Thursday, 20 January 2022

Everything has gone!



Well, when I say everything, what I really mean is that a huge declutter has happened and I am now left with a much (much!) more tightly focused collection.

The following post looks at the re-focusing of hobby time and space and though based on my own experience, this post might equally be about you!

It is just an opinion piece and a ramble, if that interests you, then please use the ‘read more’ tab.


Some of this was suggestively signalled in the blog's Christmas Gazette and I wasn't going to do this post, considering it to be a bit of a self indulgent 'announcement to the world' type of thing and instead just letting things run and seeing what falls out of it all, but a fellow blogger thought that it might give interest and perhaps with New Year resolutions still ringing in our ears, there might be enough gamers thinking about down-sizing, that this post might be worthwhile after all.


We are all in different places with our hobby, with different interests and different priorities. There are boardgamers who have collections of 400 - 600 games and are happy with that. There are others that are seriously looking at down-sizing their collections for a host of reasons. 

There are figure gamers who are content with doing one period in one scale and their collection is focused and manageable, while others have over collected, with shelves bulging and ‘very important things’ spilling over onto floor space and inhabiting every other spare bit of surface, in stacks that tumble with annoying regularity (me).

Well somewhere amongst all of that sits each of us. I have just gone through a major re-organisation, something that has needed doing for too long and of course, there is only one way to get something done and that is to stop pondering and just doing it!

So I did …. Eventually, and having done it, there has been a huge sense of liberation from clearing-out and of course some cash has been added to the bank.

For my part, the boardgame collection has for years, typically sat in the region of 50 - 75 games, covering a wide range of topics. The number has been steadily maintained as I have always generally traded games away when making new purchases. This was a matter of necessity in my younger years, when times were harder, but has become a natural behaviour that has just stayed with me - probably a good thing as it turns out.

The figure side of things by contrast has over recent years, run a ridiculous path of growth. The combination of being interested in several periods and then collecting in several scales, becomes a problem of over collecting, all the more recognisable as house storage space runs out and the less riskier things (not subject to damp or cold) start to consume garage space (I am lucky enough to have one).

I suppose this very much depends upon what type of character you are, but for me, this sort of thing just leads to inertia and procrastination. I knew in my heart-of-hearts that the collection had to be pared back - but what should go? and what should I be working on and painting next? 

‘I know, lets paint ACW’, but then which ones? 12mm metals, 13.5mm Warlord Games, 15mm metals or 28mm plastics? They were all there, all partly done, all winking seductively at me!

It was hard to motivate myself to get into a proper painting regime as the concern was that I would always be painting the wrong thing, perhaps painting the thing that I actually needed to sell instead and so in the end less actually gets painted, too much thinking and not enough doing, if that makes sense.

Now I know this all sounds like first world woes and of course it is exactly that, but mindset is what mindset is. Anyway, late last year, I decided to have a root and branch clear out. The starting point was to decide what should stay, rather than what should go - that in turn revealed what should then go - EVERYTHING that was not on the keep list.

Having done that, the plan was to sell aggressively, that is, sell twice a week and offer things at a low enough price that it will ensure interest.

That means that typically things go too cheaply compared to worth, but on the flip side, what it really means is that things do go and when dealing with such volume, even when selling cheap, revenue can build surprisingly quickly .

My goals for what to keep were;

Boardgames - I want two core collections. Firstly a group of games that will service my face-to-face sessions, which are relatively short, say 2 to 2½ hours. This needs a collection of games or scenarios that will play properly to conclusion in that time, no more getting halfway through a game and then discussing how things might have panned out, if only we had another hour or two.

Secondly are a group of games that meet my personal interest, that might be bigger, deeper and take longer to play than the first group. I will game these solo and have some capability to leave the bigger games set up for a day or two. Wherever possible, I will give favour to those games that are part of a series or have short rules, so that the rules only need to be learned once and from that, all the games in the series can be played without getting tied up with constant rule referencing. 

fast play, with just 5 pages of rules ensures a midweek game.

Quite a few single game titles went, but of significance, a big part of the collection had been five WWII tactical boardgame systems, each having a good number of modules and each being quite meaty in terms of rules, so much, that sometimes I would get confused between sets when playing. Anyway one system was kept and the other four series were sold. At a stroke 25 hefty boxes were removed from the gaming shelf - Winner!

Figures - the Captain Sensible part of me recognises that I would benefit from the smaller scales for my dining room table battles. The Captain Emotional part of me likes the bigger scales to paint, handle and owning them just for their own enjoyment. One had to be chosen and I accept that I may not have made the right or even a good choice, but I decided that Captain Emotional was the better chap, not always the cleverest, but certainly a fun chum!

So the plan is to have a number of pairings of small armies, that I will refer to as Pocket Armies and go to a single scale for all terrain. The armies will all be 28mm except for WWII tactical, which will be 1/72 (20mm). 

