Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Holding GW to Account

GW have published their results.

And predictably the interwebz have gone crazy.

For instance, the 'community' bette noir Austalia has seen an 11.8% fall in sales.

Which looks bad until you look at the figures and see that this is a drop from £10,795,000 to £10,630,000, a fall of £165,000. Well OK, maybe it is worrying as this converts to an operating loss of £406,000.

At which point it suddenly becomes clear why the company acted to stop the online shippers. Of course those going crazy on the internet will not accept that. Nor will they notice that the business costs in Australia have risen.

However GW have clearly increased profits in the territory because the costs have increased @£500,000 and the sales have fallen £165,000 but the operating loss is only $406,000.

Cynics will point to the inflated prices in Australia as the reason for the increased profits.

Yet from a business stand point when a region has half the costs and a third of the income of other regions, then it is a sound business decision to set pricing accordingly. No matter how longingly Aussie gamers gaze at UK online prices.

What is clear from the accounts is that GW is not in a position to alter it's pricing, as the interwebz economists would have it as the first step to recovery, because the actual profit is still fairly marginal.

Clearly the city was happy with the results, as the share price rose yesterday on publication, and rose a further 20 points today.

No doubt there are those that would claim ignorance on the part of the investors and spivs on such matters as Finescast, the embargo, a couple of the scenarios for the 'Ard Boyz qualifiers, but given the economic climate in which energy prices and inflation generally is rising at double digit rates - despite the official inflation rate - and wage rises have been generally static, for a company in a niche market (with an image problem) then these figures are not bad.

Of course it remains to be seen how the nerdrage over Finecast et al, plays out in the coming year. But it is equally possible that the rolling out of new 8th ed Army Books, the move to focus more on miniatures, and reviewing the back catalogue may well mena that the clearing out of the deadwood of nerdrage quitters balances out the effects of the recent changes.


btw - the 11% figure is what is being quoted by the interwebz.... yeah I know....

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


I got these today...

Cue photo...

They are made by Mutton Chop Miniatures, and as soon as I saw them I couldn't resist.

I plan on using them as spies in my Rusiian Civil War games.

Other than than I have been lazily painting the command figures for the Napoleonic French.


Monday, 25 July 2011

The Rumble of Approaching Iron Shod Feet

That's the Ogres finished...

Cue photo...

Actually, if you can keep a secret, it isn't really, as there are a couple of home break Scraplaunchers knocking around the place but I have yet to decide what to do with them. Depending on what is in the new book, I might use the Rhinox to make Rhinox Rider conversions, or I might finish them off.

The rumour mill is churning once more, with the exciting news that Ogres have made it to the back page of the August edition of White Dwarf. Which means they are coming in September.

Nerdgasm is a word being used in certain quarters.


Sunday, 24 July 2011

Plastic Realities

It was too hot to paint today, though I did have a go...

Cue photo...

As you can see I didn't try very hard.

Since I first marvelled at the ability to create a running man on a ZX81 with a simple four line GOSUB routine, I have been a computer game player. Back in the day I would spend hours - sometimes days - typing out the programs in Sinclair User magazine, only to find that the program either didn't work because the code was wrong, or the flashing pixels didn't quite match the art work framing the pages and pages of code.

I suspect the average toaster has more computing power than the ZX81. I'd put the Spectrum on a par with a mid range Breadmaker. Certainly the washing machine would beat them both at chess.

And over the years I have played rather a lot of wargames on the computer.

One thing I have never understood however, is the reasoning people put forward for claiming that computer gaming can/will replace the table top wargame - or indeed the subsiduary line of logic, that some periods or styles of game are more suited to the computer than in miniature.

As a for instance I, like many others, ran out and bought Warhammer Online. I practically wet my pants as the game loaded, I thrilled at the opening movie (always a favourite part of playing a new game), excitedly I created a character, and for about ten minutes I almost believed I was in the Warhammer universe. Until the realisation struck me that this game had precisely nothing to do with Warhammer. As a game it was OK. But the experience reminded me of being in a theme park - there was lots of people running from attraction to attraction, queueing for the 'rides' (respawning monsters, PVP instances etc), some thrills and exciting game play but it was not Warhammer - and there was nothing I could actually do to make it so, or make it mine.

Or take Samurai II, Total War. A quite brilliant game - visually stunning, epically challenging, hours of squeaky bum enjoyment. By a combination of patience, cunning and sheer bloody mindedness I have fought a whole campaign and become Shogun - and yes I was underwhelmed by the end movie, but then I am always underwhelmed by the end movie in the Total War series.

But can I recall the details of a single battle? Nope. Would anyone listen, or care, if I began to regale them with tales of Date duplicity? Probably not.

Not least because if you are like me, when someone starts going on about what they have been up to in a computer game, and phrase their exploits, "I did this awesome thing...", my first thought is, "no you didn't."

Yet you can be the biggest bore in the world, and providing you are talking to another wargamer, you can witter for hours about the heroic victories you have had, how this mechanic is game changing, or this piece of equipment is costed wrongly, or this rules system is superior to that one.

