Friday 30 July 2010

Vampires In The Snow

Real world workload is pretty intense at the moment and the only respite seems to be on the innumerable train journeys to and from London when I bury my head in some fiction to escape (so we'll probably have a few more book reviews here on Bookworld, sorry Bleaseworld for a while...)

Most recently I finished Japser Kent's Twelve, a story of vampires during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. Reviewers had touted it as being highly original, ignoring the work of Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and her Count Saint-Germain novels and even 2000AD's Fiends of the Eastern Front, which whilst set in WW2 has many similarities with Kent's book.

This said it doesn't make it a bad book, on the contrary it is quite entertaining, but it's not as innovative as many reviewers said. The story is well written and follows a Russian officer who finds out the truth about twelve mercenaries hired by the Russians to help defeat the French. Personally I would be liked more battle action and maybe some more story set around the actual retreat from Moscow but what you get isn't bad and the book is an enjoyable read.

Wargames wise alt-WW2 is quite popular with vampires and werewolves and reading this there is no reason why alt-Napoleonic couldn't be, especially at skirmish level maybe using rules like Sharp Practice as a starting point (Flintloque has a proven pedigree as fantasy Nap, so why not alt-Nap?).

Wednesday 28 July 2010

Quar Blimey

I have (so far) resisted the lure of Zombiesmith's excellent alien Quar range but weakened this afternoon when I found the rules, This Quar's War, had been released in PDF format for just $10 at Wargame Vault. A few clicks later I was browsing through what is a truly original, exciting and innovative rulebook, chock full of excellent artwork and background. Boy, am I tempted to order some minis now...

This Quar's War is a company level game, around fifty plus figures a side, a smaller skirmish level game based on Ganesha's Flying Lead has been released under the title Songs Of Our Ancestors. Whilst I haven't tried Flying Lead, I do like the Songs of... series so will no doubt pick up a copy of this soon too.

It is often said there is little innovation in the hobby, especially fantasy & science fiction where more often than not products ape Tolkien or GW. This Quar's War demonstrates that innovation is alive and well and even if you will never get around to pushing a squad of these funny little aliens across a wargames table, you will get a lot of pleasure just reading This Quar's War and I heartily recommend splashing $10 on it today (personally I'd love to see the film!)

Friday 23 July 2010

And With Strange Aeons Even Death May Die!!

Pleasant surprise arriving home from a day of mind-numbing meetings at work was a copy of Strange Aeons from Uncle Mike's Worldwide. They'd obviously taken the long route from Canada as Uncle Mike posted them on the 4th June...

I hadn't heard of the game (or company) until I read about it on Zac Belado's blog but it soon became clear that Strange Aeons was the set of rules I'd always fancied writing for years but never got round to... Essentially it is a miniatures skirmish version of the classic Call of Cthulhu RPG with characters either dying at the hands monstrous beasties or being driven insane by nightmarish creatures. I decided to avail myself of the "Seduction of Innocence" special offer, a set of the rules, first expansion and a half price set of figures (I went for the Fishmen as Shadow Over Innsmouth is my favourite Lovecraft tale).

I've only managed to give the rules a quick flick through but they read well and I like the idea of some small quick games on a small table. The Fishmen are really nice, even if they are resin and the expansion, whilst a bit thin, is worth getting as it contains lots of useful stuff. I now need to rummage through various boxes to find my old Grenadier Cthulhu miniatures but might knock off a small order to the likes of em-4.

Overall, this looks a lot of fun and whilst it's taken a while getting to Blighty, I'm very pleased and now off to gibber to myself in some dark corner... Ia ia, Cthulhu fhtagn!!! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!!! Ia!!!

Monday 19 July 2010

Corpo Expedicionário Português

In a fit of unparalleled determination I decided I wanted to paint something last night - and finish it the same night! Having recently rediscovered the box of 6mm WWI which I bought for the Elán PDF Wessex Games are supposed to be releasing (and would have if I hadn't mislaid the figures and the MicroMark army lists), I decided to paint up a battalion of the Corpo Expedicionário Português (if only because an entire Brigade of British khaki figures on mud bases is going to be somewhat boring!).

Elán, in case you don't know, was written by Matthew Hartley and issued many moons ago by Gauntlet Publications. Long out of print I've always wanted to get it back in publication as it's a damn fine set of rules and fun to play. Being a divisional level set, each base represents a platoon. I wasn't sure of how the Portuguese organised themselves on the Western Front but as they were on the British sector I went with 1917-18 four platoons a company, four companies a battalion.

The models are Irregular and in their unpainted state do look quite awful, but as always seem to paint up reasonably well (I shouldn't really blow the photos up as they are 6mm and designed to be seen two or three foot down on the tabletop but hey...). As this was a deliberate rush job I decided work up from a black undercoat, drybrushing colours on to bring the detail out and then pick out off bits like rifles and faces/hands at the end.

I didn't time myself but excluding the drying time for the undercoat and brown on the mud base I would say these were done well within sixty minutes, now I just need to dig out the other three battalions to finish the brigade and the HMG support etc.

I must say this experiment in speed painting has re-ignited a level of enthusiasm to get back painting and I might devote some time to getting some more 6mm done (now where did I put that C18th Indian army I bought twenty odd years ago?)

