Wednesday, March 30, 2016

10mm American Civil War...

It's been a long time since I've picked up a gaming project… or even played a game for that matter. But I miss my hobbies so I decided it was time to DO SOMETHING. I have some limitations, though. Things are not as they were.

First, my work schedule and transportation limitations require that I host any games I want to participate in. I simply can't get to other locations at the times that gaming is taking place. Most likely, I'll have to provide figures for both sides. Maybe these will be solo games. Maybe I can introduce some of my co-workers to wargaming.

Second, I rent a townhouse so a permanent set up is not appropriate. I will probably move (again and perhaps again after that) in the next few years. While I currently have decent space for gaming, I must consider what will be required when I move and whether I will have gaming space in the next place. While current playing space is not limited, storage space is.

Third, budget gaming is needed. I am semi-involuntarily semi-retired. I don't have a lot of cash to sink into the hobby—but I've always been em… er… economical. An addendum to that: I think historical gaming in the US is dreadfully hurting for manufacturers and retailers. I want to invest my hobby money in supporting US companies. Paying 25% to 50% for shipping from overseas is a non-starter as a bad investment.

Finally, in the past I've derived a great deal of enjoyment from painting very detailed figures. I was a pretty decent painter. In fact, the visual aspect of a game used to be my primary goal. But my diminished eyesight simply won't allow me to go down that path. Details that were quite easy on 25mm or even 54mm figures are now quite difficult. Well, perhaps I should say unsatisfactory. What used to be enjoyable is now slow and frustrating. If a hobby is no longer enjoyable, it's time to find another. Yet I keep coming back. I have to be cognizant of my limitations in order to maximize the enjoyment.

All these considerations led me to decide that small scale gaming would provide the most benefits and avoid the most frustrations.

There are a couple of historic periods that lend themselves to representation in small scales: masses of uniformed men in close proximity. Ancients, perhaps. But I still have quite a few 25mm ancients and I abhor the idea of duplicating a period in multiple scales. The Napoleonic wars are a good candidate. But the uniforms are so colorful, so detailed, I don't think I could crank out the painting without getting seduced by the details. In addition, the numbers needed might overwhelm my budget. I've seen some very impressive Anglo-Zulu battles in 6mm. But I think these battles lack variety. Something more consistent in appearance with the ability to scale from small battles to massive ones would be better. All these considerations led me to 10mm American Civil War gaming. If 6mm ACW figures were made in the US I'd probably go with that. But they're all made in Europe. In addition, I have a number of co-workers quite familiar with this period. Good recruit materially, I think. Target acquired! 10mm ACW it is.

There are a handful of American manufacturers of 10mm American Civil War figures: GHQ, Old Glory, Cracker Line/Plank Road. Old Glory would have been the least expensive route but I ruled them out fairly quickly. I don't care for the thick irregular bases that I see in the pictures of their figures. In addition, I have a bit of a bias against Old Glory from long ago so I wasn't too disappointed when dropping them from consideration. I want to give both the GHQ and Cracker Line figures a presence in this project. But I'm not entirely sure they are compatible with each other in size. The GHQ, while quite cleanly sculpted and cast, appear significantly smaller than most other 10mm figures.

Cracker Line/Plank Road meets all the requirements for beginning this project. They appear to be compatible with most of the other 10mm lines. They are manufactured in the US. Pricing is comparable to other lines and they have an active web presence. I appreciate the variability of the poses and the fact that the line is complete, perhaps even expanding. Since the initial armies will be so small in scale, and uniform in appearance, I want to add all the bells and whistles to make the gaming table visually interesting—artillery limbers, dismounted cavalry, horse holders, individual command stands, etc.

So, to begin the project I ordered an infantry regiment, a cavalry regiment and an artillery limber from Cracker Line. I'm testing the waters. The next step is to determine if I enjoy painting the figures or if this is a lesson in frustration.

Stay tuned.

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