Monday 30 September 2013

Battle Report - 30 September 2013 - Chain of Command

Just made it back from Wembley before midnight with a thumping headache, which (fortunately) by the morning had been replaced by a somewhat hoarse voice and some hearing threshold shift - Wembley was LOUD. (And the Vikings WON, which I care about even if most of my readers except a couple won't!)

Tonight down the club we played Chain of Command - Gary brought along some of his newly painted early war Germans and Brits. I sadly haven't finished my Home Guard yet, so we fought over a patch of Belgium instead. Carl and I took the Brits, in defence against Carl and newcomer Mike's Germans.

As I'm still somewhat wiped from last night, I'm not going to attempt a full battle report. However, much more importantly, I think the key point of interest in this game wasn't the action per se, but the fact that t'other Mike hadn't played before, but did have a lot of experience with WW2 infantry tactics. It was fascinating seeing him suggest courses of action and watching just how well the rules were able to provide for them.

The end result, due in large part to some decent tactics from the Germans, was a British defeat. We didn't make particularly good use of our supports, and didn't get (in the time available) to call in a mortar barrage which would have evened things up a bit. Also, the Boyes AT rifle had a free flank shot at the Germans PzIII. And missed, needing a 5 on 2d6! Argh!

Saturday 28 September 2013

Probability for Wargamers 12 - Chain of Command revisited

So, if you remember from last time, we introduced the concept of combinations of N things taken K at a time, and used this to work out the probability of rolling (for example) a given number of ones on 5d6, which (as anyone who's played the game by now will realise) is useful to know in Chain of Command.

Reproducing our table from last time: the odds of rolling K of a given number on 5 dice:

0: 40.2%
1: 40.2%
2: 16.1%
3: 3.2%
4: 0.3%
5: 0.01%

Useful. Taking this, we can figure out a few handy probabilities:

Chance of getting two phases in a row? 
You need 2 or 3 sixes: so that's about 19.5%. Let's call that one chance in 5 for the sake of the next one.

Number of phases before you get two in a row? 
If you remember the article on looting rolls in Dux Brit, you should be able to figure this out.

Chance of not getting a second phase = roughly 4/5 each phase.
Chance of failing to get one twice in a row = 4/5 * 4/5 = 16/25 = 64%
Chance of failing to get one THREE times in a row = 64/125 = just over 51%

To get that below 10%, i.e. to be 90% confident of having had an extra phase (which if you remember, is what we discussed in a prior post as maybe being acceptable odds), you need to roll TEN times.  Moral? Don't bank on that extra phase, but welcome it when it shows up.

Chance of activating a team?
Obviously enough, you need to roll a 1. Odds of rolling at least 1 one = 1 - (odds of failing to roll any 1s). So just under 60%. Again? Less than our desireable odds, so don't bet the farm on it.

Chance of activating a team with a leader present?
Let's say it's a MG42 team with a Junior Leader. You need either a 1 or a 3, i.e. 1 - (odds of failing to roll any 1s or 3s).

We'll have to calculate this one: we have 4 chances of 6 on any one dice of NOT rolling a 1 or 3, and 5 dice, so that's (2/3 * 2/3 * 2/3 * 2/3 * 2/3), which is 13.2%, giving us odds of 86.8%. Which is probably close enough, and demonstrates why leaders are really useful in Chain of Command.

How long will it take me to get a Chain of Command dice?
For now let's leave out the odd results, and concentrate on rolling 5s. How many 5s, on average, will we roll on 5d6?

Let's calculate the expected value. We have a 40.2% chance of 0, a 40.2% chance of 1... and so one. The expected number is thus (0.402 * 0 + 0.402 * 1 + 0.161 * 2 + 0.032 * 3 + 0.003 * 4 + 0.0001 * 5), or 0.83 fives. To get the 6 fives we need will take on average 6/0.83 turns, or just over 7.

Number of phases before the turn ends?
For this we need three or more sixes. Odds of this on any one turn are about 3.5%. If you really want to know, this makes a turn 50% likely to end after 20 phases. If you want 90% certainty? SIXTY FIVE phases. Don't wait for it, you'll have about NINE Chain of Command dice by then on average :D

Friday 27 September 2013

Todo list

Definitely time for a revisit, since the nights are closing in and I'm no longer losing evenings to (oh the tragedy) sitting on the boundary edge with a pint watching my son play cricket.

So, here's the short term list:

  • 28mm Foundry Home Guard Platoon for Chain of Command - already undercoated with PSC English Uniform Warspray.
  • 15mm Battlefront British Infantry Company for IABSM - also undercoated, mostly based and about 3/4 done.
  • 10 15mm Shermans from the Flames of War Open Fire box to assemble and paint,
  • The one I'm dreading - a spears and swords repair run on my Dux Brit army. Too many broken plastic spears and unstuck metal ones. I probably ought to replace some of the Wargames Factory plastics with the new Gripping Beast ones, too
  • Figuring out what I need to add to my Normans for Carve Out A Kingdom.
That should keep me busy for the foreseeable future!

Thursday 26 September 2013

Reading forums via Email

This cropped up on the TFL email list, as some folks are much happier reading stuff in email than on a forum, so I hacked up a recipe for getting an email feed of a forum.

Go to, put in your email address and the forum RSS feed address (, and Bob's your uncle.

