Saturday, 30 April 2016

Happy Days

Both the 'unhappy' Postman and I were pleased yesterday, I received my swag from Warlord games and he takes a strange pleasure out of seeing my smiling face whenever a cardboard box arrives. This time it is the 'eavy mob, tanks, a Cromwell for the British and that workhorse of the Panzer divisions a MkIV for the Jerries, along with a truck each, those elusive decals I was after at Salute and a pack of panzerfausts to stick to some infantry. Being used to Airfix 1/72 years ago I was surprised at the size of the tanks, pleasantly surprised I might add.

Before they arrived I had 99% made my mind up that I was going to buy an airbrush to do them justice. I looked on ebay for a used kit but there was nothing, I then asked advice on the Bolt Action Facebook page and got some encouraging answers for a cheap airbrush. However, even the cheapest brush comes in at around £45, then you have to get the compressor, sure you can do with the can propellant but I phoned a company up and was put off this idea, then cleaning solvent etc. so it was approaching £60 - £70. At that price you are getting something which 'will do' it is by no means the best kit, one deal gave you two airbrushes along with the compressor, old sweats advised getting the compressor and then buying a decent airbrush. I had to bite the bullet, how often realistically would I use it and I could get three to four vehicles for that money, so no airbrush.

The sun was shining but it has gone now, however a good day ahead as my son and I face each other across my new table, Western Franks vs Romano-British, my Romans have thrashed them twice but the RB's went down to a crushing defeat the last time we fought so I am out for revenge today. We were hoping to get two days out of it but I have a hospital appointment tomorrow and have been invited to friends for dinner, I think they are feeling sorry for me being on my own, my only fear about this is that with the missus away for another two weeks I will have to attempt a wash on Monday. Battle reports later in the week.

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Loose Ends

I like to have something going on in the background when I paint, when I was offshore I had a small television in the cabin and I got used to popping the earphones on and sitting comfortably for a couple of hours, I painted loads of stuff offshore. We had Sky TV and with the continuous repeats I found I was an expert on dinosaurs, sharks, submarines and suffering from combat fatigue.

Now that I have been banished from the dining room table I have the computer in front of me and can once again pop programmes and headphones on to while away the time. However it is getting harder for me to find anything, I am waiting none too patiently for the new series of The Veep, Silicone Valley, Hell on Wheels. Better Call Saul and Daredevil. I have put the white flag up with The Flash and Vikings, sorry, only so much trash I can swallow.

With BBC iPlayer seemingly almost completely void of anything which upsets the apple cart and pampering to the 'yoof' audience I am saddened that the only thing worth watching on there is coming to a halt tonight, the exceptional 'Line of Duty', at least I think it is, it usually concludes with episode 6. I have been driven to give Grimm another chance, it's on the fourth season, maybe I got something wrong the first time ...... no, it's still rubbish. For the same reason I am tempted to try Arrow but having seen the same block of wood appear as a guest in The Flash I don't think I will bother. So I am floundering about with the odd fix of Modern Family and Gotham. I was quite enamoured of Chicago PD, but tough sergeant Hank Voight has been noticeably reigned back from his usual underhand attacks on the bad guys to the detriment of the programme.

I am also having trouble with books, I always have a book to hand but having said that I am not reading as much as I did. My main problem with this is that I now have the wife's old iPad and I can continue to research WWII stuff while lying comfortably in bed rather than having to sit up at the computer, I also need a good hour or so to check all the wargame blogs/groups I like. So when I do pick up the book it ends up hitting me in the face as I doze off.

I am reading about the fall of the Ottoman Empire during WWI and it is a good read, I have got as far as 1915 and the British have suffered two disastrous defeats by the Old Man of Europe, Gallipoli and Kut, both due in a large part to under estimating the enemy. On the book pile I have Napoleon the Great, A Spy among Friends, The Sword and the Shield and a collection of Deadpool comics. I also have Stout Hearts a book for which I drew the maps, started and then put to the side, with a renewed interest in Normandy and WWII due to Bolt Action I am going to pick that up again.

On the map front WWI and the Somme seems to be the main thing at the moment, I was awash with Normandy projects last year but that has changed, I have completed at least three memoirs or regimental histories this year and have one more in the queue. I may have mentioned I am working on a very interesting book on South African armoured forces at the moment and have some of the text, the battles and action in East Africa in 1940/41 are incredible and are calling out for a wargame campaign. Also backed up is the Eastern Front, Somme, WWI Naval and the second volume of the WWI air attacks on Britain, a busy summer ahead.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

A Bloody Introduction

The big night has been and gone and I am sitting here licking my wounds, ouch. I was well organised with no one but me here so i skived off at times for five minutes or so during the day to pack stuff, I picked Simon up on time and we were almost the first to arrive. We sorted out the terrain and rolled for sides, I lost of course, I hardly ever seem to win one of these rolls, if it is for initiative, table edge, weather or whatever, I don't know why I bother.

