Thursday 31 December 2015

God Bless Ye Merry Gentlemen

I have managed to finish some figures in the last couple of days, four more Roman slingers have been recruited to the Twelfth and I have finished the Strategy Intervention Point bunch of monks for the Romano-British army. These were nice chunky figures but the molds have seen better days, especially around the faces, as you can see I think they were modelled on Quasimodo. The have black tunics as they are Benedictine's, one of the first orders to come to Britain. As you can see they are prepared to defend themselves while bringing the word of the Lord and very happy to drink to his health.

I received my Saxon Miniatures yesterday and very nice they are too, however I forgot that I would have to get shield transfers and bases, so they too have been ordered, it never stops. I didn't manage to finish the manuballistae so it will be next week before they are ready, next up after that is the Saxon rally point before I start on the new figures.

The new year festivities of course will bring everything to a halt, now this is where I say Bah Humbug to the whole deal, despite my nationality I do not enjoy new year, never have, the forced jollity with the promise that everything is going to change on that stroke of midnight is all too depressing. I much prefer Christmas.

However wherever you are and whatever you think, I do hope 2016 is a good year for you, I hope it is for us.

Wednesday 30 December 2015

Christmas 2015

I'm back, I was back on Monday evening but it has taken until now to feel 'embedded' once again in the bosom of my home and comfort zone. Never mind that what did you get? My sons treated me and us to some foodstuffs, a nice little box called a Ploughman's which contained pate, crackers and preserves and a large hamper which contains some lovely cheese, preserves, crackers and wine along with some other things, the grandchildren also contributed with little nick nacks. I was a happy bunny.

The wife and I decided not to give presents to each other this year, we are doing a lot to the house and will have more expense to equip the new kitchen as obviously nothing from the old one will work in the new one or at least that is the information which is coming my way. Not only that if we want or need something we usually just buy it.

 I did however decide to buy her a new iPad Mini as the one she has is old, a bit slow and becoming a tad heavy for her wrists, I wanted it to be a surprise and ordered it after she had left for London. To my chagrin I then began to receive emails from Apple which threatened to ruin the surprise and may compromise my massive collection of ensuing brownie points. My wife of course could access our email from down south. I had to check my emails more than usual and delete anything from Apple: thanks for buying Apple, thanks for buying iPad Mini, it will be delivered on, it is on its way, did you like it, customer review, book a session etc. I eventually emailed back and told them to STOP!

I managed to keep the secret and she was delighted, so delighted I find the old one popped on my bedside table now as it has suddenly become 'mine'.

Despite being urged since around the end of September to buy things for Christmas it didn't seem like Christmas to me, my missus wrote the cards and did all our shopping online, we didn't even need to buy food as we were away. I could look at the massive crowd of people in the local supermarket with incredulity, I even asked the check out girl if I had missed the news about the food shortages. One day, shops are shut for one day and you would think the Zombie Apocalypse was around the corner.

Christmas did grab me in the end, I arrived at my sons and had a great time, we Skyped the rest of the family and wished them well and listened to the seemingly endless list of toys etc. which brought such great joy to our grandchildren. Santa had been exceedingly generous.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Christmas at the Club

Club night once again, and although I would quite happily have stayed in and put my feet up I decided to make an effort as my day had been fairly easy compared to yesterday, the tradition at Lancaster is to put on a Christmas game in which everyone is involved. Last years was a Steampunk game which was pre blog so I did not write about it. This year it would be fantasy with Dragon Rampant rules, these have been extrapolated from the popular Lion Rampant rules but with fantasy elements and no doubt will prove just as popular, but maybe not with Frostgrave ruling the roost at the moment.
Matt explains the game to a mesmerised audience.
Matt had organised the game and done a splendid job, explaining the rules and providing cheat sheets etc. he also volunteered himself as umpire to ensure a seamless game, a duty he performed well. We had four 'teams' two good and two evil, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs and Goblins (me, Andrew and Alfred) and the object was to collect as much treasure as possible in the time allowed. Andy turned up with a large tub of Roses chocolates which were suborned for treasure, 24 sweeties being placed on the large table. We had four units for each faction and three players per faction and took turns being the 'boss'.

My Wolf Riders, beautiful figures and paint job.

