Friday, 18 August 2017

Other things that Shine.

Regular readers will notice that I'm quite taken with my "Shinyloo" project  which finally is almost table ready. Indeed if all goes to plan the next but one T.W.A.T.S   game should be their first outing. The whole project is so different from my other periods- not just in terms of look but also in terms of approach and yes style. In theory this will also change the "gaming experience" though that awful phrase was never part of the original idea.
A Stadden AWI British General, possibly Howe, bought in the 1980s already secondhand.
Repainted at least once and possibly with as many as 3or 4 coats of varnish!

 Indeed  most modern gaming jargon leaves me cold as it is frequently gobbledegook and often put in to confuse and obfuscate the lack of actual content in the latest skirmish-a-like. The "rampant" series being a perfect example of this (though by no means the only one) 3 or 4  books containing mostly the same rules trying to get the punters to believe that they are different. The startling thing is that some of you fall for it. Indeed I did myself and only AFTER purchase did I realise I had bought a pig in a poke.

However the foregoing is not to the point  caveat emptor thinks I, moving on...

 So getting back to the shine and the main thrust of this piece. "Shinyloo" has caused me to re-think quite a few of my smaller wargaming periods- especially those where the collections have older figures in them.. Now the ECW collection is already split into two distinct groups and is not small having both older Hincliffe and Garrison  units- most bought from DC of the splendid "Unfashionably Shiny" blog but also additions of my own - most notable my single regiment of Les Higgins Jason 30mm and a single troop of Jason cavalry but also more recent additions from this year of Hincliffe,Essex and Foremost cavalry. All of these are shiny dudes simply because it seems to fit the style of the models. Equally I have more "modern" ECW forces- almost entirely Old Glory given a matt finish and again added to as recently as a couple of months ago. Now I've no objection to using all of these on the same table for a big game but with around 1000 plus figures to move to the pub it is not likely to happen soon. Nevertheless the point  here is that - for certain periods- shiny has taken my fancy.

Shiny scenery. All of the hedges, fences and haystacks are at least 60 years oldand have been repainted and repaired as well as being based up for wargames

So  given that some of the first Stadden 30mm I ever bought- sometime in the late 80s were AWI- all secondhand and including a steal of a 30 plus man unit of SYW Prussians for a mere two quid at a Durham wargames group auction , you'd think that my AWI forces would be as shiny as can be. But no gentle reader, you would be wrong. When I first painted them yes they were shiny but for reasons which now escape me I matt varnished them in the noughties. Gawd knows why, upon reflection - possibly because my modern AWI units were matt and indeed still are.. Anyhow digging out the AWI forces for a future game I realised that the matt varnished Staddens were a bit dull and chipped and could do with a bit of TLC  which they are now slowly getting- along with nice new shiny coats of fresh varnish. Now since I was also restoring and repainting some 1950s Britians and Timpo fences and haystacks at the same time then they received a coat of gloss varnish as well  so we now have shiny scenery!. Some of these -bought for just a few quid- scenic items are actually for 54 mm figures but don't look out of place with 30mm or 40mm. They did need a good bit of restoration- one of the hay haystacks had a hole in it- being hollowcast it was a bit obvious. However filling and re-texturing was no problem and now the only way I can tell where the damage was is by touch. All the items needed repainting but that was a doddle- even trying to make the flatish hedges look a bit like a theatre backdrop was not too difficult- though I may need a tad more practice at this.

Stadden 30mm American riflement skulking behind hedges and fences 

 I've thought for some time that I wanted a somewhat different look to some of my collections and games. I don't know about you but these days many show games look so samey- especially from more than 6 feet away. Green blocks of terrain tiles  ready made scenery - often those laser cut buildings- which not infrequently look like  flatpack furniture for the wargames table unless some chap has put in the extra effort needed to make them look like model buildings. Of course it depends on the when and the where but I do find myself surprised and indeed rather pleased when a demo- game LOOKS different from the herd. Newark- this coming Sunday is always a respectable bet for games that stand out as it has not, so far, been infected with samey-gamey 4 feet square skirmish -a -likes to the same extent as other shows I've been to over the last few years.

