Saturday 31 December 2016

2016 in review

It's been... a year. Perhaps wisely, I didn't plan anything for 2016, so this is all bonus :D That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

On the good side, we ran the second Hereward Wargames Show, which seems to have improved on the last with more games. more traders, more floor space and more people through the door, so hopefully we can continue apace. We seem to have also found a formula for the Meeples and Miniatures podcast that works, which people seem to like, including some excellent guests (I'm particularly delighted to have found both Kirsty Rogers (sadly, no longer working for the Royal Armouries in Leeds, but her new job at the National Trust might yet have potential for more wargames tie-ins) and Harry Sidebottom (wargaming historian and author) as guests, as a change from people with rules/Kickstarters to promote!

On top of that, I bought a 3D printer, which, as well as provoking a lot of discussion on the podcast, has been a real eyeopener in terms of getting stuff made for various games.

Gaming-wise? A lot of IABSM, as well as various other Lardy rule sets, some Kings of War and a few interesting one offs including Full Thrust, Altar of Freedom and Halo Fleet Battles.

Various things got painted - mostly 3D printed vehicles - and I did finally start in on the 4Ground French 15mm stash. A bit.

Secret projects have come and gone:

  • Sekret Projekt W has been pre-empted (very well) by someone else, so is probably shelved;
  • Sekret Projekt D (the Dux Britanniarum Compendium) is on the go - as I've said a couple of times, playtesting is important for the scenarios, so it's going to take a while yet;
  • Sekret Projekt A is still being thought about, though I have identified several potential customers;
  • Sekret Projekt L, the Lardy Lists site, is on hold pending me finding a week with nothing else to do to get it caught up with all you prolific people;
  • Sekret Projekt P is rolling along nicely, thank you;
  • Sekret Projekt C is next in the writing queue after D.
On the not-so-good side, my eye is still playing up. And we lost Nick Hawkins.

Watch this space for New Year Resolutions tomorrow.

Monday 26 December 2016

Secret Santa

Many thanks to my wargames Secret Santa for reminding me how nice the Napoleon At War 18mm sculpts are. I really MUST work on getting the stash painted this next year!

Sunday 25 December 2016

A Merry Christmas to all my readers

Written in advance, since I fully expect to be on the list of creatures not stirring by midnight, or in church for Midnight Mass, depending on how the mood takes us. The former being slightly more likely as I'm in church again at 9:15 to play bass in the Christmas morning service :D [Amused note for the musically-minded - the hymn list includes 'While Shepherds...' to the tune 'Cranbrook'.]

Here we are again then. Hoping Santa and his helpers bring you lots of cool gaming stuff for Christmas: as usual, Anne and I exchanging small token presents and leaving each other to buy what we want, so I'm expecting a pair of socks :D On the 'things I've bought' list, I have Battlefront's rather nice Italian Monastery (it's only spoilt by the fact that the paving stones are a flat, unrealistic grey, despite everything else being nicely textured and shaded). Also two boxes of their vineyards, a German pioneer platoon, some 4Ground 15mm chain link fencing, three reels of 3D printer filament, and whatever the wargaming Secret Santa is bringing me (I have a guess, given who it was bought from, mind).

In addition, I received a very nice gift a little earlier in the month from podcast listener Jonathan Yuengling, namely three rather nice resin 15mm WW2 support vehicles (a Dingo and a couple of trucks) from Gaming Models in the US - once I get round to them in the to-paint list, I promise some photos and a review. Thanks, Jon!

Yesterday's other nice surprise was the Too Fat Lardies Christmas Special - kudos to Nick and Rich for getting it out in time despite the ravages of 2016, and I'm in it! If you've been following the club's recent IABSM adventures, this is the Out Of The Frying Pan scenario for IASBM. Enjoy!

And that's that. Best wishes for a peaceful, stress-free and drama-free Christmas. See you on the flip side!

Saturday 24 December 2016

Battle Report - 19 Dec 2016 - IABSM "The Road To San Marco"

Another IABSM2 conversion, this from Rich Clarke's "Cymru Am Byth" scenario book which tracks the Welsh Guards throughout WW2.

Nice simple set up - the Germans are defending the town of San Marco as the Welsh Guards drive north from Perugia. This was a long-promised teaching game for the club, so we had old hands (if a little rusty) AndyM and MarkJ (long time no see!) commanding the Germans' scattered couple of platoons, a StuG, a PAK 38 and some off table mountain guns, and Carl took charge of the British company and two troops of Sherman IIIs, assisted by Colin, Ash, Pippa and Tom.

