Thursday, 27 February 2014

Family Games

With the half term holidays, comes chicken pox.

Which offered the chance to break out the figures and play a game of Chain of Command with my eldest lad.

He choose the Americans because they had more figures, whilst I played the Germans.

Unfortunately I forgot to take pictures, but the long and the short of it was that the game was decided on my choice to overwatch a squad, so that they could pour everything into a squad that was trying to take cover behind a hedge. They managed to pin the squad, and despite the efforts of the senior commanders to get them moving again, eventually the squad broke, sweeping away the platoon sergeant and the .30cal.

At which point we called it a day.

I was very pleased with how the rules played. The lad picked up the basics pretty quickly, he's nearly six, and was enjoying the game until things went against him. At which point he tried to bring his Lego Castle prison wagon to his aid - at which point it all became a little like the Lego Movie. Especially when I went for a cigar prior to clearing away and watched him playing with the figures and the scenery.

With the money my mum gave me for my birthday I bought Bang!.

Originally I was a little worried because I didn't notice until I got home that the game is for 4-7 players. But we have been playing it with three - the youngest is not yet old enough - and having a great time.

What could be more healthy than a family shooting each other, or playing pass the parcel with a stick of dynamite?


Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Nazi Dino Wars

Some more support weapons for the US...
While I was painting them a piece a synchronicity happened because I was mulling over organizing an event to promote the Ilkley Gamers Club when a tweet popped up regarding a craft fair to raise money for the local school, Ashlands.

'Aha', I thought 'what if I work out some dead simple game involving US soldiers fighting Dinosaurs? And charge a small fee to play, to cover the cost of the Haribos you win for killing the beasties?' And in the meantime, hand out cards with the various links and websites.

Sprinkle in the odd tank or two, maybe some Nazi's - who have obviously created the Dinosaurs - and maybe some packs of Top Trumps...

Speaking of Top Trumps, I notice that you can now get a Bolt Action deck. I wonder if they have the correct weapon ranges, or do the rifles all have a maximum range of @160 feet?


Sunday, 23 February 2014

Support List 3 and 4

For my birthday I got...
US heavy weapons and some M3 half tracks... plus a relatively peaceful day in which I could make a start painting them.


Saturday, 22 February 2014

Losing, Winning, and Unobserved Elegance

The WWII project is back on the front burner....
Last night I went to Bradford Games Society.

My entry in the painting competition came in last place... lol...

But on the bright side I got to play Small World, which is a game I have wanted to play for a long time. And I won... w00t.... with a grand total of 98 points.

On the way home I amused myself by reading reviews of Chain of Command on my phone. This amusement was greatly increased when I read a review that complained that there was no morale system - this was in addition to a number of over pointless complaints, the main one being that Chain of Command was not Bolt Action.

Note, the morale system is built into the shock mechanics, the addition or removal of which, gives you an organic morale system that means as your troops get panicky they move less, fight worse and generally prepare to run away.


Thursday, 20 February 2014

The Scarlet Pimpernel

It's been a quiet day on the painting front.

Other than undercoating some PSC Americans, I have been mainly reorganising my storage and trying to rationalise the figures I have and intend to use. In typical wargamer fashion I have four projects on the go, and none of them are really in a state to play the game that was intended when the project began. True I probably could play CoC with the WWII stuff, except the US don't have any heavy weapons - something that should be rectified shortly as my birthday is approaching.

In other gaming related news, I have been trying to find a venue for the club, and continuing in my advertising efforts. And, in doing so I have rediscovered the joys of Twitter. I haven't used it since the Arab Spring business, when I found it an invaluable tool for keeping in touch with what was really going on, as opposed to what the media reported. Which I realise makes me sound like a conspiracy theorist, but when the news is reporting what a reporter can see at the end of the runway in Italy, and via twitter and various websites, you can track the refuelling planes aiding a stealth bomber raid coming from the US to bomb Libya, it's sort of difficult to believe the news when they tell you it has been a quiet day in the air campaign.