I started for the Goblins and did not make my activation, which meant no Goblin units could move, this happened for four turns, nearly everyone else was able to move, apart from the Elf leader who would spend most of the game in the same spot until Matt reduced his activation roll to give him a part in the game. When we did move we had a good run, I led my Wolf Riders to pick up two sweets and moved on a third, but on the way I was attacked by an Elf warband, I beat these off and was then attacked by a big tree, I beat this character off as well but eventually lost my courage roll which meant I was removed from the game. I actually ate one sweet too quickly and had to replace it, I was able to choose another from the box rather than put it half eaten on the table to the relief of all present.

We Goblins were the worst bunch on the table, we lost three of our four units and were left at the end with one bunch of archers and one treasure, the good guys won very convincingly despite a heroic effort by the Orcs who narrowly missed putting the Dwarves out of action. So there we are, the end of another year and another new game, but not one I would play again if I could help it, the activation rule where you cannot do anything if you fail your first activation roll is a nonsense in my book, the Elf leader spent most of the game doing absolutely nothing, what is the point of that? The rules aside it was a splendid evening and everyone got involved, just what you want for a Christmas game, well done Matt and everyone who turned up.

The Orcs and Dwarves clash.

We also had the club AGM before we got down to enjoying ourselves, I was amused that we decided to become an adult only club to avoid the red tape involved in having anyone under 18 come along, to keep within the law we have to have procedures in place where a 17 year old if not accompanied by a parent fills in a form nominating a club member as a chaperone. Not only that we have to do a 'risk assessment' on the club, which involves us all knowing the fire escapes in the case of an emergency and no doubt other stuff, it also came to our notice that several of the guys who had put on a show at Leeds Armouries recently were asked if they had done a risk assessment before they set up.

What a palaver to play a wargame with like minded individuals, I helped run Carluke Wargames Club for nearly ten years without any of the above encroaching on our enjoyment of the hobby and most of the membership were under 18. For heaven's sake I  joined the Navy at 15 and they were prepared to pit me against the Soviet Red Banner Fleet out of Murmansk without a risk assessment or a chaperone!

That is it for 2015, I head south on Thursday for the festive season and will not be back at the club until 5th January when I shall get on with that Sudan Game I missed turning 63. Simon very kindly gave me a Christmas present which was a nice surprise, I give him a lift in to the club when I can, I was tempted to open it tonight and keep schtum but I decided not to. Musings will therefore be going dark until the New Year, so I wish all my readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Great News

I think the flood of Christmas postings has ended, yesterday nearly cracked me but I survived, today I have had a trickle of people in, although most of them turned up just as I decided I wanted a nice coffee. There is still time for those oblivious few who turn up with two or less days to the big day and say "Australia, will it get there for Christmas?" Yes I happily quip, if you can get to Heathrow and find a seat on the next jet out.
I have treated myself again and ordered up the extra Saxons and Romano-British to increase my warbands, I have went for the beautiful Saxon Miniatures and look forward to painting them, I have also had to order new bases, but this will now give me the choice of 24 or 27 man units, in WAC those extra dice can make a difference, well they can if you are not cursed with dodgy die rolls.

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What about the good news I hear you ask, well it is now official, Aventine are doing Byzantines next year, Keith has mentioned they will begin with early stuff and gradually bring in later types, there are a lot of Byzantine armies to choose from, Belisarian, Tagmatic, Thematic, Nikephorean to mention but a few. I have always wanted a Byzantine army as I enjoy Byzantine history, damn those 4th Crusaders, but have always followed another path, but it is time to scratch that particular itch as soon as the whole range is ready, which should just fit in with my plans for 2016.

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 I have been looking at figures for my son who is building a Western Frank army of around 800-900AD, it looks like 2016 for us is going to be the year of the cavalry, my Romans have a few, the Sassanids have a lot and the Franks too are mainly a cavalry army. If I was not already set on a path I might be tempted with the Franks myself, the Gripping beast figures are very nice and you can mix in Normans and Saxons. It will be interesting to see how we handle these horse soldiers.

