Saturday 31 October 2009

'Gladiators, I Salute You......' Part 2

I finally managed to get the bases finished on my Ludus Gladiatorius pre painted 28mm Gladiators after a wait of about 18 months! The base was quite simply two layers of sand applied with PVA and matt varnished - simple but effective. My good friend Mr Fox has colour coded the edges of the individual bases to match the counters that come with the game. I have chosen not to do this simply because the counters are printed on card that is only slightly thicker than paper and they are irritatingly fiddly to use, also, I prefer the black edging. I plan to print some out on sticky labels and will mount them on tiddly wink counters for ease of use. I may in the future get another set of the base game and paint the shields a different colour to give some additional variety.

Friday 30 October 2009

Playing Surface Blues

One of the problems I am experiencing at the moment with my gridded blue cloth is that it is a little on the dark side and so difficult to photograph with my camera clearly. Whilst I am happy with the blue I use for the ship bases I need to get some 'lightness' on the playing surface but in such a way that the ship bases merge satisfactorily. I don't want to repaint the ship bases so will have a look at whether or not a lighter shade of cloth or board would be more suitable. I had an idea about washing a light blue cloth/board with blue ink or some such which would give a good sea effect and blend in with the models bases.

I am not averse to buying seascape type game mats but with finances as they are it is not an option at the moment so I will check out my local art shop for some ideas and inspiration.

Thursday 29 October 2009

Mediterranean and Black Sea Fleet Lists

You may recall from my previous posts that as a result of my 'tweaking' of the DBSA - The Great War at Sea Gridded - rules I am working on will require some revision of the existing ship specification charts. You may also recall that these charts were originally drafted whilst I was on holiday in Turkey earlier in the year. The lists of ships started life as the ship specifications charts from Mike Fischer's 'Easy Ships' hex based rules available free from ; together with ship counters you can print off of just about everything that floated from 1890 onwards. I printed off his ship charts (a really handy reference and no mistake) and used them for the information I needed for my own tables. It was a lot easier using them than lugging copies of Jane's or Conway's around that's for sure!

As the rules have changed somewhat over the past six months it would now be a good idea to revisit the ship charts and ensure that they are reflecting my current thinking on the subject. I have added protected cruisers, old battleships, coastal defence battleships and torpedo boats so at the very least these categories will need changing. The other significant revision is in connection with speed as I am now using the method employed by Barry Carter in his excellent Naval Wargames so individual ships will have their actual speed more accurately reflected. this task will not take too long to tackle - particularly as initially I am confining my efforts to the Mediterranean and Black Sea so the Royal Navy and High Seas Fleets will have to wait their turn; as will the Baltic Russians.

Once completed, these will of course be available to anyone that wants a copy - as are the latest version of the rules.

Tuesday 27 October 2009

Action in the Black Sea, 1915 - A Reflection

It never ceases to amaze me how, when a set of rules that have been carefully scripted to within an inch of their life still seem able to throw up all manner of wrangles when you first use them. The rules in question were not quite in that heinous position but nevertheless, a few revisions were in order. Naively I assumed that just a couple of key strokes would suffice but whilst doing this I was suddenly hit by a thought, indeed it was a thought I should have had at the outset. Basically, what did I want the rules to achieve?

I pondered this and came up with a number of observations that are worth setting down; if only to remind myself why I chose the approach that I did.
  • No ship damage record charts
  • A gridded playing surface
  • The ability to differentiate between ships notionally of the same type
  • Recognisable damage effects e.g. fire and flooding
  • Be easy to pick up by non naval gamers
  • Be suitable for large scale actions i.e. squadron and fleet sized

From the perspective of the above list I have achieved all the aims I set myself but I am still feeling a little 'short changed', as though something is missing from the whole. I pondered this further and came up with the simple expedient of needing to prepare a comparable strategic campaign system for use with the tactical rules. Campaigns, mini campaigns or even linked scenarios are very much a personal favourite of mine - even to the extent of writing up the after action report with more 'story' to it than the game would suggest - and are something I enjoy organising.

So I need to add a campaign system to the tactical rules - this will not be a problem to design but I cannot foresee myself tackling this anytime soon!

