Thursday 31 October 2013

Building buildings - part 4

My thumb is now sufficiently healed I'm no longer worried about reopening the cut without a plaster on, so it's on with more of the luvverly Warbases buildings.

Having done the first one, the next couple (the Post Office and the Church) are proving much easier as I know what I'm doing! The laser etching on these is really nice - it'll be interesting to see how well the mortar technique works on stone, and I'm toying with the Post Office being whitewashed :D

Apologies for the slightly sketchy post - I've had AndyH round most of the evening in his other capacity as a God Of Rock. The neighbours are probably glad he's left, but much fun was had and two songs crafted, at least instrumentally.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

"Tell Them Of Us"

"Tell Them Of Us" is an upcoming film set in World War One. To quote the description from their Facebook page:
This is a film to mark the anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War in 2014. It is the story of Thimbleby war memorial - the genesis of a beautiful and moving film. It is a story both unique and universal; it is the story of two brothers…
A great deal of effort seems to be going into this - authentic hand-knitted clothing where needed, for example. I have a personal interest in this film as, apart from anything else, the music is being written by my friends (and sometime bandmates) Tim and Annie Walker.

Looking forward to seeing more.

Tuesday 29 October 2013

New toys

Been a busy and slightly mental day today, in which I've managed to do pretty much nothing wargames-related.

On the good side, I now have my spare Macbook Pro (it's a long story!) installed with 1TB of hybrid SSD drive and 16G (holy s***!) of RAM as a pure audio and video editing machine in a quiet corner of the house. Since it's a dedicated machine. all the distractions and CPU and disk killers like email and chat have not been installed - all except for Skype, since I'll be using this setup to call in to Neil for Meeples.

On which topic? Really enjoyed the most recent Meeples - God of Battles sounds rather interesting, and I find myself wondering about tweaking it for ancients as well as fantasy, as Jake has admitted to doing.

Monday 28 October 2013

Battle Report - 28-Oct-2013 - "Dead's Army"

The astute will notice this is the last Monday in October. As is usual, our secretary Rob comes up with something warped to celebrate…

This year, he'd spied my Home Guard, as well as been busy painting figures for our Judge Dredd tournament in September…

Cue Dead's Army - The Undead Invasion of Walmington-on-Sea. The rules were a hybrid, perhaps unsurprisingly, of Bolt Action and Judge Dredd, with a slightly TFL-like card activation system.  If you  want a peek at them, they're up here on Dropbox with Rob's blessing. The game was a fantastic success - the end result was a winning draw for the Germans, with three of the four Home Guard sections taking serious damage, but the Vickers team in the General Store's bedroom, and Corporal Jones' section, were potentially going to hold them off, given the excellent field of fire the former had over the village green. A good time was had by all…

An idyllic English village (complete with telephone box on the green).

Germans arrive at the cemetery hot on the heels of Private Walker, who has screeched his bike to a halt at the phone box to place a warning call to the village… too late...

 Leichnamsturmbannfuhrer Skorzeny begins the ritual to summon more zombies.

Captain Mainwairing takes a suddenly cut-off call at the village green phone box...

Corporal Jones' section advance towards the tide of zombies and Germans crossing the bridge. Hodges' section (with Private Frazer) have abandoned Hodges' lorry and advanced across the field, at which point the enterprising Sgt. Wilson and Private Pike have swiped the van!

Jones' section use the van as a mobile fire platform, with the Lewis gun on the roof... 

…while Wilson's section deploy around Hodges' van to go toe-to-toe with the undead.

The last survivor of Captain Mainwairing's section prepares to sell his life dearly against four of the undead. 

"Captain Mainwairing, Captain Mainwairing!!!! A zombie has ripped Uncle Arthur's face off!!!!" 
Private Pike fails a morale roll...

Sunday 27 October 2013

Some photos from today's all day game

Report to follow - I need to work on the in-character voices first ;)

Chain of Command - The Germans invade the south coast. 

Saturday 26 October 2013

Building buildings - part 3

Assembled. :) further progress temporarily forestalled as I've just managed a very deep cut in my thumb in a non-modelling-related accident. 

Typing one-handed on the Blogger iPhone client. 

Friday 25 October 2013

Building buildings - part 2

Onwards with the Warbases VBCW houses!

Nipped into B&Q on the way home and picked up some 1/4" or so square beading. Using the edges of the finger joints as a guide, I marked up the inside faces of the buildings with a line for the bottom edge of the upper floor by scoring with a craft knife, and then glued a piece of the beading to the wall. Once the main box is created, these will make a support for the inner floor.

