Kick Off 2021

I gave the indication in the holiday wishes, that I'll do another Kick-Off this year.

A few (or a lot?) of the things that were planned for 2020 had to be put on hold and are still the goals for 2021 - which was primarely having a good time. But let's talk about this in the usual format, answering a few questions.

What was the biggest challenge of 2020?

Well, yeah, the plans for the last year had a full schedule of events along with weekend trips to a couple of cities, picking up on culture and some museums. That obviously didn't happen, turning the vision of 2020 from this:

Kick Off - 2020 Brunnenfest Oberursel Crisis 2019 - Tinsoldiers of Antwerp

To this:

Games Workshop - Store Koblenz Skype - Malkränzchen Holler, Westerwald

I talked about it in some of the weekender / monthly updates. I am doing home office since march 17th, and have been in the office for maybe 6 or 7 days since then. One of the most important parts of the hobby for me is the social aspect, so the strict social distancing is something that I would definitely call my biggest challenge of the last year. I like going to shows, giving a hosted game a try, have a chat with one of the many lovely people. This travel bug is usually something I can cope with either my work or my hobby, as I've given a bit of an insight of how I approached my "professional" wargaming, but when there's something that is simply shutting everything down, it is pretty hard to deal with. As mentioned above, 9 and a half months of last year, I have not been in the office, having face-to-face interaction with customers and colleagues. We did the social distancing so strict in the beginning, that we went for about 10 weeks of quarantine before seeing my parents and I did only leave the house for my tuesday morning 7 am supply run (there are usually not more than 6-8 other people in the supermarket, so it is very easy to keep the potential contact with others on a very low count) and the occassional walk with my family during lunch break or in the afternoon (which became more difficult since autumn as it got dark earlier). Usually I get a visit by Dino, Flo or one of the others at least once per month, but it took until August of this year, to actually have a visitor here that was not part of our direct "support bubble". And we did that with distance, with open windows and without hand shake and so on.

Yes, you can talk about some project ideas, novelties and such on a video call, that was something that worked quite well with my long distance buddies in the past. But when you're already sitting 8-9 hrs per day in various conference calls, you're really not in the mood for that in the evening. So missing out of proper interaction with my buddies, sitting at a table, enjoying some proper food and drinks, while pushing around a few bases and rolling some dice, was my biggest "problem" with last year, as that was my goal. Not painting 400 models, not winning a tournament, simply having a good time with the guys.

What were your favorite "large" wargaming companies of 2020?

With the altered circumstances, the companies had to be creative. Games Workshop did a great job via WarhammerTV/Twitch to cover an online preview instead of the usual show releases / previews on AdeptiCon and so on. And even they, being the biggest company in miniature wargaming had this slight non-professional vibe to it. People sitting at home, with mediocre webcams and streaming setups. Yes, by the 3rd or 4th the marketing department should have invested early in a few basic streaming setups from my point of view, yet they did quite well.

WarhammerTV - Preview Stream

Of course other don't have the same possibilities to create such events, but compared to their size I think that Warlord Games and Mantic Games did a well to, covering a virtual open day, paint sessions and a couple of other casual und supporting activities.

And another point, that I like to point out, what a great job Osprey (and in a supporting role Northstar) did, with providing free rules and solo play rules, to give the gamers a chance to continue with the hobby during lock down / social distancing.

And your favorite "small" miniature company of 2020?

With most of the wargaming companies being from the UK and the vast majority of them being smaller, often run on the side, they took a hard hit from lockdowns and conditions applied to their work enviroment. More than once casting couldn't be continued, causing the supply chain at some point along the line to break off and creating a longer pause. That is simply something we have to acknowledge in our hobby.

Therefore I'd like to point out a few companies, that I had the chance to get a look at their product in 2020. I closed some gaps in my Wild West collection with the fantastic Boot Hill Miniatures range, especially to cover some models from South of the border (or at least near the border). Well casted and proper sculpting by the talented Matthew Bickley. Apropos Matthew Bickley, another company that he's working for is Claymore Castings and their HYW range. And while I was waiting for an excuse to get my hands on some of that scottish miniature goodness, using them as stand-in Bretonnians was a good reason to buy some. Claymore Castings were one of the companies that had problem with their supply, along with the fact that the demand grew quite a bit during the lockdown, so they had to take the shop for some periods offline. Anyhow, especially with the latest cavalry they released, I am more than pleased with their product.

