Tuesday, 31 July 2012

New Recruits

So half of the first platoon is done.

There's a few bits and bobs I will add later, like bushes, barbed wire and other paraphernalia; but I think I'll leave that until I have painted all the infantry. There's a bit of dry brushing also needs doing.


Monday, 30 July 2012

The Ritalin Generation

The last time I played chess, I was hassled into it by this bloke I vaguely knew on a tea break at work. The game lasted about about five minutes, I lost and he had the pleasure of launching into an ignored soliloquy about the sort of boring stuff that people who play chess like to waffle on about.

Chess to me is like Mousetrap, it looks like it should be fun, and people who are into it are really into it but frankly it is dull.

But of course this makes me unintelligent, because chess is a sign of mental superiority like Stockhausen, Frida Kahlo  or labelling fat people as Obese.But here''s the thing that puzzles me, why is it that all these 'clever' people haven't noticed that chess is a game about politics?

Which makes me wonder why chess ever gets linked to wargames.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

Heroic Death of the Helena

I got down the club and managed to get in game General Quarters against Dean.

Cue Sombre Music...

In the Pacific the perfidious little men of the Japanese navy continue their aggression....

I was rather pleased as it is the first time I have managed to play since I bought the ships last year. The basic scenario was that the Japanese had to deliver supplies to one of the islands - the supplies were on the destroyers - and it was my duty as the Americans to stop them.

One of the things that I really should keep in mind for future games is not to launch torpedoes at target when the probability is they will hit an island.

The Japanese expressed much chagrin at the American radar, firing through the smoke screens laid by the destoryers.

The battle was evenly matched until someone on board the Helena left a porthole open in the boiler room, allowing two 5" shells to fly in, wreck the boiler room and leave the ship dead in the water and the target of a massed torpedo attack.

As the two sides got to close range, and the damage mounted, the Americans in desperation attempted to ram the Japanese to try and keep them away from the crippled Helena. But all to know avail, as the torpedoes struck home and the ship broke in two, Not that it stopped the dastardly Armoured Cruiser, Mogami, from firing on the wreckage.

The Americans lost two destroyers, and the Helena, and were forced to leave another destroyer to the mercy of the Japanese. The Japanese were roughly handled, but didn't lose any ships, this fact was kept from the American public.

I did enjoy the game and I was left thinking about what ships I could add. 


Saturday, 28 July 2012

Look Closely

So after a few false starts, I have finally got around to doing some work on my 6mm Russians.

Ok, 6mm is not the most photogenic of scales, but I think the pic demonstrates the Minibits dice holders and bases nicely. So far I have miliputed some detail onto the bases, and made a start on the painting.

This is an infantry platoon, with four sections. And it has caused me to have a slight rethink of my plans. Originally my idea was to focus on Kursk, but I am now leaning more toward the early war. The reality is that very little will actually change - other than it gives me an incentive to paint more infantry. And perhaps more importantly it means the Germans won't have Tigers, SS, all the stuff that puts me off WWII.


Friday, 27 July 2012

Dead Air

And so Heelenhammer has gone.

Well maybe not gone, but as Dan and Wayne explained, at length, they will no longer be recording regularly. As someone who has listened from the beginning, with a period half way through when I got fed up with their smugness and didn't bother, I will kind of miss the show.

3 years is a long time for anyone to indulge in a hobby project, but there are plenty more that have managed it and continue to go from strength to strength.

A case in point being Bad Dice which has greatly benefited from going gaystyle - not that the show was bad before when the Ben's were doing it (it was even a little gaystyle then). But the inclusion of Gareth as the noob is a real breath of fresh air in a genre that seems to assume that everyone listening is as cheesy as the hosts, and enjoys being told what they are allowed to do with their toysoldiers.

Heelenhammer didn't go totally down this line in the way of say The 11th Company, but there was an element of Dan being the tournament- nazi to Wayne's hobby-nazi.

And after Spiersgate, Dan's stint on the committee of nonsense at the ETC, and a couple of off-the-cuff comments along the line of 'people don't understand me' (Dan's claims on the Black Sun to being a secret swearer when not subject to Apple's censor) it was hardly surprising that the podcast was going to dwindle to nothingness.


Thursday, 26 July 2012

Highly Recommended

The bits from Minibits arrived today, and I am very pleased with them.

I haven't managed to do any work on the 6mm project as I have been to the zoo.


Wednesday, 25 July 2012


I have grown used to history being described as fluff.

But I was a little taken aback to notice it being called Open Source.

No doubt the latter day Robin Hood's of the internet think it is, but the numerous film makers, authors, artists and historians that provide the fluff would disagree that they have in anyway waived the rights to their intellectual property.

Which raises an interesting question.

What if Henschel, or Porsche, or Vickers, or Chrysler, sought to enforce their copyright and trademarks and force the makers of miniatures to license representation of their models?


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Excitement Building

Bases ordered, dice holders ordered...

Need to go to the model railway shop for some scenic bits and pieces.

Come on Mr Postman, I want the models...


Monday, 23 July 2012

GW Go Nuts

GW has appointed Bio agency to do something or other for them.

I say something or other because I notice that various forum posts have popped up around the internet containing pony tailed jargon and asking for feedback. And in short it is the same old shit that every other company does, and is largely based on the technology of the various devices and very little to do with the product.

I'll give you an example.

