Wednesday, 18 July 2018

The Spider is Back!

Dead Man's Hand last night and as usual I had no time to prepare a scenario so asked for someone else to do the work, Julian and Ryan between them brought one to the table. The town was full of people, as it would be, but hiding among them were criminals, so each of us had to confront a civvy and a die roll decided whether they were bad or good, if the former they fought back and if the latter they had to be escorted to a safe place. At the end of the game you got to throw a D6 for each person you had 'rescued' or captured and that was your score for the game, if it was a high falutin' character you got to throw two dice. It was different.

We were introducing Mike, who has never played a wargame in his life and is building up Victrix Napoleonics, Victrix is based in Kendal and Mike lives in Kendal hence his choice, I mentioned that he could get Black Powder rules for free from Warlord and it would be worth having a look at them.

I took 'El Arana' and his less than terrifying gang despite them letting me down time after time, I think he got the name from a Cornflakes packet. Anyway as we all set our sights on the nearest civilians it was clear that the Mexicans did not have as many choices as the other gangs, Julian and Simon seemed to be picking up most of them. I decided therefore to foil Julian and sent my companeros to pick a fight. Mike the newcomer confronted a figure in the square (with his hands tied, a hanging victim press ganged into use as a civvy) only for this superman to head butt his man to death, a hard intro to the joys of skirmish gaming, it did give us a laugh though.

Antonio 'The Roofman' earns his peso's.
Get Julian!

The Spider threw his men at Julian while maintaining command from a safe distance, maybe this is where I had been going wrong, usually he led from the front. Fat Pedro chased a wounded guy into a nearby saloon, kicking the door down and firing off two barrels at point blank from his shotgun only for the lead to hit the ceiling, his mate Skinny Luis did the same outside, there was something wrong with our shotguns today.

Fat Pedro and Skinny Luis run out of ammo.
 With all the civilians accounted for, apart from the head butter who had floored another of Mike's men, we realised that with all the targets in custody there was no incentive to fight the other gangs, my Mexicans aside who were simply out for kills, so that needs looking at. Lead now flew as the square turned into a free for all as time ticked away. The Spider even managed a kill as he finished off one of Ryan's men lying wounded in the street, 'El Arana' was back!

So there we go, we had a great laugh with insults being thrown back and forth, my Mexicans being the butt of several, highlights were Mike's fights with the guy with two hands tied behind his back and my useless shotguns, despite my aggressive tactics I still had four men left at the end. Oh, and who won, well I didn't only having 'rescued' two civvies, I am unsure who won in the end, Julian, Simon and Mike all had a bunch of people in tow, but I felt vindicated, more Mexicans coming at some point.

Monday, 16 July 2018

D i s a s t e r !

I settled down on Saturday morning to tidy up some loose ends re map projects, I managed one then got distracted by a fly, I can't concentrate with constant buzzing so gave it a dose of spray. This went over the desk so I picked up my stylus to give it a quick wipe and the thing came apart in my hand while little bits of circuit board flew like shrapnel. Revenge of the Flies, yeah, been there, but really just me being clumsy and Wacom not putting a thread on the pen rather than a smooth pull.

Horrified I went online to see if I could get a new pen tout suite, no one would deliver on a Sunday, so I settled for 'next day' which meant Monday, today, my tracking email however says it will be delivered before 9pm tonight, hardly next day in my mind. Funnily enough the ParcelFarce man just pulled up and had a small pen sized box in his hand, my spirits soared, only to be dashed as it is not for me, the Gods can be cruel. I am back to finger crossing, I have a lot of work on and don't want to waste a day.

I have managed to get back to some painting over the weekend due to the missus being away and no pen, His Majesty's Fifth of Foot are therefore coming along just fine and I suspect I may finish them this week, or at least get them to the basing stage. I am also learning how to use my wet palette properly, if you rub too long at the same spot you can wear away the paper and get through to the sponge underneath so it pays to move the paint around or be more gentle perhaps. I also may have put too much water in as when I went back to the palette after several hours the paint was a bit too runny having absorbed a lot of liquid. I find it very good for when you want to mix paints for a certain colour. Overall very pleased with it.

