Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Wargaming vs Railway Modelling

(Yes, there will be a "The Other Partizan" writeup, just not today!)

After our visit to the Hamburg model railway exhibition, James has been reminding me that there's the ingredients for a model railway layout still sitting disassembled in my workshop, and I've got to thinking (as well as catching up on my reading of Model Rail magazine, to which I subscribe). As you well know, me thinking can be dangerous...

Considering how similar the two hobbies are, it's quite amazing how they differ.

  • In general, although this is, I think, becoming less so as time goes by, we as wargamers are easier satisfied with the quality of scenery. Now, admittedly, there's the whole practical issue of portability, changeability and general survivability, but the average railway layout does seem to have better scenery than the average wargames table. Of course, if you go up to the level that someone like Sid or Silver Whistle aims for, that's patently not true, but as a general observation...
  • Conversely, it does appear that most railway modellers are much less fussy about figure painting than we are! Most of them seem very content to buy pre-painted figures from Preiser, Faller, Noch, Hornby etc, and just plonk 'em down...
  • Railway modelling as a hobby appears to have only just discovered laser-cut MDF. My last visit to Trains4U revealed one company (and a small, niche one, with a tiny display in the 'grab bags' stand by the checkout) making things like line side huts and footbridges, and that was it. Big opening for Warbases or 4Ground there.
  • Railway modelling hasn't discovered Vallejo/Army Painter style dropper paint bottles. All the railway paint makers (Humbrol, Railmatch, Lifecolour etc) do screw-top or pop-top pots. With all the attendant 'paint drying round the edge' issues.
  • Railway modelling hasn't discovered dip and ink washes, as far as I can tell. The latest issue of Model Rail has finally realised that washes on figures improve the look, but are still using thinned paint.
  • Railway modelling is slightly ahead of us on 3D printing - there are some 00 scale models of real British prototypes available on Shapeways, for example.
  • Railway modelling doesn't appear to have discovered resin as a casting material. 
  • There's an immensely frustrating divide price-wise between kit and ready-to-run in model railways. The really big case in point is coaches - the minimal selection of ready-to-run Great Western coaches, for example, at circa £15-20 quid a pop, is backed by... everything you could possibly want in etched brass + whitemetal kit form at £50 or more a time (often 'just add your own wheels, bearings and couplings' on top, too). With the exception of some old and obscure kits from Ratio, there's absolutely sod-all that's affordable to fill the gap, and surprisingly little will amongst modellers or apparently manufacturers to see that that's an issue. Now obviously, one of the problems is production-run size, as previously discussed, and the fact that a box of PSC tanks is a less daunting job for the likes of Renedra than a foot-long coach which has to sit accurately on the track afterwards, but even so... For flat-sided coaches (which I know not all are), laser cut sides, with resin ends and roof, is surely a possibility. In ready-to-run, IF the right coaches exist, I can build a 6 coach train for around £100. If they don't, I'm looking at £3-400 PLUS the work involved AND painting, lining and lettering. And the end result weighs a ton.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Seen at Partizan

More pictures and a full writeup tomorrow, but for now...

...enjoy these two.

First up, the utterly gorgeous Age of Heroes 28mm Romano-British. If you want some variety in your Dux Brit army, check these out (Early Saxons also available!)


Secondly, from IIRC Dave Thomas' stall - it's nice to see I'm not the only one whose German spelling can be suspect!


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Peterborough Wargames Club at The Other Partizan

For those who failed to find us at Salute, we'll be at the Other Partizan this Sunday with the only mildly insane (by our standards) Dead's Army.

As Neil Shuck commented, "what isn't improved with the addition of Zombies?!"

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Monday, 1 September 2014

Match Report - 31 Aug 2014 - Dreadball

Due to the insanity that was August, I missed my scheduled club tournament game, so I managed to squeeze it in on Sunday with a drive across town to visit Jonathan for a game against his Corporation team... Given last time out I got completely pounded by Dale's Teratons, knocking me down to 6 players, I wasn't expecting to win...

So, as ever, over to the dynamic duo:
"Hey, folks. Jason Barker here for Bifrost Tri-Vid. You join us at the Argola Thunderbirds stadium for this re-re-re-scheduled game between the 'Birds and the Valkyries. Weather on Asgard's ice-ball of a world has been even worse than usual, and Digby's agreed to allow a move of the game to Argola, after three postponements due to the snow on the Valkyries' pitch being up over the first dozen rows of seats. We're about four rushes in, and the girls are four up due to a laser strike from Ola Gunnarsen, despite being completely flattened by a Teraton in her previous match. Crowd went absolutely crazy for that strike. Whaddya reckon, big guy, and why the long face?"
"Vish not make Broadcaster of Year final poll. Results out, Vish not in." 
"Too bad, big guy. Want me to see if I can get one of the Valkyries' cheerleaders to .. uh.... cheer you up." 
"Vish not sure that work. 'Sides, they off form today. Last routine scrappy.... Anyway. Vish think Valkyries lucky to be ahead. Already two players down, and Gunnarsen looking shaky." 
"Right there, Vish. Here comes one of the Thunderbird strikers, on a long run for the loose ball on halfway.... no. Down he goes, and the ball scatters into the Asgard half. All the Valkyries are deep in the 'Birds half except for striker Freya Sigurdsdottir, who's scrambled to her feet after being on the receiving end of a crunching slam, and now hares back for it, scoops it up as she turns: a dash across halfway and she threads a precision-guided rocket of a pass through between one of the Argola jacks and the ref bot..."
"Valkyries not got a lot of choice here. Down to four, with Anderson and Sigurdsen off pitch. Only other striker is Gunnarson. Juggled catch at... oof. Third try. She really not right yet..."
"That medical procedure hasn't done her any good, and that throw nearly knocked her off her feet. Her ability's definitely dropped. Caught it though... turns, almost slips, into the three point zone. Arm back, throws..."
"Ooof..."
"Heh. Dying quail of a throw without much power behind it. Possibly the limpest score ever, but in the context of the game and the state of the Valkyries' team, that's a Strike of the Season contender, along with her earlier one. Still nothing the 'Birds can do, though... that's still a three pointer for a whitewash... very very much against the odds. I'm starting to wonder how many of the Sigurdsen sisters are left, as this game seems to have claimed another one." 
"Hang on. Vish getting MVP result... Bwahah. Digby needs eyes testing."
"Not half. Gunnarson gets completely ignored in favour of Valkyrie pinup Katya Svensson, for one lame block on a 'Birds guard. Pathetic." 
That wasn't what I expected. I had to blow a cheap raise on Ola after her mauling at the ... claws of Dale's Teratons, and, typical for my luck that time out, got -1 skill, so she's making tests on a 5+, not a 4+. Add to that that I lost a jack (dead) and a striker (out for three rushes) in the first rush, the team had no replacements (I started with six players and NO reserves), and I really wasn't expecting much.

