Friday 31 January 2014

Review: Chain of Command - At The Sharp End

Out today, for anyone who's been playing, or wants to, the Lardies' Chain of Command, "At The Sharp End" is a supplement for the core rules that covers the setting up of a Chain of Command campaign.

The supplement comes as a PDF, of 48 or so pages, for only £6, and divides into four sections.

The first covers the basic concept of the ladder campaign: essentially, the system treats a campaign as moving up or down a ladder of scenarios depending on the winner of the previous scenario. At its most basic, you can do this without a campaign map, just using the suggested scenarios from the core rule book in the appropriate order. Next up, one can design the scenario with a basic sketch map - just a simple almost-doodle that suggests the terrain etc for each of the locations on the ladder - Rich's Western Desert campaign on the TFL blog is an example of this. The final approach is to use a real map, potentially of a real campaign, and pick out suitable table-sized areas for each rung of the ladder.

Section two covers the mechanics of setting up each rung on the ladder, and what happens before and after. Section three delves deeper into the Big Men in your platoon, and how they affect the campaign and vice versa. The platoon CO's performance is tracked on three scales - his own performance, how the battalion CO sees him and how his men see him, There are also tables for generating background for your Big men.

Section four is an example of a detailed map campaign, using readily available source material, based on events round Hill 112 during the NW Europe Campaign, and does a very good job of demonstrating how a fairly moderate outlay in time and expense can create a surprisingly detailed campaign. For all the examples in the book are largely NW Europe, the actual system is completely generic to WW2 (and the Spanish Civil War without loss of generality).

At its most basic, as I said? This supplement is pretty much a turn-key campaign set up guide, if you're happy playing a linked set of scenarios with the same 'characters', it's no more effort than doing the same for Dux Britanniarum. The more you put in, the more you can get out, though. I really like it: it's got me thinking of several campaign ideas already.

In short? If you want to do anything more than just one off scenarios with Chain of Command (and who wouldn't?)? Go out and buy - it's worth every penny.

[Disclaimer: I did proof-read an advance copy this week. But I'd buy it anyway!]

Thursday 30 January 2014

Things are looking up….

Laptop battery and charger arrived this morning, for a very reasonable price. Strange how disconnected you feel when all you have is an iPad. It's very nice and all that, but it isn't good for extended periods of typing, even with my nice little Bluetooth keyboard/case.

I've had a very productive afternoon sowing commas, now I have a laptop I can use again. Watch this space.

Wednesday 29 January 2014

Strange tablet...

My laptop battery and charger have died. Which means I'm down to the iPad, until the Amazon order arrives tomorrow with replacements, ParcelForce willing.

So I've been working on this weird tablet thing that has some kind of stylus that leaves marks... ;)

Been looking at adjusting the balance of the Home Guard list on CoC, with some success -forum message sent to Pat, with details, so we'll see how we go from here.

Also, annoyingly, I have some proofing from Rich Clarke. Can't do that till tomorrow either. ;(

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Heraldry 101 - part 15 - a broader palette

Let's go right back to part 2, shall we?

If you've been with this series since the start, you'll remember that I started out with the 'core' tinctures - colours, metals and furs - gules, sable, vert, azure, argent, or, ermine and vair

Time for the rest!

The other common colour is purple, or purpure. Additional to that are a number of other colours, usually referred to as stains: the most common of these are:

  • tenné - from an old French word from which we get, unsurprisingly, 'tawny', is a brownish orange shade
  • murrey - a 'mulberry' shade, sort of reddish-purple
  • sanguine - from an old French word meaning (obviously enough) blood red, is an orangey-red shade. 
Stains are mostly only known in post-mediaeval heraldry, and often found in livery. For those who remember Robert Lewis Stevenson's "Black Arrow", set in the Wars of the Roses:
"The chief part were in Sir Daniel’s livery, murrey and blue, which gave the greater show to their array."
Murrey and blue seems to have been quite common as a livery - the Duke of Clarence and Richard of Gloucester (Richard III), among a number of Yorkist lords.

And then we come to the extra furs, which come in a bewildering array I'll just list with handy examples from Coat of Arms Design Studio.






And there you have it. Heraldry 101.

I hope you enjoyed this series - I'll stick up a handy index post in a couple of days so you can find things.