Whether it's the brevity of the medium, or the demographics of the user, twitter has proven a useful way of getting in contact with people to gauge their opinion of the idea of having a gaming club in Ilkley. And what's more a number of women have expressed interest.... OMG.... women at a gamer's club!!! Whatever next?

Meh, what can you do?

Right I have a figure for the painting competition tomorrow, and it's off to Lumb Lane - wish me luck - having lived in that part of Bradford for five years - including the era of the crossbow killer, prostitute murders and a couple of shootings - I am hoping for less than eventful journey, with a convivial evening sandwiched in between.


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Battling on Two Fronts

A temporary ink shortage brought the Sudan production line to a halt...
But the British keep on coming.

The process has somewhat speeded up, as I have skipped the highlight stage, instead opting for using a very thin single colour coat over heavily inked white primer- which kind of does the same job - and on these smaller scale figures doesn't really affect the finished model.

In other news the advertising efforts continue apace to try and drum up interest in establishing a gaming club in Ilkley. The word is starting to spread, and with it the inevitable problems. Ok, in the great scheme of things they aren't problems, and in a sense are to be expected in a hobby with the stereotype of 'mom's basement'. But I did smile at the criticism of not giving contact details, when I have set up a facebook page, a forum, a blog, and now a twitter account, and advertised all of them.

But what can you do? No one said it would be easy.... well ok.... I have said a number of times that it would be easy, but we needn't go into that now... and it was in a completely different context..

One thing I am very mindful of is not pushing one aspect of gaming/gaming culture more than any other. One of the great problems of gaming is the compartmentalisation  of various groups, which were they to mix - or more accurately be given the chance to mix - would find they have much in common and could learn from each other - even if that does sound overly preachy, and rather like a Coke advert, but you know what I mean.

I remain hopeful that somehow the various divergent groups that I either know, or suspect, are active within the town, can come together to form an vibrant club. After all someone is buying the wargame figures in Boyes.


Monday, 17 February 2014

Banging the Drum

And so the games club inches onward...

A blog and forum have been added. So that's the new media handled - I might try twitter but for the time being I shall spare the world my podcasting skills.

The advertising campaign is slowly getting underway, in that I getting the links posted around the place. It would be great if readers could spread the word, either to people who theyt think may be interested and on forums, blogs etc.


Friday, 14 February 2014

Ilkley Gaming Group

Regular readers may recall my chat with the vicar some months ago...


I thought I would actually do something about it, and have set up a Facebook page - how's that for modernity?

So if there are gamers - wargamers, role-players, board gamers, maybe not LARPers - in Ilkey, and the Ilkley area, and would be interested in setting up a regular gaming group then go to Facebook and leave a like, a comment, join the group, or whatever it is that people do on Facebook to signal interest.

If enough people are interested, then we can take it to the next level of finding a venue, setting up a forum, organising tables, storage space, etc.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Non Standard Lifestyles

The Naval Brigade...
Gordon Highlanders...

The Gay Gordons? Sailors?

There's a joke in there somewhere involving the hornpipe....


Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Whine At All Chance

You have to have some Redcoats...
I'm rather intrigued as to what Dave Witek said that was so bad that the end of the latest Garagehammer podcast was cut. The explanation was that he went on a rant about WAAC players - and there may or may not be a clue in that the lead in to the deletion was a discussion about the raffle prizes at Waaarghpaca, in which he was complaining about some of the prizes.

And it would seem that all is not sweetness and light on the US Masters forum. 'Murican wargamers arguing on the interwebz who would have guessed?

Then on BoLS Brent threw a hand grenade by bringing up the supposed division between 'competative' gamers and 'fluffy' players - and widening it to bring in the Beliebers of Warmachine. Which is rather odd because this 'hot topic' has not been much under discusssion on BoLS lately - in part due to Escalation/Dataslates/40k being broken/GW confirming the preferred style of play is laisse faire (i.e. fluff) - and the discussions flipping arse-about-face with the 'competitive' crowd demanding restrictions.

Which should indicate that my sermon for the day is on the subject of WAAC...

But instead, what interested me more was Franco the Speedy Marrufo's experience at an Escalation tournament on 40k Global.

