Saturday, December 19, 2020

2020: A Wargaming Year in Review & 2021 Project Musings

 I've heard numerous, "interesting" descriptions for sentiments about the year 2020;  "Dumpster Fire," "Hot Mess," and "Trainwreck" to name a few.  Over here, the staff at SOUND OFFICERS CALL looked back on the wargaming year that was 2020 and noted that, actually, it wasn't a bad year as far as our wargaming exploits were concerned.

2020 is impossible to talk about without mentioning the pandemic and subsequent hard time that's caused for people around the world.  I do think, though, that there were some unintended, positive consequences for the gaming community.  I feel as if the pandemic saw hundreds of us develop new and innovative ways to continue to share in our passion for history, painting, and playing with toy soldiers.  I am thrilled to share a space in that world, and while COVID really sucks, we as wargamers rose to the occasion playing virtual games, participating in paint & chats, blogging, making cool videos and podcasts, and most importantly, keeping each others' spirits up.  You have certainly kept my spirits up with your comments and posts and positivity!

Just like in previous years, I am posting a small wrap-up of the gaming year, so with that said, let's jump into the 2020 Wargaming Year in Review for SOUND OFFICERS CALL!  

Rules Played & Gaming Firsts

Even though face to face gaming, and blogging were down significantly this year, the number of wargaming firsts for me and "the usual suspects" continued with an impressive number of firsts on the wargaming table for us!

  • L'Art De La Guerre & Bataille Empire played.  Both at Ken's house, we played a cracking Punic War game of LDLG, and a small 1809 Division-sized battle of Bataille Empire.
  • Rank & File Seven Years War game.  I haven't played RF since probably 2014 so that was a nice, refreshing change of pace from my usual menu!
  • Honours of War finally played!  I will play HoW again!  A great "big battle" system, I feel as if the strengths of this under-rated rules set come out with the bigger battles played.
  • Rebels & Patriots AWI Game: A first for us with this fast moving and exciting wargame!
  • We played some winter games of Norm's "Two Flags, One Nation" with a homemade scenario converted from a Scott Mingus "Enduring Valor" Seminary Ridge scenario.  Cemetery Hill coming soon?  This game was first created to use with BattleCry and I loved the more tactical scenario with those rules!
  • March saw the pandemic hit us in full force, and while I got to play a game of ESR at "Cold Wars 2020" the only real gaming at home was Norm's "Tigers at Minsk" using my old Panzerblitz counters!  
  • I also published a small modification for Mr Neil Thomas' World War II rules from his "Wargaming: An Introduction with my house rules.
  • Speaking of Neil Thomas modifications, I posted a guide to Neil Thomas' Napoleonic rules for Seven Years War, taken from Mr Thomas' own words.  
  • THEN I played an EPIC Battle of Prague with all of my 15mm SYW Miniatures.  That was a good one!
  • Ken and I linked up for some outdoor face to face gaming in June, with our first games of the LONG AWAITED (seriously like 5 to 6 year wait) BATTLEGROUP: NORTHAG.  I even bought British microarmor for this one!
British Army of the Rhine main defensive line along the autobahn on the north German plain, ca 1984!
  • Ken and I also got to finally (after 2 or 3 years of talking about it) play Greg Wagman's "Altar of Freedom" ACW rules and refighting the Battle of Shiloh in glorious 15mm!  These rules really scratch the grand-tactical itch.  I wish he would produce a Napoleonic set!
  • Rebels assaulting the Hornet's Nest at Shiloh!

    We played a "2x2 Crossfire" eastern front scenario from Steven's Balagan site using Norm's "Tigers at Minsk rules and that was tremendous fun.
  • I caused quite a stir with "The Allure of Simple Wargaming" post, which garnered more comments than I ever imagined, and also started a project with me to find out just what it is that many of us like so much about simple wargaming.  That spurred a project that will culminate in a "white paper" published about Simple Wargaming itself.  It's written, but I still want to play some more games to support it.  You all contributed greatly to the study through your own games and feedback!  What an epic project!  Norm - I have NOT forgotten about this project, either!  It's simply on the backburner at the moment.
  • This year's "Christmas Offensive" also saw a huge re-introduction of the American War for Independence back on my table with MANY games played in support of finding the perfect rules for the Christmas MEGA GAME.  In support of the Germantown 1777 project, we played:
  • Fields of Honor AWI
  • Field of Battle 3
  • Hold the Line
  • Commands and Colors Tricorne AWI
  • Ken and I also played Sam Mustafa's Rommel this past year which was much fun.

