Thursday, 18 August 2011


Following on from yesterday's post...

Those inhabiting the sewers that are internet forums, often grow vexatious on the subject of the internet list. And indeed I have railed against them myself on occasion. However I have been pondering the something in Paddy Griffiths book.

In the mythology of the first world war... and indeed this applies to some extent to the question of tanks in the second World War... those pushing the Lion's Led by Donkey's line often point to the higher numbers of machine guns in German companies, compared to British/French.

What they overlook is the reasoning behind this.

The key factors in the First World War were the handling of reserves and the artillery. The power of the machine gun was not it's killing power, but it's ability to delay enemy troops in no man's land, giving time for reserves time to deploy and pinning them in pre-planned artillery fire zones.

Add to this that the Germans appear to have increased the number of machine guns in order to compensate for a percieved lack of musketry skills among their infantry.

Why I mention this in relation to netlists is that long before I had heard of the Leafblower, I was planning an Imperial Guard army and reached much the same conclusion; I presume on the same logic basic - that by maximising the number of pie plates you make up for defficiencies of the basic Imperial Guard infantry man; which in turn probably explains the reasoning behind the codex design.

I suspect the reason people dislike netlists is not the list themself, but the notion that those using them have not considered the tactical and strategic assumptions behind them. That somehow if you build one you will win.

Which is rather missing the point.

Like or not, the games produced by Games Workshop are very deep and very subtle - numpties often dismiss the subtly as Beer and Pretzels - and just as those fetishising the machine gun, or later complaining about the inferiority of allied tanks compared to their German counterparts overlook how the technical advatage was surpassed and overcome.


Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Myths of War

I've been working on the Dragoons...

Cue photo...

History is in part the study of believable myth making.

For instance, I was unaware until recently that at the end of the First World War the British army practically mutinied, during one of the subsequent riots soldiers burned down Luton town hall.

Indeed the First World War, as a whole, is a good example of the mythological reworking of history.

The mother-in-law is a teacher and takes parties of school kids to the battlefields of France. There, they read Owen and Sassoon, and tick various boxes about emotional learning by imagining what it would have been like to be in the trenches; and no doubt conclude the whole thing was a futile waste, with Lions Led by Donkey's, that was fought in a fashion that was totally irrational.

This was certainly the version of history that I was taught at school.

Yet I was struck by a couple of things after The First Day of the the Somme by Martin Middlebrook.

The first being that far from the war being a dreadful ordeal for large numbers of the men involved it was rather a lark; fresh air and regular food being an added bonus. And secondly I am always struck by the story of a young lad from Bradford who tried to join up aged 14, who was initially rejected not becausse of his age, but becuase he had a 24" chest. (Bradford might still be a shithole today ("Bradford's role in life is to make every place else in the world look better in comparison, and it does this very well." Bill Bryson) , but it was far worse at the turn of the last century)

Which brings me to Battle Tactics of the Western Front by Paddy Griffith.

There are two facts that need to be considered when thinking about the tactical and strategic problems faced by the generals.

The first is that the there were around 5000 men per mile of frontline. Obviously these were not uniformly spread, or even in the frontline, but this density can not be ignored particularly when considered alongside the pattern of railway tracks, that were in many cases deliberately built for the military purpose of moving reserves.

The second thing to consider is that far from the Western Front being akin to hell, with constant shelling, for long periods of the conflict, large section of the front were entirely inactive.

Oh and it didn't help in matters of command and control that it took six hours to pass a message from a Corps HQ to the frontline, and vice versa - something greatly compounded by the necessity of any orders having to be issued to other units and support companies in order to make them effective.

I was reading Mr Griffiths excellent book in part due to the rules I have been writing.

However, to pass the time painting I was watching All Quiet on the Western Front - the version with John Boy Walton - and found myself being rather annoyed by the depiction of the fighting, in which a wave of French troops ran across no man's land, got repelled and then the German's ran across no man's land - all in broad daylight.

All of which was completely at odds with the tactics outlined in Mr Griffiths' book. And while it is a nice metaphor, makes absolutely no sense - for instance where was the support troops to carry the ammo and the engineering equipment? or the signallers to lay the telephone wires for the co-ordination of the artillery? the reserves to exploit the capturing of the enemy trenches?

Maybe they couldn't afford the extras....


Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Good Show

Just to say, I really enjoyed this month's White Dwarf, especially the Storm of Magic articles.

True the tone of the writing is still the same awful jolly hockey sticks nonsense, but the content was good.

In fact I have to say that I am rather positive about the other changes Games Workshop have made of late, such as cracking down on rumours etc. Sure they re feeding the rumour mill, and it isn't exactly difficult to find out the stuff, but I cn honestly say I am excited.... more so than before.


Monday, 15 August 2011

The Long Dragoon

After a hiatus I have forced myself to start painting again...

Cue photo...

Maybe it's just me, but whenever I am faced with a mountain of new figures I really can't get motivated to just get on with the painting.

Changing the subject... if only slightly, because me pin number figure is itching for the new book and models.... the Ogre rumours are firming up with a couple of weeks to go until the release.

Now it is only rumours, and there is a world of difference between how things appear in the book and how things play on the table, but I am pleasantly surprised about the potential levels of power that the Ogres may be able to generate. Obviously the big question is one of points, as the current Army Book is over costed, in terms of being able to create a balanced army. But, that aside, it does appear that the army will be able to partake and compete in all phases of the game.

I particularly like that they will have access to more than just the one magic lore.... and that fire-eater model is simply lovely.

So the big question in my mind is....

How many French Napoleonics can I get painted in the meantime...


Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Chew On This

I wouldn't go so far as to describe my state as giddy like a schoolgirl, but I have spent part of my soujourn at the seaside following the Ogre rumours.

And indeed I was rather excited when I saw the prictures....

What I was not quite prepared for was the level of stoopidness to which some people would succumb.

For instance....

Have at look at the tusks.

Do they look natural to you?

No, nor me, but it didn't stop people from criticising the models of the basis of the beast's inability to eat. Yeah it is always the first thought on my mind when I look at a plastic monster kit. I can't look at a Manticore without wondering what it had for lunch.


The release of the pictures, and the firming up of various rumours, has left me wondering what sort of an army the new book will generate.

The Ogres are already rather pricey, so aside from the expense (and transport difficulty) if is questionable how many of the new gribblies will make it into the daylight of battle.

However I am rather hopeful that the changes will be rather cleverly handled.

At present the problem with the army is, to paraphrase Ben Johnson, 'shoot then a bit, magic them a bit, and they're gone.' According to the rumours, apart from giving a 6+ save and changing the magic a bit, they haven't really changed the actual Ogres too much. Yet now potentially if you are going to shoot them a bit and magic them a bit, you face the problem of whether to target the infantry or the monsters, and whichever you pick, the section of the army you neglected will no doubt do you a fair bit of damage.

I'd prefer a bit of chaff thrown in too.

But I guess we will all have to wait and see what the points are when the book comes out.