That agreed, the single scale of terrain will be 1/72, also conveniently close to the model railway scale of HO/OO, which has a ton of terrain accessories. This scale looks exactly right for 1/72 WWII tactical as soldiers fit proportionally against doors and windows, while for the 28mm games, dropping a scale actually works quite well in reducing building footprint for the benefit of the smaller table and makes buildings look better when scaled against units that are pretending to be battalions and regiments.

The army pairings will initially be Wars of the Roses, American Civil War and East Front mid war WWII. Once they are up and running, Napoleonics (1809 French / Austrian) and 1066 (Norman / Anglo-Saxon) are already waiting in the wings. At some future point, it would be nice to see English Civil War and American War of Independence join the Pocket Armies - this of course is all no mean feat! the painting alone (not my favourite pastime, but it is the only way to get to a game) is significant, but this is a sight-seeing journey, not a race.

Having decided all of that, then everything (no, really EVERYTHING and there was a lot) not listed above, was slated for sale and a few days ago, I packaged up the last two e-bay bundles and ‘that was that’ as they say.

The consequences have been immediately significant. With all of that stuff gone, I have created both physical and mental space. Shelves are reorganised and can now breathe and I am freed of distraction and can just concentrate on the things that I will be taking forwards.

In the past three weeks I have played the Hougoumont boardgame twice and the Antietam boardgame twice as midweek games. The first has 5 pages of rules and the latter 4 pages. ‘Knowing’ the games made it easier to get them to the table, in time slots that I might have not otherwise have given over to a game.

Playability Vs Complexity

As for the painting of figures, I have made January an ACW month to jack that Pocket Army project back up and this has seen an 18 man infantry regiment cross the painting table, together with an artillery piece and 12 dismounted cavalry. An extra four pieces of snake fencing have been made up from bamboo skewers and I have been working on my own rules. 

1/72 StuG III's
There is enough time left to get another 18 man regiment done and dusted before the month ends. In between priming and prepping each batch of units, three StuG III's have been getting attention and rolling out into the WWII German 1943 Pocket Army box.

This new opportunity to dedicate painting attention to ‘keeper projects’ will soon move the various Pocket Army collections forward enough that the next generation of new scenarios for the dining table can be created that will have more unit resources to draw upon than previous games.

I see six units as giving a Neil Thomas teaser type game, eight or nine units as giving one his small battle scenarios as exampled by his Leibnitz scenario in his 'Napoleonic Wargaming' book and twelve units to give the sort of small battle type game that I think will fit my wargaming time and space situation.

While not wishing to mention the vulgar aspect of money, It should be said that the monies raised from all of the sales will likely keep my wargaming spend neutral for at least the next 18 - 24 months, although the simple truth is that I don’t really need much more than I have now and it may do me good to remind myself of that in future to keep the collection concise and functional.

I am rather transported back in time to some 45 years ago, when, as a younger version of myself with goodly knees, a pain free back and sharp eyes, to put on a simple game was enough of a pleasure in itself and that what I owned seemed more important than what I didn’t have, while at the same time enjoying the inspiration that fell from the pages of Grant and Featherstone’s writing with their teaser / small battle style scenarios … simple pleasures that like sirens, call.

I suppose this might raise the question of how this blog will look over the next 24 months? 



The main themes will still be there, with ‘gaming in small spaces’ being predominant and a mix of boardgame and figure game content continuing to hang from that theme. 

For boardgames, favourites will make more regular return appearances and game series subjects will be more prevalent, whereas in the past, newly released titles have tended to dominate most entries, which although are helpful to people making buying choices, does add a whiff of consumerism to the blog that I would like to dampen down.

For figures, there will be an emphasis on getting the Pocket Armies to the table, by creating scenarios that suit relatively small forces and household table sizes. As time goes on, the size and scope of these battles will slowly grow to reflect the fact that the Pocket Armies are growing from their ‘built from scratch’ beginnings. This might actually be a more consistent and interesting degree of content for those that follow the blog regularly.

Whilst the blog will hopefully reduce it’s consumer style footprint, it is obvious that for the Pocket Armies projects to grow from scratch, some description of how that happens will need to be covered and to that end, my website called COMMANDERS will morph a little to give greater detail to the development of the figure and boardgame projects and cover things like builds, painting, rules of preference and topics that can be dealt with by way of a couple of paragraphs, rather than the article based style of the blog.

I have made a three year financial commitment to Commanders site by signing up to a hosting deal, so there is time for that place to find its own feet and identity.

Anyway I am going off on a tangent, the whole point of this post is to example my own situation to encourage others who may be inclined to look at down-sizing, streamlining or re-directing their hobby, to do something real in 2022 that helps get that going.

Having been someone who has just stared at this problem for several years, I feel that in the end, one just simply has to throw themselves at the task with some gusto in the belief that an end point will be reached and be worthwhile. I do feel like I have had a hobby refresh.