Stadden  AWI British grenadiers with light Infantry doing their own skulking.

Now I'm not altogether sure where this is going  but if I get a retro look to the scenery that fits the retro look of the figures- both AWI and Napoleonic then my work here is done.......

More Stadden. . Units will grow as I repiant and restore these old figure. 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Claymore! August 5th Edinburgh

 My next show in my Old Glory UK hat will be Claymore on August 5th in Edinburgh.. Always a good event this  both from a traders and punters point of view and well worth the effort of attending.
 Although the new Blue Moon Boxer rising range did not arrive with my last shipment- despite my ordering those packs I knew about I'll still have some new  items for the show.
 Check out the Raven Banner Games 28mm ACW range. They are superb. The newest models of Union personalities really do look like the chaps they represent- even before I knew precisely what the packs were supposed to contain I could tell which was Sam Grant and which was Phil Sheridan. Blokes more knowledgeable in the period that I will know Meade, Rosencrans, Hooker and all the rest when they see them.
 Check out this U-tube video from one of the chaps who was a Kickstarter contributor.

In the Blue Moon 15mm range there are additions to the Zulu War range. Still more to come here but the additional packs- Imperial and Colonial cavalry add to the range.
 I also have a couple of new packs of 28mm Drabant- Pictish Spearmen and some new Saxons. I would also have had the new Pechenegs... but have sold out and it is a long way from Russia with or without love so I may not get replacement stock before Claymore !. Nevertheless I will have all the Drabant 28mm I have to hand at the show Viking ,Normans, Saxon, Russians and the new Picts.

I'll also be bringing some regimental packs in 28mm which don't usually get to shows.  These are Blue Moon Sash and Saber and Old Glory second Edition unit packs for the Seven Years War, AWI and Napoleonic . The selection is a bit eclectic but includes some SYW French Infantry and Russian , Austrian.  British and French Napoleonic as well as a selection of AWI Continentals and British .  Prices will depend upon precise pack contents but the show only offer  price for a 36- 38 figure unit pack will be £25.00. These are metal figures so you do not need to spend half of your life assembling them!  Get them while they last. . There will also be some bargain packs of a "one-off" variety. Prices will be anything from 20% to50% lower than list.  Get them while you can as once they are gone they are gone.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Not sure what to think!!

As you are all well aware our hobby is very individual. Would not have it any other way myself, yet sometimes, just sometimes something really makes me wonder why the hell some blokes bother.
 So it was when MW412  plopped on the matt a few days ago.
 Actually it is not a bad magazine the star article being for a Caesars Gallic War campaign. Althoigh not really my thing this is meaty stuff and I'm sure some of the ideas and mechanics could be used for later periods.
 The " Island in the Sun article... well although set in 1935  technologically speaking it felt more like 1905 or 1915  as far as the political background went- nothing too new here - Featherstone was doing  his "Mythical East Asia " campaign in the 1960s and this reads like an updated version . Nothing wrong with that at all.
In the steadily growing Darker Horizons Fantasy section there was actually something decent - needed to be after the nice to look at but risably  sub-titled "How to paint a  realistic elven army" - my italics- Gimme a break ! Since when did Elfs  become real.?
 Now this new piece highlighted the Dropship from the movie Aliens and was basically a how build one using a commercial kit and as a sometime SF game it was tempting. I can see the 69th M.I.LF. debussing from one or more of those suckers but as I'm unlikely to drop a ton and half for  just one of them I will have to find another option ..... Nice article though.

 There was other stuff- building Greek Temples and a pirate scenarioand a nice little piece about the Maidstone Wargames Society but the rest of the mag - bar one piece- was mostly reviews- including a long review of Bob Cordery's Portable Wargame books- now however interesting these may be to some I simply can't see the point. If you are so time, or family or space pressured that you can only give up an hour or so a week to wargaming then frankly I would not bother. You should have better things to do.