Things started badly when I realised I'd forgotten the box with the StuG III in it, but decided I'd brazen it out and let the Germans place a Tiger (with StuG III stats) on the table instead, 'cause after all everything's a Tiger when it starts out :D Carl was most amused. Other than that I made a few tweaks - the British didn't have 2" mortars and PIAT's listed, which seemed odd, so they got them, and the Germans' Kubelwagen got a Panzershrek, just to even things up a bit. (Still not sure what that's intended for - it seems not to be beefy enough to pull a PAK38).

I'll let the pictures tell the story, with a note that this was SO different to a Normandy game - the lack of head-high bocage makes for a whole different approach to the game.

The table. Mats by Deepcut, hills on the left by the Tree
Fellas, remaining hills by Andy Hawes, roads by S&A Scenics...
...factory by Sarissa, railings and  Italian town 3D printed by me.

The fun's already started, as a section of British 3 platoon, sent out in
advance by the CO to see what's afoot,  has dismounted from its trucks,
wandered into the olive grove and just about fallen over two sections of the
German infantry Zug. It was rather rapidly reduced to 0 actions...
Meanwhile, 3 Platoon's mortar is laying smoke...
...while a troop of the 16th/5th Lancers are forcing their way through
the olive grove. The German Zug is rather regretting its decision
to re-enter the trees... 
View from over the olive pressing plant. The other troop of the 16th/5th
has already lost its CO to the Stug - the double 6 to hit (and thus bonus 3
dice) doing most of the damage there. The brewed-up Sherman can be
seen in the distance just to the left of the chimney.

The smoke laying job has been taken over by 1 Platoon up in the cutting on
the hill behind the single house, as 3 Platoon's mortar team just got cut
in half by two MG34s.
The 'Tiger' lurking behind a house. (The roof material is Wills 00 pantile
sheet). Also visible one of the German MG teams and the overall German
CO. (And some Battlefront vineyards, with a heavy ink wash to hide
the hideously bright green!)
Starting to look a little dicey for Jerry now. The infantry Zug in the olive
trees is getting pounded by 1 Platoon and the Shermans, with 2 Platoon
still in its trucks following in the Shermans' wake. Their Panzerfaust has
just missed the lead Sherman centre left. The pall of smoke in the top right
corner reveals where the tanks on the road unleashed on the StuG.
And there we have it. The Germans are pinned and shocked, and about to lose
their bottle. The forces in the village are about to follow their orders, and
having given the British something of a bloody nose, are falling back.
And we finished inside the time available!

Friday 23 December 2016

Battle Report - 12 Dec 2016 - IABSM "Vacqueville '44"

"Vacqueville '44" is a historical scenario from the 2014 TFL Summer Special, courtesy of the the man himself, Nick Skinner. I suspect it may have been sitting in his files a while, as it's clearly an IABSM 2 scenario, so a bit of tweaking was called for :D

Short summary - the US on their way inland from Omaha Beach have to deal with a German strongpoint in the hamlet of Vacqueville (just south of Vierville-sur-Mer). The summer special has a nice map, but I provided Carl and Tom (the Americans) with a reconnaissance photo from NCAP with some suitable annotations from which to form a plan.

Achtung! Minen! (Minefield from a brilliant idea
courtesy of John Bond.)
AndyB took the Germans, who are very limited in terms of command, and rigged a fairly spirited defence, helped greatly by channeling the Americans around a minefield placed SE of the main farm complex to the SW of the farm track just before it pierces the hedge. He had a tripod MG42 and a PAK 38 firing from the south-westernmost buildings to discourage the Americans from end-around-ing in that direction, which pretty much meant the American attack was through the orchard to the NE of the farm.

One American platoon wound up pinned against the SW/NE hedge, while one came up the bocage-lined road and the other worked its way through the orchard from the SE. Their main problem proved to be a couple of infantry sections, one in the whitewashed house, one against the bocage. While the later was relatively swiftly reduced to zero actions, it did give the approaching platoon something of a bloody nose.
Farm buildings near the camera are 4Ground, the far two
are 3D printed.

By the time that first German section had retreated in disorder, the one in the whitewashed cottage had started to give a very good account of itself, causing most of that approaching American platoon to be very keen to keep its head down.

About then the turn card finally put in its sixth appearance, and the telltale rumble of armour could be heard. Sadly, not German. To add insult to injury, the American FOO finally managed to get some sense out of the battery of 105s on the other end of his radio, and (fortunately fairly inaccurate) shelling began.

The Americans have the orchard, but the Germans in the
whitewashed cottage and the carriage barn do have a
pretty good field of fire...
Sadly that's about where we had to leave it - we're definitely getting quicker with IABSM, and the practice definitely improves matters, though I will be switching from the official QRS (which misses a whole load of small special case rules that happen a lot) to the one from the Sgt Perry's Heroes blog.