Both activities are as much of an imaginative exercise - or up your own backside, if you are feeling uncharitable - as each other. It's just actual physical wargaming does not rely on the other person 'having to be there' to such an extent, for it to be of any relevance.


Saturday, 23 July 2011

Wider Concerns Than Pitched Battles

Beware Greeks bearing gifts...

Cue photo....

It is perhaps no accident that wargaming, in general, adheres to the Clauswitzian concept of decisive battle. No doubt there are some who would argue that it cannot be any other way. A game requires a winner and a loser, (unless it is Moustrap in which everyone loses).

Yet this ignores that in the majority of conflicts, for the majority of human history, wars are not fought in this manner. Indeed if they were, it is unlikely that writers would pen works like '10 Decisive battles' or 'Battles that Changed History'.

In order to research the Russian Civil War, I have been reading Churchill's Crusade by Clifford Kinvig.

The snippet that leapt out at me is the orders given to Major General William Graves as he set out for Siberia, "This contains the policy of the United States in Russia which you are to follow. Watch your step; you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite."

Hardly 'march to the sound of the guns.'

In truth this was rock solid legalistic talk compared to his counterpart Colonel George Stewart at Archangel. His orders restricted him to guarding military stores and "rendering such aid as may be acceptable to the Russians in the organisation of their own defence."

Which would seem clear enough, except he never recieved them. And on arrival in Russia had his troops taken off him, plaved under British officers, leaving him effectively without a command in a town with few pleasures, in the Arctic Circle.

There are sets of rules that attempt to address this option, and there are game mechanics like objectives, timed reinforcements, victory points etc that can be employed to try and ensure the player does not opt by defeault for the decisive battle. But I wonder how many wargamers upon recieving the equivilent of Graves' orders would attempt to follow them?

There are mitigating circumstances behind both sets of orders.

The employment of American troops was a reaction to the deployment of Japanese troops, and was as much a political as a military move in the ongoing trade and strategic struggles that would ultimately lead to Pearl Harbour.

There was also the matter of $1000 million of war supplies at Vladivostok -

(which offers the opportunity for one of my favourite anicdotes of WWI... which comes form Norman Stone's excellent book War on the Eastern Front.

The Tzarist regime's inefficiency in part stemmed from the use of monopoly suppliers. One such contract was boots for the army. The monopoly contractors failed to meet the requirements, and resourceful army quartermasters sought to gain supplies of boots from the US. The monopolists complained to the government who put a stop to it. But a way around this was found by ordering individual pairs of boots for each soldier, which were sent via the postal service, as gifts. Obviously this arrangement caused total chaos. And equally obviously the contractors complained; though they still failed to supply the required number of boots. At which point some bright spark noticed that the contract was for "pairs" of boots. And so the illicit postal trade began again, this time with the boots being dispatched left boot in one parcel and right boot in the other, as gifts, to soldiers in the front line


It is subject with which I have been wrestling in the set of rules I am writing.

One option is for the opposing player to enforce caution, by way of the card mechanism, by stopping overlying agressive movements. Another is to allow for command cards which require the player to withdraw from combat and fall back, or rigidly remain in defence of specified location.

I am loath to go own the scenario route, as I am trying to design someting that gives players freedom of action, and options. And scenarios are too easily 'gamed.'

It is certainly a quandry.


Friday, 22 July 2011

Four Times The Price

The horse flesh progresses...

Cue photo...

As a wargamer it is a my duty - like every other wargamer - to grumble about everything in the hobby, and indeed this blog serves a very cathartic purpose for just such grumbling. But unlike a certain type of wargamer (you know who you are), I don't the expect the objects of my grumbling to do see the error of their ways. I am perfectly happy for people to enjoy their hobby in anyway that they see fit.

So having got the disclaimer out of the way... I am free to grumble.

Did you ever notice.... that people who play GW games have a tendancy to be a bit.... well.... institutionalised?

I pose the question because on a forum today - and yes I am aware of my views of forums, and one day I may explain my volte face - but on this forum there was someone wondering about 25mm WWI figures for a game they were planning. Now I don't know why they didn't just type "25mm WW1 figures" into the search engine of their choice, rather than search their enquiry with the group, but they didn't.

As this is a period for which I am currently collecting, and having spent far too long surfing around window shopping, I decided to share the fruits of my labours, by leaving a list of manufacturers they might like to look at and a forum they might like to visit.

Having done my boy scout good deed for the day, I went in search of Ogre rumours.

A while later I checked back and found someone else had replied.

The suggestion was, had this person considered using Death Korps of Krieg figures from Forgeworld. With the proviso that while they are 28mm not 25mm, not WW1, and the weapons aren't right, they did have long overcoats, Coalscuttle helmets and gas masks.

Which is where I come to the institutionalised point.

In this month's WSS Rick Priestley has a column (don't worry if you have never heard of the magazine) in which he discuss's's's's's (es) scale creep - or how 28mm is the new 25mm, therefore the 28mm point is largely superflous. I did find myself rather gobsmacked at the suggestion. Not least because the Death Korps of Krieg figures are £35 for 10, whereas if you opted to buy from Renegade you could get 48 figures for the same price. including delivery.