Thanks for sticking with this opinion piece, which might sound nonsense to some. I am grateful to all who follow the ramblings here and of course to those who take the time to comment. Even my regular blog spammer has been giving me more attention recently than I deserve, though he / she did give themselves Christmas off, which I thought was a bit of a hoot! :-)

Hopefully those that currently follow will be happy to continue doing so and perhaps the mating of the 28's onto a standard sized table might grab some new attention. Regardless, we are in a good hobby with much to celebrate. Cheers Norm.

Resource Section.

My sister webspace COMMANDERS is being re-configured to showcase various figure and boardgame systems that I am enjoying and give a flavour of where current ongoing projects are up to. Link.

https://commanders.simdif.com

79 comments:

  1. Do you feel a weight lifted off your shoulders?
    Great use of a Ladybird Book image by the way.

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    1. As I entered the last couple of weeks of selling things, I was genuinely surprised at the sense of liberation that has come from the clear-out, so yes, definitely a weight lifted, particularly in relation to the collection of multi scales.

      The Ladybird artwork is fantastic and very nostalgic to a certain generation :-)

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  2. Love this post! Especially the reminder to enjoy and play what we have rather than being overly concerned with things we don't have. I look forward to following the progress of the Pocket Armies and any scenarios you devise for them.

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  3. Thank you John, I’m glad your interest continues.

    I do feel that in our progress over the decades to get to a better life, we have certainly lost a few things along the way and contentment with what we have seems to be one casualty.

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  4. Very interesting peek behind the curtain, Norm. I enjoyed this diversion a lot. Much to ponder for my own situation. For me, there is tremendous friction and inertia to overcome in selling something off.

    Funny how you decide to downsize, throw down the gauntlet to sell off, and then in the next sentence immediately pivot 180 and plan for project expansion in ECW, AWI and Napoleonics! I am surprised given your table constraints that 28mm won out over the smaller scales.

    Your actions provide an example of restraint and encouragement for many.

    I would enjoy seeing a listing of the boardgames kept and sold. Those listings would provide interesting insights into your decisions and preferences.

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  5. Hi Jonathan, my initial over collecting means that I am already pretty much sourced for wotR, ACW, WWII east front, Napoleonics and 1066. I have simply retained those parts of the collection, so new spend will be minimal. ECW and AWI have always grabbed my fancy, but they will be ‘way off’ considerations as my hands are full with near future projects.

    It is exactly the table constraints Vs scale that have had me hamstrung for these past years, in making the decision of which way to jump, it was heart over mind as I just find so much aesthetic pleasure from the larger scale.

    It is potentially a mismatch for my table ….. but I have no desire for big battles, as my boardgames do that, but I would like to do good old fashioned table top battles with just a handful of units and enjoy the teaser type scenarios of yesteryear, so those things considered, I think it will work out to a good fit ….. though I have changed my mind before :-)

    As to boardgame collections, my profile is over on boardgame geek at the below link. It is not complete, especially on items sold, as I have been doing this for too many years and have owned / sold a huge number of titles over those years.

    LINK

    https://boardgamegeek.com/user/normsmith

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  6. I'm glad you did put up this post Norm after our e-mail 'chat' on the same subject. A very informative read and one that I can relate to in many ways. Rather like Jon I have some inertia to actually get into the attic and finally off load all of the stuff I know will, in all likelihood, see the light of day on the games table. The same is true of rules and books, although at times there seems to be little interest in these, or maybe I'm just making another excuse not to pull my finger out!

    As you know at least I did settle on 10mm figures with 6mm buildings for all my gaming needs some time ago, with a slight distraction into 6mm mdf figures. This was very liberating. Ditto my move to a few core rulesets and the ImagiNations route so that I can explore say the Pike & Shotte period across a broader time frame than say purely ECW.

    Having said all of this I still do hanker after some Airifx or Matchbox figures and vehicles now and then purely for old times sake! Maybe one day I might indulge just for the hell of it...

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  7. Hi Steve, yes good shout on the article, it is a common theme and although I am singing the merits of clear-out, it has taken me over 6 years to act on what I know needed doing, which makes it feel all the more surprising that it has actually happened.

    Most stuff got sold …. Some did have to go to landfill! BooHoo I know, but I decided any action was better than no action.

    Perhaps getting yourself a couple of boxes of 1/72, just to look at and handle every now and then would scratch an itch. I’m pretty sure that one of the things I like about the bigger figs is the fact that I open a box and deal with a sprue …. There must be a nostalgic hit of some sort to that.

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  8. I’m afraid subject drift on my blog meant that selling stuff off became a necessity. There is only so much money I’m prepared to spend on toy soldiers in the end. In the past I would’ve held on to everything but I became very conscious that some things just weren’t being played with anymore and turning them into cash seemed logical. The money earned from the sale of things like my Wofun ECW has allowed me to strike out in several new directions at once and that variety has reinvigorated my interest in painting and gaming. For me there’s no point in collecting a massive army, 80% of which I’ll never field. Your pocket army concept fits my circumstances and expectations - and that is definitely the way forward for me.

