      Plus, if I learnt all these languages, I'd never have time to wargame...

  2. Agreed. I actually struggled through some original Swedish texts (surprise xeroxes sent to me free of charge from the museum in Stockholm mind you after I wrote an inquiry to them in Norwegian) about Swedish uniforms of the Great Northern War 20+ years ago. Great fun in itself, and a boost to my language learning confidence as I was studying Swedish at the time at university. However, the knowledge acquired simply confirmed what I knew already from English language sources. Sigh. In hindsight, the time might have been better spent actually painting some soldiers. Callow youth. Well, 20-something really.

    Best Regards,


    1. I suppose if secondary sources do a good job, then we need to rely less on either other secondary sources, of primary sources per se. But I guess we have to check. Some secondary sources are better than others.

      But we all do stuff in our callow youth (more or less) that we wouldn't do today. We seemed to have so much time then...

    2. The problem is always going to be identifying the better secondary sources. This is where context comes in. I would still rather read the material in the original sources first, but then I'm a polyglot with a penchant for that sort of thing.

    3. Ah, well, that is why we need people like you, to tell us monoglots which translations and secondary sources we should read....

  3. Sounds like you've achieved much more than I did over the past year on the gaming front, and I have really enjoyed all the posts about interpretation, perspective and all the related topics. Mind you, they are central to my own research, so that is hardly surprising!

    1. As someone who doesn't much like painting, I seem to have done more of that than actual wargaming.

      Glad you liked the posts; I'm sure some more on the topic will occur, sooner or later.