Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Plans for 2015

Let's see if I can do better than this year, mm?

First up, the 'must do's:

  • The club "29th, Let's Go Large" IABSM campaign (see the TFL 2014 Xmas Special
    • Buildings
      • lots of 4Ground 15mm build/paint
    • Figures
      • two sections of German infantry, a couple of Pak38s.
      • several Sherman M4A1s
      • possibly a Marder III or two
  • The Chef-du-Pont project (June)
    • Terrain build
    • Buildings
      • Creamery scratch build
      • lots of 4Ground 15mm build/paint (which I need anyway for the above!)
      • Château (probably Sarissa)
    • Figures
      • 4 platoons US paras + support
  • The club game for Salute (if we make it off the reserve list) and other shows
    • ... that's a secret, but AndyM and I will be busy :D
And then the 'things I'd like to do if I have time':
  • Start painting some of my Perry WOTR figures
  • Continue (haha) painting my Napoleon @ War stash
  • Paint the early war Fallschirmjäger for a CoC Home Guard campaign later in the year.
  • Paint SOMETHING from one of the three Mantic Kickstarters :D
  • Finish off the odds and sods for Bloody Omaha so it's all neat and pristine for next time we get it out
Not involving lead. plastic, MDF or craft foam:
  • Rearrange and tidy the workshop and storeroom
  • Blog
  • Podcast 
  • Write :D
  • Run a wargames show!


Tuesday, 30 December 2014

2014 in review

In which we all get to have a good laugh, like as not.

So: here's the plans from this time last year:

  • Tidy my Saxons - currently waiting on an order of wire spears from Northstar, who I suspect are away for the holiday period :D Done. But needs doing again, and sorting out the sabot bases and the bases of the boxes they live in. And I should do the same for my Normans.
  • Finish off my 15mm British company - tomorrow, barring a trip to see the Hobbit 2. And I did!
  • Start on the Napoleon at War 18mms - hoping to get some French at least undercoated by the weekend. I did. Exactly that. And no more :D
  • Paint the rest of my Dreadball team when it arrives - I have an expansion set on order from PE2 Collectables, as well as a complete duplicate team in order to paint in their alternative colours. (We have this problem down the club, in that Rob has the proceeds of the Dreadball Kickstarter, and he's a Ravens fan (as well as once playing for a team who played in purple), so half his teams are painted purple as well!) Oh, and a set of cheerleaders from a mix of Shadowforge and Hasslefree. First team done, cheerleaders and coaches done. Second strip half done, may get finished now I have an Army Painter purple ink wash!
  • More Napoleonics. Hahahahah. ;)
  • Lots of 15mm vehicles (my current stash is most of two 9L Really Useful Boxes) for IABSM. Total vehicles painted - 4 DD Shermans for Bloody Omaha...
  • Waiting for the Finns and Russians to arrive, at which point I'll decide where they go in the painting list. Still waiting for the last part of the order.
  • More terrain tiles. A bunch for Bloody Omaha, which have seen reuse.
  • Some 28mm early war German Heer or Fallschirmjäger to complement the Home Guard. Bought some 28mm FJ, as yet unpainted.
  • Gaming-wise, the major new thing I suspect is going to be the club Dreadball tournament, otherwise, more of the same (lots of CoC, IABSM, Dux Brit, Judge Dredd...) Yup.
  • I have an idea for a Chain of Command scenario book, which will require liaising with three different people to get off the ground, I still do :D
  • I have a part-written supplement for another TFL ruleset, of which more when I get it a bit nearer completion. And I still do :D
  • Keep blogging... Well, yes. Up until September, then real life and a non-wargaming recreational role started taking up my time.
  • Keep podcasting with the Meeples guys, and see if I can't knock up a couple more episodes of my podcast. Yes and no. :D
Hey. Actually that's not bad. Proof that if I don't overcommit, things don't go so badly!

When you add to that the fact that I also painted and based 18 assault boat sections of 15mm US 29th/1st infantry for Bloody Omaha, which is 27 figures a section, for a total of (dear Lord) 486 figures, along with 6 landing craft... (Yes, Robert, I'll get you some photos to Vis Lardica before the end of the year!)

Compared to that, the four platoons of US paras are going to be trivial :D

Monday, 29 December 2014

Chef-Du-Pont - introduction

Some of my readers may remember that at Operation: Market Laden 2, we put a version of the IABSM scenario 'Bloody Omaha' on as a game.

Not to be outdone, the plan for OML3 is to put on the German counterattack on the Merderet bridge at Chef-Du-Pont late on D-Day, as set out in both the "Where The Hell Have You Been Boys?" and "All-American" IABSM scenario books. This promises to be another fun scenery build, since it's set in the flooded valley of the Merderet, and the basic action takes place on a series of causeways across the valley.

I've already started my research: in addition to the scenario information, there's a decent Google Maps aerial photo, although the river has had its course changed by the hand of man since the war, as well as a 1948 aerial picture. On top of that, the National Collection of Aerial Photography has some aerial photos taken on D-Day+2, showing the flooding - for a reasonable sum (£20) you can have a year's subscription which allows you to zoom in on any/all of their pictures.

The flooded valley looks like a pretty easy build - we have enough blue boards at the club to make the floodplain itself (maybe with a little brushwork to alleviate the plain colour), and the raised bits of land can be made from 25mm craft foam, as can the causeways. There are two key buildings that need making, though: one is the Château de L'Isle Marie, which is probably going to be represented by the Sarissa château, if they make it in 15mm in time. The other is what's now the Nestlé creamery at the end of the bridge in Chef-du-Pont (connoisseurs of French food should be aware it now makes the Mont Blanc cream desserts!), which is a fairly distinctive looking northlight-roofed building with some ancillary buildings.