We kept things small as both of us are on a learning curve with Bolt Action, so the table was roughly 4x4 feet, I realised later more room would have been better for me, I set up a small hamlet and as people started turning up the main interest was in the telegraph poles, despite all my lovely work on the buildings. Simon had brought three very large squads of Russians armed to the teeth, two I think had SMG's these were supported by two medium machine guns, the ones with the gun shield and wheels, and a flamethrower, 600 points. Simon likes flamethrowers, I seem to remember him using them to good advantage in a game of Chain of Command, I on the other hand think it is an ungentlemanly weapon however there is now one on the paint tray, just in case.

I should have taken that ruined house.

I took the force I had painted up, three seven man squads, MMG, sniper, mortar with spotter and motorcycle combination, I knew right away my squads were seriously outgunned, 579 points, sadly I couldn't even get a dog with sharp teeth for the remaining eleven points.

The Germans dig in, too cautious, and there is that house, right in front of them.
 We played a simple attrition game and during the first move most of my dice came out of the bag one after the other, I leapt forward to the nearest hedgerows and soon found myself short of cover trying to fit everyone in. I put my MMG on the left to cover an open field while the rest of my guys huddled in the centre with a squad way out on the right making a run along the table. My plan as Simon deployed his troops was to make my main effort on the left, kill off the squad there and then turn on the rest, this started off well until the MMG crew died in a hail of lead. I now brought a couple of squads over but found I was running out of room, I did manage to open up with the mortar and seriously damage the Russians behind the wall, hoping to finish them off I run my motorcycle up the road on their flank and sent more of them to meet their maker, but like proper Russians all this didn't seem to bother them.

Go get them guys.
 Meanwhile Simon moved a squad into the ruined building while advancing his other one along the hedgerows towards my sniper. I made a huge mistake by not occupying the ruined building, most of my wargaming does not and never has involved buildings, and if it does it is merely as a hindrance to movement so I have to change my ways. In quick succession I lost the BMW, one squad and the sniper team, all this at the end of turn four, I wasn't going to turn things around with only two moves to go so I put up the white flag as it was approaching home time.

Time to use the Recce rule.
 What did I think of the game, well I enjoyed it, we did spend a good amount of time looking rules up but I had found an index online and this helped enormously. There are times when the shooting results were particularly brutal, my MMG team and at least one squad can attest to that, but of course it is up to me not to put them in a position where this can happen. The basic rules are just that basic, but there are a lot of little nuances and special rules which make things very interesting and of course the main thing for me is that the initiative dice allow everyone to get a go.

Simon's Russians, very nice.
I must just say that Simon's plastic Russian infantry were lovely, my own reason for keeping to metal despite the excellent box sets is that I don't trust the weapons to say in one piece and I don't have the patience to build the figures. I bit the bullet and ordered two tanks yesterday, a Cromwell and a Panzer IV, although there is not a lot of armoured action in BA my Cromwell will be from 11th Armoured and all my Germans are 2nd Panzer.

I have forward observers and a British HMG on the paint tray at the moment, in the wings are my 'spares' which will be added to my squads to beef them up as this is necessary against those big Russian squads. In the post is the British armoured car, a couple of trucks and those tanks above, next will be more infantry, again to build all those squads up to ten men. The project is endless.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Wallet Takes a Hit

I am forging ahead getting things ready for Tuesday night, I received my little extras from Colin at Charlie Foxtrot Models so I managed to roof my last building along with completing the little outbuildings which I hope will enhance my wargaming experience. I swapped the roofs which came with the models for some corrugated tin from 4Ground, this stuff is great and looks even better with a rust wash, I think you will agree.

Shed, log store and WC's.

Out building and those telegraph poles along with the extras.
That is it for my buildings at the moment, I do want to eventually get the beautiful school building from Colin and maybe get enough others to put a 'street' together but that is for the future. I want to concentrate on finishing off my British and German forces now, the plan being to get up to around 1000 - 1500 points for both. I now have the basic starting force for both sides, a platoon of three squads along with HMG, mortar, sniper and anti-tank support, I had forgotten the spotters for the mortars but have painted them up this morning, I also have a choice of recce vehicles for both sides although I am still waiting for the British armoured car from Blitzkrieg.

I now have to turn my attention to all the lovely vehicles I can get before beefing my infantry squads up to ten men and maybe adding one more. I am going to give my troops the choice of transport vehicles so that means mainly trucks with maybe one halftrack for each, M5 or M3 or SdKfz 251/1, now this sounds easy but the price of these things is frankly expensive. The cheapest truck I could find was £18, I eventually went with two at £21 because along with a couple of other things this got me free postage, £42 for two bog standard trucks!

