Thursday 31 July 2014

Cricketers in Wartime: WW1

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

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

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

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Auction in aid of Combat Stress

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 29 July 2014

An all too short a time...

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

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

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

Question is... what to watch next?

Monday 28 July 2014

WAB Tournament - a date for your diary

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

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

Sunday 27 July 2014

Bloody Omaha at the 1940s Fest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday 26 July 2014

Meeples 130

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

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

Friday 25 July 2014

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

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

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


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

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

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

Thursday 24 July 2014



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

...or too busy to blog...

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

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Fine tuning "Bloody Omaha", 1940s Fest.

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

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

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

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

Monday 21 July 2014

"The Lancaster: Britain's Flying Past"

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

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

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

Sunday 20 July 2014

Total Wargamer

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

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

Saturday 19 July 2014


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

Just musing about news, gossip, rumour...

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

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

Friday 18 July 2014

Flames of War WWI reviews

The first reviews of the Battlefront WW1 stuff are out, courtesy of WWPD (unsurprisingly) and Model Dads.

Sadly, these reviews only cover the extra rules tweaks, but they do contain some nice pics of the figures, which do look promising. All I need now is to find a nice set of company-level WW1 rules.

Thursday 17 July 2014

More on Apollo 11

To follow on from yesterday:

I have a lot of strong opinions and things to say about the Apollo program and Apollo 11 in particular. When the 40th anniversary came round, I wasn't blogging here, but you can find them all on my sadly neglected LiveJournal under the apollo11 tag.

But I will paste one thing I said back then:
Learn. Teach your kids (if you have any) about what happened forty years ago (my son now has a 3' high Saturn V bought voluntarily out of his own money, and the sight of him wandering the Apollo/Saturn V Center at Kennedy in complete awe was wonderful). If you haven't, you owe it to yourself to watch one or more of Apollo 13, From The Earth To The Moon and Magnificent Desolation (if you can get to see this in IMAX 3D, as at Kennedy, it's absolutely awesome). Several of the Apollo astronauts have written (or had ghosted) autobiographies: Buzz Aldrin, Michael Collins, Charlie Duke (I now have a signed copy of this), Al Bean, Pete Conrad, Dave Scott, Gene Cernan, Al Worden (a poetry book that's as rare as hens' teeth), Ed Mitchell, Jim Irwin... and also Flight Controller Gene Kranz's excellent 'Failure Is Not An Option'. Missing from that list? the main one is Neil Armstrong, though he has an authorized biography. 
We will not, should not, forget the story of the Apollo missions.
Now the rest is up to us, and there's a future to be won.   
We will turn our faces outward, we will do what must be done.
For no cradle lasts forever, every bird must learn to fly, 
And we're going to the stars - see our fire in the sky.
--- "Fire In The Sky", Jordin Kare

Wednesday 16 July 2014

I don't normally veer this far off tack, but... is a day when I want to celebrate important things.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, the capstone of a series of achievements that, even from this distance, must have seemed completely impossible when they were originally suggested.

I contend that this is one of mankind's greatest feats of science, engineering and sheer courage.

I give you "Fire In The Sky", written by a friend of mine (Jordin Kare, who actually IS a rocket scientist) and performed by another friend, Kristoph Klover. I am completely unashamed to admit that this song chokes me up every time.

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Battle Report - 14-Jul-2014 - IABSM

I ran a refresher game of IABSM on Monday night, for Reuben and two of our Andy's (M and Mac). It was a small scrap - US company + 2 Shermans vs understrength German company with a Pak40.

We did, though, prove that the hill boards we built for Bloody Omaha are nicely reusable. As I think I mentioned, I made sure all the slopes started perpendicular to the board edge, 150, 300 or 450 mm from an end, and sloped up at 50mm in 150mm. Hence, although you might not be able to see it in the photos, we have here a little village in a natural valley.

AndyM deployed hidden, and managed to largely avoid the effects of the US pre-game stonk, The US then proceeded to show up rather piecemeal, #2 platoon getting shot to bits and forced to pull back before anything else had a chance. The arrival of the two Shermans improved matters greatly, as (despite presenting flank on to the Pak40) they managed to take out the antitank gun and make a royal mess of the buildings the Germans were hiding in.

Not sure what the villagers would have said, mind you!

We ran out of time before we had a clear result, though advantage definitely to the US. What it was, though, was a good reminder for me as to the rules, since I need to keep in practice.

Monday 14 July 2014

Chain of Command podcast review

In case you don't follow the Historical Wargames podcast (hi, guys!) or you missed the notes on the TFL forums and list, Pat Lowinger from the Historical Wargames podcast has been interviewing that awfully nice chap Scrivs, including a review of Chain of Command.

