Saturday, 25 June 2022

Imagi-Nations a series of marathons and not a sprint?

I have been mulling over my Soldier King Imagi-Nations project recently. It's something that has consumed a lot of time and not inconsiderable amounts of the war chest.

Yet sometimes it feels as if it's no closer to completion. Much of the fault for this is my own; I could have limited myself to the four kingdoms of the boardgame, but instead opted to add other states and armies for the "neutral" provinces in the game , which of course involves more work.

However, this goes back to my first scribbling of ideas for uniforms. There was always going to be a white uniformed army. I still have drawings from the late 1990s showing white with multi-coloured facings. I think at first it may have been intended for one of the kingdoms but soon became the Imperial Estavian army.

Again, I could have limited myself to five armies; if I had it would be the final hurdle I was working towards. Alas, I have designs for between five to eight (depending on how you look at it) others after Estavia. Admittedly, two to four of these are of brigade size and the rest not much bigger. With the genie out of the bottle there's no going back without much regret, so I plod on.

This rumination prompted some thoughts about Imagi-Nations; I started back in around 1996 or 1997. Grant was the inspiration coupled with transferring SK to the tabletop. It evolved through a series of happy accidents; the publication of VnB; finding Schreiber card buildings still available; trying my hand at Fimo figures and so on.

Of course there was a popular fad which coined "Imagi-Nation" ; a short-lived creative and nostalgic period of popularity for the concept, firmly rooted in the mythical C18th. It is interesting to look back at something which generated myriad blogs, some of which lie moribund like forgotten Ruritanian states.....

It appears to me that there were three strands to the phenomenon; the overnight creation of a blog for the Grand Duchy of Krackpotia complete with uniforms of purple faced lime green. This was often accompanied by extensive back story, sort of fan fiction. Few figures were ever painted or armies fielded.

Others simply used their existing armies of historical nations and renamed them. A pragmatic solution which has ensured the survival of many Imagi-Nations. A variation is to create an army out of historical units, a pick-and-mix approach if you wish unrestricted by army lists and limitations. These have a pedigree in the armies of the Grants and Peter Young.

The rarest it seems is the fully fledged designed from scratch Imagi-Nation, complete with invented uniforms, flags and characters that actually reaches the point of figures and armies. They do exist. Some like mine created before it became popular. Their rarity due no doubt to the effort required. 

My efforts have taken so long due to enthusiasm alternating between productivity and apathy. The number of moribund blogs testify to the difficulty in maintaining focus where so much depends on your creativity; there are no Ospreys which inspire and tell you what colour to paint another unit. No wonder many opted for easier pragmatic solutions. I have concluded that the creation of an Imagi-Nation (or more than one) is more akin to a series of marathons than a rapid sprint......


  1. I am currently in the midst of an imagi-nation project set during the latter part of the nineteenth century. It began as a project to use some figures that I painted back in the 1980s … and sort of grew as I found other unused figures … and then decided to renovate my existing 15mm Colonial collection so that they were compatible.

    Like Topsy it just grew! I’m not sure when it will ever be completed, but I am having great fun working on this project and jotting down lots of ideas for each country’s backstory.

    My project is also turning into a marathon … but I’m enjoying it no end, and I hope that you enjoy yours as well.

    All the best,


  2. Bob,
    I have followed your project with interest and note how it has grown to include naval forces in addition to the armies.
    I suspect it's a hallmark of an ever expanding Imagi-Nation world!

  3. The thing with Imagi-Nations, you can take your time, and skirt around and within history as much as you want. I'm more inclined to think of the whole gig as more like an amble in the country, rather than a marathon - no great pace, going where your feet take you, and no clear destination but home.

    I have Imagi-Nations in the 11th, 15th, 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries - some pretty far along (18th and 19th); others, not so much. The 18th Century thing began with two traditional 'nations' the Empire and the Electorate. The latter eventually became the Kingdom. The one is vaguely Austrian, the other vaguely Prussian. One thing and another led to the creation of the Grand Duchy (vaguely Russian), then the Principality (vaguely Swedish), the Landgravate (a bit more distinctly Napoleonic Hessen-Darmstadt) and, finally the Markgravate of Hessen-Rohr (of no especial identity, however vague), the last of which something will appear, I hope soon, on my blog spot.


  4. Ion,
    I think the difference is that my journey feels more like a route march with a definite destination, complete with checkpoints along the way; I'm also trying to hurry myself along to get there in a good time!
    I'm conscious it has taken a long time and I'm not getting any younger which is driving me to get it done.
    I started slowly and changed the size of the armies part way through; I got stuck where I didn't have a clear vision of what they would look like (red and green armies especially took a while to reach completion). I thought the white army was the clearest in my head of how it would look, but seems to be taking longer. I also thought I'd enjoy painting it more than I am
    Perhaps I need to take a break and do something else. The problem is that's why it's taken so long to get to this point!

  5. You have given yourself quite a big task, but you are clearly doing pretty well with it. I would only say, if you are getting jaded with the seemingly endless painting , then how about actually getting some of the partially completed forces onto the table and playing some games? That might well get you more enthused about adding more troops to the armies..

  6. David,
    I've debated that but want to complete the planned armies first.
    It's taken years to get to this point anyway so a further delay is neither here nor there.
    I think I'm just finding the Estavians harder going than I imagined!
    I don't really seem to have the time for gaming at present. I fondly imagine time in retirement, only dampened by a sense of mortality!


A special unit

The last few days have seen me painting another unit for the Estavian Imperial army, interrupted by Britcon yesterday. This unit was a late ...