The first part of the project, therefore, is going to be to build the creamery, probably on an A3 or so piece of MDF. Watch this space!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Battle Report - 22 Dec 2014 - Chain of Command

Having finished with the club's Dreadball and WAB campaigns, and having had a couple of weeks break with things like Black Powder, it was definitely time to break out the Home Guard again. This was made even better by the fact that Pat popped out a fourth final draft (we're getting there, honest) of the Home Guard lists, and I finally got round to painting some of the 3D printed accessories he sent me over the summer.
Based (mostly) on 25mm metal disks :D, black
undercoat, assorted Army Painter colours, ink wash,
Janis dark earth scatter - Javis static grass yet
to be added at the time of the picture. 

One of the major changes is that, since the advent of the CoCulator, it's been much easier to balance up the lists: in the past I've found that the Home Guard tend to suffer greatly at the hands of most lists due to being woefully (and historically) under-powered. Draft 4 has the early war HG worth a platoon rating of -12, which lends itself to a lot of shopping for... stuff.

Anyway: we broke out the scenery from 'Dead's Army', courtesy mostly of Warbases, and built a nice East Yorkshire village with a river bridge for the Home Guard to defend. We used scenario six from the rulebook - "Attack on an Objective". Gary brought his early war Germans (+4 rating) and Carl took the Home Guard. The roll for supports was a double six: 
  • Gary got 10 points, which he spent on:
    • Panzer III (List 4)
    • SdKfz 231 (List 5)
    • Adjutant (List 1)
  • Carl got 10/2 + the difference between the list values, namely 21 points, which he spent on:
    • 2 x Milk Churn mines (2 x List 3)
    • Medical orderly (List 1)
    • Lewis gun, no crew (List 2)
    • Home Guard section (List 3)
    • Vickers gun + regular crew (List 4)
    • WW1 18pdr gun, no crew (List 5)
Effectively Carl's extra section went to man the Lewis gun and the 18pdr.

This is the first CoC game we've played in a while. so as usual, we were a bit rusty and slow. The patrol phase was chiefly characterised by a race for the church, which Carl won. Once we started Gary pushed down the road with the 231, and deployed a couple of infantry sections near the church and the farmhouse: he was somewhat chagrined when Carl deployed a section in the White Horse pub with LOS on the milk churn mine at the crossroads, and... blew off the front wheel of the 231! (Gary was probably more chagrined than most at this as he's supposed to know about IEDs in Real Life.)

[Game mechanics wise, I had Carl make a to hit roll for the mine, to reflect timing etc of the detonation.]

The Panzer III wisely chose to skirt across the fields towards the church, which Gary managed to capture before Carl got to deploy anything n it, and also denied the Home Guard the jump off point on the board edge next to the church.

In the meantime, the Germans pushed ahead on the right flank, round the backs of the houses on High Street and Bridge Street: they were met by some accurate fire from the Vickers in the window of number 1 & 3 High Street (the green and blue doors).

Somehow they survived a couple of phases of fire, sneaking round the back of number 1 Bridge Street and aiming for the White Horse. Meanwhile, the Home Guard had wheeled out the WW1 gun, and taken several shots at the Panzer III. And, pretty much, missed. 

Unfortunately, the Panzer III and the German mortar didn't miss, and in about 3 phases the gun crew were wiped out. 

That's about where we had to leave it: both sides still had a section to deploy, but the Panzer was probably going to be able to wade across the river and take the bridge.

Lessons learned? Much better balance. And the Home Guard need to take every anti-tank device known to man - with hindsight, Carl and I agreed they should have ditched the second set of milk churn mines, fun though they were, for three List 1 Sticky Bombs, one for each section.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Commission Figurines Stalingrad Steam Mill

As you may recall, the club picked up a huge pile of MDF scenery from the Commission Figurines Kickstarter. We finally got round to putting some of it together for our Bolt Action Tournament in early December: check this out - the Steam Mill in pre-painted 28mm MDF...

The inner 'steel' framing of the mill. 
The outer shell.
Inner floors temporarily in place.
Fitting the outer shell round the framing.

The end result. This JUST fits in a Really Useful 84L box, but the
lid won't quite shut.

Friday, 26 December 2014

A merry Christmas to all my readers.,..

The wargamers Secret Santa delivered me a box of 15mm PSC Churchills - to the mystery giver, thank you very much - they're on the painting pile for 2015! Hopefully my recipient is as happy with his gift, and once again thanks to Ian and Catherine for organising it.

I think I'm now all caught up with the world outside wargaming, which is nice - making a conscious choice to quit a non-wargaming hobby responsibility that was just getting me seriously down and infecting me a global case of the 'don't-wannas' seems to have been a very wise move.

Currently plonked in the comfy armchair with a mug of tea (and an enthusiastically helpful three-legged black kitten) awaiting breakfast pancakes (a Saturday/holiday morning tradition hereabouts) contemplating where to start on the wargames and blogging to do list. This post, methinks :D


Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Match Report - 24 Nov 2014 - Dreadball League Final Round