"It's fun and exciting to be able to use an army building app, and at the click of a button, to be able to order the army you have created"

And yes it is. And no doubt the lovies will pitch this idea, and with the bells and whistles on the smart phone at the presentation there will be much excitement. But if they don't also recommend restarting the bits business the app is worthless, and will instantly crash and burn when the angry Americans who run the interwebz get started on the subject... not forgetting they will have been rubbishing it for weeks prior to release (it take a lot of internet hate chimping to get one of those big warjack things ;))

One thing I noticed was that they are talking about the end of the retail division. Apparently online shopping is growing at 10.5% a year and the high street is yesterday's news... yadda, yadda, yadda... just to put it into context, they were talking about the end of the FLGS, and coupled with a recent story I heard about a GW rep telling a new gaming store that they should not rely on GW products if they want to create a viable business. Therefore it could mean that GW is going to scale back/pull out of supplying independent retailers, and or, their retail shops.

What interests me about this is that it is pretty much what the interwebz business experts have been saying for year. Their motivation is purely a way of trying to justify cutting prices - and takes no account of the phyletic size decrease inherent in GW's business - and indeed every business - so one thing is for sure, the price is about as likely to go down as Anne Widdecombe.

I'd be more than happy if GW went entirely online, but then I don't use the shops. And I haven't ever used the shops on account of, with perhaps two exceptions, the staff at a bunch of cunts. But I do recognize the value of the shops in a way that wittering about the high street and quoting percentage of online sales, does not.

It is not my idea - blame the Independent Characters -but the same thing the shops do could be done far better, by instead of retailing, the company rented office space, set up a lot of tables and opened mini Warhammer Worlds.

Amusingly the vanguard of this move to digital don't quite understand the concept of books - hardly surprising, not many people 'in the digital world' do - the minion conducting the research didn't quite understand that interactive army books, that update themselves, already exist. It is a standard paper codex, in which the player cuts and pastes - literally - the faq's - viola - a concept akin to matches to the Inquisition.

We shall have to see what comes out of this.

Incidentally, on a related subject, on the radio the other day there was an advert in which you typical moronic couple (so favoured by advertisers) were having a discussion about the text the man had received from his bank informing him that the interest rate on his account had changed.

It seemed an odd thing to be excited about - the morons seemed mighty pleased that their bank cared so much that they informed them.

And if this appointment leads to at least a fraction of the interwebz thinking GW cares about them, and if that leads a fraction of that fraction to STFU, stop asking those baffling questions in FAQ's, and just be vaguely rational, then it will have achieved something.


Sunday, 22 July 2012

Playing to Scale

My brain hurts.

I mentioned the other day that I have a desire to paint some 1/300th stuff. So I popped along to Heroics and Ros and bought a few bits and pieces of WWII Russians. Which of course leads to the question of what rules?

After a bit of searching I found a pdf copy of WRG's 1925 to 1950 rules, which brought back many happy memories - I must ask my mother if she can find my old copy. And being a fan of Two Fat Lardies, I decided to get a copy of I Ain't Been Shot Mum.

Which raised the problem of basing.

Using individual bases for 6mm figures is impracticable. And as the Lardie rules remove individual casualties and also requires that a record be kept of shock points some method had to be found for both of these tasks. That method would be using the dice holders and bases from Minibits I decided.

Ok all of this so far is fairly straight forward consumerist wargaming.

The brain ache begins with trying to decide the base sizes.

I Ain't Been Shot Mum uses a ground scale of 12" = 80 yards.

Looking at the bases others have used I notice that it common to use one and two pence pieces, with three or four men on a base. A two pence piece is a inch in diameter, meaning that the four men on the base are occupying roughly 6 - 7 yards of frontage. If we assume the that there are three such bases in a section, that give a frontage of around 20 yards, or 60 feet - giving each man a comfortable 5-6 feet of personal space.

And looking at battle reports and pictures of games the effect this spacing produces is certainly very pleasing on the eye.

And perhaps just as importantly - for some - allows the infantry to get out of the way of the tanks ;)

However, I happened to discover this table on Balagan.org which gives the unit frontages for armies of the period, both while attacking and defending.

It shows that the section frontage for a German unit as 30-40 metres, and for a Russian section as 40-50 metres. The multiplier is even greater when the distances are applied at platoon level (assuming 3 sections to a platoon). Using the penny method the platoon would deploy on a 60 yard frontage, whereas the recommended frontage is 100 metres (109 yards), when attacking, and between 200 and 500 metres when defending.

To put that into game turns, a platoon when defending should have a frontage of between, roughly, 31" and 75".

Or expressed another way each man goes from having a personal space of 5-6 feet, to something over 20 feet.

Which in terms of my planning is ideal because it allows me to use bigger bases - I'm thinking of 60mm by 30mm for a section of 3 or 4 figures - which will allow for addition of the dice holder, and a bit of scenic work. And also allow for the game to be in a proper scale - especially as in terms of game design I Ain't Been Shot Mum is true 6mm (apparently).

Incidentally for lists I am working of the formations at Orbat.com.

I have to say that I am rather excited by all this mathematical activity because what it has opened up is the possibility of actually playing a 'historical' wargame.

Realizing that a 6 by 4 table is 1/5th of a mile by a 1/3 suddenly puts the idea of having hundreds of troops on the table into perspective. A table that size would just about fit two platoons, @60 men, at the minimum frontage for defending.

And it certainly places other supporting elements, such as heavy artillery, firmly where it should be - off the table. 

(Oh and forget for now will you that I have ordered about 300 Russian infantry ;))


Saturday, 21 July 2012


I greatly enjoyed the latest View from the Veranda.

