Wednesday, December 13, 2017

2017 Year in Review

It is time once again to look back at the year that has passed and try to make some sense of it all.  In January I did a little predictive post about what I thought I would be doing for 2017.  I am doing this a couple weeks early this year but I doubt that my perspective will change greatly in the next couple of weeks so I might as well get this over with.

Before I get to the specifics of the year in review I want to make some general observations.  The first is that I just have not been having very much fun with gaming over the last couple of years.  This year has really brought this front and center for me.  This lack of fun is not complete as there have been lots of good times to be sure.  It is just taken as a whole I am just not getting the enjoyment from the hobby that I once did.

I have really been trying to figure out why the fun level has been dropping and this has lead to several conversations with friends.  It turns out that I am not alone in this feeling.  Even though I have been talking to others I am going to try and address this strictly from my own perspective and experiences.

For me, I have found that the lack of a focus game has really made it hard for me to get excited about anything.  In the past I gamed with a group of gamers that changed games every week and no one knew what we would be playing until a few days before game day.  Back then I had a similar feeling about gaming as I do now.  This was solved when I and a few others switched game days and began to focus on a very limited number of games.  Over the last couple of years the shear number of games that have come out has really made it hard to pick just a few games to focus on.  This variety has also made it difficult to get agreement on what to play.  As you know, without opponents their is not much chance of playing a game.

That leads for to the next factor - opponents.  Some of the best friends I have had in my life have been my game friends.  As we all know people change and we all have our own life experiences that pull us in our own directions.  Over the last few years I have found my circle of game friends and opponents gradually decline.  Some of these guys have completely left gaming to pursue other interests.  Some have moved on to other game interests in card or board gaming and don't do much of any miniature gaming any more. Still others have been attracted to a specific game and have moved on to a group that better supports their interest.  A few just have scheduling issues and we just don't have much opportunity to play.  I am fortunate in I still count all these guys as friends even though we don't do much any more.  In the end I find myself with only a small pool of people to game against.

Another change that may be impacting my enjoyment of the hobby is the online culture.  Over the last few years I have seen the online game culture shift away from Forum based communities supported by personal blogs, and towards Facebook groups.  Facebook groups are really bad in how they organize (or actually don't organize) information for ease of access.  These groups lead to repetitive topics and questions that do not help to move the community forward.  As for the blog aspect I have found it hard to get motivated to blog when their seems to be no traffic.  Right now this blog has 60%-70% Googlebot traffic.  Of the few humans that visit I get almost no feedback.  It just feel like the hobby community is just not their anymore.

One final observation.  The amazing variety of games and models that are currently available, combined with the new stuff being released every week, has really put me in an analysis paralysis fit.  There is so much cool stuff I just don't know what to do.  I want it all but my limited hobby budget as well as time says I can't have it all.  I slowly find myself slipping into the trap of my hobby is buying cool stuff and then putting on the shelf and new doing anything with it.

Ok time to get on with the specifics of the year.

Flames of War (v3, v3.5, v4, WWI, WWII, AIW)

I was really excited about Flames of War at the beginning of the year and I truly expected this to be a great year for the game.  Back in January version 4 was already on the horizon and I was holding out cautious optimism for the new version.  When it was released we dug in and played some games.  The new army construction really left us all flat and then gradually angry.  We hated the new lists so much we actually never played v4 MW proper.  Instead we used the old North Africa book and the EW/LW rules.  We had some fun games and generally liked the rules but the damage Battlefront did to the whole feed of the game with the crappy lists was too much.  We have now decided to put the game on the shelf and wait and see what happens in the future.  For 2017 this was a MAJOR disappointment.  Oh and I basically painted nothing for this game this year.


This was the second most played game for me this year at 8 games.  It is fast and fun and I have painted models and terrain that I am not using for FoW so it was pretty easy to get into.  I bought several expansions and painted a bunch of models for this game.  A fun game and a good year for it.


Not a bad year for this game.  I got in a few games and we even had it on a month rotation for a while.  I didn't paint any new models or armies and no new terrain added to the collection.

