Saturday 30 November 2013

Black Friday..

Yes, I'm a day late. Sue me :D

Now, I know that, as we don't celebrate Thanksgiving over here, we probably shouldn't do the whole Black Friday madness - but it appears we do.

In the wargames world there do appear to be a few nice deals around. Of particular interest to me:

  • Victrix are doing 3 for 2 on all their boxes until Xmas.
  • Wargames Factory are having a 25% or better off sale - US to UK postage might be a killer on this one, but if you're after their massive 28mm SF Dreadnought-alive, it's 35% off

On a semi-related tack, Rob Avery's "Five Planets" supplement for TFL's "Quadrant 13" is now out - a linked series of scenarios for 'generic' 15mm SF. I have some opinions on Q13 in general, of which more later, but .... this is Rob, and therefore it will be well thought out and put together, if Q13 is your bag.

Friday 29 November 2013

Boardgames - Legends of Andor

I may cover boardgames a bit more in this blog in future, in part because I'm a fan, but equally because as a fan of the Meeples and Miniatures podcast I miss the boardgame end of it :D

This popped up today because my friend, fellow RPGer/boardgamer and sometime bandmate and musical partner in crime[1] Phil drew my attention to the boardgame Legends of Andor. Not least because 'Andor' is the name of a country in my D&D setting, and he was amused.

However, looking at the reviews, it looks absolutely awesome, and I have already succumbed....

Essentially it's a quest-based cooperative game with some brilliant 'teaching' mechanics which mean you start with just a four page rulebook and work up as you get deeper into the setting, has considerable replay value and some game features which one review described as basically too awesome to talk about without spoiling the whole thing. I'll review it when I've had a go, which is likely to be Christmas as I think 'Er Indoors may confiscate it till then!

Several links from Phil's mail to reviews that pretty much sold it for me:
[1] If you love your own lyrics, keep them away from Phil. He's an evil parody merchant.

Thursday 28 November 2013

Thanksgiving and Kickstarters

A happy Thanksgiving to all my US readers - don't eat too much, and don't spend too much tomorrow!

It's not something us Brits celebrate, but I have to admit that lately I am thankful for:
  • an eye surgeon who knows his stuff
  • my wife, who is starting to sort out her work-related stress issues at last
  • my son, who is turning into a good enough drummer at the age of 13 to embarrass me into having to put more work into my bass playing
In other news:

For those of you who were into Heroquest way back when, there is, or rather was, a Kickstarter by Gamezone Miniatures which proposed to resurrect it for its 25th anniversary. As you can tell from the currently suspended Kickstarter, someone isn't happy about this, although according to the cached copy of the Kickstarter on Google, they do have the Spanish rights to the game.

Watch this space, I guess.

As far as Deadzone goes? Nothing from UPS yet. I am, though, a little dismayed at the entitlement issues some people seem to have, judging from the level of complaints over the fact that Mantic appear to have paid a couple of days ahead of time for a big batch of UPS shipping labels. Seriously? Get over it.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

My Deadzone Kickstarter is shipping!

Not, of course, that I have time to paint it… well, I do, but it's down in the queue behind an undercoated Dreadball team, some 15mm WW2 Brits, a serious re-touch and tidy job on my Ancients, shedloads of 18mm Napoleon at War stuff and several boxes of Perry Wars of the Roses figures.

However, I note with some trepidation:

  1. it's arriving tomorrow
  2. it's coming via UPS
  3. I'm required to be in the office all day tomorrow
What am I bid for the location of the parcel by 5pm tomorrow?

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Meeples And Miniatures Bingo

Just had to share this - for those of you who like me listen to podcasts while painting, here's a nice bingo card so you can play while listening to your favourite UK war-games podcast. Brilliant piece of work from Paul of the Man Cave.

Question is - can I play it when I'm next recording an episode with Neil? :D

Monday 25 November 2013

Tidy-up time...