I didn't agree with everything that was said, I wouldn't be a wargamer if I did, but the discussion on the current commercial direction of wargaming was very interesting.

Following on from yesterday's post about fluid wargaming...

Suppose you had a matrix, akin to a Snakes and Ladders board, that controlled such things as who was attacking/defending, the supply situation, who got to act etc. The matrix wouldn't be random, though there would be random elements, and each player influenced where they started on the matrix dependent upon choices that were made before the game started.


Friday, 20 July 2012

What if...

The question I have been pondering today is this - is it possible to make a set of simple fluid wargames rules.

The criteria is as follows

1) There are no player turns, the actions are driven by the events on the table.
2) The system should be intuitive and flexible.
3) It should be fun.


Thursday, 19 July 2012

Tapping into Tyranny

The impending release of Kampfegruppe Kursk has sent me into one of my periodic bouts of window shopping.

For whatever reason, I have a strong desire to paint some 1/300th miniatures. Kursk happens to be one of the periods of WWII that interests me, and apparently the rules set can be played with 1/300th scale miniatures. The last claim I find slightly suspect, as looking at the sample pages that have been posted on line I notice that there is quite a bit of micromanagement in the set up of units.

Still it has been rather pleasurable searching various websites and seeing what is available for 6mm WWII, 6mm moderns and 20mm Vietnam.

When the window shopping subsided, I went to the marevellous Combined Arms Research Library to do some research.

One of the books that caught my interest was 'Small Unit Actions During the German Campaign in Russia', written in 1953. And particularly this section on the qualities of the Russian soldier.

"a. Character. The Slav psyche especially where it is under more or less pronounced Asiatic influences covers a wide range in which fanatic conviction, extreme bravery, and cruelty bordering on bestiality are coupled with childlike kindliness and susceptibility to sudden fear and terror. His fatalistic attitude enables the Russian to bear extreme hardship and privation. He can suffer without succumbing.
Attimes the Russian soldier displayed so much physical and moral fortitude that he had to be considered a first-rate fighter. On the other hand, he was by no means immune to the terrors of a battle of attrition with its combination of massed fire, bombs, and flame throwers. Whenever he was unprepared for their impact, these weapons of destruction had a long-lasting effect. In some instances, when he was dealt a severe, well-timed blow, a mass reaction of fear and terror would throw him and his comrades completely off balance.
b. Kinship With Nature. The Russian soldier's kinship with nature was particularly pronounced. As a child of nature the Russian instinctively knew how to take advantage of every opportunity nature offered. He was inured to cold, hot, and wet weather. With animal-like instinct he was able to find cover and adapt himself to any terrain. Darkness, fog, and snowdrifts were no handicap to him. Even under enemy fire he skillfully dug a foxhole and disappeared underground without any visible effort.

It would appear the intelligence for this training manual was obtained by reference to interviews with German troops.

It doesn't show ;)


Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Breaking the Bubble

Is a zebra black skinned with white stripes, or white skinned with black stripes?

One of the things I have been mulling over whilst painting my Union cavalry is why wargaming, which is ostensibly an interactive hobby, is in fact such a solo activity.

I'm not talking here about the obvious solo activities involved - painting, list building, reading the rules etc - but the actual playing of the game.

The spark for this mind game was the realization that it is a very long time since I have played a game in which the middle section of the game was more important than the start or the end. And how often I have been involved in games in which the person I am playing seeks to shut down this middle section by attempting to lay out a series of terms and conditions before the game starts.

I think perhaps the last game I played that had a decent middle section was when I played Blackpowder for the first time against Dean and his Zulus. In 'pure' gaming terms I cocked it up and ended up recreating Zulu Dawn but no matter. The point was that rather than lining up and going through a ritualized battle in which both players sought to emulate the battle plan they had devised before the game even began, the game we played was generated by events within the game.

It could be argued that this happens in every game, but the problem with this argument is that it whilst it is true that elements may arise to change the narrative, they essentially do not change the linear nature of the narrative in any real sense.

The real irony is that often actual solo games end up being more interactive.

If you have ever played solo games, even if it is just rolling marbles at Airfix soldiers, you will know that frequently you are willing to bend the rules to favour one side or another in order to make a better game. But then if you are solo gaming the chances are you are less concerned about the end game and the result. Added to which there is usually a scenario, and certainly if the scenario is apparently 'imbalanced' you do not face the problem of psychological pressure from the side fighting at a disadvantage, because they want to 'win'.

Of course this is Corinthian idealism in a way - play up, play up and play the game and all that - and many games do not lend themselves to this kind of gaming isolationism; for instance there are games in which it is possible for both players to 'win' because of the scenario and mechanics.

But it is worth keeping in mind the next time you find yourself wasting two hours of your life across the table from someone locked in their own little bubble. Heck! just for fun, why not suggest that you change the game and start playing on the same side and randomly generate the enemy - after all the rules and the stated objectives of winning and losing are only guidelines. And the last time I looked no one won a row of houses.


Tuesday, 17 July 2012

The Problem With Horseflesh

Do you ever notice... no wait... better change that for trademark reasons... as I get older I find that things that I once found easy I can no longer do - brush the fringe out of my eyes is one of them - for some reason I have lost the knack of painting painting horses with oils.

Quite why I can't do this any more is not clear. After all it's easy. All you do is undercoat black, highlight white, apply the oil paint, brush it off with a blusher brush and bob's your live in lover; two days later the paint has dried and you have a horse with a lustrous sheen, shadows and highlights.
Here is my latest effort.

