2020 – A YEAR IN REVIEW

With typical British understatement; 2020 has, for many, not been a typical wargaming year.

Events have been cancelled, gaming curtailed and gamers having to find a hobby outlet through other means, either by turning inward by clearing the hobby backlog or by embracing virtual gaming like tabletop simulators.

The Breakthrough Assault team look back on their 2020 and look forward to 2021.

Lee

My 2020 plans were: 

  • Build a 1985 British Force
  • Build a Six Day Wars Israeli Force
  • Build a WW2 D-Day US Force.
  • Play with all of the above by building them in 50/75/100 point states in mini-escalation style leagues.

As far as goals go, it seemed like I was off to a good start, though I was running a little late with my 75pt section of my 1985 Brits slipping from February to March.  Still, it wasn’t like gaming was going to come to a crashing halt…

3 RTR B Sqdn roll out.

Oh, oh no.

Still, the enforced downtime was somewhat alleviated by Battlefront giving me a bunch of Desert Storm era Brit kit to paint so I shifted plans and essentially knocked out a second Team Yankee Brit Force. 

Then, when it looked like I may be showing some focus, the TY starter set came out and I was all over the Soviets.

Still, One out of Three ain’t bad, as a slightly less motivated Meatloaf might have sang.

There were some gaming highlights.  The 50pt stage of the TY league was fun, with my Medium Recce taking on more than its fair share of T-72M!  

76mm HESH to the rescue!

We also, between lockdowns, got a large game in the barn in, plus some smaller games in at Fez’s place.

Could the year have been better?  Sure.  Was it a complete loss?

Definitely not.

I’ll be going over my 2021 plans in the next Escalating Tensions but its fair to say that things are rotating…

Martin

2020, it all started so well!

What a year; I started out with some high hopes.  Just for a change I was going to actually have a chance to play some events and it started out so well with, what turned out to be the only event I played, Corivalry at Battlefield Hobbies back in February.
Despite a lack of tournament level practice, I managed a respectable seventh place with my Fortress Europe Soviet Hero Tank Battalion with 3 wins, 1 loss and 1 mutual loss.

My Corivalry Force

I had tickets for three more events but, sadly, here in the UK on March 17th gaming effectively stopped.  My local club, Guildford gamers, was forced to shut, as we meet at a local community centre.  We need to keep everyone safe, so to protect the centre’s more vulnerable users, we will remain closed for some time to come.  Guildford is now in Tier 4 restrictions in the UK.

On the flip side of the lockdown, Battlefront took the decision to help us all in the community by running their daily deals promotion. 
This rather led to an explosion of models going into my storage cupboard!

More storage needed! 

I finally brought some German artillery units and I acquired, not one, but two complete new American forces.  Coupled with the infantry I had already leftover from 2019, plus two Hit the Beach starter sets, I plan to make up both a new mid-war and late war force in 2021.

Despite the delays caused by lockdown, we have also seen a series of releases for Flames of War and the rebranded/revised release of Team Yankee WWIII – I’ve even managed to paint my first 50 point TYWWIII force (French, doh!) and the next instalment is on their way for my Christmas present to myself, as its all air units thats another 2021 project already to go.

Alongside the gaming products, we have seen a range of supporting products with the Bocage and River Assault mission packs, both of which are excellent and provide ways to expand and vary our gaming experience; especially helpful whilst many of us can’t get together very much!
At the end of the year, we have also had a return of the gaming tins and a new carry case.

My final 2021 project is to create a new set of eastern front terrain to use with the river assault pack – another project that has sat on the back burner for several years.

With lockdown affecting the release cycle and the sun shining during May and June, I took the opportunity to sit in the garden and build a British Breaching Group and Sherman DD tank Company a project that has been awaiting my attention for many, many years. Whilst making my bridge layer was, to say the least, frustrating, I was really pleased with the overall look of this small force and I am looking forward to getting it onto a tabletop, hopefully before the next D-Day anniversary!