Not sure who'd have won this - if the Panzershrek team made it to a suitable vantage point in time, I think the Germans might have been in with a shout, if nothing else because there'd have been a blazing Sherman or two blocking the road. Andy B did a great job holding off the Americans as well as he did.

Wednesday 21 December 2016

"To Britain's Shores" - Chapter 16 - The Boar Hunt

"What myth are we chasing this time?" We're jogging through the woods towards the bank of a fairly generous stream. "Some golden horse? Some saint's dried up private parts?"

Aelfric laughs, claps me on the shoulder. "Good honest boar."

I snort. "Not sure there's anything honest about something with tusks and a bad temper."

The Young Wolf chuckles. Evidently he's in a good mood today. "At least you know it's going to be mad at you."

We pause a few hundred paces before the bank, near the edge of the wood, and Aelfric turns to Ecgwine. "Take your men and the archers. See what you can flush out. But stay this side of the water."

Ecgwine brisiles a little at the restriction, but nods. Lavinia and her handful of archers are already roving ahead, moving from bush to bush towards the water's edge. He and his men follow, surprisingly quietly. Aelfric nods approvingly. "You and Theobald did a good job with him, Godric."

"Aye." I catch sight of a head of raven hair before it and its female owner disappear amid the scrub. "Not sure I can take all the credit, mind."

He nods. "Aye. Still a mystery, that one. Beornwulf knows something, but he won't tell..."

"You could make him."

A shake of his head. "It'll out in its own time. Or when it becomes a problem."

"I hope you're..." 

I'm interrupted by a yell from one of Beornwulf's men, ranging ahead and to our left, "The British!"

I sigh, unsheathe my sword. "I knew this was too good to be true."

Damn right it is.

He told them to stay this side of the water. But no. Lavinia and her little band flush the boar, and Ecgwene's men, with much whooping and yelling, chase after it, and, rather than facing up to them it turns and splashes its way across the stream, and the idiots follow it. I don't know if they don't see the British, or figure they will be too late to arrive, but by the time the archers are back this side of the river, Ecgwine has brought down the boar with a spear thrust, and their little man is almost on them with a considerably greater number of their warriors.

Nothing I can do. Aelfric has led us leftwards, skirting another clump of trees, to head off their Praefect and his hearth guard, while Beornwulf follows after Ecgwine with another two bands of our warriors. 

"Odin's balls," Aelfric growls, "Why doesn't he just leave the damn carcass...?"

Ecgwine's band, boar hauled between two of them, struggle across the stream, one or two slipping on wet rocks, with the Britons right behind. For a moment I think they'll made it far enough that the little man won't risk it for fear of Beornwulf's warriors approaching along the near bank, but no: with a great battle cry they ford the stream...

In the grand scheme of things? Not the little man's wisest course. Sure, he and his men rush on Ecgwine's, and I, like Lavinia's group of young bowmen, can only watch as they fall. But Beornwulf waves his great axe above his head, twin to the one his father Wulfhere carries still in Petvaria, and roars aloud like the bear he's named after... "DEATH! Death to the Britons!" They charge into the enemy flank, swords and spears reddening with British blood, and swiftly break them.

But the damage is done.

I watch her, not saying a word, as she kneels by his body, touches a hand to his cheek, then to the great rent in his mail where a spear took him. She wipes a hand across her face in a gesture she thinks I don't see, then, carefully, she unfastens the symbol of the Christ-God that she gave him from round his neck, fastens it with bloodied fingers round her own, and stands.

I open my mouth to say something comforting, but she forestalls it with a look from those dark eyes. His blood on her fingers has left a mark where she rubbed her face, a mark that shows a track of moisture through it. The eyes, though, glitter with something more than tears. For a moment, I think she's going to just go, but then she turns, a swirl of night-dark hair across her shoulders. Her voice is quiet, brittle. "Warriors don't weep." All she says, turning, shoulders set, without another look back, and walking away.

She's not there when we build his pyre. Not there to speak words for the God he at least honoured for her sake. Out of respect to her, and to him, and to the Christ-God, we let one of the locals offer a prayer in Latin, before Beornwulf, Aelfric and I set torches to the stacked wood, and step back.

She's not there when we sit around, late into the night, raising horns and mugs of ale and mead to the stories and memory of a brat-turned-man who would have, one day, made a fine Cyning. And husband. And she's wrong. Warriors do, when we lose one of our own. And that, Ecgwine had become. 

She's not there in the morning. Neither is one of our few horses.

Aelfric's voice at my shoulder, as I'm considering the empty stall, makes me start. "Lavinia's gone?"

I just nod. 


It's an odd question, one that breaks me out of my thoughts. I frown. "Yes. No. I'm not sure."

He nods, shrugs a touch, cloak wrapped around him against the oncoming winter. "Me neither." A pause, then, quietly. "We need to send word to Ecgfrith."