Ok it perhaps doesn't help that I have undercoated with white. And in point of fact I am not that displeased with the result - or I won't be when I have had a chance to work on the shading.

In case you are wondering the liquid on the models is a mix of brown ink and satin varnish, and perhaps there is the rub.

The black horse on the far left of the picture was done using straight Vallejo black glaze. And the grey next to it is done with glaze medium and grey paint. true, they lack the depth of tone of the models done in oils, but they equally don't take three or four days to dry between layers.

Anyone who remembers the work of Bill Brewer of the Rye Stamp and Model shop - particularly his elephants - will understand how wonderful models are when painted with oils.

And it is perhaps relevant that back in the sunlit days of my youth my success with painting horses in this manner was in 15mm.


Monday, 16 July 2012

Jesse Owens Leads The Defence of Hill 303

And so after many closed forum threads and forty plus pages of heated ranting, it appears the Axis running Battlefront have managed to find a solution to the tournament problem.

And given Battlefront's warped view of history it is only fitting that they have emerged from their virtual bunker and like Neville Chamberlain waved a piece of paper - well email - and declared piece in our time.

The agreement between the Chetniks and the Vichy government has declared that in future players at official Battlefront tournaments will be required to have the majority of their armies supplied by the antipodean factory fishermen turned wargame saviours. Which apparently means more than 50% - but this being wargaming, and it being tournament players - and with me taking this information from the interwebz - chatter has begun about what exactly 50% means, and does a majority mean more than 50%, and does it mean by points, or models, and is terrain included... you get the idea...

However the part of Molotov-Ribbentrop pact that interested me was that if you join the heroic partizans by participating fully in the Flames of War hobby, by using only the finest miniatures that the Krupp foundry can produce, then you will be rewarded. It was not clear exactly what form this reward will take (I hope to God it isn't more Swastika patches). Though apparently this was somehow linked with their Rangers program.

Interestingly the exact details of this program have not been announced, but no doubt it will be along the lines of the Privateer program which aside from organising games and other 'noble' activities, seems to involve rather a lot of spotty teenagers trolling their way around the internet in return for models - 'jacking off for jacks' if you will... doing jack for jack... I better stop their before I start attracting traffic from the male porn crowd (you wouldn't believe the number of people who stop by in search of Elf Anal Sex... and having just typed that, no doubt I shall have more)

Laughably this announcement has been received with comments like, 'at least it shows Battlefront listens to their customers unlike GW.' And perhaps if you have the memory of a goldfish that is true. Sure GW don't get involved in angry forum wars - how could they, they don't have a forum - only to change a policy that in the medium term will do something to stave off the phyletic size decrease problem of a company at Battlefront's stage of growth - and let's face it given that the question arose in the first place in the face of a quarter of a million dollar annual bill for tournament support - but it can hardly be said that GW does not respond to their customers. But let's not get involved in the whole digital thing, or the move away from metals because of the problems of pinning, etc.


On the lighter side, one of Battlefront's competitor, the Plastic Soldier Company, has devised a set of rules to go with their range of miniatures. It is due for release in September, and it is called Battlegroup Kursk.

Which prompted a FoW player to ask if the rules were for a specific period of WWII.

Oh and while I am on the subject of supplements, apparently Battlefront is going to bring out Operation Sealion. Ok let's not get into the historical reality of the impossibility of the German invasion of 1940... let's just buy into the FoW Hobby and imagine that every German unit was elite SS and tanks outnumbered infantry by three to one (Liddel Harte's wet dream in miniature). What intrigued me  - given FoW's proclivity for special characters - was what the stats would be for Dion Fortune - and no the figure doesn't look like Angela Landsbury ;)


Sunday, 15 July 2012

Anger Erupts On The Tournament Scene

Son no2 was sick this morning so I missed the bus. Caught a later bus, arrived late for the tournament, was told I couldn't play. So I had a cup of coffee, watched a couple of games, took a few pics for the club blog and got home just in time to catch the tail end of no1 son's teddy bears picnic.

I wasn't bothered in all honesty as I only signed up for the tournament so they would get the numbers up to a decent level. What I found odd was that seemingly all other gaming at the club was cancelled. Especially seeing as the event had fewer players than a similar event last year, and the club has plenty enough room to host a tournament and other gaming. I'm sure there is a good reason why all other gaming is put on hold for tournaments, and why there were fewer people attending than normal... but it's best not to ask.

Talking of tournaments, it appears that Battlefront have upset their adherents with the announcement that in future those wishing to enjoy the competitive aspects of the FoW Hobby will have to do so with Battlefront miniatures.

The reasoning behind this is pretty obvious. Once you have bought an army, it is perfectly possible to play with that army forever more and never have to give the company another penny. One way for the company to get around this is by creating new lists, or making existing lists defunct by rules changes. And tournaments make an ideal format for reinforcing this message, and generating the intended new sales.

The principle is sound, except until other figure manufacturers either start undercutting you, or the player base become aware of longstanding competitors who have always undercut you.

This could be defined as the GW approach.