If you want a feed for a single forum, go to the forum, get its URL (say for the General forum and replace 'viewforum' with 'feed' (so and stick THAT in blogtrottr's form.

To reply, you'll need to create a forum account and do so on the forum, but that's unavoidable.
Obviously, this works just as well for any other forum with an RSS feed, but bear in mind that if you need to be logged in to read certain sub-forums, it almost certainly won't pick them up.

It's also worth noting that if you don't like the Blogtrottr adverts, other RSS to Email gateways are available. MailChimp, in particular, looks promising if you don't mind only getting a feed once per day. If you're code-savvy, it's not exactly difficult to hack one up for yourself in PHP or Perl, in fact.

Wednesday 25 September 2013

Carve Out A Kingdom - reminder - Nov 24 2013

Just got back from a planning meeting for our WAB tournament on Nov 24th here at the club.

You can find more details in the previous posts, and a signup form here. The list of Army lists to choose from is here. There will be fun, inter- and intra-faction strife, prizes, and a charity dice off in aid of Combat Stress.

And if anyone wants Grahame, Andy and I to work out and create the branding and materials for a tournament for your club, like Carve Out A Kingdom or our very successful Bretwalda campaign day? Leave us a comment here and we'll be in touch :D

Tuesday 24 September 2013

Battle Report - 21 September 2013 - Sharp Practice

After a couple of sessions playing Dux Britanniarum at his place, Saturday saw Tim D (of Wargaming Rediscovered fame) come up to visit for a game of TFL's Sharp Practice. It's not a ruleset I've played before, but I do own a copy and I'd familiarised myself with the basics thanks to some videos Rich and Sid put up a while back.

We used my terrain tiles, woods and hills, the bridge I'd knocked up that morning, and some of Tim's scenery including some very nice 4Ground buildings. Forces were also provided by Tim and mostly painted by him, being AB with a sprinkling of Essex.

I chose the British - four units of 8 line infantry, 2 units of six 95th Rifles, a light gun and four big men including the legendary Captain Fondler. Sharp Practice, like IABSM, uses blinds, and I deployed on four, with the one on the hill on my right flank being a dummy. So, amusingly, did Tim, sending a dummy blind through the village across the river on his right.
Once the dust had cleared and we'd all figured out what was real and what wasn't, I had two lines of infantry forming up either side of the central wood, while the Rifles ranged along the riverbank, and managed to take potshots at the French gun and drive its crew off due to excess shock.

Two groups of French started to push through the woods in my centre, at about the same time as a unit of voltigeurs got to the higher ground above my right flank. I sent a formation in line into the wood to deal with the French...

Disaster! The French got the activation first in the next turn (when I was sitting there with a Thin Red Line card which allows me to fire and then charge 3d6), charged me... cue rout of both groups of British line.

To add insult to injury, the voltigeurs then got to activate and shot the living daylights out of my other line before I had time to turn them - result, massive shock (aided by a card that doubled the shock they did).

We carried on for a few rounds after that, but it was apparent that with a large hole in my centre, there was only ever going to be one winner.

So - after my first game? I can confidently say that Sharp Practice does what you'd expect from a TFL ruleset - loved it. It feels like a mix of Dux Brit and IABSM, mechanics wise, but it does definitely work as a set of rules for the period. However tempting it is, though, I am not going to use it to play Napoleonics with the Victrix 54mms. Really I'm not. Gorgeous to look at though it would be.

Many thanks to Tim for coming up for an excellent day.

Monday 23 September 2013

Miniature Bids -

(logo used with permission)
Fed up of eBay seller charges? Yeah. Me too.

Understandably, then, I was intrigued by mention of a new site on various Facebook groups I'm a part of, namely Miniature Bids.

The short summary:
  • no buyer seller fees
  • pretty much similar approach to eBay in terms of fixed length, sealed max bid auctions
  • payment by Paypal
  • like eBay, it's just a 'venue' to contact buyer and seller
I've had a nose around (not least wearing my computer security hat), and it looks pretty good and competently put together. So far, there isn't a huge amount in the way of auctions up there, but people are gradually discovering it, and it's not all Games Workshop by a long shot :D

There are a couple of shortcomings at present in that you can't search by tag so (for example) finding all the WW2 28mm figures isn't as easy as you'd like, for one, and there's no way of restricting sale to specific countries, or having different postage rates to different countries. But, they are aware of these, and they're on the list to improve.

I've exchanged a few questions with Gavin from MB on Facebook, from which I've learned the following:

  • the basic auction feature (as is currently available) will always be free (win!)
  • their business model is to fund the site via advertising and a subscription model, where some site features will only be available to subscribers (but, and I quote, "even at the most expensive subscription package, it will still be cheaper then EBay's version")
  • they have plans in place should they need to handle more traffic 
  • they seem pretty responsive to questions and suggestions for new features (see above)
In summary? Definitely worth a look. I shall certainly be keeping an eye on it as a source of additions to the lead pile.... although, I'm still completely at a loss to understand this concept of people selling figures... :D

Sunday 22 September 2013

Chain of Command - 1940 invasion lists

Big day if you're into your BEF/Dunkirk/invasion of France (and possibly even Operation Sealion) in Chain of Command.

Out today, official 1940 lists from Too Fat Lardies for:

Finally, some opponents for my Home Guard!