Kings of War

This was another game that I had a lot of optimism for this year.  We actually started a campaign with a monthy game day but this only lasted until march and it died off.  I did nothing for this game this year.  Kind of a disappointment and I am not sure where this game is going locally.

Black Powder

This was a good year for this game.  I managed to get in one practice game at the start of the year and then we had battle number two of our Chancellorsville battle trilogy.  The big battle was great fun and really nail-biter.  I managed to paint up some more ACW figure for the collection. I also purchased even more French Napoleonic figures but did not manage to get anything painted.  All in all a good year but it could have been and should have been so much more.


This was a bit if a bright spot in the year.  Even though I only got in 3 games I made a lot of progress collecting and painting monsters, terrain and objectives.  I also got to try the Ulterior Motives scenario system and I really like that.  This should have been give more time but I rate it a win for the year.


Fail..  This game is done.  Nothing happened at all.  No painting no playing.  I might have bought something for it but I can't remember.  This game was a victim of all the new cool stuff being released and it just killed my interest.  This one is likely gone for good.

Bolt Action

We managed to get this game into a monthly rotation and I got in another couple of practice game for the infamous big tank battle but no big game this year.  It is hard for me to call this a win with only 4 games in but the nature of my gaming now that is not too bad.  I did paint several tanks and even a few Marines.  We still have not tried second edition.  It is funny that the new edition has not caused a derailment of this game the way new versions of other games I like have.

Victory at Sea

Haha...nothing...not a thing was done.  I even forgot I had this on the list.

Other Stuff

A lot of stuff happened this year that I was not expecting and this just helped to muddy the focus waters badly.  It all started in February when my friend Randy and I decided to play 40K after years away from it.  We played a game of 5th edition and had a blast.  Then Shadow War Armageddon was released and I started building kill teams.  This turned out to be the most played game of the year for me. It is the first GW game I have purchased in many years.  Then 40K 8th was released and I bought that and a few supplements. I got in a few games and had a good time.  Then my all time favorite GW game, Necromunda, got new release so even more purchases.  GW kind of stole the year.

I also got a in a bunch of Warhammer Quest games this year.  Not the new one but the old school stuff.  Good times.  My friend Tim got me into CAV:Strike Operations so I acquired and painted some models.  The Flames of War drama got me off my butt to finally try Battlgroup - a game I have been thinking about for years.  It was very good.  We also played a game of Fistful of Lead which was fun.

Final Thoughts

I played 17 different games in 2017!  That is a lot of diversity and it may be the most variety ever in a single year for me.  Good times were had to be sure but in the end it is just too much.  I need to find a way to refocus and re-energize my hobby.  At this point I am unsure of the future of the blog (starting to feel pointless) and my future with the hobby.  I am not giving up to be sure but changes will have to be made.  Perhaps after the new year I will have more clarity.

Models Assembled (includes cleaning and prepping metal figures):

28mm Fantasy - 30
28mm WWII - 41 (4 Tanks)
28mm ACW - 40
15mm FoW - 28 (13 Tanks, 2 Guns, 2 Caissons)
40K/SW:A/Necromunda - 50
Bloodbowl - 14
CAV - 20
Terrain - 54

Total - 277

Figures painted:

FoW - 44 (23 Tanks, 2 guns, 2 caissons, 2 jeeps)
28mm Fantasy - 20
28mm ACW - 28
28mm WW2 - 23 (13 Tanks, 1 Armored car)
40K - 10
Bloodbowl - 14
CAV - 4
Terrain - 36

Total - 179

Game Record:

FoW 3rd Edition 1-0-0
FoW v4 1-5-0
FoW GW 0-1-0
Bolt Action 1-3-0
Battlegroup 2-0-0
Kings of War 0-2-0
TANKS 3-5-0
Black Powder 2-0-0
Wings of Glory 0-1-0
Warhammer Quest 3-2-1
Frostgrave 1-1-1
Warhammer 40K 1-2-1
Fistful of Lead 0-1-0
Shadow War Armageddon 3-6-0
Necromunda Underhive 0-1-0
SAGA 4-4-1
CAV Strike Operations 1-0-0
Space Hulk 0-1-0


Dan said...

