Tuesday 31 December 2013

Happy New Year

Wishing you all health, wealth and happiness in 2014

Thursday 26 December 2013

Christmas Haul ;)

Well the scale is large to fit in with the rich history associated with the legendary aircraft. An "Airfix 1/24 Scale Supermarine Spitfire Vb Starter Kit". Time to use the bigger size brushes for this one (see below:)

The other 'name' was a big one too, none other than the mighty "KM Bismarck, 1/600 Scale" again from Airfix (a handy manufacturer to find in the shops at this time of year). I will have a bit of work with this one as I want to create a 'waterline version', so it will be out with the hacksaw in the New Year, sanding and gluing a plasti-card bottom to her (see below):

Yes both kits are totally impractical for the "wargame table", but I suppose the KM Bismarck could make it as far as the "wargaming lawn" (one day), however that's not really the point of the gifts, as it is more for pure modelling pleasure and fun in traversing "memory lane"


Hope 2014 is a good year for everyone!

Wednesday 25 December 2013

Merry Xmas

Festive Greeting to One and All


Thirty Day Challenge Complete: "The Big T" Done

A sad tale of woe (see below):

Certainly a good source of small hoplite battles, as well as Delium (424 BC) and First Mantinea (418 BC). Well worth the effort reading (even though the book ends prematurely before the conclusion of the overall war, but you could see the way it was going) and I can now make more sense of Kagan's and Hanson's conclusions.

I also plan to return and skim the Landmark edition for some geographical pin-pointing and wargame inspirations ;)

I have to say the free digital version kept me on track by being able to read at 'odd times'.  

Friday 20 December 2013

Wild (Armoured) Horses Running Across my Desk (Perry Miniatures) Part 1

In a valiant effort (inspired by some brilliant paint jobs on other blogs I may add) I started assembling the Perry mounted MAA. Not as easy as you may first think as there are many pieces to fiddle together (see below):

The 'intelligent half' of the rider-horse combination done I can now move onto assembling the two legged participants. The Perry's models are beautiful and definitely worth the effort in assembling :)

The acquisition of the above is my attempt to balance out my Impetus Renaissance army with two wings of horse comprising of a Knight Unit, A "deep" mounted MAA formation and a Light Skirmish unit (mounted crossbows and mounted harquebusier). If truth be told I may need another unit of Light Horse for each wing.

But that is a far away 2014 purchase ;)

Thursday 19 December 2013

Hetzer Progress II

The assembled 'raw' plastic model (see below):

Lots of little "fiddly track pieces and stuff that stuck out of the superstructure" but nothing too conspicuous as to attract any attention, but I got there in the end (see below):

"We three Hetzers" ... all from the Esci/Italeri mould, what I want now though is a common paint scheme for my 'company' (see below):

Just think these three versus masses of JSII and T34/85's tanks in Hungary and East Prussia in 1945? Really? Yes really!


Friday 13 December 2013

Expanding Science Fiction Fleet (Star Trek IV)

Star Ships of Star Trek IV: The Undiscovered Country

The "Good Guys", the Federation Excelsior (Sulu) and Enterprise (Kirk) need to avert another Klingon v Federation war (see above). The wannabe "Good Guys", Klingon's in a rather scary Battle-Cruiser (see below):

Meanwhile the real "Bad Guys" (including a Vulcan) are using a Klingon 'Bird of Prey' to try and start another war between the Klingons and Federation (see below):

All courtesy of the current Star Trek magazine series running fortnightly in the Newsagents (it is so great feeling like a kid again).

All I need now is a simple set of "space star ship battle rules" ;)

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Notes to self: Musings on WWI Naval rules (North Sea) Part #1

Recent sources of Inspiration: Dreadnought Gunnery Book
Michael Brooks

Though please note, my version was the good old fashioned paper edition.

And a long standing favorite:

What I want from a set of naval rules?
  • Fast Play
  • Historical Accuracy
  • No "fiddle and widdle, billimeter twaddle"
Rules that come the closest?
  • GQ I and GQ II Rules (over thirty five years old now)
    • (Best bit) Gunnery abstraction is excellent
    • (Worst) Movement and Command & Control
Thoughts of my own, time to devise "Battle Cruiser Fleet" (BCF) Battles, my Great War Naval Rules for "Battle-cruiser clashes in the North Sea"

BCF Actions in the North Sea (Version 1)
Context of Rules
Mainstay of the naval actions in the North Sea was between the Battle Cruiser Fleet (BCF) and the High Seas Fleet (HSF) Scouting Groups (SG), as running engagements rarely got to the point of battle squadrons of the Grand Fleet (GF) engaging the battle squadrons of the High Seas Fleet (HSF).
Each ship will be represented 1-to-1 on the ‘table-top’, therefore there is a high element count to the game.
(Note: This could mean quite a lot of counters)

However the counters are not moved individually (bar ‘exceptional  circumstances’ – i.e. ships being damages and sunk) but moved in squadrons relative to one another. Counters/Ships are held in a fixed position within the formation.