I nod, glumly. "He's not going to take that well." The Cyning's only son is dead. And he'll likely blame us, whom he trusted with the care and training of his son.

Aelfric nods. "No, he's not." He sighs, long and thoughtful. "I could send you."

I knew this was coming. "You need me here. And besides..." There are folks at Ecgfrith's hall across the sea with whom I have... how to say this...? 'history', and Aelfric knows it. But it would give the old King someone to rail at.

To my surprise, he acquiesces. "You're probably right." He exhales, thoughtfully. "I'll send Beornwulf." 

Editor's note: sorry, no photos, although Andy has some. My iPhone was away at the iPhone menders not being mended.

"Saxon Noble One"? Not a good job title in my army. 

Wednesday 7 December 2016

"To Britain's Shores" - Chapter 15 - St. Cuthbert's Hol(e)y Relics

"Right. Off your rear ends, the lot of you."

Here we go again. I get to my feet - Odin's beard, but I'm starting to get stiffer as the years go by - and head over to pick up sword, spear and shield from where I've propped them. "What is it this time?"

Aelfric grins, that teeth-bared wolf-smile of his. "The Britons are apparently making ready to receive another of their holy relics. A handful of their unarmed holy men and a dozen men to guard it on the old road."

Ecgwene joins us. "What are we waiting for then?" 

Too keen by half, that lad.

Aelfric's right, anyway. A little knot of men and pack-mules are making a slow and steady pace along the old road, and we find them maybe four hundred paces from safety. He's getting a little keen, though, giving the cluster of Britons led by that Lord we had as a guest - Geraint - the charge. They peel off from the monks to head him off...

Ecgwine heads after the monks, and makes rather quick work of getting the mules off them and heading back away. Lad is definitely guilty of over confidence there, though - he has no respect for that hat short Lord of theirs who comes after him with his men, quite prepared to turn his back as they retreat with the treasure. I learned his name the other week - I think it was Lavinia who found out -  'Maximus Minimus', the Great Little Man. Evidently somebody has a sense of humour, anyway. But, to be fair... he may be short, but he's no coward, and he and his men aren't about to let Ecgwene away without a fight.

Meanwhile, we're facing off against Geraint and that Praefect of theirs and their hearth guard, me and Aelfric side by side as we have been for what seems like years now. It's a back and forth rough-house of a fight, and for all we give a good account of ourselves, in the end they push us back. Out of the corner of my eye I see Ecgwene's men likewise retreating without the monks' goods...

"If," I observe drily to Aelfric, "Your next words are 'that went well' again, I may do something that I regret later."

My reward is a bark of laughter, quickly suppressed,  as the Young Wolf removes his rather rent mail shirt, then eyes it ruefully, "No. Overconfidence is just as bad as being fat and lazy. Ecgwene needs to learn that." Quietly, "Mayhap you should have a word in the ear of that woman of his."

I snort. "I suspect she's telling him that without any need for words from me."

He sighs, lets the mail fall to the floor with a growl of frustration. "Damnation. They are growing more skilled in our ways. These defeats are growing costly." 

Indeed they are: once again the women are moving among our wounded, and once again there are far too damn many of them for my liking. I sigh, look across at him. "What now, then?"

The Young Wolf shrugs. "We heal." A pause, and then a chuckle, an echo of the teenager I first met nearly a decade ago, "Who knows? We take up boar hunting for profit for a while?"

[OK. Now I'm caught up barring Monday's game. Watch this space!]

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Dux Britanniarum update

Just wrapped another Compendium playtest with Andy Hawes.

Guess that one works, then! Holy.... deleted.... Batman. I don't think I've ever had one that tense, or that dramatic, especially given that (not counting a unit-vs-critter fight) there were precisely two combats, lasting a total of three rounds between them.

Also? There was Significant Death. Fans of the Linnius Chronicles will want to watch this space. 

However, it has been brought to my attention that I have failed to make an in-character record of the last scenario, the Pilgrimage, so that will have to come first, before Godric and Lavinia tell the tale of the boar hunt.

Friday 18 November 2016

Keeping the printer busy....

Just about to queue this lot up for a print run.

  • 9 x CMP 3 tonners
  • 1 x SdKfz 9
  • 1 x SdKfz 11
  • 1 x Horch 108 staff car
  • 1 x Steyr 1500 staff car
  • 1 x Opel Blitz
  • 1 x Dodge WC63 ambulance

Total print time: just over a day at 200 micron layer height.
Total filament cost: £7.71

Almost all from:

1:100 Tanks by m_bergman

Published on April 13, 2015

Creative Commons - Attribution - Non-Commercial - Share Alike

Tuesday 15 November 2016

Battle Report - 14 Nov 2016 - IABSM "Out Of The Frying Pan"

Another club Monday playing IABSM, this time with Carl, AndyMac and AndyB - we seem to be on a bit of a roll, which is good as it means the rules stay fresh.

