Saturday 31 January 2015

War and Battles: October War Coming Soon...

Of late, most of my gaming has unfortunately been restricted to the iPad, however I have had a lot of fun with the likes of the excellent Battle Academy and War and Battles which I came across last December.

Whilst the initial missions are quite short and relatively easy, the D-Day campaign develops and becomes challenging. You can also change sides and run the scenarios as the German defenders which gives you a whole load of new problems.

As I said in December, publishers Kermorio, have said they will be releasing new campaigns using the W&B engine covering a range of periods from Napoleonic to Modern, the latter being a 1973 October War campaign. They have just posted on their FB page that the release of October War is about a month away and uploaded some screen grabs. I must say I am really looking forward to this...

Friday 30 January 2015

Bugles and a Tiger

Today was a perfect storm, the dreaded tax return and a visit to the dentist! :-(

However there was a ray of sunshine. I forget to take something to read in the waiting room so popped in a charity shop to find a copy of John Masters Bugle and a Tiger. I have read a number of Masters books over the years including Nightrunners of Bengal and The Deceivers, but found this was an autobiography of his early years as an officer in India just before WWII.

I only managed to get a little way into it before I was dragged kicking and screaming into the surgery, but found it captivating. A little bit of research uncovered a second volume, Road Past Mandalay, which covers his wartime exploits, which I shall be hunting out once I have finished this.

Thursday 29 January 2015

Hellfighters Graphic Content!

After posting on Tuesday about the US 369th Regiment in WWI I found out that Max Brooks (or World War Z fame) has released a graphic novel about the unit this week. An order for The Harlem Hellfighters has been made and I will report back when it arrives.

No doubt largely due to Brooks fame, Sony have optioned the movie rights and so fingers crossed the film gets made.

Wednesday 28 January 2015

Dark Knight Rising?

This is all John Lambshead's fault.... and Ian 'Hendybadger' Henderson's. It goes like this - I am a Batman fan. It's not an addiction but I do have a shelf of Batman graphic novels and a pile of DVD's including the excellent animated series and movies (animated, Burton and Nolan). I might tell SWMBO that they were bought for the kid but truth be told there was a secret agenda - the Dark Knight rules and has done since I read Miller's seminal graphical novel as a teenager and realised it wasn't all Adam West going Kaa-Pow!

So what has this to do with John and Ian? Well it started with the latter posting on his blog an attempt  to justify (no doubt to his credit card) the cost of Knight Models Batman: The Miniatures Game with an interesting claim that it was cheaper than other games despite the average miniatures price being around the £12 mark. It wasn't totally convincing but I like Ian's more is less approach and would like to recommend him for Chancellor. As for John, he has started posting photos on his blog of the miniatures which not only appear in this blog's sidebar but also my Facebook stream, tempting me like a bacon butty for second breakfast.

Part of me is still baulking at the individual miniature cost (despite Ian's economics) or maybe I am baulking at what SWMBO would do to me if she found out that I paid £12 for one toy soldier. But they are very, very pretty, Rolls Royce standard and it is Batman.  I am struggling to resist...

Tuesday 27 January 2015

Over The Top with the Harlem Hellfighters

I didn't get a chance to read the Antares Beta rules today as I got distracted looking at some of the WWI books on my Kindle. This of course led to me digging out Warhammer Historical's The Great War, when I got home, along with the supplement Over The Top, that was only available for a short while before GW killed off Warhammer Historical.

The supplement contains rules and lists for the US forces on the Western Front, which intrigue me as something a little different, and, if I recall correctly, Lead Mountain has a box of HaT WWI US infantry in it somewhere...

Over The Top does contain a sidebar on the US 369th Regiment, a black regiment that fought under French command due to racial prejudices in the US military at the time. I recall them featuring in the Charley's War comic strip, suffering in the storyline by having French officers who did not speak English.

I'm not sure if that is factual and the "Harlem Hellfighters" would certainly make an interesting looking unit with French Adrian helmets, which they wore for the most part with their US uniforms...

Monday 26 January 2015

The Seventh Age of Humankind

Unfortunately it looks like the next fortnight is going to be very busy with business trips to exotic locales  including London, Paris and... Basingstoke.

Obviously this will impact chances to get painting back on track (I did do something with some sausage dogs today), but on the flip side I will get plenty of time to read on trains, planes and the lovely Charles de Gaulle airport.

One thing I have downloaded to have a good look out is the PDF beta test version of Beyond the Gates of Antares Warlord's forthcoming Science Fiction wargame, written by Rick Priestley. Some of the miniatures have been released and look quite nice, especially the rock like Bormites, though they seem a tad expensive.