 Now as it happens I only tend to actually PLAY around a dozen times a year or even a little less- which actually works out at  a bit less than an hour a week but personally I'd rather spend time doing fewer but arguably better games  with my mates that this 2 foot square fiddlefarting about just because they need to indulge a "gaming fix". Oh and no I don't have- or indeed want my own table- rather have more bookshelves and play at the pub with the rest of the T.W.A.T.S. We actually - at least some of the time prefer to put a bit of personal effort in.

Speaking of effort we now come to the piece that inspired the title of this post. "Hypocrisy in Wargaming- written by - once you read the piece- one of the Hypocrites. He makes it clear that he likes the visual side of the hobby and tells us how important it is- then says that it shouldn't matter , well not for him anyway . Not that his assertions are wrong  but I'm afraid he just come across as a bit whiney. It is at bottom another anti- painting and modelling piece by one of the "Can't paint , won't paint" brigade- though I suspect that being colour- blind is a bit of a handicap. Having said that one of our members suffers from this malady to an extent and it has not stopped him. This fellas seem to come from the Fantasy competitions part of the hobby -  but the piece appears in the main body of the mag rather than the Fantasy Ghetto of "Darker Horizons".

 I'm not sure but this lad seems to have been persecuted for putting unpainted models on the table at  some Fantasy Competition or other using some game I've never heard of by a company I don't care about. If true- no reason to doubt the chaps veracity- then somebody is guilty of at best bad manners at worst being a complete bastard deserving of one of two outcomes. Either walk away and tell 'em to shove their competition or give the offender a punch up the throat- your choice here depending upon the severity of the offence! (But of course in the whiney world  you have created you can be as nasty as you like to anyone you like without fear of retribution... and they call it freedom ...)

 This must be a fantasy thing. I've not seen unpainted models on a table at a public event since about 1979 and even then that was unusual enough to be memorable (They were flesh pink Atlantic plastic Ancient Egyptians). I've not had unpainted models on any of my games since about 1974. As I grew up it became one of those  "Things That Are Just Not Done" - you know like farting before a Bishop - (especially when you know it should be his turn!)

So it seems to me as if this bloke wants to use his disability to explain why he- and others like him should not follow the rules laid down(or perhaps not) by the various fantasy outfits who run these competitions. You know if it was me I'd tell 'em to "garn ferk thersels"  in no uncertain terms.
 Some of the claims he makes about the various competitions  simply would not happen in Historical wargaming(you must use this brand of figures for this game - again GFY)  The piece overall simply made me even  less likely to ever play any form of Fantasy game ever. The whole scene comes across from this a just too narrow and possibly at times dammed unpleasant.

I'll go and play with some more civilised gentlemen down the boozer !

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Odious Cubes Strike again... and fiddling in a little sack!

There are large parts of our hobby that I find distinctly risable and last Saturday saw laughter in fine measure- both at ourselves and at the situation.
 Let me explain....
 Saturday saw out usual gathering at our usual watering hole for a game. We had a total of 6 members abnd guests present. Steve- in the chair Andrew Shaun, Lim aka Garth- and Liam's younger brother Jake
 Steve was in the chair and opted for a WW2 Russian Front game in 20mm. He has a really cracking collection of models by various makers including Elheim a maker I'd not seen in any detail before-who do some really sweet 20mm models. If I were a 20mm man I'd be sending some shekels his way but I'm not so I'm saved!!
Russians- dug in . 

 I opted for the Russians- expecting some T-34 and Katyuska .WRONG!  It is 1941 so the Russians don't have any decent kit. Hi-tech is a T -26 or BT-7  or some big klunky wossname with guns sticking out in all directions but not enough crew to man them all.
 Mind you the Germans were not much better off top of their tree was a 38t
 So the stage was set for an interesting day- just not quite in the way I imagined.
Panzer 38t.Halted by consistant Russian Mortar fire. 

 Steve chose the "Battlegroup"  rules which the rest of us had never tried and yes they very definitely have a plus side but they also have some pretty strong minus points as well . Most notably  no command structure worth a damn...(actually that is not strictly true but you will see what I mean)  Very VERY dice heavy- this is another "game" where  rolling D6 is seen as an intellectual activity and also some fiddling about in a small sack to draw chits- which are mostly pointless unless they are super deadly. Both sides spent at least as much time fighting the rules as they did each other. This "game" suffered from the modern curse of "mechanisms" seemingly put in for their own sake rather than as an aid to the players understanding of how battles worked.
The Germans finally reach their intitial objective.