I'll leave you to listen to the discussion, but what struck me was that his conclusion was the opposite to the wisdom of the internet. Far from Super Heavies being a force that will wipe out everything in their path, a standard power build 'competative' list is able to cope with them - by his account with a little more luck on the dice he would have won both games. The games in which Super Heavies Godzilla'd off against each other appear to have been brief affairs - with the players left hanging around for two hours waiting for everyone else to finish their games. Which led me to conclude that far from Escalation changing the 'meta' radically, the net effect is to give players the same risk/reward equation as someone building a 'net-list' and playing another 'net-list'.


Monday, 10 February 2014

The Sinner Reformed

Some more British...
I had somewhat of an epiphany today listening to Jaded Gamercast and the Overlords.

Both are podcasts I enjoy.

Today Jaded Gamercast today were discussing the Dwarves, and engaging in what might be described as their typical anti-GW ranting. Which is fine. Everything is overpriced, better alternatives are available, etc and then they got to talking about how they hadn't played a GW game in forever.

The Overlords by contrast were discussing what they had learned from playing Tyranids and discussing lists, and tactics, and were generally positive about the game.

Which made me wonder how much of the negativity pulsating in and around 'the hobby' is generated by people who once played GW games, but no longer do.

I'm as guilty of this as anyone. I haven't bought anything from GW for ages. I have the excuse that I am and always have been primarily interested in historical gaming. And in truth part of the reason for my lack of purchases is price. Not specifically the price to buy the models, which while high is not unreasonable. My issue concerns the resale price of the models.

If I buy and paint historical models, I can expect to sell them for appreciably more than I paid for the unpainted model. If I buy and paint GW models, the resale value is nil - no matter the quality of the paint job - the best you can really expect is to make your money back, and perhaps 10%.


Leaving that aside....

It is interesting to compare the podcasts that have a positive attitude to GW gaming - Independent Characters, Garagehammer, The Overlords - with those that don't. In general, they are less tournament focused, play and promote varied games, have a strong focus on the hobby aspects of the game, and deal with the game as they find it, rather than wishlisting.

In short they play the game in the manner GW intends.

They also tend to be narrowly focused within the 'GW hobby'. Being either unaware, or uninterested, in the wider gaming experience. Whereas Jaded Gamercast has moved onto Spartan Games, and like many people who make the move outside of GW games, they perhaps gain a certain perspective that sees the GW 'community' in a slightly absurd light.


Sunday, 9 February 2014

Blame Britain

The last of the Mahdist infantry is done....
So that's 180 Mahdist infantry complete. Which means I have painted over 300 figures in the past two weeks, which is fairly good going.

Next up is the British... though I may take a detour into painting some other stuff for a change - I've got some 28mm Napoleonics knocking about somewhere - and there is some 15mm WWII that either need painting or selling.

I'm tempted to sell them, and get some 10mm WWII stuff instead as I am really liking the scale - and if I got a Western Desert force then the terrain I have in mind for the Sudan can double up.

Which has got me thinking about maybe doing a Lawrence of Arabia thing, and maybe the Crusades to scratch that Ancients itch. Though I am loath to completely abandon the WWI Western Front project, especially as I have put in a fair amount of work on it.


I watched Khartoum yesterday on utube. It's a while since I saw it, and was rather pleasantly surprised at the intellectual depth of the script - not something one normally associates with a 'war film' - Ralph Richardson's portrayal of Gladstone was particularly pleasing.

It is perhaps surprising, given the numerous modern parallels, that the Sudan conflict has such little supporting material on the interwebz, in the way of documentaries.  Therefore as I drained the last of the Malbec I ended up watching this documentary made by Al Jazeera. Whilst it was not terrible, I did find myself wondering why the situation in South Sudan is the fault fo the British, as the film maker claims.

To paraphrase - in @1830 the Egyptians managed to find a way through the marshes which led to an escalation in the slave trade. In the 1870's the Mahdi led a revolt against Egyptian rule, Gordon was killed at Khartoum. Missionaries went to the south. After independence a civilian government was formed of mainly northern muslims, coup, civilian administration, coup, civilian administration, coup, coup, civilian administration, sharia law, civil war, civilian administration, coup, coup, etc... the time line might be a nit off in my description but you get the idea.