I've not decided whether this is something I want to get into, so a good peruse of the rulebook is in order...

On a completely unrelated note, Saul's debut album received its first full length review and I couldn't be any prouder. If you want to read it, it can be found here.

Sunday 25 January 2015

ACW: Alternative Civil War?

I have been making some progress on my first Confederate infantry regiment over the weekend but still some way from finishing them. This Kickstarter from Ghost Train Games caught my eye as a possible concept extension, once I have the historical stuff painted.

These photos are from GTG's KS page and look really cool...

Union Coil Projectors
Confederate Hoppers

Saturday 24 January 2015

Zvezda 2015 New Releases

I picked up a couple of Zvezda's Art of Tactic kits in my local model shop the other day and it prompted me to have a look at Zvezda's website to see what they planned for 2015 (AFAIK the 2015 catalogue isn't out yet).

The English language part of the website doesn't show of their 2015 plans - but the Russian part does. With the help of Google Translate I have managed to ascertain the following which will be exciting for WW2 and modern gamers (there are no pictures on the site as yet).

6132 - Soviet Headquarters
6133 - German Headquaters
6174 - British Headquarters
6251 - PvIV F2
6253 - Zis3 AT Gun
6254 - I-16 fighter
6255 - La-5FN fighter
6256 - Tiger I
6257 - PAK40 AT Gun
6258 - T-60
6259 - Battle of Stalingrad
6263 - M4 Sherman
6264 - M3 Lee
6265 - M3 Stuart

7417 - Ural truck
7419 - ZSU 23-4 Shilka
7421 - 2S1 SPG
7422 - M109A2

However it is not all good news and rumours suggest that the planned WW1 releases have now been cancelled.

Friday 23 January 2015

Hear The Lamentation on Kickstarter!

I had promised myself I was going to be good this year and I was going to stay far away from Kickstarter - then I saw this...


Thursday 22 January 2015

Fantomah and the Curse of Doctor Omega!

I came across an interesting article on io9 today, about literary characters who are now in the public domain (subject to the usual caveat that public domain means different things in different countries, so check yours!). The article lists ten characters of interest for budding writers, but could equally be of value for wargames rules publishers. Some interesting stuff here that will be of interest to Pulp gamers as much as VSF ones...

Wednesday 21 January 2015

The Road to D.C.

The Walking Dead will be back on our screens soon and Fox have released the trailer for the second half of the current series. It shall be interesting to see how this pans out as the graphic novels certainly step up a notch scale wise at this point...

Details have also appear to have been leaked of The Walking Dead spin off series and it may well be a prequel starting with the initial pandemic that Rick of course sleeps through in his coma in the original story. Could be good, but hopefully it evolves into a distinctly different story from the survivors on the road we have at the moment.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

ACW: You're in Command Now, Mr.Fog!

When I was a teenager I was something of a prodigious reader, mostly fantasy epics. However I recall faced with one lengthy train journey from Bristol to Edinburgh picking up a J.T.Edson book at Temple Meads station. Whilst I enjoyed watching westerns, as a literary genre it never really appealed (and strangely still doesn't), but the book, You're in Command Now, Mr.Fog, wasn't a western per se, but one of Edson's books set in the American Civil War.

The story, about Confederate cavalry officer, Dusty Fog (who returns in a number of Edson's post-ACW westerns), was great fun and I made an effort to hunt out more of the ACW adventures in various bookshops over the next couple of years. I recall picking up the likes of Under Stars and Bars and Kill Dusty Fog!, but in those pre-internet days it was hard to know how many there were set in the ACW and how many where about Dusty Fog and the Texas Light Cavalry (some ACW stories were about different characters).

Fortunately in this day and age it is a relatively simple process to find out this information and Goodreads provides a list of all 13 books in the series and a synopsis of each. I need to hunt out the few I bought in my youth, but there do appear to be a number I have never read which appear to be quite fun.

What brought this all to mind? Well I was messing about with the Perry ACW cavalry at lunchtime and inspired by something Iron Mitten did many moons ago inspired by a Rosemary Sutcliffe book, I think that the Texas Light Cavalry need bringing to the tabletop!

Monday 19 January 2015

Get Up and Go - Gone AWOL!

I seem to be missing my hobby get up and go - if anyone finds it, please return it!

In an effort to kickstart things I ordered myself John Wilcox's Bayonets Along The Border, a Simon Fonthill novel I was missing. Perhaps some shenanigans along the Khyber Pass will get the hobby blood pumping and the juices flowing...

