Thursday 27 September 2018

Fighter Duel - Rules Walk Through

Sometimes it takes to tango and get your head round a set of rules, something about more than one person reading the same paragraph makes more sense out of it. "Fighter Duel" is a set of rules from Phil Sabin, a 'time and motion' study of fighter combat (each game segment is 3 seconds) and the game plays around three minutes of actual combat. He ran this at the Connections 2018 Games Fair this year. Using his original research it was combined from several separate board game components [Mustangs, Spitfire, Angels One High] but I was interested in translating it to 1/144 model aircraft for a demonstration game at a local show. To aid us in our understanding we are going through a "slow walk" of the rules. First we lined up a few combat sequences and performed them over a coffee and fire side chat (see below, lining up a killing shot as a Vet RAF pilot in a Spitfire comes out of the sun to bounce a Me 109E distracted in the process of shooting another plane):

Given that this was the "best ever" position the combat odds could be in, it is "anything but a 1" to hit and my compatriot rolled a 10, a spectacular hit. For every 2 over the required score an additional hit is accrued which means a massive "four hits" - the Me 109E only has four points of damage so he goes down in quick fashion (see below, nice shooting Sailor Malan):

A dramatic explosion is deemed necessary (see below). Working through the sequence, replacing the Vet RAF pilot with a rookie (two weeks of training "special"), this time shooting from two hexes (200 yards) away, and the Luftwaffe pilot was not distracted would reduce the hit chance from 90% to 10%. If a ten had still been rolled this time only one hit would have been inflicted and the Me 109E would still be "in the fight" (slightly damaged but to no obvious effect). This seems quite historical (see below, I far prefer the model visuals of the model to counters):

The beauty of the combat system is a magic grid that converts the historic gun factors of the plane adjusted by the circumstance factors to give the hit probability. The next stage is to master the flying dynamics. Interesting as the key elements of "energy" and "turn capability" are modelled. Nothing is a given, a turn may be attempted but not necessarily made. Given the three second tome span you get another go soon, provided you are not in the sights of an enemy. Being hex based it does have the advantage of keeping the planes locked into a specific place (that can be reconstructed or remembered), so an accidental knock does not subtly overwrite the "billimeter" positioning. 

Wednesday 26 September 2018

What can you learn from 1994 Knowledge? (2) There "IS" another way of doing things!

Following slavishly to the letter of the painting instructions my troop of Ultra Marines (plus Terminator) get the base coat treatment - Vallejo Game Colour 50% Imperial Blue mixed with 50% Ultramarine Blue (see below):

Then the shade colour (Vallejo Game Colour Imperial Blue) follows (see below, if truth be told I might have been a little too sloppy for my liking):

Next is to continue the base/painting to cover the other colours too! If I am learning anything so far it is to put less paint on the figure, mix or rather dilute with water and be a smart/clean but less fussy (or rather more subtle) with the brush.

Tuesday 25 September 2018

It's curtains for me!

Literally (see below):

Their practical use in the home was attempted to be extended by dying them a dark, lush green (smile, nice choice of colour don't you think - only partly encouraged by me). Alas, it was not to be, but rather than throw them away, for me it was a nice windfall of battlefield terrain cover.


Sunday 23 September 2018

Warlord Games: Cruel Sea

Have to say I'm interested in knowing more about this one!

However I am pondering on the facts that:

  • I have various ships in naval scales of 1/3000 .. 1/1200 .. 1/720 .. 1/700 .. 1/600 .. 1/500 .. 1/72 already
  • My "coastal forces" are currently 1/720 .. 1/700 . 1/600 (Skytex and various plastic manufacturers) with the thought of expanding my Navwar 1/3000 WW2 ship collection in that direction too
  • The Warloard Games models I havse seen pictures of looked very good; exquisite (practical for wargaming but also detailed enough to engage modellers) so I think they are between 1/350 and 1/200?

I think it might be quite expensive from the models .. but what about the rules? Can they be borrowed for other scales?

Stop Press: Update from Renko

Saturday 22 September 2018

Jadotsville 1961

Every now and then you find something "new" and all you can say is: "Well I never!" That is the only way I can convey my amazement on watching "The Siege of Jadotsville" courtesy of Netflix and an amazing eye opener on the history of the Congo in the 1960's (see below, courtesy of NetFlix film):

At first I thought it was a made up story (akin to Apollo 19 Moon Monsters) but the truth was so close to home as shown in the film. Various scenarios immediately shout out probably using AK47?