Saturday 21 September 2013

Building bridges...

Well, a bridge, anyway.

I was busy breaking out my terrain boards for this afternoon, when it occurred to me that a river without means of crossing it wasn't much cop as a terrain feature.

Time to get busy - five coffee stirrers (some of the last of my swag from the BBC and East Coast trains!), a handful of matchsticks, some superglue...

I omitted to grab some photos of the construction, but basically it's two H-frames of matchsticks, with a split coffee stirrer 'plank' as a cross brace.

The decking is four coffee stirrers, joined at the ends and middle with a smaller cross-piece, and a matchstick as well. Final step is to sit the decking on the H-frames, hold it till the glue dries and then add two more cross braces from split stirrers.

Liberally stain with Army Painter dark tone ink (I may add another coat), and bob's yer uncle: one small ramshackle footbridge in 28mm or larger bridge in 15mm.

Friday 20 September 2013

Friday news roundup

This may become a habit: we'll see.
  • If you enjoyed the Meeples and Miniatures review of the game with myself and Mike Hobbs, you need to know that Mongoose have put up some previews of the new Judge Dredd rulebook. It'll still be available for download but if, like me, you like having a physical copy to play out of, this is the one to have. It's due out Oct 18th.
  • Plastic Soldier Company are having a 30% off sale on all 15mm vehicle box sets from now through to midnight on Sunday 22nd. Must... resist...
  • Upgrading to iOS7 as we speak. I wasn't going to, but one of the family members for whom I do Tech Support has been seduced by the siren call of the magic words 'Update Available', and now can't find anything... Argh!
  • Just finished undercoating all my Home Guard. For anyone else interested, Pat has just put up final draft 2 of the unofficial list for Chain of Command, which should become official soon.
  • Tomorrow I get to play Sharp Practice for the first time with Tim D.
Have a good weekend!

Thursday 19 September 2013

Some observations about blogging and copyright

Prompted, as I mentioned yesterday by a post from Andrew 'Loki' Saunders in the Bloggers Wargames Group on Google+. I suggest you read it, and the comments: I'm deliberately not paraphrasing the contents here, as I'd like to ensure any search queries on the matter get directed to his blog.

I am not a lawyer, so please don't consider this post legal advice, or sue me if, by following your interpretation of my interpretation, someone else sues you :D Your country's copyright law may be subtly different to mine.

That said, let's talk about both your copyright and other people's :)

Copyright, in general, subsists in any expression of an original work. You can't copyright an idea, but you can copyright any expression of that idea in any material form including digital, at which point you own all the rights to it, unless and until they expire or you choose to give some or all of them away. This therefore means, technically, that anything on the Internet is copyright its original author, and you may not copy it (beyond the necessary magical copying that happens behind the scenes to allow you to view it) without their permission.

Let me just repeat that one. Just because it's on the Internet and you can see it, it doesn't mean you can copy it and use it, unless the author explicitly or implicitly (by a blanket statement) gives you permission.

Regular readers may notice the recent appearance of a Copyright page on this blog. It's a Creative Commons licence, in fact, which says, in a nutshell, you are free to use or modify my work for any non-commercial purpose provided you credit me. All other rights are mine, but note that I may choose to grant you (for example) commercial rights if you ask and we reach an agreement.

It's dead simple to set up a page like that one - in fact, the Creative Commons folks provide you with copious links and sample wording, and it costs you nothing. We are a friendly community, and it's simple courtesy to respect someone's rights (and hey, they get a link from you, and will probably return the favour, so we all win). Make cool stuff, share it, give credit where it's due. Simples!

Other things you should be aware of:

  • Amazon book cover images used for the purpose of driving traffic to Amazon and made by their Link To This Product tool implicitly have permission. I would suspect that technically they don't for other uses.
  • Flickr, Google Images and Wikipedia, among others, make it easy to find out the copyright/use status of an image, and what you need to do/say in order to be able to use it. It's not hard to add a caption in Blogger with the appropriate stuff.
  • A lot of national archive photos from many countries are free to use.
  • A photo of a copyright work for review/illustration/discussion purposes is covered under fair use. 
  • Straight digital copying of art from a copyright work for review etc probably isn't - it's certainly a grey area, and I have a couple of images on this blog I need to get OKs for :D
  • (In fact, I have a few pictures generally I need to check out!)
  • Some material is genuinely out of copyright, and fair game. Note that the typical period is 70 years, which takes us back to 1943, usefully!

But, once again...

  • Just 'cause it's online, doesn't mean it's free!

Wednesday 18 September 2013

Meeples and Miniatures 113

Slightly belated announcement, but after a late recording session last Friday, Neil has worked the necessary audio wizardry, and we have a new episode.

In which Mike H and Neil discuss Godslayer (which was an eyeopener for me, since I'd never heard a thing about it) while I attempt to field an unexpected phone call from my parents (good editing, mate!), and then the Two Mikes (that's me and him) explain Judge Dredd to Neil.

That's it for me for a bit as far as things I'm qualified to talk about :D Neil has some interviews lined up, which should keep the episodes rolling for a while. And you might be able to guess some of the things I might be talking about when I'm next on if you follow this blog.