See - real live comment. Yeah, you have... a lot of games. I'm guilty of buying and shelving (because it might go out of print!), but I've been able to keep my number of games low. Average number of armies per game is something I still have to control. I just wish I liked painting better. I like assembly - but I'm allergic to the glue so it quickly turns into a two-three day sneezing fit when I do assembly. And as I've gotten older, hours and hours of painting just plain hurts. Plus finding time when you have grown-up responsibilities soaking up all your hours is a challenge. I like having painted stuff though, and am very reluctant to put it on a table if it isn't painted. Which means I generally don't play much at all. So I share a lot of those woes.

I agree that the online gaming community saps a LOT of my enjoyment of the game, not so much for the repetitiveness of Facebook though. There is just so much negativity (discussions of which units suck, complaints about what armies/systems are "broken" and "unbeatable," etc.) and people wanting hand-holding about power-gaming their lists (Unit x - must take?, help me make a spammed tournament list, etc.) It's not limited to Facebook; I see it on the forums too (not so much the blogs). It just sucks the enjoyment out of the hobby for me.

I want to see good battle reports (as opposed to half-assed ones), preferably with tactical analysis of the choices being made, conversations (as opposed to complaints) about tactics, and pictures of people's awesome paint jobs to inspire me. If you're going to complain about a unit, do it by asking for better ways to use the unit, not by just saying how much it sucks.

That's what I'd like to see in 2018.

Robert said...

Thanks for the comments, Dan!

Dagreenskins said...

I still enjoy reading your blog page Rob. My blog page is more of an online journal and I don't worry about feedback. The problem I see with Facebook is too many different groups and subgroups just making it too hard to have a collective place for communication. 2017 has been an exciting year and Im sure 2018 will be just as exciting and more distractions.

Tom O said...

I get where you are coming from Robert. I am not a fan of the Facebook groups either...too many and hard to keep track of. I plan to keep doing my blog, but feel no pressure to do so because of the lack of feedback as you point this point I do it just for me really.

As for the number of games I am right there with you. I would like to trim down/focus, but that leads to hard decisions on what to set aside and I am not ready to make those calls because that could mean not gaming with some friends because they play only certain games. Let's see what 2018 brings...

Robert said...

Thanks for the feedback guys! I will probably continue with the blog abut it will likely be much less often than in the past unless I start moving my Tweet activity back to the blog. We'll see I guess. I have lots of thinking to do before the new year. I need to get my mind right about what I want to be doing with the hobby.

Tim Kulinski said...

Well first off, I am right there with you man, the struggle to focus is far too hard now a days. I had hopes that the scheduled days would help, but it was really only you, Tom and I. Very hard to get traction behind a game when everyone is all over the place.

As for the online community, your spot on once again, all the forums I would go to have all dried up, no discussion or any real activity going on. I still frequent LAF and there is still lots going on over there, but that's about it. Most folks have moved onto Facebook groups and it is extremely hard to stay current with them, heck the Necromunda site has so much being posted you miss lots of stuff.

As for the blog, I just have not even been into updating mine, it just seems like to much trouble and I get no traffic. As much as the social media has become easier to use, it seems like it is harder to follow.

All of this is why I dabble with model railroading now, it is much more a solo hobby then gaming.

Unknown said...

Good luck Rob. Have fun with what you do. Take care buddy

Andy said...

I know the challenge of being an older gamer. Hope you find a way to rekindle the fun. Taking a break often helps.

Robert said...

Thanks for the comments!

Brent S. said...

Hi Rob - just a quick comment to let you know I still check in and read your blog.

I agree with most of your commentary.... I’ve bought lots of new shiny games but still really only played 3 games this year - Frostgrave, Bolt Action, and Zombicide.

— Brent