The VSF bolt ons though are a very different kettle of fish.........................;-)

Monday 26 October 2009

Action in the Black Sea, 1915

As promised, I have managed to carry out a solo play test of the latest version of my DBSA Great War at Sea Gridded rules. Due to space limitations I had to fight this on my 3ft by 2ft table which meant a grid surface of 6 squares by 9 (using my 4" squared cloth). The forces were quite small but representational of the Turkish activity towards the end of 1914 - before the quantitative Russian superiority began to tell. initially I planned to describe this action on a turn by turn basis with die rolls and all the usual flam and para diddle but will instead opt for the after action report style; in keeping with a description of an actual engagement. A number of issues arose from the game - all of which will give me further thought as to how best to take the rules forward. It will be interesting to see if any readers can identify the points to which I am obliquely referring

Somewhere in the Black Sea, north of Zonguldak, 0800 hrs. 25th October, 1914........

A strong Turkish squadron under the command of Admiral Souchon on board the battle cruiser Yavuz Sultan Selim (ex SMS Goeben) was patrolling along the northern Black Sea coast of Turkey with the intention of intercepting a rumoured Russian sortie aimed at the disruption of the Turkish inshore coal traffic. The squadron comprised the Yavuz Sultan Selim (flagship), the light cruiser Midilli, the protected cruisers Hamidiye and Mecidiye and four destroyers - two Samsun class (French Durandel types) and two Muavenet-I Milleye (German S165 types). the formation was heading due east with the Midilli in the van, followed by the Yavuz Sultan Selim, Hamidiye and Mecidiye (all in line ahead) and the destroyers on the port beam with the lead ship - the Muavenet-I Milleye - parallel with the flagship with the three others to the stern. In effect, half the destroyers were providing close escort to the flagship whilst the others covered the protected cruisers who in turn were operating in close formation to the rear of the flagship.

The Russian squadron was operating to the north east of the Turks, heading due west with the pre dreadnought battleships Evstafi and Ioann Zlatoust in the van with the Pantelejmon close behind, in company with the protected cruiser Pamiat Merkurija. The new and powerful Bespokoiny class destroyers (two of them) were deployed directly to the south of the lead battleships (on the port beam) with a pair of the Leitenant Puchsin class torpedo boats directly behind.

Sailing as they were, into the morning sun, the Turkish squadron was unaware of the approach of the Russians and so continued to steam due east at a leisurely twelve knots, oblivious of the enemy. Not so the Russians however as a sharp eyed lookout on board the Evstafi saw the approaching columns of smoke to the south west and raised the alarm. With a flurry of signal flags, the Russians immediately increased speed and the three battleships swung to the south west before resuming their heading due west. The new and powerful Bespokoiny destroyers, in a flurry of spray and smoke, accelerated to near flank speed and immediately roared away due west - crossing the rearward wake of the battle squadron - with the intention of engaging the Turkish squadron from the rear. The remaining Leitenant Puchsin torpedo boats and the protected cruiser followed the rapidly diminishing shapes of the Bespokoiny destroyers but with no real hope of catching them as their best speed was some twelve knots slower but the gallantry of the gesture was not lost on the Russian commander. Shortly before 0900 the guns rang out from first the Evstafi and then the Ioann Zlatoust at a range of some 16,000 yards with the only target in view (and range) - the light cruiser Midilli.

The arrival of several salvos of 12" shells in close proximity of the light cruiser caused Admiral Souchon to observe, somewhat laconically, that "My word, they are shooting at us!" Whilst the impact of this unpleasant and unexpected turn of events was being fully digested by the Turkish naval command a large black cloud of smoke and a flash of vivid red was seen from the bridge of the flagship - the Midilli had been hit.

The 12" shell from the Ioann Zlatoust had fortuitously exploded on impact and the main blast has been directed across the stern. However, it managed to set fire to one of the ships boats as well as the flag locker and so was easily extinguished by the relieved damage control party.

The Turks were galvanised into action and whilst action stations was sounded on the flagship, the destroyers immediately headed south east - the Muavent-I Milleye formatting with the flagship in a close escort role and the Samsun as escort to the Hamidiye. The Mecidiye was unable to conform with this as the frenzied high-speed maneuvers of the Turkish destroyers had given her little sea room so her captain prudently kept his distance from the maelstrom of criss-crossing wakes until the new formation had taken proper station. The Midilli maintained her position in the van of the squadron but increased speed to her maximum 28 knots and executed a breathtaking turn due north whilst the rest of the formation fell in to her rear.

