Monday, 30 March 2009

First Blitz

Just finished reading First Blitz by Neil Hanson, an account of the German bomber raids on London in World War One and the secret plan to firebomb London the mission for which was aborted with minutes to spare in September 1918 as the German bombers were poised for take-off.

The book is very well written and a good read. Hanson concentrates on three three alternating themes throughout the book as he proceeds chronologically from the first German raid on Dover on Christmas Eve 1914 through the end of the war. Concentrating on the Luftwaffe's London Squadron (officially known as the Carrier Pigeon Unit!), the British political and military response and the impact on the civilian population of London and South-East England, using many first hand accounts (both British and German). The descriptions of the impact on the civilian population is harrowing in parts and the impact on the morale of the population cannot be understated. Certainly H.G.Wells' Shape of Things to Come appears somewhat less prophetic after reading about the level of panic the relatively few German raids caused amongst the capital's population.

Overall, an excellent book about a relatively unknown subject and one of interest not only for World War One gamers but also VSF ones who can substitute the Gotha's and Giants for aeronef...

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Salute 2009

Went to Salute yesterday with Saul and am now considerably poorer (but happier!). A good show as ever at the ExCel, but it is a pain to get to. Two hours to London by car and then another two hours going through or around it (having tried north, south and through now I think the North Circular wins). We stayed at the Crowne Plaza at Docklands on the Friday night (using club card points) so Saul had a swim in the pool, I enjoyed the whirpool(!) and we only had a five minute walk to the venue on the Saturday.

For the first time in years I went with a purchase plan in mind and stuck to it (well, for the first hour!) picking up the new Black Scorpion fantasy pirates (for Strange Grogge), Empress Zulu War British (for service on Mars of course), Ironclad French (for more 28mm VSF goodness), Peter Pig AK47 (for Scudbusters - does no one do Gulf War 15mm SAS?) and 6mm SF armour and infantry off Brigade and GZG for Iron Cow.

By this stage Saul had wandered off so I perused the games and took lots of photos. One of the most eye-catching was Assault on Innsmouth with a gurt big (Bristolian term) Cthulhu advancing towards the seaside town which was being attached by US forces. The scenery was great with the buildings lit with ghostly green LEDs. The game was a rolling one with players joining throught the day, I didn't give it a go but got an answerphone message from Saul  saying he'd blown Cthulhu up with an anti-tank gun but unfortunately he'd come back to life! :-)

One I first saw at Warfare last year (but didn't have the camera) was a Russo-Japanese 1938/9 battle in 28mm on a massive table with excellent terrain, loads of beautifully painted miniatures, tanks, artillery, aircraft and a train. Got a bit carried away taking pics of this game so here's just one...

The Perry's had a wonderful looking Napoleonic game using tons of their new plastic 28mm French. Unfortunately I weakened and bought a box of each of the British and French off them. I'm not sure whether to go Peninsular or Waterloo. Peninsular is Sharpe and all that and the grubby campaign look is great, but to any Englishman Waterloo does stir the heart. Oh well, no rush as I need to find a set of rules I like.

On the subject of the Perry's they did unveil their new forthcoming plastic range with the 3 up masters in display. All the TMPers got it wrong and it is the Wars of the Roses which will please "She Who Must Be Obeyed" as she is a member of the Richard III Society (indeed we had to get married on 2nd October, Richard's birthday).

The most impressive looking game at the show (to my mind) was this wonderful 28mm Conquistador/Aztec game featuring a massive pyramid (complete with sacrifices ongoing) and an Aztec city with some fantastic detail including a huge skull rack.

The Conquistadors were advancing over this narrow causeway to the city. Overall quite stunning (and yes, there was a little part of me thinking umm... lizardmen!)

I also met up with a number of people throughout the day including Rob Alderman and Ross Bowrage to chew the fat over Panzerfäuste Legion - what's Panzerfäuste Legion I hear you ask? 

Basically it is a Panzerfäuste supplement for Battlefield Evolution that will be released under the Mongoose Open Gaming Licence. This should allow gamers with large Panzerfäuste collections to play larger games with more units and more armour. It was good to put faces to Rob and Ross who I'd only discussed stuff by email and get some ideas sorted (as well as more inspiration on the miniatures side). Hopefully this will be a jolt in the arm for Panzerfäuste...