  This game was at a relatively low command level of squads and platoons rather than say CD where the level is companies and Battalions. The major problem here was in the area of command. Now as you would expect the Russian Command Structure in 194 was a bit ropey to say the least. No problem there but the game called for you to roll "order dice" every move to see how many orders you could issue. Again no problem there, not a bad idea at all. However for reasons not explained to me troops immediately forgot any orders they had already been issued with at the beginning of each turn. Further a tank unit for example consisted  of individual tanks which each had to be issued an individual order so 5 tanks 5 orders-  though there seemed to be some kind of "command Radius" which meant tanks were almost track to track-each turn even if an order had already been issued to them. Add to this an IGOUGO turn system and the game slowed to a crawl with large periods of time doing nothing, waiting for the other side.  Andrew commented that the whole thing felt rather "bitty". I know what he means.. The skill - with this "game" is to fight the rules not the opponent. I can see the point of some of this stuff after all it introduces Clauswitzian friction into the game rather nicely but this is obviously designed as a "game" for mechanism freaks rather than period freaks ... and in this particular case the drawing of chits from Steve's little felt sack changed the game so utterly that skill or period knowledge had nothing to do with it at all only luck- there were apparently 2 "air strike" chits in the bag-  out of around 50  chits I think the Germans drew them both in succession and killed 60% of the Russian armour in 1 turn - or was it two. The Russian air and artillery was not negligable- halting their tank advance and wiping out an infantry squad and frankly had it not been for the luck of the draw the game may well have bogged down into a stalemate as each side fought the rulebook to try to get something to happen. I would have expected a German command superiority here but Shaun And Andrew seem to have lesser but similar problems- they never seemed to be abler to move all of their troops - even those not in contact without the re-issuing of the same repeated orders each turn.

The start of the Russian counter attck. Most of these troops and more would be slaughtered by 2 Stuka attacks .

 Frankly that to me is a clumsy mechanism which does not reflect the actuality. Troops will usually attempt to carry out there orders until the situation changes so having to repeat the same order to non-moving troops or troops not in contact with the enemy is just silly and over complex. Now changing orders can be hard so perhaps needing more order points to change an order would help here rather than repeating yourself. Overall there was more than a hint of  the currently fashionable "game mechanism for the sake of mechanism" here than a set of low level WW2 rules.

The Victorious Germans after our single air strike came in. 

 Yet these were not complete rubbish by any means. We will need to play several more games to be sure but there is a bit of potential here. Combat resolution is pretty simple- artillery does work well  though perhaps some kind of observation rules might help. One game does not give you all the nuance- assuming these rules have any- but I'm certainly willing to give them another bash

Monday, 3 July 2017

Shining again

I decided to have a little bash at photographing some of the nice shiny French I've recently added to the "Shinyloo" project which now only needs some available table time for the first game. I suspect that a little tweaking will be needed but nothing major.

 When I consider what bloody awful condition some of these figures were in when I bought them and how they look now I am on the verge of being rather smug- if not actually so !

 The Chasseurs of the Guard are mostly old 30mm Minifigs on Stadden or Willie Horses . Most of the Grenadiers are Minot- with some Stadden
 The single Mameluke is a Stadden

My mind is working towards using "Charge!" for the games but with a few amendments. Mostly to organisation - French Companies for instance will have 18 privates- allowing them to form 3 ranks of 6 . They will of course only be allowed to fire 2 ranks deep. This should neatly give the British their historical fire superiority without unbalancing the rules. -Solving the tactical problem this causes will be the French Commanders task. The only other amendment I'm thinking of is adding specific rules for the British Rifle. A longer range certainly but hampered by slower loading, perhaps an ability to "pick off" officers etc at closer ranges. Still thinking about this. Possibly not until a game or two have actually been played .

