Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Unfun Gaming

The church is coming along nicely.

I haven't done much today, as my free time has been taken up with trying to will Jordan Rhodes and Robert Snodgrass to join Norwich. It is pretty difficult to paint anything when you are constantly pressing the refresh button on twitter and numerous forums.

The club is organising a heat of the Yorkshire Open at the weekend. I'm in two minds about the event, as having entered into a kind of wargaming eutopia in recent times of playing games that are fun and designed to exclude 'that guy', the thought of playing three games with a rules pack designed to encourage 'that guy' gives me a sinking feeling in my stomach.

I shall probably go along, if for no other reason than to show my support for the club, and top up the coffers.

My plan is to lose the first game, in the hope of only having to play one WAACO type and hoping that I get two decent games.

I guess I shall at some point this week I shall have to write a list and a back story.


ps, here is the finished church...

Monday, 30 January 2012

Let Us Pray

And so my descent into middle age continues with my latest creation from matchsticks....

I need to find a suitable door knob for the onion dome.


Sunday, 29 January 2012

Making Your Game Your Own

I didn't make it for a game at the club.

I had offered a game of General Quarters, but there were no takers and as I had a hangover I didn't fancy going on the off chance. On the positive side two people have expressed interest, and I know there is one other regular who played the game - so that all looks very positive.

Therefore I spent the day pressing on with various projects.

I finished the commissar's transport...

The slogan on the side of the van reads, "Workers of the World Unite." Well it sort of does as I had to miss a few letters out of the first word to get it to fit into the space. Meh... noone will know, if you don't tell.

Another battalion of French Napoleonics is now assembled and awaiting paint. And I have started working on my latest matchstick construction project, a church. The inspiration for the building comes from this remarkable set of photographs taken by the Russian photographer Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, between 1909 and 1912. It's a heartbreaking set, when you consider how many of these people would probably be dead within twenty years.

In the past few days I have come to the realisation that this period of history has inspired me more than anything that I can remember in years. It's partly because I am constantly discovering new figure ranges, from manufacturers I have either never heard of or had forgotten. A case in point is Scheltrum who I remember from wayback for their range of Medieval ships. Recently they have released figures and vehicles for the German November Revolution of 1918. I stumbled across this information and have for the past few days been searching for pictures. They are not on the website due to problem with their website designer and the ISP - or something like that. It's rather charmingly old skool wargaming, and takes me back to the good old days when you bought stuff based on a list in Miniature Wargames without any real idea of what it was you were buying.

Still in an effort to discover what the Scheltrum lorries look like I have found all manner of interesting things. And all kinds of people playing games based on conflicts that are barely mentioned today relating to the chaos at the end of the First World War.

Which is rather splendid. Since I originally started getting into the period because of Back of Beyond, though I was never that keen on the Central Asian focus.However applying the notion of Back of Beyond, to the nationalist and political struggles in Western Russia and Eastern Europe is rather appealing - Latvian Nationalists, Polish Anarchists, Russian Feminist Royalists, Capitalist Adventurers Religious Cultists etc, in the course of my searches I have come across figures to play all of these and many more factions besides.

Basically, you find the figures you like, make up a setting for them and away you go. Not unlike what happens in Very British Civil War. Speaking of which I rather liked these chaps,
Totleigh-in-the-Wold Cricket Club Volunteer Grenadiers.


Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Few Pictures

Here's the finished Napoleonic infantry.

I picked up a Lledo Model T van in a charity shop for 50p.

Originally it had a Shreaded Wheat livery, but after a quick paint job...

Ideal transport for a commisar methinks. Just needs a few slogans and/or posters.


Friday, 27 January 2012

Exciting News

At last the Napoleonic infantry are done...

Well maybe not done as there is still the highlighting of the white to do and the bases.

I found myself getting rather excited by the news that Two Fat Lardies has begun work on a set of Dark Age rules. I was especially excited by the information in that blog post about the leadership mechanics as I rather like the idea of making my heroes give inspiration speaches before the battle in order ot inspire his men... or failing that giving them some fighting beer.

Quite whether this news gets me excited enough to dip my toe back in the waters of Ancients wargaming remains to be seen.

Though I half suspect it will.