Respectfully dedicated to the memory of Arthur Whitaker, teacher, Methodist local preacher and my grandfather, without whom I'd not love a number of the things I do today, and whose much thumbed and loved copy of "Boutell's Heraldry" has been my, and thus your, guide through this series.

Monday 27 January 2014

News update

Apologies for a short and sketchy post tonight - I'm up at my parents as Dad is going in for a minor op on his hand tomorrow.

On the good side, I'm hoping to get some revision work done on balancing the Chain of Command Home Guard list done tomorrow while waiting, as well as some more research for the IABSM Omaha Beach game I'm planning for June.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday 26 January 2014

A date for your diary...

For those who enjoyed our previous WAB tournaments, Bretwalda and Carve Out A Kingdom, the club have a provisional date for this year's. Theme as yet undecided, but the date will be Sunday November 23rd, 2014.

We're subject to confirmation with our venue, but you may want to pop this date in your diary.

Also watch this space, as we've also got designs on Dreadball and Bolt Action tournaments.

Saturday 25 January 2014

New Warlord Dad's Army range - Corporal Jones compared.

Warlord have announced the first sculpts in their 28mm Dad's Army range - Corporal Jones.

So, here we have side by side:

Warlord's figure, painted
by Darren Linington for
The Wargames Foundry figure,
 painted by Steve Dyer on

Obviously I can't compare sizes until I get my hands on both, but I suspect the Warlord one will be a smidge larger.

I have to say, though? The Foundry pose is much more dynamic, and the face on the Warlord one looks a bit 'pinched'. The Warlord one, though, does include a sculpt of good old Jonesy in his butchers' apron as well.

Friday 24 January 2014

Games Workshop are recruiting...

Normally, I wouldn't even bother, but...

In the light of the share price crash after their half-yearly drop in profits, this (via Morgan on the Good Gamery forum) is fascinating:
We are looking for someone to spend the next two years turning over every – and we mean every – stone to find opportunities for how we can improve the customer experience in our stores and recommend the ones that will work. We aren’t talking about incremental improvements; we want to completely re-imagine what it is like for people coming into our stores, engaging with and buying our wonderful miniatures. 
It's clear the one-man/woman stores aren't working. Certainly if ours is anything to go by, all it's doing is driving the people who want to play there to our club!

Oh, and if you're listening, GW? There's a whole pile of Historical intellectual property you're sitting on which someone I'm sure would pay a fair bit for, if you're strapped for cash. It sure isn't doing anyone any good where it is.

Thursday 23 January 2014

Kickstarter Watch - Torn Armor

One of the Kickstarter's Neil covered on Meeples a while back was Torn Armor, a rather interesting looking fantasy setting/game that I rather liked the look of, but in the end decided not to back.

It appears all is not well in Torn World.

Neil has a comprehensive update on the subject, and it's not pretty. In short, Alyssa of Torn Armor had issues with her original supplier of figures (in China) so switched to US provider Defiance Games. Which is where things seem to have gone a bit pear-shaped.

Defiance Games, as I understand it, have a bit of a reputation - not least because they're formed from the ashes of the original Wargames Factory, and seem to have been having some issues of their own with cashflow (where have I heard that before?), satisfying Kickstarter backers (mmmmhm...) and changes of management.

It all appears to be turning into a bit of a war of he said/she said.

Goes to prove, sadly, that not all Kickstarters finish up smelling of roses.

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Administrivia - podcasting, Stronghold Minis

For those of you not paying attention, the latest episode of the Meeples and Miniatures podcast is out, in which Neil, Hobbsy and myself (with audible cold) pick our favourite games of 2013. This is the episode we had something like four goes at recording before finally switching to Google Hangout. Kudos to the boss (Neil) for what must have been a heroic editing effort, since we didn't figure out until after we recorded it how the mute button and the recording software interact! (Not well, for those wondering).

And now, a plea. In an earlier post when I was just cobbling together my Home Guard, I put out a plea for anyone with more details of where I might get various bits of the Stronghold Miniatures range, specifically the Smith Gun, Northover Projector and Blacker Bombard. 'Leadboy' replied with a very helpful comment:
"If you haven't found the Stronghold stuff already, a kind chap over on the VBCW Forum has made contact with the owner and will have some for sale to members of the Forum very shortly. You can join and put your name down - I've been looking for the same stuff for ages ! Good luck"
Unfortunately, I can't find the link, and I don't have contact email for 'Leadboy'. If you're out there, or anyone else saw the VBCW posting, please help!

