Sunday, 28 November 2010

Reveille 2010

Despite the unseasonable snow on the ground Saul and I popped up to Bristol's wargames show Reveille this morning. Whilst not the biggest of shows I always enjoy it (especially the bacon rolls), however my wallet remained pretty much closed throughout except for the bacon rolls and a copy of the El Cid WAB supplement I picked up for a fiver. Saul picked up a copy of Wizard's First Rule for two quid from the bring and buy having enjoyed The Legend of the Seeker on TV, but that was it. I was tempted by the Britannia 20mm modern Afghan range and the Inkerman 28mm Malaya models but decided there were enough unfinished projects at home and not to start another.

He enjoyed playing a game based on the Predator movie, there was a nice 15mm RCW game with an armoured train, a good 15mm SF game using the old G-Cav rules, a 54mm samurai game, a squig race, Space Vixens and a very nice looking VBCW game with some beautifully painted miniatures (I especially liked the Barclays Bank militia unit). I've run the photos through iMovie so if you have five minutes you can check the games out.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Brave New Worlde...

Back in the day (well 1997) when I was freelancing for Alternative Armies on Flintloque, I used to have many long and wandering phone calls with Mike Owen which after discussing the latest twist on orcs in Napoleonic uniforms would go onto many diverse matters, one of which was the Welsh discovery of America!

Mike had been reading a book on Prince Madoc and thought that it would make a great game. The conversation developed, howabout bringing the Norse into it? What about the mythologies (Mike loved The Mabinogion)? Enthused I started writing up the background, researching Algonquin and Welsh myth and I roped Matthew Hartley in on the rules front and he drafted a set of skirmish rules inspired by his reading of a Paddy Griffith book on Viking warfare.

Sadly AA in the form it was went belly up and Mike went on to Foundry then set up his own company (Artizan) producing historical miniatures. However, the idea has always sat at the back of my mind so yesterday in a fit of enthusiasm I set up a blog to kick start the project and see if it has legs.

So if you fancy the idea of Vikings v Welsh v Red Indians v mythical creatures from their respective mythologies please follow my New Worlde blog. If you think it's barking, please ignore this post, normal service will be resumed soon...

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Tintin Versus Cthulhu

Plans to go to Warfare today were scuppered by an outbreak of trenchfoot in Bleaseworld with young Saul having to see the MO for treatment for a nasty toe infection when we should have been buying toy soldiers in Reading. Still we have Reveille next week so all is not lost...

Having a lazy morning (well that's what SWMBO calls it) before cracking on with some painting this afternoon (bit more work on my Aquilonians for the Grande Age of Hyboria I think) I was browsing the interweb and came across the work of artist Murray Groat via Dan Abnett's Facebook page and just had to share these with you all...

Thursday, 18 November 2010

High Elf Test Pieces

Needing a break from 2mm (and to ponder whether I should do the Belgians on Mars white or in the green/grey Legation uniform also worn in Peking) I remembered Saul had a big box of unmade High Elves I was suppose to be painting for him.

We'd had a little dispute over the colour scheme, Saul likes the GW white scheme, I don't. Also white is a git to paint in any quantity and with so many projects on the go and the lead mountain now being accompanied by plastic hills any paint scheme would have to be one that didn't take hours and require labour intensive shading and layering to look ok (like white).

Consequently I made a carpe diem executive decision and decided to paint up a few to show Saul what I was taking about and how cool they look! The armour is Brazen Brass (a very old bottle - four designs of bottle old!), Scaly Green for the cloth and some touches of Blood Red. They were then dipped in Strong Tone...

There are a few more touches needed but I think they've come out nice and hope Saul will like them. I haven't decided on the shields as yet. Part of me wants to do something different and I am considering using hoplite type round shields, the shields from the LOTR Southrons (though what they would then have is a problem) or some oval design inspired by the zulu shield pattern but smooth (I was thinking these Elves would come from the Fortress of Dawn rather than Ulthuan).

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Captain Of Rome

Last year Tas recommended I check out Ship of Rome by John Stack, a novel about a Roman galley commander in the Carthaginian Wars, which I did and found hugely enjoyable.

In ASDA today I noticed the second in the series, Captain of Rome is available in paperback and not only is it at the knock down price of £3.76 (instead of £7.99) it comes with a free copy of Ship of Rome - an even better bargain, especially if you haven't read the first.

I've always had an 'itch' to do some galley games but never got around to it. The new WI (Samurai issue) has an interesting looking set based on Piquet in it with a number of pretty pictures that make me want to knock an order off to Xyston or someone, but I am being strong...