In other news? The Winter War Kickstarter's still going mental, I haven't upgraded to iOS 7 yet, and I need to get cracking on painting my Home Guard as Gary's already finished his early war Germans. :)

Tomorrow, some thoughts on copyright, fuelled by a discussion on the Bloggers Wargames Group.

Tuesday 17 September 2013

Chain of Command Errata and FAQ

Hopefully, this should forestall a few questions on the TFL list and boards :D

Rich has posted an errata and FAQ on the TFL blog - it's a page or so of the former, and several pages of the latter. One to print off and add to the CoC binder, I think :D

Monday 16 September 2013

Battle Report - 16 September 2013 - In Her Majesty's Name

"You're sure, Holmes?" I ventured. 
"Of course I am sure, Watson. Observe - the wheel marks the vehicle left are quadruple, which rules out a hansom cab. The horses are light on their feet, and neat of hoof, which rules out the Clydesdales of a brewer's dray. The wheel tracks are closely spaced, which likewise excludes a milk cart and a number of other similar possibilities. And... If you would excuse me, Lestrade. A step to your left, if you please." 
He bent, and retrieved a crumpled, soggy mass of formerly stiff black material from within one of the muddier wheel ruts, just where the Chief Inspector had been standing. "I believe the enigmatic Mr. Callaway managed to lose his hat. Which, as you will perceive, Watson, is of the variety of top hat commonly worn by members of the undertaking profession. From which fact, coupled with the narrow tracks of the vehicle, we may conclude that our thief is in fact driving a hearse. Singularly appropriate, given the nature of the missing exhibit from the British Museum we seek. Also, observe that this is not one of those vulgar cheap items of headwear favoured of those who bury the general commons, but rather a rather more expensive article that has, sadly, seen better days: that, coupled with the vehicle's direction of travel, leads me to believe that the stolen sarcophagus we seek will be found amid the older mausoleums of Highgate Cemetery. And that Colonel Smythe and the Explorers' club will be racing us there. Watson, Inspector: let us make haste." 
Tonight's game down the club was a first crack at Osprey's "In Her Majesty's Name". I took a force of Scotland Yard's finest, ably assisted by a famous consulting detective and the good doctor, and Grahame took a contingent from the Explorers' Club.

It's a fun, simple system - what Mike Hobbs has taken to calling a 'boutique' game. It's not unlike Judge Dredd in that it uses around half a dozen or more figures a side, places a premium on cover, has a fairly lethal combat system if you're not careful, uses d10s and comes with a number of factions embedded in the narrative. The world is basically Victorian steampunk, with a number of nods to classic writings of the era such as Conan Doyle, H. Rider Haggard...

We went with the Old Cemetery scenario, which is basically an encounter battle over a MacGuffin of some sort placed in the centre of the table... (and yes, I know it doesn't look like a hearse - Grahame's collection of Lledo vehicles isn't that large!)
"What do you propose we do, Holmes?" Our cab driver had taken a leap off the seat at the first sign of trouble, and I took his place.
"Why, Watson, we will seek out the fellow later and recompense him for the use of his vehicle. In the meantime, I suggest we circle past the gentleman from Special Branch and adopt a position of cover behind the Carter-Shaw memorial." 
"As you wish, Holmes." As we did so, a most frightful noise, a bellowing and growling emanated from the vicinity of Callaway's hearse. "Good Heavens, Holmes: what is that noise?" 
Holmes, calmly reloading his revolver, did not look up. "From the sound, Watson, I would venture it is a member of the species Gorilla gorilla giganticus, or giant ape. When you are next in my study, you should examine a monograph I published on the topic after a safari in deepest Africa with Mycroft some years ago. Also, I believe there is a popular rumour afoot that Colonel Smythe has tamed one for use as a mount."
One of Smythe's native fellows had reached Callaway's hearse, and dragged the man off the driver's seat. As I halted the borrowed hansom by the aforementioned mausoleum, Lestrade and a pair of constables attempted to wrestle control of the hearse from him. 
"Look to the horse, Watson, then follow me." Holmes leapt from the seat of the cab and crossed one of the gravel paths of the cemetery at a run, just in time to intercept a pair of Smythe's natives as they attacked two more of Scotland Yard's finest. A shot rang out, chipping the stone by my head as I settled the horse, and likewise ran for cover. 
"A trifle hot, Sir...", observed the Special Branch constable I had crouched next to, reloading his carbine. "Don't like the look of that monkey, neither, Sir." 
I refrained from comment, choosing instead to assist Holmes in succouring the two constables. Just in time, as Smythe directed the great ape towards the hearse. One of the constables had just successfully claimed the seat, just in time for a huge arm to knock him senseless from it. 
"The ape, Watson!" Suiting the action to the words, Holmes pressed home an attack, using his knowledge of the Oriental art of baritsu to evade its clumsy but heavy-handed swipes before eventually striking it an incapacitating blow behind one huge knee. Smythe rolled clear of his howdah as the giant beast toppled and fell, levelling his rifle at me. Holmes, meanwhile, leapt to the aid of Lestrade, too late to save him from a dizzying punch from Patel, Smythe's loyal manservant, that sent him reeling into the back of the vehicle atop its cargo. 
Meanwhile, I closed with Smythe, knocking the rifle aside before he could work the action and pull the trigger. We exchanged a number of passes of a more English martial art, before a misstep on his part allowed me an opening, and my fist met his jaw. I looked round to see Holmes vaulting onto the seat of the hearse, and two more of Smythe's followers levelling hunting rifles at me. "Enough valour, Watson. Time for discretion." 
I blinked, for a moment confused. 
"We have what we came for, Watson. Run!"
Score one for Scotland Yard's finest. My thanks to Grahame for introducing me to the system - all the figures are his. 