Now don't get me wrong.... I am as bored with the numpties that go on about GW prices as the next man.... but I found myself wondering how insulated from from the wider wargaming world do you have to be in order to think such a suggestion is useful?

Not that there is anything wrong with being souly and singularly engaged with the GW hobby. I realise this is an accusation often levelled by the reformed smokers who have gone over to PP and Battlefront - ironically without irony - .... liking the culture of GW doesn't make you a fan boy... indeed I liken it to criticism often levelled at Americans, that they are insular, parochial, and never travel - which I always think is a bit daft because if you live in America why would you need to travel, you have everything there.

It's just a bit... well... sad really that someone should suggest a set of models, clearly designed on historical architypes, in place of the real thing.

Funnily enough, one of the uses for my Bolsheviks - should I not find anyone to play my fiendishly brilliant game - is using them as Imperial Guard.

WARNING, do not use these figures for Death Korps of Krieg.


Thursday, 21 July 2011


Back to the French...

Cue photo...

More Ogre rumours resurfaced today.

Clearly they are just rumours, but as we inch toward the supposed release date in October, these latest batch of rumours have the smack of authenticity. I'm most pleased that the army hasn't overly changed, and I'm certainly looking forward to the Mammox.

It certainly made me laugh that I noticed someone claiming that the new book was going to make the Ogres a 'world class' army.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Pretty Pictures

Oh well they'll do...

Cue photo...

I haven't done any highlighting, or given them flesh tones, or details.... pretty typical for the last figures in an army...

They'll do....

You know you are getting old when you try to chat up a girl who has never heard of Chicago... not that I have been chatting anyone up - the missus would kill me - but bumbling around the interwebz I have been feeling like that bloke dancing with his thumbs up.

When I used to wheel me butcher's bike up that hill with a loaf of Hovis in the basket, if anyone had told me that I would even consider paying a tenner for a set of rules - frankly I would have said, 'Oooooo I could crush a grape.' (well I wouldn't, because I'm older than that but I can't recall Bernie Clifton's catch phrase).

The point being that when I started wargaming, rules came in A5 booklets that generally sold for £3.50.

I tell a lie.

As my first venture into wargaming was via a copy of The Wargame by Charles Grant, that I borrowed from the school library, which ended in my possession because the school went comprehensive before I returned it - meaning that no one asked for it back - perhaps it helped that I wanted the book so badly that I switched the library ticket with someone in my class - so maybe their parents got the letter fining them for an overdue book. But ignore my pubescent deception, that book brought a whole new meaning to my 1/72nd Airfix soldier games - oh tthe happy days of Germans machine gunning Romans and Robin Hood stopping a tank with a lucky shot through the drivers slit.

I mention this because the subject of how expensive rule books are becoming came up on a forum today.

As with most things about wargaming, wargamers in a sense have only themselves to blame. If you fancy a game of podcast cricket/bingo, it is pretty much free points for someone to say, 'full colour,' at some point, when talking about this or that publication. Yet while some wargamers seemingly demand this level of production, it is equally noticable that other wargamers will start complaining that the actual rules are only on 30 pages.

While I recall the rules of my youth being home brew, mimeographed, booklets. It would seem that the rules of the generation before me had actual books, akin to the £30 tomes so fashionable today.

Don't get me wrong.

I love my copy of Black Power - maybe love is a little strong, but I certainly am enormously pleased to own it, really like the rules, like playing the game - but I certainly don't think it of equivilent quality to the musty old Donald Featherson books I used to get from the local library. True the Featherstone books were pretty much useless - the rules were too complicated and poorly laid out - however what they did have was a set of principles and ideas that have stood the test of time.

Perhaps Black Power will be the same - who knows what might be inspired in the mind of an equivilent teenager today reading that book and looking at those pictures - and before you get all Daily Mail about the pictures, I defy anyone who has read the Charles Grant book to deny they spent hours gazing at the pictures of the battle of Mollwitz, and wishing they were the Archduke of Lorraine.

The conundrum between high price, high production books vs home brew pamphlets, was brought home to me last night.

I have a moderate case of grey plastic fever, which led to my looking at cowboys. After a bit of window shopping and pricing up a few things that I really just had to have, I started thinking about rules. I recalled that the D6 Generation had recommended a set called Gutshot.

I found them online, and was pleased to see they were reasonably priced at £20 - full colour, yadda, yadda...

So I put them in my cart and went to the checkout, at which point the £4 shipping price made me reconsider if I really want to pay £25 for a book. Especially when I was only planning to spend about £10 for the figures.

This in turn got me thinking about how back in the day, if I was approaching a new period/project I always did so from the angle of getting the maximum number of figures and spending the least ammount possible on the rules.

And besides which, why not spend £35 on figures and make up your own rules?

How revolutionary can the mechanics of Gutshot be?

Ah yes but it's full colour, with pretty pictures...


Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Moan, Moan...

I've started work on the Gnoblars...

Cue photo...


