Tuesday, 6 December 2016

The Pure Hell of Christmas

 I have this dream around this time of year. There I am sitting at a table  surrounded by ahem"friends and family"(who in this dream I do not know) all wearing silly paper hats and stuffing themselves into a mindless stupor with  sprouts and turkey(and OOH these sprouts have been on the stove since Thursday ! and OOH getting that 64lb Turkey into the oven wasn't half a chore! ) Needless to say the awful bread sauce is thick enough to put into a mould and the shrieking from sundry brats  blarting about how Santa didn't bring them the latest version of Zombie massacre 29 (and some of those brats are at least 32 ) is enough to burst your eardrums and of course my fresh foaming pint of "Old Horizontal" is just out of reach and the bells jingle louder and the fake snowflakes fall like 81mm mortar shells and every list has been checked at least twice.......

Then I wake up on a cold sweat and THANK GOD it is only December 6th.


Now don't for a moment think I'm anti- Christmas. I'm not- well not altogether- though perhaps if James Stewart HAD jumped off the bridge in "Its A Wonderful Life"  we would not have to put up with that mawkish drivel year after year. (Though I can handle "The Great Escape" and even "The Wizard of Oz" no problem).
 No my problem here is not MY or indeed myself and my wife Carole's - Christmas but the way every other buggers Christmas- or more accurately the expected  correct commercial Christmas is rammed down your throat like a 12 pounder roundshot. 
It's enough to make you weep sometimes.
 So what is my kind of Christmas- well for a start it means a few days off without having to think about little lead men or parcels, some "quality time" (awful phrase)  for Carole and myself perhaps the odd visit to family.... maybe... though hoping to avoid stroppy teenage nieces who can't converse without use of the texting thumbs.
 As for Christmas dinner- well I hate Turkey so this year it is venison- so Rudolf had better not stop here. He'd be on the plate before he'd finished noshing his 3 millionth carrot of the night. How the overweight bugger leaps from rooftop to rooftop is beyond me and if Santa gets outside all that sherry- or milk and cookies  when in the USA- he's going to throw his guts up somewhere over the Pacific .Will NORAD be able to  track that I wonder?.

Image result for christmas images cartoon

So basically I'm looking forward to the holiday to a bit of peace and quiet - and even  a small amount of Goodwill to all men - and women.
So here's Hoping your all have a Very Merry Christmas and a Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Related image

Friday, 25 November 2016

Troops of Horse and Photo software.

These Two troops of Roundhead cavalry have been on my desk for some time- Both will join existing troops to form larger regiments. So the Orange Cornet will join the Earl of Essex's regiment and the Red Cornet Sir William Balfour's  regiment. Both troops will join the "Modern ECW"  army rather than the shiny 1970s one. The Parliametarians in this collection are representative of the Earl of Essex's Army for the Edgehill campaign. The Royalists  more for the Summer of 1643.
 The shiny blokes are of course for 1978 !
 However  I do fancy doing  an "Edgehill-a-like" sort of refight at the Durham show this coming june(assuming of course that they are kind enough to invite us) where I use about 90% of the ECW stuff I own all on one table- the thick end of 1000 figures I think, though I have not actually counted 'em all.

Troop of Sir William Balfours Regiment of Horse. Possibly that of his Major and Son- William Balfour . 

 The models are all Old Glory though the horses- again Old Glory are- or some of them are- no longer in production. We changed our horses a good few years ago as some of the older ones were a bit thin. However I still have a few of the older horses left in my personal stock and for some units I prefer them.
Two troops together led by Sir William Balfour. Though at Edgehill he may have been in Cuirassier armour as the first Colonels troops of his regiment consisted of 802 cuirassiers plus officers.  So I might paint another ! 
Close up of the two troops. 

An 8 figure Troop represents a standard  troop of horse of roughly 70 men plus Officers so figure to man ratio is about 1-10 . However on the table they often act more like "divisions" of 2-3 troops which was the standard fighting  formation- we'd call it a squadron.
 Photo software can do your head in . I took these pics yesterday and the machine then hid them in the bowels of itself when I uploaded them to the computer. Apparently  the photo software  thinks it is Jan 1st 2005  despite haveing accurate clocks and calendars for other functions. Talk about left hand not knowing what the right is doing.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Rules rules games games.

Saturday the 19th Novemebr saw 5 TWATS   gather at our usual haunt for this months game - or rsather games
 Andrew the Tekkie was in the chair so it was 15mm Moderns using my British and Iraqi forces. However the idea this time was a bit different.
 Basically  Andrew and I wanted to test 3 rule sets to see how they compared. So Andrew set up a simple scenario which would be played out to each of the 3 sets
Team Yankee as it is the newest brightest ans shinyest came first . This would be its first outing
 Cold War Commander as we'd never actually played this and finally
 Combined Arms- is our usual set for these games and would therefore be the last of the 3 test games. In the event it didn't get played but as we knew what to expect from the system it did not change out ultimate findings.
 Andrew will post  accounts of the 2 battles on his blog Tantobie Internet Tattler in due course .http://tantobieinternettattler.blogspot.co.uk/
 I'm going to restrict myself to my opinion of the two rule sets.
The table laid out for both games- Iraqis nearest the camera. 