I hate it when this happens! :-(

Sunday 18 January 2015

Warriors of Antiquity

Every year Mongoose Publishing release their State of the Mongoose annual round-up. There is a bit of a car crash feeling in reading it as invariably there is a list of reasons given for all the things that went wrong that year (and Mongoose are rather cursed here). They also write about their plans for the forthcoming year and whilst the deals they have struck to work with Warlord Games (on Victory at Sea 2nd ed) and Victrix (on Fight For The Skies WW2 3D air wargame) sound interesting, it was the plans for a new Ancients game to be released at Salute that caught my attention.

One of the problems I have getting my 28mm Ancients projects moving is painting the buggers, especially armies such as the Celts which whilst fun looking, take up a lot of time. Unlike Clash of Empires, War and Conquest etc, Warriors of Antiquity will be a hero led warband based game with a lot less figures needed to start. Whilst I still want to raise a decent W&C Celt army (and Roman opponents), Warriors of Antiquity may be the catalyst to get things moving again on the Ancients front.

Anyway, this is what Mongoose have to say about the game, I think it sounds intriguing... "planned for a grand launch at Salute in 2015 is Warriors of Antiquity: Warbands of the Ancient World.

The original design brief for this game was to take the current Judge Dredd rules (themselves a development of Starship Troopers and Battlefield Evolution) and turn them into a set of rules based in the Ancient world.

As it turns out, the saying that a plan never survives contact with the enemy was apt here.

Victrix was not after a set of mass battle rules for Ancients line. Rather, they wanted a focus on small scale skirmishes – the countless battles that took place throughout history but were never reported. All those fights along the border, the cattle raids, ambushes and sneak attacks.

However, as we worked on Warriors of Antiquity, pretty much throughout 2014, the setting started having an impact on the mechanics (as it always does) to the extent that while its roots in the Battlefield Evolution rules are still recognisable (four action system, traits and Talents, for example) it plays very differently, with more of an emphasis on heroes leading small units (5-30 models in size).

The real joy for me is that we have succeeded in having more models on the table than in Judge Dredd (a starting warband has about 40-50 models, depending on what you take) but an average game between players who know the rules still takes about 20-30 minutes. With the full campaign system included in the rulebook, this means you can get several games done during an evening and watch your warband grow and your heroes develop!

If you have any interest in the Ancient world, this is one to watch our for. The rulebook is a glorious full colour hardback which contains more than 30 different scenarios (many designed for specific warbands, so they will fight on the tabletop as they did in history) and a wide choice of warbands, from the Athenians, Spartans and Thebans, to Republican Rome, Carthage and the ‘barbarian tribes’ (separate warband lists are provided for Britons, Gauls, the Germanic tribes and Iberians).

Warriors of Antiquity will continue to be supported as Victrix release more of their miniatures, and we hope to have a free PDF available bringing an entirely new (but very familiar!) warband to the game soon after launch!

Saturday 17 January 2015

The Moscow Option

Hot on the heels of watching The Man in the High Castle yesterday, a copy of David Downing's The Moscow Option arrived in the post today. Downing is probably best know for his 'Station' series of detective stories set in mid C20th Germany, but this is written as a history book, rather than a Turtledove style alt-history novel.

Downing's approach is nicely done, rather than make major historical changes he takes a couple of points of divergence and takes it from there. The first key one is Hitler being incapacitated before the decision to concentrate on Kiev and the Ukraine before resuming the advance on Moscow. Here Downing has the German High Command continue the push on Moscow and takes things from there.

I'm only a couple of chapters into the book, but am enjoying it. I'm not sure how much alt-history gaming potential there is, after all a battle between forces German and Soviet in 1942 will look the same whether that is to the east or west of Moscow, but it is proving a good read.

Friday 16 January 2015

The Grasshopper Lies Heavy...

One of my favourite books when I was a teenager was Phillip K. Dick's The Man in the High Castle. More than the story itself I was fascinated by the alt-history timeline and the word dominated by the victorious Axis powers. I haven't read it in years and was surprised yesterday to evening to see that Amazon have produced a pilot episode of a series based on the book and that it can be seen on Prime Instant Video.

Produced by Ridley Scott and written by Frank Spotniz it is a really enjoyable hour of television and I hope that Amazon pick it up for a series. The visuals are great, and the background full of hints of a fascinating layered alt-history/SF storyline. If you get the chance to watch it, do so, then go and tell Amazon to hurry up and commission a full season!

Thursday 15 January 2015

Earth Must Come First!

Last year I started reading James S A Corey's Expanse SF series, now having read the first three books and enjoyed doing so. As I said so at the time that SyFy were planning a TV series based on them and they have now released their first trailer for it.