The astute will notice I need to buy more roads.
As I'm probably writing the scenario up for the Lardies' Xmas Special, if Rich will have it, I'm not going to go into too much detail: apart from that, I was busy playing the Germans, so I didn't get many photos.

In short summary - it's Normandy, on the border between the British and American sectors, and an American company have gone and got themselves trapped (and well beaten up) raiding a German command post. Due to a German counterattack, the Americans can't send help, but (somewhat to their chagrin) the British can.

Sadly, the Panther is already toast.

The counter-attacking Germans are veterans, and well commanded, which makes an interesting distinction from the Americans (well-commanded but short in numbers and ammo) and the British (minimal commanders).

Low spot, from my point of view, were letting the German Top Ace get side on to an unspotted bazooka after his first action, which was probably a major contributor to the Germans not really winning at all.

Also? I must remember that all HE heavier than 2"/50mm mortars auto-pins.

The scenario did, however, seem to work, and we'll try it again in a couple of weeks just to see if it's balanced enough when the German CO isn't being an idiot :D

Friday 11 November 2016


For the Fallen: I know the next verse is the popular one, but I still find this one more moving:
They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
Robert Laurence Binyon (1869-1943)

In these present times, I'd also add one of my favourite verses from one of Mark Knoplfer's finest, the evocative "Brothers In Arms":
There's so many different worlds
So many different suns
And we have just one world
But we live in different ones..

Thursday 10 November 2016

Where do I get my explosion markers?

A couple of folks, both online and at the club, asked where I got the explosion markers from.

Well, they're from Small Terrain on eBay - pre-painted and worth it.

I know I could make my own, but frankly, for a tenner?

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Battle Report - 7-Nov-2016 - IABSM "The Biggest Bloomin' Convoy..."

Having printed a positive fleet of US trucks (both WC63s and deuce-and-a-half's), I figured it was time to get them on the table.

Sadly, I've failed to find my partial sheet of Allied stars, and the new delivery from Dom's Decals is still in the post, so they had to go on the table merely painted without decals, but hey....

Ok... so. This was always going to be a bit one-sided, but we figured it would be fun...

Allies (me and TomG):
  • one American infantry company in trucks in convoy, plus two deuce-and-a-halfs carrying Budweiser, Coke and cigarettes :D
  • a troop of 5 M4 Shermans for convoy defence
Germans (AndyMac and Carl):
  • one understrength infantry company
  • 4 AFVs
    • 1 Panther
    • 1 Panzer IV
    • 2 Stug III's
  • 6 blinds (3 x platoon, 2 x company support, 1 x AFVs) + 4 dummy blinds
Woods by me + Woodland Scenics
Roads by S & A Scenics
Hedges/bocage by (I forget)
Mat by Deepcut Studios
The deployment rules were:
  • The convoy enters bottom left: it moves on the Allied Blinds card, and may do nothing but use all its dice to advance at full speed down the road, until such time as any part of the convoy successfully spots a non-dummy German blind (or obviously gets hit by something by surprise!). At this point, the unit in question plus the units either side get their cards in the deck. On subsequent Tea Breaks, the next units down and up the convoy get their cards added (plus anything else that spots anything as before) [1]. 
  • The Germans get to choose from the top left or bottom right corners to deploy - they may bring blinds on anywhere on the edge of the table within 2' of the corner they choose.
And off we went.

I make that about four feet of convoy...
The Germans went with the top left corner deployment option, allowing them to take advantage of a couple of woods for cover. They also had the considerable advantage of several goes through the (minimal) deck where only the Axis Blinds card came out.[2]

Eventually, at the point the whole convoy was on the table, a Panther appeared down the side road to the left of the convoy, and all hell broke loose.

Two shots, two trucks destroyed, most of the HQ section of the company spilling out onto the road. Fortunately? This included the HQ section's bazookas.

Explosion markers by someone off eBay :D
Unfortunately, one of them didn't survive the attack, and the remaining one couldn't shoot for toffee. That and the one round that hit clanged off the front armour of the Panther. 

Cards start being added to the deck, infantry start spilling out of the trucks and finding cover. Usefully (again), this included the 2 platoon's bazooka. It got a shot at the Stug which had immobilised one of 1 platoon's trucks further back down the convoy, and again there was a resounding clang of bazooka round off Schürzen.

About this point the Shermans managed to spot some German infantry (actually the 81mm mortar section) in the woods at the top end of the road, and began to do something useful. Sadly the Sherman in the middle of the convoy cops a point blank flank shot from the other Stug, and brews up (cries of 'Ronson' round the table!). 