Honorable mention would have to be Eagles Cheaper than Brain Cells, Simplicity in Practice, One Hour Wargames, Commands & Colors Ancients and Iron Cross.  Conspicuously absent from the table this year was Flames of War and Battlegroup, ordinarily 2 of my favorite WWII rules, WWII certainly took a backseat this year to other games and eras, and more simple wargames won out over larger, more complex ones.

The EPIC Battle of Prague saw over 50 units on the table!


Continuing an unfortunate trend, blog posts were at their lowest this year with only 52 posts for all of 2020.  I definitely blame COVID and my work's operations center 3+ month activation as well as a general wargaming malaise which impacted me over the summer.  I will say however that this year I received more comments on my blog posts than in previous years with many of you commenting for the first time this year, and sticking with it by commenting more on subsequent posts!  The final analysis for this post is that while this was a tough year for getting posts out, it was made much more gratifying by the amount of interactions with fellow wargamers via the comments.

Winners & Losers

Seems to me the real winners this year were AWI and SYW, with me finishing the AWI project started back in 2004, and surging forward with the SYW 10mm project (and the Napoleonic 10mm project!) on single base stands, and an AWI MEGAGAME for the Christmas Offensive.  Lots of great games have been played since with those AWI and SYW miniatures.  Napoleonic games always feature in my wargaming years so it's no surprise that grand tactical Napoleonic games come in second.  Next up would have to be American Civil War with BattleCry, TFON, and Altar of Freedom being played.  I finally started playing some Ancients games, and Commands and Colors: Ancients was exactly what you all said it would be - fast moving, simple, and a cracking good game.  It should come as no surprise to you that, in the spirit of and inspired by Jon Freitag's projects, I'm starting single based, mass 15mm Ancients stands for games of CCA, and possibly Sword & Spear.  Here is a sneak preview!

Roman Heavy Infantry Based for Commands and Colors Ancients - now to complete 18 more!!!

It does seem that "tactical" horse and musket games took a backseat to "grand tactical" games this past year, just like last year.  Whether that was due to the pandemic or just my own preference remains to be seen!  This year also saw many "firsts" with projects with the beginning of my 15mm Ancients project, finishing up some long-overdue World War II projects, and preparing for some great gaming in 2021.

So Many Projects

2020 was really a dynamic year in terms of projects and project planning.  I finished the whole AWI collection, and made a big sent in the SYW 10mm collection, amassing an impressive 20 10mm units so far and counting.  Additionally, the 10mm Napoleonics collection of single based units is growing larger.  I finished lots of 1/285 scale Cold War and WWII microarmor and will do lots more of that into 2021.

Project Musings...

For project priorities in 2021, I really want to get more games in, even if they're solo.  I'm looking hard at the games i've played this past year, and I feel like I have a better understanding of what I'm looking for in my gaming now.  The simple wargaming project certainly helped with that.  

I want to finish out all of my unpainted Seven Years War 10mm single stand units, and 15mm units.  I'd also like to play a large Battle of Lobositz game and other Seven Years War battles with the Neil Thomas Napoleonic rules, modified for Seven Years War.  Look for that hopefully in 2021 and more on the simple wargaming front including Simplicity in Practice, and some variations of it.  Additionally, I want to play some Commands and Colors Ancients, as well as C&C Napoleonic games in 2021.  

World War 2 and Cold War need to make a resurgence this year on my table as well, and I'm thinking about that some more as well.  I'm looking squarely at Flames of War/Team Yankee and Battlegroup Kursk, FOTR, and NORTHAG/CENTAG (due to be released in spring, 21), potentially all of the Cold War stuff will be in 6mm or 1/285.  It's been too long since we played a good 15mm Battlegroup game, and then don't forget about the new Rapid Fire "Reloaded" rules which have just recently come out!  No shortage of RF scenarios out there to play, either!  You will be seeing some Rapid Fire on the table this coming year!  Looks to me like one of the big priorities will be WWII again!  1945 Berlin is calling!