The Finished Force – for now at least

For me, the big thing for 2020 was always going to be the releases for the late war Eastern Front and, when Bagration Soviets eventually made it to my door in physical form at the end of October, it was rather like an early Christmas present. The v4 FOW books have simply got better and better and this was no exception. Coupled with a plethora of new plastic kits and return of older favourites, not to mention the incredible value starter sets my Soviet forces have somewhat expanded. I suspect my Germans will follow suit similarly with our Christmas gift of Bagration – Germans from Battlefront and maybe an axis allied power as well – if Mark hasn’t done them all!

Overall, for the Soviets, I have finished at least for now; a Naval Rifle Battalion, a Reconnaissance Company and by the time you read this the basic Engineer-Sapper Company will be finished – I hope. That’s 3 infantry based formations, utter madness! I’ve also brought a whole load of terrain making material to build a new eastern front table as well as finally getting an airbrush in September which I intend to start learning to use over the Christmas holiday – note to self always read what size the fittings are – I managed to buy a compressor and hose with different sized fittings and ended up waiting six weeks for a converter fitting to arrive thanks to UK customs!

Well, that’s me done for 2020, it has been a weird year, to say the least with some real lows but having a hobby has really helped – I may have only played a few games but I have actually painted quite a lot of models (some of which I have had since FOW v2 days)! So it’s on to 2021 and the remaining Bagration releases – I’m rather looking forward to what Battlefront will do with the Axis allies and who knows where my journey in TY WWIII will go – I may finally even get to play a game.

Our very surreal socially distanced 75th anniversary VE day street party! Yes it was warm and my fresh cream Victoria sponge started to melt.

Soren

This year was meant to be the best, biggest and most wonderful year of wargaming for me. Team Iceland would get it’s debut ETC in Luxembourg and so would I. Tournaments in Poland and Denmark were in place and the year would start off with Polar Bear(PB) V in January, our international FOW tournament here in Iceland held every other year.

On the 1st of January painting began to finish the rest of my PB army and plan a good battle plan for the tournament.

“In the next battle, we will outflank the enemy and use our flame-tanks to their full potential”.

Much to my surprise, I finished well ahead of schedule, so this left me time to do a quick version of a Stalingrad table for the event.

Polar Bear was a great success, to quote Trump “This is most likely the most Amazing and Fantastic Polar Bear the World has ever seen, some people say even the Biggest”.

Fun was had in great quantities.

Here life as you all know decided to overthrow every plan that was made for 2020. COVID kicked in and closed down most possibilities for gaming so for the rest of 2020 I have been painting various units for various nations, with no real structure or masterplan. I also decided to quit Team Yankee and sold my Soviets only to find myself buying an Israeli army, so that worked out well.

In 2020 I was asked to join the BreakthroughAssault team and I have had a blast writing a couple of articles on my ongoing projects.  I will leave you with a photo dump of my finished projects of 2020 and hope you will all have fun and time of joy in 2021.

Duncan

This year has not been like anyone was expecting – a few games, no conventions and even fewer events – but that has not meant it has bee a damp squib at all. I have missed Warfare in November, having also missed it in 2019, it is one of my favourite events but it and I will be back! 

I have painted more in 2020 than I ever have in a year – I think that I won’t be alone in this – so much so that I had to write it down as more and more things popped into my head:

  • Team Yankee
    • 90 x Infantry teams
    • 32 x AFV 
    • 23 x Tanks
  • Flames of War
    • 51 x Infantry teams
    • 19 x AFV
    • 14 x Gun teams
    • 4 x Softskins
    • 3 x Aircraft
  • Fate of a Nation
    • 19 x Infantry teams
    • 9 x Tanks
    • 2 x AFV

It was actually quite nice documenting this ready for writing this piece so I might try and continue doing this for 2021 maybe as some kind of monthly challenge. We’ve been talking on the podcast as to whether we could do something like a #365PaintingChallenge, either trying to do some hobby every day or trying to achieve 365 painted “things” in a year – something to spur us on in 2021. 