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    1. Hi JB, I feel the same way, one of the benefits of the smaller scale would be to have more battalions ….. but I don’t want to paint or own more battalions! And I agree about reinvigoration being a product of clear-out and re-direction.

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  9. Decluttering and downsizing is always good ... I do it regularly as well and makes one less restless. I regularly ask "Is there any chance I will play this game/read this book/ ... again during the next 25 years?" (25 years being my projected lifespan - I will be 80 by then. If the answer is "no, it goes.

    But there's always the anger of the collection growing again. So instead of buying more stuff, I focus on *upgrading* my wargaming collection: better scenery, better figures, better dice (yes!). It makes the gaming itself also more pleasant a bit more luxurious. Quality over quantity!

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    1. Hi Phil, it is strange, I am ruthless at clearing out everything else ….. but wargames have just become a blind spot.

      Really good idea about upgrading and increasing quality over quantity. I have to admit that for my WWII Soviet Forces, I have moved from plastic to AB and it does feel like a spoil.

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  10. Very interesting Norm I know there has been some discussion with a few folk about down sizing and thinking of the future. I understand the concept but to be honest it just isn’t for me at the moment. I have some collections which I feel are reaching their capacity rather than need expanding for example my ACW. I may add the odd unit but it doesn’t really need to be bigger. Some collections need expansion even if they are quite large for example my ancients I still want more Persians to take on the Greeks. I do have some fantasy stuff I probably need to move on, but I fear I still have several I started projects in my head and in more than one scale 👍 perhaps one day ? But not now

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    1. Matt, I think I barely understand the concept of downsizing…

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    2. Hi Matt, I think there are different ways to downsize, mine has been specifically to deal with multi scale with figures and to create a more usable boardgame collection. Some gamers just simply need to downsize to reduce total volume or to move things on that just sit there unused, with perhaps space not being the particular issue.

      I know part of my moving things on has been the desire to ‘recycle’ from my hands into the hands of others that will make better use of it and for some items, that has been a bigger driver than the cash sale aspect. So I have just moved some resin buildings on at a super low price, which I thought was the better alternative than have them staying on my shelf or the apparent convenience of going to landfill.

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  11. Excellent - the pronciples of lean manufacturing applied to the wargaming collection.

    I probably need to do this myself.
    In fact I recently acquired a Falklands game from a chap on BGG who was selling his boardgame collection - wait, was this you Norm?

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    1. Hi Darren, no, I have bought on BGG, but strangely have never sold on it - I must look to that for potential future use.

      The litmus test for me is how long will I be able to sustain ‘lean’ in my brave new world :-)


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  12. I too had a clear out last year of all figures under 20mm (except my Martian Empires stuff as they were what I started Black Hat Miniatures for) and got rid of a lot of periods where I ony had one army and no opponent.

    I still sometimes wonder about having a real clearout and concentrating on only 3 periods, but I am lucky in that I have a lot of space and don't NEED to get rid of things>

    I do think that I am pretty sorted for collections at the moment and can't see me buying into anything new for a couple of years at least until I get the outstanding collections on the table and game with them.

    I know what you mean about small collections and gaming Table Top teaser style games with less than 12 units - I think my most enjoyable period of gaming was when I only had 15mm Napoleonics and I used a scenario by Asquith or Grant for our weekly game.

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    1. Hi Mike, (I am enjoying your Super Shader product at the moment - a good discovery), I think your observations feed back into my reply to Matt (above), that there are different ways and motivations to downsize.

      Re your experience of clearing out everything under 20mm, essentially that is what I have done and I have surprised myself at managing to prosecute that so completely.

      I can appreciate your fondness of the period of Asquith and Grant games.

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    2. Well, you have obviously inspired me as I was already selling off my collection of DUST Tactics figures and vehicles as it hasn't been used for 5 years but I have now decided to sell the 1/35th Vietnam collection as well.

      The other thing I want to do is get rid of all the extra figures that fill up drawers just in case you might need them one day... I am going to sort everything into units that can be painted and added to armies and sell off/dispose of the extra figures that are left over.

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    3. Once I had my first few bundles parcelled up, collectively with them sitting together, the cubic space that they took up was a real revelation as to just how much storage space these sort of things can hog.

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  13. I fully understand what you are doing and why. I’ve been doing that for the past few months and still have more to go. I am staying at 20/25mm simply because my eyes now cannot cope with smaller sizes, but there is significant benefit (and often rarely mentioned) to terrain collections. Being even more anal, I have worked out what I need in terms of those items too!

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  14. Hi Jeffers, totally agree on the terrain aspect. Pretty much everything I have now was replicated at least once for other different scales (roads, rivers, bridges, hedge / fencing, woodland and buildings).

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    1. One thing I’m glad I settled on was the old range of Masterplan ho/oo buildings. Very robust, easy to assemble and come ‘flat pack’ so I can easily store spares. Sadly, they are no longer in production but they turn up occasionally on eBay. You used to see them regularly in Miniature Wargames touted up by Phil Robinson!