Next up, I painted the windows (black for starters), and a first coat on the woodwork (Army Painter Crystal Blue). The latter will get another coat before I start on the lettering (which I may yet hand over to the wife :D)

Then I started in on the brickwork. The base colour I went for is about a half and half mix of Army Painter Black and Army Painter Pure Red. It actually looks quite dark, but that's not unusual with aged brick. (Please excuse my incredibly messy palette :D)

As you can see, this is actually reasonably OK but a touch uninspiring.

The mortar lines in the brickwork are laser-etched, and actually deep enough to hold a little paint. So, once it dried, I was wondering...

 I dug out one of my stash of spare Gü mini cheesecake pots - these are brilliant: not only are they decadent and loaded with calories, once you're done the glass pot makes a great holder for PVA or similar.

In this case, I mixed a wash of roughly equal parts Army Painter Skeleton Bone and water, took a big brush and applied it liberally to the wall. The trick, it appears, is to be more generous than you might think is necessary, and brush with downstrokes the full length of the wall.

As you can see, the end result is pretty decent! It darkens a bit as it dries, and may actually benefit from a second application - I'll see in a bit.

Thursday 24 October 2013

Building buildings - part 1

An order from Warbases showed up today - their VBCW Street pack, which contains 6 buildings, all neatly bagged in multiple ziplock bags. There's a church, a post office, a general store, a pub, a terraced house and a ruined house, all very English-looking.

I thought I'd make a start on the general store tonight. It comes in a ziplock bag with several more inside, for sets of bits that are common to multiple buildings, i.e. the windows, the back yard, the chimney. The corners of the various box-like structures interlock in the usual 'MDF-building' way, namely a finger joint, and there's a baseplate to keep it all square: a minor downside is that there's nothing to hold the baseplate square, so you do need to do a little holding with multiple fingers to get things squared up...

[As I write this, I'm kicking myself as I have a number of clamps out in the workshop to do exactly this: I'll go dig them out when I assemble the next one. :D]

One other minor gripe is that the windows are opaque - just flat pieces of MDF with the framing laser-cut into them: they're easy enough to paint, though, and with the lack of interior detail (compared to say the 4ground buildings) it's not that much of an issue.

I've got the walls of the main building assembled but not painted or joined together: I'm intending to do some detail painting while I can still lay things flat. before I assemble the building. At that point I'll probably decide whether to leave the roof removable and put an intermediate floor in: if I do, I'll need to magic up some floor supports, I think: IIRC I have some small square section balsa that should do the trick; if not, I'm sure B&Q can provide me some square section beading.

More tomorrow!

Wednesday 23 October 2013


"Lancaster" was filmed using the East Lincs Aviation Heritage Centre Lancaster, "Just Jane". It's a starkly simple, sobering, and in my opinion quite superb short film.

Just... watch it.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

An evening at the club, and Dreadball

...and one of the many reasons I like our club :D

Talk about variety - last night we had:

Warhammer Fantasy
Dropzone Commander (must check this out sometime)
Dreadball (ditto, I have a team to paint)
WAB (playtesting for Carve Out A Kingdom)
Battlegroup Kursk
Bolt Action
Dystopian Wars (I think this got cancelled due to one player not being able to make it)
Battlefleet Gothic

Not bad for a Monday - we were impressively full - about 25 people.

Me? I spectated on the WAB for a bit, talked a lot about modding Chain of Command for a Falklands campaign with James (isn't modern technology fantastic when you can order a set of rules online and have them sitting on your tablet/phone inside 10 mins of starting the discussion!), and learned the mechanics for Dreadball.

On the latter? I know I'm late to the party here, but... Very very nice system. Jake Thornton would appear to have a knack for game design and manipulation of probabilities (which as a probabilities geek, appeals to me). I might have to start a second series of articles to look at some of the neat tricks he uses. The core system is based on rolling a number of d6 to score successes against a target number: some rolls you need 1 success, some you need more than your opponent. Neatly, if you get twice as many successes as you need, you get something Good - usually a bonus activation for that figure.

Also, 6s 'explode': i.e., any 6s count as one success and reroll to see if you get another. If you get another 6, you roll again, and so on. This is great partly because it means nothing is ever completely impossible (just sometimes really unlikely!), and with good dice you can pull off some really neat plays.