Couple of other things caught my eye, including this WWII game purely for effective and eye-catching use of the plastic (Litko?) on fire markers. If you are wondering why the Shermans are all burning off camera there was two 88mm A/T guns, three 88mm armed JadgPanthers and a large number of Panthers all lined up behind hedges...
There were a number of WWI air wargames at the show, most in 1/72nd compete with bombers, however I was taken with this nicely produced mat for this game of Wings of War.

Games wise Saul wanted to try out Monsterpocalypse but there was no one around when he was so he tried AT-43 instead, the Karman miniatures having caught his eye (imagine Gorrillas in power armour, some with back mounted rail guns - cool eh?). Having tried it out he press ganged me into a scenario based game with him and another player. Saul had the alien Therians (including some things with electro-whips that are kick ass tough), the other player had a U.N.A. force and I had two Red Blok units. 

Not having played the game it was quite fun (to the extent I started yelling 'medic' to save wounds before my opponents had rolled their dice!). The scenario was quite good with the opfors having to reach a old tech container, which when the U.N.A, player did released a huge golem that attacked my Red Blok troops. However due to superior Communist tactics the cunning Red Blok commander managed to fulfil his mission parameters first (ie. see enemy units down to at least half strength) whilst the Therians just fulfilled theirs soon after (get two models off the board) and the U.N.A. were wiped out with one man left standing. Good game...

Of course this naturally resulted in an unplanned trip to the vendors and the purchase of the Operation Damocles Initiation Set and two boxes of Karmans (goriilas in power armour, who can resist them!). Luckilly there was a 3 for 2 offer on and the Initiation set was down to £25 so the damage to Saul's wallet and mine wasn't too bad, though "SWMBO" was less impressed when I got home - despite having bought her favourite dish at the Chinese on the way home to butter her up! (And for the record the Chinese takeaway almost cost as much as the starter set, there's no winning...)

All in all a good day, Saul and I both enjoyed ourselves (he slept most of the way home holding onto his new purchase!) and we now have another new game to play...

Monday, 23 March 2009

ONESS Panzer Grenadiers

Following on from the AmRep A.I. I painted earlier this month I've now painted up twenty German ONESS Panzer Grenadiers to playtest Iron Dog 2136AD with.

The miniatures are Pig Iron Heavy Infantry and whilst I initially purchased them with a view to using them as regular AmRep grunts I felt they had a "European" feel to them so decided to go with the Organisation of North European Sovereign States (ONESS) from the Iron Cow background and Germans specifically from the choice of ONESS nations.

The miniatures are really very nicely sculpted and highly recommended, they required minimal clean up before painting. I picked up Platoon Pack 1 and still have the heavy weapons teams to paint which come as pairs moving and firing. The command pack is superb with an officer, medic, sniper, comms trooper and a wonderful robot servant for the officer! I may well pick up the Infantry Booster pack to flesh out my squads as it contains some different poses and separate heads to allow more variation. I certainly intend to pick up some of the Kolony Militia to use as Neo-Soviets.

Painting was relatively straight forward though the moral of the story is always paint a test piece before you start an entire unit! :-(

I had a relatively simple (largely green) scheme in mind painting the combat fatigues in Vallejo's U.S.A. Uniform (70922) which I thought looked a bit garish but rolled with it painting up the body armour, faces etc. thinking the models would tone down. Having left them for a couple of hours on Friday evening I re-appraised them and then placed them next to some WW2 models - yuk! They looked awful! I'm not sure which "U.S. Uniform" this green is supposed to be but it is nearer Goblin Green than any olive green!! 

I resigned myself to respraying the models and starting from scratch again but decided to see what the officer would look like it I just re-undercoated the fatigues and dry brushed them Reflective Green (70890) - it looked good so I stayed up to 1am on Saturday morning repainting the other 18 troopers (fortunately the robot was ok in its Catachan Green armour!).

I finally finished basing them last night and despite the repaint am really pleased with them and am looking forward to getting some more Pig Iron to paint in the future.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Having A Cow!

The writing bug bit deep after I saw Brigade Models were issuing their lovely 6mm SF Russians at Salute. Realising the Russian aren't in the Iron Cow rulebook I started beavering away on a PDF supplement for them! As this stage I then realised that I hadn't PDF'd Iron Cow itself either so lacking an electronic copy of the rulebook (it was originally carved in stone in 1995) I started re-transcribing that and taking the opportunity to fix a few things as I did so. Hopefully both will be released in April with lots of colour piccies of Brigade goodness which I'm picking up at Salute and will, of course, be featured here on Bleaseworld as I paint my first 6mm SF miniatures for at least a decade!