Well worth listening to, if you haven't.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Chain of Command list design contest

Pat (author of my favourite CoC list) is running a contest.
"Grab your stack of Ospreys, books or URLs, the latest Coculator and make a list for Chain of Command. I doesn't have to be perfect, it doesn't have to cover the whole war but it should have some basis in fact so please include your sources. It could be a list for a specific campaign or battle or even a scenario like Pavlov's house. Share your knowledge and be gentle with your commentary."
And the prize? One set each for the best and the most interesting list, of a 3-D printed type 22 and type 24 pillbox and an assortment of milk churns, barrels and tank traps. Like the ones he sent me :D

What are you waiting for? Time to do some historical research and get figurin'...

Judging will take place September 15.

Saturday 12 July 2014

Nth generation wargames rules...

From the department of not entirely formed ideas :D

Recording a podcast with Neil y'day, we were discussing certain modern, or less so, rule mechanics, in which I referred to one of the more modern trends (a ruleset with dice based activation, in fact) as a 'fifth generation wargame'. I was rather pulling the number out of a hat, but on reflection it's there or thereabouts...


1st generation is Wise/Grant/Featherstone
2nd generation is WRG and similar systems based on a big CRT
3rd is WAB/WHF/40K buckets of dice systems
4th is where IGO/UGO stops being the norm (card based etc)
5th is more advanced implementations of 4th - there is definitely a line here - IABSM is 4th, CoC 5th, IMO.


Friday 11 July 2014

Peterborough Hyperbowl cancelled

Due to insufficient numbers, we are, regretfully, having to cancel this Sunday's Dreadball tournament.

Anyone who has already signed up should have received a refund.

Thursday 10 July 2014

Flames of War 2014 Tournament Objective

You won't see a title like that on a post in here very often, so make the most of it. :D

In the event that any of my Flames of War-playing readers happen to get their hands on a spare copy of the 2014 FoW tournament objective, please let me know how much you'd want for it.

For those of my non-FoW following readers wondering if I've taken leave of my senses...

Wednesday 9 July 2014

In search of Victrix 28mm spare heads

A friend of mine is looking for the Victrix 28mm metal British Light Battalion and British Marine head sprue sets (to go on their 28mm plastic British), which seem to have been discontinued, and neither he or I can find a source online.

Should you or anyone you know have either or both in your lead pile that you're willing to part with for a fee, please could you get in touch?

Many thanks!

Tuesday 8 July 2014

Monday 7 July 2014

What is a thing worth...?

The stock answer, of course, is "whatever someone is prepared to pay for it."

As you may know, I'm a huge Firefly fan. I own the core rulebook and one scenario book for the Serenity RPG, and I'd dearly love the rest.

You can thus imagine my surprise at the "Six Shooters and Spaceships" listing on Amazon. "6 new from £247.19 - 3 used from £157.57".

Bu-wha....?!?!?!?! (as Mal would say).

Even more so when the most I can find one selling for on eBay is £43.

'Verse is plumb kwong-juh duh sometimes, mm?

Sunday 6 July 2014

A quick lick of paint

The weather was kind today, so the club finally managed to do something we've put off for about two years, namely paint the other side of the 36 4'x2' green MDF boards we own! The only downside - our scenery store is upstairs, so muggins here had to fetch all 36. Made more annoying by the fact that my Fitbit battery was flat, so I didn't even get any credit for the 12 flights of stairs! :)

Saturday 5 July 2014

Book review - "Spearheading D-Day" - Jonathan Gawne


When I bought this on Amazon, I was expecting your usual trade paperback sized WW2 history book...

Not so's you'd notice. This is A4 or bigger, an inch and a half thick, and 288 pages absolutely chocka with photos and details.

It covers all the US special units that landed on D-Day, from the range of landing craft and ships used, through the positive arsenal of things that go boom that the engineers carried, to a look at the design and history of the assault vest. It also contains some useful organisation charts (for example, for the assault sections landing on Utah and Omaha) and a few painting guide notes that I'd have missed (did you know all US Navy personnel on the beaches or likely to end up on the beaches, such as LCVP crew, were required to have a grey band round their helmet, signifying "do not order this man inland off the beach"?).

Excellent book. If, like me, you're researching US forces for D-Day for any reason, treat yourself. And there are copies available from sellers on Amazon that give you change from £15, which is more than reasonable.

Friday 4 July 2014

WIP - Bloody Omaha casualty dice holders

Made a start, anyway.