Boot Hill Miniatures Claymore Castings - Breton-Stands In

The time at home and the limited supply of regular miniature stock in some cases brought the people spend more time on additive manufacturing, tinkering with their printers at home or giving one of the printing service a try. I did the later, as I simply don't have the capacities to run a proper resin printer in here. Where I don't really see the benefit in printing full 1:56 vehicles (especially with FDM) compared to getting a regular plastic injection mould, I see the opportunities among the smaller ranges, as 15mm and smaller really scales well with production time and detail. A lot of people are using resin printers for epic scale, and there are a couple of patreons covering 10mm Warmaster stand ins. I still think that we need some kind of "Forge World" company for 28mm World War, to cover all that stuff that doesn't justify a regular kit. So covering some print-on-demand resin prints (or at least masters with later regular resin cast) for things like a Schmalturm F, IR-sight and such would be a market.

One of the smaller companies, Yvis Craft World, who provides custom dice bags and trays, added masks to her range. So instead of whining about not being able to sell at a show or fair, she showed entrepreneurship and expanded her products. Clever move and well done. Thanks again!

Adeptus Titanicus - 3D Printed Terrain 3D Printed - Predator Yvis Nerd and Geek World

What games did you gave a try in 2020 and what you're looking for in 2021?

Unfortunately and unsurprisingly not much. I had an evening with the 2nd edition of Frostgrave with Florian. The game itself is a bit random I have to be honest, but easy to learn and quick. Actually it still motivated me to pick out a project for Q1/2021 and that will be a frostgrave warband. As for 2021, I want to give the ACW Black Powder supplement in 15mm a try, and see how it compares to longstreet.

Frostgrave - 2nd Edition Frostgrave - 2nd Edition Frostgrave - 2nd Edition Frostgrave - 2nd Edition

Which video, podcast or instagrams did you enjoy in 2020?

I still don't follow or watch that many wargaming related content on youtube or so. I am looking up specific topics, like a painting tutorial for Sisters of Battle or so, but that is mostly it. I catched a few episodes of Duncan's new format, the Duncan Rhodes Painting Academy. Beyond that, I really like the way that Wraith's Crypt tackles the warmaster project, including the terrain tipps. And of course the german Krauthorn podcast going strong heading for their 20th episode soon.

I still mostly use these channels, Youtube and for example Instagram for cooking ideas. With BonAppetit taking a big hit this year, I mostly followed Binging with Babish, and added MyNameisAndong to my watch list. And I stopped watching Held der Steine, as Thomas is lacking the objectivity, with mostly repeated Lego bashing and not being as critical with the products of his business partners, along with being a poor role model on social distancing. And I don't need that.

Do you want to expand the Chaosbunker as a video or podcast, or maybe a discord?

Still no plans, but we are thinking about how to include the readers in our having a good time. We will try out some new things, depending on how the new studio (what? yes, more further below) works out. The time consumption of running what I have in mind is quite an argument, I have talked about that in the professional wargaming insights, and our hobby being niché does not provide the ROI to justify larger invests.

As for discord, I honestly don't really get the point. For me it feels like mIRC 2.0 and I don't see myself idling in a chat room. We already have a whatsapp group and that easily fulfills the role, with other tools providing what we need for a virtual paint session.

What was the biggest surprise 2020?

I expect nobody saw that year coming, at least not in that way. In terms of wargaming a lot of releases had to be post-poned and stretched out. It was a bit sad to see, that the high entry barrier for our hobby was clearly shown again. While other related hobbies were able to have virtual conventions and shows as a stand-in, like UK Games Expo or CONspiracy, that is simply something our hobby couldn't provide and our community wasn't really able to host.

On the other hand, sales seem to have been good. As the painting and model building pillars of the hobby work great for staying at home. Yet I am surprised with the average backlog being able to keep you busy for quite the long lockdown, how many miniatures were sold and that some products like primer and washes became a scarce ressource.

What are your realistic goals for 2021 and how do you plan to realize them?