Slowly but surely the US start to mount a fightback. More infantry deploys off the trucks, and a firefight ensues at the head of the convoy between 3 platoon and the German mortars, while the two lead M4s breach the bocage (and avoid getting stuck), and exchange fire with one of the Stug's and machine gun fire with an infantry section. The Stug gets a lucky shot which takes out one of the Shermans (sadly the tank section command).

At the rear of the column, the other two M4's likewise find a way across the bocage, and engage in a much more productive duel with the Panther and the Panzer IV. One of the M4s takes an engine hit in the first round, but the Panzer IV gets a direct hit and is KOed. Next round, both M4s pile in on the Panther, which is flank-on the other side of a bocage hedge, and one lucky shot wreaks carnage in the turret and knocks it out.

Meanwhile, a German infantry section close-assaults across the bocage, and drives off the remains of the Allied HQ section. 

And that's pretty much where we left it. Consensus was, we think, that the Germans had done what they came for, and (being down to two tanks) now would be a good time to bail, especially since the US infantry were starting to deploy and defend the convoy. 

In summary - what a blast :D TomG's first game of IABSM, and he is completely hooked!

[1] This isn't quite how we played it, but how we'd do it in hindsight.
[2] I know some people play without a Tea Break until non-blinds cards are added. We never have - it adds to the fog of war, and that's a win over the rather frequent appearance of the Tea Break card: statistically it all evens out in the long run, but makes for interesting fun in the short term.

Saturday 5 November 2016


Thursday to today's 3D printing. Little bit of cleanup still needed but we have:

  • 8 x GMC CCKW 353 Deuce-and-a-half, variously with steel cabs and canvas-topped
  • 7 x Dodge WC62 30cwt (one open back and cab, not in picture)
  • 4 x Dodge WC53 15cwt
  • 1 x Dodge WC54 ambulance
  • 1 x Dodge WC57 reconnaissance car
  • and a stray Studebaker US6 which seems to have missed the Lend/Lease boat, for the hell of it ;D
Not only will they do for a convoy, one of the scenarios in Belleville or Bust needs a vehicle park at some point!

Designs from m_bergman on Thingiverse

Friday 4 November 2016

Battle Report - 17 Oct 2016 - IABSM "Caught With Their Pants Down"

The last wargame I played with Nick, in fact: the photos are his.

Usual in-a-rush-so-not-figuring-out-forces setup - US company (3 platoons, HQ with 2 bazookas, 2 mortars, two MMGs), vs the 'classic' IABSM depleted German company (3 platoons, two of which only have two sections) + HQ (2 tripod '42s) and an off table 81mm mortar battery. The US had 3 M4 Shermans, the German's a Jagdpanther.

I took the Germans, deploying (on blinds) one platoon dug in along the edge of the wood centre left, a platoon and an MG42 along the hedge to the centre right, and leaving one in reserve in the farmhouse at the crossroads with the other MG42, along with the Jagdpanther to cover the road.

And it all went horribly wrong.

As you can see in the first picture, there's a US blind making its way up the road. "No problem" thinks I, that's at least two moves up the road. I try and fail to spot it behind the bocage.

The card sequence from here went, as I recall it, "Allied Blinds" "Tea Break", "Allied Blinds". And suddenly, with some decent dice rolling for movement on the part of Nick and Carl running the Americans, the blind is revealed as a full platoon, and it's literally right across the hedge. In close combat range.

Let's just say that getting caught with your pants down (we suspect literally?) by a full platoon is not pretty. What didn't get engaged in close combat, of course, made it into the activation deck for the next turn, and you get a free guess which card of "Allied Platoon 3" and "Axis Platoon 2" came out of the deck first...

Meanwhile, over by the hedge on the other side, there was a lively firefight going between the Allied platoon 1 and the Germans lining the wood. And at least the German FOO woke up and called in 81mm fire on the preregistered target (you wonder WHY that house looked a bit wrecked by the side of the road?). At least we got the US pinned down a bit there until they managed to pull out of the fall of mortar rounds.

Sadly, it didn't go well from there. I decided to pull back the remaining advance platoon to the second hedge line (the L-R road) from the wood, and unfortunately, half of it got caught by some rapidly advancing Americans. And that, as they say, was that.

Thursday 3 November 2016

Nick Hawkins

picture from Wyvern Wargamers
Greatly saddened to record the passing of Nick Hawkins, Lardie, Peterborough Wargames Club member and gamer.

I got to know Nick properly when he started attending the club last year, and brought along both his WW2 game (Props and Pilots) and the Flintloque-inspired Sharp Practice 2 variant, which we later christened "Twilight Practice". Like many gamers, he could get deeply into subjects, and talk (as we like to say on the Meeples podcast) for England about such things as obscure WW2 aircraft, 3D printing, etc etc.