So, it’s been a fruitful painting year this year – the major projects have been: D-Day American with the 2nd Infantry Division, Team Yankee Dutch, finishing the Fate of a Nation Egyptians (as much as any project is ever finished) and finally the start of the Team Yankee Iranians.

It is funny how events and upcoming games shape your painting schedule. When I looked at 2020 at the start of the year my main focus was finishing up the Dutch for our Team Yankee escalation league at Dice Saloon in Brighton – going from 50pts to 75pts and finally 100pts. We’d just got to 75pts when COVID-19 reared it’s ugly head and indefinitely postponed that gaming.

With the kibosh put on the Dutch, my focus turned to Warfare in November and the mental gymnastics of what army to take and what list to use. The allure of the D-Day Americans and especially the lovely old metal 2nd Infantry Division (Indian Head) models so that was a new army started and finished in May ready for some practice games… over… the… summ…er… oh well there is always next year. 

Finally came the project that never should’ve been; the hobby killer – the Team Yankee Iranians. The result of the insidious mind of Lee, the #BasijRomance has now spun out of all control meaning that this will be a 2021 project too. I jest that it is all Lee’s fault – it’s mainly mine for getting intrigued by a project that I should never have been intrigued by… that seems to happen a lot… I can see many, many infantry stands in my painting future.

Those were my 2020 highlights, so let’s peek towards 2021 and what is on the horizon. Let’s take painting first…

  1. Team Yankee; Iranians – finish the Basij and get 100pts ready for the tabletop.
  2. Flames of War; D-Day British – Thanks to the Battlefront 3 for 2, and Hammy and Nobby at Battlefield Hobbies, I now owe the infamous Keith Flint list and I’d love to set the gaming scene ablaze with that particular gem. 
  3. Flames of War; Bagration Soviets – I’ve never had a Flames of War Soviet army and I really want to try and paint a winter-themed force. 

With regards to events and games, I’m really looking forward again to Warfare and also expanding some new ideas at the revamped Dice Saloon. In terms of new releases, we really only know about Bagration Germans and West Germans for Team Yankee and I’m interested to see what the Bagration German forces will look like come January. Most of all I’m looking forward to Battlefront confirming the Drill Sgt Dooom and David Jericho limited edition tournament objectives for Team Yankee. 

Mark

2020 started much as planned in January with attendance at the awesome Polar Bear event in Iceland.  Fielding my trusty Italians I surprisingly managed to come away with Best General but most importantly met some great new friends including Soren who is now a member of Breakthrough Assault and Captain of Team Iceland (of which I am now a proud member) for the postponed ETC.

February saw me travel to Calgary in Canada where I got the chance to play a few games with the Calgary Regiment gaming club and was the 1st chance to play the new DDay British outside of testing

Come March everything went a bit wrong and apart from a few games over the summer with a local friend I really haven’t had many physical games.  Having been introduced to it by Mitch from No Dice No Glory I did manage to play quite a few games on TableTop Simulator which at least scratches my itch, but I am desperate to get back to the tabletop and events.

As lockdown was lifting, Jökull author of many of the Flames of War Firestorm Campaigns kindly gave me permission to use his newest addition Firestorm Gazala for a worldwide campaign.  With Tom from No Dice No Glory taking the British and myself the Germans we were overwhelmed with the number of game reports people sent in.  We definitely want to repeat this with Firestorm Market Garden.

With few games to be had, I turned back to my love of painting and have continued to knock out armies at pace.  I have done a lot of experimenting with the Citadel Contrast Paints with a few guides appearing on the website.  Having a think my painting has at least been;

Soviet Hero Motor Rifles Formation, Brit Para Army, Formation, British Churchills Formation, Soviet Churchills Formation, IS2 Formation, Soviet Sapper Engineer Formation, Captured Panthers, Italian Infantry Formation, Hungarian Armour, Panzergrenadier Formation, 4 x Boxes of City Ruins, Winter Armoured Rifles, Winter Farmstead, 12 x Chaffess, 4 x Pershings, Katusha and a flight of IL2s.  I have probably missed a few!