Sunday 15 September 2013

Administrivia: Twitter

I've finally succumbed - having realised that I want to comment on a lot of wargames-related tweets, as well as publicise posts on here, without bewildering the rest of my friend list, this blog now has a Twitter account to go with its Facebook page and Google+ page.

You can find this blog at @TaTM_blog (since someone beat me to any of the more obvious ones).

You can find me, personally, at @fleetfootmike, where I've always been, but do be warned that my range of hobbies and interests ranges far and wide beyond wargaming to everything from domestic solar power, cricket, guitar, politics, Christianity and tea to science fiction, Fleetwood Mac, Formula 1, computer programming and railways, and most points in between.

Twitter thinks I should follow Chris Moyles, Katy Perry and Nicole Scherzinger. I'm not convinced.

Saturday 14 September 2013

Chain of Command early war Finnish list

This list is now out - another cracking piece of work by the TFL team plus Finnish Lardie Ville Savin, who's been digging through their National Archives and also written an excellent piece on Finnish tactics to go with it.

If this is what you were waiting for before committing to the Winter War Kickstarter, now's your chance! The Kickstarter's taken off like a rocket - already on well over £11K, with the next stretch goal being a T-26 tank. I'm toying with whether to go for a Russian platoon as well: it's quite amusing how biased the single-platoon pledges are in favour of the Finns (42-7 at present), and I'd like to be sure I can find an opponent.

Friday 13 September 2013

I've been back in wargaming for about three years now. It's quite interesting to look at the things that have changed in that time.

First up, from my viewpoint, the demise of Warhammer Historical (and specifically WAB) as an entry point to non-fantasy/SF wargaming, is a biggie. I've gone on enough about this and the policy decisions round it that I don't need to do so again, but if any of my newer readers want to give me more page views by catching up on my opinions, do feel free :D

GW's confessed business model - to sell figures - isn't actually that dumb, if you step back and take a look at it. Rules are a one-off purchase (unless you go with the 40K approach): if you're a full-time business, the real money is in enticing people to get their lead and plastic pile from you.

There have been a couple of attempts to replace WAB, of which the obvious three are Clash of Empires, War and Conquest, and Hail Caesar. None of them have really taken off as much, as far as I can tell, as WAB did in its heyday. I find the first too close to WAB with the serials filed off, from the couple of games I've played. I'd like to get a better look at WAC, as it's probably the closest in spirit to what WAB 3.0 could have become, and the army lists are pretty comprehensive.

Hail Caesar has the advantage that WAB had, only in spades: not only do a major games company (Warlord) back it, they actually produce figure ranges for it! My issues with it, though, are twofold: it seems to generally require rather more figures than a corresponding game of WAB, and I still find the command activation system slightly flawed.

Next up, the rise of Dark Ages gaming. Specifically, obviously, SAGA, which has been a flash of genius on the part of Gripping Beast and their partners since they've got figures to go with the rules. I still find it a bit beer-and-pretzels: it's a great game, but it's not exactly a simulation (Mike Hobbs and I are recording another podcast with Neil tonight: that should give him a chance to have a go at me :D). But of course, in addition to that, there's the Duxes (or perhaps, the Duces?) Britanniarum and Bellorum, which set out to do different things and both do them pretty well (you know where my preferences lie, though :D).

In WW2, we seem to have seen the steady fall of one big ruleset backed by a massive range of figures, and the rise of another in a different scale, while smart rule makers happily ride in on the availability of minis in both scales. Man at War tried to emulate the former in the Napoleonic period... the jury's kind of still out on that one: they're still going but slowly.

Then there's the (re-) rise of games at the skirmish/RPG-lite scale (I could give you a list, but I don't have all day :D) The likes of Judge Dredd, In Her Majesty's Name spring to mind.  They do sort of hark back to Mordheim/Necromunda, but they do seem to be growing in popularity as a ... if you like, form-factor... for gaming. These do seem to come as 'rules with figures' packages - brilliant if the setting and the rules work, and the figures are up to scratch.

The real biggie, though? Kickstarter. I mean, just... wow. Things are happening in the gaming world that just weren't possible before as a result. As long as people can get their heads round the concept that Kickstarter's raison d'être is advance funding and a clearer idea of the market for the vendor, and not purely loads of cool free swag RIGHT NOW for the buyer, we're in with a shout of some great things coming through it. But it's clear from a couple of notable events such as the withdrawal of the Beyond the Gates of Antares Kickstarter, that not everyone seems to 'get' how best to use it.

That said: wargames? The hobby's rockin', man, as the guitarist in a band I used to be in would say. I can't wait to see what happens next.

Thursday 12 September 2013


It's a milestone. Kate is mandatory.

Let me just repeat that.


That means the last 50,000 hits have taken a bit over three months, when the first 100,000 took two and a bit years.