Absolute movement is not measured, rather relative movements (sea areas) between squadrons.  The umpire may have to have a form of master map (to be confirmed).

Movement ‘orders’ are maintained as: Close (decrease distance), Maintain and Open (increase distance) and issued to squadrons. The success of the intention is based on simultaneous order declarations.  

Gunnery is handled as per General Quarters (GQI and GQII) is abstracted into fire-power factors and ‘quartered’ reductions (I like the way the traditional GQ does it) rather than counting turrets and shells.

Command and Control is based on the relative position to the Flagship. Command “PiPs” are used/spent by the Admiral to control his formations (signalling), messaging (intelligence to GF and HSF admirals and ‘over the horizon’ scouting formations) and gunnery (target priority).  

Individual battle squadrons or formations have their own initiative and morale levels.

Design Goal:
German and British doctrines are different and will be reflected in the orders allowed to be played by the admirals. Note: This is a form of constraint propagation to make the rules specific to North Sea actions (1914-1918 WWI period). The personal and national characteristics of the commanders (Beatty, Jellicoe, Hipper and Scheer) also will effect the 'freedom of movement' to perform certain actions.

I hope the "festive period" turns out to be a fertile period of naval wargaming experimentation. Note I an trying to keep the context of the game scope quite tight to re-fight historical scenarios and the "what-if" permutations.   

Tuesday 10 December 2013

Hetzer Progress

Hetzer progress (see below):

Currently putting together lots of track pieces, patience is a virtue. Lots of small pieces takes time but better than the one-piece track that never fitted, however the Plastic Soldier Company have got it sorted with their moulded plastic track.

Destined to be a part of a 'unit of three' ersatz Panzer Jaegers!

Monday 2 December 2013

Notes to self on: WWI Naval Technical Reference Resources

This is a random 'pull together' of my current WWI (and slightly earlier Pre-Dreadnought) Naval Resources:  
Primary Data Sources (Books):
Conway's Pre (blue) and Dreadnought (green), as both types fought in WWI (see below):

Jane's, although it could be argued that it is a mixture of fact and fiction it certainly gives the flavour of the era (see below):

Brown who describes in great detail the RN's ship building programme (see below):

Source of "Ship counters/models and maps" to cover all nations and theatres in WWI:

Avalanche Press, Great War at Sea Series: 

Russo-Japanese War 1904-05 (see above), I also have these ships in 1/3000 courtesy of Navwar Tsushima Pack and extending out to cover the pre-Tsushima "Yellow Sea" and the like battles around Port Arthur

Board Game Vol. I - The Mediterranean (see above), I had been after this one for a while (seeing it for £60 at Salute in London years ago when I was in London I didn't mind buying it for £25 and waiting while it came from America). Likewise, I have the combatant nations ships (down to and including a representative few destroyers) in Navwar's 1/3000. 

Board Game Vol. II - The North Sea, where the big boys play. Jutland and everything else that went on in the North Sea including the American Sixth Battle Squadron of the British Grand Fleet. Yes I have the Navwar 1/3000 models (gaining a flying start with the Jutland Battle Pack and expanding afterwards) for this (down to the representative destroyer level), including the Americans, Baltic Russians and Swedish Fleets.

The remaining Avalanche Press WWI naval game of interest is the Cruiser Warfare (more "commerce raider" global strategy than "Fleet Action"). This would cover Von Spee's East Asiatic Squadron (which did have small squadron actions at Coronel and The Falklands), SMS Emden, SMS Karlschruhe and the SMS Konigsberg.

The Navwar lists have now by and large have been 'plundered' regarding WWI 'standard fair' and I seem to be now extracting the more and more exotic or "ships that never made it off the drawing board"

What Next?:
What is needed is to put all the above to some good use in a "Naval Wargame Campaign"

Friday 29 November 2013

The Circus Maximus Project: A game or more of a "Frame of Mind?"