Dead Man's Hand tomorrow at the club and I am expecting a visit from WAC player Mike Jordan at the weekend for a feast of Ancient gaming, Mike has a large Early Imperial Roman army and I thought I would give it a game with each of my 'Ancient' armies, the Patricians, EIR and Seleucids, they will be larger games than normal at 3,500 points each.

Friday, 13 July 2018


I have not managed to pick up a paint brush for a couple of weeks now, mainly due to the hot weather and the 'stuff it' attitude it can lead to, but I intend to do a couple of hours tonight, I am home alone, again, as my missus does a 500 mile round trip for a night's babysitting, yes, I know it is mad.

Thank god I can now switch the TV on again without finding out the News has been delayed or moved, I still have to dodge Wimbledon but I can live with that. I opened the PO on Wednesday morning ready to empathise with any crestfallen England supporters who wandered in only to find that the first three men I asked, like me, were not interested in football and had not watched the game! Neither yesterday nor today has anyone mentioned it, no glum faces, no hint of national disaster, no tantrums, nothing, there's hope for us yet.

I am lost again with things to entertain me on the magic lantern, I have binged on the shows I enjoyed and tried several new ones. I am catching up with an old series while I paint, very loosely based on the Salem witch trials, surprisingly it is OK, good enough to paint by anyway. I also took on 'Happy' a weird series about an alcoholic ex-cop, they are always ex-cops, who is visited by a little girl's imaginary friend, a blue unicorn, wait don't go! Very brutal and very surreal but surprisingly I enjoyed it. Now here comes a real recommendation, GLOW, the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a take on something which happened back in the '80's, it is heading for the 'next big thing' on TV, mark my words. It is sharp, well acted and non PC, it's on Netflix.

The only movie I have caught up with has been Downsizing, it had promise but went right off the radar, now I know why, it is desperate. The premise is that to save the planet you can volunteer to be reduced to about four inches tall then your money lasts longer and you save the eco system etc. But would you like to spend your life with the sort of people who would do that to save trees, no, I didn't think so. There really is no point to the story and it also doesn't make any sense, before I reached for the remote I hoped someone would step on all the little people. No wonder Matt Damon goes through the whole movie with a sour face, I would have squashed him myself to put him out of his misery.

As well as my normal mapping projects, back to WWI after some 18th and 17th C jobs, I have been working with Simon Miller of 'To The Strongest' fame on a scenario for his new ECW rules, Simon has a lot of excellent ideas to support his rule sets and I hope to play a small part in them.

I am not going to get that two hours tonight, I have faffed about now for a couple of hours and am losing the will to start, maybe an hour......

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Another clammy club night yesterday, Bolt Action this week, something nice and simple. Only a token force at the club, four guys with Bloodbowl games and Simon and I playing with real soldiers although I will admit the Bloodbowl looks like fun, albeit serious fun, with some very respectable paint jobs.

Anyway, back to wargaming, I asked Simon to have a go at a scenario I have played before, a defended hilltop with hasty defences, it turned out alright before so I hoped it would do again. We scrounged about for suitable terrain and tried to remember it was somewhere in Russia so no buildings or other signs of civilisation as the Soviets counterattacked. I put two regular squads up gunned with some assault rifles in the trenches along with my sniper and commander, off table were three Ostruppen squads, rubbish troops but I wanted to outnumber Simon. I don't normally take a sniper as they annoy the hell out of me in this game but I was expecting Simon to have one, but he didn't, there also was no sign of his favourite flamethrower either, but he did have four large squads, one of green troops and his KV1, I took a Marder to sort that out along with panzerfausts.