2021 will hopefully bring better gaming, especially after Easter.  As I write this the 1st vaccine has arrived in the UK and the chance to end these restrictions.  I am looking forward to the Battlefront Open day and also the new Bulge Books. I have already started my next big project which is a snow table and scenery.  Mainly I am just looking forward to getting away to some events, rolling some dice and meeting up with friends.

Richard

Like Mark I ventured North to play in the Polar Bear Tournament, using Soviets, was great to meet friends old and new, and actually in taking part in the Einherjar Handicap actually find a bit of my gaming mojo back, which has been missing a long time.

Output both on here and painting wise has been limited, I have at least managed to finish off my Team Yankee lead pile and get every FoW model I have either based and undercoated or glued together and undercoated…..that’s where progress kind of halted, well part from jealously admiring Soren’s output of magnificently painted models. No gaming for me after my trip to Reykjavik, except for a DBA refight of Flodden at the Battlefield Memorial on a sleety September day. Very much missed the ETC and catching up with friends. Hopefully, 2021 will see a return of both gaming and catching up with mates

Paul

2020 was a year of firsts for me.  First fully painted army in 30+ years of wargaming, the first venture into Tabletop simulator, first article for BtA and first broken bones – ribs which are not a great help when trying to start your next project.

And then we had lockdown and furlough.  Loads of time to get stuff painted… the number of miniatures actually painted during lockdown – 2.

The issue being for me, perhaps for a lot of you too, without the possibility of getting the minis on table and throwing some dice in anger, the painting mojo quietly slipped away… and now several months later I’m only now dusting off the paintbrush and getting another non-traditional, non-meta (whatever that is) army painted, a Puma list, which as everyone is keen to point out, is lightweight and fragile.  So I’m definitely ploughing ahead with it!

I love contrast paints and that effect it can achieve, and whilst I’m not a hobby machine-like Mark or Soren, 2021 is my target to get at least 2 more fully painted armies with options completed, and maybe even a few articles on why and how I’ll approach it.

Without TTS and Flames, I think I’d have gone completely insane.

Ben

Hello All

Didn’t think I’d be writing on this post halfway through the year but, as I talked about in the Team Yankee core box review, I was offered the chance to review it and now…. well to quote Lee, I fell hard…

I spent the first 4 months of lockdown painting giant stumpy Titans and super sci-fi planes but, since I got the starter set, Team Yankee has fully taken over the painting table. I started with a T-64 list (because for some reason I didn’t do T-80s….. will need to paint them at some point) which I loved painting, haven’t so much enjoyed the few games I have played with them… I’m sure it’s me as I have always struggled with medium tanks, I much prefer using Heavy Tanks or Light cheap tanks. But that brought me on to Canadians…. which turn out to be my true Team Yankee love. I have those up to 100pts now and have really enjoyed painting the army. I have plans to add more infantry in 2021.

I have also changed up my painting style since my old flames days, no longer do I use a pen for black lining, I now have been sold on enamel washes and weathering powders. It’s been a bit of learning but I’m much happier with the end results now and I feel my F-18s for my Canadians might be one of the best things I have painted this year.

We now need to do the long talked about TY naval battle just so Ben gets to use those AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles on the inboard stations… Lee

I did get a little Flames of War painting in finishing some soviet infantry I started painting 2 years ago I think. 

My 2021 plans start with some no FOW/TY models (giant stumpy robots again, totally not going my 3rd legio….), but that will be a short distraction once the German Bagration book lands and I will be looking to do a German Panzer IV/70, Tiger and Infantry list finally giving me a Flames option. After that, I will see what I’m in the mood for. I have picked up almost all the models for an East German Army, I also have enough to make WW2 Canadians and I want to bulk out the WW2 Soviets (looking at you IS-2s and Churchills).