I was rather struck by yesterday's WAB day how embarrassingly tatty my assorted Dark Ages and British figures are. I wasn't intending to use any of them, but Grahame and I had rather held off on picking an army until we knew who else was turning up, and as it turned out, balance was perfectly served by us both taking an Italian City States army. 

So I thought nothing more of it till Saturday, when, in between feeding sheets of card to the printer and unjamming it, I started work on the army list, and my heart rather sank:
"Infantry: at least 50%"
Ouch. That means I needed to find 1200 points of Norman-ish infantry. My El Cid army has 16 infantry with spears (which will do for Provisionati), 12 crossbowmen and 8 archers. That's... just under 400 points. 


However, it does look like I could field a bunch of Milites, which seem to be no armour, shield and spear, from assorted generic Dark Ages figures, and I could cheat another 16 Provisionati from my mail-armouered Saxons...

...But dear oh Lord, how did I end up with so many broken spears, shields and swords?

Answer: 'because they're plastic, and you never finished the whole magnetic basing and putting sheet steel in their boxes thing, you idiot'.

I foresee a LOT of drilling and glueing in my future!

Sunday 24 November 2013

"Carve Out A Kingdom" WAB Campaign day

Here are some photos from today's excellent WAB campaign day down at the club. Huge thanks to Andy and Grahame for organising things, and to everyone who turned up and proved WAB is still alive. We had enough players for four teams of four, the Italians, the Byzantines, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Berber, each a mix of 'native' forces and Norman or Italo-Norman mercenaries.

I certainly had a great time - pretty sure everyone else did, too.

Saturday 23 November 2013

Tabletop Workshop Castle

Another  'oh my' moment...

Tabletop Workshop are now taking pre-orders for their 28mm plastic castle. If it wasn't for the fact that it's tomorrow, I'd SO love one of those for our Normans in Italy WAB campaign day.

Do excuse the rush - I've been slaving over a hot printer all evening and I completely lost track of time!

Friday 22 November 2013

Thursday 21 November 2013

Royal Mail changing restrictions on posting water-based paint.

Ok. This just completely baffles me.

The Royal Mail have now changed the restrictions on posting water-based paints to the following:
Water-based paints, wood varnishes and enamels
The items must be securely closed and placed in a leak-proof liner, such as a sealed polythene bag, so that any inadvertent leakage is contained within the outer packaging. Surround with absorbent material such as newspaper and sufficient cushioning material to protect each item from damage. Volume per item should not exceed 150ml. No more than four items can be sent in any one package. The sender’s name and return address must be clearly visible on the outer packaging.
If, like me, you think this is patently ridiculous, there's a petition here you can sign.

Wednesday 20 November 2013

Peter Fleming - "Operation Sea Lion"

Since a couple of folks have asked, I thought I'd share what I plumped for as weekend listening while I was supposed to be taking it easy. As it turned out, I didn't actually get much listening done - they were pretty keen to get me out of the room on the day, and I spent half of the Sunday asleep...

But, I did cash in a free subscription for a copy of Peter Fleming's 1957 book "Operation Sea Lion". Fleming was Bond author Ian's brother, and the book dates back to a time sufficiently soon after the war that he could draw on a lot more eye-witness accounts than more recent books.

The audio book is 12 hours long, so it's currently keeping me company in 15 minute chunks on my commute... [counts on fingers: so that'll last me about 3 more weeks]. It's read by the amazingly prolific Gordon Griffin, who's done well over 600 audio books, and who has, to be fair, the perfect delivery to do Fleming's delightfully British prose justice, as well as slipping into a quite subtle German accent where necessary. I have to admit, I'm really enjoying it - Fleming isn't a journalist per se, so you won't find this having the tone of something by, say, Max Hastings. He's very much a crafter of words, with some delightful turns of phrase and astute observations.

To be honest? It's a better book to listen to than it would be to read, I think. I'll review it properly when I'm done.

Tuesday 19 November 2013

Battle Report - 18 Nov 2013 - Of Gods and Mortals

Grahame at the club last night brought Osprey's "Of Gods and Mortals" rules for a tryout, so Carl and I got to play.