Meanwhile, the Russian battleships maintained their formation but swung due south, in anticipation of the Turks using their superior speed to try and isolate one of their number. The destroyers and torpedo boats continued their wide sweep to the west and the Bespokoiny class ships were easily outstripping the older Leitenant Puchsin torpedo boats and the hurrying Pamiat Merkurija. The Russians again opened fire with their target being the hapless Muavenet-I Milleye. Despite the speed of the destroyers and their frantic evasive manouvers the superior weight of the Russian battleships secondary armament fired to telling effect. Almost immediatly one of their number was left ablaze and drifting helplessly; shot through by superbly accurate gunnery.

Desperate to get a telling blow in (and to relieve the pressure on his weaker ships), Admiral Souchon swung the vast bulk of the Yavuz Sultan Selim through 90 degrees so she was facing due north and then called for maximum speed. Deep in the bowels of the mighty battle cruiser the stokers rose manfully to the task and so the great ship surged forward at 27 knots, across the face of the Russian battle line. The Muavent-I Milleye, despite the pounding from the Russians and the loss of her sister ship, sped forward in concert with the flagship whilst the two cruisers and the remaining destroyers continued east at top speed. The Turkish squadron was becoming widely seperated with the slower Russian battle squadron in the centre.

The Russians battleships continued heading south whilst the destroyers, torpedo boats and the cruiser carried on with their wide sweeping turn - the Bespokoiny destroyers fast disappearing in the distance, so great was their speed advantage.

The unexpected turn of the Turkish battle cruiser and subsequent race across the line of the Russian battleships and taken the Russians completely by surprise and so the fire from them was ineffective. Sadly for the Turkish Admiral, the violent manouvering he had subjected his own ship to had also served to throw his own gunnery into disarray as, despite at one point being less than 8,000 yards from the rear Russian battleship - the Pantelejmon - he was unable to inflict any damage on his opponent.

By this time, Admiral Souchon had lost contact with his protected cruisers and the remaining destroyers (now heading north with the Russian destroyers in hot pursuit) and so, in order to avoid a damaging close range exchange with the enemy battleships, he reluctantly broke off the action and signalled to his scattered charges to rendezvous north of the scene of the action.

This signal however, would prove to be too late for the Muavent-I Milleye as, whilst they were coming about to conform with the flagship, they dallied for too long under the guns of the Pantelejmon and were immediately and fatally subjected to a withering barrage of assorted calibre guns which left the gallant vessel on fire and sinking. To further add to the chagrin of the admiral, the Bespokoiny class destroyers (with the Leutenant Puchsin torpedo boats and the Pamiat Merkurija protected cruiser gainfully trying to keep up with their speedier compatriots) managed to catch up with the rear of the two Turkish cruisers - the Mecidiye - and promptly proceeded to torpedo her, leaving her crippled and dead in the water.

With this final exchange the action drew to a close with the Russians suffering little or no damage. The Turks managed to lose a protected cruiser (soon to be repaired and taken into Russian service as the Prut) and a couple of destroyers but significantly, the lose of German prestige in the eyes of the Ottoman government was immense.

The rules worked pretty well but I need to tweak some of the factors - it is too easy to score with secondaries at long range and also, predreadnought battleships are a little on the tough side. The Yavuz was largely ineffective, even at close range so I need to consider this a little further.
I also need to think about drybrushing he cloth with some white as it comes up way too dark for photos!
The picture shows the Russian battleship Ioann Zlatoust steaming into action - no doubt to inflict further damage on the Turks.

Friday 23 October 2009

DBSA - The Great War at Sea Gridded

One of my ongoing projects, as readers of this blog will no doubt have noticed, is my attempt to 'grid' a version of Phil Barker's DBSA rules. This has been an ongoing saga for a number of months now and I came very close to abandoning the effort as I was getting in a flat spin over some of the mechanics. I think now however, I may have just about cracked it. The latest version incorporates some of the tidying up as a result of the recent playtest (Lepanto 1915) and I am now fairly satisfied that it is about ready. I will give this version a test at home and will persuade the club to give them a spin at some point as well. I will need to rework the ship specs to incorporate the change of movement rates as these are been altered and I have tweaked the turning rules. Firing has changed slightly - or rather I have added a couple of modifiers - and I have clarified LOS and some damage results. I will also need to write them up as a 'proper' set of rules with a playsheet rather than just as an expanded playsheet.