PS: Best line in the film [Note: As time of writing remembering it] to me was: French (ex)Legionnaire Commander of the Mercenarie s speaking to teh Irish Company Commander. "You Commander have no experience of war." Quinlan (the Irish Commander) "I don't know about that. I have been married for ten years!"

For more information see:

Friday 21 September 2018

What can you learn from 1994 Knowledge (1) How to Paint a Space Marine!

It is a strange question but what have I learnt from "the state of the art of figure painting from 1994"? I am a Charity Shop hustler always looking out for bargains. You can pick all manner of strange treasures there, unmade model kits (from Airfix WWI Female tanks to Trumpeter Chinese jets), Board Games at knock down prices) and items of curio. This is how I came across a collection of early 1990's GW Space Marine stuff, in particular a Warhammer 40K Painting Guide (see below, lain across my sinful box of Space Crusade "extras" [models I bought to spice the game up]):

On the principle of "you can always learn something if you bother to read the manual or book" I opened the Painting Guide and began to read. Back in 1994 it was written, "Thou best but some clippers to snip parts out of the frames/sprues so you do not break them!" I agreed, but it took me until 2016 when I independently purchased a cheap pair and entered into a happier modelling experience. You always snap something even if you use the sharpest modelling knife. Perhaps my older self was more attuned to continuous improvement. Two hints I have yet to follow is the use of small pieces of BlueTac in a prototype version instead of "gluing and regretting". Pinning with metal rods was also promoted, though [partly because of the infeasible size of Space Marine weaponry. Still I was impressed and read on (see below, I highlighted bits I found useful - this is a read and scribble type of text book; not much resale value in it after I have finished with it):

The painting instructions were very interesting. My technique was: basic undercoat (black to grey depending on whim and paint availability), an all over shade into the recesses [dark colour], Base [basic colour - mid tone] and then Highlight "I" and possibly "II" [lighter colour version]. GW reversed some of my logic promoting in almost all cases a white undercoat to brighten the end result of the model, go Base, then Shade only in the recesses, then Highlight "I" and "II". OK I can see a saving there. I needlessly shade the whole figure. One point that was coming across, the least paint on the figure, the more detail comes through. In tact they recommended watering down the initial Base layer - possibly painting two-three thin layers instead of one thicker layer. I chose my unfinished Ultra Marines as perfect for the 1994 retro painting experience (see below, far left are my early 2000 painting efforts [white lining on the shoulder pads] - horrendously overworked blending ending up with a very [almost too] grainy finish, moving to the centre are the troops I painted circa 2010+ for the resurrected Space Crusade Game [yellow lining on shoulder pads], then the undercoated and Vallejo Washed "others" waiting to be painted):

Note: I will never have a Space Marine Army, just some random things (sections) for Space Crusade and alternate Skirmish Sci-Fi or RPG rules (such as Rogue Trader). This should work to my advantage as "I don't really care' about the figures - it is more to see if I can paint to a plan and see if that plan producers a better figure in the end ;)

I guess in my old age I am finally trying to find short-cuts! Watch this space ;)

Tuesday 18 September 2018

Remember: 1973 Was not too good a year either!

I was bemoaning the state of the world: Brexit, Trump, Putin, UK Political Parties (May and Corbyn as well as north of the border) and thinking how messed up everything was. Then a good friend reminded me of how bad it was all in the past and how things at least got better! (Eventually for the people who didn't get killed in the meantime). He wrote in an email:  

1973 wasn't a particularly "good year" - 

August 15 – The U.S. bombing of Cambodia ends, officially halting 12 years of combat activity in Southeast Asia.

Middle East: 

  • January 20 – President Richard Nixon is sworn in for his second term.
June 25 – Watergate scandal: Former White House counsel John Dean begins his testimony before the Senate Watergate Committee.

today is easy peasy ...

Answer: Keep Calm and Wargame It! More details followed ...


Inflation has risen to 8.4%


March – Two IRA bombs exploded in London, killing one person and injuring 250 others. Ten people were arrested hours later at Heathrow Airport on suspicion of being involved in the bombings.
And so it goes ...

Monday 17 September 2018

2018 Connections UK Material Available to Download (Already)

I was might impressed to see that the Connections UK 2018 elves had manged to post the conference materials already:

The slides and presentations are first class and even more amazing they are being given away as free to promote a wargaming community of practice.