Nearly all the motorised stuff comes in at these prices, even the tiny jeep is £15 on average. OK you don't have to get all this for Bolt Action but being a wargamer you pretty much will want it to complete your forces. I am looking at up to three jeeps, three trucks/halftracks, an anti-tank gun and tow and a choice of tanks/SP guns or AA vehicles or maybe an SP howitzer or tank killer, and all this for both sides. Four hundred of your English quids at least. This suddenly looks like a long term project, birthdays, Father's days and Christmas' are now all sorted.

On the bright side I have the beginnings of two decent forces already and they can only be improved upon as time passes.

View From The Window

Nothing exciting out of the window this morning, nothing stirs, early again, grey and cold so not a great start although the boffins at weather HQ did warn us the weekend would be rubbish now that summer is done, summer was Thursday and Friday, beautiful days.

The view last week was again the leafy suburbs of Chorleywood as I was down south for the Salute wargame show. I couldn't face the drive up and down so as I said I got the train, First Class of course and it was great, the seat opposite me was empty so I could stretch my legs and I was offered food and drink for the short two and a half hour hop to London. While I sat in luxury I got a quick glimpse of a black mini skirt and five inch heels further down the carriage, imagine my disappointment when the top half hove into view and had arms thicker than my thighs and shoulders you could sit the proverbial brick outhouse on. His mate was even worse, a see-through white lace top, black bra on a flat chest, mini kilt and a look that said "go on, say something and I'll kill you" which I have no doubt he could have. The saying 'dress your age' comes to mind, these two guys were 50+ if they were a day and dressed like Britney Spears, please, not that a twin set and pearls would have helped mind.

I enjoyed the trip to London, I went to the British Museum on the Friday and made straight for the Roman and Dark Age exhibits, there was the odd piece which intrigued me, especially the expensive plate, gold and silver hoards and the odd sword or helmet, as for the rest it was OK. What I did like was seeing the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles and my favourites, the Assyrian wall friezes, they were brave guys going out and hunting lions with a spear or sword, I have seen lions up close in the wild and they are magnificent but scary beasts. I was pleased that the dates were still in AD or BC and not that common era nonsense.

That evening my son and I had a few beers in a Blues bar which was suitably dingy and quirky but had no zero alcohol beer so I went back to my old ways and had a few Amstel's, I nearly dropped when the guy asked for £10 for two drinks. We then made our way to the swanky Indian restaurant, the service was impeccable and the food a cut above, as were the prices, but it has been a while since I was in a decent restaurant and I thoroughly enjoyed it, however my goal is to have a meal in the Cinnamon Club at some point.

The wife arrived on the Saturday evening and is down there for at least another week looking after my granddaughter and no doubt my son while we wait for Joyce to receive a work visa for the UK in Tanzania. The office fascists have been looking at a claim of mine now for almost a year so I suspect they are no better in Dar es Salaam, the missus of course needs to get back to normality so I might have to go down and do my duty for a week or so later, that will put an end to my sons holiday.

I have been home alone now for a week and seem to live in the Post Office not having my usual days off, my only bit of excitement was an altercation between two drivers outside the shop the other day. I heard doors slam and raised voices so went for a butchers, a driving instructor took umbrage at the way some old guy was driving and decided to give him an earful, but whilst doing so he blocked Main street completely, more irate drivers to add to the mix. The mature gentleman was not daft enough to get out the car, politely listened to the rant from behind his window and then drove off.

Did you have a Happy Earth Day last week? No, I don't have a clue either, however Facebook is good at reminding you of all these inane dates which come from god knows where and mean absolutely nothing, it would be more helpful if it could remind me about the list of stuff my wife wants done before she gets back or is it the grey or green bins that go out this week. It's the grey dear (she'll be reading this.)

So there it is, I am going to try and have a lazy day, I have a few little jobs to do and can always find something else to paint or tweak, wargame stuff of course, not house stuff.

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Sneak Peek

Colin at Charlie Foxtrot asked to add my building pics to his customer gallery, as I had just thrown them down I said I would put them in a better context so I am sharing them with you. I have still just thrown them down but in a gaming setting, I hope these are fine for Colin. I got another small order from CF today and inside was a few extras which will help me improve that countryside look I am after, it's good to be mates with the owner/designer.

I won't get any the small extras done before Tuesday but I am beginning to hope the squads will be ready afer a couple of hours painting last night.

That last slender thread of history has now been broken so that's it for Vikings, despite more skulduggery to come from Duke Rollo I refuse to acknowledge Earl Lagartha's (?) coup and the 'threat' of her armed St. Trinians mob as anything more than sheer fantasy. I don't have a word suitable for it.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

George The Builder, Yes He Can.