Not quite sure they have the look of the low grav Belters right, but it looks promising and if it is as good as the books, it should be well worth watching...

Wednesday 14 January 2015

Rogue Trooper: Nort Infantry II

Here is the second squad of Mongoose Nort Infantry...

The only difference to the first squad is that I snipped off the squad leader's pointing arm and repositioned it down by his side.

Looking forward to the Souther infantry now, hopefully they won't be too long in ariving...

Painting Target: 16/1000

Tuesday 13 January 2015

Rogue Trooper: Nort Infantry I

I finished the first squad of Nort Infantry this lunchtime. These are the new Mongoose miniatures for their Rogue Trooper game, part of a much delayed Kickstarter. Though they took a long time to get here, they are very nice figures.

The uniform is slightly different than the one Nort released many moons ago with Rogue and a Souther, the most noticeable difference being the knee length not thigh length boots.

Despite this I stuck to the same "Soviet" style paintjob, block painting, dipping, then painting a highlight top layer. They won't win any prizes, but they will look ok on the tabletop.

Lighting permitting I hope to finish the second squad later today.

Painting Target: 8/1000

Monday 12 January 2015

Rogue Trooper: Nort to Post...

Hurrah! I managed to get some painting done at lunchtime and I was hoping that I might grab some time in the afternoon to finish the first of my two Nort infantry squads for Rogue Trooper. Unfortunately after almost a week of great sunny weather, today was as dark as sin and by 2pm it was almost pitch black outside - so much for natural painting light!

I only have the bases to do and the lenses on their masks so hopefully tomorrow should see the first finished figures of 2015! In the meantime I grabbed this image of a green of one of the forthcoming Souther troopers, which hopefully Mongoose will be releasing soon...

This Kickstarter has been bedeviled with delays and problems, but is slowly getting there. Matt Sprange has posted that due to the delays we'll be getting some freebies figures that didn't get unlocked during the campaign, which is cool. Hopefully 2015 is the year of the Rogue!

Sunday 11 January 2015


I watched the 2008 Russian biopic movie Admiral today, a somewhat embellished story of the life of Russian Admiral Alexander Kolchak, who during the Russian Civil War became supreme commander of the White forces.

Not Oscar material, but not too bad and slightly better than the usual Russian fare, the war scenes were somewhat limited (after a promising start) but by and large were well handled, so I snapped a few screen grabs.

If you are interested in the Russian Civil War it is worth watching, but if not probably less so...

Saturday 10 January 2015

Retail Therapy

Well my nose has stopped running like a leaky tap thanks to all your sage advice that buying wargames products helps make you better! 44 plastic Confederate infantry for under £20 on eBay seemed good value to me!

I still feel a bit grotty and a bad cough so will have to buy something else tomorrow to help the recovery! :-)

Friday 9 January 2015

Manthrax Contagion Alert!

Unfortunately the Man Flu has developed into a full blow case of Manthrax! :-(

Thursday 8 January 2015

Bargain Tales of Derring-Do!

Still coughing and spluttering here and facing a tedious journey to Birmingham tomorrow, I felt in need of a literary pick me up. Not in the mood for anything too highbrow I discovered that Wildside Press' Megapack e-book series now includes two volumes of G.A. Henty novels.

A Victorian author, Henty wrote many historical adventure books from ancient times through to Victorian. A bit "Boys Own" I suppose but I enjoyed Death in the Snow about the Retreat from Moscow in 1812 when I read it a year back and 40 novels for a quid was too good a bargain to pass up.

I also picked up (for 39p) the Talbot Mundy Megapack, an author I am not familiar with, but the reviews were good and with stories set in the Khyber Pass, it had to be worth a try.

Hopefully this will keep me entertained on the train tomorrow - and no doubt inspire me to start even more projects that won't get finished!

The Megapack series covers a whole range of genres (SF, Western, Adventure, Detective etc) and it is worth having a look at. Just stick megapack in the search facility of the Kindle Store and see...

Wednesday 7 January 2015

War Against The Machines (and Man Flu)

It seemed rather ironic to switch on my Macbook this morning to read Jim at Jim's Wargame's Bench is suffering from Man Flu as I coughed, spluttered and dosed myself up with Lemsip. This came out of left field as I felt right as rain when I went to bed last night.

However the internet made me feel a little better when I read that Warlord will be distributing Alessio Cavatore's Terminator Genisys Miniatures Game. I've wanted to get some 'War Against The Machines' gaming done for a while and have some Skynet forces already painted. Roll on the summer...

Tuesday 6 January 2015

These Colours Don't Run!