A couple of other nice mechanics: you can 'stretch' a run by one hex by making one success on a skill roll. If you want to go a second hex, you need another roll with two successes, etc etc. The throw/catch mechanic is nice - you get as many dice to catch a pass as you make successes on the throw. (Something the Vikes QB last night could have learned from!).

To add to the fun, you get a pool of coaching dice that you can add to any roll, but when they're gone, they're gone. All in all, it makes for a very neat system, where you have a lot of freedom of action and whether to take risks, without feeling completely ruled by random fate. I look forward to a proper game when I get my team painted up!

Monday 21 October 2013

Water progress

Not good. The Javis stuff still hasn't dried after 72 hours. Worse, I've run out, so I had to pick up some Woodland Scenics water for the other tile...

...It's supposed to dry clear...

Sunday 20 October 2013

Tabletop Gaming Central

This looks interesting :D

The guys from Miniature Bids are starting up a wargaming blog network, called Tabletop Gaming Central. The best I can do, I think, is quote from their Facebook page:
Launching very soon, TGC is a new community based website for the tabletop hobby scene that looks to help promote hobby blogs by also acting like a blog network.
However, TGC goes one step further and gives the member blogs FRONT PAGE exposure for their posts by taking a 100 word excerpt of the member blogs recent posts and creating front page content from it. This content then links back to the original blog post help to increase exposure and readership for the member blogs.
On top of that, we will be looking for people to help generate site based content for TGC including full blog posts and news articles.
We're not stopping there though! We have forums too for you all to get involved in discussions about your favourite games and also user created groups, so you can create your own mini communities wthin the main community!
 As I said, looks interesting.

Apologies for the slightly hasty post - Andy and I are off to Firefest in about an hour to catch a day of classic/AoR rock, and I'm expecting to be in no fit state to blog later, even if I do get home before midnight!

Saturday 19 October 2013

WW1's Tunnels of Death: The Big Dig

Ok - how did I fail to notice this was on????

A two part Channel 5 documentary that combines two of my favourite subjects - military history and archaeology. A very very big archaeological dig on a massive trench system in the vicinity of Messines, scene of some very heavy fighting in 1917 and the detonation of some massive mines.

Some of the finds are stunning - shells with time fuzes, incredible trench earthworks, stashes of German grenades....

Part 1 is available online here.
Part 2 is available online here.
(You probably have to be in the UK.)

Friday 18 October 2013

Home Guard campaign for Chain of Command

Had a very pleasant lunch with Rich from Too Fat Lardies this week, and had a chat about the Chain of Command campaign he's running for Sidney Roundwood and some others of the Lardies group. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, I've been figuring out how to make this work for my Home Guard and Gary's early war Jerries in an Operation Sealion kind of way; an order for Warbases' rather lovely VBCW building pack is about to be be placed, for a start, probably accompanied by a few of Sarissa's Gaslamp Alley range.

You can, though, imagine my delight when I found this courtesy of :D

Thursday 17 October 2013

Terrain - time to shut the cat out...

Figured it was about time I finished off the watercourses on my terrain tiles. If you've seen these in a couple of recent games, you'll have noticed the river beds are painted but not watered - they look ok from a distance but not so great close up.

For those wondering, the river tiles are built on two 25mm tiles, with the water courses cut out of the top one. Their cemtrelines are 150mm in from the corner of the 600mm tiles, and at the edges they're exactly perpendicular for the first few mm. The cuts are 50mm wide at the bottom and 100mm wide at the top, so the sides should in theory be exact 45º angles and everything should match up. The river bed is them textured with a roughly 5mm thick layer of very lightweight ready-mixed Polyfilla (aka Woodland Scenics Foam Filler only much cheaper).
What I've then done is sealed the ends of the cuts off with good quality gaffer tape (not the £2 cheap rubbish with no stiction), and marked a faint line on the inside 17mm below the top, as a rough water level. The water is, (as for the marsh I made), Javis Scenic Water, which comes in a nice applicator bottle which is actually useless when you're making this amount of water, so I unscrewed the lid and poured, carefully, having ensured it was level with my trusty Tiltmeter iPhone app. (You'll notice that as a precaution against seepage there's newspaper under both ends!).
Now, we just shut the cats and family out of the room for 24-36 hours and leave it to dry.

Wednesday 16 October 2013

More Home Guard WIP

Painting a bit later than expected tonight due to a long power cut!