And here we go straight to Jason and Vish at Well 'Ard Road Stadium, Trontek, for the Valkyries' last game in this year's league...
"You join us with team news. The Valkyries' starting six, unsurprisingly, doesn't include striker Ola Gunnarson, who is still not right after a post-match visit to the hospital several games ago after a Teraton landed on her. Blonde bombshell Freya Siggurdsdott... OW! Hey! what was that for, Vish??? That book was heavy." 
"Vish thought he buy you new thesaurus, find some new words for smoking hot and blonde?" 
"Oh... ok. Anyway, the striking and fair-haired Freya Siggurdsdottir takes her place as point striker, backed by rookie Anya Anderson. The Valkyries are down a jack, but they're playing new guard and wanna-be keeper Birgitte Pettersen in her place, in a two-pronged attack with Greta Fredrikkson." 
"Hang on. Tigers' team news. Last minute signing." 
"Oh my. The Trontek Tigers..." 
"...have signed Buzzcut. Vish looking forward to this." 
"Our viewers are dying to know, Vish. When the girls play Orx, who do you really support?" 
"Valkyries. Of course. Cheerleaders never speak to Vish again otherwise." 
"Riiiight. Ok. In other matches round the league, the Devastators take on the Raiders, and the Unmentionables take on the Asterian team, the Litigating Circumstances. Just a reminder - for the Valkyries to win the league, they need to whitewash the Orx of Trontek, and both the Devastators AND the Unmentionables need to lose by landslides. I don't give either the Asterians or the Raiders much chance, especially after the Valkyries beat the Raiders in three rushes two rounds ago... Let's see a clip of that..." 
"Heh. Let's see all of it. It pretty short. Raiders only had ball for two seconds." 
"Strike Valkyries, fumble Raiders, and strike... There you go." 
"Valkyries need a miracle." 
"Well let's see. Tigers get the ball first, and here comes Buzzcut... slams into Pettersen. And she just stands there and grins at him." 
"Not bad...." 
"He tries again... and.. oh my. Pettersen stiff-arms him across the chest, and Buzzcut actually goes BACKWARDS." 
"Bwah,... oops." 
"And there goes Vish spraying our sponsor's product everywhere again. Mega Cola, for when you need to do a really GOOD spit take. Buzzcut's getting yelled at by the Tigers' offensive coach, starts moving, but Heldstrom, one of the Valkyries two rookie jacks slams him.. down she goes, but she's still moving... The girls' game plan for Buzzcut's pretty obvious." 
"Buzzcut off form today. That's usually visit to morgue." 
"Not half. Here comes the Tigers' striker now, picks up, sidesteps, tough one pointer in heavy traffic. The crowd goes ... mild, would be the best description. They're expecting more, I think. And there's a LOT of Valkyries fans packed into Well 'Ard Road. The ball's in, and ... here comes Pettersen again on Buzzcut, and Wollgard, and Fredrikkson - triple team, and down he goes[1]... looks like he's quite badly hurt there..."
"This not like Buzzcut at all. Beaten by a girl." 
"Three. Be fair, it did take three of 'em." 
"Vish take that anytime. Heheheh. And that hit of season contender." 
"ANYway. Freya with a clean pickup, quick three-pointer brings the score back to two in the Valkyries' favour: she makes that look so easy. In comes the ball again, lots of pushing and shoving against the two Valk's guards, the Orx have the ball... but here comes Greta..." 
"Ooooooof. Vish hear Ork teeth rattle from here. Would if he had any." 
"Down he goes, and here comes Anya Anderson - quick sidestep round the fallen striker, sidesteps a tackle, easy as you like two pointer. The Valkyries are four up." 
"Latest from the Raiders - four up!" 
"Didn't expect that, folks. And the weirdos... sorry, the Asterians... are three up against the Unmentionables. Could we have the biggest final day upset in League history on our hands here?" 
"Vish hoping so. Do they eat sushi?" 
"Who?" 
"Asterians?" 
"Uh. I dunno, Vish. Anyway: the ball's in, and the Orx have it: pretty inconclusive run of play there, but the green guy with the ball's a bit isolated. Slam from Fredrikkson - rides it out. Again, rides it out. Anderson tries a steal - no luck. ANOTHER slam from Fredrikkson, the Valkyries' offensive coach is doing her nut." 
"That one tough Ork striker." 
"Yeah. Ouch. That's Heldstrom off, flattened by one of the Tigers' guards. And here they come, round the side of the Valkyries defence... easy two pointer..." 
"Oops." 
"Can't believe he missed that. The ball's in the Valkyries' left forward strike zone, and ... yup. That's Buzzcut, back on the Tigers' bench again: girls need to wrap this up in a hurry... Oh... my... goodness..." 
"Back from dead." 
"Quite literally, big guy. Ola Gunnarson, off the bench at a flat run, scoops the ball up... juggles it.. yes.. no... yes. Down the wing, sidesteps the jack trying to trip her, long arcing run towards the Tigers three point zone... she could pass to Sigurdsdottir, who's waiting in the zone...[2]" 
"Won't. Never does." 
"And doesn't. Into the strike zone, leaps and throws. STRIKE. STRIKE! The Valkyries WIN BY A LANDSLIDE..." 
"Comeback of season." 
"Gunnarson SCORES! She's mobbed by her teammates..." 
"That probably going to hurt more than being hit by Buzzcut today.... wait. News from Raiders..." 
"Yes, Vish. It's up on the big screen. The Raiders win by a landslide! The away crowd's going mental. And the Unmentionables are still a four pointer away from being swept by the Asterians, too..." 
"Valkyries could win this..." 
"It's bedlam in here - we have the Unmentionables game on the big screen, no-one's leaving..."

Sad to say, Rob's Nameless (the Arctech Unmentionables) somehow pulled it round, managing to landslide John's Asterians. So in the end I came second, which I have to say I'm very pleased with...

[1] Guard + Jack threatening, 3+ skill Guard slam, (3+1+1) dice + 2 coaching dice vs (4-2) dice. I won 5-2 and Buzzcut completely blew the armour roll...
[2] Ola is Skill 5+ (ouch) and Showoff... Draw a card, get 'Throw/Striker or Jack). Sprint from subs bench, pickup, fail to double. Sprint past midfield. Run + dash to 3 point zone (offensive coaching allowing 3rd action), throw (off the card I just drew) - 3+1-1-1 dice on a 5+...  PHEW!

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Imperator! - WAB Campaign Day

Today's fun down the club was our Roman Civil War campaign day - I took my Parthians, but as we had an odd number of players and one of them was late, I only got to play in the first game, which was a doubles game which saw me across the table from Grahame of our club. Grahame knows WAB inside and out, and the ins and outs of almost every rule in the book (although I do have to keep reminding him that skirmish cavalry don't fear charges from foot!). Hence I was pleasantly surprised that our half of the table was pretty much a draw.

For a gallery with a few more photos, check the club's post.

Our thanks to Grahame and Andy H for organisation, and to Pen and Sword Books and PE2Collectables for generous donation of prizes.