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    2. Tarted up by Phil Robinson, even!

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  15. Loved this post, Norm! Congratulations are in order. There is something satisfying about "starting over". I've always been a fan of the pocket armies concept and so I eagerly await your future posts!

    I am definitely feeling that gnawing pull to downsize my collection too. I've fanatically followed a "2 scale rule" for the last 10 years those being 10mm and 15mm but somehow 1/285 crept back into my life in a big way last year necessitating a need for large amounts of terrain to accommodate the various scales. My storage situation is at its limit now and I want to downsize.
    Thank you for this inspiring post!

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  16. Hi Steve, there is certainly something to celebrate that our niche little hobby can provide so much diversity of product, each of us can literally take our periods of choice and chosen scales in each, which is a fantastic starting point.

    On the flip that does need a level of self control. I was watching the latest TV Wars video today and they were painting 10mm AWI for their latest Brandywine project and the table looked hugely tempting :-)

    Fortunately as of yesterday, I am immune to all external influence :-)

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  17. Interesting post and obviously a relief. I managed to clear out half my boardgames when I moved house a few years ago. They all fit in a cupboard now. Miniatures I have actually expanded scales, getting into 6mm for Ancients and WW2. But these troops take up barely any space.

    I cannot believe you went with Captain Emotional and the 10mm and 12mm are gone. When I got to that sentence I was sure Sensible was gong to win. Of course, if I had to pick one scale the 6mm (the Sensible option considering I play in small spaces) would go and Captain Emotional would win for me as well :-)

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  18. Hi Shaun, I think I had to write down that Captain Emotional had come up trumps …. Just so I could believe it myself :-)

    There is without doubt a certain relief that I am treading a more certain path. Each scale very much has its benefits and there are favourite parts of each as well, so when you actually own them and see that in front of you, it becomes a blockage to getting rid of those things, it is a circle and cycle that just needed breaking. Once done significantly, the rest came easy and that particular house of cards tumbled.

    For me, knowing that I only wanted one scale, I looked at the Wars of the Roses and knew that I could never let them go and that became the catalyst for change.

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  19. Sounds like a very good move there Norm, onward! I intend to have a clear out this year especially books that will not get referenced or read again. Then again I recall I planned the same last and the year before and the.........🙂

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    1. Hi Phil, Books are a tough one as postage often seems to be a greater cost than the value that people will pay for the books! Hammerhead is coming up and in previous years, a visitor can hire a table for a fiver an hour to sell - that might be the best way to go.

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    2. I will in all likelihood list them and see if Dave Ryan is interested. Not looking to make a great deal on them, most were bought second hand and I have read and had the pleasure of owning them so any return is a bonus that will fund future purchases.

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    3. Dave Lanchester is another possibility at the shows, especially concerning Ospreys.

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  20. Congratulations on your boldness Norm, and it sounds like it has worked out really well for you. As well has inspiring, this has been quite a useful post for me: I feel that I am kind of on the cusp of needing to do something similar for one part of my collection. My WW2 collection seems to annoy me more than the rest of my stuff combined and I think it has been because I have picked up lots of bits which were good or a bargain at the time, but the overall collection seems less than the sum of its parts.

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    1. Hi, I know what you mean, some parts of the collection can feel ‘messy’ and all over the place.

      I am quite pleased that I have done what has seemed impossible to do properly for a number of years now. I have even gone as far as packing and then unpacking things in times past!

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  21. Thanks for the post Norm; its really interesting to see how you've decided what to keep. I think theming and self discipline can be an interesting extra element of the hobby, though I'm not sure I'm very good at it. I probably won't have time to play all the games I've got until the children leave home in about 20 years!

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    1. Hi Gareth, I am guessing the post strikes a chord with many gamers. I must admit, I now feel like I am only looking at one lead mountain instead of three! :-)

      For boardgames, I am really trying to think in terms of ‘keepers’, so some of those games have fought to justify their place on the shelves.

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  22. Hi Norm,

    I very much enjoyed reading this post and much of it resonated with me! I tend to be permanently in a state of hobby ‘churn’ as projects come and go in and out of favour. At the present time I am staring down the barrel of downsizing house when I retire in 5 years so careful decisions need to be made now and stuck to.

    All the best,

    DC

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    1. Hi David, we spent a few years in a small apartment, where the art of downsizing became essential. Once settled, we had a rule when buying of ‘one in one out’!

      As part of my clear-out then, I looked at everything with an eye to ‘have I used it in the last 6 months? will I use it in the next 6 months? Two negative answers meant that it went. By biggest casualty was an entire large bookcase of books ….. all very sad really.

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  23. Norm, I'm sure you've shocked a few people, (especially younger 'viewers') but its a familiar situation for many of us. I've been periodically forced by situations or 'life choices' to let go of various collections over the last 45 years (I had to leave many of my 25mm ancients behind with the wargame club at Military College when I was posted away immediately after graduation. It was a surprise to encounter some of them across the table in Halifax in the hands of a new friend who was an old college friend. It was gratifying to see they were in good hands and doing good service.)