I really, really like Gnoblars. In truth they are my favourite unit in the Ogre army. And I am really hoping that when the new book comes, they get characters; maybe magic users... but I really don't like painting them.

Which in a sense is odd. As they are not hard to paint. They are two thirds smalled than the French Napoleonic battalions that I have been banging out recently - and they are certainly easier to paint.

But I just don't enjoy painting them.

It might be that they are non-uniform, so sort of defy a production line approach - so changing colours becomes a chore.


I noticed today someone claim that we are living in the Golden Age of wargaming.

The reasoning behind this is that never has there been so many ranges of figures and rulesets - oh and with the internet it is possible to get any of them at the click of a mouse.

The grognard within in me suspects that this kind of hyperbole is the exhuberance of youth - perhaps a youth who has had the scales removed from their eyes by stepping outside the closed world of GW.

The irony if this is the case, is that the GW gamers venturing into other systems will run into the problems that drove people to play GW games in the first place - lack of opponents because everyone is playing something different, disputes over which rule set to use, fiigure scale, etc. Obviously the fact that there are other system games around at present alleviates this to some extent, but... yah know...


Back to the Gnoblars.....


Monday, 18 July 2011

Gun Porn Vs The Law

After expressing my disatification - having a rantette - about Flames of War the other day, I thought I would check with the German embassy about the legal position should I purchase an official Battlefront bag, resplendent with SS badge, and turn up with it at a wargames event in Germany.

This is the reply I recieved today.

"Thank you for your enquiry of 14 July 2011 asking if you are allowed to bring a carry case bearing a patch of the SS into Germany.

The object in question contains a clearly visible symbol connected to Nazi Germany. You were right to assume that to possess and carry with you such objects in Germany, might cause difficulties in certain situations.

According to information received from the Federal Criminal Police Office, we can advise you as follows:

You are allowed to take such an object with you to Germany.
*However, it is forbidden to display it in public.*

Therefore, when taking the object with you on a plane, you must not take it out of your suitcase and show it to other people. You should rather pack it safely in your suitcase. In case a customs officer wants to inspect the suitcase you must make clear that you are taking it with you for a games convention and emphasize the private purpose of the matter. As for the games convention, I suggest contacting the organisers to find out if any special regulations apply.

The Embassy cannot give any guarantee that the possession of this object would not cause any difficulties during your stay in Germany. Depending on the situation, displaying the object might be considered as a criminal offence.

I hope the above helps."

So there you have it.

In order to be sure not to get arrested in Germany, and number of other European countries that have similar laws, you need to hide your 'geek chic', Battlefront approved, bag inside another bag.

Shouldn't there be some sort of warning on the Battlefront website?

Meh! If you're dumb enough to think there is not a problem, and are willing to stand up in court and make arguments about it is just a game, it's no worse than the Confederate flag, etc then you deserve everything you get.

Especially if you claim it is an historical wargame....


ps call me childish, but embassy in German is Botschaft.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Chances Are You Will Disagree

Another day spent ebaying....

Cue photo...

Sad to see these boyz go.... oh well.

The missus is a bit of a mathematician - she's got cerificates and everything - and the other day I as chatting with her about the set of rules I am writing. As per usual our conversation got rather tangential because of our varying approach to probability.

The cause of the discussion was my noticing someone on a forum stating that they had a plan to 'write' a set of rules based on 40k. Actually what his plan was to copy the rules of 40k, but get around the IP and copyright issues by 'clever' use of word substitution. When asked why he didn't just write his own rules, he said that he wasn't good enough at maths.

To me this is just silly.

I'm not saying that there isn't any maths in 40k - after all the original WFB was based on 6th edition ancients, which did have a table that used ratios (it might have been calculus or whatever, I was never great at numbers) to calculate casualties, which then caused figures to be removed proportionate upon the casualties suffered. The mechanics of WFB is based on an assumed figure scale of 1 -20. And it is perfectly possible that behind the simple die roll, of the hit and wound tables, there is a mathematical formula that decides whether a 3 or a 4 is required. But, given that this has been abstracted into a die roll, it is perfectly reasonable to see the hit and wound table as based on a design choice as to when the probability changes based on the perception of what feels right.

This, 'it just feels right', is certainly the approach I have taken with regard to my own putative rule set. I am less interested in the mechanics of the calibre of the weapon, the speed of the target, the weather, etc, than achieving a result that forces the player to make command decisions in a 'realistic' and challenging manner.

The design I am working on uses both cards and dice, and my intention is that by using the cards you can cheat the mathhammer approach to gaming. Which is ironically the approach that the missus said she would adopt if she was going to play the game. She said that the first thing she would do would be to study the cards to try and work out the probability of events happening and then to use that knowledge to formulate her style of play.

I tried to point out that this probably wouldn't be very helpful, as the game design is deliberately attempting to undermine this style of play - it isn't I-go-you-go, the turns are not of a set length, players can react to the other players actions and play cards that influence those actions etc.