The charity dice-off raised £51 (+ gift aid) for Battlegames' Combat Stress appeal.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Announcing - Hereward Wargames Show - 1 Nov 2015

We have, evidently, taken leave of our senses :D

The first Hereward Wargames Show will be held on Sunday November 1st 2015 at the Cresset centre in Bretton, Peterborough, under the auspices of Peterborough Wargames Club. It is our intention that the show will feature a considerable number of participation games, as well as the usual demonstration games, traders, and a Table Top Sale, with stalls available by the hour.

Details of games and traders attending will be added to the Facebook group and to the website as they become available, as well as admission and table rates, so keep checking back for news.

In case you were wondering, that's the week before Crisis and the week after Leeds next year.

Monday, 3 November 2014

It was twenty five years ago today...

...that the final episode of one of the BBC's best comedy series ever aired.


Despite one of our Government Ministers making a complete ass of himself over it, this still ranks as one of the most powerful pieces about the First World War in mainstream TV.

Part of the reason it works, I think, is the contrast between the silliness that Blackadder was famous for, and that end scene. But an even larger part is that we've watched and laughed with that dysfunctional bunch of soldiers for the whole series... they are, in an odd way, ours.

Friday, 24 October 2014

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Watch

Profoundly moved (especially in the wake of yesterday's events in Canada) by the Royal British Legion's sunrise to sunset vigil at the Cenotaph today.

See Twitter hashtag #TheWatch for a timeline of the people standing watch, one at each corner, inspired by the images of the repatriation of the Unknown Warrior in 1920 where Guards of the Watch kept a vigil by the coffin as a mark of respect. Watchers include members of the public, past and present members of the Armed Forces and people who've received help from the Legion.


Wednesday, 15 October 2014

New Chain of Command scenario series

For those of my readers who are interested in Chain of Command and somehow aren't following the blog, forum OR mailing list:
TFL

Building on the back of the At The Sharp End campaign supplement, Too Fat Lardies have just released the first in a series of "Pint Sized" campaigns, namely "29 Let's Go".

The basic premise behind the series appears to be one 32 page downloadable (and printable) PDF, which is a 50/50 mix of well-written and useful historical background to the campaign (with maps), and then a Sharp End-style 'ladder' campaign, with table layouts based on the maps. And all this for the price of a reasonable pint - £3.50. What's not to like? I mean, for the price of a pint, you get of the order of 5-8 evening's entertainment, just add scenery, figures and (optionally) an umpire.

This builds really well on Chain of Command and At The Sharp End, and while I haven't had chance to play any of the scenarios yet, I did get to give it a thorough read.


Monday, 13 October 2014

WAB tournament update - Nov 23

For those interested in the club's WAB tournament on Nov 23, the sign up form is now available here along with permissible army lists etc..

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Wargaming vs Railway Modelling 2

A couple more observations, based on a few trawls of assorted fora:
  • I still can't help feel that somewhere, somehow, there's a trick missing in the model railway hobby to reduce costs for producing small runs of obscure things, probably involving some combination of laser cutting and 3D printing. And someone will figure it out and make an absolute killing.
  • The major manufacturers seem to have decided there is no demand for pre-nationalisation models. If they make something that existed into BR, fine, they'll release one in a pre-BR paint job (but in the GWR case you can guarantee that'll only be in the incredibly short lived and IMO ugly as sin post 1935 or post 1942 ones!) . But it does seem more and more that if it was made before about 1935, the manufacturers aren't interested. Which makes for a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. (Witness the maddeningly STUPID call by Hornby: let's make some GWR coaches - I know, we'll do the mid-40s Hawkesworth ones, which lasted well into BR days. But so did loads of even more attractive-to-model 1920s/30s Collets. And I can't USE the bloody Hawkesworths, because my planned layout is deliberately set in about 1934-5!). Contrast to (say) Battlefront. They're not quite at the point of 'if it took the field in WW2, we make it', but they're bloody close.
  • I can't afford to be a serious railway modeller. Sure, metal and plastic armies aren't cheap but... there isn't actually that much difference, price wise, between the (and I'm going to make myself unpopular here - tough!) mass-market (I nearly said 'toy') end of the hobby (40K etc) and the 'serious' end (say, obscure armies for FoG:R). Certainly not enough to make me wince. Compare, though, the difference between a set of Hornby Railroad Collet coaches (about 20 quid a pop) and a set of etched brass Toplight coach kits, which will set you back nearer £100 by the time you add wheels, couplings, buffers etc, and doesn't include the labour costs of building it. And the other core difference there is that the 'serious' railway modellers don't seem to see this as a barrier. The line 'you may as well buy the brass kit' gets tossed around like confetti as if it's an acceptable solution to everyone.
  • If I was as rude and critical about a PSC test render of (say) a King Tiger as some modellers seem to be directly to Bachman (for example) about nitpickingly small details in their mockup of a GWR 64xx Pannier, I'd expect Will to punch me in the face. And I'd feel I'd deserved it. Lumme. Talk about entitlement issues.
  • The above pretty much summarise why, while I will probably slowly construct the GWR layout I have designs on over time, you can guarantee I'll never put it up for scrutiny within the hobby.

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Plastic Soldier Company "Whoops, we forgot to book a stand at SELWG" sale

In case you're not on their mailing list:
"Foolishly I forgot to book a stand at the SELWG, Crystal Palace show this Sunday 12th October. To mark my stupidity and apologise for those customers expecting to see us there, we will be running a sale starting today and running through until midnight Sunday 12th October:"

Sale in the "No SELWG" (25% off all PSC kits and paints!!!), SCW (15%) and Ancients (10% - good job my Greeks are on hold) categories.

Friday, 10 October 2014

We apologise &c &c

One of the reasons I made a conspicuous effort to blog every day is that once a thing becomes a habit, it becomes harder to break.