 I was deeply sceptical about Team Yankee. It is a glorified skirmish game where one tank represents one tank. Higher formations  than the company tend to be ignored for though you could play them if you had enough kit it would be a major exercise. Some things really jar- baled out tank crews for a start- not in a 1980s battlefield- well not for very long anyhow. My first reading of the rules was pretty cursory but they seemed rather simplistic and as always with that style of rule writing just a bit patronising. I was prepared to give them a proper spanking. Yet it has to be said I've played worse. The game was quick and frantic and quite dice driven yet it had its points. By the end of 5 turns there were dead tanks everywhere- mostly - but not entirely Iraqi and the British recon unit and 2 Challenger had ceased to exist. For the  1980s North German plain that is not actually bad- and since that is what the rules are designed for... The feel however was very gamesey, very shazam-kapow somehow quite teenage. Yet there was a bit of potential. The off- putting part is the price- not just of the basic rules but of all the add-ons- apparently £16.00 for the artillery  bombardment tool- some plastic thingy and of course around £12.00 for each of the add on books/army lists not to mention the vicious prices of some of the models. Of course this last does not bother us since we have bundle of modern stuff available.
 Despite all this I am, surprisingly, a long way from writing these off. I still prefer Combined Arms over Team Yankee - as it doesn't treat you like a 14 year old- and does not threaten to market the shite out of you at every opportunity. Also I prefer the higher command level of CA. Nevertheless TY was a good bit better than expected- 6/10
Team Yankee- move 2 and the Iraqis still survive ! 

Now we come to Cold War Commander. In theory it is set at the same command level as  CA- with one model representing a platoon but there the resemblance ends. simply because there is no higher organisation than a single model vehicle /Infantry stand - you are supposed to make it up. The whole system is slaved to the Army lists which in many cases cover a pretty wide time spectrum.Some of the possibilities are odd. with "higher" grouping of several platoons/units being called formations. There are  no companies/squadrons/battalions. Merely groups of pretty counters. So organisationally they don't score.
The mind numbing nothing ness of the desert and Cold War Commander.

 Now, on to the mechanisms- simplistic  but somehow not simple. Repetitive and tedious is the nearest I can get- this was DBR with tanks  with a bit of Black Powder for flavour and perspicacious reader will know my opinion of DBR. These possibly were not that good. The IGOUGO system made it slow even for a first game.. All 5 of us died of boredom by move 4 . If you are the sort of games player who thinks dice rolling is an intellectual activity then these are right up your street as EVERYTHING is dice controlled. Issue an order- roll dice, want to fire -roll dice work out hits- roll dice  Saving throws- roll more dice . . Morale- no not really  but roll a dice anyway. Gawd this was tedious. I had spots before my eyes.  Then do it all again next move as hits are not cumulative so unless you accrue enough hits on a unit in 1 turn to kill it outright . It comes back again later even if it has been forced back or temporarily suppressed. . This is yet another prime example of making the game for the sake of a game and ignoring the actuality.
 Total Cobblers 0/10

Nothing to do with the game but a pair of Old Glory AMX30 painted - and sand skirts/aerials added by Shaun Holdsworth.
 A regular TWAT. 
Still despite the above  as always a good day had by all.  As always mightily aided by  Beef Butties and the odd pint ! Next meeting in December will be the TWATS Tiny Tactica Tournament. - Watch this space !

Friday, 11 November 2016

At a bit of a loose end

 Been pretty busy lately  what with the new Blue Moon ECW range now being in stock - well the first 20 packs any how and catching up with back orders to various parts of Europe and beyond. It follows therefore that my own personal hobby has taken a bit of a back seat recently. Especially since unlike a goodly number of bloggers in the wargaming world I don't happen to be  some kind of retired fellow of leisure. Frankly I'm pretty happy about this as I'd  probably die of boredom within half a year.  I don't feel myself ready for the knackers yard yet by a long way unlike some of the dudes you see shambling about at shows. But that is by the by the point with working for a living is that sometimes you can't fit other stuff in . This is true of now. I've not finished any new figures for any project for some time.
 On the table I have a troop of ECW cavalry - 28mm Old Glory about half done- ready for either Balfour's or Esses's regiments circa spring 1643. Also some more "shinyloo" figures for that project which I've assembled. I'd hoped to run the first "shinyloo" game about now but that is not going to happen. It will be next year now.
 Part of the problem is me- after a week or so of 10-12 hour shifts  surrounded by the little lead gits you want a different vista- so painting is temporarily out of court. However the madness has calmed down to a mere dull roar so hopefully I'll get some more toys finished

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Miniature Wargames no 403

The Conundrum Solved?