Considering I find it difficult to put up a shelf I have completed three buildings in as many days. I managed to get enough roof tiles to completely finish two of the three and I expect to get my latest order from Charlie Foxtrot this afternoon.  This gives me two farmhouses, a large ruin and some outhouses, certainly enough to give me that French countryside look which I am after.

The main farmhouse was a doddle, nothing complex there, the ruined building also was fairly easy albeit I got the fireplaces mixed up at first, I know, check before gluing, but hey. I was looking forward to painting this one. As the top floor was open I Googled 1940's wall paper, copied the example several times, joined it all up and made myself a few rolls in Illustrator which I promptly printed on A4. It was easy to go on, I didn't need to be precise as it was a ruined building after all and any dodgy edges would be chargrilled later. I also wanted some rubble for the corner so I bought some Brick Rubble from Model Scenery Supplies, I have plenty of old MDF bases lying around so I soaked some kitchen roll in PVA and chucked on the rubble, I enhanced the piles with a spare door, shutters and window frames suitably cut up and damaged, a simple black wash sorted these out. I also spread rubble inside the building.

I looked at some photographs and most times when you see a burnt out building you do not see doors and window frames, they of course burn well, so I did not add these to my building therefore I have a lot of nice spares for future rubble heaps or whatever.

Ruined house.

Farmhouse 2 with added extension.
I now realise I have may have set myself an impossible task, as I have to spend each day in the shop for the next couple of weeks without my usual time off, I doubt I will manage those extra squads or squad for Tuesday which is a shame, mind you I was working on these buildings at 0630 hours this morning, no point lying around when there is wargaming stuff to do.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Hello and a Build Too Far?

I notice my members counter has jumped to 38 and my visitors graph has gone off the chart, OK, not off the chart but noticeably more hits than usual, in the main I think this is due to my reporting battles on Facebook groups, TMP and those bloggers who have kindly added me to their recommended or favourite sites. I have spotted two recently who have done this and I have reciprocated on my list, if anyone else has done this and you are not on my list then drop me a line.

I am taking a tea break from mapping at the moment, the new project is a bit different than any I have done previously, I normally have at least a sketch of what is required, but this time I have to read the manuscript before drawing and hope that what I come up with is what is required, the internet is a boon for this kind of work.

I have given myself the task of getting everything ready for my first Bolt Action game in a week, I have built all the Charlie Foxtrot models and will roof them tonight, I might even get on to the half destroyed building for which I have a few ideas and am looking forward to. The buildings beg for all those little touches which just lift them to the next level, flower pots, bicycles against the walls, climbing ivy etc. but as I am on a time limit that will have to wait. At least one roof will have to wait as well as I don't think I ordered enough laser cut tiles.

I also want to paint furiously in order to add two more squads to my forces although if Simon can scrape together a force of his Soviets I might only need the Germans. I have also to put down the damn iPad of an evening and read the rules!

I am not going to the club tonight due to the workload I have given myself and I hope to have some photos by tomorrow night.

Monday, 18 April 2016

What Did I Think Of Salute 2016

I have returned safe and sound and find I must be one of the last people to do a report on Salute, doing so is a bit like the Beaujolais Nouveau thing when people used to strive to be the first to bring the wine to the UK. I checked on my iPad and there were pictures up almost before closing, a number of popular Bloggers were given 'Press Passes' and early access to the hall, so they managed to go about their business without fighting to get to a table, a good idea.

Having read reports on previous Salutes I had some reservations but they came to naught mainly, I dreaded the smell but perhaps I was acclimatised, no problem there, I didn't think the hall was too big and I think the location is just perfect for a venue which needs to hold upwards of 7,000 wargamers, trade stands and games, and very easy to get to. I do think the space could have been handled slightly better, there were parts here and there which were fairly empty and then elsewhere some poor traders were fighting for room, when you think of the number of people who wanted a table but didn't get one should it be bigger? There have been no complaints about queuing this year, I played smart and arrived at 11am and walked straight in, you could also have done this at 10.30, if you were in the crush I believe it took ten minutes at the most, excellent organisation. In fact, despite moans I think the South London Warlords deserve a lot of credit for this exhibition, they are a wargame club after all, not event organisers. Is the concrete floor hard on the old plates*, I didn't notice and anyway after trudging around London for a day and a half previously mine were sore anyway.

Considering the theme was 'Steampunk' there was not a lot of that around, what there was was a high proportion of Sci-Fi games which I suspect outnumbered historical games by a fair margin. A lot of companies also laid on games involving their own products, this may have had an effect on the space available for others, 4Ground for instance had several tables with very good displays of their products in a gaming environment. I was especially impressed with their Dead Man's Hand set up, I think it was 4x4 feet and it was packed with buildings and must be a joy to play on. When and if I get my wargame room this is what I will do with my DMH stuff.