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Battle Report - 20 Jan 2014 - Chain of Command

Not, of course, that this should come as any surprise if you caught last night's hasty post and photo. Apologies for the somewhat hurried post, but I was tired and exceptionally grumpy after having had a complete moment of stupid at the cashpoint and left the money I withdrew at the ATM. Hopefully the bank will be resolving this for me.

Anyway... (and with a respectful nod to Andy Johnson's "Seelöwe Nord")...

I should note I've played a little
fast and loose with the local
geography, but hopefully it's
enough to give a flavour.

North is top right.
It's 21st September 1940. The Germans have launched a diversionary attack across the Channel against the South Coast, and the British command have bought it sufficiently that the real attack, at points along the East Coast from Spurn Point to Scarborough, comes as a surprise...

In the sleepy East Coast village of Fraisthorpe, the bells of St. Edmund's Chapel are ringing madly, summoning the men of 3 Platoon, the Bridlington Home Guard, as swiftly moving shapes scramble up the sand dunes off the beach and head for the village. 


Looking up the road to Bridlington, with
No. 1 section deployed up against the wall.
Carl ran the Home Guard using my figures, and Gary used his newly-finished early war Germans. The Home Guard used the early force from Pat's excellent list, with a value of -4 against the German's +4. After we'd rolled, this gave the Germans 1 support list, and the British 9. Gary took a medic, and Carl a medic, a Vickers team and a Lewis gun. Even with that, it's a bit skewed towards Jerry - they're Regular, with four 10 man platoons each of a rifle team and an MG34 team, plus a 50mm mortar. The Home Guard have 3 eight man platoons, one of which has the Lewis, plus a Vickers. We did toy with picking the old WW1 vintage 19pdr field gun instead of the Vickers, or a Leach trench catapult instead of the Lewis.

The Germans deploy to the south of
the Burton Agnes road.
The patrol phase actually went Carl's way: he got a nice wide spread of markers along the SW/NE road through the crossroads (the Bridlington road), whereas Gary was a touch constrained along the axes of the coast road and the SE/NW road (the Burton Agnes road).

The initial stages were a firefight across a field to the south side of the Burton Agnes road, between one German section and a Home Guard section and the Vickers, which for a while looked pretty much a standoff.
The last German section rushes up the
Burton Agnes road.
Carl brought on a section further north on the Bridlington Road, and they exchanged fire across the fields with some more Germans lining the hedge along the coast road, helped by some mortar fire from the 50mm down on the shingle up against the sand dunes. 

The last German section (taking advantage of Gary getting two phases in succession), rushed the house by the crossroads, and just made it without being stuck in the open at the mercy of the Lewis gun (which fortunately for them wasn't on overwatch, and had been pinned by MG34 fire from across the road).

It was then Carl's turn to get something ridiculous like four phases in a row, and his aim was to capitalise by getting his last section into the small copse south of the Burton Agnes road and try and flank the German section. Somehow, mostly by some not-wonderful dice rolling, he just barely failed to shock them enough to pin them before handing phases back to Gary.

From there on, it all went pretty downhill. The Home Guard squad at the north end of the Bridlington road went down in a hail of MG34 bullets, and the survivors broke and fled. The Lewis team got wiped out to a man, and the squad in the little copse likewise broke and fled... at which point the British force morale hit zero. The Germans had, by then, lost two officers and a good dozen men, so the Home Guard's action wasn't in vain.

First round to the Germans. As umpire, I think the Home Guard were always going to struggle, but I think Carl was possibly guilty of committing his forces too soon, and perhaps not taking better advantage of overwatch. Easy to say in hindsight, of course :D

Sunday 19 January 2014

WIP - beach tiles 3, and a milestone

Just a quick update on the beach tiles:

Grass applied, shingle applied. (The PVA is still drying, hence the lighter patches.)

We note with annoyance that the bloody varnish is STILL drying matt. *grrr*

On the good side, however...

This is post number 600!

As befits the event, and the terrain tiles:

Kate on a beach! (anyone remember that Coke commercial?)

Saturday 18 January 2014

WIP - beach tiles 2

Progress is being made :D

The water is multiple layers of gloss varnish - this is the still-wet layer 3: annoyingly the first two have soaked in and dried matt, so I'm hoping that the solution is simply enough layers :D

The sand is some DIY shed's 'stone texture' spray paint, oversprayed with AP Desert Yellow once dry.

