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.