Quite what any of this has anything to do with Britain was rather baffling.

Unless the logic is that had Britain not been involved the people of the south would have eventually become muslim by a mixture of slavery and conquest, and that they would have known their place within Sudan - namely that they are slaves and should do what the people in the north tell them.

Which is all rather Utopian stuff, and probably to be expected given the links between anti-colonialism and radical islam that developed in the 1960's and 70's.


Friday, 7 February 2014

Private - Keep Out

More Mahdists....
I picked up the latest issue of Miniature Wargames the other day.

It was issue 20 of MW that got me interested in wargaming... or perhaps more accurately opened my eyes to playing toy soldiers in more ways that using Charles Grants Charge rules to fight out battles with Airfix soldiers, using the relative colour of the figures to define sides; the blue/grey side, WWI and II Germans, Romans, Confederates, Napoleonic Prussians, and the Sheriff of Nottingham, vs the green/yellow side, WWI and II British, Doughboys, US Marines, Napoleonic French and British, RAF and USAF Personnel and Robin Hood.... and like many long running institutions the magazine has had it's ups and downs over the years.

I rather like it's current iteration, not least because of the seam of nostalgia running through it.

This month's trip down memory lane was an interview with Charles Wesencraft.

I can't say that Wesencraft fits into the pantheon of writers that I spent reading in the library on Saturday mornings - flitting between section @350 and @650 - military history and sports and games -  those names include Featherstone, Funcken, Grant and the other one whose name I can never remember and whose rules were unplayable (I shall remember the name at 3am tomorrow morning) but I was aware of his book on Practical Wargaming. It might have been the title that put me off. Growing up reading General Jumbo, I was more drawn to titles such as Advanced Wargames....


The interview with Wesencraft was really interesting because of his involvement with Battleground.

I recall that it was shown on a Sunday morning, and I watched at least three of the programs when they were first broadcast.... you'll forgive me if I eat another of these Madeleines.... and was so excited that I forced my father to watch one of them with me - he had been a national service man and had read more military history than anyone I have ever known (he read at least three books a week - ok a lot of them were novels of the Sven Hassel type, but mainly they were campaign histories of the second world war). He was perhaps less impressed by the program than I was - or maybe it was the through of another Sunday of mowing the lawn, roast beef dinner, Upstairs Downstairs, and eeking out the milk as there would be none until Monday.

I often wonder how influential that series of programs was?

Certainly if you look around at the number of people involved in 'the industry' today who would have been in and around puberty at the time it surely must have had an influence. If for no other reason than here was a secret pleasure akin to Stamp Collecting, Trainspotting and drawing up lists from a seed catalogue (I realise it is fashionable to talk of getting women involved in 'the hobby' but let's face it is a very male pastime, and the women who get involved are probably boycotting vodka because of the Russian law that doesn't ban anything) - on television.

I can't say there is a direct link between getting a first box of 1/32nd Desert Rats at the age of four, through getting boxes and boxes of random 1/72nd soldiers, to the revelation of Battleground, to the discovery of the books in the library, to trying to bring some sort of purpose and order to the ice cream containers of soldiers beneath my bed, to buying Miniature Wargames and casting aside my foolish childish pleasures in favour of attempted lead poisoning and aerosol/super glue/paint thinners lung. But then there is rarely a direct link to anything... sorry Sigmund....

What I really liked about the Wesencraft interview was his good natured modesty. As when he claimed to have known he had written a best seller because he found the book on the shelves of Newcastle library.

It's curious to think of 'that generation' of wargame pioneers in perhaps the way the media portrays WWI veterans, as a dying breed. And the interview was littered with names that instantly evoke a Proust-like reaction in me, Terry Wise and Paddy Griffiths, or indeed elsewhere in the magazine John Treadaway and Arthur Harman... oh nostalgia ain't what it used to be....

