Happy New Year to everyone. I hope Santa brought you some nice shiny new toys, or miniatures to sit in the painting pile if you are a wargamer!
Talking of which, 2018 was not a massively productive painting year for me. My Game of Thrones project got a big boost of figures with the Song of Ice and Fire Kickstarter, but many remain to be painted. I have painted some of the Lannisters and all of House Bolton, but a few units and many characters to go. David Muir has painted several units of Stark figures, so that has helped.
My 20mm modern project was aided by using die-cast AFVs, but that still leaves the infantry. Russians, British and some generic eastern European insurgents have been done. Just some very modern Russians and bits and bobs to go.
I finished the WW2 French in 28mm for early war Bolt Action. Although they could use another infantry unit. Which reminds me, I really should keep a note of the colours I use when painting figures!
So, for 2019 some finishing off of these projects. I have some Bulgar Noble cavalry on the painting stick at present to plug a gap in that army. I was expecting to be busy painting Carnevale figures over Xmas, but I was very disappointed with these figures so they will be gathering dust. My big new project for 2019 will be the early war Yugoslavian army in 28mm. Several boxes of Warlord figures are staring at me on the painting table. I will also be expanding my units for Cruel Seas and hopefully improving my sailing skills! Other projects include the Assyrians, inspired by the British Library exhibition.
My blog post productivity was more impressive in 2018, with a record 95 posts. The number of readers has also increased significantly, so that's encouraging. The most popular posts are generally new game reviews and shows. Cruel Seas was the number one post this year. Some book reviews are also more popular than others, for reasons that are not that obvious to me. Battlefield visits are also popular, particularly Scottish ones, with Loudoun Hill, followed closely by Flodden.
On the subject of battlefields, I visited a fair few this year on my travels. The highlight was the Peloponnese with Mycenae, Mystras and the Frankish castles being particularly memorable. A work trip to Canada was also great, with the War of 1812 battlefields. My pre-retirement UK tour took in some old favourites and some new ones. I have still to negotiate the 2019 trips with the domestic authorities, but first stop will be York in February for Varpartnak.
My Balkan Military History website is doing well, with visitor figures up again. I have made a bit of effort this year to get on with the data transfer and updating from the old site. The travel and features are now done, which leaves armies and reviews. This will be the site's 22nd year, so there is a lot of content!
On the subject of anniversaries, this will be the 50th anniversary of the formation of Glasgow and District Wargaming Society. We often think of the hobby as being very new (Prussian staff college aside), so this is a big one. If you are near Glasgow on 20 January, please pop in and say hello at our Open Day.
I often take my wargaming inspiration from anniversaries. I suspect this year will feature the 75th anniversary of D-Day and other 1944 battles including Monte Cassino, Imphal, the Bulge and Market Garden. I will cover the liberation of Belgrade and the Balkans from Nazi occupation, but it is also the 80th anniversary of the start of the war in 1939. My Yugoslavian project is primarily aimed at an interesting 'What-if', as this is the year Hitler encouraged Mussolini to deliver on his long-term project to invade Yugoslavia. Time permitting I am planning on some detailed research as well as the wargame project.
If you thought WW1 was over, this is true on the Western Front, but not elsewhere. We have the Greek-Turkish War kicking off as well as the Russian Civil War and lots of interesting campaigns in Central Asia. I can't remember much discussion of the Third Anglo-Afghan War, but the Amritsar Massacre will rightly get a lot of attention. Pancho Villa continued to be a nuisance to the USA in 1919 and Zapata dies as the Mexican revolution carried on. An excuse to dust down those figures.
Going further back, the 19's were not particularly memorable. Bolivar won liberation for Columbia in 1819 and the Great Northern War ground on in 1719. That year also featured the Battle of Glen Shiel so my new Highlanders from the Flags of War Kickstarter will have a purpose, even if historically a bit early.
My current reading is on the Cretan War, during which, in 1669, Candia surrendered. In 1519, Cortes landed in Mexico and of course the Thirty Years War ground on in 1619. For medievalists, the Hundred Years War saw the loss of Rouen to Henry V (1419) and an earlier Ottoman v Venice conflict ended in the same year. Mihail I successfully defended Wallachia against the Ottomans that year as well. There is the Livonian Crusade in 1219 and the Battles of Hab and Bremule in 1119.
I haven't managed to make as much of a dent in my reading pile as I had hoped. My retirement turned out to be more a semi-retirement, but there were some great books published in 2018, and no doubt 2019 will add to the pile. I have a number of research projects planned if time allows, but the more ambitious book projects will probably have to be put on hold for now.
So, that's me signing off 2018 and welcoming 2019. Here is wishing everyone a Happy New Year and an enjoyable hobby in the coming year. As other's have commented, hobbies are an important element of our mental good health, so try and find more time in your busy schedule this year.