Witness what happens when I stop blogging for a bit :D

In the past month or so, I are mostly:

  • Editing 2 1/2 hours x 7 cameras worth of video from the WorldCon
  • Snapping up odd bits of GWR stuff for the son and my model railway
  • Thinking about various things to do with the Lardies' Quadrant 13 and IABSM
  • Getting my fingers used to playing bass rather than guitar again (ow! picking hand blisters!)
  • Apparently becoming a Responsible Adult at work now my boss has left (his boss, now my boss, seems to expect this of me, especially since the other candidate Responsible Adult just left as well)
  • Playing a fair bit of Dreadball and Dead Man's Hand at the club.
So. There will be blogging. I'm going to figure out a schedule I can commit to, not just for this but for all the other non-work things that have demands on my time, and there will be regular posts again!


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.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Wish me luck :D

Last finishing touches to the score (or rather, a vain attempt to add enough crib notes our keyboard player won't forget things!) - wireless headsets are here, programmes folded and boxed.

Off tomorrow for a day of practice, and then the performance on Monday at 4.30pm at the Excel, just after the Loncon 3 (World SF convention) closing ceremony. I hope to manage to blog on both days, but I reserve the right to be terse :D

It will have been worth it :D

Friday, 15 August 2014

Badges, posters, stickers, t-shirts...

...to quote an obscure Dire Straits B-side :D

It's quite surprisingly how easy it is to get decent promotional material these days, for whatever it is you're doing, be it your company, your show, your band or your club. So far this week, I've done t-shirts, posters, show programmes and flyers...

The key thing is to get a decent unifying look and feel - for this, grab the services of someone with a flair for graphic design (yourself, even!) and get them to spend a little time working on a logo, a colour scheme. Have them work out a simply style guide - your body text is always in such and such a font, your logo is this font, this colour, etc., and then stick to it.

I can't overstress this - I'm sure anyone who's been to one of our club WAB tournaments will agree that the unifying design on all the campaign documents really adds to the look, for example.

Check out the image above - that's the basic logo for the show I've been working on: the tower/hill silhouette and red to blue gradient are a constant in everything I've had done, as is is the shade of yellow and the Papyrus font for the logo. That can be stretched both ways - I have a web banner that extends the hill silhouette and background horizontally, and for an A4-proportioned portrait flyer, programme cover and poster the black area extends downwards to provide an area for other text.

The next important step is to work big. What looks good on your screen (at 72 dpi or 'dots per inch') will print with a bad case of the jaggies, so make sure all your images are at a bare minimum 150 dpi. This means (for example) that a 12" wide t-shirt logo needs to be at least 1800 pixels wide.

Back in the '90s, when I was producing CD inlays for various projects and amateur operatic theatre programmes, the printers tended to be massively picky about the quality and format of the source files, and if you couldn't scare up a copy of Adobe Illustrator or Quark Xpress, you were likely to incur extra charges in making your work printable. These days, there are any number of companies who will take a PDF or PNG and work from that, for ridiculously low rates. 1000 colour, single-sided A5 flyers from any number of online companies will set you back well under £50, for example. I've just sourced 50 t-shirts from Clothes2Order for a bit over a fiver a shirt, and companies like Vistaprint will basically put your logo on bulk quantities of any promotional material that takes your fancy.

Someone like Staples will do short run on-demand printing for large (A3 or A2) posters at a few quid a throw, or you can, like me, blow £100 on a photo-quality inkjet that'll do A3. My Brother MFCJ5910DW takes third-party cartridges at something ridiculous like £1 each, and Amazon do some decent glossy A3 paper at 25 sheets for £4 (as part of a bigger order). If you have the patience, it's a great way of doing short runs of posters. And then there's banners...

So...

Here's an offer. If you can wait till I'm back off holiday at the beginning of September, and your club would like a hand with some graphic design, drop me a reply, and I'll see what I can do.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Audio book review - John Julius Norwich, "Shakespeare's Kings"

Or, to give it its full title, Shakespeare's Kings: the Great Plays and the History of England in the Middle Ages: 1337-1485.

I'm loving this - it is, pretty much, what the title says: a review of history from Edward III through to Richard III, and a comparison between history and Shakespeare's retelling of it. "Edward III?" you say. Yes, I was surprised too, but it appears that recent textual analysis suggests that it was at least partly written by Shakespeare (the wide range of opinions on the whole authorship question of his plays aside!).

As usual, I'm listening to it slightly fragmentarily on my commute, which has been aided by a few weekend round trips to Ely for rehearsals. The approach Norwich takes is to cover the historical period of one of the plays, look at the actual history, with reference to contemporary sources, predominantly Hollinshed, and then step back and compare what we know against what Shakespeare wrote. It's a fun and interesting approach, and in addition to being a good history lesson, leaves me wanting to grab a copy of the Complete BBC Shakespeare, the Branagh Henry V and the BBC's new "Hollow Crown" series.

My one gripe: the reader has a slightly forced delivery, and a tendency to pause before... complicated words, or words in... Français. As it were. Other than that? really enjoying it.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

I may shed a tear...

The BBMF and Canadian Lancs. Together.

Plug in a decent pair of speakers, and turn them up.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

RIP: Robin Williams

Saddened to note the passing of one of the true legends of comedy - Robin Williams - whose rapid fire delivery and wit graced any number of movies and other events, and who had, according to his publicist, been battling severe depression. One of the rare, genuinely funny comics who didn't have to base his act entirely on the modern trend for getting laughs out of a character's embarrassment or discomfort.

There are two things I'd like to note:

First, and most important - depression is a real issue. Jason Manford, in response to Robin Williams' death, posted this, from which I quote:
"If depression can (allegedly) kill Robin Williams, one of the world's greatest funny men, well it can get any of us at any time.
"If the Genie from Aladdin can suffer and the DJ in Good Morning Vietnam can be affected by it, then so can you, or your child or friend or work colleague,"
[...]
"Please. Ask for help. If you have no one or if you don't want to to tell them yet, then ring Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 for someone to talk to, or talk to your GP.
"The world needs you even if you don't think it does. I promise, we need you here, now."
Secondly, and on a lighter note (and why I'm posting this, at least in part)...