Scary stuff. :D

Thanks to all my readers, both new and old, and I'll see you tomorrow for the start of the next 50,000, and some thoughts on what's changed in the last two and a half years.

Wednesday 11 September 2013

Battle Report - 9 September 2013 - Dux Bellorum

No, that isn't a typo.

Andy Hawes has played Dux Bellorum a few times, notably in a big demo game at this year's Salute for which he and his co-conspirators deservedly won an award. Monday night saw us try a basic 32 pt a side battle, with, predictable, Andy's Romano-British against my Saxons.

Given it was my first game, and I'd only skimmed the rules on Kindle the previous night, unsurprisingly I lost!

Very much a classic warband vs. shieldwall grinder - on my left, my Companion cavalry and Andy's beat each other to a standstill, on the right I somehow managed to lose a cavalry duel, and as a result one of Andy's units of horse rolled up the centre, where four warbands were pounding four units in shieldwall.

The basic problem was that, taking losses, I started losing command points, and thus took more losses due to not having command points to prevent it :D

Pretty good fun, though: for that scale of combat it plays better than WAB - less random, and more convincing, I think. On the whole? Still prefer Dux Britanniarum, but then that's partly because I have a lot invested in the campaign!

Tuesday 10 September 2013

A few updates

I could spread these out over several days, but that would be cheating. Besides, I have a Dux Bellorum battle report lined up for tomorrow :D

So, here is the news:

  • Congratulations to Gavin of Baker Company, as the Winter War Kickstarter I mentioned yesterday has already passed its initial target and first two stretch goals!
  • For those of you still wondering whether or not to back the above, the official Russian early war list for Chain of Command has just been published, and the Finns are soon to follow. The Russian list is three pages long, including stats for various early war AFVs and the missing rules for Russian Commissars.
  • Another interesting Kickstarter for moulding figure bases. A different take on the problem to a previous one I flagged up.
  • My wave two Sedition Wars Kickstarter swag just turned up. I do appear to have managed to get UPS trained out of leaving it on the doorstep, too!

Monday 9 September 2013

Kickstarter Watch - Winter War 28mms from Baker Company

OK - I kind of was going to shut up about Chain of Command for a bit, honest. But this is too good not to promote:

Baker Company (aka Gavin Tyler) are running a Kickstarter for some rather nice looking 28mm Winter War miniatures, both Finnish and early war Russian. Obviously, just as cool for Bolt Action as CoC :D

While it's not my period, and I probably have enough WW2 armies now, I'm at the least adding myself to the backer count and publicising it, because this one deserves to succeed.

Sunday 8 September 2013

Battle Report - 8 Sep 2013 - Necropolis 2: The Return Of The Dark Judges

(Cue doom-laded music).

Just got back from the club's Judge Dredd tournament - sadly not a great turnout, but we were graced with the presence of Mongoose supremo Matt, who brought along some lovely shiny new toys, including some pre-release figures for us to admire from the new partnership with Warlord. (And yes, I'll be buying several of those!)

We decided, by the way, while admiring Matt's goodies, that the collective noun is an 'overspending' of wargamers. Such candidate 'lines to the wife' were offered as:
  • No dear, they were all at the bring and buy. Really cheap. (Riiight...)
  • No, I've had these for ages! (Good job she hasn't seen Warlord's new releases page!)
  • I traded for these. (As if!)
Anyway: the morning was a straight tournament - 4 games each, 500 pt forces, and a trophy for each of the good guys (Justice Dept) and bad guys. Winners were:
Adrian for the bad guys, upholding
the honour of the club.
Arfon wins Chief Judge, in his first
game of Judge Dredd!
I'm quite pleased to note that after a bad start (two comprehensive defeats) my Judges rallied to come second among the good guys!

In the afternoon we had a single big sprawling battle for Mega-City One. The Judges each got an extra 300 points of reinforcments each, plus Judges Dredd, Anderson and Giant and a Holocaust Judge. The bad guys got 500 points of zombies plus zombie master/mistress each, plus... erm... Mean Machine from the Angel Gang, and the small and trifling matter of Judges Fear, Fire and, um, Death. 


Highlights: definitely Judge Cal (in our campaign, he's still a good guy, though for how much longer who knows) successfully making an arrest check on Judge Fear (cue much consternation)... and a combination of several Judges knocking Judge Fire down to 3 hits before my Psi-Judge Silvas arrived with Psi-Judge Anderson riding pillion on her Lawmaster. A blast from the big bike's twin cannons took Fire to zero hits, causing him to morph into his (2 hit points until he possesses someone) spirit form, and then everyone's favourite blonde Psi Judge proceeded to Psi Whip those two hits from him (and then shoot a passing mutant in the face for good measure), all without leaving the back of the bike.

Sadly about there we ran out of time, with Anderson and Silvas facing down Death and a bunch of zombies and mutants, with Dredd and the remainder of the good guys quite a way away. Pity, really, as it was just starting to get juicy!

Saturday 7 September 2013

Meeples and Miniatures episode 112 now out. In which Neil and t'other Mike discuss Battlegroup: Overlord, and then Neil and I discuss the bits of Chain of Command that Neil hadn't covered before: the scenarios and lists, and the actual book. We wrap up with a three-cornered discussion on WW2 rules generally.