He'll be sadly missed - I'm hoping we can still arrange to put on his Twilight Practice game at Hammerhead, although I'm not intending to take any steps on that score for a while.

His brother writes:
I am writing to share with you some very sad news. My dearly beloved brother Nick has passed away at the very young age of 55. He died at home in his bed of natural causes. Just as this will come as a shock to you, so it has been a shock to me. Nick had not knowingly been in poor health but had an undiagnosed condition that caused his death. Thankfully, I am assured that he would gradually have lost consciousness and would not have experienced any pain. 
We all have our memories of Nick, – too many to share. To me though in amongst the great intelligence, numerous skills and his human frailties, he was always my very loving and much loved big brother. His loss has left a void that will never be filled.

Saturday 23 July 2016

"Isn't it a blessing to get home?"

Not my usual "Well, I'm back", said Sam - a no-prize if you recognise where the subject quote is from.

Had an excellent couple of weeks in Williamsburg, as well as a trip to Historicon, more on both of which in subsequent posts. Frankly, it's been too unpleasantly hot to post since we got back, hence the delay. Work, long cold drink, TV (lots of catching up), bed has been the order of the week, although we did managed to record an interview for the next Meeples podcast on Wednesday  :D

Anyway: I'm back, and there's work to be done, figures to be sent off for painting, an office to reconfigure to fit in a 3D printer, etc etc.

Talk to you tomorrow!

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Miniature wargaming - the Movie

Just finished recording the latest episode of the podcast with Neil. Very interesting chat with Joe from the above project, which is exactly what it says on the tin, namely a serious documentary about gaming. Joe is incredibly passionate about the subject, he is a gamer, and I think it's safe to say that this will not be the usual "laugh at the guys with toy soldiers" effort. 

They are running a Kickstarter, with some very nice rewards, and I commend it to you. It's here:

Tuesday 28 June 2016

They're all at it...!

Me, I blame Jim Ibbotson.

Rich Clarke is busy tartimg up a set of Realm of Battle boards. :D

Me? I've been renewing the son's passport and fighting the ESTA site, which still looks like it was built by a not-very-good web developer in about 1999.

Monday 27 June 2016


I'm off on holiday on Saturday morning. If the price of hotel Internet is what it's expected to be you probably won't get many posts for two weeks from June 2. [Yes, I mean July, thanks Steve!]

I am aiming to get another RoB board done by the end of the week as well as the new arrivals: some Total Battle System roads!

Sunday 26 June 2016

Colour Concepts 5: what colour is ... rock?

Seriously. Not this colour, or shaded
variants of it. Really. Even if it's the one
GW put in their terrain pack along with
that brown that isn't soil-coloured...
OK. Time for a rant.

Rock is not grey.

Specifically rock and stone, with a very very small set of exceptions. are not THIS grey that people always paint them.

This is our old friend RGB #708090 which a decent number of people consider 'pure grey'. The only rocks that come close to that colour are mostly slate and some granite, but in general? Most rocks are no more that shade of grey than most soil is a kid's crayon brown.

Don't believe me? Go Google for images of castles (you'll need to hit the image tab and mind out for Nathan Fillion!). See anything that colour? Thought not. Even Raglan Castle, which can look grey from a distance in some photos, surprisingly isn't from close up.

We also come back here to how light affects things - if you do a search for Raglan Castle, say, and look at the range of images on offer, see how much the colour varies depending on time of day, sun vs cloudy sky, etc. The guidebook actually describes it as 'yellow sandstone'!

So what colour is stone?

Guess what?

Those lovely folks from Munsell, not content with keeping archaeologists and soil scientists happy, do a series of rock colour charts too :D That aside, if you think a 200 buck colour chart is a bit much for your hobby, I suggest a bit of Googling, and trying to match. Be aware, though (and this is something we need to discuss in a later article), large expenses of colour in smaller scales look wrong unless you lighten them and de-saturate them a bit from their original shade.

I'm currently using my three stage drybrush over Sandtex Bitter Chocolate that I use for soil, and then knocking back the very pale final shade of cream/'magnolia' with a wash of Army Painter Soft Tone ink, which also has the advantage of restoring some of the surface detail if I've been a bit heavy-handed. But it's up to you - that's one specific rock colour/shade out of a wide spectrum from reddish to almost grey, and many points in between and outliers.

Granite, showing its crystalline mix.
Granite is an interesting crystalline mix, and if you WANT a granite keep (say), the reason it looks grey is that it's a mixture of white quartz crystals and other darker ones, not because it's actually a uniform colour! And some granite can be pink.