Next step is a shingle layer (Javis grit + PVA) and some patchy grass on the dunes tending towards normal grass at the edge of the board.

Friday 17 January 2014

More from the Royal Mail

An update, via my (singularly efficient) MP on Royal Mail's policy for mailing water based paints.

In short, they're reviewing it "in February". Wow.

Thursday 16 January 2014

Games Workshop end of year half-yearly results.

Thanks to @wartrader on Twitter for pointing this out. The directors have put a brave face on it in the half-yearly report, but if I were them I think I might be a little worried.
  • Annual revenue down 10% from last 6 months of 2012
  • Annual profit down 30% from last 6 months of 2012
I quote:
"During the first half, the rapid transition from multi-man stores to one-man stores and the reduction of trading hours across the Group caused disruption in our retail chain. We also experienced some decline in sales through independent stockists.
"We view these as short-term issues and expect to see growth return in both channels. We continue with our store opening programme (27 stores opened, 20 closed in the period) secure in the knowledge that our one man model allows us to ensure new openings are profitable. In the future we expect to benefit from the more focussed selling operation across all channels against the background of a materially lower cost base."
And then there's the share price… since the above results and the LSE opening this morning, from sitting at mostly above 700 for a long time...

Games Workshop Group PLC
LON: GAW - Jan 16 12:44 PM GMT
550.00-173.00 (-23.93%)

Wednesday 15 January 2014

WIP - terrain tiles

Two beach boards (of four I need to build).

Pretty simple construction: 600mm square 3mm MDF, with a 50mm 'shoreline' built up from 25mm craft foam. The edges are all the same - 145mm to a hard vertical edge on the bank, and then a sloping edge piece made of foam board, 205mm long sloping down from 10mm to 0.
The 'sand' area is currently lightweight Polyfilla, to give the beach a slight rise towards the foam 'shore'. The water is Army Painter Angel Green, with a light overspray of Army Painter Crystal Blue along the edge furthest from shore.

Once the Polyfilla's dried, I'll explain what happens next :D

Tuesday 14 January 2014

WW1 diaries placed online by National Archives, Arthur's letters

For Sidney Roundwood, and anyone else interested in WW1 history and wargaming.

Via the BBC:
Diaries from British soldiers describing life on the frontline during World War One are being published online by the National Archives.
Events from the outbreak of war in 1914 to the departure of troops from Flanders and France were recorded in official diaries of each military unit.
About 1.5 million diary pages are held by the National Archives and a fifth have been digitised so far.
The diaries are linked from here.

Also popping up today is a site called 'Arthur's Letters', a complete archive of letters home from the front by Arthur Dease, a volunteer ambulance driver under the French Red Cross, to his mother. Some fascinating reading.

Monday 13 January 2014

D-Day 70th

As part of the research for some of the club's games we're planning to put on for the 70th anniversary of D-Day, I finally got to watch the opening of Saving Private Ryan. (Yes, I admit it, I've never seen the movie).

May I just say...

... Holy crap.

Sunday 12 January 2014

The best laid plans...

..go oft astray.

Twofold, this weekend.

This year's todo list is already wobbling a bit :D One of the items discussed at the club AGM last week was the number of anniversaries coming up this year and next, and we're planning on doing a set of D-Day all-day games in June as a result. I did a bit of reading on some of the IABSM scenario books I've got, and I now have designs on running 'Bloody Omaha' from the 'Where The Hell Have You Been, Boys?' book. Which resulted in me snagging a Battlefront 29th Infantry Assault Company box set from eBay (for, I should note, about half RRP, which I was well pleased about).
As an aside: Uncle Mike's Rules Of eBay Bidding:
  • Bid once. 
  • Bid as late as you can.  
  • Bit the most you're prepared to pay. (DON'T play 'how much do I need to bid to beat the current leader' games - it's a recipe for losing auctions you could have won)
  • Walk away until the auction's finished. 
End result: you'll only ever get beaten by someone who's prepared to pay more than you. If you can't be around late for an auction, I recommend (and if you say eBay user fleetfootmike sent you, I get three free snipes (as do you)!).
Of course, now I need a couple of boat section blisters as well, and half a dozen LCVP's. Just missed out on the latter tonight [addendum: just grabbed one box for under £30], but I'm sure there'll be more on eBay at decent prices.