And clearly the appearance of the term 'FoW Hobby' has sparked the latent anger that lies just beneath the surface of many system gamers. And this is particularly hard for many FoW players as so much of the language used is to describe the game appears deliberately to distance them from GW and to make their choice of game somehow superior. So to discover that after all their efforts to differeniate themselves form the common herd it must be a bit of shock to discover what many of us have long suspected to be the case - that Battlefront is just another GW, doing exactly what GW did at the same point in the development cycle - i.e. the initial growth of buying into the hobby is drying up and in order to promote growth and sales it is necessary to ensure that that people have fully bought into the system.

The signs have been there for a while. It is three of four years since the forums became closed, preventing casual eyes from checking on lists and points levels without buying the army books. Of course it was possible to create an account and give the marketing people your details. The company had a run in Maelstrom because the online retailer was alleged to be breaking agreed prices. And there has been a touch of phyletic size decrease going on with the pricing. This has not been on the scale that has occurred with GW, but it will be interesting to see how far the company goes down the Hershey bar route in the face of the competition form the Plastic Soldier Company and Forged in Battle.

Battlefront certainly has a big problem to solve with regard to pricing. Before their products disappeared from the shelves of my local Boyes, I lost count of the number of little old ladies how sucked through their teeth at the notion of paying £35 for a box of soldiers which they considered the equivalent of Plastic Army men that they could pay 50p a bag for in the toy aisle. It also didn't help that they were sitting alongside 1/72nd Airfix plastics which are a known quantity and likely to find their way into the basket for Little Timmy.

Obviously the market for these models is not Little Timmy, but it was noticeable that amid the shelves of GW, Bolt Action, Victrix, Perrys, and Plastic Soldier Company, it was always the price/value of Battlefront that was the cause of comment.

Now the question here is which company will follow suit?

Mantic has already said that if you want to enter their grand competition to win some of the Kickstarter cash you will need to have 50% (or a something around that figure) of the army made up of their figures. And it remains to be seen what the new Priestly/Cavatore WWII rules are like. If they are as a I suspect intended to go the tournament route - possibly with the intention of picking up disgruntled Battlefront customers and enticing them to try WWII in a different scale using Bolt Action figures (which are ideally suited to fulfilling the current demand for 28mm models). Warlord have also started going down the starter box route for both Black Powder and Hail Ceasar. And who knows maybe even Plastic Soldier Company may eventually seek to exploit their forthcoming Kursk and Normandy rules in a similar way.

And as much as this is speculation, if my crystal ball is correct, it will no doubt provoke similar levels of nerd rage. Rage that appears curiously unaware of the inescapable logic that a company can only sell the same figure once, and once you have sold each player an army (or two) the only way to sell more is to either expand into new areas, or make the existing figures obsolete.

Of course it should also not be overlooked that this announcement only affects tournament gamers, and possibly only tournament gamers in the US. If you do not fall into either of these categories you are free to play FoW with what you like.

Oh those pesky tournament gamers... ;)


The new Warlord WWII rules are up for pre-order on the Walmart website. Presumably they will not just sell the rule book, so perhaps Warlord is about to go big in the USA.

American readers will be able to do their own little old lady test.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

To The Lists On The Mourn

And so tomorrow is the first Leeds Nightowls WFB club challenge.

I have been deep in preparation. After a pro-biotic breakfast, I went the the health club for a massage and aromatherapy session. Then I spent three hours meditating whilst listening the the audio book of....

Actually I got up late, took the four year old shopping, then to the park, and when I got home I knocked together the new club blog... and in a minute I will hunt out my dice, and write two copies of my list (assuming I can find any paper that the 2 year old hasn't crayoned all over).

My list is

Slaughtermaster level 3, Iron Fist, Dispel Scroll, Fencer's Blades, Glittering Scales
Bruiser - BSB, Crown of Command

10 Ironguts, Muso, Standard bearer, Banner of Discipline.
10 Gnoblars, trapper, Standard Bearer.

4 Mournfang, Muso, Standard Bearer, Heavy Armour, Iron Fists, Flaming Banner
4 Mournfang, Muso, Standard Bearer, Heavy Armour, Iron Fists.
1 Sabretusk


1999 points.

It's pretty much the list I used the last game, but thanks to Battlecribe I noticed that I was sixty point short, hence the Gnoblars.

It isn't hard to see what the plan is.


Friday, 13 July 2012

Tristram Shandy Rides Again

Having been wargaming - on and off - for the over 30 years I have been thinking about an item on the Codex Project podcast a few weeks ago.

The wider discussion was about GW's financials, and I don't want to dwell on the specifics of what was said because I don't agree with much of it. But what interested me was that they highlighted that of all the figure manufacturers at the time Magic hit, only GW came out of it the other side. Some of them are beginning to show signs of revival recently, for instance Battletech, and some continue to trade in all but obscurity, i.e Prince August.


I got to thinking about this question, of why GW should survive the Magic invasion, and so much of the opposition should go to the wall.

Perhaps it is useful to consider it from a slightly different angle. Back in the 1980's there were a couple of model shops within travelling distance and I would pop along and look through the racks of Heroics and Ros, Dixons, Minfigs, Navwar and Naismith designs but more importantly I would look through the rules. Unlike today these were not full colour figure porn hardbacks, but generally they were 30 or 40 pages of softback A4 book with a couple of staples holding them together. Generally they cost between £3.50 and a fiver, and it was perfectly possible to get started on a game with the rules and both sides for around £30.

And then came the imported American rules.