Thoughts? Well - I need to slow down, and turn my mic up :D Other than that, it was a blast. Next time I'm on (which might not be episode 113), it'll be... something that isn't Chain of Command :D

Friday 6 September 2013

Blog-con - 9-10 Nov 2013

An invite to the Bloggers Wargames Group Google+ community popped up in my inbox last night - thanks James!

Even more interesting, they're planning a con - Blog-con (ok, it's not the world's most imaginative name, but it does what it says on the tin) - at the new Wargames Foundry arena in Nottingham on the 9th/10th November. I think the motto's meant to read 'I Came, I Saw, I Wrote About It".

Since I seem to have very foolishly missed out on Scriv's El Cid campaign day on the 10th (silly me), I just might have to go along.

(On which topic? Not too late to book a place at our club's 'Normans In Italy' WAB Campaign day, 'Carve Out A Kingdom' on the 24th of November!)

Thursday 5 September 2013

Chain of Command - Germany 1939 list now up

Heads up, Chain of Command players!

Rich has just announced the arrival of the Germany 1939 list on the TFL blog, with options for Regular and SS versions. Two pages of PDF, so won't kill your printer too badly :D Looking good.

Also, there's now a official Too Fat Lardies forum: and no, I'm not interested in the arguments over which of the list and the forum is better. I shall be using both.

Apropos of nothing: how many of the members of the Historical Miniature Gaming Society Legion d'Honneur have you heard of? Can't decide if I should be embarrassed that my answer is a princely 4.

Wednesday 4 September 2013

Donald Featherstone, March 20, 1918 - September 3, 2013

Woke up this morning to a note on the Too Fat Lardies list (and confirmation on Wargames Illustrated's Facebook page) of the passing of Don Featherstone.

Most gamers of my era, I suspect, cut their teeth on his prolific output of wargaming books: I certainly did, blessed by the fact that whoever did the buying for our village library clearly thought it was a good idea, as there were at the very least copies of Skirmish WargamingWar Game Campaigns, Solo Wargaming, Advanced Wargaming, several of the Tank Battles In Miniature series, and probably others. I don't think I ever actually played anything from any of the books (except for a hazy memory of the school club using the Wild West rules from Solo Wargaming), but... oh, the inspiration. And the sense of 'where the <deleted> does he get all those figures for periods Airfix don't make from?' :D

He was a leading light and inspiration in the hobby for many years, editing War Games Digest, running the first UK wargames convention... The list goes on. His books and thoughts on the hobby probably permeate everything we do as wargamers, even now, even if you're too young to have heard of him or only play Warhammer,

Happily, many of his books are being republished via John Curry's History of Wargaming project. I do strongly commend them to anyone who hasn't read them: the rules may be of their time, but the concepts and ideas behind them are still as inspiring as ever.

RIP, and thank you, Don.

Tuesday 3 September 2013

Of rules and miniatures

Partially revisiting my post on "the rules" from a few weeks back, and partly prompted by a comment in the Meeples and Miniatures Facebook group by Sigur Squrrl. Advance warning - this might be a bit stream of consciousness-y and rant-y :D
"[...] Wargaming is free to design and miniatures not necessarily attached to rules."
Some rules, clearly, exist to sell miniatures. The king above them all is, of course, Warhammer 40K, but if you cast your eyes around you can see countless other examples, many these days via Kickstarter, where someone's come up with a neat idea for a set of rules and a setting, and a range of miniatures to match.

The thing is, some of us are starting to get conditioned to this. We buy the rules, then we buy the figures because they're designed to work with the rules. Depending on how obscure and idiosyncratic the setting is, they may be our only choice. And then (naming no names), out comes Version 2 of the rules, or perhaps Codexes A to D, and we buy more figures, because...


We like to justify it as being because the new rules have given us new choices, and/or because the forces in Codex A are just super cool.

Is the truth perhaps actually that it's because at least in part we're happy sheep and we want to play against everyone else whe's doing the same thing? Not that this is of necessity bad: just.. y'know? Tie your figures to your rules, and the best way to sell more figures is to write more rules! (And then there's the sad knock on effect that this almost invariably results in the infamous codex creep, followed by a re-baselining of force balance in a new version of the rules, followed by new versions of the codices, both of which as previously mentioned cause more figures to be bought... Stop me if you've seen this before!)

Historical gamers have it a bit easier: our settings have a very important attribute, in that they're not anyone else's property. History is not going to get litigious (oo, good word) just because (for the sake of example) Artizan, Crusader, Warlord, Black Tree, First Corps, Foundry, West Wind, PSC, Wargames Factory and heaven knows who else all produce 28mm WW2 figures. (Even if Lucasfilm and TSR may or may not have tried to trademark "Nazi". :D) And, let's face it, this is, when it comes down to, why Warhammer Historical is no more. Because GW aren't a rules company. They admit it in as many words.

But yet, and perhaps bizarrely, we still do it. I'd be intrigued to know how many of the armies at Rushden Phoenix club's recent Bolt Action tournament (at which three members of our club came back with trophies - well done guys!) were made of nothing but Bolt Action figures, and how many of those players had even considered, or were perhaps even aware of, other ranges. I'm as guilty as the next guy - my Napoleon At War armies (ok, ok, I'll admit it - my several kilos of unpainted lead!) are entirely made by, you guessed it, Man At War. And I have no defence (well, except that they're cheap, they come in the right sizes, and they appeal to my OCD :) ).