One of the things I had never got around to with Iron Cow is to put the full background down on paper (or Mac in this case) and make it clear who is what and what they are doing to who. As part of this I drew up a map of Europe in 2103AD which shows the main power blocs plus the mess Europe is in as well. I'm not sure if this will be in the PDF rulebook but if you already have the paper rulebook here it is:

Another golf lesson tonight, I have managed to get a couple of sessions in on the driving range over the last couple of days - it's amazing what you can forget in a week! :-)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009


Having been tied up with work and building the mother of all flower troughs for "She Who Must Be Obeyed" (large and sturdy enough to withstand a siege I reckon - the flower trough not "She Who Must be Obeyed"!) I haven't had much time for painting over the last week (or even whacking some golf balls!) - a sad state of affairs I know...

Some new stuff is on the painting table and has a coat of undercoat on it, so hopefully there will be something new and exciting later this week on Bleaseworld, but in the meantime I thought I'd share some pictures of Saul's Dwarf Army which I've painted up over the last couple of years.

The bulk of the army comes from the Skull Pass set with a box of Dwarf Warriors thrown in for variation. Whilst there have been (many) snippy comments about the miniatures in the GW starter boxes I think they are fine and some are really good like the Thane pictured here:

The whole look of the Dwarves is inspired by the Saxons in the naff Clive Owen King Arthur film. The only redeeming element of this awful film is the Saxon's attacking across the ice. Now they don't look like Saxons (pretty cool Chaos Marauders maybe...) but that dark look was one I wanted to replicate on the Dwarves. For this I switched to using a black undercoat (after twenty odd years of using white) and must confess to finding the whole painting process a damn sight easier and quicker doing this (consequently I haven't used white undercoat since on any miniature).

The army has been supplement over the last couple of years with some artillery pieces picked up off eBay. I'm quite happily mixing old and new models as it gives the feeling that Dwarf smiths create one-off weapons rather than have a mass production facility, which seems more in keeping with the mythos concept I feel.

There are still a number of miniatures to be painted up including another unit of Miners with three mining wagons pulled by ponies, an Automaton of some sort from Privateer Press's Warmachine range that fits in perfectly, a heavily converted unit of Dwarf Rangers and some flying Dwarves with rocket packs (!) to act as Gyrocopter proxies as I don't like the 'copter model. Hopefully it won't be too long before these get painted and make an appearance in Bleaseworld!

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Sergeant Blease, Reporting For Duty!

I've just finished reading Cain's Last Stand by Sandy Mitchell (aka Alex Stewart), the sixth book in the Ciaphas Cain series of Warhammer 40K novels. 

The Cain series are a little different from the regular 40K novel fodder in that our hero, a Commissar, is also a coward more intent on saving his skin and unjustified reputation, than fighting for the Emperor. 

Cain is clearly modelled on Flashman and his side kick Jurgen bears more than a passing resemblance to Baldrick from Blackadder Goes Forth, but the stories are all the better for that...

Cain's Last Stand is set around a Chaos attack on the planet of Perlia,  and has the added attraction on page 138 of a cameo by Sergeant Blease, a Chimera commander in the Perlian PDF! 

You would not believe how tempted I am now to buy a Chimera and add a commander with a beard in the turret... 

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Camels and Dolphins

Bit of a Sopwith day today with six more 1/144th aeroplanes constructed...

First off are four of Skytrex's Sopwith Camels (two pictured), a nice little model that goes together simply enough. The Camel is one of the best know fighters of WWI, but also saw sterling service in the immediate post-war period in a variety of new air forces including the Estonian, Finnish, Latvian and Soviet ones. I bought four as I decided that not only did I want some RFC ones, but also wanted to paint some up in either Estonian or Latvian markings (or maybe Soviet...) for some Russian Civil/Baltic War dogfights.

Talk of the Camel obviously leads to Biggles (!), and I have recently read the reprint of the first Biggles collection entitled The Camels Are Coming.

Unlike later books, Captain W. E. Johns draws on his own experiences (and others he knew) to write some wonderful short stories that paint a vivid picture of the air war above the Western Front. Whilst a "kids book" he doesn't shy away from the strain war places on young men and Biggles is clearly suffering from battle fatigue in the later stories and getting through the days with an increasing reliance on Scotch (usually for breakfast!). If you have never read Biggles, read The Camels Are Coming!