I was hit pretty badly during the preparatory bombardment and went Down to clear the pins, I should have simply rallied, this gave Simon time to approach the hill. I rolled for the Ostruppen in turn two but only one of them turned up, I had an idea to conceal this squad behind a hill so that I could flank the KV if and when it moved on my left, I left the Marder in reserve. I lost my sniper to a Russian assault but things began to go splendidly as my defenders hit back, the Russian forces were seriously depleted things were looking good, but I still had one Ostruppen refusing to come to the party. I brought the Marder on as Simon advanced his tank, bang, a hit, but the crew frowned as they saw their shot ricochet off the steel monster.

There was further fanatical fighting on the hill and I now took my ambushers forward and took a flank shot with a panzerfaust, fizzzzzzzz, nothing, the green troops now took fire and were destroyed by the Soviet tank's protecting squad along with its cheeky rear machine gun. Simon's luck had changed and it was the Germans who were now on the back foot. At last my remaining Ostruppen turned up but did not have the legs to make the hill and win me a point, and just when I needed him my officer and his mate were wiped out. The Marder took several more shots at the KV and missed as did another panzerfaust, all these shots rolled a one.

At the end Simon had two more points than me if I remember correctly, it had looked so good half way through, but I didn't do so well in the second half and the order dice favoured the Russians for the last couple of turns, the rest is history. Again the scenario played well, a real bloody fight for both sides, I took a chance with the Ostruppen and it didn't work, they were too easily killed off by return fire and their morale was terrible, hence one unit remaining off for four turns, perhaps I should have put them in the trenches and brought the Regulars on as reinforcements, but them they did sterling service in the trenches.

So there we go, I really should play more or at least remember to bring my order dice and my index for the next game, grrrr. I apologise for the poor photographs, my new phone is not as forgiving as my iPad, which I shall return to at once.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

An Unexpected Parcel

Ever since I got back from Tankfest I have been playing catch up, I have two projects 99% complete but am waiting for the authors to confirm the last maps are fine and we are good to go. I have a third which is 80% done and again am waiting for the last map, I don't like waiting, my store of patience ran out a long time ago, but hey I have plenty of other maps to draw. My missus very kindly took over my days in the PO this week in order to let me get on.

With the weekend away and so much to do I decided to give the club a miss this week so no battle reports. The missus shouted up yesterday that the Postie had just delivered a parcel for me, I was a bit unsure as I have not ordered anything for a couple of weeks now, but she was adamant and it was a large box, sure enough there it was. From Celestial Games, not a name familiar with me so I was still none the wiser, I then opened it up and SURPRISE, it was my second Kickstarter, the long awaited wet palette, I still await the first.

It is a neat item and a perfect size for my desk, it also comes with a magnetic, I don't know, normal palette with five paint holders on it, perfect for washes. I managed to get some painting done last night at last after a long break and the palette works perfectly, I opened it up a short time ago and the three colours I was mixing last night are still wet, result.

I finished my second SYW unit, a French battalion from the Regiment Aquitaine, well over a week ago but have not managed to get around to putting up a picture, so here it is. I promptly ordered up the flags for my next four regiments, no patience you see, the British 5th Foot and 2nd Battalion 3rd Foot Guards (Scots) along with Gardes Lorraine and Regiment Bretagne for the French. I only have the figures for the 5th which I am painting now.

Aventine have the first of their new Successor cataphracts out this month, beautiful figures but I am holding off for the Agema cataphracts and Companions, although I was sorely tempted to get some. I figure that by the time the 5th are done I might be right on time for those last two cavalry units for my Seleucids. I might also have some cash by then to buy them.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Tankfest 2018

Got to Graham's on time last Friday, met Stewart on the way outside Euston Station, so after a quick beer we set off for Poole, needless to say the roads were busy, what a surprise. I visited Poole on several occasions when guarding the country from the Red Bear, and it still looks like a good run ashore. That evening we had a dreadful experience at the Fort Raj restaurant despite it being lauded on TripAdvisor, number one of Dad's Dinner Disasters.

