In truth, it was the cooking instructions on frozen ready meals that was the final straw. When I found myself really struggling to read them in any light, I knew it was finally time to go and get my eyes tested. And lo and behold the test revealed that I needed reading glasses.
Unfortunately, Specsavers managed to screw up the prescription for the main 2-fer-1 designer pair with anti-glare coating, making them up as distance glasses in error. But luckily I'd also ordered a third cheapo pair for hobby work, on the basis that it wouldn't matter so much if they were accidentally spattered in paint, scratched or set on fire. They managed to have this third pair ready, so I picked them up today.
The difference in reading any small text is astounding. The ready meals are no longer a problem, and the many sets of PDF wargame rules that Mi Hermano Impresor Jonesy has printed out for me, often scaled down from A4 to A5, are now finally legible. The smaller booklet size is incredibly handy in use, and the only disadvantage was that some small print became incredibly challenging.
But perhaps more significantly, I can see the detail on miniatures much more clearly. The small indistinct blobs of lead that Jonesy bought me for Xmas a couple of years back, have now been revealed as a very nice 15mm representation of the crew of the Firefly class transport Serenity. Now I know what they are, I must find a way to thank him properly.
Going forward, this does seriously open up 15mm as a viable gaming scale for me once more - both Jonesy and I have modest lead mountains in this scale, and the smaller scale would lend itself to some casual "coffee table" games, on play areas as small as 2ftx2ft.
There is also a slight chance that I might also be able to improve a little on my 28mm "daub and dip" painting style, though I wouldn't hold your breath on that count.
Speaking of 28mm, I have had a modest buying spree, treating myself to several items I'd been putting off for a while. Firstly I ordered a few buildings from Sarissa Precision's "Gaslamp Alley" range, to add to the city layout. I haven't assembled them yet, but so far have mixed feelings about them. The switch to using laser cut card for some detailing parts means they can add some finer details, however I'm a little wary about how well the different materials will blend together when painted. The Sarissa terraced house model is similar in size and costs the same price as the Warbases terraced kit, however it only represents one dwelling compared to Warbase's two, and the Sarissa model does not include the walled back yard as standard. It can be bought as a separate add-on, but at what I feel is an awfully inflated price (nearly double what Warbases charge for their back yard seperately).
Last year, West Wind ran a successful Kickstarter campaign for expansions to their "Empire of the Dead" gothic horror skirmish game. Part of that included a new set of horse drawn vehicles, and though I'd long wanted a properly scaled 28mm horse-drawn omnibus, when I backed the campaign I somehow managed to forget to add one at the backers' discounted rate to my reward choices. Being stingy, I resented then having to pay full price, and it was only the other day when I discovered West Wind had released a bundled set of the hansom cab, gentleman's carriage and the omnibus at a decent enough discount, that I felt I could buy them.
Like the Sarissa buildings, I've not yet assembled them, but first impressions are quite positive. They're all solid resin bodies, as such the hansom cab is more than just a remaster of the old Vampire Wars model in white metal (of which I have two already) The omnibus looks ever so slightly downscaled, with what looks like a 25mm driver, but is still fairly chunky and looks the part next to 28mm figures (much more so than the Lledo diecast omnibus that you can still find floating around on ebay)
At the same time however I also spotted that Warbases had a laser cut MDF hansom cab kit, at a ridiculously low price - £10, though you can get just the basic cab for £5 and all the cast accessories (horse, driver, passenger, lamps) separately. With it roughly half the price of the West Wind offering, I had to give it a go. The kit is tiny and fiddly and has no instructions, but I managed to figure it out and though with some fumbling I managed to snap the whole thing in half, it was fairly easy to repair and patch together invisibly. The finished model sits well alongside the West Wind cab - slightly smaller but definitely not out of scale. If I wanted to bulk up my Victorian traffic with cabs and didn't already have four of various models, I'd order more of these from Warbases like a shot - at half the price of the alternatives it's a no brainer.
I'll post photos of all these when I get to assembling and painting them properly, however all work on things Victorian has for now been put onto the backburner. I announced to my gaming friends the intention to revive the Big Birthday Bash this year, and while the response was overall positive, the proposed standard GASLIGHT battle met with a lukewarm reception. We bandied around a couple of alternative game ideas, trying to find something that appealed to everyone. Though most people were annoyingly polite and accomodating "No really, they all sound good, we don't mind what we play", we eventually settled on something that seemed to spark peoples' imaginations a little.
But it's late, and this post has become far too long, so the big reveal will have to be put off to the next post. As a teaser, I'll just say this - as the discussion went back and forth the theme outgrew the game and began to shape the whole weekend's entertainment. I was soon googling UK suppliers of exotic meats in search of...... TO BE CONTINUED.