I am quite sure that further tinkering will be needed but probably not anything major. Ideally I would like to extend these rules to incorporate WW2 naval actions as well so obviously I will need to consider air power.

Should anyone want the latest draft of the rules then please let me know and I will be happy to send a copy on. As ever, I would appreciate any thoughts or observations.

The picture is of the German Battlecruiser Seydlitz and she is one of my favourite warships. Note the airship overhead - makes me even more determined to organise the Ottoman Air Fleet!

A Pharoah Way to Go.............

As a result of a number of fortuitous boot sale acquisitions I was able to engineer a trade for a number of titles I was keen to add to the collection. The two titles in the picture are a graphic example of this and very pleased I am to have them. As mentioned previously, I have acquired a Napoleonic era Ottoman Turkish army and given their activity in Napoleon's Egyptian and Holy Land adventures they are very timely additions to the library. Volume 1 covered the french whilst volume 2 covers the Mamelukes and the Turks; together with the British - so the possibilities are many and varied. There are plenty of figures around in 15mm for this (I shall be using Minifigs to go with the Navwar stuff I have) and as the scale of operations is fairly modest the project will not need huge amounts of kit to realise. It would certainly be a colorful undertaking and no mistake!
I would look to tackle the armies on a DBA basis with perhaps no more than 20 or so bases of figures a side for a representational look rather than 'normal' sized units. This will mean that the use of Tabletop Battles as the preferred rule set is a distinct possibility.

So, Mameluke, Turkish, French and British armies to consider - and an active naval scene as well - which again certainly gives plenty of variety!

I will sit down and think about the feasibility of the said armies - I always find this a therapeutic exercise - and calculate costs etc. The Turks I have little problem with although I will need to add some of the Nizam-I-Cedid troops to the existing collection. These were the new army raised by the Sultan using modern methods and training as opposed to the traditional Janissaries (who hated them with a passion!).

Much to ponder methinks!

Tuesday 20 October 2009

The Practical Wargamer

An unusual post, to be sure, but one certainly of interest. The table you see in the picture was acquired free of charge and is of a sturdy, fold up variety. It is 3ft by 2ft (exactly) which means that it is ideal for use with Tabletop Top Battles by Mike and Joyce Smith or any of Bob Cordery's When Empires Clash rule sets - all I need to do is to grid an appropriately coloured cloth to drape over it and I will be in business. It also serves as a handy table for anything else you care to name. It would also be an ideal DBA/HOTT table as you would have spare space on the surface for placing casualties and assorted gaming paraphernalia.

The box with the lift out tray I acquired at the lazybones boot sale for £2.50 and it is really useful. I wanted something like this for transporting figures etc on club nights and which was sturdy enough to withstand the inevitable bashing around in the car. Transporting figures etc and storing them is the bane of most wargamers lives and I for one am quite lazy about making custom boxes etc. As a result I am always on the look out for such things as box files and other such storage items. The trays contained within the box (I think it was designed for the artist although it was unused) are around 30mm deep which is a little limiting but ideal for 1/3000 and 1/2400 ships and anything 6 or 2mm. Certain 15mm armies could fit in them although such things as lance armed cavalry may be a little problematic. Certainly the 12mm plastic Risk figures fit in very snugly.
The Black Sea Russian navy is currently residing in the top shelf whilst I ponder the best way to store the rest of the fleets and also given that potential new addition to the 1/3000th naval collection may require rather more room than is currently available........................;-)

Monday 19 October 2009

Warlords of the Air

As part of my ongoing house cleaning of projects and gaming ideas, I came across my assembled but as yet unpainted Ottoman Turkish Dirigible Fleet. The models are really nice and originate from Brigade and are in need of some time and attention. I have had a bad time with the models for the Turks as whilst I really like the models Brigade have produced (they have a HUGE range for this period) I have often thought that they don't quite tick the boxes for how I envisage the Turks to look. It is a personal thing I am sure and no reflection on the Brigade design team! I have, in the past, scratch built many dirigibles - they are really easy to make - and every so often I get the urge to create some original models. All of my first generation dirigibles are now in the collection of Steve Blease of Wessex Games, the originators of Aeronef (along with Matthew Hartley), THE Victorian Aerial wargames rules that are fast approaching a second edition. Finishing the models I have would be a quick win as painting them is an easy task - unlike the Aeronef that need a little more work. In the meantime I shall mull over the future of the Turks I have - whether to finish them or build them from scratch - and also the fate of the opposition I have for them. I had planned to fight a VSF version of the WW1 Arab Revolt and to be honest, probably will still do so at some point, and the opposition consisted of a Royal Naval Air Service Red Sea squadron consisting of old aerial colonial cruisers and monitors - very much a second division force but sufficient to show the flag and keep the natives honest.