The biggest thing I’m hoping for from 2021 is to get more games in and go to a few events. I think a lot of us are all hoping this happens. Also like Fez, I have set myself the goal of not buying too much in 2021 and getting my pile of sprues down a bit.

Well, I hope you all have a great 2021 and we all get gaming.

Thanks, Ben

Andy

I started writing a year in review article along the more traditional lines, but frankly, it was just a bit dull. This year I have played three games and painted lots of Soviet’s… blah blah blah blah – nobody cares. However, the website must be fed, so here is my alternative take on the ‘Year in Review’ – I give you the 12 Random factoids of Breakthrough Assault-mas – see it’s festive an everything.

For the 12th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, Battlefront sold to me: 12 SU-85M/SU-100 Assault guns (Yes, it just rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?!)

I started the year with an old Soviet Flames of War army that was mostly from the first edition. It was fairly battered and needed a lot of work. Also, it was mostly infantry, which if I’m being honest, was a bit dull to play with. So over the year I’ve gradually added to the army, as well as repainting or replacing other bits. Now the core of the army is 12 shiny new SU-85M and SU-100 assault guns, plus 10 Churchills but we’re not counting them right now as this is number 12. So, I best not mention the 6 ISU-122 either.

Just 12 – please ignore the ISU peaking in on the right hand side

For the 11th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, I badgered my friend – on 11 separate occasions about playing Fate of a Nation.

And now he has bought the rule book and is designing Israeli lists. My Iranians will be doing double duty as Egyptians (at least to start with, I see many IS-3s in my future). I just need some Thunderbolt infantry.

For the 10th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, I forced myself to glue on 10 T-34 mudguards.

As I mentioned, I have redone my Soviet army, so that it now includes 5 plastic T-34s. But blimey, they were a pain to build! The worst part being the front track mudguards, which just didn’t want to go on neatly, and were really fiddly. It’s put me off adding any more T-34s to the army.

For the 9th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, I painted some Soviet infantry – using 9 different paints.

Yes, thanks to the liquid miracle that is Games workshop contrast paints, I painted a load of Soviet infantry using only 9 different paints. It only took me a couple of weeks to paint 30 stands, and it didn’t feel too repetitive as I was doing them in batches of 5 or 6. For those interested the paint list was:

  • Uniform – Skeleton Horde x2 coats (Contrast)
  • Flesh – Guilliman Flesh (Contrast)
  • Metal – Leadbelcher
  • Wood – Steel Legion Drab
  • Boots – Black Templar (Contrast)
  • webbing – Ionrach Skin
  • Helmet – Militarum Green (Contrast)

Plus Basing and Varnish.
Now some of you might be thinking that basing and/or varnish doesn’t count as paint, but I had already written parts 8 and 7, so they count now. The philosophical question does varnish count as a paint?

These and many more

For the 8th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, I wrote for Lee – 8 Articles for the website.

Since I couldn’t play games this year, I thought I might as well write about them instead, because I know you love nothing more than when a keyboard warrior comes and rams his gaming opinions down your throat. I did a guest article for Lee that was published in June. Then in September for some reason, (I assume he had been on the gin) Lee invited me to join the permanent staff here, and I have written another 7 since then, although one is yet to be published. I already have several more planned for next year, and, yes, most of them will probably be about slightly rubbish tanks.

For the 7th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, I bought from Battlefront – 7 Boxes of Americans.

I hadn’t planned to get an American army for FoW, but thanks to the Battlefront lockdown sale, (and a Hit the Beach starter set,) I now own a 125pt LW American army (it’s mostly Shermans).

For the 6th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, the English language gave to me– 6 different ways to pronounce multiples of Frogfoot.

The Frogfoot is the Soviet aircraft in Team Yankee, but what’s the plural of it? I have come up with the following possibilities.
Frogfeet, Frogfoot, frogfoots, frogfeets, Frogfooti and Frogfootses, but I’m open to other suggestions.

For the 5th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, Battlefront gave to me– 5 flavours of Soviet assault gun.