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Sunday 20 December 2015

View From The Window

I am getting later and later recently, albeit I was up and peering through the window at about 3am this morning as the torrential rain battering the window had woken me up, not again I thought as I turned the alarm off and stumbled to the back door in order to check the drains were coping as a quick look out the front had revealed a veritable river flowing down Main Street. Now of course the sun is out, it is dry and only a mild wind stirs. The missus is down south baby-sitting and will stay there until I brave the seasonal traffic on Thursday driving down with the presents, so I have taken an uncharacteristicly long lie this morning, enjoyed a nice but small fry up, finished off the end of a rubbish movie (A Walk in the Woods) with a cup of tea, washed up and cleared the decks for a day of drawing and painting interspersed with a movie and the odd cider/wine.

I stuck the telly on last night as I prepared to sit and watch Strictly Come Dancing and caught the end of 'Celebrity' Pointless, the two guys in front of me had made it to the final and I had no idea who they were, one was obviously playing up for the audience and needed to control himself, but their celebrity status had escaped me, why were they famous? I find myself out of the loop with all these Celebrity specials on the box, out of ten people I might possibly guess at one or two, the rest will have had no impact on my life whatsoever and will remain unknown to me as soon as I reach for the remote.

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Having given the impression I hate Celebrity culture why was I watching Strictly after having dumped it several years ago, the above holds by the way half of them I hadn't a clue about. I have to be brutal here, I wanted to see Daniel O'Donnel crash and burn, the guy cannot sing, he has no rhythm yet has more money in his pocket than I have in the bank and swarms of old dears turning up at his house for a cup of tea, I can live without the latter part of this of course. I don't get it, I have seen pieces of wood with more character and pond life more interesting. But in waiting for Mr. O'Donnel to get knocked out I watched some fantastic dancers, well, about six of them really but they were so good they were a joy to watch. I did watch most of it on iPlayer so as to fast forward the more sugary elements. I doubt however I will be watching next year, Dan won't be asked back. I hate to say it but fair play to the man he did try, he was very trying, I just can't stop.

Before I leave this subject, why did the Prime Minister have the finalists over to No.10, doesn't he have more pressing matters to deal with?

On the back of all this why do people turn up to participate in a show or interview looking like they have just crawled out of bed and threw on yesterday's clothes and left the house without looking in the mirror or brushing their hair? I take it they inform the make up lady not to bother or do they turn up immaculate and tell her to give them some street cred by saying "make me look like a bag of s**t." The political version of this is of course the MP without a tie and his shirt sleeves rolled up. I hate taking the missus out for a nice meal where we both make an effort to look good, easier for her you might be thinking but I have my moments, and in comes half the membership of Shell Suits R Us, complete with matching fluorescent trainers coming soon to a table near you! And I am not talking MacD's or KFC here. Make an effort or put a mirror on your Christmas list, out with the grubby T-shirts, the skin tight leggings on tree trunk legs, the tent poncho's, the torn up jeans, the man bun and face fuzz, they are not cool.

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It came to light recently that in a local by-election here there were some 7,000 postal votes, yes 7,000, would you bet money that only one party benefited overwhelmingly from all these votes, I would. Now on a voting day in the UK you are usually never more than probably 20 minutes walk from a polling station which remains open enough hours to ensure anyone who can vote can make the effort. Postal voting has proved corrupt from its inception, and even though complaints are made every time it is used here nothing is done, mainly due to the fact that this happens only in certain parts of the country. Unless you are out of the country if you cannot spend 20-30 minutes of your time once every five years or so to ensure your vote counts you should not be able to pass it on by Royal Mail.

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Did you see that Coca Cola had to withdraw an ad they had on Mexican television where a bunch of smiling, beautiful, perfect white people took what can only be described as aid stuff along with a couple of lorries filled with Coca Cola to some rural Mexicans in order to empower them or something just as stupid. It was withdrawn as it was deemed demeaning to the Mexicans, I think it was just as demeaning to the rest of us, all these perfect smiley people who don't seem to have jobs, illnesses, mortgages or anything approaching real life issues all desperately trying to get us to drink their happy juice. Yuch.

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 Right that's it for 2015 from the View, I am away for Christmas as I said at the beginning, but will be back in time to start moaning through 2016. I hope you all have a Merry Christmas, despite what your local council's might call it.