OGAM is loosely based on Song of Blades and Heroes, which I freely admit to not having played, though I know Neil of Meeples and Miniatures is rather fond of it. I pitched a force of Greeks headed up by Ares, God of War against Carl's Celts - perhaps with hindsight we should have gone with smaller forces, but either way it was a decent introduction to the game.

The core mechanic's quite cute - when it's your turn you can pick a unit and roll 1-3 d6 activation dice, looking to equal or exceed the unit's Q (Quality) rating. For each success, the unit gets an action: if you fail once, the opposition get a reaction with a unit of equal or better rank (Gods > Legends > Mortals). If you fail twice, your turn ends, otherwise you can carry on with another unit.

All ranges and measures are (Saga-style) Short (7.5cm), Medium (12cm) or Long (18cm). Combat is opposed rolls - combat level + a d6 + bonuses. For every +3 you win by, you do a casualty (remove a figure from a unit, potentially kill a legend or God).

Your mortals can add extra dice to your God by sacrificing their activation for an Invocation - if they succeed he or she gets bonus actions - additionally, if your God loses in combat and is 'killed', an Invocation can bring him or her back. If all your mortals die, you lose (other victory conditions are available, but I don't own a set of rules yet!)

So? Overall impressions...


I suspect I was probably still a bit fried from the general anaesthetic on Saturday, but I found the rules somewhat unclear (and badly indexed/cross-referenced) in a number of places. Action is very fluid - battle lines didn't tend to form much if at all, and this isn't helped by the 'you can set up anywhere not within 2 x Medium moves of an enemy unit' rules.

I'm still not sure about it as a system. It was good fun (and for once I won!), but I found it a little tricky to follow in places. It probably benefits another game after another read of the rules, and I'll buy myself a copy before I do!

And if anyone can explain why Short isn't half Medium, i'm all ears!

Monday 18 November 2013

"Well, I'm back…"

…to quote Master Sam Gamgee.

In hospital at noon on Saturday, a bit of admin, three rounds of eye drops and I was on a gurney being wheeled in to the anaesthetist by a very cheerful orderly called Colin around 2pm, and being woken up again by a nurse well before 3, and cleared to go home before 5.30. Only side effects a sore throat (I'm assuming there was a tube in while I was asleep), a bit of a headache, and… very bizarrely, the really nasty back pain I'd been having for most of the past two weeks had completely vanished and hasn't come back since! Full marks to the Spire Hospital in Hull for being excellent, and keeping me supplied post-op with tea which is far too good to come from a hospital.

My eye surgeon pronounces himself very happy. What's supposed to happen when they fix a cataract [link not for the squeamish, but fascinating if you aren't] is they try and judge the prescription on the lens implant to suit you - unless you go for very expensive implants, they're relatively fixed focus compared to the human eye, so you need to decide what you want to be able to do without glasses. My right eye (done in about 1999) went from -16 (pre-op) to -2, which is basically perfect for reading without glasses, so we were aiming for the same in my left eye (-18 to about -2 - yes, I used to have really THICK glasses). Have to say, I think we've overshot, as I can focus on pretty near infinity with my left eye! Admittedly, I still have a fair squint with that eye, so I'd need some correction anyway. I still can't see in 3D, and to be honest I'm not sure I ever will - I've always been very right-eye dominant and my left eye is very lazy.

So - back on Saturday for a final check and a measure so I can order new glasses! Can't wait.

Sunday 17 November 2013

For Judge Dredd fans

Mongoose (and one assumes Warlord) have just announced the Judge Dredd Starter Set!

This is pretty awesome if you want to get started in the game, by the looks. For £75.00 (or whatever that is in Mega City One creds, you lucky citizen!), you get:
  • 240 page Full Colour Hardback Rulebook
  • A complete Justice Department Force
  • A complete Street Gang Force
  • The Academy of Law Training Guide
  • Limited Edition Female Street Punk Leader
  • Limited Edition Street Judge with Lawrod
Not a bad deal, given the hardback rulebook is £30, and the box sets of figures tend to be £30 too!