Here we have another batch of the lovely Foundry Home Guard, including Private 'We're all doomed, sir" Frazer and a Lewis gunner. In addition we have what we can only assume are three old Royal Artillery types (ex-colleagues of Sgt Wilson?), veterans of the First World War, with their Leach trench catapult (all made by Great War Miniatures). Usual routine - PSC English Khaki spray, Vallejo and Army Painter acrylics, AP Strong Tone ink, basing is PVA and a 50/50 mix of Javis Moorland Scatter and Woodland Scenics coarse grass flock.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

A Dux Brit battle report

Not mine, this time.

I really have to share a link to this - a really, really nice pictorial and written record of a Dux Britanniarium raid from John of Wargaming In 28mm And Sometimes Smaller (which would be a reasonable alternative title for this blog :D). His "Chronica Iohannis" is the account of a Dux Brit campaign involving the Angles and British on some absolutely superb scenery - that church is a wonderful model. Also a very neat idea for recording the progress of activation cards which I intend to shamelessly borrow!

Do check it out!

Monday 14 October 2013

Battle Report - 14 Oct 2013 - WAB

As you are probably aware, we're running a WAB tournament at the club next month (Nov 24): as usual, we're putting together a number of scenarios for the day, some of which need a good playtest for balance etc.

Tonight Carl and I tested out a rearguard action scenario, with AndyH umpiring: Carl took Italo-Normans, and I took Normans, having to defend with my rearguard until my main force showed up. With hindsight, I should have dropped one unit, and spent the points on heavy armour for the rest, since a couple of my units of knights proved somewhat fragile! Having said that, though, it was a close-run thing that started out very chaotic and surprisingly evolved into two battle lines by the middle of the session. Carl won by a short head on VPs by virtue of one of my fragile units containing my army standard bearer.

I'll withhold the details of the scenario, since I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, but here's a few pictures - the guys with uniform colour schemes through each unit are generally mine.

Sunday 13 October 2013

A couple of bits of historical news

I was idly skimming the online Telegraph today, while watching the Vikings get absolutely trounced (ok, while trying not to look - it was that painful), when I came across a couple of interesting pieces.

If you're (like me) a Pink Floyd fan, it's always been clear that bassist and lyricist Roger Waters has drawn on, and been affected by, the loss of his father, Lt. Eric Fletcher Waters, during the WW2 campaign in Italy - there are threads of that loss all the way through his later lyric writing. Now it appears that, by dint of some research by a 93-year-old veteran of the campaign (and the head of the Italy Star Association), Harry Schindler, that it's been possible to track down the location of Lt. Waters' death.

Going back a couple of centuries, the National Maritime Museum and the National Archives have been doing some research into the rollcall for the battle of Trafalgar, and turned up, to the Telegraph's apparent surprise, that 1 in 10 of the sailors weren't from these shores. To be honest, given the nature of the Navy in that day and age, I'm not surprised - I'm more intrigued by the 25% that were Irish, and much more by learning that Sir John Franklin (of North-West passage fame) served on the HMS Bellerophon as a midshipman at 19.

Saturday 12 October 2013

Fun in games, and 500 posts

Dropped in on my friend Chris over lunch today - Chris is the founder and organizer of Posh Games, the Peterborough board games group. I inadvertently gatecrashed one of their Saturday sessions, but had time for a chat. One of the comments that got me thinking, as we were discussing board games vs wargames, was someone basically saying they didn't like most wargames (board/hex and counter or miniature) as they weren't 'gamey' enough. After a bit of discussion, we established he meant 'not a simulation', and Command and Colours was produced as an example of what he meant by gamey enough.

Which got me pondering, once I'd got home, as to what he really meant...

I think what he actually meant was 'realistic simulation games aren't fun', perhaps, or maybe 'the rules necessary for a decently believable simulation can't possibly be fun'.

If so? I beg to differ. I can think of a few examples where the simulation is remarkably accurate, and the rules are simple and fun to play. If you can't too, you probably haven't been following this blog long enough. :D

Speaking of which...

...I should also note that yesterday's was my 500th post and I failed to notice. As it's a milestone? Here's some delayed Kate :D

Friday 11 October 2013

Friday news roundup

A few odds and sods that have filtered through during my rather mental week at work.