So - today's plan was to make a start on two beach boards, not just for Bloody Omaha, as I also need them for both Dux Brit and Chain of Command. Sadly, THAT plan got clobbered by a rather nasty migraine which caused me to spend all afternoon in bed.

Ah well.

Saturday 11 January 2014

Dreadball cheerleaders...

Actually, they're not, they're a batch of Shadowforge and Hasslefree cheerleaders, but I don't actually like the Mantic ones.

iPhone camera was being particularly stroppy with focus on these for some reason - on the good side, I have found my DLSR charger, so future photos should be better.

And just to prove I AM making progress with them - here's a battalion of Napoleon at War French infantry on painting holders.

Friday 10 January 2014

White Dwarf is changing...

I don't normally bother with GW news, but this is quite a biggie....

Via Beasts of War: and I quote, come February, White Dwarf will be changing into…
White Dwarf Weekly
...[a] twenty eight page weekly paper magazine available in trade and retail and will come to around the price of a pot of paint. It will feature new releases, the usual columns and general articles....
Warhammer Visions
Visions takes up the usual monthly slot and will also be in print, not digital. It’s heralded to be a nice sexy looking magazine looking at the months releases with plenty of high quality images [...] Visions should also be in news stands rather than just in-house. The cost comes in at around the same price as the current White Dwarf and is more of a ‘collectors piece’.
Before all my younger GW-playing readers wail about changes to an industry icon, I should point out that when I was your age, White Dwarf was a generic RPG magazine and one of the best sources of unofficial (A)D&D related content going (including such awesome extra classes as a variant bard, the barbarian, the houri (oh man - who remembers the houri?!)). So its already changed pretty much beyond all recognition (even if piecemeal) since then...

Pah. Kids today. Harrumph.

Thursday 9 January 2014

"Revolutions" podcast

Some of you may remember a couple of passing references to the excellent "The History Of Rome" podcast (iTunes link) in this blog: if not, and you have any interest at all in the history of Rome (duh!), I can't recommend this strongly enough.

Mike Duncan (the author of the above) wrapped it up about a year ago so he could cope with the arrival of his new son, but he's BACK, with "Revolutions" (iTunes link), a weekly podcast series examining great political revolutions. Currently he's on the English Civil War.

Haven't had chance to listen yet, but if the previous podcast is anything to go by, it promises to be awesome. Go check it out.

Wednesday 8 January 2014

Plastics vs Metals

I've been at this painting lark long enough, I think, to begin to appreciate the merits of both. Some of it was definitely driven home this past week finishing off both some metal Battlefront 15mms and some plastic ones from the Open Fire box.

The obvious downside of metals is price - certainly in 28mm, metals kick in around the £1.50 a figure mark, whereas plastics by the box work out under £1 a figure (we're talking foot here - 40 Russians in plastic from Warlord = £28, or 57 Russians from PSC for £18.50, or 31 for £14 or so from Wargames Factory  - big range in prices there!). In 15mm the PSC US Infantry box is 145 figures for £18.50, the BF metal US Infantry box 122 figures for £35 (and the Forged In Battle metal US company mega deal or the equivalent from Command Decision or Peter Pig are all about the same price).

Having said that, it does look as though certain manufacturers are placing a bit of a premium on their plastics - compare the PSC and Warlord/Bolt Action Russians.

Economies of scale favour plastic - after the one-off five figure sum for preparing the mould (and tying up Renedra's production line!), the unit cost is pretty low, so if you can reliably guarantee a big enough run, plastics are cheaper. Which of course means that generally the target for plastics has to be popular ranges.

Conversely, the tooling cost for metal is considerably less to get started, hence it's possible to knock up small runs of more obscure things (you try finding a German tank killer squad in plastic, for example!).

However, the bigger issue, if you can afford either, is that the moulding process places certain restrictions on what you can and can't do with plastics. This means, pretty instantly, as soon as you want to get clever with your figure poses, your figures become multi-part, or wind up (like one of the Open Fire PaK40 crew I was painting yesterday) with an undesirable moulding artefact that isn't really part of the figure and makes painting harder. But… given the design process usually starts with three-ups (or CAD, more and more), you can get finer detail on plastics, which I think is more of a benefit in 28mm than 15mm.