[Adjusting to life with two eyes that actually focus :D May take a day or so before I can spend my usual amount of time on a computer.]

Saturday 16 November 2013

New from Plastic Solider Company...

Just announced on Facebook:

15mm US Heavy Weapons:
4 x 1917 MG teams, 4 x 1919 .30 cal teams, 4 x .50 cal teams, 4 x 60mm mortars, 4 x 81mm mortars, 4 x 4 inch chemical mortars and 4 x bazooka teams. 
Should be available today (as you're reading this) at Warfare in Reading, with luck.

As will this interesting things:

[…] high quality weathering washes in both spray form and brush-application pots. Designed to complement the existing Plastic Soldier Company Army Sprays paint range and can be used on any painted models - historical, fantasy or sci-fi. A quick, easy and effective way to give your vehicle models and tabletop scenery a realistic "battlefield" look. Initially, 2 weathering sprays (Dirt Brown and Light Brown) and a box set of 8 x 30ml weathering washes (Light Brown, Dirt Brown, Dark Earth Brown, Khaki Green, Light Grey, Dark Grey, Soot and Rust Red).

[Me? I should be about to be 'done' about now…]

Friday 15 November 2013

Looking for podcast and/or audio book recommendations

I'm in for a cataract operation on Saturday (for those concerned, this is definitely a "woo, yay", not an "ulp" thing… my left eye's prescription should be going from about -17 to -2, to match my right, which was done about a decade and a half ago). As a result, I may be restricted in computer use for the following couple of days, which means:

a) this blog will be on auto-pilot for a couple of days - I'll try and sneak in a status update sometime if I can, but otherwise, you're getting posts from the queue.
b) I need some good listening to keep me sane. Sadly, I'm almost caught up on all my regular listening (Dan Carlin's Hardcode Histories, Meeples and Miniatures, Historical Wargames), so…

Any recommendations that I can download before tomorrow (bearing in mind I can grab a free 30 day trial of if I want)?

Thursday 14 November 2013

Blog Con report 2 - Blazing Dice

The other game I played at Blog Con was Dave (from One Man And His Brushes) superb Wild West skirmish game, Blazing Dice.

It uses some very TFL-esque card based activation, and a nice simple skill/combat system. What really makes it, though, is the awesome quality of Dave's figures, scenery and game aids - literally no stone left unturned, no possibility unconsidered.

This, IIRC, was the third game that was run - I drew the Sheriff and his sidekick, Stumpy. The basic plot has been explained in several other folks' reviews, but in short - the Man With No Name (James B) has outlaw Johnny Ringo as a prisoner, who's worth a cool $25,000 in ransom if he can get him out of town on the train. Also chasing him are a bunch of Pinkerton's finest (Sid), Billy The Kid (blanking on who was playing him), and Johnny's gang (Rob). The Sheriff's trying to keep them in order. 

Things started... surprisingly well, from a law enforcement point of view. One of the outlaw gang headed for Johnny - the Sheriff attempted to arrest him, and he refused and drew on him. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. One shot, draw from the damage deck - Fatal wound.

Meanwhile, the Man With No Name makes a break for it. Snaps of a shot at the Sheriff. Misses. Sheriff returns fire. One draw from the damage deck...

Fatal wound.

Who is this guy?

About now, everyone's haring madly for the train. Billy the Kid has snagged Johnny up on his horse, riding across town to the platform, where he's intercepted by the Pinkertons and the Sheriff, who takes a long pot-shot with his Winchester.

One draw from the damage deck - severe gut wound, knocked unconscious. Falls off his horse, head across the tracks.

One of the Pinkertons decides that 'dead' is just fine out of 'dead or alive', so makes a point of finishing Billy off. At which point, needless to say, the train driver decides this is all getting far too dangerous, and opens the throttle. So even if Billy survived the Sheriff shooting him, and the Pinkerton man blowing his head off, he doesn't have a head anyway.

