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Monday, August 8, 2011

Back story

I was raised in a military family so it’s little surprise that I’ve had an interest in all things military since I was a child. My parents lit the fuse to a lifelong passion for historical gaming when they gave me Avalon Hill's PanzerBlitz for my 14th birthday.  A year later, I walked into a gaming convention at the Univ. of Maine with PanzerBlitz under my arm.  There I met Ed, one of the great miniature gamers and people I’ve known in my life.  He was running Gettysburg Day 2 in 28mm and convinced me to put down my boardgame and give miniatures a try.  The fact that I'd never played miniatures before didn’t dissuade him.  On that afternoon, I successfully defended Little Round Top and from that moment on, I was hooked. Ed let me design the American Civil War battles we fought on the weekends at his club.  I spent many hours painting armies, researching battles and setting them up in miniature.

Post-college, my wife and I were busy raising a family and I switched to PC gaming since it allowed me to manage the few free moments of time I had to myself.  As my son grew up, we played lots of fantasy & historical games.  When he turned 12, I decided to do the father and son painting and gaming thing.  We pulled up war gaming websites to decide what armies to paint and play.  It was love at first click when he found Warhammer Fantasy and my son would spend hours paging through exquisitely painted fantasy armies.  Over time, we painted up Orks and Goblins, Dwarfs and Tomb Kings armies.  We were pretty decent when we got to the Dwarfs, thanks to the tutorials and painting advice on the web.  Painting and basing had advanced light years from when I left the hobby in the ‘80s!

My favorite unit.
If you squint, they almost look like Gaesati warriors.  Squint harder!
My son’s homework grew exponentially in Middle School and he developed a love for composing music and playing the oboe.  Over time, I lost my painting buddy and my interest in Warhammer.  90% of my casual reading is military history, so fantasy was never the best fit for me.  I decided to return to historical gaming.  I bought the Field of Glory rules and Old Glory starter armies for Rome and Carthage. Transitioning from painting 28mm to 15mm was a challenge for me.  My vision isn't that great any more and the techniques I used in 28mm failed me in 15mm.  I was so unhappy with my first unit that I nearly quit 15mm ancients in disgust.  Luckily, I turned to the web and discovered MacPhees Miniature Men blog.  His tutorials on painting and basing gave me the step by step instructions I needed.  Saved by the bell, er, blog! 

From that poor start, I've painted up Mid Republic Roman, Carthaginian, Gaul and Ottoman Turkish armies in the last year.  The downside to 4 armies is that I keep switching from army to army without mastering any of them.  In the months ahead, I'm going to struggle to avoid the siren song of "switch armies!" and try to master my Early Carthaginians.  On the other hand, I'm dying to see how my Seljuk Turks match up with Scott's Mongol horde.  So much gaming, so little time!