I never knew Robin Williams was a wargamer! Apparently he was both a 40K player and a Civil War/Napoleonic gamer.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Chain of Command supplements are coming thick and fast this week!

So, remember when I said if you want to scale up a war-game to cater for more players and a bigger sense of epic, take careful note of the rule scale as it pertains to what size of unit it's'optimised for?

Turns out I was wrong. At least in one case.

Herewith, from the folks at TFL, the free "Big CoC" (yes, you may all snigger now) supplement.

It's a free, 12 page download which covers rules and notes to add to Chain of Command to allow you to play big multiplayer games, with each player controlling a platoon sized force.


Sunday, 10 August 2014

Another madly busy weekend...

However, on the good side, for those of you who were waiting for the Chain of Command Stalingrad scenarios - they're out. Twenty-two scenarios, seven quid, and written by the fabulous Richard (Monty), who is the official answerer of questions on TFL lists and fora when RichC is madly busy (i.e. most of the time). What's not to like, if you're into WW2 Eastern Front?

And, for entertainment, a shot of the 'office' (in dress rehearsal at the local church) for the show next week. In the unlikely event any of my readers are SF fans and going to Loncon next week, we're on at 4.30 pm on Monday 18th in Capital Room 1.

Wife behind keyboards, son behind drum screen, 
empty chair is mine :D And you may note the serious
abuse of iPads as music stands.



Saturday, 9 August 2014

Cricketers in Wartime - WW1 - Trent Bridge

Not only are Sky picking up on the WW1 connection, the BBC have a whole pile of pieces on sport and WW1 in their 'Home Front' series...


Friday, 8 August 2014

I love graphs!

Hands up who can spot when Mantic retweeted yesterday's post!


This bit of whimsy brought you by an evening spend reprogramming MIDI pedalboards...

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Kickstarter watch: Mantic - Dungeon Saga: The Dwarf King's Quest

Say what you like about whether its the way the Kickstarter team originally designed Kickstarter to be used; Mantic do seem to have pretty much nailed it as a presales and promotion system. That said, I do know some people have had a few issues with delivery etc with previous Kickstarters, and have decided to wait until things hit the shops.

Their latest kicked off on Monday - you do pretty much have to have been living under a rock to miss it, but just in case, the bare bones:
  • 2-5 players - one plays the monsters, the rest the adventurers
  • classic dungeon crawl
  • comes with a set of 'advanced' rules that cover role-play as well
  • Ronnie from Mantic talks about it here.
  • And of course, it's a Jake Thornton designed game, so the first cut at the rules is already up here  (allegedly, but that link's 404ing for me - to quote Jake: "At least, they were briefly, then the demand crashed the servers". Whoops. Guys? Rent some Amazon S3 storage and stick it up there, huh? [Guess what, they did. See the comments to Jake's link above]). 
  • I'll confidently expect, being a fan of Jake's designs, that this will include some elegantly simple mechanics and Just Work.
In short? Looks like a great introduction to RPGs for my son - so I've signed up, as for my money the lack of hassle beats the occasional issues.

It's a Mantic Kickstarter., so you should know what to expect. Reached its target ($50K) in 4 minutes,  already over $250K, add-ons a-go-go. There are now two pledge levels - one for the whole shebang at $100 (you're WAY too late for the $95 earlybird!) and a $1 if you just want to use the Kickstarter as a shopping cart for the add-ons.

And as for the add ons... to save my typing, here's how it stands...


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Chain of Command scenarios - coming soon

From those lovely chaps at TFL:


Sadly, all we have to go on is 'soon'. Is that better than 'Easter'? :D

(Just finished That Rehearsal. The one just before the dress rehearsal where you go 'Dear Lord, we suck SO much'. It'll be all right on the night. I hope.)

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The beginning of the war

I lit a candle last night, and was profoundly moved by the service at Westminster Abbey, especially the performance of Vaughan Williams' "Lark Ascending", which I thought was absolutely stunning, played by (BBC Young Musician of the Year 2002) Jennifer Pike.

Anne and I were talking about the World War 1 poets we'd covered at our respective schools... I was surprised to discover that, despite being sure I'd read some of Seigfried Sassoon, I couldn't remember any... so I spent a fair chunk of the rest of the evening reading some.

So herewith, to rectify that:
Trench Duty 
Shaken from sleep, and numbed and scarce awake,
Out in the trench with three hours' watch to take,
I blunder through the splashing mirk; and then
Hear the gruff muttering voices of the men
Crouching in cabins candle-chinked with light.
Hark! There's the big bombardment on our right
Rumbling and bumping; and the dark's a glare
Of flickering horror in the sectors where
We raid the Boche; men waiting, stiff and chilled,
Or crawling on their bellies through the wire.
What? Stretcher-bearers wanted? Some one killed?"
Five minutes ago I heard a sniper fire:
Why did he do it?... Starlight overhead —
Blank stars. I'm wide-awake; and some chap's dead.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Reviews and Mantic - a statement

In line with my statement on book reviews a while back (which reminds me, there's a couple of Pen and Sword reviews coming up :D), herewith another.

Being a fan of a number of the Mantic games, I have signed up to their bloggers' mailing list. And I quote:
"We are looking to build an exclusive list of podcasters, bloggers, communities and forums to share the best content with your readers.  It can be as low key as sharing our competitions, right up to our press releases.  We’ll also tailor content where we can to your sites, but for now we’re just looking for those who are interested."
 As before, I will continue to be impartial, and to be honest to my readers. So:
  • Should I ever get to review a book, rule set, supplement, whatever, that Mantic send me, I will make it explicitly clear that it's a review copy and who the source is. 
  • The fact that I was asked to review it will not affect what I think or say about it, be that here, on Twitter, Facebook or Google+, or on the Meeples podcast. I have (I trust and hope) a reputation for being honest and direct in my reviews on here, and I don't intend for that to change. 
  • I won't regurgitate Mantic's copy verbatim without making it clear I'm doing so.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Villiers-Bocage Chain of Command campaign

For those looking for ready made Chain of Command campaigns, the folk at the Playing the Odds blog have put up a very nice one for download featuring the Panzer Lehr's actions around Villiers-Bocage on June 13 1944. It even includes a beautifully put together campaign PDF in the CoC house style with maps and diagrams.