The first set I remember particularly was a set of WWII rules that came in box, it had one book for the rules, and two books of lists, and cost something like £15. I can't remember what they were called, but they certainly had the grognards grumbling about commercialization ,

But then the grognards had been grumbling for sometime because of Battletech et al, and the newly released Warhammer fantasy rules. They were unhappy at the mechanics of the games, they were not best pleased at the notion of 'balance' they introduced, nor did they like the way the rules were generally over simplified. So when these rule sets began increasingly to impinge into historical gaming the complaints grew stronger and louder.

Of course these games had long been banished from the pages of the wargaming press - which in part explains the early development of White Dwarf. It was not specifically the genre of game that was objected to - though there was/is a strong dislike for fantasy and sci-fi in the historical community - but rather these rule systems attempted to do something that the old rules didn't, they tried to be all encompassing.

You can see this today if you go to any forum in which there is a rules discussion occurring, in terms like RAW and RAI. And woe betide anyone who attempts to use real world concepts in a rules argument. Which is not to say that rules debates didn't go on before, but the difference was that instead of a back and forth about the meaning of the word 'the', people would say 'are you really trying to say that infantry could jump off that cliff and fire round that corner,' and the trickster could be shamed into using common sense.

What is odd about the dislike of Warhammer Fantasy is that it came out just as the big hitter in historical gaming, WRG, lost it's way by going down the path of DBA/DBM in serach of 'balance'. In a way it is like when Ford changed from the Cortina to the Sierra, and then wondered why people stopped buying their stream lined jelly mould and increasingly bought the Cortinalike BMW. It is well recorded that the base mechanics of WFB is WRG Ancients - if only Matt Ward had been parachuted in to impose random charge distances instead of Phil Barker's PiP system.

This is an entirely positive thing, as despite the WRG system having a fixed points level from which the lists were built, the one thing it was not was a balanced game. In those pre-internet days it was not uncommon to hear dark mutterings about how the Romans were totally broken. And the same was pretty much true for most WRG games, and indeed it was one of the reasons people started trying to convert people to try the new balanced and glossy imported games. Because supposedly balance is essential in order that the game be a test of 'generalship'.

And then came Magic.

Gamers didn't have any more disposable income, and with the constant need to buy more cards in order to achieve the nirvana of  'balance' the pool of money dried up for other games. Suddenly the Sierra of streamlined game design was last years model. But the Cortinalike WFB, and particularly it's upstart cousin 40k, went from strength to strength, precisely because it was Cortinalike.

Sure the rules were creaky, and in places it made no sense, but the fact was it did what it said on the tin and it held true to a tradition of gaming that stretched back thirty years to the days when if you wanted a Greek Hoplite, you had to convert it out of an Airfix Confederate infantryman.

And it is perhaps a sign of that heritage that the embargo against GW and similar games was lifted in the wider wargaming press. After all it was better to have people at clubs pushing figures around and rolling dice, than hunched in a corner card counting.


Thursday, 12 July 2012

After Changes, Things are More or Less the Same

The Ogres are done.

Sadly I doubt they will make it to the tournament at the weekend.

To digress slightly.

Nerd rage has broken out at the news that GW has issued a C&D against a hosting service holding files for Army Builder. Various wild claims and conspiracy theories have circulated the interwebz, mainly focusing on GW being the evil empire. Curiously the letter was apparently issued three weeks ago, and Lonewolf are seemingly laid back about the matter.


The matter has been a golden opportunity for various other - free - army builder software (no wait, better change that for reasons of potential copyright (oh the irony)).... *ahem*.... the matter has been a golden opportunity for various other list building software to highlight their alternative products. Thus I decided to stop farting about with the demo version of Army Builder and give Battlescribe a go.

The program is good, if a little confusing to set up for a semi-technophobe like me, and the info is generally correct.

So I set about fiddling with the list, and after a couple of hours of trying various configurations have come to the conclusion that.... I'm going to go with the list I tried out the other week - with a few slight tweeks.

If I am asked why I have gone for a version of the netlist Ogre cheese my excuse will be that it fits in a single KR case.


Tuesday, 10 July 2012

In Search of Something Different

The Ogres are painted, so it#s just a matter of doing the bases and I am already for the tournament at the weekend.

As to the actual composition of the army, I still haven't decided.

At the moment I rather like the idea of a unit of 10 Leadbelchers, with the fire banner and a Heavens Slaughtermaster (level 3). Then run an MSU list with small blocks of Bulls, supporting Mournfangs. And pad it out with Gnoblars and Sabretusks.

We shall see.


Monday, 9 July 2012

Half Way to 9th

The Ogres continue to slowly progress towards the table.

Once these are finished the task will then be to go back over the army and work on the skin tone to get a unified colour, a little closer to my original intention. But that is for the future, as there are other things that I want to work on more.

One source of perpetual moithering for gamers is the release schedule of army books and codexs. And, I notice that 8th edition is roughly half way through it's lifespan, and there are still a number of books that have not been updated.

Personally I don't buy into the whole tier thing, and I don't buy into the notion that certain codex's are 'uncompetitive'. It always strikes me that the proponents of this thinking assume that WFB is only played with both players running directly across the board at each other.

As a one time Wood Elf player I would like to see a new book. Equally as someone who has considered Brettonia (and rejected it because I hate the cavalry models) I would like to see that army updated. Both armies are perfectly viable, but it would be interesting to see what new models they get, and in what way the army will be tweeked.

This last point is something I think many people miss whenever there is an update to either the rules or the army book. Because to listen to some people each change is a revolutionary change, whereas all that has really happened is a bit of tweeking around the edges.