Oh and I have been allowed out to play on Sunday. It remains to be seen if anyone bites at my offer of a WWII Pacific battle. If not there is always Warhammer....


Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fighting the Pirates

I am still plugging on with the Napoleonic infantry.

I have finished the base colours - well I say finished because when you are painting 35 men, you keep finding details and colours that you have missed.

The issue of piracy has hit the wargaming headlines lately.

Bols has been running various pieces on the subject, highlighting the activities of various Chinese websites. And today Tabletop Gaming News has a story about GW getting into a spat with Pirate Bay, regarding the latter offering 3D print files.

No doubt this will be good news for the modern day Robin Hoods who have no scruples with regard to their plastic crack. And quite possibly feeds their wet dreams about GW going bust. But I find myself how much of this is reality, and how much of this is simply that 3D printing is the 'new thing' - like 3D films.

I realise that I am a grognard about many things but I really don't buy the idea that 3D printers will be widespread. And I certainly don't believe that they will be used in the way suggested by futurists for printing trainers or car parts or whatever in people's homes. After all, according to the futurists home printers would be used for printing the family photo album, but the various printing shops and terminals in chemists testify that claim to be false.

And continuing in grognard mode, when I started out in wargaming there was a wide selection of games available, but there were huge chunks of history and various genres that were not covered at all. I have watched the hobby grow to the situation we have today in which you can fight virtually any conflict that you want. Profit certainly played a part in the development, but the main driver for the growth was the passion of the people designing and producing the fiigures.

But then the numpties that buy this knock off gear are not bothered about that.


I have wondering how people that care about the hobby can fight back.

I suppose you could grass them up to the customs/police, or even perhaps send their personal details to the company they are stealing from - so that should a napster style trial occur thhey will find themselves up before the beak.

A simpler way to express your distaste is not to play them. That will give them plenty of time to have fun counting the few bob that they have saved destroying the hobby.


Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Not GW Bashing

I was in a hardwear shop yesterday and I noticed some tile spacers, 'Oh, they'd make some perfect chevaux de fris,' I thought.

Which is perhaps a sign that I am getting terrain making frenzy.

The last time I had it was when I was making Orks. The difference is that this time around I have actually build a rifle pit, a sentry post and 16 bases of barbed wire, whereas when I got it with the Orks I built.... nothing really.

Walking home I reflected on this. The conclusion I reached was that the culture of GW gaming doesn't really encourage that kind of creativity. Which may seem a bit hard, but I can't remember ever seeing a table for a GW game that made me go 'Wow' - outside of Warhammer World and the incredible tables at French Games Day. Indeed terrain in GW games often appears to be treated like a necessary evil. The classic absurdity being the Chimera on top of the building.

But I'd rather not get into GW bashing, as I like their games and there's far too many people on the interwebz knocking the company as it is.

Apart from that, I have been working on a some more Napoleonic figures.

Oh, going back to GW.

I realise people complain at the prices but I while I was on my shopping trip yesterday I was in Boyes and having a look at the Wargames stuff. An old woman was standing next to me. She picked up a FoW US armoured platoon, and asked me what was in it. I turned the box around and showed her the picture on the back. "You don't get much for your money do you?" was her observation. To which I replied, "you get what you pay for."

Not that it will cut much ice with the instant gratification crowd - but then nothing will.

36 Napoleonic figures take a lot of painting...


Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Red Horde

I was sorting out the force organsiation for my Bolsheviks and decided to take a couple of pictures.


Sunday, 22 January 2012

Family Time

I didn't get a game in today - family time and all that - but I have continued making terrain, and now have 8 bases of a barbed wire and a command post/sentry post/check point/general makeshift military hovel.

Having read Though the Mud and the Blood three or four times, I think I understand the rules.

The one question I have is the take Cover order, as taking cover is implicit in the movement order, so I don't really see why it needs a specific order. I suppose I'll have to nip over to Lardy Island and see if there is an explanation on the forums.

So I guess I'll have to set my mind to making the cards - when I repaint the models in the Dettol bath (reminder to self - the missus wants you to clean all the gunk in the bathroom sink).

Now being a gamer, no sooner does stage one of a new project draw to a close than my mind has turned to the next thing on my to-do list.