The second Sopwith of the day is the Dolphin with its distinctive rear swept wing assembly (the top wing is 18 inches behind the lower wing) which entered service in February 1918 but only with four squadrons. A very modern looking fighter (for its day), this model is the first Reviresco one I have made up. 

First off it has many more individual pieces than any of the Skytrex models and is a bit fiddly to construct but with a bit of effort makes a reasonable model. The ridge effect on the rear-swept wings looks very scratchy in bare metal but I am reserving judgement until I slap some paint on it. The Dolphin did see post-war service in the Polish Air Force against the Soviets in the 1920's and if I can find some 1/144th Polish national decals I might be tempted to fly the Dolphins over Warsaw rather than the Western Front...

Monday, 2 March 2009

Skytrex Gunbus and Harry Tate

Back to gluing my fingers together again today with more WWI aeroplanes, but not until I'd given 50 golf balls the benefit of my 30 minutes of tuition and found my back didn't hurt anywhere near as much this time. Some of the balls even went a reasonable distance and were straight - Tiger Woods watch out! :-)

Anyhow, back to the sane hobby and the continuation of building up a load of models for AirWar: 1918. I finished one Skytrex F.E.2b Gunbus and two Skytrex R.E.8 (Harry Tate)'s today and was quite pleased in that they were not as much of a sod to put together as the S.E.5a's had been.

The Gunbus is one of my favourite WWI models and although obsolete by 1916 one was involved in the dogfight that killed Max Immelmann (the British say a Gunbus shot him down, the Germans say he shot his own propellor off!). I am toying with painting it up as a night bomber with black upper surfaces as unfortunately the British showed a distinct lack of imagination in WWI when it came to aeroplane painting and almost all are painted PC10 Green/Brown. The model is impressive with a 10cm wingspan (compared to the S.E.5a's of 5.5cm) and went together ok, but the instructions by Skytrex are complete rubbish and I had to resort to looking on the internet as to how it should be put together.

The R.E.8's were much simpler jobs and are useful models for WWI gaming and beyond, indeed I have started re-reading The Day We Almost Bombed Moscow which starts with 'Z' Flight's aborted mission to bomb the Bolshevik capital with two Harry Tate's (serving with White Russian forces). 

The immediate post-armistice situation on the Eastern Front is quite fascinating (and chaotic) with British, French and German aeroplanes flying side by side in the fledgling new air forces arising from the collapse of the Russian and Austro-Hungarian Empires. More on this when I start painting as I am planning to paint some planes up for post-war actions...

Sunday, 1 March 2009

AmRep A.I. Infantry

Taking a break from gluing my fingers to white metal biplanes I finally finished the outstanding Victory Force SAYTR robots. As stated I had decided that the models would be earmarked for battlefield use, namely a set of 15/28mm SF rules which I am (intermittently) working on, using the Iron Cow background and based on the ColdWar: 1983 system which will be called Iron Dog: 2136AD.

The American Republic is a military-industrial dictatorship which controls most of the eastern seaboard of continental America. However due to the fall out from the Second Secessionist War and the ecological disaster that has turned the old Central US into a huge dustbowl, the Republic's population is restricted by the need to match limited food resources. From a military viewpoint this means that the AmRep military has to look at more automated systems than the other world powers and this has resulted in the introduction of robotic infantry - the A.I.'s - onto the 22nd century battlefield.

Whilst I like the Terminator style of Copplestone and em-4 and had intended to use them for the A.I., I was immediately taken with the Victory Force SAYTR's when I saw them on TMP and sent off an order to the States.

My initial reaction upon opening the order when it arrived as less favourable as the models are very flat and had a lot of excess metal from the moulding process that needed careful removal. However this wasn't as bad a job as I initially thought and the very flatness of the designs allowed for a fair degree of variation to be built into the models as they can be quite easily be bent at the knees and elbows and their light weight means one leg can be snipped from the base and adjusted to suggest movement.

I decided on fire teams of four and a platoon of three fire teams and one command team. The command team is slightly less animated and I converted one model into a radio operator with a spare plastic piece from a space marine sprue and a wire aerial.

Overall I'm very pleased with these and how they turned out, I decided on a one colour green scheme with some small national and rank markings (do robots have a rank structure?). I just need to find some suitable human grunts to support them - umm... that Pig Iron range looks really nice...