 At wargame shows I usually find myself ready to leave after a couple of hours, I get what I want, maybe buy a spur of the moment item, look around and I'm off, I spent four hours at Salute which is a record. When I got there I went straight for the Last Valley to get my terrain before he sold out and it was just as well as he was doing a brisk trade, I then picked up a couple of things my son had pre-ordered, a great way to beat the crowds and both Gripping Beast and Ainsty Castings (Footsore) were great to deal with in this respect. I also managed in quick time to get the Bren Gun teams, WWII telegraph poles and flowering tufts I had on my list, my only impulse buy was a pack of 4Ground corrugated iron sheets, there is always corrugated iron lying about in WWII. Apart from being impressed by the range and ingenuity of MDF buildings etc. available from a number of manufacturers I was blown away on the cowboy front. I got a look at Black Scorpions kickstarter for 100+ new figures for their Tombstone rules, they are some of the most beautiful wargame figures I have ever seen, the characterisation on them is a joy to behold, I don't really need any more Western figures, but I do need these!

What about the games? OK, skirmish games ruled the roost from Vikings to the Gates of Antares, most played on areas not much larger than a couple of feet square, one I saw was not much bigger than a mouse mat, why? Many of these smaller tables were eye catching and were innovative in their design, one space ship game had under table lighting and was fairly spectacular and the Frostgrave table was very nice, snow seems to be a big thing these days.

Another which I thought was stunning and which I found out later did not win best of show was a huge Seven Years War battle with beautiful buildings, I thought I had taken a picture of this but it looks like the Siege of Bristol game which was also lovely.

A couple of random shots of a North West Frontier game and one using an immense amount of Teddy Bear fur and its not even Open Season.

 Lastly I joined up with a bunch of friends doing Hastings for the Lance and Longbow Society, this was a last minute thing and considering the time scale I think they did a splendid job getting it ready in time. Hastings is one of my favourite battles and I am glad to say the Saxons won both the morning and afternoon games. It was also great to spend some time with the lads and Jenny and I look forward to seeing most of them again soon at the May War and Conquest tournament.

In the middle of all this I popped along to the Bloggers Meet to muscle in on the annual photo-shoot, I met a few of the guys whose blogs I recommend here, RayAlistair and the Legatus, all thoroughly nice chaps, I could only guess at a few more, I said a quick hello to Simon Miller and then wandered off. Ray has put a Facebook page up if you would like to check some of the bloggers out. I did not get a lot of pictures but if you have not already seen some then if you pop along to Shed Wars Eric the Shed has lots.

I will certainly go again and hope to next year, a great show and a great effort by all involved.

*Plates of meat - feet, cmon.

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Salute 2016

Right, I am off to the Smoke for a long weekend tomorrow which will include Salute, the largest wargaming show in the UK, which I last attended 25 or so years ago which coincidentally was probably the last time I was on a train other than the Tube recently. I am letting the train take the strain tomorrow as I have had enough of the road journey to the far south, is this wise, not sure, we will find out, certainly cheaper for one of a mature age like me.

I will be staying at my sons so I plan to visit the British Museum on Friday then meet up for what would have been a few pints but now will be more likely to be 0% alcohol, although as I have not had a drink in nearly two weeks I might be tempted with a couple. Especially during dinner as we have booked Veeraswamy, possibly the oldest Indian restaurant in the UK, which my son and wife have already enjoyed. Really looking forward to that.

I don't have a huge shopping list for Salute and will just see if anything takes my fancy, I do hope to get some terrain, I also hope to meet up with some friends and have a word with the Helion crowd who will be sharing the Bicorne Miniatures stand, possibly even buy a book.

 No 'View' this Sunday as I don't get back until Sunday evening, which is a shame as I had plenty to rant about with Mr. Cameron's leaflet and the dire warnings from the IMF. I am home alone for at least two weeks so no break from the PO but plenty of time for getting through that list of stuff the missus no doubt wants me to do, although what's left is beyond me. Main thing though is to get everything ready for my upcoming Bolt Action game and to actually read the rule book!

Who Shot the Sheriff, Nobody!

Miserable day and a miserable night to be abroad, I must confess I wanted to sit next to the fire but I had organised a game and being a man of my word off I went to the club. I failed to find anything interesting on the web so I adapted one of the scenarios in the Dead Man's Hand rule book, the Law had to get a prisoner from the jail to the Wells Fargo office and out of town on the noon stage. Wells Fargo took a modern outlook to the situation and refused to send their drivers to the jail which of course would have made sense. The Sheriff (Simon) knew that his prisoners gang were in town somewhere and were going to make an attempt at setting their man free, thus began the long walk along Main Street.