Sometimes the tweeking is not obvious and appears a massive overhaul, the Ogres being a good example. The intention of the original army was to create a combat army with reasonable magic defence, that got across the table quickly and them either smashed up the enemy, or ran away. The original army failed at this task because of the pointless limitations and the daft bull charge rules, the new army succeeds by the inclusion of the Mournfangs to get across the table quickly, and the Ironblasters to deal with the things that Ogres traditionally found difficult to handle - large beasts and artillery.

It remains to be seen if all the books get an update before the end of 8th. It is certainly possible that they will given that there are still two years or so remaining.

Though I would caution those lamenting their 'uncompetitive' books to be careful what they wish for.

Oh how I wish my Tyrant still wore the Great Helm.....


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Policing the Police

Trying to work out a list for the Imperial Guard is proving rather difficult.

My problem can be crystallized into struggling not to build the 'best' list possible, but finding a list that best suits the 'fluff' of the army that I am seeking to create.

The army is a police battalion, loosely based on the anti-Partisan units deployed on the Eastern Front during WWII, but also trying to incorporate modern anti-riot police. This combination creates problems of it's own. The anti-Partisan units tended to be fairly ad-hoc in their organization, whereas the modern riot police are not - though I take on board that large numbers of them would be generally deployed on other duties for most of the time.

The 40k universe does have a force that would be assigned to these duties, the Adeptes Arbites, but having looked at the background, the fandex's, and other snippets of information, this force is not something that interests me. In part because it suffers from a level of silliness that I am not willing to engage with. It is semi heretical to point to real life when discussing matters of 40k, but personally the silliness comes from the overlaying tones of Judge Dread whilst ignoring the generally distressing nature of the work that such a unit would be expected to undertake.

I am thinking in terms films like Come and See, or the reports about the level of alcoholism among those who undertook anti-partisan activities.

Now obviously this can't be replicated within the game per se.

But I do want to find a way to suggest this without going along the line vet melta spam and relying on the paint job to give the army a theme.

However I have made the decision that the Heavy support will come in the form of Medusas. And I think I have worked out a way to fit a Demolisher turret on a Chimera chassis that will suit my aim of creating an assault gun and making the army distinct from standard Guard units - and will save me some money by not buying the Forgeworld kit.

On a more practical level I have been painting ogres and have completed the flesh.

Hopefully they will be ready for the tournament next week, so that when I come to write the list later in the week I will have some more options.


Friday, 6 July 2012

Avoiding the Shower

I have begun work on the Ogres again.

The completest within me wants more Leadbelchers to allow me to run the Heavens Slaughtermaster properly and I also want the ability to run a horde of 18 Bulls.

I also want to maybe run a slightly different list at the tournament next week. It won't be massively different to the list I ran last week but I want something that smacks a little less of cheese. However, the problem is that without the Ironblaster the Ogres don't have much that can deal with armies that sit back and shoot with cannons, or have big gribbly monsters. And Ironblasters suffer particularly from the universal laws of miscasts - if you have one it will blow up on the first turn, if you have two it will not blow up. Which leaves very little wiggle room in the list..

Ideally I would like to run to wizards, and one possibility is not to have a BSB.

This might be heretical to many, but the times I have tried it the lack of the reroll has not made that much difference, and it can actually work to your advantage. The Ogres extra movement means that any holes that do appear in the early part of the game due to units fleeing, can be plugged pretty quickly in a turn or two - and when plugging those holes they will be flank charges to units trying to take advantage of the hole.

I'll have a think over the weekend while I'm painting.

Ideally any list I come up with, will leave me feeling a little less dirty....

The thing that recently has got me rather excited is the notion of playing narrative games. I'll have to see if I can arrange some at the club - see the banner below for details - and if you are in the West Yorkshire area you might want to come along and join in.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Probability That 6th Pundits Are Wrong

Reading and listening via podcasts to the reaction to 6th edition the word that keeps coming up is random.

Supposedly random is a very bad word and instantly discredits the game in the eyes of 'competitive' players.

More curiously the 'competitive' players seem to assume that any random event will be a negative. Curious because those of us who play to win (let's face it everyone does) but don't bother with mathhammer beyond knowing that a 4+ is a half chance, have endured the endless lectures on probability which are always framed in the positive - which perhaps explains why 'competitive' players always seem to favour armies that throw the fewest dice,with the highest probability of success (i.e. they are playing the odds at beating chance).

Because here is the thing, not all the random terrain (which appears to cause the 'competitive' players the biggest headache) have a damaging effect, and may well work to your advantage. OK there is a chance that you might trigger a forest that chases you round the board and eats your troops. But equally there is a chance that the roll will give you something beneficial - Jaded Gamercast highlighted a situation in which a Tyranid army triggered a wood that attacked their unit but the attacks were not strong enough to damage their troops, but was lethal to the army they were facing, so they sat in there doing their thing with immunity.

One other thing that is noticeable is that the gamey players are predicting that cavalry is dead (in 40k terms mech) and that infantry will dominate.

8th ed players may well recall that this is exactly what was predicted for 8th ed. And indeed there are people who bought into it and built massive horde deathstars. Indeed the prediction was that MSU was dead. 2 years down the line the predictions have been shown to be pretty much incorrect, unless you are playing without tactics and just charging across the field at each other.

It will be interesting to see how the game develops.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Start the Panzer Hans...

The Chimera is done...

The pigments in the eyeshadow that I used for the weathering is maybe a touch translucent but the effect is not bad.

And here's a pic of the squad with their wheels.