We got up early on the Saturday, had breakfast and took a taxi, Graham wasn't keen to park Blue Thunder (new car) in a field and we expected to have a couple of beers at some point, with the meter hitting £40 we realised we had made a mistake. Anyway we arrived to join a rather large queue, safeguarded by armed Police! The queue went down fairly quickly but would have went quicker if there had been a separate entrance for people not carrying bags containing dangerous bottles of water and sandwiches. After all anyone could see that the make up of the crowd was 100% wargamers/tank nerds, myself included.

There were a few tanks dotted around the entrance and once in we passed through a large food and drinks area which also included stalls from charities, model shops and military clothing sellers along with others with links to militaria and tanks etc. There was another such area at the far end of the complex beyond the arena. I got a programme which included a time table for both Saturday and Sunday, which turned out to be the same for the arena, there were other things going on, a very large and popular games area courtesy of World of Tanks who were the sponsers for the event. There was also a programme of Meet and Greets where Vloggers held court for an hour or so, I was ridiculed as a fanboy by my sons for pointing out that Lindybeige was in the house, he passed me at one point. I did go along to see him on the Sunday but it really was simply a meet and greet and not Lindy regaling us with his military knowledge, I had nothing to ask him so I returned to the arena, to more barbs from the boys. We stayed watching tanks roll around the arena until half way through the afternoon in blazing heat, we then took some time to look around the periphery at what was on offer and eventually made our way to a taxi stand and back to the hotel, Graham bit the bullet for that one.

The meal on the Saturday night also turned out to be another failure, another superb restaurant which wasn't, number two of Dad's Dinner Disasters, we did however have a stroll along the seafront and a few beers while watching idiots jumping into the briny to impress their girlfriends by drowning while drunk.

Blue Thunder made it to Tankfest on the Sunday while our wallets heaved a sigh of relief. We decided we would take in the main museum, the conservation area and the tank park and then catch up with what we had missed the previous afternoon. The museum is first class, it has all sorts of tanks in it, the conservation area was jam packed with vehicles waiting for some TLC and the vehicle park, with the tanks which were being driven around the arena, was also a great visit. We caught up with the arena programme in the afternoon and decided not to wait for the finale which included a 'battle' as the earlier battle was not impressive and we had seen all the tanks involved.

Anything bad, not really, I thought the food and drink was very expensive and the quality differed from stall to stall, some first class others bog standard. There was supposed to be 20,000 visitors, I am not sure whether this was over the weekend or for the Saturday only, despite there being so many people I can't say we suffered from overcrowding, we had good views of the arena on both days and I managed to examine everything I wanted to see without any pushing and shoving. And despite my past experiences the portable loos remained clean all weekend.

So, a great Father's Day present from Stewart and a great weekend for the three of us despite driving back hungry. And I still have Graham's present to go, lucky man.

A quick word about the above models from Armortek, these were just superb, there were painted versions running around a small track, over bridges and raised terrain, but the shiny one's had a charm all of their own. You buy the shell then add what you want, this normally consists of the mechanical package which has the engine and gun works or/and the digital package with the sounds and other stuff. The price of course is eye watering at several thousand pounds for the finished item but they do look wonderful. Armortek was mostly German vehicles although they had British guns and the Rolls Royce armoured car, there was one more model company there, from the Far East, and they had a more diverse collection with British and Russian tanks. Gorgeous.

Thursday, 28 June 2018

Making a Saga out of it.

OK, blistering hot on Tuesday night and only eight of us braved the heat to get to the club, Simon was introducing me to Saga, I had played once before with the 'big' Saga armies but this time it was straight out of the box vanilla. Simon had a Viking army and I put together an Anglo-Dane force from my Saxons, Vikings are an army like the Normans which I just wouldn't build, I do like the idea of the Anglo-Danes, a proper army having settled in nice and comfortable in this green and pleasant land.

Not a lot to the game, we both built a six point force which gave me three Hearthguard, two Warriors and a Levy along with my Warlord, out of the corner of my eye I watched Simon put units together info larger 'mobs' so I did the same with two of the Hearthguard. I quickly noticed he did not go for a Levy. We played a simple meeting engagement so that I could get a taste of the rules etc. As we deployed I had an idea to rush his left flank while holding off with my left, I managed fairly well and bounced back a group of Warriors with mine, my Hearthguard attacked as well and wiped out their foes however the enemy Warlord managed to wipe out mine in return, a real shame. My own leader now took on the enemy commander and they managed to kill each other, I threw some dreadful saving dice, one save would have kept my guy in the fight, but..