To which end I have started flicking through my copy of Uniforms of the Penisula Wars by Chappell and Haythornthwaite. I realise that many people criticise the book on the grounds of accuracy, but I'm not really bothered about such matters, plus I find the book is very inspirational.

All of which means that when the RCW stuff is done, I shall return to painting French Napoleonics.

Oh and speaking of spending time with the family, I was left to look after the kids yesterday. They are lovely kids, and the eldest is genuinely interested in helping daddy with his soldiers. The problem is that they are three and one, so there is not a great deal they can actually do to help. I came up with the cunning plan of breaking out the air drying clay, with the intention of while they made Ben 10 monsters, I could knock out several hundred sandbags. It didn't quite work out that way. They did indeed make a Ben 10 monster, but I managed to make only about 30 sandbags, as I spent a great deal of my time trying to stop the youngest eating the clay, making sure the eldest was using the dentist tools safely, reassuring them that the red sye was not permanent and they wouldn't have red hands for ever and generally parenting rather than actually getting on with any modelling.

Still it was rather fun.

As regards my eldest's interest in soldiers I have agreed to play a little game with him some time. Just a few models and get him to roll some dice, and maybe learn to play the tape measure. I guess it will well and truely test my competative dad tendancies.

I recall my first experience of modelling. I got an Airfix 1/72nd Kittyhawk for Christmas. After some pestering from me and nagging from my mum, my dad agreed to help me make the kit. It was not a happy memory of childhood. We argued all the time, he did everything, the only thing I was allowed to do was to look at the plans and tell him which piece we needed next, and ended with him telling me, "if you don't want my help then do it yourself," before he stormed off to the living room to watch the Mike Yarwood show.

My dad was the genuine competative dad.

I don't believe I am - I don't get the hump when I get beaten at Snap or Frustration, and I am open to the new rules my three year old dreams up half way through the game. However, I am wondering if this laisse faire attitude extends to playing toy soldiers. It certainly doesn't when we play X-men, and Wolverine is jumping up and down on my chest when I am trying to read a book on Napoleonic unforms....


Friday, 20 January 2012

Stop Press

I'm still plodding on making barbed wire entanglemnts.

I have them all painted, and now it is just a matter of doing the rigging.

I would have cleaned the models I have been bathing in Dettol, except I forgot to buy some gloves when I went shopping. So they can have another day in the bath.


And hot off the press comes the first two barbed wire entanglements....

Thursday, 19 January 2012

A Bed for the Old Battalion

Oh well...

I mentioned yesterday that I had completed another 10 British infantry for the RCW project. I shouldn't have counted my chickens, for as I applied the finishing touches with Dullcote, all my work disappeared under a coating of frosting.

So the models are currently lying in a Dettol bath.

The devils makes work for idle hands, so rather than give him an opportunity I have contined making terrain.

You'll see from the picture that I have been experimenting with wiring the barbed wire. I'm rather pleased with the results, which will obviously be improved with painting. Two have been completed, and I have another 14 to do.

Wire was not such a factor in the east as it was in the west, so 16 stands should be enough for the time being.

16 bases is 4 feet.

The cost is probably about a seven quid, so it can't be bad.


Wednesday, 18 January 2012

The 6th ed Leak

So that's another 10 British infantry finished.

And I bought some brass wire, and have strung ten barbed wire bases.

Pictures to follow.


For the past week or so the interwebz have been buzzing with the news of the leaked 6th ed rules. I say leaked, because there is a rumour that the file is a fake. GW has apparently issued a statement that the rules are fake, and seemingly they are writing to all independent suppliers to this effect.

I haven't seen the rules, but by all accounts they are very good. Indeed people have begun playing with them and report that they are fast play and fun.

And it is this point, while twiddling my Poirot moustaches, that leads me to think the claims of the rules being fake are false.

If you had the time and creativity to create this set of rules, why would you just give them away? Especially when long defunct and bad games cost thousands to buy the IP. Yes, it is true that writing wargames rules is never going to make anything like the money that producing figures does, but it still makes no sense to just give the rules away.

Ok, there are issues with these rules being directly copied from GW Trademarks, which would prevent them being commercially exploited. But it would take much to change them.

Which brings me to the alternative explanation, that this file was created by a group of 40K players, and represents a series of houserules, that have been developed across the lifetime of 5th edition.