Do you covert the laurel wreath? Will you risk all in search of glory at the games? Not even put off by those horrific crash scenes in Ben Hurr .. OK then Avalon Hill's Circus Maximus is for you. It's time to take a the chariot of your choice for a trial race. He drives like a pro ... (see below):

Looking good, then ... Oh dear what could possibly have happened here then? Medic! (see below):

The course will be cruel and unforgiving (see above and below, just look at the number of charts):

Nevertheless a new batch of Colosseum hopefuls (fresh farm boys from the country) arrive (see below):

So I will probably need these extra crash markers painted then (see below):

But will it be ready in time for Xms? All I need do is get twelve 6mm chariot pieces painted, doesn't sound hard does it?

(Ahem, I suppose there is the small matter of reading the rules too)

Thirty Day Challenge No.III (The Big "T") Thucydides

Following on from the read of the Big H (Herodotus) earlier in the year chronologically next comes the big T (Thucydides), when the Greek world was brought to its knees in civil war, 'modern' in its brutality

Target at least "16 pages" a day (on average) so that the big T (Thucydides) "History of the Peloponnesian War" is read before Xmas Day 2013 (see below):

Three reading sources:
  • Penguin Classic Big T (a nice handy pick and read size of book)
  • Electronic (Free) Book iPhone Bookshelf (incredibly handy anywhere you need it volume)
  • Landmark Big T (useful when the place names are confusing or previously unknown)

So far so good, and it is almost as exciting as eating the Xmas Calendar chocolates ;) 

Thursday 28 November 2013

Thirty Day Challenge No.II (Movember)

Following on from the TED talk "you can do pretty much anything for 30 days" I embarked on my second Thirty Day Challenge: Movember

No previous experience of wearing a moustache:
I once had a beard (for about a month) in my early thirties (just to shock the family when I returned home after a long trip, all I can say it was great shaving it off) but since then bar the occasional "forty eight hour weekend man-stubble" I have been a regular wet-shaving man.

Twenty eight days in and I'm itching, wondering where this wire brush came from under my nose, living like a monk, still surprised nobody has passed a remark on my striking resemblance to Tom Selleck (aka Magnum), but disturbingly several people have made passing references to John Cleese (Faulty Towers), Captain Mainwaring (Dad's Army) and Roger de Corcey (of Nookie the Bear fame).

The result after thirty days (see below): 

Oh well it's all for a good cause, promoting publicity about :
  • Prostate Cancer
  • Testicular Cancer
  • Mental Health Issues
The aim is to fund research and drive away the stigma associate with the above, the latter I believe as important as the research. 

Note: Rest assured my third "Thirty Day Challenge" (which has already started) is more wargaming orientated ;)

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Painting Tray (Cupboard Review)

What's in teh cupboard before Xmas to do?

The AFV collection (see above):
  • 1/72 Italeri/Esci Hetzer (to make up a Command Decision ersatz panzerjaeger late-war company of three)
  • 1/72 (notorious as big in scale) Skytrex 1944 Bren Carrier (to be the universal helper to my Paltoon 20 British PBI)

The "half completed" aeroplane collection (see above):
  • 1/72 Westland Whirlwind (pain job and decals required)
  • 1/72 De Haviland Mosquito (bomb and rocket racks to add, paint and decals required)
Repair jobs (see above):
  • 1/48 Spitfire Vb (bits dropped off that need replacing)
  • 1/72 Do 17 E/F (bits dropped off and upgrade to paint job)
Terrain Projects (see above):
  • The "real water" effect, see interesting scenery box  

Kits lurking in other corners of the house (see above):
  • 1/700 Fujimi HMS Hood
  • Revell snap-together Millennium Falcon
Can the above be done before 2013 turns into 2014?
(On teh other hand need they all be?)

Monday 25 November 2013

Renaissance Campaign Update

I returned to assess the state of affairs of my local Redcar Wargaming Club's Renaissance (Thirty Years War) campaign. As a free-lance mercenary general I am expected to drift in and out of tactical commands, but every now and then it is good so see the world from a strategic perspective.

The major news is that Vienna has fallen to a Protestant army which is a huge coup (see below, bottom left corner - those are not HRE counters):

But Protestant Prague itself finds itself on the cusp of falling to the mighty HRE siege-train arrayed around its walls (see below): 

All-in-all the HRE is coming off second best with the Protestants having more active pieces on the board, but there is still plenty of fighting to be done.

All I am interested in is a warm bed, sack of wine and purse of gold.