Of course, as soon as you go multi-part, one of the advantages of plastics starts to wear away, depending on what value you put on your time: I know how long it took me to assemble 72 horse archers for my Parthians...

With well-sculpted metals, though, the world is your oyster. But the sculpting is the key - if, for example, you look at some reviews of BF metals, some are really awful, with no depth. Contrast with the (fairly recent, IIRC) BF British I just painted, which have just the right amount of slightly exaggerated depth (you do, I think, need to overdo it a bit in 15mm) to allow ink-shading to work.

My choice?

15mm? Metals. Apart from anything else, assembling multipart 15mms is a pain, and in general I find the detail on the metal ranges I choose better that (say) the BF plastics. I may revisit this if/when I get to look at some PSC plastics. For vehicles? Plastic: those really are much cheaper in plastic than lumps of white-metal or resin.

28mm? Torn. To pay for? Plastics. To paint? Tossup. To prepare? Metals, unless someone's getting overly clever with multipart metal figures, then I find plastics easier to glue. My limit's fixing on a shield and wire spear - any more and I'll go for plastic.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

15mm German PaK 40's

I did manage to get some painting done today. These two have been undercoated since about August, but I finally managed to get them painted this evening - they're from the Flames of War 'Open Fire' box.   My one dislike is that a couple of crew sculpts really show up the limitations of plastic compared to metal.

Undercoat is AP Desert Yellow for the gun and PSC Field Grey for the crew. Helmets etc are AP Unform Grey, Y-straps and boots black, any other canvas Vallejo Green Grey. The camo on the gun is AP Oak Brown and Vallejo US Dark Green, applied with the edge of an AP small stippling brush. Not 100% happy with it, but it'll do. I have some StugIII's undercoated to try that on again.

Annoyingly, the wheels on the left hand gun have dried slightly wonky.
I may have to break and reglue.

Monday 6 January 2014

I have had a day...

My last day off, in which I was hoping to manage to lay brush to French infantry for Napoleon at War...

No such luck.

8.30am: shadow wife to Kia dealer to drop off car, deliver her to work
9.20am: head for Sheffield with son to pick up eBay drum kit
11.30am: collect drum kit
2:00pm: return home via healthy lunch at Retford McDs
3:00pm: spend 30 mins+ on hold to BUPA
4:00pm: fill car with petrol
4.40pm: drive son to drum lesson
5.15pm: pick up wife from work, drive to Kia dealer to collect car
5:30pm: drive to Hobbycraft, buy 2 more 4L RUBs and a set of fine Rotring pens to replace the ones James lost
6:00pm: collect son from drum lesson
6:30pm: mug of tea, supper
6:45pm: head for wargames club AGM
10:00pm: home, knackered.

Total distance driven: about 240 miles
Total time spent in car: about 6 hours.

In other news, now Chairman of Peterborough Wargames Club :D

Sunday 5 January 2014

15mm late war British infantry company

My continuing estimate that these were 2/3 done was a way off - 1/3 done would have been closer, especially after I decided to pick out entrenching tools properly on all the figures that had one.

This is most of a Battlefront company box set - 3 platoons of 3 sections of 8 figures (four to a base) plus 3 two-man PIAT teams, 3 two-man 2" mortar teams, two snipers, 1 level I big man, 5 level II big men and 3 level III big men. (For those of you who don't remember, I base my big men on round bases, with the number of figures indicating level. "Bleneville or Bust" needs some level IV big men, and those I may well do on 40mm rounds, as I don't think I can cram them on a 25mm/2p piece.)

Total 106 figures.

Usual approach: PSC "British Khaki" War Spray undercoat, Vallejo Khaki webbing, AP Oak Brown rifles, AP Black boots, 50/50 mix of AP Black and Plate Mail (I should get some of their darker metal paint) for all metalwork, entrenching tool handles in AP Desert Yellow. Overall wash in AP Strong Tone, basing is Javis Summer static grass over Javis Dark Earth scatter (I can't track down any of the Tamiya textured paint).

I'll try and get some better shots (these are off the iPhone) when I can find my DSLR's charger :D

Saturday 4 January 2014

How many wargamers does it take to record a podcast...?


*shuffles feet*

Just four, but so far several evenings. We (that's me, Neil Shuck, Mike Hobbs and Rich Jones) have been having terrible trouble trying to get the end-of-year Meeples and Miniatures review recorded. We think it's some combination of Neil's machine and Skype, but essentially not being able to keep a call up for more than 5 minutes makes it pretty much impossible.