Ok. So. Anyone any suggestions for a water-based equivalent to Army Painter Soft Tone that I can buy in larger quantities than 15ml droppers? I may have a LOT of stone to paint.

Saturday 25 June 2016

A couple more notes about the Peninsular/RoB boards

Got the second one grassed and the third undercoated tonight. Managed to achieve a sparse grass effect in two different ways: a) by sieving the grass from about a foot higher than usual (effect visible in the right hand corner of the bottom board), or b) by just stippling the PVA onto the area in question (gives a more broken effect - see front corner of board).

Two complete, four to go.

Still-wet Sandtex Bitter Chocolate... I've intentionally been a bit sloppy
in the dark recesses of the rocks.

Finished bar sealing with a  dilute PVA spray.

Friday 24 June 2016

Another board, another project...

Managed to cross several things off the list today:
  • the next tranche of Meeples and Miniatures recording sessions have been planned, which barring unforeseen events should keep you all in episodes till Christmas
  • The next Realm of Battle board has been dry brushed, ready for flocking tomorrow....
  • A little work has been done on Sekret Projekt P, just to see what else I need to acquire...
Eye's a bit sore of late, so that's your lot, terse though may be. Back to the doc on Friday, so...

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Gladius Publications


Tuesday 21 June 2016

Peninsular rocks - final touches

General consensus on the Citadel hill (which I brought down the club yesterday) agreed with mine - rocks needed to be not so pale/white.


..and after an Army Painter Soft Tone ink wash.
Sorted, I think.

Monday 20 June 2016

Colour Concepts 4: what colour is... soil?

Every kid knows, soil is brown. Give a five year old a set of crayons, and the one he picks for mud, soil, earth will be brown.

Right. Sure.

Go do a Google image search for 'soil texture'. Now sure, some of those you would fairly call brown, but I'd lay odds that most of them aren't the shade of brown a kid would pick.

I don't know about you, but the soil in my garden at present looks like the image on the right here. It's not rained in the last couple of days, and if I pass Apple's colour picker over it, the colour turns out to range somewhere along this gradient:

The RGB values for both ends of that gradient are actually, as near as makes no nevermind, grey, very very slightly tinged towards red. I'm not suggesting all soils are that colour, of course - far from it. If it's been raining, our soil's much darker, for a start. And yes, soil can be brown, especially if it's got more clay in it: in fact it can even end up distinctly reddish.

In fact... there's a very nice tool the real soil experts use for soil colour. You probably have to be a complete soil nerd to care to the extent the Munsell Soil Colour scale cares, especially since the official chart book is about 200 bucks, but there are a few online versions that show you some of the (many) ranges of colour that soil can be. While I can get detail obsessed about things like horses and heraldry, I'm not entirely sure I can get sufficiently worked up about soil to buy a copy.

Where does that leave us?

Fundamentally, not a lot better off :D There's a huge range of soil colours, and about the only thing we can say is that that hideous milk-chocolate brown GW supplied in their terrain set is nowhere near as common as your inner 5 year old (or someone at GW) thinks. As you've probably noticed, I've been using a series of dry brushes over a base coat to represent soil: the base colour is Sandtex Bitter Chocolate, which is a dark brown that dries a lot greyer than it looks when wet, and then successive layers of progressively lighter creamish/greyish browns to a final drybrush with good old 'magnolia' (basically pale cream).

To a degree, though, it really is 'your mileage may vary'. If I was doing NW Europe rather than sun-dried Iberian Peninsula, I'd use the same base coat but my final drybrush would be a bit less cream, more a light neutral (i.e. not bluish) grey. That said, if you look at the stuff I've done from a distance? it looks grey :D

Sunday 19 June 2016

Back from hiatus!

No, not me, the Meeples podcast!

I'm delighted to report that not only did we record the usual excessive amount of chatter and banter on Wednesday night (with FIVE presenters, no less), Neil had it all edited by the weekend, and it's up as Meeples episode 172, in which Neil and Rich went to UK Games Expo, the two Mikes, Neil and Dave went to OML4, and I somehow end up actually defending "Tanks" (the new Flames Of War Lite game from GF9) against Neil and Hobbsy.


Saturday 18 June 2016

WIP Realm of Battle board

After a busy morning (watching James get a cricket bat made), I finally got  domestic permission to use the kitchen table (as our only bigger than 2' square, easy clean surface) to carry on with the first of the Realm of Battle board sections. As before, it's a mix of War World dead, winter and autumn grass, although this time I had some 4mm autumn grass which I applied with a real live static grass applicator - will try and get a close up of how it sits once the PVA is dry.

Grass tufts to follow, and possibly a bit more static grass in some of the bare spots. Also considering an AP Soft Tone ink wash on the the rocks...

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