This was basically one of those games where, even more than usual, I had to win early, before I ran out of coaching dice and players. In Jonathan's defence, he was unlucky more than once - pushing a sprint to grab the ball and falling on it, causing it to scatter and end his turn. I found having an offensive coach really useful - strikers on whom you can play three actions can be very very lethal, especially when you have four coaching dice. Getting one of the dice back on the first four-pointer didn't hurt, either.

Kudos to Jonathon for a great game - he's a fun opponent.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Home again, and Dungeon Saga.

'Well, I'm back,' he said.
No prizes for spotting the quote, as it's the last line of a book I'd be surprised to discover any of my followers haven't read (although not necessarily in English, I guess!)

A much needed week-and-a-bit off, to be honest. My prediction wasn't that inaccurate - not much German beer, but about ten hours over three days playing the Firefly board game, as well as excursions into Dominion and Legends of Andor. Other highspots were definitely a trip to see one of the world's largest model railways in Hamburg, which was inspiring in so many ways (and probably means some time off figure painting to build James' model railway!), and finally getting to meet someone I've known online for 17 years (which is remarkably weird).

Friday saw a 16 hour car journey home (with breaks, but still), which would have been even longer had we not been sensible enough to break the journey on Thursday night in Bielefeld (even though it doesn't exist), so I'm only just now about recovered enough to start catching up on the world.

Just in time really, as Mantic's Dungeon Saga Kickstarter, to which I am pledged, is about to finish today. It's gone off like the usual rocket, and is past $800k as I speak, and looks, to be honest, like a really fun investment if you want a sub-D&D dungeon crawl with RPG-lite elements (and I use that entire phrase in the nicest possible way - it does look to be perfect at what it aims to be, and I am, if nothing else, looking forward to using it to introduce my son to the genre). Closing date is tonight, midnight UK time.

Today sees one last stretch goal - they're aiming for about another $100k today, which is for another add-on scenario pack including a freakin' cool dragon, more doors, tiles, etc... That's an insane reach, in my book - I'll be very interested to see if they reach it - me, I'm pledged out, since I've added enough for all the scenario packs to date and enough, fortuitously for this one as well.

I've been watching online while on holiday, and it's very interesting, in an abstract way, to watch how Mantic run a Kickstarter. As I've said before, you don't have to like it, and you can argue that it's not, per se, in the spirit of how Kickstarters were meant to happen when the concept was invented. They could, I'm sure, produce all the stuff that they've had lined up (I'm equally sure that there's not a LOT of 'spontaneous' addition of stretch goals) without a Kickstarter, but by doing it with a Kickstarter a) they get funding up front, b) they generate masses of online advertising (look, here!), and c) they get to gauge demand and production run size ahead of having to make risky investments, and they can much better leverage economies of scale. Barring some dispatch and CS issues (mainly due to being short-staffed on responding to email, from what I gather) on previous Kickstarters, they have, at least, always delivered.

And sorry, Mantic - you're lovely people, but I don't buy "we had no idea where this campaign was going to finish." :D Certainly I bet you had it planned this far, just in case :D And do remember to take on enough people to handle the support load. :D :D

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

We apologise....

&c &c...

So, Sunday consisted of driving to the Excel (familiar to many, no doubt), rehearsing our temporary chorus until 5.30pm, grabbing a bite to eat and then rigging band and lights until 11pm... then home, bed, picking up a LARGE coffee and our bassist at 7am, back to the Excel for 9.30am, sound-checking, hour break for food, full tech run through, half hour break, performance, de-rig, load out, home by 1am.

(And yes, it went really well, barring a glitch in the keys rig which forced us to restart the finale :D)

I love you all dearly, but blogging went rather out the window, not least because one of my laptops was wired into Anne's keyboards rig (check my other blog for the geeky details sometime in the next couple of weeks), the other MacBook was driving the auto cue, my iPad was being my music stand and my iPhone was turned off (3G 'warbles' through the PA, bad!)...

So. Official announcement. We are on vacation till Friday next week (in Germany). I may blog. I may not. Mostly, I need a holiday after the last couple of weeks run up to the performance of Before the Dawn :D While I have a few wargame-related things planned involving writing, a laptop and a comfy chair in a holiday chalet (as well as an update to the show's website), I may elect to drink German beer and play the Firefly board game a lot instead.

Regular blogging at the usual rate will resume around Sept 1.
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