One of the mechanics I am working on, is the use of different dice (D3, D4, D6, D8, D10, D12, D12). And as a little experiment, we tried out the most extreme example of the combat system, in which the attacker (her) rolls a D20, and the defender (me) rolls a D10 - the resultant number generates that number of D6s which are then rolled, and the difference between the scores determines the result of the combat. Clearly in this instance the attacker has the advantage.

She rolled a 6, I rolled a 7. We then rolled that number of D6s, added up the pips and it turned out she had won by 2 or 3.

Which to my way of thinking is perfect.

As I said this is the most extreme example of combat, and relies on the attacking player having the relevant card, and the defending player having no mitigating factors.

To me it feels right.

You can mathematically work out the probability of getting that card in a 52 card back (in which all cards can be played in two ways), having it in a turn in which you have a unit in close combat, and being in a position to use it, if you want.

That really isn't the point.

My point is more that the maths of the system are less important than the concept of the game play. Which is why simply re-writing 40k and swapping 'movement' for 'perambulation', and subverting the hit and wound table so that a 1 is the high roll, and 6's always fail, is a rather pointless exercise.

For all the talk of mathhammer and the exercise of probability, is it more important that a 3+ feels about the right result for sniping a moving target, than you have a 4 in 6 (66%) chance of doing so?

Because the simple truth is that when you roll a dice, you do not have 66% chance of success, because on every die roll there is alwways 1 in 6 chance of rolling a 1, or a 2 when you need a 3+.

But, that is a different debate relaing to positive and negative outlooks.

btw, I read an interesting little fact today. During the period in which the low velocity, soft lead bullet musket ruled the battlefield, a common injury surgeons had to deal with was treating wounds created by teeth and splintered bone from one's comrades.


Saturday, 16 July 2011

Out With The Old

Spent the day digging out stuff to flog on ebay...

Cue pictures...

Among other things.


Friday, 15 July 2011

Strategic Battles

Digging around for stuff to ebay, I found these...

Cue photo....

So they can go into the pile that are going on ebay this weekend to take advantage of the free listing.

Speaking of shopping, while searching through Oxfam today I found a couple of bargains.

The first was an aluminum make up case - I assume that was it's purpose as it has a mirror stuck to the inside of the lid - which is the perfect size for carrying tape measure, dice cubes, templates, superglue etc.

The second is the History of Warfare by John Keegan.

It is a book I read when it first came out but got lost to the book lending fairy. So I was pleased to find it again.

I was struck by something he wrote in the first chapter...

"In short, it is at the cultural level that Clausewitz's answer to his question, What is War?, is defective. That is not altogether surprising. We all find it difficult to stand far enough outside our own culture to perceive how it makes us, as individuals, what we are."

I got involved in a semi skirmish today over whether 40k is a strategic or a tactical game.

My personal defintion is that strategy is the plan and tactics are the execution of that plan.

Yet those who seek to denigrate 40k as a tactical game seem to ignore that there is an awful lot of strategy involved - indeed the mechanics of the game include strategic imperatives in the form of victory conditions and objectives.

But, of course strategy implies thinking, and as we all know - or the interwebz would have us believe - there is very little thought involved in 40k (though curiously the interwebz are keen to play up the mathematics of the game).

And, then it occured to me that perhaps people are not thinking in terms of single envelopments, refused flanks, oblique attacks etc. Maybe the people wishing to down play the strategic elements of the game are doing so because they are not employing strategy, prefering instead to engage in games that equate to the phalanx warfare of ancient Greece; with units lined up in such a way as to cover the entire table - or castled in a corner - either way the result is the absence of flanks. And with the netlisting, bring your A list, attitude so prevelant the skills of baiting, luring and sacrifice is perhaps underused.

In short perhaps battles in the 41st Millenium have become a ritualised affair - inspite of a wealth of tactical and strategic options available to commanders.

No doubt Clausewitz would have approved - given his formalised and formalistic military training - but perhaps the answer is not to dismiss the strategic elements within the game, but to exploit them.

Might I suggest that a good place to start would be having smaller games?


Thursday, 14 July 2011

Gun Porn

The Bolshies are finished and it is onto the Gnoblars...

Cue picture...

After a quick bit of research, I have decided that I have two sections of Bolsheviks, a platoon would have four sections. So that's half the force done.

On a recent episode of All Along the Watchtower they discussed their distaste at Battlefront having SS insignia patches available for their figure cases. This topic has also made it to Dakka.

I do find myself wondering how the the authorities in various European countries will react to this, as such things are illegal in a number of countries.


In the dim and distant past I have dabbled with Flames of War. I didn't get as far as playing a game, but I did buy some figures and paint them. But beyond that I can't say that I have ever really fancied it from an aesthetic perspective - it just never looks right having that many tanks on the table, and those lines of tanks also don't look right.

It also bothers me that the game is littered with special characters.

But, in the past few days I have been looking for a podcast to listen to, while painting, and found Radio Free Battlefront.

Now were I a Flames of War player, no doubt I would think this podcast great and a sign of how much research goes into each army. But as someone who doesn't play the game, I found the whole thing strangely pornographic, and slightly distasteful.