Sunday 16 September 2018

Gone in 60 Seconds .. Zulu Style (1972 Skirmish Rules)

It was one of those quiet names when a friend brought across a "game" ...

Somewhere in South Africa a peaceful landscape is about to be the scene of dreadful slaughter. A British Infantry patrol is about to stumble of a group of young Zulu Warriors (see below):

As the British Patrol crests the hill Pvt Jones 21121 calls out the alarm as the Zulu rise as one (see below):

The officer, Lt. Adamson, quickly calls his men to form a firing line (see below):

The Zulu's meanwhile chant a challenge (see below):

The they (the Zulu) set off at a run as the first volley erupts from the "Thin Red Line" (see below, teh first volley is at maximum range and is an abject failure with only one slight wound to a Zulu, stunning him briefly, the others charge on):

The second volley is slightly more telling. Again the range is in the maximum band and the Zulu herd keeps coming. It is clear now that the odds are approximately three to one. One Zulu in effect is (ineffectually) firing a captured rifle, while the British Officer is outside of pistol range (see below):

The rifles take four segments to load and fire which means the Zulus travel a good twelve inches before they hear the rip of the bullets (see below):

The range bracket drops to effective range file range, the Zulus are getting dispersed but still project a formidable force and threat factor. These Zulus are running on something "more than" adrenaline, being enhanced by their "medicine bags" (see below):

Perhaps the British have two chances to deliver telling rounds before it becomes a contest of bayonet and Assegai (see below, too few fall for the British players liking):

The same volley taken from a different angle (see below):

One final volley fire to the badly mauled but not defeated (and still very dangerous) Zulu foe (see below, the 'Thin Red Line' looks very thin; note the officers pistol has already been extensively used):

The dramatic British angle of that final volley which tore through Zulu flesh (see below):

But those Zulus still keep a coming as the combat now enters a ferocious hand-to-hand phase where the Zulus numbers may well tell (see below):

The first round of combat goes down as a draw to the British right hand side of the line (where Lt. Adamson is locked in a mortal do-or-die, or rather sword-to-Assagai combat) but the British gain a temporary to their left hand side as a second wave of Zulu come in (see below):

Zulu numbers begin to tell. Lt. Adamson falls, his troops meanwhile are more pragmatically interested in their own survival (see below): 

This is where even a wounded Zulu is a killer. The wounds have only slowed them down. They are not out of the fight. Another redcoat falls. Now there are only six defenders heavily outnumbered but with nothing to lose. Surrender is not an option (see below):

Half the British have fallen. One Zulu warrior in particular has felled the officer (the poor Lt. Adamson with now widowed wife) and two "rankers", but is in the process of taking on him fourth combat (see below):

Bodies pile up and chaos ensues. Half the Zulus are either dead or dying but the British are spent (see below):

The grim struggle moves to its ugly conclusion. The "indestructible paladin of a Zulu warrior" falls to the three remaining bayonets of the British (he had outstripped his supports and left himself vulnerable and exposed). The remaining three British Soldiers rally together in a final desperate stand (see below):

Three become two as one is disarmed and then finished off (see below):

The final two suffers wounds which only delays the inevitable (see below):

Finally it is over except for the moaning wounded. As many Zulu will probably die of their wounds as did in the fight (see below)

The South African hill bears no name to mark this engagement. No record of it will be found in the annals of the British Army as no survivors remained to tell the tale . Too few Zulus remember it as one amongst many. The wheel of time moves on. Only the carrion birds were happy as they feasted (see below):

An "entertaining" engagement. The 1972 rules are in the form of a time and motion study where 3:1, as per General Longstreet's dictum held sway and took the day with mathematical precision.

Note: The "Rules" used called - Skirmish Wargames Colonial 1850-1900 Period
Rules for the conduction of Colonial skirmish in miniature using tiny but perfect model figurines
Written by Michael R Blake, Stephen Curtis, Ian M Colwill and Edwin J Herbert
Printed circa 1972 (see below):

The rules to be fair in the real-time games mechanics and weapons characteristic sense still worked  very well, however more modern sense of morale was more left to the player.

PS: Also not bad for forty year old Hinchliffe Figures either ;)
Here's to the old ones figures including the few he has still to get painted from the original collection! Myself I would be interested in painting compatible Perry's in 28mm (Zulu or British).

Saturday 15 September 2018

Note to self: Wargames Developments on Doctrine

To quote Tom Mouat:"We want to make games that are playable as well as realistic and we want to understand why."