  • Plastic Soldier Company's 15mm Churchill's are imminent - sufficiently so, you may see some at SELWG this coming Sunday. £19.50 for a box of 5.
  • Neil Shuck's been busy
    • A new episode of View From The Verandah with Henry Hyde - always good for a long journey, this one includes a tribute to the late Don Featherstone
    • A new Meeples and Miniatures - I had no hand in this one, but it includes a review of Dead Man's Hand (which I saw and really liked at Partizan) and an interview with its creator Stuart McCorquadale from Great Escape Games.
  • The Winter War Kickstarter has finished, raising over £50K. I foresee some serious painting in my future. 
  • Mantic's Mars Attacks Kickstarter is doing what Mantic Kickstarters do. I'm resisting this one :D

Thursday 10 October 2013

Chain of Command - Belgian 1940 lists, campaign

An interesting new download for Chain of Command, for those of you with eclectic tastes in forces and figures. Go and visit Lard Island News for the 1940 Belgians list. Definitely interesting - four big sections to a platoon, but no second Senior Leader. and some fun supports - a motorcycle team among others.

If it intrigues you, Warlord do a decent range of 28mm Belgians to draw on.

Also on Lard Island News, my blogging friend Sidney Roundwood is running a Chain of Command campaign using some experimental rules: if narratives in the style of Andy and my Dux Britanniarum campaign are your bag, I recommend you check it out.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Heraldry 101 part 13 - 'patterned' backgrounds

A short one, this: we have two more posts to go rafter this to complete the series, namely one on the edges of things, and one on a collection of little/entertaining things that didn't fit anywhere else.

So - backgrounds. You'll notice that almost all our backgrounds, with the exception of the furs, are single colours. It is, however, possible to have what are effectively patterned backgrounds.

One of the more common ones is a background strewn with charges of some sort. Most of the ordinaries can be used, for example a background can be bendy sable and or, which would be a field of alternate diagonal black and gold stripes.

Now at this point, the more astute among you are wondering, how do you tell the difference between (say) sable, three bends or, and bendy sable and or? Actually, it's pretty simple: if there are an even number of bands of alternating colour (i.e. the two extremes are not the same colour), it's a divided field, so bendy: if there are an odd number, i.e. the two extremes are the same colour, it's charges on a coloured field. Simples.

[As a slightly amused aside, the reason you're getting no diagrams for the above is that Coat of Arms Design Studio GETS IT WRONG for bendy!!!!]

You can do this with most of the common ordinaries and charges. Some of them have obvious names. Some, predictably, don't. Chevronny, barry, bendy and paly should be obvious, as I hope should chequey or checky (which we mentioned in passing in a previous post) and lozengy. Divisions of ordinaries are usually a colour and a metal, but can in rare cases be two of one or the other.
Licensed under the Creative 
Commons Attribution-Share
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Wikipedia user 

For charges, in the absence of a suitable collective noun, we say the field is semy or semé of the charge, for example argent, semé of roses gules. And again, there are more exceptions to this than not: a roundel or, as you may remember, is a beazant - semé of beazants is beazanté or beazanty (as you may have noticed by now, trailing -é and -y are very interchangeable!) A field scattered with cross-crosslets (small crosses) is cruzily, and one scattered with fleurs-de-lys is referred to as semé-de-lys, as in the arms of France Ancienne (above right), azure, semé-de-lys or. 

In the case of a pattern of charges, the rule of tincture should be followed.

There's plenty more - the Wikipedia article on the variations of the field has enough to keep even a hardcore heraldry geek like me amused - but that's it for now. Next up, as I said, edges of things.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

Book Review - "War By Timetable". AJP Taylor

Or, to give it its full title, War by Timetable: How the First World War Began.

I've been in London all day at a security conference, and like an idiot I forgot to stick a book in the bag (alongside the two laptops, iPad mini and notebook). So I figured it was about time to catch up on the collection of assorted free Kindle books I've been picking up on the iPad.

Wasn't sure what to expect of this, having not read anything by AJP Taylor before, but it was fairly short, so I figured I could get through it easily enough. Very pleasantly surprised - it's a fascinating discourse on the progression of actions from the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand (an event that one of my favourite books calls 'a cloud, no bigger than a man's hand') through to the British declaration of war (which will be 100 years ago just before my birthday next year). Very clearly written, with some intriguing insights into what was going on behind the scenes, and I learned a lot.

It was free when I got it, but with hindsight? I'd have gladly paid the £1.99 it is now, brief though it is.