So, tonight, we bit the bullet (after a lot of crying and swearing) and had a serious go at exploring alternative technologies, specifically Google+ Hangouts.

Definitely should have tried this earlier. Call quality is audibly better (even to my tin ears), in 90+ minutes of test chatter we had one slight 'Dalek moment' and no call drops, and recording the call is no harder than Skype (one $17 piece of Windows software, or Wiretap Pro for the Mac for which I already had a license kicking around from a Mac Heist bundle).

Of course, by the time we'd got it all working it was 10:20, and given quite how knackered I am after keeping my son and 6 friends under control for more of the last 24 hours than I care to count? I'm off to bed. But we should finally manage to get that podcast sorted soon :D

Friday 3 January 2014

Wargame armies: "I've got a ..."

Interesting phrase, that. You can tell an awful lot about a wargamer by what <X> is and/or what is implied by <X>. (Tongue firmly planted in cheek here, note...)

See, sometimes, <X> can be "<system> <force>", for example '40K Tyranid army" or 'Flames of War SS army' (or "Bolt Action Russian army" these days, I suspect!). (The system is often implicit or obvious from context.) And you can pretty much guarantee from that that the army is mini-maxed to within an inch of its life, and the owner probably thinks of it as a single entity. I remain slightly boggled by (for example) people I see selling a very specific FoW army who I know are moving to some other WW2 ruleset... Uh... hello? Ever considered you might need some of those vehicles or infantry...?

Sometimes, <X> can be "<force> (based for <system>)". It's a racing certainty that the force is historical. It's probably also a halfway decent bet that they haven't mini-maxed it (with the possible exception of things based for WAB and its children) because their ruleset doesn't do points in that way.

Sometimes, <X> can be "<force> <organizational unit>" ("DAK infantry company", say.) This is the next step up from the previous. Pretty much guaranteed historical, definitely not mini-maxed. And tells you that the owner cares more about the historical force balance than the system, is very likely more into playing scenarios than head-to-head points-balanced scraps, and is prepared to work round basing issues if it gets them a game :D

Have I missed any?

Is it safe? (It's James' birthday and I'm tucked away in the office from a houseful of 14 year olds armed with Nerf guns).

Thursday 2 January 2014

Work In Progress

Mostly just to prove that I have made a start on stuff, you understand :D

I've been rearranging stuff so I can have a semi-portable paint station: this is one of the Warlord 'laptop' paint stations with a set of paint holders for the Army Painter/Vallejo size pots. The palette is an old white floor tile (courtesy of Dewi from our club) and the water pot is a Gü chocolate cheesecake pot which rather satisfyingly fits the hole to the millimetre. The painting lamp is from Hobbycraft - it's not actually that dark in the room, but it is a daylight bulb.

On the Really Useful Box lid are my 15mm British company for IABSM, two stands to a section plus 3 PIATs, 3 2" mortars, a dozen or so Big Men and a couple of snipers. In the other RUB are my 15mm Germans, which have a couple of sections plus a lot of anti-tank units left to paint. Just about visible in the back are two 2'x1's containing - wait for it.... blue-undercoated Napoleon at War French Line Infantry. Don't all die of shock at once!

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Battle Report - 30-Dec-2013 - Ultimate Dreadball

It's a measure of how flexible and quick Dreadball is that we managed to almost get three games of the multi-player variant with four players completed in a club session on Monday. It's also somewhat surprising, given my usual track record and appalling history with dice rolling, that I won two of them!

In case you've not come across it before, the picture on the right shows you the pitch for Ultimate Dreadball - each 'leg' of the board can hold one or two teams, so you can have between 3 and 6 players. There's some subtle tuning to the rules from two player Dreadball, partly to speed up play and partly to randomise play order within a turn, but in general it's pretty similar, and the tactics that work in the regular game seem to work pretty OK in Ultimate.

Once again, I profited a fair amount from not all my opponents actually paying too much attention to the ball. Reuben's human team, probably my key opponent most of the time, was the exception to this, and he won the game I didn't. I also got a chance to make a couple of mistakes before it matters in our club league (like, forgetting that in Dreadball facing matters, and throwing a pass at the back of one of my Jacks' head!)

Really looking forward to our club league, actually. Watch this space for match reports.

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