The following day.
Had another look at the batch of pictures I took  before deleting the rubbish and decided to add 2 more photos to this group. The Grenadier officer with his arm stuck out is a 30mm Minifig with a replacement sword from flattened brass wire. The Chasseur officer is a Staddenon a Stadden Horse.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

What do you expect from a "Wargames Show" ?

 Recently I was reading up a few blog posts regarding the recent Durham Wargames Group show- which the T.W.A.T.S  attended with a 40mm Wars of the Roses game- which it has to be said was well received by several bloggers despite the odd factual inaccuracy.
 However in other ways the show got a bit of a spanking. Various chaps called it tired and lacklustre which I think was a bit harsh- and wishing to consign it to the dutbin of history is a bit unkind even if it is just a chairman's ego trip,

Sash and Saber 40mm Napoleonics. Emulating a pic from a Featherstone book.

 Now I'm not conversant with internal politics at the Durham club- nor do I wish to be but the points raided by Colin Ashton and Zabadak are worth considering in regard to small shows in general and what people expect from them.

 Putting my traders hat on for a moment I don't go to Durham primarily as a trader  as it is too small- and possibly more importantly - there is no space.

40mm English Civil War - again from a Featherstone book. The figures are  mostly Romanoff some with Sash and Saber heads

However even if there were space I'm not sure I'd go as it is too small and I doubt I'd cover the £250-£300 it would cost to do. Frankly an awful lot of small shows are like that. Battleground in Middlesborough  did not do the economic business- the last one I did being- financially speaking- the worst show I'd attended for over 20 years (which probably means , taking price rises and inflation into account the worst EVER by a long way). Border Reiver looked to be heading that way too. Now I'm no longer involved -and have no axe to grind- being no longer financially responsible for the show (and yes taking a cut of the fees and door money since I was paying most of the bills) I can say that without that - in straight day trade so to speak -the show was ,at best, marginal over the last 4 or 5 years with last year being pretty poor. Over the years I've been to other small shows across the country where trading has frankly been at best marginal at worst a waste of time. Over time these events have been winnowed out of the Old Glory UK calendar.

40mm Sash and Saber Viking and Saxons slugging it out. Again from a Featherstone book 

Now how other traders  fare at these events is, of course, a question for them and nothing to do with me so if they do OK  and fulfil their own criteria then they will keep going I assume. Of course if they are part-timers they may not have strictly economic  criteria to fulfil but that is another story.

Old Glory 25mm - or 28mm if you prefer . The difference is purley academic. This picture inspired by Young.

Now back in " ye olden tymes" before the internet going to shows was just as much about advertising as about making a few quid. Despite some chaps thinking traders should go to shows "for the marketing opportunity"(whatever that actually means. In extremis  it has tended to mean standing about for 8 hours while some geezer tells you the sandals of your 15mm Samnites are from the wrong century or asking you why your 10mm figures don't have bare feet. Yes both of these happened to me at different shows - neither of which we do now) shows just are not as important as they used to be. Now as it happens I still think customer contact is important so will continue doing some shows each year as long as they remain economically viable which,for me, means not actually losing money by turning up i.e I'd like to at least break even. In the past I've given shows a couple of years to do this  but now I'm down to a bedrock 7 events a year ALL  of which have in past years cut the mustard.
 This year only the new Derby Worlds at Bruntingthorpe in Liecestershire is a possible candiDate for future dismissal but we'll have to see. Yes Old Gloryb UK are going to the show but as I said in a previous post I'm only taking the 15mm lines and maybe 10mm so other range will have to be pre-ordered Jumping the stand price by almost 20% was a bit on the steep side so even with a smaller stand  factoring in Van hire, Hotels and crew wages a Grand will have gone before I've sold a soldier. It therefore follows that on the whole, for me smaller shows are not always economic

Now taking off my trading hat and putting on the Punters cap.....