Monday 7 October 2013

Kickstarter watch - Winter War

Just a small courtesy note (off out at half-past stupid a.m. tomorrow,  so this is going to be short)...

If you've been living under a rock this past month, or you made a mental note to look at it and then forgot, the Baker Company Winter War Kickstarter finishes tomorrow (Tuesday) at 1pm UK time.

If you fancy using the figures for Chain of Command, there's lists on the TFL site, and the FAQ for the Kickstarter does tell you what extra figures you need (you can swap any Kickstarter extra for a pack of Russian riflemen, which is what you're likely to be short of).

And yes, I know I said it wasn't my period....

Sunday 6 October 2013

2nd platoon of Home Guard

Despite spending yesterday wearing shades (post optician visit) for the most part, I did manage to get caught up enough today to paint another platoon (and a Vickers team) of the lovely characterful Foundry Home Guard - these are from a mix of the figures with helmets and forage caps. They're not varnished yet, as it's dark and windy outside!

The vehicles are Lledo diecast (as was Corporal Jones' van from last time). Next up, I have a Lewis gunner, another platoon or two and a Great War Miniatures Leach trench catapult, and then I need to start assembling a GWM 13pdr gun and crew, and some Warlord BEF (which do pass very well for Home Guard).

Saturday 5 October 2013

Probability for Wargamers - series summary

I think I've covered most of the useful techniques for figuring out the odds on various things, so we'll bring the Probability for Wargamers series of posts to an end with a handy index post for the series, for those of you who missed some of the earlier ones. Hope you've enjoyed these - there may be more later, who knows!

Probability for Wargamers 1 - Hitting on a 3 - what are the odds of hitting on a 3+ on a d6? What about failing to hit?

Probability for Wargamers 2 - The Gambler's Fallacy - why dice don't have memory, despite what you might believe

Probability for Wargamers 3 - Loot that Farm - looting rolls in Dux Brit, and figuring out how many rolls you'll need on average to succeed half the time

Probability for Wargamers 4 - More on looting - figuring out your best strategy

Probability for Wargamers 5 - The Tea Break Card - what are the odds on a card being drawn before the Tea Break/Tiffin/etc card in TFL rulesets?

Probability for Wargamers 6 - rolling two dice - the probabilities of various outcomes when rolling 2d6

Probability for Wargamers 7 - the myth of averages and rolling 3 dice - why the average result is going to get you killed, 90% certainty, and the odds on getting various numbers on 3d6

Probability for wargamers 8 - +1 vs reroll - working out how various game designers' favourite roll bonuses affect the odds

Probability for wargamers 9 - d20 vs 3d6 - looking at the graphs

Probability for Wargamers 10 - roll 3, keep worst - another interesting dice mechanic that skews the odds on target numbers

Probability for Wargamers 11 - combinations and Chain of Command - combinations - the most important tool for figuring out probabilities

Probability for Wargamers 12 - Chain of Command revisited - using combinations and common sense to figure out the odds of doing various things in Chain of Command

Probability for Wargames 13 - more Chain of Command - more odds, and discovering how, when you think clearly about something, it becomes a lot easier to figure out. And a homework exercise!

Friday 4 October 2013

First lot of Home Guard done

Currently headed up to Hull to visit my eye surgeon - nothing to worry about, just the annual 50,000 blink service. However I did manage to get the first batch of Walmington-on-Sea's finest based...

Thursday 3 October 2013

WIP - Home Guard

Finally (after a week of being too knackered after work to concentrate on painting), I got to lay brush to primed metal this evening and make a start on my Foundry Home Guard.

These aren't done - they need some touch-up, Strong Tone ink wash, a little highlighting on the faces and basing - but they're getting there. I must say, the Foundry sculpts are gorgeous if a little flashy.

Still not sure how I'm going to paint Capt. Mainwaring and Corporal Jones' glasses.

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Probability for Wargames 13 - more Chain of Command

Derek raised an interesting point re last time's article:
"For example you want to work out the "chance of activating a team with a leader present".
The team itself can be activated if you roll one or more 1s with 5D6.
You can activate a Junior Leader by rolling any combination of dice that add up to three. That's one or more 3s, three rolls of 1, or one or more 2s, plus one or more 1s.
If there's a Senior Leader hanging about you can also activate the team with any combination of dice that add up to four.
It's all horribly complicated."
Yes it is :D However, in the case I was raising, that of activating a team, adding a 1 and 2, or 3 1s to activate the Junior Leader makes no difference to getting the team activated, since you can't do that without rolling a 1. But it does improve the odds on (say) being able to rally off a point of shock first :D

However, as our final piece in this series, at least for now, let's look at the really complicated one:

What are the odds on not activating a section (i.e. on a 2) in the presence of its Junior Leader (on 3) and a Senior Leader (on a 4)?