As I mentioned, I have spent a good chunk of this year fixing up my old FoW Soviet army, so it was great timing that the Soviet Bagration book came out this year and that it was all I could have hoped for in a Soviet book. The book includes5 different assault guns which has, amongst other things, allowed me to shoehorn this in at number 5. So Soviet Bagration is my favourite book that Battlefront has released this year.

For the 4th Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, Battlefront sold to me– The big 4 of the late war

I mentioned in previous factoids that I started the year with an old and rickety Soviet army. Now I have a decent MW and LW Soviet army. I have added an American army to my collection (see Factoid 7) and on my future project’s bookcase have 20 odd Universal carriers and a box of British infantry which I might work on over Christmas. I also have an old German army that a friend gave to me which needs sorting out – mostly Panzer 4s. Luckily the first book out next year is German Bagration, so my future may involve several Hetzers. So I will soon be able to field all of the Big 4 in the late war.

For the 3rd Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas lockdown let me have – 3 gaming sessions.

Yep, 3 games played this year and only 2 of them face to face, the 3rd played via Tabletop Simulator. Still, at least I won 2 of them. Hopefully more gaming next year.

For the 2nd Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, I managed to finish – 2 fully painted armies.

Yes, 2 fully painted armies; my Team Yankee Polish, and my Flames of War Late War Americans. Yes, definitely fully painted. Well, I mean, I still need to get a box of the new Gaskins for the Poles and then they will be fully painted. Oh, and there’s those BTR-60s which need painting but transports don’t count, right? And it’s not like anyone will notice the missing Decals. At least the Americans are fully painted. Well, except for the armoured infantry, but I’ll only use them if playing at 125 points. The core 100 points are finished, except for the decals of course….

Some Painted Poles

And for the 1st Random factoid of Breakthrough Assault-mas, lady luck made me roll – several thousand 1s

I am renowned in my gaming circles for my ability to roll a higher than the average number of 1s. As an example, I fired a SU-100 with its 2+ Firepower at my opponents StuG. It came to the point I needed to roll Firepower and of course got a 1, so I played my lucky card and rolled another 1.

Pig Dice Game: 6 Different Ways to Play
If 3 ones is mutant snake eyes, what’s 4 ones?

So anyway, there you go, my year in review in a rather rambling and roundabout way. In short: built and painted lots of FoW Soviets, didn’t play many games, and bought lots of new models.
I told you it was all a bit dull.

Fez

Well, that’s another trip around the sun completed I guess! The start of the year was very promising, with keen bright eyes filled with curbing my hobby purchases to enable me to focus on actually completing projects and getting married/helping my wife emigrate over from the USA. Instead, we got 2020. Oh well. Luckily, my then Fiancée managed to get into the UK before the lockdown V1 – so we actually got 5 months living together, albeit in tight quarters. Unluckily, Battlefront also started their ‘daily deals’ that would release at 1am UK time. After many a morning resisting the great prices and free shipping, I would inevitably order the products by early evening, and begin waiting for the next deal to list.

No description available.
Lockdown does strange things to people….

Couple this is with work being totally backlogged when we did manage to get going again, and my time at home has been sporadic. Through more airmiles than I care to mention, we did manage to get Stateside to get married in October, pushing all our other plans into 2021…

No description available.
Some Hotel-Room-Hobby while down-route

So! What’s 2021 have in store – No new toys! I have well over 100 different hobby projects, and the wife will be joining me at some point so it’s built-paint-store until we can safely get together to play games again. Watch this space for how long my hobby pledge lasts this time…..

No description available.
Oh, I did paint these though. So that’s something!

Category: BattlefrontBritishChallengeD-DayEastern FrontFlames of WarFree NationsGermansLate WarNATONormandyPaintingPodcastRamblingRed ThunderSovietsTeam YankeeUSAV4West Germans

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Article by: Lee

Wargaming since Rogue Trader in 1990; I made the move to Flames in 2006 and have been with it ever since! I play at the Brighton Warlords most weeks.