Thanks to everyone who left feedback on the snowboard, it certainly has given me food for thought. Today was another of those irritating 'real life got in the way' days spending most of my time on train journeys to and from a short meeting in London (no, some people have not heard of phones or video conferencing).

However, this did leave me some time to surf the net and find that Solway Crafts and Miniatures (the VBCW people) produce a very nice looking range of ACW flags. I had planned to use the ones that come with the Perry boxes and dirty/distress any obviously duplicated regiment identification, but I have been taken by some of the interesting Confederate designs that Solway produce.

This has led to a problem in that I like more of the designs than I have regiments, but that is easily resolved by ordering some more boxes I suppose! :-)

Monday 5 January 2015

(S)No(w) Success

I decided to try my idea of spraying a TSS terrain tile with white paint to create a snowy tile. The result wasn't that successful and currently looks like some lightly snow swept tundra rather than frozen Finland.

This may however be due to the low amount of paint pigment in the white spray. I used a bit of the Army Painter Blue first off in some irregular patterns which worked nicely, but the GW White I had to hand seemed very thin (something IIRC I have noted when undercoating).

I am now in two minds whether to find and use a more pigment heavy white or try flocking the tile...

Sunday 4 January 2015


Today saw us ship son and heir back off to uni, so I didn't manage to get anything hobby orientated done. Before he went Saul released a free download of a new song called 1914, which if you like a bit of rock can be found here. As you might guess from the title, it is about WW1.

Hopefully I can get some paint on  a brush tomorrow...

Saturday 3 January 2015

TSS Come Good...

You may remember back in November I cheered myself up by buying some terrain tiles in the TSS 15% Off Sale. They arrived soon after but unfortunately one of the sand tiles had been packed under some smaller green ones and had a nice green T-mark on it where flock had fallen between the gaps. I thought this would be an easy job just brushing the green off, but it had stained the sand and left a distinctive T.

I dropped TSS an email and waited... I dropped TSS and email via their website and waited... I dropped TSS another email and waited... In the end I lodged a PayPal dispute and... they got in touch immediately. Yesterday a big box turned up, not only with a replacement tile but two extra, which was very kind of them.

With the Winter War planned for this year and a wish to do some other snowy games in the future I had been pondering terrain tiles and am wondering whether to take the marked tile outside for a light spray with some white paint to see what the end effect is...

Friday 2 January 2015

The Hobbit - One Outta Three Ain't Bad!

Meat Loaf may have sung "Two Outta Three Ain't Bad", sadly Peter Jackson didn't manage that. I went to see The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and was hopeful given the fact that the second movie was better than the first, surely Jackson couldn't cock up a huge battle?

To be fair there are some really good bits, Martin Freeman as Bilbo and Richard Armitage as Thorin are excellent and it is a shame that they don't get more screen time, especially Freeman who the film is supposed to be about!

What spoilt it for me was Legolas, not his unnecessary inclusion, but the way the CGI version of the character scoots around the battle scenes in absurd ridiculous ways that reminded me of Spiderman without the webshooter! I physically cringed on two occasions!

It was this (and the irritating Alfred character from Laketown) that made me click what Jackson had done wrong. Tolkien wrote his stories as historical events in a mythical land and whilst they are fantasy, they don't have characters acting like super-heroes doing comic book things. Looking at how HBO have filmed Game of Thrones, despite the fantastic elements such as the dragons and white walkers, they treat it like a historical drama.

Jackson has elements of this, the survivors from Laketown scene is potentially powerful drama but he ruins it with cheap comedy moments. The fall of Thorin to dragon-gold sickness is excellently portrayed by Armitage, but there is not enough of this. The fighting in Dale and the heroic choice of the Laketown women to die with the men is ruined by the Monty Python act by Alfred...

Some people will like it, like the jokes, like Legolas catching rides with bats and running up crumbling masonry but I didn't. Tolkien should best be treated as drama and not popcorn action mixed with sub-Python comedy...

Thursday 1 January 2015

The Thousand Figure Challenge 2015...

Happy 2015 everybody! Keeping the resolution simple again this year and going for the 1000 figures painted in a year target again. It maybe ambitious, possibly insane, but Lead Mountain needs to be tackled!

One change from last year may well be the re-introduction of project months from years gone by, these were quite effective in getting things done. Big targets this year will include the Spartan army to fight my Athenians, the Winter War when my Baker Company Kickstarter turns up, a return to Yom Kippur and the recently started ACW project. Smaller projects may well include the Dux Bellorum Saxon army, some Lion Rampant retinues and the 54mm Firefight figures.

There will be other stuff, but the aim is to be more focused in 2015, whilst keeping up the output. Should be fun...