A bit of a ramble I know but in closing I have added a couple of pictures of some of my old scratch built kit for the Balkan Wars with the hope it will inspire readers to inspire me to get on with it! The names on the bases are taken from actual naval vessels of the period.

Sunday 18 October 2009

"Gladiators, I salute you...." Proximo aka Oliver Reed

Whilst in a frenzy of bite-sized projects I dragged out another 'quick win' in the shape of my two sets of EM4 Ludus Gladiatorius with 10 pre painted figures. All these need is to have the bases sanded and painted and are then ready for use. I have always enjoyed Gladiator games as they are cheap and easy to stage and there is a lot of 'kit' and rules available to use with them. On a historical note I once considered a Spartacus Slave army for DBA in 15mm but it never got much beyond the planning stage. I may revisit it at some point especially as I note there is now an Osprey campaign title devoted to the uprising.

"We who are about to die salute you!"

Saturday 17 October 2009

Terminator Marines - dont you just love 'em!! Part 8

The red marines are now complete and despite the best efforts of my camera to the contrary, they look rather nice. This was a much simpler undertaking than the blue marines as all I needed to do was to repaint the weapons and chest eagles and add the trim to the command figures shoulder pads. As before, the eagles and trim was painted using GW Burnished Gold and the hardware was drybrushed in GW Boltgun Metal. Some GW Desert Yellow was dusted on the sand bases as well, to add a little depth. The picture did not come out too well as the flash flooded the detail so I may change this later - the shading effect has been lost somewhat! Once again, a coat of GW Purity Seal satin varnish was added to give a lovely sheen and to enrich the base red.

I must confess that for 20 year old figures they have scrubbed up pretty well and will continue to cause mayhem across many a stricken hulk for hopefully another 20 years!

Thursday 15 October 2009

Terminator Marines - dont you just love 'em!! Part 7

As an extension to the two forces of terminator marines I have decided to paint the 10 scout marines that came with the GW game Tyranid Attack, which I own a copy of. I shall paint them up in the chapter colours I have used already i.e. red and blue, and I will also see about trying to source some figures from the old MB Games boardgame Space Crusade for use as the marines. These figures are also quite 'wooden' in terms of pose but they will fit in nicely with the 1989 to 1991 vintage plastic figures I have thus far. I still have another 27 Genestealers to paint to add to the 40 I already have and then of course there is the 6 Tyranids.............;-)

As I have a large chunk of this stuff already to use adding a few additional pieces is not too onerous - especially as the models are already on tap. Small, bite-sized add-ons is the way to go at the moment so the 10 figures referred to above will be a pleasant diversion from college assignments - as there are so few of them at least I wont feel guilty about spending too much time on them!

Terminator Marines - dont you just love 'em!! Part 6

At last the latest addition to the forces of the empire in the shape of 15 terminator marines have been completed. These models are the first plastic terminators that GW produced and all have had the aerials removed from the top of the model. They are pretty wooden in terms of pose but they are fine for all that. Just to recap, they were painted using a combination of enamels (base coat and black for the weapons and eagles), inks (well ink actually - overall full strength GW blue) and acrylics (GW Burnished Gold for the eagles and officers trim and GW Boltgun Metal drybrushed over the hardware) and some GW transfers for the shoulder flashes. The base was two layers of sand drybrushed with Desert Yellow and the whole lot was varnished with GW Purity Seal satin varnish. The Red marines will now go under the brush for a refurb to bring them up to the current standard.