Admittedly, tournament play can be different - companies can and have set restrictions on what figures you can use, and they are, like it or not, within their rights to do so. And I'm within my rights to choose whether or not to play as a result (and sometimes I do).


Let's look at this the other way round, because (as Neil and Sigur Squrrl point out), just because A requires B doesn't mean B must perforce require A.

It's an obvious fallacy, but... it was quite scary hearing the reports of groups of people who were selling entire armies of 15mm Flames of War in order to play Bolt Action in 28mm, without, apparently, giving thought to the fact that the rules could, with little or no tweaking, be used with their, and their mates', existing figures.

I probably own more Battlefront lead than several of the Flames of War gamers at our club put together (six full infantry companies and most of a seventh). I own part of the contents of three Open Fire box sets. Why? Well, it sure as hell isn't to play Flames of War! I own a fair few GW LOTR figures - one's the most talkative character on this blog, and he's certainly not being used to play LOTR! :D One of my options for a general for my Palmyran army is a Hell Dorado figure.

And this sort of brings us back to the whole thing about the rules.

The very word 'rules' implies a certain degree of inflexibility. And yes, for tournament play, this is inevitable: unless you have an agreed common framework of rules, you have chaos, and you thus pretty much have to go by the book, or at best with clearly documented variations. And it's very easy to slip into the mentality that because the figures go with the rules, the rules mean you can only use the figures with the rules.

Nuts to that :D

There are some brilliant, brilliant figure sculptors, ranges and concepts out there. We're all intelligent and imaginative people. Rules are made to be broken, or at the very least, tweaked. Knock yourselves out!

Monday 2 September 2013

Home Guard for Chain of Command

Haven't had time to start painting yet (apart from anything else, I'm short of 2p's for bases!), but I have been looking at the draft Chain of Command list (which looks a whole barrel of laughs).

Sadly, Stronghold Miniatures, who are the only current source of 28mm goodies like the Smith Gun, Northover Projector and Blacker Bombard, appear to be on an indefinite hiatus. If anyone has either any more up to date info, or any examples of this (apparently it was originally a range made by SDD?) they're willing to sell, I'm all ears!

I did, however, manage, thanks to Paul of Matakishi's Teahouse's excellent blog post on his version of the same project, manage to track down a Lledo diecast version of Corporal Jones' van from Dad's Army. Corgi also make one, but it's 1:50th scale: it actually looks too tall against their own 1:50th Tiger I (which is about 9' high actual size), and as the Foundry figures are on the small side of 28mm, going with the Lledo 1:60 model looks better.

Again, if anyone has one of their models of Warden Hodges van, I'm interested!

Expect more as I start to get stuff painted up.

Sunday 1 September 2013

Back from Kelham Hall

A nice easy run up to Newark for The Other Partizan: we arrived just after 10:30, beating the worst of the queue. They've moved the entrance from the usual for Hammerhead, and it now pretty much opens straight into one of the smaller side rooms. I'm sure this did Andy at Last Valley no harm for business, as you pretty much walked smack into an eyeful of lovely scenery, but it did create a bit of a logjam.

Most of the usual suspects were there: no Fighting 15s, which was probably good for my wallet, and surprisingly little Flames of War. In fact, I'm pretty sure the only FoW boxes or blisters I saw were some Soviets and Japanese on the Caliver Books stall. Surprising.

I'd mistakenly thought Foundry weren't there, but they were, which was bad for my wallet, as I have a
plan for a Chain of Command army involving their rather nice Home Guard minis (sculpted by the Perry's). I was going to wait for a sale (since you don't buy Foundry at full price if you can avoid it)... I was even going to wait as they didn't appear to have the character figures in stock, but I came back a bit later and spotted a single blister of that particular set that had somehow appeared since I last visited. Six blisters at show prices? Not that bad, actually.

Had a nice chat with Rob on the stall about CoC as well, once I'd explained what the figures were for. Probably sold a copy as a result.

The main thing that the group I was with noticed - there was an awful lot of 28mm scale display games and not much else, scale wise . One major exception was a rather superb 20mm "Raid On Entebbe" game from the folks at The Bunker, taking full advantage of what's available in the scale to include a Boeing 707 and, I kid you not, FOUR C130's, as well as loads of support vehicles and some nice airport buildings. The latter, it appears, are actually Scalextric 1/32 buildings with modified doors!

As far as 28mm stuff goes, there was a very nice Western Desert Bolt Action game, although the table did perhaps have a shade too much scenery.

I failed to grab pictures of the War of the Roses battle or the War of the Spanish Succession one (using almost entirely Wargames Factory plastics, and for whose terrain many teddy bears had given their lives).

Ran into PanzerKaput of this parish running a very nice looking VBCW game, which I was going to pop in and have a better look at, but our route back through the show once we'd done didn't take us out that way. Sorry, PK - great to meet you, hope it went well. Also ran into a couple of WD3 folks, and Mr. Shuck.

The other thing I was very tempted by was the Dead Man's Hand Wild West skirmish game. It was being demoed by Chris Hall from GCN (unless I've completely got my names mixed up!), and had the prettiest of 2'x2' tables using some of the awesome 4Ground buildings. Like I said - very very tempted.

All in all? Great show. I'll be back.

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