My story is that the Sheriff killed him: none of the witnesses can hand on heart swear he wasn't dead when he hit the dirt anyway.

Johnny R makes a bolt for the train, and manages a distinctly decent fist of it. Just to make sure no-one can catch him, he uncouples the back two cars, and is last seen smugly waving from the rear of the passenger car as it heads off out of town.

A brilliant, brilliant game on a fantastically detailed table with superb rules. Kudos to Dave for a brilliant little piece of work - really really enjoyed it.

Wednesday 13 November 2013

Blog Con report 1 - Chain of Command

8.30 Saturday am, I packed the car, and, once Rob had arrived, we headed for Nottingham (in my case for the second time inside a month, in Rob's for the first of about four in almost as many weeks). 

Foundry's offices proved surprisingly easy to find, with handy and cheap nearby parking once we'd unloaded - all in all an easy run. 

I had kind of a potter-y day - very nice not to be in a rush. Rob helped me set up the very hilly table for Chain of Command, and then I went and spent money on a copy of God of Battles, a German WW2 motorbike combination and some NW Frontier native guides I'd promised to pick up for Andy.

 Having done that, celebrated JamesB's birthday (mmm, the chocolate cake) and said hi to Ian from The Blog With No Name, it was time to run the game :D

Sidney Roundwood took the Germans, and Rob's friend Glenn took Walmington-on-Sea's finest, in a scenario which had the Home Guard defending a village on the edge of the South Downs (it seemed a shame to pass up the awesome Foundry table) against an advancing group of Germans. Thanks to a miscommunication on my part, I failed to borrow enough sections of Germans from Gary, so the end forces were:

Home Guard: (middle era list)

3 sections of 7, one with a Lewis gun, + Junior leader (Cpl Jones, Cpl Ridley, one other)
1 Vickers team
Cpt Mainwairing, Sgt Wilson, Private Godfrey (medic)
Cpl Jones' van.

Germans: (1940 list)

3 sections, MG34 team of 3, rifle team of 6, NCO
2 x Senior leaders
SdKFz 222 armoured car

The Home Guard are quite heavily penalised by only having 4 command dice, and I'm still unsure if their force value of -2 isn't still a bit high, so I wasn't too fussed about the Jerries being short a section (or a mortar) given they had 3 MG34's, and an armoured car with 20mm cannon and MG.

The Patrol phase was interesting, being over a 7' long table - things settled much as I expected, though, with the British having jump off points along the hedges on the edge of the village and by the brewery, and the Germans on and around the bridge and the pub's orchard.

The armoured car put in an early appearance, racing down the road to the village as Corporal Jones' section (in his van) headed the other way and unloaded by the pond.

The Germans in the orchard took several potshots with the '34. Meanwhile, the Vickers in the upstairs window of one of the houses had an excellent view across the wheatfields. which both denied the Germans a safe advance (once Wilson had put them on overwatch) and allowed them to pick at the section in the orchard.

 This they did to considerable effect, wounding two of the German big men and reducing German force morale to 6. 

Meanwhile, Wilson ran (well, strolled in the annoyingly casual way he has) to Jones' section to order them to grenade the 222... one grenade landed in the turret, but it was clearly a dud as it did no hits, merely causing the armoured car to stop and engage the section, of which the major casualty was (sniff) Corporal Jones. 

The 222 raced round the long curve into the village, but was going too fast to take the sharp corner at the T-junction, so had to slam the brakes on. Corporal Ridley, being with No. 2 section by the phone box, decided this was a cue for action, activated, used one command initiative to run up to the armoured car and the second to lob another grenade in the hatch. 


Three hits. 

Armoured car explodes, doing D4 hits to everyone within range. Ridley coolly saves them. Score one to the Home Guard, and -1 Force Morale to the Germans, leaving them on 5.

From here on, Glenn's plan with the British was to fall back into the village (taking some damage along the way) and make the Germans do the hard work across the fields. Wisely, perhaps, Sid decided to go the longer way round via the pond, using Jones' abandoned van and the lack of windows looking over that way as cover.