I've had my copy of MW no 403 for some time. It is John Treadaway's first as Editor. The "new look"  really isn't so new and there is much here that shows John's current policy of "keep on Keeping on" as he put it to me. Nice articles on Ancients- Macedonians and Persians  with what may be a nifty set of simple rules, Building Rorke's Drift- or at least making something out of the rather basic set of lazer cut wooden parts. They look like a lot of work BUT a lot easier than scratchbuilding- which I did back in the day and a nice article on the Battle for Crete in WW2. This is interesting stuff and not based around any given rule set which is very refreshing. Like wise an article on Dreadnaught period Naval warfare which I have not yet studied  but the author seems to know his stuff somewhere I have a fw 1/2400 Dreadnaughts- somewhere .....and  a nice 1980 Cold War goes Hot scenario from Conrad kinch- this WILL get used !   There was even another How to article on pating tanks- but I can do that- not that the piece wouldn't be useful  but the pics were (rather nice0 sci-fi vehicles rather than, well tanks ....
 To all intents and purposed this bit of the Mag has so far hardly changed at all  except for the waste of space that is the club directory- I really hope that appears only once or twice a year and that quite a bit of space is given over to reviews . There was a nagging feeling- hopefully unfounded that  stuff was "spaced out" a little too much to fill the available pages.
 As for the much touted Sci-Fi and Fantasy section well all it does for me is illustrated the  narrow  games only base  of  today's sci -fant  hobby. With "Critical Hits"  no less than 3 infomercials about currently favoured "games" Frostgrave(who cares)  Bushido (nothing really to do with historical Samurai) and something called "Panzerfauste" a sort of WW2 based "game" with orcs and Dwarfs and "magick" basically Flintloque with machine guns - dearie me the 1990s original was bad enough with its awful clumsy models (Yes I had a few)and simplistic rules .  However such nonsense seems pretty popular as it raised most of its brass via Kickstarter. which only goes to show you that there are more kidults  out there than even I thought. I've seen a few pics of the models and actually they are pretty dammed good of their type and made me giggle - but not enough to want to spend actual real money on them.. The joke wears thin pretty quickly with even the cleverest fantasy especially one as derivative as this.. The articles are full of drawings and "artwork"  (but not Art)  but overall none of the articles actually say very much other than to extol the virtues of their product and tell you what stunningly clever chaps the designer are But perhaps that is the way with today's game first everything else nowhere  hobby after all you get the same type of infomercial in  historical wargaming too the "I'm so  awfully clever you must play MY game and no don't you DARE think for yourself" syndrome is not only a sci-fant problem by any means.. .

Frankly for a first mag under new Editor ship It is not half bad and could have been a lot worse. I don't mind a bit of Sci -Fi  so the Critical hits section is not automatically out of court and will bear watching but making it almost entirely reviews and infomercials for this months fashion  hopefully will not last.
 But still worth a read and I await the next issue with interest.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Three More From Moscow.

Nick Bokarev- Owner of Drabant has sent me pictures of his 3 newest  Miniatures- All in 28 mm.
 They are the start of a range of "Persons"- ie Personalities for his growing and deservedly popular Dark Ages range.
 I'll have some of these with my next order from Moscow- which currently Nick is making for me .

Sviatoslav. Grand Prince of Kiev.
Volkhv - Heather Priest. 

A Heather Priest is some kind of pre- Christian priest of the pagan Rus - so I am told. .

William the Conqueror 

The last one of course is well known to us.. William the Bastard !
 All are of course well up to the hight standards set by the rest of the Drabant range.  I await their arrival with intrest
 Prices will be £3.00 for the foot personalities and £5.00 for William.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Dimensionally Challenged.

As regular reader will know I like the painting and modelling side of the hobby. More- in some cases- than the mere dice rolloing. I paint figures because I like 'em not merely because I want a few more pretty counters..
 Thismeans that sometimes I paint figures which don't fit into any armies or projects- just because I like them
 This is especially so when I(very rarely) paint any flats.
Marian Roman legionaries .
 I've had a few flats in the lead pile for years adding too them once in a while because I like their delicacy and the fineness of the detail. I'll never be  in the premier league of flats painters but I like to have a bash as a painting exercise.. It keeps your technique sharp. Remember, these little blokes are "30mm"  so about the same size as most of todays "28mm" but much much finer in proportion.

Robert the Bruce. Painting the double tressure was a right pain. 
I think this one is supposed to be Joan of Arc  but maybe not. 
Some flat painters only paint one side  I paint both as one day I'd like to have 2 small forces  either medieval or 17th century.

Yes I do paint both sides. 
However it is all a matter of "point of View"
But we'll have to see . I paint slowly at the best of times and these take real effort. However I've a couple more on my desk. so this tiny collection will grow albeit at a snails pace.