This year I want to play games that I enjoy, not so much games that are novel.  Games I enjoy include Black Powder, the FoW/TY as well as Battlegroup stable of rules, and of course more of Norm's great hex-based rules.  Round that all out with the Commands and Colors rules and I think I have an action packed 2021 planned.

There "may" also be a Fulda Campaign which I am 1 year overdue on....There "may" also be a blast-from-the-past sci fi project, and even a continuation of the 10mm "Orcs" project!  (yes you heard it here first! Fantasy and Sci Fi at SOUND OFFICERS CALL!?!?  What's the world coming to??)

In the coming days, I'll post a 2021 Project & Gaming Priority email on what I would specifically like to acquire, get rid of, paint, and game in 2021.  It's going to be quite the year so stay tuned!

Next up - the 2020 Christmas Offensive - Germantown, 1777 which will be played in all its glory tomorrow!  I can't wait!!!


  1. You presented a good year's worth of entertainment to all of your readers, Steve. I have enjoyed every post!

    Thank you and I like your Ancients' basing!

    1. Thank you Jonathan! I'm churning out the ancients stuff and should do a post on it in the next few weeks. Hoping over the holiday break I can do some serious painting and knock out at least the Roman side. They paint up quickly.

  2. Quite a bit covered this year and your simple wargaming and subsequent posts were most enjoyable to read.

    1. Thank you for commenting, Peter and I'm happy you enjoyed those posts! They went a long way towards helping me figure out what I like and want in my gaming.

  3. A wonderful 'glass half full' post and wonderful celebration of a busy, productive and enjoyable year of wargaming.
    Those new Romans look marvellous!
    Regards, James

    1. Thank you, James! Look for a post on the Roman's soon. Many more coming off the workbench in the next few weeks.

  4. Steve, good post, a very full gaming year and thanks for the rule mention. Your blog and your personal enthusiasm to get to the table is always something that inspires. Thanks for a year of doing that, particularly in a year when shared positivity has been so important.

    have a great game tomorrow.

    1. Cheers, Norm. Your insight and wisdom have been invaluable and very much appreciated! Thank you for all your moral support and patience with my questions, thoughts and rants! Looking forward to 2021 for sure.

  5. Great review Steve. Great to see AWI being so popular, Cold War coming back into focus, as well as Rapid Fire.
    We just finished an impromptu 'online' version of RF reloaded - great game. As you say, lots of potential with that one ...perhaps even with a ww3 version for one-off games could be a 2021 aim here at the bunker...

    1. Thanks Darren! Yes the AWI finally made a resurgence on the table after 3 to 4 years of talking about it! Just read your AAR from your Rapid Fire game. Loved it and I'm going to put on a game soon I think with it. And the Able Archer supplement could easily be tweaked for WW3 I think.
      I think we need to dust off the Fulda campaign plans for the coming year!

  6. Another one here going for RF Reloaded! Thanks for the posts, Steve. Good reading all round, with the simple rules serious being particularly interesting. Have a fab Chrimbo and a prosperous New Year!

    1. Cheers Jeffers! Many thanks for your comments and support! I hope you and yours have a great Christmas and a wonderful New Year! Stay tuned- Germantown BATREP up in a few days!

  7. A great overview of your year Steve, with many comments and thoughts that we can all relate to I'm sure. HoW and R&P are great games and I have really enjoyed playing BPII this year. One thing I've learnt during this period is to concentrate on rules I know and love so that I can focus on the games, rather than rulebooks!

    1. Thank you Steve! It's funny how we all independently come to the same conclusions- concentrating on rules we enjoy and like rather than on rulebooks! I hope to play more games in 2021 with rules that are familiar and enjoyable to me!

  8. I consider myself a regular reader of your blog but somehow missed most of "The Allure of Simple Wargaming". Here is my take on it. Maybe it is of interest for your whitepaper, as my approach as to what is still considered simple is a little bit different:

    1. Thank you for commenting, Pascal! I wrote on your blog and really enjoyed your proposed tweaks to Black Powder! It is a rules set I have always enjoyed for multiple periods.

      More coming in 2021 on the Sinple Wargami g project!

  9. Despite the many challenges of Covid, a pretty successful gaming year on many fronts, Steve!