Captain Mainwairing had other ideas, ordering the Vickers team to blow a loophole in the wall of the house with a bunch of grenades... once everyone's ears had stopped ringing, the Vickers was hauled downstairs to cover the hole, just in time for a German section to attempt to close assault...

The result was very very bloody. Both sides were pretty much wiped out, and while the Germans technically won, the section was reduced to double shock over figures left, and broke... -2 MORE on the German's Force Morale, sending it to 3, and the Home Guard's down to 6, at which point the Germans reasonably conceded they weren't going to take the village that day...

Thanks to Sid and Glenn for playing, Rob for some amusing comments. And my apologies to Ray and Fran for not managing to fit in another game, or remind them I wasn't around on the Sunday! Next time, guys, or come up to Peterborough sometime!

Tuesday 12 November 2013

Remembrance - some somewhat disjointed thoughts

They went with songs to the battle, 
They were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, 
Steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end 
Against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

I'll be honest: I actually prefer the above verse of Binyon's "For The Fallen" to the one most often quoted: it seems to me to speak more of the courage of those we remember.

I often wonder, as a wargamer, how our hobby is viewed by those outside, quite aside from the whole 'playing with toy soldiers' view, that is. Particularly as a historical gamer. Do we disrespect the sacrifices made, and the general horror of war, by turning it into a game? 

And yet?

Pretty much every historical gamer on the list of blogs I follow regularly marked yesterday with a respectful, considered post. Since I picked up the hobby again, it has made me read more, learn more, about the experiences and deeds of men in combat from all theatres and eras of war, than I did in the decades previous. And I'm pretty sure that's true for most of the others, too.

Monday 11 November 2013


"When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Their Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today"

Inscription on the Kohima Memorial
--- John Maxwell Edmonds 1875-1958

Sunday 10 November 2013

Squadron Leader Tony Iveson DFC AE, 617 Squadron RAF 1919-2013

Today, being Rememberance Sunday, seems a strangely fitting day to learn of the passing of one of the heroes of both Bomber and Fighter Command during WW2, S/L Tony Iveson.

One of those rare and fascinating men who (like Guy Gibson) flew both fighters and bombers, Iveson is probably best known one of the pilots in 617 Squadron (the Dambusters) later in the war. He was instrumental in the sinking of the Tirpitz, being on all three raids, as well as any number of other raids between July '44 and the end of his tour in February '45.

His Desert Island Discs appearance is here, and there's a fascinating documentary on him here, in which he gets to fly the BBMF Lanc at the age of 89.

Saturday 9 November 2013

Kickstarter watch - Battlesystems SciFi terrain

If this was in 15mm, I'd be even more tempted than I already am (for reasons I'll explain in a while) - and I'm pretty tempted as it is.

Basically? Massive multilevel indoor SciFi scenery. If you play Space Hulk or Sedition Wars: Battle for Alabaster, this looks like it would seriously rock. Already way past its initial target, with a while to go (finishes Dec 1)

Friday 8 November 2013

Carve Out A Kingdom - reminder

A last reminder for our club's WAB tournament day on Sunday 24th November. It's not too late to sign up if you're interested.

More details here! Note, if you'd like to come but aren't sure if you have an army, do get in touch as we may be able to help.

Thursday 7 November 2013

Kickstarter watch - the revolution is coming!

The folks from Proxy Army Games have announced a very interesting and thought provoking Kickstarter.

To quote:
Proxy War is bringing tabletop gaming into the 21st century, letting gamers create fully custom models online, and then get them 3D printed in ultra-fine detail. Log onto a database of parts, select chassis, torsos, limbs, weapons, mutations, powers, and technology, and clip them together into a unit that is uniquely yours. You can also partner with our design staff to create a custom unit entirely from scratch. Our service lets you make anything you can imagine—from RPG characters to whole wargame armies.
They're talking about the design size/scale in very much 40K terms, but they do seem to be prepared to cope with anything from historicals to scifi/fantasy. Intriguing. I'm not as yet 100% if they haven't set their target a bit high, and some of the language in the promo video seems a bit optimistic, but as a concept it could be a real game-changer.