The problem with this explanation is that if you were so dissatified with a game that you resort to rewriting them, and effectively doubling the length of the rules, why wouldn't you just play something else? Also it seems strange that this was going on without anyone noticing, or being drawn into the project. For instance Killzone is a variation of 40k, and that underwent fairly widespread community playtesting to ensure balance. Yet we are expected to believe that this small group did a similar thing, going so far as to issue the related document in the 'leak' which FAQ's all armies in order that they conform with the proposed rules.

Obviously time will tell if these were a playtesting version of the official rules.

However, of more interest to me is that this seems to confirm what I have long suspected, that this is just the latest example of GW using the internet rather cleverly for marketing purposes.

Oh, and something else that makes me suspect these are legit is that when I did go in search of the file two of the links I followed, ended with the message 'this file does not exist'. Anyone who has ever tried to get anything removed from the internet knows that the task is pretty thankless unless you have access to a lawyer or can prove copywrite infringement - always assuming that you were not in control of the file in the first place.

But as I say, we shall wait and see.


Tuesday, 17 January 2012

More Terrain

Having run out of spray varnish, I decided to press on with making terrain...

A sentry post and two bases of barbed wire.

The missus suggested using embroidery wire for the barbed wire. It seems it is easy to work with. Currently I plan on using fuse wire, but I will check out the tip.


Monday, 16 January 2012

Ignore the Varnish

I've finished some more British...

My plan is to get all the figures painted, sort out how they can be set put into sections, and then add some rank markings.


Stand To

The earthworks are finished...

As are the first of the British infantry.


Sunday, 15 January 2012

Fighting the Rear Guard

And so today I ventured back to the Peninsular war.

Cue blurry photo....

The scenario was of my devising. We were playing Black Powder rules. However I wanted to get away from the notion of a set battle, and though I was never specific about it in setting up the game or while the game was happening, my intention was to act as more of an umpire than an opponent.

Before the game, I gave my opponent Dean, of the TooMuchLead blog, a brief tactical assessment, and a breakdown of the forces available to him. He had four commands, of which only two were stated as ready for action. He was then invited to say at what time he would order his troops to march.

The tactical assessment stated that spies had reported Massena's troops in front of the Torres Vedras fortifications were preparing to withdraw and that he should march out and engage the retreating troops. Depending on what time he gave the order to march, would depend what French forces would be deployed at the start of the game.

I added to the scenario three extra elements; Portugese civilians, random events, and mines. These were marked on the table by markers. When a civilian was encountered he could question them on anything he wanted to know. The random events were either the troops discover a wine cellar and get drunk, or they discover the site of a civilian massacre. In the case of discovering a wine cellar, the whole command was disordered, and the unit closest to the wine cellar suffered D3 wounds. Once disordered the troops had to pass a morale test in order to be issued with further orders. If they discovered a massacre, the gained the ferocious charge special rule. In the case of the mines, on a 4,5, or 6 they would explode, the subsequent damage would the road and the burning house would be dangerous to nearby troops. I did work out a dice roll for difusing the mines, but this didn't come into play.

In the event the British did not enter the battle until the latest possible time, so all the mines were in place - four in all, three in the village and one in the nearby convent.

Another element was that random French commands would enter on the eastern or western road, on the roll of a D6. Were I to replay this game, or a similar scenario, I would roll for the HTH, Shooting, and Stamina of the units. As these units were supposed to be stragglers, but because they had the standard unit characteristics they were too strong. Though this was balanced out by the commanders that came with them, their command ratings were D6 +3. This generally resulted in weak commanders, which in a sense was flavourful.

As the French player my objective was to retreat to the bridge, and plant mines, blow it up and get off the table. In order to plant the mines, I had to get light infantry onto the bridge and roll a 4,5,or 6. When three mines were in place, on the roll of 4,5, or 6 the bridge would blow up.

As the game was played on a 6' by 4' table, I reduced the movement rates. The reason for this was twofold. I wanted to give the French a fair chance to blow the bridge, and I didn't want the the British to march rapidly to the village and get decimated by the mines.

As to the game.

The British began the game with two commands deployed in such a way as to trigger two of the random events. The cavalry got immediatly plastered, the Flying column - 3 rifle detachments, and a battlion of Scots - rolled to join the bachanal, but I figured that this would spoil the game too much, so instead I said they discovered a massacre (who said there's no marality in wargaming ;)).

