Saturday 2 December 2023

2023 - My wargaming retrospective

This post attempts to review my, and my club's, wargaming activities of 2023. Above you can see the Wollongong Wargamers celebrating  two of our founding fathers: Alan in the Mad Max T, and Caesar, whose 50th it was, on his right. 

As I compose this blog post my overriding sense is of gratitude to my club members and the local and world wide wargaming community in general who make this hobby what it is. (But I do also refer to some solo games if I think they may be of interest!) I generally haven't  linked to specific blogs of battles mentioned, if further interested please browse by scale or genre using the 'Label grid' above. 

By far and away the biggest event of 2023 for me was our two day Gettysburg The Second Day 160th game we staged at the Campbelltown Hall of Heroes FLGS. Using Epic scale minis, it was, well, Epic! For more details on this game please see the Warlord Games Article here.

Whilst this post is thematic rather than chronological, the Gettysburg game did emerge from the tail end of the Shenandoah Valley campaign with which the Wollongong Wargamers started the year: above - Port Republic, below - Cross Keys:

For fictional ACW campaigns, I came up with the idea of translating HP Lovecraft's mysterious and isolated Miskatonic valley several hundred miles further south down the American Atlantic seaboard to provide the cockpit for further smaller battles:

Sticking to the Horse 'n Musket theme, Lasalle 2 remains a favourite at the club,  including below 'Waterloo - the fight for the farm'.  Peter M, centre, watches aghast as Darren comes down off his ridge: 

The club also repeated our annual Lasalle Games day for the wider gaming community, which was again a success, organised by David (Centre - UOW T):

Black Powder remains a firm standby - below a solo game set in 1813:

But there is burgeoning interest, with really big games in mind, to master the new Valour & Fortitude rules:

After having played V&F twice or even thrice now these may be played much more regularly in 2024...Below, Caesar's Battle of Friedland scenario, photo courtesy of Kaptain Kobold:

A key goal for me in 2023 was to mature and evangelise about the benefits of 1/144th or 12 mil scale as a  viable way of playing both WW2 and Cold War games.

There was already some acceptance of this scale for playing Arab-Israeli Wars using Fate of a Nation rules, simply because no-one has a rival scale! Above: The Golan Heights, Below: Mitla Pass, The Sinai.

But gradually I have persuaded some of the club to try this small, but not diminutive, scale, where infantry figures can just about be made out properly, in other genres. Below, a Cold War Gone Hot Soviet OMG advances using Team Yankee rules:

Latterly, I have even persuaded club members to attempt the sacrilege of playing Flames of War (FOW) in 12mil scale. Below, 5GTA advances out of Prokhorovka during the Battle of Kursk: 

After a couple of games the sky has yet to fall in and indeed some mates are furiously printing up their own armies in this scale! In fact most of the 7th Armoured Division we see below in the vicinity of Villiers - Bocage were provided by Stuart, left.

This is not to say the traditional 15mm scale for tanky games has been neglected. In fact a major highlight of the year was Ed's (above, centre) staging of the Battle of 73 Easting in Gulf War 1, which was so spectacular we took it to our local show at the Illawarra Plastic Modellers Society:

This Team Yankee game was such a success it allowed us to attract several new young club members to become valued regulars! 

FOW also featured regularly in 15mm and continues to attract attention from younger gamers, and again I am grateful to our club members, such as Bryan, (below, left) who spend so much time and effort introducing newer members to our hobby:

There were two highlights for me in the 15mm FOW space. Colin (Space 1999 T below) set up a 'Peiper's Charge' campaign early in the year: 

But equally spectacular and entertaining was our combined Bolt Action (BA) and FOW Market Garden evening organised by one of our younger members, Daniel (centre, black T). In the foreground, the Wilhelmina Canal of the BA game:

Whilst the FOW component was based on the XXX Corps start line to Hell's Highway:

Team Yankee was also regularly played in 15mm scale, in this case a more traditional Soviet scenario set at the Inner German Border at the time of the Moscow coup:

Turning to matters maritime, the by now traditional October Trafalgar game was played at the local Returned Servicemen's League club:

But we also found opportunities to reap the reward of our Nimitz Play testing with a series of games set in the Pacific (1st Naval Battle of Guadalcanal) :

The Mediterranean (Battle Off Calabria - also displayed at the IPMS Show thanks to Darren's stunning terrain): 

And the Atlantic - The Battle of the Denmark Strait:

Another popular (and local - well by Aussie standards!) naval ruleset, for WW1, we played regularly was Broadside Age of Empires - below we see the Battle off Imbros:

And here an action based around the Dogger Bank:

But of course naval warfare is as old as time, going right back to galleys:

As a club we also pay our play testing dues in the form of assisting talented wargames designers with their future projects - including pushing the boundaries of strategic level WW2 games:

And of course, the small in scale but big in terms of fun games mean that usually every week there are at least 2-3 games on, something for everyone's taste! Bolt Action:

Hordes of the Things and various other DBMM variants:

and a variety of Skirmish games:

So, thanks again to (L-R below) Darren, Bailey, Ed, Bryan, David, Alan, Caesar, Peter, and of course Peter M, Geoff, Colin, Stuart, John, Theo, Drew and the other Wollongong regular and not so regulars! 

Not to forget gamers from the wider local community for the bigger projects, and the global wargaming massif from whom I get my on-line inspiration! Lets do it all again in 2024! Which will be the 80th anniversary of 1944 - just sayin'

L-R Declan and Bailey at the Battle of Geilenkirchen, winter '44.


  1. Thank you Sparker, bard extraordinaire and truly valued contibutor to our merry band. Happy times!

    1. Thanks Caesar! Yes they are good times with a good crowd of blokes!

  2. A lot of lovely gaming across the various subjects. You have a good club going there and a big take from the 2023 reflections is the addition of some younger blood to join the ranks.

    1. Thanks Norm! We do, and its great to see everyone's efforts in bringing on new members pay off so well as they mature into great gamers who take the initiative with new scenarios, projects and experiments!

  3. You certainly have a good club there, with a broad mix of games played as well as some new blood coming into the hobby, which is of course great to see. Well done on the first end of year report I've read and thanks for the heads up on next year being the 80th anniversary of so many big WWII campaigns. I imagine we will see a lot of these and time for me to go and get my thinking hat on for my offerings...

    1. Thanks Steve yes I'm sure the 80th anniversary of 1944 will be properly commemorated within the wargaming community, as well as more properly in the broader public memory.

  4. A cracking year indeed! Really enjoyed reading through your blog too - some great stuff here!

  5. What a productive and enjoyable the Nimitz game.

    1. Thanks Jim! Yes Nimitz is a terrific ruleset and has completely recharged our WW2 Naval wargaming.