    I had a major ckearing out of 15s a decade ago, partly for mental and physical space but mostly because I needed cash and was able to get it. Then international postage doubled and sales died. For my next clear out, I relied largely on finding people willing to accept gifts of armies or figures!

    Anyway, my hobby and I are both better for the physical, mental and emotional lightening.

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  24. Hi Ross, I definitely agree that there is a Physical, Mental and Emotional element to the whole thing and I must admit that once things got going and there was light at the end of the tunnel, there was a certain cathartic dimension to it all. There is also a sense that things are at least being recycled back into use by someone, as in the case of your ancient armies.

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  25. "The consequences have been immediately significant. With all of that stuff gone, I have created both physical and mental space."--having just gone through a similar major clear out, after a similar amount of procrastination over doing so, this struck home with me. Thanks for sharing these thoughts: very relevant and relatable.

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  26. Hi Ed, I know you have just re-organised your den. I’m glad that I did the post now as it seems to have resonated with plenty of gamers.

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  27. It all makes perfect sense Norm....but I don't think I can face selling off large parts of my collection....yet! It will have to be done some day I guess, but I might wait another decade or two!

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    1. Hi Kieth, I think for me, one part of the collection was redundant, it just seemed to take a long time to be sure which part it was that needed to go. Your gaming group seems quite dynamic and active, so I am guessing most of your stuff gets cycled onto the table over time and so is too useful to move on.

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    2. That is certainly what I would like to think and is my justification for not getting rid of anything Norm! My wife has other views of course.......

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    3. Secretly, deep down, our partners probably wish we had even more stuff, but are just too polite to say! Best to buy more figures just in case that is true and prevent any disappointment :-)

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    4. Lol....that must be why my beloved growls "There is ANOTHER parcel for you on your desk!" when I arrive home to a new delivery....and recently it's only been a couple of $10 Matchbox cars for the Pulp Project!

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  28. I sold off three collections and gave another away shortly before the plague arrived. Sadly it doesn't seem to have dented the contents of cupboards, drawers and RUBs here in GHQ...

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  29. Hi David, you have some fine collections. I do admire your ability to control the size of the ‘the lead pimple’ rather than being overwhelmed by a lead mountain.

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  30. Very thoughtful and thought provoking post Norm. I too went through a 'great purge' about 6 years ago, because I needed to move. I sold some stuff, gave some away. and even threw some stuff in the trash; because there was no way I was gonna pack and store it all, and that was with a collection that was only about 10 years old.
    Like you, once I got going, I found it LIBERATING. I had fallen to what I've heard the Meeples and Miniatures guys refer to as 'hobby diffusion.' too many rulesets, too many miniatures, too many scales, etc.. In the sense that even if you are painting and playing all the time going from one project to the next... nothing really feels like it gets further along and no rules set really gets mastered. you can get trapped.
    once you shuck all that stuff, you get as you put it, much more 'space' in the mind and actually in the house. I congratulate you on doing it, voluntarily even. I had to because of life circumstances, but I'm glad I did. My miniatures are much more focused now, and I enjoy them more; because what I have I know I like to play with or at least just really like.
    The trick is of course not to fall down the same hole and start buying all sorts of stuff again. In the last 6 years I've only started two new projects (AWI and Age of Sail), and both of these are already game-able. That's the way (uh-huh uh-huh) I like it. each collection is gamebable and painting is more just moving the collection to the next milestone (small skirmish to skirmish to large skirmish to etc..) .
    I've pontificated enough. but congrats again of freeing yourself from wargame clutter. I am 100% convinced you'll have better mental health and more enjoyment from it. 😀

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    1. Hi Stew, you have conveyed everything concisely that took me a long post to say :-)

      Those have exactly been my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

      A house move does conveniently bring that 'one moment in time' (Whitney) to encourage acting at a grand enough level to make a difference to the collection.

      I agree about the combination of sell, donate and trash, it is part of the essential act of doing this quickly before selling fatigue sets in. I sold the majority of my stuff via e-bay and with each lot sold, I would typically include a relevant freebie as part of filling the box - you just have to get into the mindset that as much as you can get out of the door each week, then the faster you can crash through the process.

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  31. Good on you for doing what you needed to do and so good that it has given you satisfaction. Cleared some head-space as well as physical space, hey?!
    I'm a bit behind you with this. I have shed bits and pieces over the last few years, but the overall collection has increased. Having gone a bit 'mad' for 3–4 years I am determined that 2022 will be the beginning of reduced and more selective purchasing.
    Now, whenever I see a second-hand collection for sale (part or whole) via a retailer or internet site, I no longer see 'opportunity' but think of the eventual fate of my own—unless I can succeed with grandkids where I failed with children! :)
    You did not mention books. I trust that they—particularly the Ladybird history series—were exempt?! :)
    Regards, James

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  32. Hi James. Thank you. I wonder whether 2022 will generally see a re-adjustment following two years of growth in many collections due to lockdown projects.