Wednesday 6 November 2013

Chain of Command demo at Wargames Blog Con

Just a reminder for those who are coming, or thinking of coming to, Wargames Blog-Con - I shall be running a game or two of Chain of Command, which is likely to be Operation Sealion inspired in some sleepy south coast village not far from Walmington on Sea.

These will be sort of partway between demo and participation, as a way for folks to get a grasp of the rules and core concepts.

Also note I'll only be there on the Saturday :D

Monday 4 November 2013

Book Review - "Battle For The Falklands", Bishop/Witherow

Short review tonight - my apologies, but I've driven to Hull and back (and spent an hour+ motionless in a traffic jam) for an eye appointment today, so am somewhat weary, sufficiently so I didn't make it to the club except to pick up some scenery for Saturday's demo game of Chain of Command.

"Battle for the Falklands: The Winter War" is a relatively short book by a pair of (at the time) rookie journalists embedded with different parts of the British Task Force during the Falklands War.

I was only about 18 during the conflict, and I have to confess to not totally paying attention to how the short campaign unfolded. As a result, reading this is something of an eye-opener to the actual course of the war. I would say though that it falls more under the category of 'rattling good yarn' than 'deep military history' - for the latter you want the Max Hastings book, I suspect - I'll let you know when I've finished the latter :D Having said that? Enjoyable read, and probably, to be honest, a good set up for reading the Hastings.

Sunday 3 November 2013

Book Review - "Company Commander",

Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II, to give it its full title, is pretty much what it says on the tin - a memoir written by Captain Charles B. Macdonald, covering encounters in and around the Ardennes forest during the winter of '44.

Unlike a lot of such memoirs, it was written pretty soon after the war, and has an immediacy as a result that you don't get from some of the more recent ones.

I picked this up about a year ago, on recommendation of folks on the TFL Yahoo! group. I was reminded I hadn't reviewed it when the friend I loaned it to returned it today...


In summary? It's a fascinating memoir, and it does give a very definite sense of how small and local one unit's view of the front is. Read it, especially if you want an insight into what it was like actually being in charge of a company during WW2. It's not all blood, guts and glory, but it is a very frank and honest account of events. And please, please ignore the Amazon reviewers who bleat about it not having any maps. It's not that kind of book.

Saturday 2 November 2013

Building buildings - part 5

I went for a different approach today: having decided the Post Office was going to be whitewashed, I managed to find a few minutes when the sun was out and it wasn't windy to spray it white, and the church grey, prior to assembling them. Here I actually encountered the first problem with the Warbases cutting - the church tower has slots to take the flat tower roof, and those for the small church tower piece that faces the rest of the church roof were marginally too thin. I actually had to file the slots larger to get it to fit.

I went for the same approach as with the red brickwork with the grey stone - a thin but generous wash of dilute Army Painter Skeleton Bone. Seems to have worked!

For the Post Office I'm considering a similar wash but of a very slightly off-white, as if you look at the typical whitewashed building you can only just make out the mortar courses.

I'm also debating a different approach to the windows. Watch this space :D

Friday 1 November 2013

The origins of WW1 revisited

For those of you who enjoyed my review of AJP Taylor's "War By Timeline", or even, heaven forbid, bought a copy, I have a further recommendation for you.

Dan Carlin produces a series of podcasts called "Hardcore Histories" - they're usually about three hours long, often multipart. Dan's American, and... the best way to describe him I think is very intense. He does have a fine ear for telling a story, though, and some quite sharp insights into history.

The current episode is entitled Blueprint for Armageddon I, and is (one would assume from the "I") part I of a series about the origins of WW1. I'm about 45 mins into it on my daily commute, and I'm finding it a fascinating companion to the AJP Taylor book. See what you think - you may enjoy it.
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