I have no problem with playing games based on recent history. And I understand that Battlefront have opted to go for a tournament style of game. And no doubt the Liebstandard in Tiger tanks is the optimal list for the game - or whatever. But....

The best way to describe the but, is in Max Hastings excellent book, Overlord, he quotes a German tank commander who described himself as feeling like a hero in a Wagner opera when in combat. Which Hastings points out is hardly a good thing, and thankfully not something that many allied soldiers would have felt - or indeed were encouraged to feel in their training.

Yet Battlefront appear imbued by this masturbatory festishistic approach to warfare. And indeed encourage the players to join the orgy.

Which perhaps explains why so many people criticise the game as unhistorical, and why the morally relativist denizens of dakka can get themselves tied in knots over the issue of why the encouragement of people to display SS insignia on their carrying cases, in order to put a few more pennies in Battlefront coffers, might not be such a good thing.


Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Wadda GW Know?

Raise the Red Banners....

Cue photo....

There is slight bemusement over at BoLS that if you play 40k by the rules, and use terrain as per the rulebook, then balanced armies do rather well.

I wonder how long it will take the ETC to work it out too?

Rather than play 8th edition, the ETC have come up with a weird hybrid set of rules of their own - which is hardly surprising given the international cliquey WAACo nature of the event.

They have effectively dispensed with the terrain rules, opting to get rid of TLoS and bringing in a system somewhat akin to WRG 7th Edition Ancients.

Alongside this they have comped this, that and the other.

Fair enough, I couldn't really give two shiney ones, but what does bother me is the complete lack of intelligence or imagination that has been demonstrated by this process.

8th ed has some rather useful rules in the mysterious terrain section for handling such things as double Abomination, or 90 stroong Chosen units or whatever. The problem is that this section of the book was rejected before process started.

Oh I know! The mysterious terrain rules are too random, 8th ed is too random... yadda, yadda, yadda...

But then, not so long ago the same people repeating these gems of interwebz 'wisdom' were saying that terrain played no role in 40k and balanced armies were for losers.


Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Endless Scenarios

The problem with having a gap of over a year in a painting project is that you forget the various paint mixes you have used. Thus the Ogres have gone a wierd peppermint green colour. So I decided to paint some Bolsheviks....

Cue picture...

In an episode of the D6 Generation they discussed historical gaming, in a very odd manner. This in turn prompted Meeples and Miniatures to reply in an equally odd manner.

Rather than get into the whole issue, one of the points that the Meeples and Miniatures made was that playing historical games led him to reading history books, which in turn fed his hobby because it provided scenarios and ideas for games.

Having started collecting the Bolsheviks, originally to play Back of Beyond, I found myself looking around for figures. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a wally, I have fallen in love with the range of figures made by Pulp. Which led me to daydream about playing games of Bolsheviks against killer robots on South Sea Islands. However I also like the range of models offered by Renegade - particularly the British - which dragged me back toward the historical.... with t is true very little enthusiam.

Well that was until I googled the British intervention at Murmansk and Archangel.

The landing was the first example of ships and planes being used to bombard the defences in support of an amphibious landing. Then there was naval warfare along the rivers with monitors and gunboats supporting land operations. Before the armistace on the Western Front the Germans were training and possibly fighting alongside the Russians. Add to this numerous battles, militias, nationalists, mutineers and warlords and you have quite a heady mix for wargaming.

All of which is in contrast to my pre-concieved notions of the intervention in which not very much happened.

I found myself searching the web for model aircraft kits.

Right time to make some red flags...


Monday, 11 July 2011

Bit on the Side

The Ogres progress...

Cue photo...

As we know, everyone on the internet is an expert on GW.

But I found myself wondering today about what the deal really is for those working for the company.

For instance, if you look on the Perry's website they describe their day job as working for Games Workshop. And then there is Aly Morrison who whilst working for Games Workshop has also found the time to knock out a range of World War One figures. Not to mention the interwebz 'man they love to hate' Jervis Johnson, found the time to lend a hand with Black Powder.

It is not uncommon in the wargames 'industry' that people work on a commision basis, so this might explain for instance why the Perry's have managed to knock out their own range of beatiful figures, and a large section of the Wargames Foundry range, whilst ostensibly working for Games Workshop.

I only mention it because it is a source of constant nerd rage on the winterwebz that GW don't bang out an army book every other week, and a new figure every day.

No doubt the nerd ragers would have a siezure. were to take their head out of their backside and find out what the people they believe have been slaving at the grindstone have been doing in their sparetime.....

peace :-)

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Short and Sweet

The Ogres finally have some paint on them...

Cue photo...

Not much more to say...


Friday, 8 July 2011

KR Hurrah

Today is the first time in ages that I haven't painted anything...

Cue semi blurry photo.....

I was awoken by a very excited 3 year old who wanted me to open the parcel that had arrived for me. The parcel turned out to be the KR backpack.

I have to say that I am very impressed. My Napoleonics are all safely tucked away in their foam cases, and if my calculations are correct, two KR card cases should be enough to carry my planned two infantry and one brigade.