A 2, 3, or 4 will do: the odds of 5 rolls. none of which contain a  2, 3, or 4 are 1/2 ^ 5, or one in 32, or roughly 3.1% (by now you should be able to figure out how we get there), so the odds of at least one 2, 3, or 4 are 96.9%. In fact, we can skip this bit, but let's note that number anyway.

The only other roll that will get us the unit activated is to roll two or more 1s that add up to 2 or more. (Any other result that adds up to 2, 3, or 4 will already contain a 2, 3 or 4, and have been counted in the above 96.9%).

So, we need the odds on rolling at least two 1s and no 2s,3s or 4s. Odds on rolling a 1 are 1/6, on a 5 or a 6 are 2 in 6 or 1/3.

Odds of rolling all 5's,6's = 1/3 ^ 5, which is 0.41%
Odds of rolling one 1 and the rest 5s & 6s = 1/3 * 1/3 * 1/3 * 1/3 * 1/6 * 5C1, or about 1%
Odds of rolling 2 1s ... = also 1% (I'm not showing my working :D)
Odds of rolling 3 1s ... = roughly 0.5%
Odds of rolling 4 1s ... = roughly 0.13%
Odds of rolling 5 1s ... = 0.01%

A quick sanity check - all those should add up to our outstanding 3.1% which they do, as near as damnit (which is why that earlier calculation was useful).

Of course, by the time you've got to here, like me you should have realised that the only roll that will fail to activate our unit is to roll all 5s and 6s and no more than one 1. Odds, around 1.41%.

If you're bored, try a similar calculation for the same without the Senior Leader :D

What are the odds on a extra phase if you have only 4 command dice? How about 6?

If you've followed this series this far, you should be able to work it out. [Hint, you'll need to work out the cumulative odds of rolling k sixes out of n, using nCk.] I'll leave it as an exercise for the eager reader: your prize will be a namecheck in the wrapup post for this series.

Tuesday 1 October 2013

Kickstarter Madness - Reaper Miniatures

Reaper Miniatures are at it again!

Longer-term readers (and followers of Kickstarter) will remember last year's Kickstarter, which raised over $2,000,000 and (if you were into fantasy miniatures) produced an absolutely mental quantity of figures for your $100 pledge. As a veteran RPer, I was very tempted, but in the end didn't succumb.

Their new Kickstarter kicked (yeah, yeah) off today, zipped past its original goal in about five minutes flat, and is already at ... wait for it... just shy of $700,000 from six and a half thousand backers. In fact, it'll probably have passed $700,000 before I finish this post.

I can't really fault Reaper for producing really cool figures that clearly appeal to folks, but... heh. I dunno...  They've clearly got it figured out (dear, oh Lord, the involuntary puns are bad tonight) - start low, offer good deals, reap (sheesh) the rewards. One assumes that since they're doing it again, they managed to pull off the first one without financial embarrassment or major shipping nightmares. (And yup, it just passed $700,000).

And this gets me pondering Kickstarters as a concept again. I think my real problem with the big ones isn't really Reaper's fault. Kickstarters like this, and Sedition Wars, Kingdom Death and the Mantic ones, have the potential to set an unreasonable expectation of other Kickstarters. Not everyone has the time or resources (or even desire) to deliver on a Kickstarter of that scale, but you do see occasional unpleasant comments on smaller Kickstarters to the tune of 'you're being stingy with the stretch goals/we deserve more/ I invested $60 and I was expecting more than this'... Economies of scale apply just as much here - bulk producing models in plastic is massively cheaper than the same number of figures in lead, or buildings in laser-cut MDF, so the likes of the Winter War Kickstarter is never going to hit the same insane level of 'something for next to nothing'.

Conversely, of course you can get it spectacularly wrong: the best example in our field is Beyond The Gate Of Antares: I still can't quite figure out what they were aiming to do. I'm pretty certain if they'd set a lower target than $300,000, and handled things with stretch goals it would have helped. But part of it seemed to be that the whole project wasn't in anyway complete, and more importantly not even completely planned.

The new Reaper Kickstarter's about to cross $720K. Good luck to them!

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