    Even though liberating some cash as part of this 'cleansing' process, I feel not particular obligation to now dash out and buy more. At this moment in time, I have enough and want to work at reducing the lead and plastic mountains, which now at least feels achievable.

    The books have their own sad story. Some years ago, we moved to a small apartment and serious downsizing across all of our possessions was needed and at that time an entire large bookcase of military / wargame books had to go. I then started buying most of my books on the Kindle, less satisfactory, but a huge space and weight saving alternative.

    Six years ago we moved out of the apartment and it is in that six years that has seen the loss of control of the gaming collection size, but at least a discipline of sorts has now been restored. thanks Norm

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  33. Hi Norm, I'm late to comment but the post really struck a chord with me. I think so long as you don't come to regret any decision to sell stuff is the main thing, but you have clearly thought a lot about this. House move comment was interesting as when we moved to Spain I had to lose an awful lot of hobby stuff including loads of military books which went to the local Hospice shop, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War and many other expensive volumes given away and my Hinchliffe ECW collection of over 800 figures that I decided was just too fragile to make the journey. I'm glad that Rob became new custodian as at least I still get to see pictures of them :) Of course we only lasted 2 years there before coming home again! Anyway, I'm looking forward to seeing how your projects develop in the larger scales, Piggy Longton is a shining example of what can be achieved in a modest space.

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  34. Hi Lee, yes, I am coming to appreciate how much the sentiment of the post resonates with other gamers.

    Nothing is forever, so if I have made a dumb decision, the clock can always be turned back, even though there is a certain pain to that.

    I have really enjoyed the Piggy Longton sagas and if there was any one thing that made me move whole-heartedly to one scale or the other, it was my Wars of the Roses armies, they have just chimed with me and of course I remain grateful to the fellow blogger who donated some painted pieces to give me a leg-up with my project - which just goes to show the impact that we can have on each other, which in this instance was inspirational.

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  35. Hi Norm, really enjoy your blog: wargaming in a small place applies to so many of us. A small question or two: 1) Which WW2 tactical boardgame did you keep- Old School Tactical? 2) 1/72 miniatures to be gamed on a 4'x 3' battlefield? Looking forward to more on your pocket armies concept, plus boardgames for the larger engagements. Kind regards Peter.

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  36. Hi Peter, thanks for the thumbs up. Yes, Old School Tactical was the one I chose to keep.

    My table is 3½’ deep and the table can either be 4’ or 6’ wide, but I will always default to the small table if I think I can get away with it.

    Interestingly, in 12mm ACW I like a unit to be be 120mm wide (3 bases), but if squeezed can go to 80mm (2 bases), though that loses something visually. My 28mm units are just 150mm wide. They are visually bigger, but the footprint is not hugely so. Of course terrain such as building are bigger, but woods stay around the same size, they just look bigger, because of height, but in reality they are not.

    Thanks for following along, Cheers Norm.

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  37. Impressive collection of games and figures (in various scales) you have amassed over the years, Norm. I should consider myself fortunate to not have as started gaming until my later years - and only focused on figure gaming (no board games) - and these mostly in 28mm, and small amount of 1/1200th ships for Ancient and Imjin War games.

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  38. Hi Dean, if I could match you in painting output just for the next six months, I would be delighted :-)

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  39. Glad you found the courage to downsize Norm - not all of us have the nerve to do it! However, I must agree with Jonathan in my surprise that you opted for 28mm over smaller scales given your table size constraints

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  40. Hi Mike, I have sat on the fence for a number of years simply because it has been a tough call to choose. Having jumped, one of the side benefits is enjoying a bit of modelling again. I don't put the effort into the kits that you do, but it is refreshing to tinker and have a 'bits' box again :-).

    I have been diving into my Neil Thomas Napoleoninic Book and his armies all have eight units. In his example scenario the French have 4 infantry battalions, one is light, 1 artillery unit, 1 light cavalry unit, 1 heavy cavalry unit and of course 1 Old Guard unit. It is that sort of teaser / representational gaming that I am trying to recreate and the 28's should work for me in that regard, but I have always treated this as 'this is where I am at the moment' :-)

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  41. Thanks for the inspiration, Norm. I am hoping that I will be able to concentrate this year, and have more fun playing fewer projects more often each. I do keep notes on what gets played and when, so I can see if something has been neglected. This should, in theory, make it easier to decide what to keep. While it is relatively easy to let go of impulsively begun projects that never reached the table, it is harder to decide to let go of an older, completed project, knowing that I am unlikely to have the energy to recreate it if I should change my mind. With retirement just over the horizon, I would not want to prematurely let go of something which I would then have the time to play with … it’s always an interesting balancing act.

