Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 The Hobby Year in Review

Well, from a blogging perspective, 2016 would seem pretty "meh" with a mere 88 blog posts to speak of, the second lowest since the SOUND OFFICERS CALL blog has been in "publication" but don't let the numbers fool you!

I've been thinking about this post for a few days now and in retrospect, 2016 was, for me, a major milestone year for wargaming and hobby activities! (not to mention real life with the birth of our son!)  I just didn't blog or game as many times as I would have liked.  (could you ever?  I mean really...)

We attended and gamed at a major HMGS convention, posted and received a major SYW paint commission, allowing us to game the entire Battle of Lobositz, solved a really painful Horse and Musket rules dilemma with the help of some friends, new job, posted a huge Napoleonic painting commission, and really made the year count in terms of what we bought and, perhaps more importantly, what we didn't buy.

So let's go over some of the more impressive milestones of the year now:

Historicon 2016:  Sound Officers Call got to pick up and head out on the road to Historicon and we took the family with us!  I got to play in a truly HUGE Battlegroup: Kursk game entitled "The Road to Ponyri" with my best buddy Dave who came up from Fort Bragg, NC.  We also got some "hotel gaming" and played a game of "Bolt Action" with Dave's Canadians and my 12th SS, as well as some Neil Thomas OHW AWI action.  Next year there WILL BE SOC T-SHIRTS!
My 12th SS on the Objective at the hotel in Fredericksburg, VA going down fast!

Dave's stalwart Canadians advancing to victory
Historicon was great fun and I met a great Army vet by the name of Phil who paints figs on commission.  A quick conversation and a handshake later, I'm standing in the post office waiting to send him all of my Seven Years War figures.  He currently has all my Napoleonics.  Yes that's right.  Bavarians, Spanish, British, remaining French, and Portuguese.  Can't wait until the spring when they return!  You can read more about my adventures at Historicon here: *clicky*.

Painting Commissions: So speaking of Phil, I have to say I really enjoyed Phil's painting style.  The details he chooses to emulate over that which he does not really make the figures stand out.  Don't get me wrong, I'm happy with my own block painting style for SYW guys, and I have deliberately chosen to finish my own AWI figures (a few more battalions) but I have to say, for the price, I'm happy with Phil's work as he has enabled me to game with figures that otherwise would not have been finished until my daughter graduated college in 17 years...You can see some pics of Phil's work here: *clicky*

These aren't the same Austrians we fought last year.

Lacy, I said "amnesia," not Silesia.

Horse & Musket Rules Selection: Many hours worth of conversations with my gaming buddies shed some interesting light on the eternal struggle to find "the" set of Horse & Musket rules.  A few long conversations with Brian and Ken put things into a different perspective for me.  Brian introduced me to his 3 tenets of gaming, or the things he cannot compromise on from what he wants out of his games.  These are based off of real world circumstances as opposed to limitations of rules which is a great and very practical way of framing the problem.  Instead of looking for the right rules, I instead determined what it was I was even looking for in the first place, as well as what are my limitations to gaming and what rules most support those limitations?  Ken also offers some great levity here and I believe he bought off on my compromise as well.  There are really 2 horse and musket rules sets I'll use for my games mainly in the interest of time but I'll sum up my 3 tenets of warfare that drive my rules selection:

  • Basing Agnostic
  • Uncomplicated
  • Rules work equally well with a few units or many units.

The answer I came up with was Black Powder and to a lesser extent, Mark Simm's Rank & File.
Unfortunately I'm going through the same thing with World War II rules but that's a discussion topic for next year.  You can read all about my gaming epiphany here: *clicky*

New Job: So not bragging here but I was promoted out of my former job which saw me on revolving night and day shift work with numerous days off, to a standard, monday through friday routine.  This was really cut down on the amount of time I put into my gaming and hobby projects but I suppose it was inevitable.  It's an important component of my limitations on gaming/hobbying, and also drives my search for practical rules now.  (amazing how, when you take into account "the real world" your hobby needs change).

Procurement/Acquisitions: Last year around Christmas I had an interesting conversation with Alex, another gaming buddy, who talked about the morality (yes, the morality) of buying more and more gaming stuff than you can reasonably paint.  I thought about this and thought about the lead pile under my gaming table and I curtailed my procurement binge, cut defense spending, and put purchases toward current gaming projects that were already on the books.  My wife is happy because I spent ALOT less money than in previous years, and this has spurred me to paint the figures that I actually have, narrowed down to 2 scales 10mm (Fantasy & Napoleonics) and 15mm (everything else).

Anyways that's it!  So while 2016 was a bummer year for blog posts, you can see there were some big "breakthroughs" and "firsts" here at the blog that were fairly important.  I'm hoping to game, paint, and blog more in 2017 but we'll see what the year brings first.  This may be my last post of the year.  I'd like to post my 2017 "Gaming New Year's Resolutions" before 2017 starts so look forward to that, SOC fans.

PS: Even though it was a light year, there are still some awesome battles, painting projects, and progress reports here on the blog to look through if you have some time!  So check out 2016's posts, I promise you won't be disappointed!


  1. Great summary of a thoughtful and yet productive year.
    I tried to cut down on my budget too, then decided to buy a few hex'n'chit games to takes rules ideas from *sigh*. I'll never learn.

    1. Thoughtful is a good word for it. Alot of "brainpower" (for me at any rate) really did go into this year. Find your mission statement! Everything else will follow!

    2. Yes. Good idea. Ok, my 2017 mission statement is to stop buying stuff and play more (wait, I need some 1/72 Leopard 1s).

      Right, stop buying stuff, apart from Leopard 1s, and play more.
      (Wait, I'm looking for a copy of WEG's Air and Armor).
      *sigh* :( it doesn't work for me ;)

  2. Congrats on a great year, Steve! I also partook of your Ponyri batreps, great stuff.


  3. How you came up with one of your favorite H&M rule sets being one I've never heard you talk about - I dunno!! I was expecting SiP or something.

    I'm 100% on board with your criteria-based approach, but you probably guessed that I would be. I've found it useful to interact with you on these points, and am glad to have contributed to some of the focus. I think I'm inspired to do my own year in review now!

    Merry 6th day of Christmas and Happy New Year!

    1. Honestly I've probably played more HM games of Black Powder than any other (well, maybe NT's games trump the BP ones - not sure) but I knew you never liked BP so I never thought to bring them up.

      You should do a year in review Alex, you have alot of irons in the fire and it would be neat to see a compendium of all of the things going on.

      I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas and have a very happy new year!