Monday 12 October 2009

Late 18th Century and Napoleonic Ottoman Turks

This was a piece a pure indulgence; occasioned by my recent birthday and the receipt of £40 as a present from my son (bless him!). I am now the proud owner of a Navwar 15mm army for the Ottoman Turks for the late 18th century and Napoleonic period. The army may seem like an odd choice compared to some of the more obvious choices but the Turks in the period saw a reasonable amount of action - against the French in the Holy Land and the Russians most of the time - at least on and off until 1812). Napoleon's Egyptian campaign has always held a fascination for me as it combines many interesting facets - an exotic location, exotic opponents, relatively small scale, exotic locations (did I mention that?!) and a glimpse of the, yes you've guessed it, the exotic. The army itself has a solid core of Janissaries with hordes of Albanian Mercenaries and Anatolian Sekhans backed up by Suvarileri line cavalry and Sipahi light cavalry. The Turkish army of the period was best at ambush and guerilla type operations as the quality of training was pretty poor, even with the Janissaries. They were brave fellows though to be sure - especially when defending or attacking fortified places. The Mamluk armies of Egypt (Egypt, whilst conquered by the Turks in 1517 was pretty much self ruling as long as the tribute to the Sultan was paid on time) consisted of good quality cavalry and hordes of abysmal infantry so there is another avenue to explore. The figures were designed (I believe but would need to check this to be sure) by the same guy that does most of the designing for Minifigs and so using figures from them would present no problems from a compatibility perspective. Then of course, there is the British.................;-) Before anyone asks though - I have absolutely no idea when these will get a coat of paint although my only plea is guilty to the charge of restocking my unpainted lead mountain and associated project list!

To enter in the spirit of the age (not strictly accurate but I am sure you will get the point) I will leave the final word of the subject with a certain Mr Percy French who can sum it all up far more eloquently then I ever could.


byPercy French

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah,
Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.

If you wanted a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the foe from the rear,
Storm fort or redoubt, you had only to shout
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Now the heroes were plenty and well known to fame
In the troops that were led by the Czar,
And the bravest of these was a man by the name
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

One day this bold Russian, he shouldered his gun
And donned his most truculent sneer,
Downtown he did go where he trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Young man, quote Abdul, has life grown so dull
That you wish to end your career?
Vile infidel know, you have trod on the toe
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

So take your last look at the sunshine and brook
And send your regrets to the Czar
For by this I imply, you are going to die,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Then this bold Mameluke drew his trusty skibouk,
Singing, "Allah! Il Allah! Al-lah!"
And with murderous intent he ferociously went
For Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

They parried and thrust, they side-stepped and cussed,
Of blood they spilled a great part;
The philologist blokes, who seldom crack jokes,
Say that hash was first made on the spot.

They fought all that night ‘neath the pale yellow moon;
The din, it was heard from afar,
And huge multitudes came, so great was the fame,
Of Abdul and Ivan Skavar.

As Abdul's long knife was extracting the life,
In fact he was shouting, "Huzzah!"
He felt himself struck by that wily Calmuck,
Count Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

The Sultan drove by in his red-breasted fly,
Expecting the victor to cheer,
But he only drew nigh to hear the last sigh,
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir.

There's a tomb rises up where the Blue Danube rolls,
And ‘graved there in characters clear,
Is, "Stranger, when passing, oh pray for the soul
Of Abdul Abulbul Amir."

A splash in the Black Sea one dark moonless night
Caused ripples to spread wide and far,
It was made by a sack fitting close to the back,
Of Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

A Muscovite maiden her lone vigil keeps,
'Neath the light of the cold northern star,
And the name that she murmurs in vain as she weeps,
Is Ivan Skavinsky Skavar.

Alternate verses:

The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold
And quite unaccustomed to fear,
They could jockey a stallion, ambush a battalion,
And blow the froth off a beer

But needing a man to encourage the van,
Or harass the enemy's rear,
Or storm a redoubt, they would always send out
For Abdul Abulbul Amir.

Shakespeare it is not - but great fun all the same!

Sunday 11 October 2009

...And now, the end is near.................

The boot sale season is winding down as the weather begins to move into winter Yeuch! mode - damp and drizzly as I write this. Stoically though, both of our preferred bootsales are going to continue until the weather renders them untenable. I will continue to go until the mud seeps over the top of my wellies! Seriously though, I managed once again to pick up a couple of goodies at the much mentioned 'Lazybones' boot sale at Rettenden. Firstly, for the princely sum of 20p I acquired a copy of Donald Morris's The Washing of the Spears in paperback. this book has been on my 'to read' list for ages - I realise that it is a little dated - Ian Knight has covered the ground in exhaustive detail - but it is a classic and worthy of attention. The second title is a combined Blandford title published by Peerage and covers bombers and fighters of world war two. A handy reference for the bookshelf and a snip at 50p. The final item is the two disc special edition DVD of the classic film The Mission starring Robert De Niro and Jeremy Irons. It also features that hauntingly enigmatic soundtrack by Ennio Morricone. All I need now is two hours spare to watch it in...........;-) This cost me a £1 and was in unused condition.