Lull before the storm.
Main Street.
Having learned from past games Simon kept his posse together with the prisoner in the middle, I on the other hand split my men on both sides of the street and hung back until the party got abreast of me, apart from a rifleman on the roof of the Doc's. To make things interesting I introduced a bunch of civilians who would be controlled at the beginning of each turn by a direction die, if they could get in a building they stayed there, if not they ran about obscuring the main protagonists.

The Lawmen surrounded by several civilians start their long walk.
I made some dodgy decisions during the game and sent one of my men on a wild goose chase to get around the rear of the posse, but in doing so he virtually had no influence on the game until it was too late. Simon relentlessly bore down on my Boss and hired gun, a round of shotgun shots accounted for a man each, it was then the hired gun decided to seek cover and left the boss man alone, wounded and in the open. I could do nothing to save him, down he went while the gunslinger cowered behind a thunderbox. I was losing out on the initiative cards and the gunfights, I had the Marshall dead to rights a couple of times but he managed to remain standing before I could finish him off.

By the time the Lawmen got to the Wells Fargo office I had lost over half my men, although my morale held up it was obvious I was not going to save poor Jed from the trip to Yuma, we got out of Dodge or rather Carefree.

Simon had a good game, he always seemed to be a jump ahead of me with initiative, and the one time I did get an excellent draw he played that card where he got three of mine and swapped with three of his, damn! It was a simple scenario but the next time the officer watching the prisoner should only have two actions, Jed no doubt would not be compliant in his journey. I can't go without explaining why the gunslinger ran, he was badly wounded and just about to die so I played the card where he could run and get to cover, not dying but receiving one wound. But this left him with three and he was basically useless until I had recovered them, but by then the game was over.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The 'Little Tank'

I know, I have watched too much 'Allo, allo' to think of the 222 as anything other than being driven by a Herr Gruber. Anyway, as usual I managed to get a few things done last night, Monday is when the missus has some friends round for a musical evening so I get to hide away in my den completely undisturbed. I watched the exceptional 'Line of Duty' and finished off with an episode of 'Vikings' while getting on with my German command, sniper and the 222. I was hoping to get another building started but didn't make it.

Anyway, the 222, I was tempted to leave it yellow as the weathering would show up better, but decided against that and went for a paint scheme which was easy for a brush rather than an airbrush, a quick Google online for German camo helped. I have to keep reminding myself my models are for wargaming and not to get too bogged down watching experts weather their larger and more expensive kits on YouTube.

I have applied some of the techniques, I go around the edges with a sponge and then top it off with a sliver of metal, not sure I manage that right but I'm pleased with the result, I also 'blacklined' with some dark wash. I did not go for any rust as I think it might have been a tad too much for this little model, but I did give it some mud, my whole army has been caught in the aftermath of a Normandy rain shower, besides I have a very large tub of mud.

So there you go, this gives me two recce choices, the motorbike combo or the 222, I also await my British armoured car from Blitzkreig and that reminds me I must get some decals at Salute.

I can't go without mentioning the utter balderdash which 'Vikings' the series is. It is bad enough tampering with the timeline of history and I almost forgive the odd woman in the shieldwall but being so politically correct as to have armour clad female guards protecting the woman prisoner is pushing me to the limit. Not only that but the unarmed, skinny size 4 prisoner managed to fight them off and actually beat one to death before being 'rescued' by the guy. My loyalties now lie with Duke Rollo, a man's man, a devious, unrepentant me, me, me character destroying anyone who gets in the way of his ambition, my only reason for keeping up with this tosh.

The Duke.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Bolt Action Project Marches On

I finished my basic German squads a week or so ago and before I completed them I built my armoured car, I could not resist it. I have painted the camo on and have given it a wash, next up is some serious weathering, well enough to show the dust of a Normandy summer at least, some stowage items will also have to wait and I am looking to pick up some foliage for protection against the ever present Jabos. I personally feel on most wargame tables the dreaded fighter bombers are far more powerful and accurate than the real things, but that's for another time.

I have now added my heavy weapons support for the German platoon, MG42 in sustained fire position, a medium mortar and a Panzershreck team, for some reason I had forgotten the platoon commander and his sidekick, these are now waiting on the tray along with a sniper team. In reserve I have one more British and German squad to add before I leap into a second platoon for each side and maybe a tank each, or at least an armoured transport.