As well as battle reports on the Playing the Odds, Benito from MyLardiesGames has been playing the campaign as well.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Inventories of War - 1066-2014

A really very nice image gallery from the Telegraph, covering soldiers' kit from the Battle of Hastings through to the present day, touching on Agincourt, the War of the Roses, the ECW...

Very much worth a look. It's amusing how the essential purpose of individual bits of kit don't change, but how that's achieved does. All except for the spoon :D

Friday, 1 August 2014

Sword and Spear

Busy weekend ahead - busy converting 80+ pages of words and chords to a custom ChordPro format for the band's iPads for the weekend's run through...

If you missed Neil raving about Sword and Spear on the last Meeples podcast, do yourself a favour and go listen. I've picked a copy up on PDF for a disgustingly reasonable £6, and will be reviewing them properly next week after a play test at the club on Monday. At a first glance? They look very interesting.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Cricketers in Wartime: WW1

I notice with delight that Sky have been picking up on the cricketers in wartime theme for one of their lunchtime features, especially with the centenary of WW1 coming up.

Enjoy this 7 min feature on Colin Blythe and AEJ Collins - two cricketers who lost their lives in the First World War.

Blythe was a Kent and England fast bowler who was killed on the railway line near Passchendale by random shellfire in 1917. Collins made the highest ever recorded individual score in cricket, 628 not out as a 13 year old schoolboy. He never played first-class cricket, but was killed during the First Battle of Ypres in 1914.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Auction in aid of Combat Stress

As you've probably noticed, our club's annual WAB campaign day tends to have a charity dice off in aid of the Combat Stress appeal...

With that in mind, here's a quick plug for an eBay auction in aid of Combat Stress, courtesy of Henry Hyde.

"This auction is for the brand new copy of the latest edition of David C R Brown's "Panzer Grenadier Deluxe" (previously known as "Battlegroup Panzer Grenadier") rules that was sent to Royal Marines Major Dave Fielder for review in Miniature Wargames with Battlegames magazine issue 376, which has just been published last week.

In addition to the full colour, highly illustrated hardback rulebook, Major Fielder has also provided a genuine pair of his own Royal Marines Commando shoulder flashes to add to your collection of militaria.

The rulebook normally retails for £35 (see www.caliverbooks.com), but we are hoping that this auction will raise rather more than that because EVERY PENNY of the proceeds of this auction will go towards the Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal (see www.justgiving.com/battlegames/)."

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

An all too short a time...

... came to an end on Sunday as we wrapped up another part of James' necessary education with the Big Damn Movie, aka the Firefly movie "Serenity". This actually turned out to be a little harder than anticipated, as it appears that when I bought the DVD, I was keen enough to get a US import region 1 disc for our then-multi-region player. Unfortunately, we don't have that DVD player any more, so in the end, after considering many alternatives, we wound up renting it on Amazon Instant Video on James' PS3!

That's about the fourth time I've seen "Serenity" (at least twice in the cinema in the first week it was out!), and it... gets better for watching, if you're a Firefly fan. The subtleties of the character interaction (which was always a key part of the series) repay repeated viewing, for sure - also, if you have the DVD, there's at least one superb unaired scene.

Which just leaves the three current graphic novels, and the in-progress post-the-movie comic series which is coming out in November as a graphic.

Question is... what to watch next?

Monday, 28 July 2014

WAB Tournament - a date for your diary

We'll be running the club's annual WAB campaign day on Nov 23rd this year. The theme will be the Year Of The Four Emperors, featuring four teams of players representing Galba, Otho, Vitellius and Vespasian, and their allies. We'll be publishing a list of permissible army lists soon, but pretty much anything overlapping AD69, and probably most of the 1st century AD, will be allowed.

We can promise the usual madcap fun, prizes (including a book donated by Pen and Sword), a charity dice off in aid of Combat Stress, and we're going to see if we can persuade Andy to wear a toga to make the announcements!

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bloody Omaha at the 1940s Fest

Back after a scorching hot couple of days at the 1940s fest, where we put on the Bloody Omaha IABSM game as a demo for the general public.

We were in the bar marquee (oh the hardship) which despite a portable aircon unit was one of the hottest places at the show (not so good). A fair amount of through traffic, including some useful walking painting references (although you can't PAY me enough to paint detailed Splittermuster 1931 in 15mm).

We ran it twice, once each day. Two interestingly different results, though the Americans made it both times.

Saturday, Jonathan and Tony as the Americans managed to get through the wire in front of WN62, get a large section through, get some inordinately fortunate card draws which meant that by the time they'd done so most of WN62 had stopped firing, and they'd survived to unload two flamethrowers into the main bunkers (Rob Avery would be happy!).

Sunday, Ash, Pippa and Rob went for a much more cautious approach - the first group that tended to prefer taking an action to take cover rather than run up the beach. Wave 1 got somewhat hammered, wave 2 made two breaches in the wire, but were pretty much too hammered to exploit it, and we called it a day with wave 3 about to land, and several of the German MGs out of action. Had we continued, it would, I think have gone much as history.

One thing I am considering is that I don't yet think the Germans have enough defences :D

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Meeples 130

On the list of things keeping me busy - a couple of Fridays ago, Neil and I recorded a review of Osprey's "In Her Majesty's Name" and supplements. It also included a long sidetrack into the new Sword & Spear ancients rules, of which more later.

