The first day of the new year seems as good time as any to reflect on the previous 12 months. I don't know if I got more painting done in 2015 than 2014, but what I did do was more focused. I kept up the rule of sticking to one project at a time, but chose projects that would let me actually play games with a minimum amount of effort. Consequently, I played a lot more games in 2015.
I started the year with a short Bushido campaign, before moving to historical Japan with Ronin, before starting my Warhammer siege campaign at the end of the year. I even entered my first tournament, Bushido at the UK Games Expo. I mostly learnt that I am not much of a tournament gamer (I came last) but it was an interesting experience, and added to my total of games played. So I played more games in 2015 than in 2014, and more at the end of the year than the beginning. If this trend continues, that should mean even more games in 2016.
The culmination of a mini-campaign
As for painting, I'm not sure my standard particularly improved in 2015, but I do seem to be able to paint faster. I discovered that, with a bit of focus, I could get a 20 model unit for Warhammer done in a couple of weekends.
Dwarf Longbeards. It either took me 2 days or 19 years to paint them, depending on your point of view.
Speaking of Warhammer, possibly the biggest wargaming event of 2015 was Games Workshop's killing of the Warhammer world and the Warhammer game system. After some initial reluctance, I had a crack at Warhammer Age of Sigmar and discovered it was not a bad system, but not one I was likely to be playing all that often. Age of Sigmar's principle impact was to prompt me to buy the last models I wanted for my Warhammer armies and investigate other fantasy rules. That AOS has been such a departure from Warhammer has prompted a lot philosophical musing on wargaming in general.
My first trial of the Age of Sigmar rules looks pretty much like Warhammer without the formations.
As Games Workshop has recast itself as a miniature company rather than a games company, other companies have rushed to fill the void. In addition to Mantic Games Kings of War 2nd edition and the forthcoming Warpath, Warlord Games finally released Rick Priestly's Warhammer 40,000 beater, Beyond the Gates of Antares. At the same time, Osprey's range of generic wargame rules continues to expand, and they have now produced Dragon Rampant. Former Warhammer addicts are spoiled for choice.
Oddly, this range of new rules doesn't encourage me to buy more models, so much as dig out and make use of old ones. I have a huge range of Warhammer models, less than half of which are painted and most of which I can use for several different games. Warhammer's "death" has also encouraged me to dig out some models for other "dead" systems, such as Confrontation, Epic and Anima Tactics.
So what can we expect for 2016? Personally, I plan to do more painting and gaming and less buying. In the past I often used to use buying more models as a substitute for actually using them, no that I'm painting and gaming more I don't need to buy so much. That said, I do plan to acquire a few more bits and bobs for Beyond the Gates of Antares, as I haven't played a decent 28mm large skirmish sci-fi game in a while and I have no interest in Warhammer 40,000 in its current state.
Out with the old, in with the new?
As for the wider industry, Games Workshop seems determined to abdicate its position as the introduction into the hobby for new players. If that is the case, then this is likely to encourage other companies to fill the role. I am expecting to see a lot of activity from the likes of Warlord, Mantic, Privateer Press and other player bubbling just below Games Workshop. Not to mention Fantasy Flight games, whose range of Star Wars games is a perfect position to attract the multitude of Star Wars fans energised by the new film. 2016 could be an eventful year for the wargames world.