As Simon pulled his last Hearthguard unit over to join in the melee on his left I pounced on his right, I wiped out some Warriors but was left with one man, my Levy had managed to launch some javelins and got one kill throughout the game. We eventually got down to lone fighters and a full, but cautious Levy before we called a halt. The game had actually ended when the two leaders dropped but we fought on rather than start again.

What did I think, well, I think it is a boardgame with figures, I thought it was a wargame but there is no morale, I knocked back several units but it had no effect on them, I also thought it a bit strange that one unit can only fight one other unit, unless you throw in the Warlord, so you cannot gang up on anyone with a clever piece of maneuvering. It is very bloody and quick especially if you know how to use the Battleboard which gives you abilities to help you win a fight or disrupt the enemy. This is the crux of the game, if you know your Battleboard you can cause havoc to the enemy. I enjoyed the game for what it was and it was a nice change and perfect for a club night, I would certainly play again and it was good of Simon to take the time to bring it along and help me through it, it is not a complicated game but you would have to play a lot to gain the best from the subtleties. Simon is building up some 'big' Saga Samurai forces, I look forward to that.

Very busy with maps at the moment, along with Leipzig and a military history of the 20th Century I have completed Maharatta Wars, Western and Italian Fronts for WWI, Ottoman and Muscovite Wars and now Wars against the Dutch, much of this is for Helion's Century of the Soldier series which is very popular at the moment with new material coming out of Europe and Russia.

I am away from tomorrow at Tankfest, the annual Tank Museum bash at Bovington, myself and my two sons are going, we found out too late that there is a Rick Stein's within shooting distance but we noticed too late to get a booking for Saturday night. No matter, I am looking forward to the weekend and have a hat and suncream, and I am taking train south this weekend after my eight hour nightmare last Friday on Britain's roads or lack of them.

I have another SYW unit complete, but I have no time to show you just now, I'll put it up when I get back.

Thursday, 21 June 2018

Come Fly With Me

A nice balmy night in Lancaster this Tuesday, ok, not balmy, cool with a hint of rain, but better than normal. I took my Wings of War stuff and would work something out depending on how many players I got. This week everyone had something on so it was just myself and Simon, I went for an artillery spotting scenario, a two seater observation aircraft has to stay over a target until the artillery fire destroys it.

The Germans were the 'defenders' so they had a two seat Rumpler with two Pfalz III's from Jasta 15 and a stray Albatros DIII from Jasta 27 for protection, the latter flown by a young, slim, Herman Goering. I went all Royal Naval Air Service and took some earlier aircraft which don't get out of the box very often, so I had two Sopwith Pup's from RNAS 3 and two Sopwith Triplanes from RNAS 10. I thought four scouts vs three was fair but I didn't take into account the superior firepower of the German fighters with two machine guns to the British one.

Looking good, for now.

My target.
My little squad flew into battle in a nice formation and at first headed for a confrontation with the Rumpler's escort, as we flew past each other my aircraft took extensive damage while dealing out very little, one cause of this was that I had not broken up my formation and most of my planes spent their time trying to miss ramming each other. There followed a frenetic dog fight which I began to lose, one Pup in particular took a heavy pounding, I now thought I had better get on to the spotter who had made a complete run on the target but the artillery had not yet hit. At this point I lost a triplane to a catastrophic hit and it blew up and spiralled earthwards.

They even managed to put this fire out.

I had now managed to chase the Rumpler away from the target and got some hits on it, I thought they were good hits but I think Simon was playing me by looking worried and shaking his head, needless to say the Rumpler got back on station. Things were looking very dodgy as I lost the two Pup's, one had managed to stay in the air by sheer willpower it seemed. I got my last triplane lined up on the Rumpler but it was in vain as he too fell to the ground with several German scouts on his tail.