The French retired back across the river and set to work trying to mine the bridge.

Eventually the British got the cavalry moving, and the flying column moved up. The rest of the British forces arrived and began moving foward. Well I say moving forward, because the Militia brigade, backed by the Foot Guards, blundered and marched back of the table. Which was obviously a bit of a setback, particularly as French stragglers had begun arriving on the table (what was curious in the game was ability to roll 6's for French troops arriving (which I didn't really want to happen) and my inability to roll 4,5, or 6 for the plantingof the mines on the bridge). So we decided that the Militia brigade could come back onto the table in two turns on the roll of 4,5, or 6.

Another curious feature of the game was the number of 10's and 11's rolled when giving orders. I have no idea how many turns we played, it was probably around 12 or 15, but for long periods of the game there was only very minimal shooting, and very little movement, as command after command failed to issue orders.

Two of the mines in the mines in the village went off, blocking the road. I said that the British could attempt to clear the rubble but no attempt was made to do so.

The flying column managed to get into firing positions near the village, and twice drove the light infantry of the bridge. However the arrival of some Dragoons and a subsequent short cavlary battle to their rear, meant they moved forward to find safer ground. Unfortunately in doing so, one detachment suffered casualties from a burning house collapsing onto them, and another unit discovered a cache of Portugese Brandy. Whether or not this discovery affected a combat between a group of riflemen and a squadron of Dragoons, I cannot say, but the riflemen heroically charged and massacred the Dragoons. Unfortunately for the Flying column this, combined with artillery fire, and the Highlanders being a little too close to the convent when it blew up, forced the brigade to retire.

On the British right flank the Militia brigade and the Cavalry got caught up in a losing fight with some units of straggling infantry. The cavalry did manage to take one of the battalions by surprise before they could form square, but lost the combat and were driven off. However this unit then blundered int he command phase and ran off the table.

The British left flank managed to finally clear the village and get to the river. By the time they got there only two charges had been laid. And so the Rear Guard were ordered to retreat.

It was a close victory for the British, as they had captured the bridge intact, but the French had given them a bloody nose and retreated in good order.

It was an enjoyable game. And as I have said, if I were to play it again I would look at the mechanism for dealing with the stragglers. Whilst it is true that their intervention gave the rear guard plenty more opportunities to lay the mines, by delaying the British advance, I can't help feeling that they influenced the game a little too much.

The mechanic for the drunkeness worked pretty well, and such matters were a matter of concern for the officers in the British army at the time, it was perhaps a little excessive - as witnessed by Dean's expression when the riflemen fighting the dragoons succumbed to the demon drink, despite being a good foot from where the cache was discovered. It certainly added an extra element of friction. Though perhaps I should have added more than the two options for the outcome of the event.

However I was pleased with how the game played out. As it did capture somewhat the flavour of battles of the period, without it being a standard wargame in which both sides line up and fight each other. One of the things I would like to explore further in wargaming this year is working in the wider context of the battles and fitting them into a civilian context. Many years ago when I dabbled in the Vietnam war, with the Bodycount rules, I liked the way in which this element of warfare was handled.

And it shouldn't be forgotten that as a result of the British scorched earth policy in Portugal as they retreated into the Torres Vedras, and the subsquent French occupation and retreat, many thousands of Portugese civilians were killed. And hopefully the inclusion of a few friction mechanics went to way to trying to replicate this.


Friday, 13 January 2012

Trench Warfare

I decided to make some terrain for the Russian civil war.

It cost me all of £1.50.

I just need to paint it up now.


Thursday, 12 January 2012

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Reading Rules

So that's 48 British infantry on sanded bases.

I have been thinking about the game on Sunday.

There were numerous things in the game that have been bugging me. So I went back to the rule book. Now I wouldn't say my opponent was cheating but comparing what occured with the rules does rather suggest that a certain laxity was being used. And it wasn't one or two occasions, I checked up on eight things.

Of course it is my fault for not knowing the rules as thoroughly as I should at the time, and it is a case of live and learn. But I do wonder about the competative nature of WFB. Its partly why I am reluctant to suggest a campaign at the club, as there is a very definite overly competative edge to the way WFB is played and my idea is for a rather more fun series of linked games.