The back packs is also very nice. It has lots of space, a couple of side pockets, and a pocket for carrying books. A quick test reveals that this pocket can carry the hard backed 8th ed rule book, along with the Black Powder rulebook and two possibly three army books. And there is enough space left over to easily carry a light waterproof jacket or a sweater.

The case feels comfortable when you have it on your back and it certainly seems sturdy.

So all in all I am very pleased.

Highly recommended.

I mentioned the other day that I was getting technofear about using various progrmas to create the things I needed for General Quarters. Last night for whatever reason this technofear disappeared and I rattled through the various tasks.

Thus instead of painting I have spent the day laminating various pieces of card and paper, and sealing the edges with cellotape, as can be seen in the picture above.

I have suggested that the missus play a trial game with me, on the basis that if she, who has little interest in wargaming, can play the game easily and enjoy it, then anyone can. We shall have to see if she takes me up on the offer.


Thursday, 7 July 2011

Over There

The US fleet sets sail...

Cue photo...

And what is that in the background?

Well it had to be done.

While I await for my KR backpack, the interwebz has gone mad with the news that in Spain if you spend over a certain amount in GW shops, you can get rewarded by a free re-roll.

Given that Spain currently has @20% unemployment, and is the largest of the doddery economies that teeter on the brink of bringing down the Euro, I should have thought that the opportunity to have a second chance at an amour save - for those with the money to afford a hobby - would be a welcome distraction.

However, this being the interwebz, and American's being enormously parochial and paranoid nerd rage has spilled forth.

I have encountered the fallicious argument put forward by the protestors before. Apparantly the Patriots are concerned that if something happens in a small and insignificant place like Spain, then those playing in an enormously important place like, Peoria, will be forced to accept it.

Personally I was more offended at the notion that another of the rewards was the ability to jump the queue for the Forgeworld stand at Games Day Spain.

But then as I don't live in Spain - and have no intention of going there in the near future - it doesn't affect me either way.

And if it does become something that GW does more generally then good for them. Anything that brings more fun into the game is to be welcomed.


Wednesday, 6 July 2011

New Hotness

The great thing about 1/3000th naval gaming is that the ships are quick to paint...

Cue the.... errrrrr..... photo....

All of the Japanese ships are now painted.

So now I have the American ships to paint and the little problem of how to mount the aircraft. Along with the ships I got a pack of Catalina's, and at 1/3000th the planes are small. After experimenting I have decided to mount them on a pin, but the problem is finding a drill small enough to drill out a hole that will make the mounting secure. I found some .2mm drill bits in a local shop, and will probably go with this solution.

The postman brought reinforcements for the Bolsheviks today, which was nice. Though it has potentially moved the Ogres a little further back in the painting queue.

I really should give them a little more love than I do, but with all the new models arriving, and my priority being to complete the French Napoleonics, they sit waiting on their sprues... no doubt whispering that time is passing and the new book will soon be here.


Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Snap Happy

Having got tired of blurry photos, I have been reading the camera manual....

Cue over-exposed photo...

So that's divisional command painted.

And while I am getting snap happy with the camera, here is a picture of the army so far....

I've started work on the IJN by starting work on a couple of Fubuki destroyers.

But mainly I have been fiddling about in Word, having gone back to the idea of using cards for the game I am designing.

I want the cards to be mutifunctional. One function is to decide initative. I want them to drive events within the game, such as finding a cache of grain. Also control command points. The idea being that the player will have to make hard decisions based on the cards they hold, and there be an element of beggaring your neighbour.

And having obtained the formatted tables for Genral Quarters I suddenly saw how you could draw tables in Word to make the cards.

Now it is just a question of what to put on the cards.


Monday, 4 July 2011

The Joys of Old Style Gaming

I have started work on divisional command....

Cue blurry photo...

The first of my purchases arrived today, the ships from Navwar.

I have to say that I am very impressed, they must have literally processed, packed and dispatched the order as soon as it arrived.

After a fruitless and frustrating half an hour spent trying to draw the ship data tables in Word, I joined the General Quarters Yahoo group and found a suitable Word document that contained the required tables, so now it is just a question of filling them out for the ships I have, printing them and getting them laminated.

Re reading the rules I had forgotten just how simple the rules of General Quarters are. The basic rules are covered in about twenty pages... which includes all the advanced and campaign rules.

I bought some Catalinas so I have the problem of how to mount them - a 1/3000th Catalina is pretty small. So a trip to the hardware shop for suitable wire is imminent.


Sunday, 3 July 2011

Too Hot to Blog

Gosh it was hot today... so while mummy and the kids were braving the sunshine, daddy was ploughing on with his light infantry....

Cue blurry photo...

They just need the strapping and the details on the shako.

And what's more thanks to this blog, I notice that I am speeding up on the painting of these big units. The first took the best part of a week, yet the latest has been banging out in about three days (yes I know the light infantry have less colours, and going to take less time to paint).

Gosh, it's hot....


Saturday, 2 July 2011

Notes For Later

The base colours are now on the light infantry...

Cue blurry photo...