Last gasp.

So, a nice leisurely game and very one sided, not all the fault of the poor British aircraft, my flying was dismal and I kept having to dodge my own aircraft and the odd Hun rather than shoot. I should have broken my formation sooner and spread over the battlefield forcing Simon to make choices on who to follow, but I didn't, overwhelming win for the Boche.

Elsewhere we had Star Wars Legion, two Bloodbowl games and a large Dark Age Saga game which looked very nice, as did the Star Wars game. I think it is Bolt Action next week.

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

The Fringe of the Seven Years War.

In keeping with my new project last night's club game was a skirmish from the French and Indian War which kicked off the Seven Years War or World War Zero as some historians are wont to call the conflicts. I know it involved battles from Canada to India but as the main protagonists in these areas were the British and French I think calling it a World War is stretching it a bit. No matter, on with the tale. I was the British commander, sans Jocks for a change, and Ryan was the French, the set up was a simple meeting engagement as both sides marched on a large farm, one to rescue the civilians and the other to capture or kill them, the civvies were British.

Rob was umpiring and as usual with Rob nothing was straightforward, we took it in turns to say where our troops were arriving and then had a dice off, if I won the troops duly turned up, if I lost my opponent got to deploy them a distance away, the length of which was decided by how much I had lost the die roll. I managed to put Ryan's Indians and Marines in a far corner deep in the woods while he managed to put my Provincials behind a massive hill.

My brave boys.

My plan was to march forward and hopefully destroy or chase away the nearest French units before the others cut their way through the forest. I did manage a few casualties but the cards seemed to favour the Frenchies in the first few turns and I asked Rob if he had forgotten to put the British cards in the pack. I also fell victim to some excellent die rolling by Ryan, I had got my regular battalion up through the cornfield and was hopefully about to send a crashing volley into the enemy only to have the unit decimated before it could level a musket. My own Irregulars popped out and in at the edge of the forest firing and withdrawing without having any effect on the enemy.

The civvies, nice figures, I'll need some of them.
Marines and the evil Indians.

My Provincials meanwhile had scrambled up the hill and slowly advanced along the rocky ground, this had given the Indians time to get within charge range and the savages let out bloodcurdling yells and threw themselves into the terrified Americans. With thirteen against seven I was confident of victory, by the time both sides withdrew I had two men standing and only the annoying Indian chief was left, he had a name which was unpronounceable by educated people but which Ryan kept roaring in triumph as he cut down my men. With my Regulars down to 50% and my Provincials all but gone (his Marines finished off the gallant survivors in the next turn) it looked like a French victory.

The French Regulars enjoy their moment, soon to end.

Buoyed up by his success Ryan now abandoned caution to the wind and advanced his own Regulars to mop up, this did not happen and they found themselves under intense fire from my remaining troops and were cut down to a man. I now turned my attention to a small unit of Irregulars which had also come back into the fray and the overpowering amount of fire they received also took them out of the game. During all this I had sent the civilians away from the French advance into the nearby cornfield and the rear of my line, Rob asked for another dice off and my heart sank, sure enough I lost and up popped a small unit of French Irregulars who had presumably outflanked me, right in the path of the civilians, thankfully only one of the farmers fell. With the main French force now destroyed and their Marines having a slow time of it on the crag I turned all my remaining forces on the enemy to my rear safely ignoring the rest. A quick volley and off they ran. A British victory.

They're behind us!

A small but excellent game, perfect for a club night with only two players. Up until halfway through it looked like an easy French victory despite half their men being a long way from the action, every time I tried to stand my ground the French Regulars shot me down, only some good morale throws saved me. My luck changed in the second half, this along with the rash advance of the Frenchies into the open swung the battle my way. Elsewhere we had a 17thC RPG and a Zombicide game, Roger has all the Zombicide add on's and extras, a huge amount of games, all beautifully produced with gorgeous figures, I don't mind it and have a box myself but prefer 'normal' zombies, daft eh?