As a punter my wants at a show -especially a small one -are a bit different and Durham filled those very well. This is not to say that I don't see Colin's and Zabadak's points as, if  I and the rest of the T.W.A.T.S  were not doing a demo there I personally probably would not go- simply because in most respects I'm no ordinary punter in that I live with this stuff every day. I'm surrounded by it and on most days -unlike a hobbyist- I can't simply walk away and do something else.
 Having said that I enjoyed Durham in a way that I didn't enjoy many of the lacklustre shows I have traded at. It is pretty nice to talk to chaps without my traders hat on and to connect with the hobby in a way other than business. The onus to at least cover your sometimes considerable costs simply is not there.

But in the wider sense is that enough? I like running a demo  game now and again but is that the same for everyone? I enjoy the player and punter interaction but obviously some gamers do not judging by how hard it is at some shows to actually get a word out of some demonstrators. This kind of stuff has happened at shows since Christ was a corporal. "Introverts R Us " is nothing new but at best it is bad manners at worst downright nasty.What these people expect from a show is largely beyond me. I can't see why they would bother when all they do is the same as they would on "club night".

More 28mm Old Glory and Sash and Saber. Inspired by Young.

My personal impression is that it is on the rise again after mostly disappearing in the 90s. I do far fewer shows  these days than I did back then so perhaps I notice ignorance(and bad hygiene) more now than I did then. What that means is that I don't want to fall into the same trap on my "one demo a year" as I have found at other shows. Not being obsessed by the actual gaming is an advantage here. Understanding that mere dice rolling is not an intellectual activity means that I can turn my energies to other things within the broad spectrum of the hobby. And yes blokes at shows often ARE interested in other aspects of the hobby besides the dice rolling. Whatever the game design lobby may think.

 On that level Durham does well and gives us what we want from a small local event. No pressure, a  relaxing day . A chance to put on something a little better that our normal games in the pub (no beef butties though!)and a chance to talk to chaps outside our group about what we- and they- enjoy about the hobby. So for a smaller event that will do nicely thank you.

The photos- all of these are "studio shots" of pictures I've done at various time "re-imagining" pictures from the classic books. I leave it to you , Gentle Reader, to guess which books .

Thursday, 22 June 2017

The rest of the Year. Shows in 2017

 I thought I'd better bring interested chaps up to speed on Old Glory UK's show dates for the rest of 2017.
 We have 3 more events in the rest of this year.
 Next up for us will be Claymore! in Edinburgh of Saturday August 5th at the Usual venue of Edinburgh College ,Granton Campus West Granton Rd Edinburgh EH51QE.
Always a good event and well worth travelling to.We will have all of our usual show stock there . Hopefully we will also have some new Blue Moon  15mm releases in several different ranges. Mad Anthony Wayne, Xulu war and maybe Boxer Rising.

After that there will be The Other Partizan at the George Stephanson Hall, Newark Showground.  on August 20th. Now the change in venue really has sparked this show up. No more dark dreary Kelham with miners lamps on your head.! No more tortuous unload with everybody and his brother getting in the way.
 No that is all gone. Now we have a light airy hall where you CAN see your hand in front of your face and you CAN get your gear in easily. The catering is, by show standards pretty good too.
 So yes we shall be there again with all of our usual show stock

Our final show of the Year will be the Derby Worlds at the new venue of Bruntingthorpe in Leicestershire- pretty far away from Derby really and to all intents and purposes a new show. on the 7th and 8th October. The new venue looks good in the promo video- similar to Newark but perhaps a bit shinier and after a bit of a false start the new organisers seem to be getting it together.


 WE ARE ONLY TAKING 15MM and possibly 10mm ranges to this event. as we have only booked a 12 foot stand due to the high price of stands at an unproven event.
 So we will have with us all the Blue Moon 15mm and all Command Decision WW2 and Modern.and very possibly all of the 10mm Gunpowder ranges.
 All other ranges will need to be pre-ordered. as we will not be carrying 25/8mm or 40mm with us at this event.
 This restriction ONLY applies to this show

Of course pre-orders are welcome for all 3 shows and as ever the "6for5" deal will be in operation.

Now that is it for the rest of the year as far as shows are concerned.
 As I intimated in an earlier post I will not be attending Border Reiver in September- the current organisers made it quite clear that Old Glory UK would not be welcome so I am complying with their wishes.