Sunday 24 November 2013

Expanding Science Fiction Fleet (Star Wars)

The latest addition from the Star Wars universe to my model collection comes in the form of a Republic Gunship (see below):

The snap together kit was a little fiddly in parts but overall is a lovely kit. A few bits need to be squeaked together and the side hull side ball turrets are cleverly but precariously attached (required a dab of super glue after I had a small accident with mine).

What I can do with it in wargaming sense remains another matter

Friday 22 November 2013

Board Game: "War on Terror"

How do wargamers relax in the run up to Xmas. Surrounded by good company (fellow wargamers) and interesting material for future projects (see below, Air War, South Atlantic) they sit down and play "War on Terror", which to the uninitiated (me) seems like a game of Risk (see below):  

Anyway, I am "Mr Pink", intent on building up an "Evil Empire" whose aim is "World Domination" not hindered with any concept of scruples or morals (see below for the ominous collection of pink playing pieces):

I start with an interesting hegemony over Australasia from which I intend to expand my power-base through the Antarctic and Asia proper (see below):

I bloodlessly conquer the Antarctic (I mean how much resistance could those penguins realistic put up?) and eye up Asia proper and yes I realise I am making up new pseudo geographical terms (see below):  

My plan is going well, but sadly so is everybody else's (in particular the American (see below, top of photograph, all those red counters in high real-estate squares), so it is time to start attacking my neighbours (the green and blue players in my case) by fair means or foul (see below):

In a spectacular show of economic "uncommon-sense" the American (red) player becomes bankrupt (he should not have spent ALL his money, politicians of the present take heed) and becomes a minor terrorist player. What followed was then referred to as the "great American land grab", naked capitalism or colonialism, take your pick (see below): 

After suffering from a serious bout of  "the enemy from within" (other players using event cards to cause internal dissent in my glorious Empire) I decide to seize the moment and "Go for Broke!" and come oh so "close but yet so, so far away". I reached nine points but needed ten, for want of a favourable roll of the dice in South America (see below for the height of my Empire building):

As is the way with these game, I was savaged as but a "tall poppy" can be savaged (glorious in defeat), only to see the player nominated as "The Axis of Evil" by the "game spinner" (which seemed to be permanently stuck on 'pointing at blue' because of a 'crease in the game board') romp to victory acquiring the "oil of Texas" to build cities galore in North America.

An addictive little game that thankfully finished before 'last orders gentlemen please' otherwise we might well have been locked in the room overnight playing on, yes it was that addictive and pleasant an evening the only sad part was that it had to stop. I am already looking forward to the next game :)  

Thursday 21 November 2013

1944 Late War British Infantry Project - Milestone (A completed Platoon))

Observe the last tortuous steps in this projects progression that started way back in 05/10/2009 (read down to the bottom of this list to see the first post) ...

Here they stand in their box newly "gritted" with PVA  glue and coarse building sand, beach sand and builders grit (see below):

The bases are then flooded with a dark ink wash to fill up the porous sand texture with a coloured liquid. This acts as a coloured undercoat for the further finishing process and detail (see below):

I quite like that newly wet mud look, shame as it does not last long (see below):

Once the ink has dried and sand is firmly fixed in place a quick rugged wet brush of Vallejo "Earth" is applied (see below):

Then follows a highlight of Vallejo "Earth" mixed with Anita's Acrylic "Lemon White", applied increasingly more with a dry than wet brush, increasing up the "Lemon White" content so the last brush is mostly 'white' (see below):

Using a mixture Vallejo "Gun Metal" and Anita's Acrylics "Silver" I highlight the metal parts. I followed this with a powder flock to add a bit of vegetation to the base (see below):

A few clumps of "Static Grass" for the final touch (see below):

The 3" mortar team (see below, top of photograph) and the ever faithful Vickers HMG team (see below, bottom of photograph):

The most useful 'offensive' toys on the table, the two inch mortar team (smoke makers). Two teams, one prone firing the other moving (see below, top and middle of the photograph). Below them is what I refer to as a "prone three man Engineer section with a mysterious box", the truth being I know not what the middle figure has in his hands or is supposed to be doing, suggestions on a postcard please (see below, bottom of the photograph):

Finally a few more squadies or NCO's (see below):

Pssst ... Don't mention the fact that they don't have any "Regimental Insignia" and NCO markings (yet) but I do formally declare "The odds and sods" finished and open for wargaming business, roll on the next game of "Chain of Command"