Saturday 17 July 2010

Forgeworld Runt Bot & Grot

Well, at long last I've actually managed to finish painting something (!), the limited edition Forgeworld Runt Bot and Grot Saul bought himself at Salute.

As previously posted the model is extremely well detailed and I must confess I enjoyed painting it. I've never been keen on orks painted red and other bright colours so ours, in line with their background as "Kommies" (all property is theft, so I'll have that...), have a very Soviet Russian look (mainly green and metal).

The fluff for the Runt Bot says that it is made up from scrap by the Grot who pilots it into battle by remote control (sitting on the bot shoulder). Consequently the paint scheme is very much rusty metal with a feel damaged and worn green panels here and there.

Overall I'm pleased with the end result, it looks like what I wanted it to - an animated pile of scrap metal stuck together and launched into battle.

Friday 16 July 2010

Museu Militar de Lisboa

Following a recent work trip to Lisbon I managed to grab half an hour at the Military Museum in Lisbon. Contrary to what it says on various websites and tourist guides the museum shuts for lunch! The museum is a right hodge podge with a lot of artillery, surprisingly little on the Napoleonic Wars but an interesting gallery on the contribution of the Portuguese Expeditionary Force (Corpo Expedicionário Português) in World War One.

I've always had a soft spot for Portugal and the unheralded efforts of the CEP on the Western Front. Like the Italians they got a bad rap for one defeat where they were heavily outnumbered and exhausted having not received reinforcements from their homeland. There is a good basic page on Wikipedia about them here.

I didn't realise that you weren't supposed to take photos inside the museum (I assumed - incorrectly - it meant flash photography) and managed to take some photos in the Great War gallery before being told off!

The outside courtyard has some very interesting tiled pictures, in the traditional blue and white Portuguese style, of the country's military history from the return of Christianity to WWI. I didn't get much of a chance to study them all but they were well done, though I wasn't quite sure what the colonial one was supposed to be showing as it had Portuguese troops lined up ready to fire on African natives peacefully wandering around their village! Not knowing much about the conquest of Angola I was somewhat perplexed.

Overall an interesting little museum, certainly worth an hour or two if you are ever in Lisbon. As I've a pile of 6mm Irregular WWI to paint up for the re-release of Matthew Hartley's Elán I'm tempted to paint up a unit of the CEP to fight alongside the British...

Saturday 10 July 2010

Tewkesbury, Warmuster and DaVinci...

I was supposed to be going to the Tewkesbury Medieval Festival today with the family but have been left at home as I am not feeling 100% (or even 80%) and was told by SWMBO that I needed to make sure I was up to going to Saul's retirement gig/valediction tomorrow. I'm somewhat annoyed as I was really looking forward to going as we haven't been for a few years and I enjoyed it immensely the last time we went. Maybe next year...

I've cheered myself up slightly by downloading the latest copy of the Warmaster e-zine Warmuster which is a siege special and looks jolly interesting, especially the sections on modeling castles and siege equipment. My 10mm projects have ended up on the back burner of late so this might be the inspiration needed.

On an unrelated note I did manage to resist for 24 hours the wonderful looking DaVinci Tank from Black Army Productions before ordering a couple (ok three...). I have always wanted to do a small Empire army but with a more Peasant's War/mercenary Landsknecht look with pike blocks and irregular clothed troops but never liked the GW Steam Tank (or the lack of pikes in the army). I have over time picked up some Foundry pike and have a few boxes of the old Empire plastics so these tanks seemed a perfect fit. Not quite sure whether I'd need three but the post free offer for the month said buy now, ponder later...

Tuesday 6 July 2010

The Stainless Steel Rat

Having needed to be straight back to work (albeit via teleconference and email) I was starting to flag a bit by lunchtime until the kind Mr. Postman brought me some much nicer medicine than the hospital pharmacy gave me - a parcel from Amazon!

Therein was an omnibus edition of the Stainless Steel Rat comic strips published in 2000AD back when Airfix soldiers cost 18p a box and we had three channels on the TV. I remember these with great fondness and they led me on to reading all Harry Harrison's Rat books over the years and a great many of his others). The graphic novel contains the original Stainless Steel Rat story, Stainless Steel Rat Saves The World (my favourite of the three) and Stainless Steel Rat For President. I always regretted 2000AD didn't do any others, especially Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted the first Rat book I read. The stories are well translated for the comic medium and the artwork truly wonderful.

I have always been baffled that the Rat has never been the subject of a blockbuster film as the stories are action packed and very humorous but they'd probably cock it up. From a wargaming point of view there are lots of opportunities and ideas for small scale skirmishing - I already have a model for Angelina primed and waiting painting...

Monday 5 July 2010

In, Slice, Dice, Out...

I've been a bit tied up with real world work of late and somewhat under the weather and whilst a week working in Lisbon* may sound fun, when you are feeling crappy it is less so. Even less fun is getting back to Blighty and the GP sending you to the surgical assessment unit yesterday evening as you have sepsis (some form of blood poisoning) and then finding yourself under the knife at 9am with an general anesthetic and then discharged at noon! Whatever people say about our NHS, when it moves, it moves... On the mend now and hoping to escape to the sanctuary of the painting desk in the next couple of days.

* managed to grab 30 minutes at the Military Museum and took some pics which I'll post when I get some time.