The blue terminators have had the shoulder transfers added - not without a few dramas though and I must get some of that decal coat to apply them with. I am hoping to have them finished fairly soon.

Friday 9 October 2009

Terminator Marines - dont you just love 'em!! Part 5

I finally managed to get some time in on the blue marines this evening - the first layer of sand for the bases has been applied. My technique for basing these is to paint the base black (not all the mk.1 terminators had black bases - as there was originally only one model type the sergeants had a red base!) and then coat the top with PVA. This is then dipped into sand and the excess is lightly brushed off. I then give this a coat of gloss varnish before repeating the process. This is then gloss varnished and coated with a matt varnish over the top to finish it off. The two coats of gloss varnish serve to seal the sand to the base. This time however, I will be using some paint on the sand - if only as a highlight.

I have also received the scan of the Colonial Marines in Space Hulk contained in the Ragnarok Compendium from Mark Kitching to whom I extend my most grateful thanks. This are even better than I remembered and so I will have plenty of inspiration for 'Aliens' style games going forward. Aside from the normal Colonial Marine hardware (pulse rife, pistol, SMART gun etc) there is also some suggested rules for Sentry Guns which I had forgotten about and so was delighted to see.

Thursday 8 October 2009

Space Hulk Part 2

It was an enjoyable game of Space Hulk at the club last night - for a change I was using the Marines - and now that there have a been a few such sessions of familiarisation I am able to move onto the next phase: namely running one of the campaigns. This suggestion was greeted with enthusiasm by the attendees and given that there is quite a lot of 40K stuff at the club it will be pretty easy to set up. I am more than happy to run this as, to be honest, it will not need a vast amount of work to organise. From a time perspective (given my college obligations) it will fit in nicely as well - no late nights drafting scenarios etc! In my present circumstances I have absolutely no qualms at using 'pre-designed' gaming material in the interests of saving time; my feeling is that it is better to get a game in rather than none at all.

For the record, the marines won the scenario - we played 'Cleanse and Burn' and managed to get away with losing only 3 marines. Much muttering was heard from the various Genestealer commanders at the continued quality of the marines dice rolling.......................;-)

Wednesday 7 October 2009

Space Hulk

Just a quick post to say that this evening will see a Space Hulk taking place at the club which should be fun. My new blue marine squad is still waiting to be finished so the original red models will be used. I have managed to get the bits and pieces I need for the scratch built remote sentry guns and will post to the blog when they are ready. A simple model but it took an age to get the look right. I also have an idea for rules for them as well and best of all, a SFSFW acquaintance is going to send me the Colonial Marines adaptation that appeared in a very early edition of the society's journal - Ragnarok. This will be useful as it means that troops less heavily armed than terminator marines can be used with the correct weaponry. I also have some very nice figures that could be used for Colonial Marines from EM 4 miniatures. Of course, they will need painting............;-)

Tuesday 6 October 2009

Boot sales, Assignments and Tai Chi

This is a mixed post and no mistake! After the recent upheaval of my daughter's hospital visit it was with some relief that this weekend saw a return to what passes for normality in my household. To that end, we visited the famed 'lazybones' boot sale at Rettenden on Sunday and boy did I do well! The three books in the picture above came to £5 in total and are now residing in the fast filling library in my 'office'. Russia's War by Richard Overy tells the story from the Soviet perspective which I am sure will make for interesting reading. The Russian campaign of the last war is one of those periods of history I would love to game in some fashion but I have never gotten around to it. I used to really enjoy playing Cross of Iron (the first and IMHO best expansion for Squad Leader) and one of my most read books is Guy Sajer's The Forgotten Soldier which is set across the Eastern Front. I would prefer to game this at an operational level using something like Megablitz or Divisional Commander rather than tactical as the idea of irresistible force meeting an immovable object has an appeal all of its own! The other two titles will sit firmly in my rapidly expanding Dark Age Britain collection. I have always had a soft spot for the age of King Alfred and the associated Viking 'stuff' so this is a welcome addition. The Arthurian title is yet another twist on the story and will provide much food for thought.