Warbases do a superb range of dice cages, single though quadruple, for dice sizes ranging from 7mm to 16mm. These are the double 7mm ones, plus the casualty figure I had no other use for from the 29th Infantry box sets, plus a stack of small Flames of War old style bases.

The two dice count shock and kills - I may swap the dice for colours that are a little less garish. Otherwise, next steps are undercoat. paint, base.

Thursday 3 July 2014

"Centenary: Words and Music of the Great War"

As some of you may be aware, one of my other major hobbies is music, both playing and listening. I love it when I can tie my hobbies together (wargaming and photography being a major one, as is wargaming and writing). Hence I was more than a bit pleased when this popped up on my radar:

"Centenary: Words And Music Of The Great War" is an album by roots/folk group Show of Hands (who, if you're at all into folk you really owe it to yourself to check out), with Jim Carter (Downton Abbey) and Imelda Staunton. The band provide the music, the actors readings of World War 1 inspired poems, both familiar and less so.

My copy's on its way. I fail to see how, given the people behind it, it will be anything short of awesome.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

The Great Wargaming Survey

The guys from WSS Magazine (yes, I have finally remembered to renew my digital sub!) have put up a wargaming survey.

For 10-15 mins of your time, you get a digital coupon worth 10% off anything from their webshop (like, say, extending your sub to WSS Magazine!) as well as entry into a prize draw for a 1000 point Bolt Action army (other WW2 rulesets are available). Gotta be worth it :D

Tuesday 1 July 2014

Battle Report - 30-Jun-2014 - Chain of Command

View from the British end
As I've commented a couple of times in the past, the problem with playing different sets of TFL rules that are in some cases only subtly different is that bits of the rules specific to one set have an alarming tendency to drop out of one's head with disuse. Either that or I'm getting.. um... what's the word.... in my old age.

So, yesterday's game of Chain of Command did require quite a bit of flicking through the rulebook :D I was umpiring, Carl taking a platoon of British against AndyM with a couple of sections of Germans defending a small Normandy hamlet. After the patrol phase, Andy had two jump-off points in the village, and a third out wide on the left in a small wood. Carl had two centrally in a larger wood, and the third out wide on the same flank.

And then the madness started :D

Carl rolled command dice. 1, 3, 5, 6, 6. One pip on the CoC dice, a couple of activations and his phases again...

He rolled 1, 3, 5, 6, 6.

He then proceeded to roll ANOTHER THREE sets of dice with two sixes in, for a total of six consecutive phases (and enough 5s that he has a Chain of Command dice).

For those who weren't paying attention a while ago, the odds on rolling exactly two 6s on five dice is 16.1%. The odds on doing that five times in a row is that to the power 5, which works out as 0.011%, or one chance in a bit over nine thousand.

By then, Carl had a Bren team not quite on Andy's jump point, but close enough to deny him it, and a rifle team within 4" of one of the other two (also denying him the use of it), just outside the right hand building in the village, six rounds of mortar smoke covering his potential advance up the centre, and Andy hadn't deployed a thing. Fine initiative from the British.

Andy finally got to roll some dice. 1, 3, 6, 6, 6.

Pause for slightly hysterical laughter. These are my dice, a set from a Battlefront Open Fire box I reserve for command dice rolls in CoC when I'm umpiring so players don't confuse them with their own. My dice are legendarily bad.

Andy deployed a section in the village square, moved them so they could see the British outside the building....

...and Carl, perhaps wisely, used his Chain of Command dice to have them duck inside.

No problem. Some desultory fire rattled off the woodwork. The turn ends, as Andy rolled three sixes, so all the mortar smoke dissipated. Andy's roll.

Three MORE sixes, a four and a one.

After the laughter had died down again (just over one chance in a thousand, before you ask!) Andy brought his second MG34 team on with the one, to cover the village and the Bren team out on the flank. With the four, he deployed his senior Big Man, ordered two grenades thrown into the building and then ordered the section to close assault.

The British lost, got badly shocked, the rather paltry remnants fled, and the Germans followed up into the building to get out of the Bren's line of fire.

Which was probably about where we might have been after about this number of phases. Just, perhaps, not in that order!

From there on, things proceeded a little more sanely, thank heavens. The Bren on the right flank got taken out by the MG34 before it could actually capture the German jump-off point, and the British mortar likewise, eventually, by some naggingly accurate rifle fire. There was a firefight on the hedge line on the right flank, till the German section decided discretion was the better part of valour and pulled back into the village from whence it had come. The British gave chase, and the final action was a very bloody close fight in the square, which the Germans won, despite being down to four men, mostly due to having an MG34 and being on the defensive.

Another great game. Man, my dice are weird.
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