Now that my beginners forces are almost complete I have moved on to some scenery in anticipation of the first battle. I opened up Charlie Foxtrot's Farmhouse 2 on Sunday morning, it looked daunting as I emptied the bag but it turned out a basic build and within thirty minutes I had it ready for painting. I am not like these guys who wrap elastic bands around the build or use small clamps, I spread my wood glue and hold it together for a minute or so then move on to the next bit. I did stop and spray the windows, shutters and doors with some paint I had lying about, I painted the building with one of those tester pots the missus had tried out for the kitchen. Job done, a very robust building and I loved the blocks CF use to hold the floors in place, a great idea and far superior to those little nubs others use, I may expand this to my existing buildings when I get time. Later that night I put on the laser cut slates just to see how good they looked, I soaked the roof in watered down PVA and slapped them on, as I had not allowed time for the glue to set properly I found one end of the roof bending, my own fault fixed by some superglue, I will have to use this more sparingly in the future and also leave at least 12 hours for drying. The inexpensive tiles do look better.


I sat this morning before facing the public and weathered the building. I am very pleased with the result and may add a base with some bits and pieces at a later date but I want to push on and get all the buildings done for the first game.

Sunday, 10 April 2016

View From The Window

The sun is shining, the morning haze being burned off in the distant fields and the ugly windmills standing proud, however there is frost on the cars and it is bleedin' cold in the 'ouse. Still to meet the neighbours although people are venturing out more often as we have had a few nice days recently and I have seen the occasional smile, there are high hopes of a nice summer, personally I shall take each day as it comes as the last good summer is slipping into folk memory. The neighbours across the road who enjoyed painting their own yellow lines outside their house to deter people parking have gone, there is a book in the waiting there.

Warton has a 'crag' and it is fairly famous in these here parts, it had a stone or bronze age site on it and it has been quarried for years to provide local limestone, I presume for building, or whatever purposes you use limestone for. People seem drawn to it and many walk their dogs twice a day on it, so watch your step. I don't see the attraction, yes you do get a nice view of the local area from the top and you can pick up wild garlic in basketfuls, is it worth it though? There was and may still be a nesting pair of Peregrine Falcons there and birdwatchers took turns watching the nest until the young birds hatched although I have not heard anyone talking about them for a while. One evening many years ago a lad plunged to his death off the face of the crag, a tragedy. However it turned out he and his mates were up there to steal the Peregrine eggs, they got drunk and he went out on his own and fell. Described by his family as a 'lovable rogue' he had what the Americans would call a 'rap sheet' as long as your arm including grievious bodily harm, robbery and burglary, I mention this because this week an elderly gentleman threw himself off the crag, you have to climb over a fence to manage this so the poor man must have been in desperate straits.

I went to a football match yesterday, the last time I suffered this torment was around 1975, Hibernian vs Hadjik Split and as you can tell the experience burned itself on my memory. I went to watch Morecambe (the Shrimps) vs Hartlepool United (the Monkey Hangers), both pretty much third rate teams but I promised to go with my old drinking buddy six months or so ago as long as I could get a pie at half-time, best pies in the league seemingly, so yesterday was D-Day. The ground was nowhere near full and we were entertained by the 'Shrimpettes' before the match started, a tannoy kept us informed of what was going on but all I heard was "waaa, waaaaaa, waa, waa, waaaaaa, waaaa, wa." Nearly everyone in each team was a young lad, all with pristine, strange haircuts, which wobbled not during the whole game.

Six minutes in and Morecambe were down 2-0! Aaaagh!, Come on you Shrimps, Ref! The Monkey Hangers at the other end of the stadium were happily singing what I can only conclude from the lad along from me giving them the finger, were robust football taunts which to me sounded like "waaaa, waa, waa, waaaa" but this time in tune. Morecambe get a goal in the next five minutes 2-1, exciting stuff, but at half-time it was 3-1, after this it was 3-2, then 4-2, somewhere in amongst that the Morecambe goalie was sent off. We left with three minutes to go to avoid the 'rush' and just as we got to the gate it ended 5-2! I am no expert but the football on display yesterday was frankly rubbish, especially Morecambe, and if you are wondering why Hartlepool are called the Monkey Hangers they strung up some monkeys during the Napoleonic Wars as French spies.

Were you as shocked as me when it was revealed by the leaked financial dealings of the Panamanian law firm that rich people hide their money away? No, neither was I, and let's face it if you had several million on tap would you pop it into Barclays and let the taxman get his hands on large wads of it, no, neither would I. What does sicken me and I didn't need leaked papers to inform me is when leaders of some of the poorest countries in the world siphon off money which they are not entitled to and have done nothing to earn stash it away for a rainy day while strutting around on the international stage when they are nothing better than robbers.

I found out that Tata Steel are only closing down their British plants while those in Europe are being left alone, for now at least. The green taxes heaped on the business community (I too pay extra) may have something to do with it while our EU neighbours march onwards without this level of restriction.