The next bargain cost me £2 and is a complete copy of the game Cathedral. The idea of this game is to occupy the most amount of a medieval city within the perimeter walls by placing buildings to cover the ground and deny it to your opponent. The buildings are plan and in two shades of brown except the cathedral which is black. the game is good fun but true to my wargaming heritage I was mainly interested in the buildings. These would need painting and as mentioned are plain with no surface detail. In terms of size they would probably suit 6 to 10mm figures but I plan on using them for my 12mm 18th century Risk stuff when I ever get around to it. They would be very easy to paint into representative horse and musket generic buildings and so £2 for 29 buildings and two bridges is a bargain!
I have just completed my first assignment for college and have already hit a small problem. Not one that is difficult mind, just one that is probably a reflection of one of my more endearing habits. The assignment was fairly modest - 500 to 700 words outlining the role and responsibilities of the teacher in the teaching cycle - and so I attacked it my usual gusto and managed to complete it in 1,348 words...................As a result I have spent the last two days whittling it down to a more modest size and finished up with 864 words! My mission statement of never using a sentence when a paragraph (or two) will do just as nicely may need some drastic revision!
Finally, I fulfilled a long held ambition to start Tai Chi and so had my first session yesterday. I really enjoyed it although initially had all the grace and poise of an overweight Walrus attempting to do the Tango. It is not easy and is all about control my young padawans....;-). I ache in places I had forgotten I had although not in a major 'I-have-just-run-a-marathon' kind of way. The thing that struck me as odd though was the fact that some of the 108 moves have had their names 'updated' from the original Chinese descriptions. For Example, the 'Crane spreading wings' is now known, rather less poetically, as the 'unscrewing the light bulb' move. I know which one I prefer!!

Friday 2 October 2009

A 'Risky' Business Part 2

You may recall my post in September in which I was extolling the virtues of using the figures from the 2004 edition of the popular board game - Risk. Since that time I have been keeping a weather eye open at boot sales to see if I could acquire further sets. I have had no luck thus far but did manage to get a copy from ebay for a reasonable price - which means the body count is now double the previous total. I have been trying out a few base sizes for these and am looking at a 40mm frontage with 4 close order foot, 3 loose and 2 skirmisher types. The loose order will probably be for militia type troops. The base depths will be 15mm for the close order foot and 20mm for the other with mounted 30mm deep. I checked out the new Pendraken 10mm AWI range (see for details) and am really pleased that the infantry command figures are available separately - if you remember the foot figures came in about 12mm and given the slight scale creep with most figure ranges these days I am hoping that they will fit in without looking too out of place. The infantry figure looks closest to an AWI British Infantryman than anything else but at the price I paid for both sets and the quantity I now have I shall not be being overly pedantic about national dress!

Thursday 1 October 2009

Lepanto - 1915 Part 3 and 100 Not Out

Last night saw the play test of the latest version of the DBSA WW1 Navl Gridded Rules and as is usual with things, a few issues raised their ugly heads. Sadly I am not able to give a blow by blow account of the action other than to describe it as a narrow Turkish victory after they had managed to sink a couple of bases of DDs and cripple a light cruiser for no loss and with very little damage. Much muttering under the collective Austro Hungarian and Italian admirals breath was heard concerning the quality of the Turkish dice rolling (or was it the poor quality of their own?).

I will need to clarify the turning rules a little as they caused a degree of confusion in their execution - nothing major - just a tad reworking. Also on the hit list will be LOS implications when using destroyer screens as well as firing arcs for DDs themselves.

I will need to consider the inferior/superior nature of particular vessels as now the dice roll has been removed from costed turns and speed I need to think about how to factor this into the rules.

Overall I am quite satisfied with the core mechanics for this set - it is just a case of fine tuning to make them a viable alternative to more traditional sets.

This post is also a milestone of sorts as it is my 100th. I am really enjoying the whole blogging thing and it has given me much inspiration and welcome support for all of my varied endeavours. With this in mind I should like to extend my warmest thanks to all that have contributed or even just browsed through - cliched I know, but I really could not have done it without your continued and most welcome support.

Here's to the next 100!!