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Rivals Of The Raj

Colonial wargaming is incredibly popular and a lot of fun, but unfortunately is incredibly Anglo-centric. Now whilst I am myself a victim of the allure of the redcoat heroically standing against the noble native, it was not just the British who engaged in hard fought victories (and famous defeats) in the age of empire.

The main reason for our ignorance is of course the fact that sources on other nations campaigns are hard to get hold of and usually in a foreign language (!) - also, no one has made a great film about their exploits like Zulu! Accordingly it is also great when some enterprising author and publisher expands our knowledge and kudos to Peter Abbott and Foundry for their brand new Colonial Armies volume, Rivals of the Raj (non-British Colonial Armies in Asia 1497-1941) which arrived this morning courtesy of the Royal Mail.

I've only had a chance to flick through it, but it looks a fantastic piece of work. Internally similar in style to the old WRG books with numerous black and white line drawings of troops uniforms this volume is an excellent companion to Abbot's Africa 1850 to 1918 and although a slightly (!) wider timespan, does focus on the 19th century.

There is a lot of really interesting material and ideas here, I'm initially taken with the Dutch and their 35 year war in Northern Sumatra at the end of the C19th and a box of the new Wargames Factory WSS plastics would get much use on colonial service for many nations including the Austrians in India! Umm...

Whilst the book might seem expensive at £30 with no colour illustrations, it is an impressive piece of work and worth every penny if you have any interest in colonial wargaming.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

If You Go Down To The Woods...

Not the most exciting of posts, but I made up a few small 2mm woods/copses for Land Ironclads that will also work for Aeronef and other air combat games.

Simple job, hacked up a couple of old CD's. glued some sand around the edges and painted that and then wood glued a mixed selection of Woodland Scenics foam bushes (mainly light green but also some olive and odd dark which I picked up off eBay for 99p).

Overall the effect is very pleasing and works well enough for small woods you get over the farmland of northern France and southern Belgium.

Friday, 12 November 2010


Zombies are de rigueur once again (or should that be de rigor mortis?!), with continuing book releases such as Osprey's excellent Zombie Hunter Guide and Stephen Jones' Zombie Apocalypse! which looks really good. However a lot of the interest is no doubt down to the new TV show The Walking Dead (based on the excellent comic book series of the same name), which is now showing on FX UK here.

I was very impressed with the pilot and once again it got me pondering on zombie gaming and possibly digging out Twilight's excellent Zombies!!! However, rather than the standard survivalist zombie game I started thinking about the military response and this led me to considering working up a variant based on Scudbusters, a great SOF game were the players take the part of the SOF and the Iraqis are card generated and table controlled. Using the 'Guts' friction system the longer your troops are on mission, the more worn down they become and I think this would be perfect for soldiers in a hostile environment such as a zombie infested world.

Most zombie games are US based, not surprising as most media is US based but as the excellent 28 Days Later showed, zombies (whether they run or not) work just as well in our green and pleasant land. Having picked up a pack of Wargames Factory's excellent modern zombies and some TAG SAS for my (slightly stalled) 2ECW project I've started penning some notes and will see where this takes me. In the meantime another episode of The Walking Dead not to be missed tonight...

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Contraptions And Smoke

I've managed to finish a few bases of contraptions for the Belgian and French VSF armies. The models are all from Brigade's new French range (Tony did not have any of the new Belgians to hand when he sent the land ironclads), so I have painted one set up as Belgian.

Both contraptions are really nicely done and paint up easily using a basecoat, wash, drybrush technique.

A while back I mentioned I was considering adding some Kapok smoke to the land ironclads and having found a stash of Kapok in the games room, decided to give it a go on one of the Belgian ironclads on Martian service. I coloured the Kapok with a marker pen and superglued it to the funnels. I'm not 100% sold on it but I think it certainly adds something to the model and helps reinforce the steam-era feel of the models and game...

Onto the Belgian colonial infantry now (which being all white will double as Italians and a host of other nations with a change of flag!).

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Sharp As Steel?

The success of Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels has led to many imitators and whilst not many reach the same level, they give it a fair crack. Iain Gale's Jack Steel series is one of those. Set during the Malburian Wars (or War of Spanish Succession if we are going to be technically correct), the books do help remind us of the impressive victories of John Churchill, the Duke of Marlborough against the French.