You know you are getting old when you do not understand how to add up or take away and your seven year old granddaughter shows you how, not for her 14+2+3=19, no, the calculation she wrote up looked like calculus for a science project, she got the same answer but I had no idea how she came to it and it took three times as long as my way. It did seem like way too much effort for something pretty simple, but what do I know. It does astonish me that my five year old granddaughter knows her way around an iPad and can sing all the words to Katy Perry's 'Roar', yes I do know who Katy Perry is.

Thursday, 7 April 2016

A Good day and still to go to Salute.

I ordered my new 'wargame' table a couple of days ago and got word that it would turn up this afternoon, this did not please Mrs. Anderson as she had made plans for lunch and to drive No.1 granddaughter home and my delivery time seemed destined to upset that plan. No fear, the table arrived early, I was off the hook.

Partly off the hook as I knew a couple of orders were due and we would of course be out as the mail now comes at a later time than it did in the late nineteenth century. I took the precaution of leaving a note as the normal unhelpful postman has been moved to another round and crossed my fingers that this one would be more accommodating.

Sure enough I returned home to find two parcels in the shed, good man. So the swag for the day came to a new table, German and British FOO's, a British HMG and 2" mortar teams along with some German 'tank hunters' and a number of German decals graciously sent by Matt of the Wargames Table. If I keep this up I won't have enough money for Salute in just over a week.

I got the 9x5 table as it is perfect for large ACW games, something I must get around to again, and if they are not big games then it gives me plenty of space at the edges for all the normal wargame paraphernalia without encroaching on the battlefield. Also one side should be perfect for Dead Man's Hand, X-Wing and Bolt Action games. As you can see it is still surrounded by a Post Office, but this will change in the fullness of time, and no, it will never see ping pong or table tennis, not from me at least.

Another couple of map projects completed, the Scots Guards as I mentioned before and another on the Iran/Iraq war, I am back on the Somme at the moment then moving to a book about South African Armour during WWII and after.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

The Lady and the HWK

Not a bad night last night, dry but cool, however not a big presence at the club, a game of Great War, a Bloodbowl match and Andrew and I playing X-Wing. I was helping Andrew prepare for a tournament as he wanted some practice with a build he had been toying with, I had picked up it was an anti-swarm build the week before so I felt obliged to bring one.

The games were tournament rules and 100 points, my first force was Imperials and I chose top pilot Kath Scarlett supported by four Academy (green) Tie Fighters, not being the best pilot in the galaxy I usually stay away from swarms as all I seem to do is continually crash into other ships flying so close. I was up against a Hounds Tooth a Y-Wing and a Contracted Scout, the latter ship proved a hard nut to crack, with only three ships Andrew had them tooled up with up to six cards holding extras including missiles, turrets and special abilities. I on the other hand usually only have one or two, at the most three otherwise I forget what they all do.

The excellent Contracted Scout and friend.
 I was expecting a sound drubbing for this first game as the opposition looked pretty threatening, I led the way with the Tie's, keeping Kath back in the rear, all the better to fire her blaster cannon which is useless at short range. I skipped the first obstacle and the swarm was nicely lined up against the Hound's Tooth, I lost a Tie and thought here we go, but no, my return fire was exceptional and the HT took a bucket load of damage as its shields disintegrated and the laser fire ate into the hull. In the second round I lost another Tie but the HT went down and my ships began to seriously damage the two remaining Villains. I lost another Tie but only needed a couple of good hits and it might be possible to destroy the enemy, it was now the dice gods decided to desert me, the last Tie blew up and Kath was not left in a good position, nor could she get the kill shot on either the Scout or the Y-Wing. As my last ship went up in smoke I remembered I had not taken any photographs, the game had been so intense I had forgotten for most of it. Andrew got his win but I was really pleased with my boys.

Kath and wingman before they take to the escape pods.
 In the second game I fielded a Rebel set with two B-Wings, a Y-Wing and an HWK-290, I took the HWK because I have never flown it before and it is plain daft to have a ship and never use it, also if you are wondering at the colour it is the Ukrainian Air Force camo scheme. Andrew used the same build but this time spread them along his start line, this allowed me to keep my guys together and for most of the game fight two ships with four. I started really well and my first salvoes dealt out a lot of damage and took shields down, leaving the Y-Wing and Scout vulnerable. As we closed to dogfight I realised too late that all the ships I had taken flew like bricks, but I persevered, my shooting was again exemplary and the Scout went down first, still with her missiles unfired, the enemy Y-Wing was next along with one of my B-Wings. We were running out of time and called it a day at 2200 hrs and I was way ahead on points. Having said that the Hounds Tooth was virtually untouched but my ships were carrying damage, not a lot but enough to play cautious, it would have been interesting to see if I could have taken her down.

Open Fire!

Two really great games and I was pleased with my efforts in both, especially my losing game.