So what has been the highlight of your gaming year?

I ask because I noticed when clearing out my Spam box, an email from Mantic claiming that the Beta release of their rules is the wargaming highlight of the year.

I guess it is summer and therefore the season when film companies pump out brainless blockbusters - with tag lines about these movies being 'film of the year'.

Speaking of rules, I have been working on the rules for Back of Beyond - for obvious IP reasons they are not for Back of Beyond (but you get the point).

The last time I mentioned these rules I stated that I was moving towards a card system. But having zilch DTP ability. I have gone back to dice, and possibly tables for events.

Rather than prattle on about my inventive machanics, I wanted to make a note about the style of game I am seeking to create.

There is an excellent book by Martin Middlebrook, called the First Day of the Somme, in which he follows the development of the 'New Army' from the Kitchener recruiting posters to it's first use en masse at the Battle of the Somme. The book is an excellent historical document, but there are things in it that are rather contraversial - like British soldiers in the rear putting grenades in the pockets of captured Germans, a story that tends to upset veterans.

There are a couple of things in the book that stick in my mind, from the perspective of seeking to recreate the warfare of the early twentieth century.

The first is the issue of command and control. Radio was in it's infancy. Runners were very vulnerable. Telephone wires were liable to be cut by machine gun fire and shrapnel. And once a body of troops had gone to ground it was difficult to get it moving again, in part because once soldiers had seen a few comrades shot, they had a tendancy to believe the entire unti had been destroyed; when in fact when the unit regrouped the next day and the walking wounded had returned, along with the stragglers, the actual casualties tended to be rather light.

The myth is that the machine gun was king. And school children being taught the subject today have this myth reinforced. And indeed there are places where machine guns wreaked havoc. But this doesn't explain why on the extreme right where the 50th Eastern Division attacked with the French - using shoot and rush tactics - the Germans were shattered and in full retreat; and in the centre the Ulster division broke ordered to form line and march at 4mph (an order dreamt up by Rawlinson, supposedly because he could not concieve of any other way to stop the command and control breaking down) and rushed the German lines. If machine guns were really the all powerful weapon we are led to believe, then allowing for local factors, it would appear that tactically they could be defeated.

My aim is to build a company sized game, with @60 figures on each side - with more than one side on the table - and the question I have been wrestling with is how to reward good tactical practice, and not create a game with reams of paper tracking wounds, but also not involving a bloodbath.

The obvious answer is action points for the officer controlling each platoon. The better trained the troops the more action points they get. And equally to build a system in which players are encouraged to play cautiously until they have the action points to carry out a proper tactical plan.

The other aspect of early twentieth century warfare that is over looked is that the infantry platoo/section was not a single homogenous grouping of riflemen, that always acted as a sinlge body. So another thing I am seeking to encourage is that the player feels able - and is encouraged to do so - to split up their units to do specific tasks - recon, sniping, providing cover fire, ammo carriers, signallers, engineers etc.


It is time to put some curls in my flag....


Friday, 1 July 2011

Shopping Spree

The light infantry slowly gain colour...

Cue blurry photo...

Oh well all of the monies from the ebay auctions have come in... and pretty much all of it has gone out following today's shopping spree.

Triple Helix got a chunk of it... who could resist their BOGOF offer on Victrix Frenchies - 120 figures for £24.... HUZZAR!

Copplestone got some of it... as I seek to expand the Bosheviks. Speaking of which I have a confession to make. Last night I had to stop myself from appropriating one of my son's toy cars, as it would have made a useful commisar transport.

And after a piece of banking that would made Leaman Brothers proud, KR Multicase got the bulk of the rest of it. Those backpacks were just too tempting.

Ok it now means that I have hardly any money for the Ogres, but I still have some Ork stuff to sell when the next free listing offer rolls around. So hopefully by the time September/October rolls around I should have enough to get the things I want.

I got the double backpack, and my plan is to use it for my Napoleonics, which when complete with be two infantry brigades and an cavalry brigade, plus some artillery. My back of the Rizla packate calculations reckon that I should get it all in the two KR cases, which come with the bag, with room to spare for expanding the force at a later date - as the proposed army is some 300 figures, I figure I will need a bit of rest before calling for reinforcements.

Which will leave the KR aluminium double that I already have for the Ogres.

The trays are not the right size, but the foam is soft enough that I should be able to get the figures in without to much trouble.

On a related topic, the Dakka science lab has concluded it's latest experiment.

And it is not good news for Finecast, because the conclusion is that if you pack your figures carelessly - so that they have stress on them inside the carrying case - and leave it in a warm car boot for they days, Gandalf will end up with a bent sword.

My problem with this result is that it is pretty much what would be expected. Seeing as GW themselves state that the resin be bent/scuplted/converted under heat plus pressure.

I am not trying to playdown potential problems. But the moral of the story is that one needs to have a bit of care when packing your models in foam trays. However since this is the reason for buying the trys int he first pace this is a bit f a no brainer.


ps I realise the Triple Helix offer is Buy One Get One Half Price, and not BOGOF, but I just like saying BOGOFF.