Which reminds me the Miliput on the Sergeants base needs painting...

That's better... very refreshing ;)

Cue new group photo...


Monday, 2 July 2012

Ploughing Through

My first Chimera is coming along...

I bought some cheap eye shadow to grind up for weathering powder. And I'll make a start on that tomorrow.


Sunday, 1 July 2012

The Battle of Whitefinger Woods

I went down the club today - see the add at the bottom of the page - and got a chance to try out the tournament list.

Before the game I watched a game between Vampires and Beastmen. The Beastmen list was slightly unorthadox because it had a Cygor and a Gorgon, which as we all know is considered heresy according to the interwebz. The end result was a win for the Vampires, by a tabling, but the result was rather closer than that and hinged on the Minotaurs forgetting that they had received a dose of Wildform. It didn't help that the dice Gods were against them anyway - I can't recall seeing so many 1's rolled from a handful of dice.

I bumped into Jason - the Vampire player - whilst having a fag and he agreed to give my Ogre list a game. I've been meaning to fix up a game with him for ages, as he is a genuinely nice guy and plays in a very friendly and open fashion.

While Jason worked out a 2000 point list, I took my 23 models out of the case. Yes that's right 23 models. The Vampire army that emerged from the calculation consisted of a Covern Throne, a horde of Ghouls, 2 units of skellies, and a horde of Crypt Horrors (or whatever they are called).

The scenario was pitched battle and after several dice throw eventually Jason got to go choose who went first, and decided to do so.

Because of terrain, the battle was pretty much between two woods in the centre of the field. I lined up with the two Mournfang units in the centre, flanked by an Ironblaster on each side, with the bunker tucked in behind.

The Vampire moved forward cautiously, the magic phase was pretty much a non event - the only spell that got off was Invocation which added 6 skellies to the battlefield. There was an attempt to move the Crypt Horrors backwards by use of Van Hels, but I put a stop to that.

On my turn I declared a charge with both Mournfang units, the charge disatnce was 19", so I would have needed double 6, but what the heck!. Both charges failed, but as it turned out it was to my advanvantage as it meant I could get both Ironblasters into position to get in some pot shots on the Covern Throne, and allowed the BSB to be pulled in tight behind the Mournfangs.

As I was playing all out attack I had a go at casting the Maw. This went of irresistibly, and thankfully didn't misfire, but all it did was shoot across the front of the Vampire army. The miscast inflicted a strength 10 hit on the chaps standing around the Slaughtermaster, which chipped an Irongut off the unit.

In turn 2 the Vampires continued to shuffle forward, and once again I stopped the attempt to Van Hels the Crypt Horrors backwards.

In my turn I launched both Mournfang units into the Crypt Horrors. There was no grand tactical for reason for this beyond it scared the bejesus out of me and I figured that splitting the charges between them and the ghouls was not beneficial. The cannons continued to snipe at the Covern Throne, and the only spell I managed to get off Stubborn on one of the Mournfang units.

I guess Mournfangs really are as good as people say. between the two units they suffered three wounds. The Crypt Horrors lost by something like 19. The flaming banner was pretty much decisive in this combat, stripping the horrors of their regen. Which meant the remaining four or five Crypt Horrors crumbled to nothing.

One of the Mournfangs overran into the ghouls. As luck would have it the unit fighting the ghouls was not the unit with the flaming banner. Their situation was worsened when a unit of skeletons charged them in the flank.

It was at this point that the book came into play. It had drawn out my scroll in the previous turn, so I was left with a bit of choice when it came up with the Withering on the Mournfangs in combat. After humming and haaing I decided not to attempt to dispel it, and instead save my dispel dice for the Vampire magic. I had written the Mournfangs off, and was already making plans for getting the bunker and at least one of the Ironblasters into the Ghouls.

As it turned out the Mournfangs lost narrowly, by 2, and might not have done so if I hadn't forgotten to do their stomps. Anywho, they failed their break test ran and were caught by the skeletons.

In the Ogre turn 3, the bunker charged the skeletons which had run down the Mournfang, along with one of the Ironblasters. The other Mournfang ploughed into the remaining Skeleton block. Both Skeleton blocks were destroyed, allowing the bunker and the Mournfangs to set up a joint charge on the Ghouls.

What happened next rather surprised me. The ghouls charged the bunker and the Covern Throne charged the Mournfangs.

The fight between the Covern Throne and the Mournfangs was a clear demonstration of just how tough this unit is.  After taking into account impact hits, and the attacks from the various ghosts and ghouuls riding on the chariot, the grand total of wounds suffered by the Mounfangs was..... one. In return the Mournfangs destroyed the chariot before the Ogres got to strike. The resultant explosion did two wounds, which meant the unit finally lost a model - it having suffered a grand total of four wounds in three combats.

The fight between the Ghouls and the bunker was closer, it going the way of the Ghouls but the bunker stood fast.

Which meant that the final Ogre turn started with everything in the army charged into the flanks and rear of the already engaged Ghouls. Despite a valiant effort by the Ghouls, by the end of the combat all that remained was the Ghoul King, and he was wiped away by the crumble due to the excess wounds.

At the end Jason's comment was, 'I hope I don;t draw you at the tournament.'

And I could see his point.

It is certainly a strong build, and there are a few tweeks that I thought of after the game, but in essence I am happy with it. I'm not sure how fun it is to play against. 

Still it was a good game, and it was nice to watch the game beforehand as it was as much a useful gaming experience as actually playing.