Speaking of which, I haven't looked at a copy of White Dwarf in over a year. But today I happened to be in Boyes buying my lad a model aeroplane and I happened to pick up a copy of the new White Dwarf weekly, I was shocked... it actually contained writing... it actually appeared to be trying to convey something of meaning and interest to the reader.... I was so stunned that I actually looked at the cover price and considered buying it... I still very may shall..... Dwarves were an army I owned a very long time ago, and indeed may actually still own when my mother comes out of her neurotic episode and admits what she has done with them - obviously I wont own them if she has burned them like she claims....

Oh and while I am waxing lyrical about the dim and distant past I wonder how many people found the Germans in the WWI Airfix box, who were surrendering with their hands up, very useful spectators for Subutteo. A thin strip of paper, felt tipped with the appropriate colours, threaded between their hands and they were good to go. The MP's in the USAF box were ideal police, as were many of the ground crew - if you bit the spanners out of their hand and wrapped a paper scarf around their wrist. I doubt people knot scarves around their wrists at football matches these days - or indeed wear rosettes.

Still it's nice to see Miniature Wargames back on track after the wilderness years under that Andrew chap. I am sure he was a very nice man, but... oh I don't know...

Let me eat my cakes....


Thursday, 6 February 2014

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Showing Off

Some more Fuzzy Wuzzies...
On Sunday I took my oldest lad to Varnap... Vaptar... the wargames show in York.

I bought a few odds and ends... some WWI casualties from Kallistra, some Magister Militum mounted command figures for the Sudan, some Pendraken bases.... I didn't find Wings of Glory at a decent price, and I almost got X Wing for £22, which might have been a bargain of sorts, but the last one had been sold just before I returned after much prevarication (as in truth I don't really like the game, so perhaps it was a blessing).

It was a good show, the venue is nice, there was plenty to see, and I think the lad enjoyed himself too. With thanks to the History Alive people who allowed him to paint a Roman soldier, which pleased him... even if the people on the Warlord stand were rather charmless when he went to thank them for providing the History Alive people with the figures to paint.

Which brings me to my point.

The lad likes to play games, he is a lethal capitalist at Monopoly, his dungeon crawling skills are a joy to behold, and I have been slowly introducing him to wargaming.

The show had a number of participation games, and the deal was that after we had a look round the lad could pick which game he would like to play (rather like my rules when we go to the fair). From my point of view the ideal candidate would have been the jousting game, as if he had liked it, I would have been happy enough to buy the rules, get some suitable figures, and spent Sunday evenings bashing each others brains out. But for whatever reason the people running the game seemed uninterested in engaging us, and the lad had pretty much made his mind up that he wanted to play the Tomahawks and Muskets game - ironically being pit on by the local 'club' the Ilkley lads.

So we made our way to the table, I asked if the lad could play, they said he could and he found himself in commanding a force of rebels. The others playing the game appeared to be two friends who apparently played Muskets and Tomahawks on a regular basis.

No sooner did we get underway than the guy in charge of the British started displaying many of the unpleasant aspects of wargaming, re-rolling 'cocked' dice when not in his favour, but not re-rolling them when they were, trying to rush the turn on when we were moving figures, but taking his time in his own turn.... etc... there were other things that were just flat out cheating... but hey! it was a game at a wargame show so rather than get involved in a discussion about his antics, I asked the lad if he was enjoying himself (he got to roll some dice, but not move the figures) - he said he wasn't - so we made our excuses - though not to the arsehat, as he was too busy trying to get the umpire to rule in his favour over his latest bit of cheating - and went and bought a huge, and very nice, yorkshire pudding with minced beef and chhips for our dinner.

A couple of months ago, there was a piece in WSS about why young people don't get involved in wargaming. In truth I didn't read the whole article, but skimmed it in WH Smiths, as I rarely find WSS has enough content to justify the over price, and the content it does have is not to my taste.

Talking to the History Alive people, who run wargaming, painting and modelling sessions in schools, and link it to history, there is certainly no lack of interest in the hobby from young people. And judging by the boys fighting Rorkes Drift with a mixture of part painted miniatures and cardboard Zulus they are certainly enjoying it.

 I suspect the reason is that during these History Alive sessions the kids are allowed to play.

Which let's face it in the hobby more generally is not something that happens too often.


Saturday, 1 February 2014