My largest goal for 2021 is to continue reducing projects in preparation of the move in summer. I already sold some overstock and unlikely projects, for example my Musketeer / Footsore Saxons that I prepared for SAGA. A long with the regular Vikings, I already sold last year. I reduced the motor pool of my 28mm world war 2 collection, so a lot of tanks were sold. I am staying with Bolt Action and there is just no realistic scenario, where I would have the need for multiple Panthers, Tigers and so on. The reviews and the goal to cover fewer of them on here is another thing, that benefits reducing the stock. I don't need as many reference miniatures, which was a huge argument for me to keep such a broad stock of different makes and products, to provide these (scale) comparisons for articles. Talking about reviews, a lot of the larger boxes, for example the 30 miniature Bolt Action sets, created quite the overstock, as I usually build around two of the five sprues per review, or half of the box in case of Frostgrave. So I made some space by trading / selling the overstock. Especially with Bolt Action I got a bit out of hand, due to the very appealing sprue sales they did in the past. But you really don't need that many miniatures for your armies, at least not in 28mm. I sold of my Freebooter stock, alnog with - and that is a huge exception on my end - the limited miniatures from the Indiegogo and even some vintage Blood Bowl stock from my vault.

Sold Boxes Packages Bolt Action - Surplus Sprues Freebooter - Legends

The thing is, that most of the projects that can be sold as bulk are now gone, and the remaining stock is something for a tabletop fleamarket. I will get my money for my blisters and so, but I will have to go to the post office 20 times to have a noticeable amount of space freed up doing so, as the main motivation is space not money. So I honestly miss the opportunities like the BitBox or Puppen Shop(p)en for exactly that. But the travelling boxes, like Hans! do a decent job, as I trade in to my disadvantage in value but favour in volume.

Blood Bowl - 2nd Edition Assembly Instructions

We talked about the 18 miniatures in 3 month a couple of Chaosbunker Daddies participated in, and we had a good time with it. So for Q1 / 2021 we want to repeat that, and I have chosen to do a Frostgrave warband. And then set new goals for the following quarters, like doing the Sisters of Battle, Black Seas or Adeptus Titanicus. I have to see, how the 15mm ACW by Warlord Games turns out, as this really itches a "need" in terms of the parking lot theory. I don't have anything mass combat currently, as I decided to not do so in 28mm. And with the plastic sprues covering most of the rank & file, as well as painting with base colours and washes goes a long way in that scale, this appeals to me a lot.

Frostgrave - Warband Core

Any changes planned for the 'bunker in 2021?

There are two major changes this year, that will have an impact on chaosbunker. First of all, we're going to have our second child in march of this year. This will provide another parental leave in summer / autumn, but with an older sister running around, things like a wargamer dad weekend will be scarce. In the long run, I will have some paint and gaming buddies inhouse. We'll see how that works out, but I am looking forward to it.

And the second major change this year will be moving in to our new home. We're currently building a house that covers a study / office in home to host the next version of the chaosbunker studio. This is the 6th time that I move my "studio". At a bit more than 16 m² my new office it is slightly smaller than my current setup (I am very glad to currently have 18 m² of studio). But my goal is for a "cleaner" studio, all the army projects have to fit neatly inside of four billy shelves and two alex drawer units, with closed doors. The miniatures aren't the main problem reaching that goal, the terrain actually is the bottle neck. Beyond that, as I already have the furniture for the studio already here, the equipment will be further improved. I have a proper light setup, but as I want to be able to do battle reports and such, I will need more things like back drops and further lights.

Light Studio Setup Lightcraft Desk Lamp

Realm of Chaos - Hooves and Fur Realm of Chaos - Hooves and Fur

I decided to split part of the social media in mid of 2020, to have a dedicated channel for the chaosbunker on instagram and cover my food (and paused travel) on my other account. That went well, yet of course we could a lot more on there, but we will see how the plans above will induce that.

Beyond that, I would like to cover battle reports on the bunker this year. That of course depends on how travel / having guests over will be possible. This goal goes toward having a good time and sharing that with the community. I really like the mix how Team Würfelkrieg do it (see on Facebook and Instagram as well), travel, gaming and painting. As for the battle reports, I really like what Talarion did on Würfelwiese. The immersion shots are great, and that is something that I want to try to recreate. And as you can't do all that on an empty stomach, food and drinks will accompany all that on the side.

Closing words?

Last year I told you to take care of yourself and the people, who matter to you. And in hindsight, how true has that been. With that being said, stay positive in your mind and hopefully stay negative in your body.

Sláinte, ¡Salud! and Prosit to you and your kin!


Posted by Dennis B.

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