Man of Honour is the first in the series and is set around the Battle of Blenheim (1704). Lieutenant Steel is tasked with recovering a letter the contents of which could be used to claim that Marlborough has Jacobite tendencies (the period is interesting in that the Stuart claim to the throne is still alive and Scots and Irish fight against Marlborough), before returning to fight prominently in the battle. Very enjoyable, the book may not be as good as the early Sharpe novels but it is an excellent read and worth checking out if you fancy a change of period on the historical fiction front.

The second in the series is Rules of War starts at the Battle of Ramillies (1706) with Steel leading his Grenadier company to glory in the battle against the French in some very well written hard fought action. After this, in typical Sharpe style, he is sent on a mission to Ostend before leading his troops in the storming of the port with its near impregnable Vauban fortifications. Again a good mix of black powder battle and espionage, coloured with the political fighting between Whigs and Tories. Another enjoyable read.

The third (and currently last) book in the series is Brothers in Arms starting at the Battle of Oudenarde (1708 - following the 1707 Act of Union) which sees the newly promoted Captain Steel in the thick of the action before engaging on a mission of vital importance to Marlborough in the heart of the enemy realm - Paris. Unfortunately the book is a pot purri, starting well before becoming very fractured. Fascinating actions at Wynendael and Leffinghe don't get the attention they deserve and a couple of characters are killed without a seconds thought. From the dedication at the front of the book it is clear that the author sadly lost his wife during the writing and this most likely explains the way the book somewhat drops off. Despite this it is certainly worth reading and will encourage further investigation of two lesser know battles.

Whether Gale will add to the Steel series is not clear. He has subsequently written Alamein (which I'm currently reading), a standalone novel of the battle similar to his excellent Four Days in June about Waterloo and has started a new WW2 series which is published next year. With Malplaquet, the bloodiest battle of the war next (and the release of the Wargames Factory War of Spanish Succession plastics!), we can only hope so...

Revenge Of The Wargames Widow...

Gentlemen be warned, the SWMBO's of this world now have a weapon in their arsenal to inflict on the insensitive male who has dragged his partner around countless wargames shows saying "ohh, look at the epaulettes on that one" - THE CRAFT FAIR!

Saturday saw the Blease Clan driving up the M5 to the NEC again, this time not to Games Day or to see Iron Maiden, but to a massive craft fair, and when I say massive I mean MASSIVE!! Imagine Games Day crossed with Salute multiplied two or three times and full of manic women determined to spend, spend, spend (and this was a four day event - Sunday is apparently worse!).

SWMBO enjoyed herself immensely, Saul and myself retired from the overrun crafting section to the stalls section where they sell various gifts including jewellery (useful for Christmas presents for SWMBO), toys, musical instruments and food (lots of excellent samples including sausages - we could have joined the Sausage Club - and beer).

We have been without Internet access since Thursday and it is surprising how reliant we have become of it, just checking basic uniform details was a problem or even ordering new wargames stuff (still I had a brace of goals by Torres to cheer me on Sunday!).

I am still beavering away on the 2mm Belgians (and supplement) for Land Ironclads. Having had a (hopefully final) small op yesterday at the BRI I have to avoid traveling for several days so this should allow some free evenings to finish this off and maybe start something new (I've rescued some old 28mm Maximilian figures from the lead mountain and am tempted to do them but with Christmas coming up I may have to paint some stuff up for Saul).

Monday, 1 November 2010

Because It Matters (...To Me)

I must confess that, like most wargamers, I have a tendency to get a bit "fixated" on some subjects, especially historically accuracy. Unlike most wargamers I tend to do this on non-historical subjects! :-)

Take VSF for example, most gamers don't worry too much about it as a genre, it's really just an excuse to stick Zulu Wars 24th Foot on the same table as some steampunk toys and have some fun. Not me, nope I have to have some degree of historical accuracy to the bits that are historical, I actually cringe at VSF games set in England using the same 24th Foot in their white helmets.

This does lead me down long diversions as the crusade becomes compulsive as I hunt out historical tidbits (good job I love history!). Today for example I was writing a Land Ironclads scenario, a fictional battle set in the (alternate) Maximilian Rebellion but I had to include historically accurate units from the Belgian Legion and Austrian Volunteer Corps (and the Juarista opposition) which necessitated a lot of time, some Google-fu and copious use of Google Translate (there are lots of useful foreign language websites a click away from understanding!). I did find a fascinating (German) website on the Austrian Volunteer Corps (as well as these nice period illustrations from another site) and can sleep easy tonight knowing that the artillery unit in the scenario is accurate in that it is a mountain gun battery, which the Austrians had, not a regular field artillery battery, which they didn't!

I know, get a life... :-)