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  42. Hi Rob, glad the post was interesting to you. I hope to join your ‘fewer projects played more often’ this year and benefit from gaming with fewer rule systems needing to be ‘known’. As we all know, time passes quickly and keeping a ‘games played’ list can really throw up some surprises of how long it has REALLY been since an army of game visited the table.

    I have taken a long time to reach this point of decision, and that delay has been brought about by the hesitation, like you, of not wanting to get rid of the wrong thing, so taking one’s time to get it right is important. Good luck with the weeding out and the playing of more games :-)

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  43. Thoughtful and interesting post as always, I am somewhat surprised at you choosing 28mm as your figure size of choice, delighted but surprised ! I find it just a whole lot easier working in only one scale, just logistically as much as anything, I think I have ten years before I have to think of downsizing although I have made a bit of progress clearing the GW loft, mainly in the giving away territory ,although with the advent of Stargrave there has been a bit of seller's regret already, I'm clearly not as developed as you and my figures will have to be prised from my cold,cold hands!
    Best Iain

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  44. Hi Iain, I have sat on the scale fence for a long time. However, whichever I had chosen to keep, would still have liberated a lot of space as the unchosen scale(s) were always going to lead to something like a 50% off-loading of the collection. The prospect of sellers regret has been a major factor in me taking so long to get around to this and I no doubt some moments of regret will surface from time to time.

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  45. You are made of sterner stuff than me !!
    I did get rid of some items years ago and regretted it ever since so consequently more resistant to parting with stuff. Prior to early retirement in 2019 I bought masses of stuff as I knew funds would reduce and indeed very little purchases of new items and not lifted a paint brush on very much in last 3 years. I do have far too many boardgames that would take several lifetimes to play but they are doing no real harm languishing in a cupboard and means I can take them out to fondle on occasion :-).
    I suspect in 20 or so years (will be 77) that things will be reduced especially if downsizing abode or health issues arise.
    As you say very much a first world problem.

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  46. Hi Gary, I spent a long time in a circular argument with myself as to which way to jump. From a practical point of view, my later period armies would be better in the smaller scale, but each time I looked at that, it was the War of the Roses and 1066 periods that I just couldn’t reconcile moving down a couple of scales, which put a brake on selling things to go in a single scale direction. In the end, once I decided a jump had to be made it was that same thing that made me go with the larger stuff.

    I very much look forwards to a day when I can leave the paint brush alone for long periods.

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  47. "too much thinking and not enough doing, if that makes sense"

    That makes perfect sense to me. My wargame collection has grown too large and not only is it taking too much storage space, it resulted in me reading and comparing the rules of two or more games on the same topic before deciding which game to play. Yes, the issue is really me but having less choices would make me spend more time playing games.

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    1. I have been surprised how much more productive I have been on the painting front this month …. with those distractions much reduced and a much less over whelming lead mountain!

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  48. Hi Norm, only just caught up with the blog. This is a really interesting subject to me as I am contemplating a clear out.
    To be honest, I did it once, then missed the figures and bought them back. However I've played with a tiny fraction of them since getting them back which makes me think I made a mistake.
    I also have a impending sense of guilt at having spent so much money on figures, books and scenery that I don't use. It has started to feel like a huge waste of money over the years. Not that I'm short of money, but even so it has got to the stage where I have little space and still buy new things. I'm heavily into 6mm which is great for space and I love the ability to play big games in a smaller space. But I have figures in multiple scales and periods and realistically doubt my lead pile will ever get done, even if i never buy another figure.
    Something to think about in the near future.

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  49. Hi Sean, sellers regret is a real problem, but for me, cracking the multi scale thing became the over riding thing, especially regarding terrain and storage space had simply run out, although that did force my hand, the relief of clearing out has been quite tangible.

    For boardgames, I know there are just 3 or 4 titles that I want this year and if I hold with that, it will be the lowest annual boardgame spend that I can recall.

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  50. I certainly get downsizing, my family has become frustrated with me at times having games stored all over the house and in the garage.

    I did downsize once and partially regretted it, so ended up repurchasing some series back (e.g., CWBS from The Gamers). Some soul-less euros did get tossed in the garbage as they really weren’t worth the postage to ship.

    I’ve now settled at around 2,100 games - like well-stocked bookshelves, they have become a pantheon of the hobby for me. Crazy, I know, :)

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  51. Wow, 2,100 is the largest collection that I have heard of. Generally for me, selling to make new purchases has created a churn of titles that has kept the collection numbers fairly low, but that does create some seller regret moments. This year, I plan to buy 2 re-makes on long lost titles.

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    1. Just curious Norm, what 2 repurchases are you considering?

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  52. The one that I am quite excited by is The Tank Leader remake being done by Compass Games, originally designed by John Hill And published by West End Games. The other is the remake of the old classic The Russian Campaign.

    I know that I will also get 7 Days (can’t remember the real title) from Worthington Publishing, to add to their Antietam / Shiloh series and the OST mid war East Front expansion from Flying Pig Games, both being new titles.

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