Changing the subject, I have ordered Through the Mud and the Blood. I went for the hardback copy, so I can read it in the bath. As part of the deal I recieved a PDF copy of Triumphant Standards, which has a number of scenarios for the interwar period. I've had a quick read through and am very pleased with what I have read; proper old style wargaming.


Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Heading Back East

Having finished my Ogres - well until I can lay my hands on some more Leadbelchers - I have turned my mind back to the Russian Civil War.

Cue photo...

It's an odd thing coming back to a project, how often questions that you had suddenly fall into place. For instance for the time being I have put the rules I was writing on the back burner, and instead will use Through the Mud and the Blood by Too Fat Lardies. And while I was doing some virtual window shopping it occured to me that I really don't need a whole lot of new figures. I have a platoon of Bolsheviks, and a platoon of British.

Oddly enough I reached this realisation while working out how I could spend even more money.

The local branch of Boyes has a wargaming section which includes Warlord, Gripping Beast, Perry's, GW, Plastic Soldier Company, Flames of War - and some other stuff. Whenever I go into town I always stop and have a look. The other day while musing about what I would like to buy - Victrix French Revolutionary infantry, to convert them to Spanish in case you were wondering - that I remembered my teenage years when I collected 15mm ancients and 7 years war, and wished that I could afford a 25mm (as they were then) army.

The two armies I dreamed of were a French Napoleonic army and a Republican Roman Legion.

Well I now have the French army - or I will have when I get my finger out and paint the some 200 figures that are laying around. And truth be told I don't really want to get ito ancients at the moment - well ok that is a lie, because I do, but I honestly can't decide what army I want. I still like Republican Romans, but I also like Vikings, Anglo-Saxons, Medieval Spanish, Mongols, and Persians.

Perhaps the problem is that in the current climate I really don't know what rules I would prefer.


I had a look in the cupboard and found the last squad of Bolsheviks and as I had nothing else to paint I decided to get on with them.

Of course being a wargamer, I went in search of what I could buy and found this.

Cool or what?

Plus I found a European distributor for the excellent Pulp miniatures and Company B. Plus I finally got round to buying a couple of cas of Dullcote.

In fact all the little niggles that brought the project to a grinding halt, have resolved themselves. So it's full steam ahead.


Sunday, 8 January 2012

Grumpy New Year

Played the first game of the year today, 2000 points versus WoC.

I lost.

Basically I played like a nerk. I was running a deathfist list, and for some reason I got so hooked up in the magic phase, and the internet wisdom that Death magic is short range, that I completely forgot about tactics. I was running a suicide butcher with a hellheart, and rather than allow him to do his job of pulling the pin on the miscast grenade, I moved the Irongut deathstar up to support him. Then for no reason fled the butcher when it was charged by a unit of Chaos Knights, which allowed the Knights in on the bunker flank, with a unit of foot knights to charge into the front. To cap this I forgot that the unit had the Runemaw, and allowed miasma to be cast on the unit, so they fought the combat at WS1. It was a closer fight than I expected, but the bunker fled and was run down.

Half the army gone.

I suppose that's what happens when you throw together a list at the last minute and haven't really thought about how you are going to use it.

Thinking about it afterwards I thought of numerous ways in which I should have played better, but I guess hindsight is 20/20.

Still it was a fun game, and had I been more agressive in the final turns I could have pulled the irons from the fire.

Afterwards I stopped off in town to pick up a copy of the latest White Dwarf.

This edition is full of vampires. As I was reading it on the bus home, I found myself thinking, 'this is the stoopidiest army I have ever seen.' It was the rules for the Coven Throne that tipped me over the edge. I can see that this book is going to be the cause of arguments. An army that causes fear and terror, that is immune to psychology and gets free troops - now has units that many armies can't hit, and messes with the opponents shooting and combat... yeah that's going to be fun to play against.

Stand by for cries of outrage at the new power creep in 8th.


Saturday, 7 January 2012

First of the Year

First game of the year tomorrow.

I planned to use all the toys, but you can't get them all in at 2000pts. So I have decided to have a go at deathfisting. The list is not ideal, certainly against the WoC army I shall be facing.

We'll see what happens.