Suffice it to say - we both love In Her Majesty's Name, and I am so buying Sword and Spear. :D Check out the episode and enjoy.

Friday, 25 July 2014

You know you've been painting the same pack of figures too many times...

...when you can spot that someone's stiffed you on an eBay sale because you don't recognise a pose.

The last Battlefront assault boat section I picked up on eBay definitely contains some figures that aren't from UBX09/US747 - that and it's a mortar section short.

Hrmph.

The busyness continues apace - busy painting the third wave for Bloody Omaha (that's going to wind up over 400 figures total, I think).

To cap that off, I'm musical director for a fantasy rock musical at the World SF convention (Loncon 3, weekend of 14-18 August at the Excel), which takes place on the Monday (just in case any of my readers are going).

After that? I'm due a vacation (as are my wife and son who are both in the band!).

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Whoops

So....

That wasn't too tired to blog....

...or too busy to blog...

That was so busy the last couple of days have rolled into one and I honestly thought I'd already blogged!


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Fine tuning "Bloody Omaha", 1940s Fest.

As you may recall, the club is taking our IABSM3 demo game "Bloody Omaha" to the "Festival of the 40's" in Pondersbridge (just SE of Peterborough) this weekend. If you're reading this, and feel like attending, it's a great weekend with loads of reenactment groups, evening entertainment etc. Adult admission is £6, kids under 16, veterans and current armed forces personnel get in free. And if you make yourself known to us as a reader of this blog, at the big 8'x6' D-Day table in the marquee, we'll even let you hang around and help try and survive the hell that is Omaha Beach.

After some feedback from the first couple of games, and a rewatch of the opening to 'Saving Private Ryan', we've fine tuned a few things, since in both the games we ran, the Americans pretty much didn't need wave 3 of the landing craft (G/16th RCT of the Big Red One), and they did seem to make it off the beach as far as the shingle a little easily. For those who took part at the club or Operation Market Larden 2, here are the changes:

  • troops disembark off the LCVPs on their first activation, NOT when the LCVP arrives on table.
    • while aboard they count as in hard cover (unless hit by HE, obviously), and they're packed in in the loading order according to the reference sources I have, which means that the 'front' squad will be the one taking most casualties from (say) MG fire.
    • it costs 1 dice of movement to get down the ramp, and they disembark in loading order.
    • I'm considering adding a rule that troops not off the LCVP at the 'Smoke 'em if you got 'em' (Tea Break) card will disembark pretty much in a dense target just off the loading ramp, since the LCVP crew just want the hell out of there.
  • movement penalties:
    • on the beach -1/dice
    • in water -2/dice (the major change)
    • flamethrower teams an extra -1/dice
  • German MG and mortar positions can't be fired on by non-area-effect weapons until they're spotted
  • I may add a German ammunition shortage card to the deck when wave 3 lands (several of the German MG34s actually stopped firing because they ran out of ammo and/or their barrels overheated to the point of being unusable).
  • all assault sections now labelled on the back of their bases - bye-bye coloured PostIts.
  • Medics are only on 2 of the 6 boats in a wave (5 or 6 on a d6, max of 2), and they act like level 3 Big Men who move on their section card (or at the Tea Break if they haven't), and can only remove shock.
We did a test run of the first wave (amid snarky remarks from Reuben, our secretary about why we needed an 8'x'6' table when we were just fighting in the first 18" of it :D) at the club last night (thanks to AndyM (as ever) and John), and it seems to work much better, and feel even more grittily realistic. One section that disembarked pretty much under the nose of Gefrieter Severloh's MG34 was for all practical purposes destroyed in about 3 runs through the activation deck, having piled up enough shock from the first round of fire (plus an MG bonus card) that several of its squads were finding movement nearly impossible, and to make matters worse it had no Big Man or medic. Another had to be chivvied off the LCVP by its Big Man, and the first bunch to reach the shingle were a scattered mess of three different sections.

Poor old AndyM is off to Omaha Beach for real on Thursday, which means he will once again miss a full 'production' run through of the game :D He is under orders to bring me back some photos, though.

Monday, 21 July 2014

"The Lancaster: Britain's Flying Past"

If, like me, you love the sound of four Merlin engines, this is for you.

A documentary by John Sergeant on the history of the pride of Bomber Command, the Lancaster.

And while we're at it, if you happen to be anywhere in the vicinity of East Kirkby on Sept 2nd, then Just Jane, the Lincs Aviation Heritage Centre Lancaster, will be taxying while both the BBMF Lancaster and the Canadian Lancaster will be flying overhead. It's probably sold out but there should be plenty of chances to catch the two airborne Lancs both then and over the summer.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Total Wargamer

It appears (as per my yesterday post), that Total Wargamer have ceased trading in miniatures. (Despite the fact there's no evidence of this on the website yet.)

From one of the GCN reps on Facebook (who I am prepared to trust as a source):
Have received this message:
We have basically ceased trading and I'm afraid a few orders have been missed whilst winding this up.
We have modified your order and have arranged a refund for you.
Our card processor will return the funds to the account that funds were removed from.
We aim to have refunds completed in 3-5 working days but will be completed in a period no longer than 30 calendar days from date of request.
More details in the thread here.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Rumours

(and I don't mean the Fleetwood Mac album, much as I love it.)
This photo is not
what it seems.

Just musing about news, gossip, rumour...

There's a rumour doing the rounds on Facebook concerning a wargames retailer. While I'm not going to be at all surprised if it's true, since all I have is an unsubstantiated but unsurprising rumour and some ancillary info after a little bit of digging, I'm not going to name names or details. I do try and keep 'newsy' posts on this blog to things that have reliable sources, because I'd like to be considered trustworthy on that score.

[Written and posted Saturday, even if the laptop seems to have missed the Publish click, so I'm not counting this as a break in the streak. Since I wrote it, I do have a reasonably solid confirmation on the rumour in question, so I'll be posting an update today.]
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