An other essential reading (thanks to Bob Cordery for mentioning this in a comment)@

Friday 14 September 2018

Cat stops wargaming play!

The family cat (called "Wish") thinks that she has found her perch for the night, astride my sons school bag on the kitchen table. She seems settled and very comfy, in cat-like contentment (see below):

So I skilfully engage in a "man-to-cat discourse" explaining to her the need for my use of the table to instigate my next episode in my wargaming education, namely a game of Panzer Leader with some friends who will be arriving very shortly (see below):

She seems to say, "Panzer Leader by Avalon Hill you say" (see below):

"Are you kidding!" She is not impressed! I had to resort to cat-treat blackmail!

Thursday 13 September 2018

Note to self: HaT Colours Painting Guide

Very useful given my recent acquisitions of 20mm or rather 1/72 plastic soldiers

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Sci-Fi Birthday (Sale) Present to Myself

I am now the age Julius Caesar made his end run on the Roman Empire. Instead I took the opportunity to acquire some random Sci-Fi stuff from the Warlord Games in their "flash sale". What stood out was the The Terminator Game. RRP of £70 was reduced to £10 which was good even just for the generic models inside (10 terminators + 5 half destroyed Terminator "crawlers" + sixteen resistance fighters and a metal O'Connor Leader figure; I actually bought another Terminator sprue to get another 2 terminators and another crawler because you cannot have enough of them). Dice (two D&D standard dice sets), counters, playing mat and 128 page game system were essentially free. Absurdly good value at £10 but back at £70 seems a push IMHO - something for the 'Arnie' fan club. The chunky chap to the bottom right is called a Ghar Bomber - different Sci-Fi genre but for £1 a sprue I thought I would take a lucky dip - I wish I had taken a few more as they retail at £20 for three and as a standard Sci-Fi "robot baddie" they fit the bill nicely (although I am tempted to head swap for something more robotic, aka from the GW Tau spares I have). [Note to self and tip to others: The Google search term "How to make a Ghar Bomber" for make-me instructional assembly videos brings back scary unexpected search results!] Whats not to like for £12? (see below):

In addition I have a spur of four "modern" fighters that look they can fit into the above Science Fiction range or be good for Osprey's "Black Ops" (Modern Special Ops) or "Rogue Trader" (Sci-Fi) rules. There was also a random Pike and Shot ECW Command Sprue (£1) and ECW Parliamentarian/Royalist Flags (£2); then three normal soldiers and one command sprue of Roman Praetorian Guard (£4). I think I came off the big winner here as if you tally up the RRP! Crazy prices. Plenty of winter painting ahead.

PS: Waiting for the Pirates of Nasseau Board-game which was another lucky dip (£5) instead of RRP of £30! Still waiting for that to arrive.

Tuesday 11 September 2018

WATU - Western Approaches Museum at Liverpool

Hats of to the volunteers from DSTL, the RN, the RCN, the Defence Academy and the ubiquitous PaxSims gurus for helping create this event. Something I would have loved to have seen in the flesh but the write-up is almost as good as being there (see link below):
Visiting this museum is on my "bucket list".

Like the organisers I truly believe WATU was an astounding "one of a kind" establishment. It being a very important cog in the machinery that helped win The Battle of the Atlantic by bringing together the men and material (or true operational characteristics of the machinery) together with sound operational tactics in a unique gladiatorial training arena. It even broke down the prejudicial barriers of the sexes - woman (WRENS) doing "more than a mans work". The softer feminine assistance (see the Cruel Sea) during the game helped the learning experience. Although undoubtedly a high pressure environment for the officers, WATU was still "a safe place to train" in the Constructivist Psychology sense of the word, before meeting the real adversarial enemy who asked for and took no quarter.

If you wish to see the other side of the tale, take a trip on the Mersey Ferries to see U-534 recovered from the seabed lodged at the Woodside Ferry Terminal, something I was able to do last Father's Day (see below, OK sad dad that I am I got a "tank ruler" and "Tommy tea mug" as well, a triple win):

Now I will have to check out my naval wargames collection now for a U-Boat convoy battle game, I think I have copy of AH Submarine somewhere. It would be interesting to contrast the "after the battle" thoughts on simulation with the "in-period" artefact to see how close or far apart they are.

Monday 10 September 2018

Zeppelin Raid

Now who could not be "intrigued" with the front cover of a game such as this. I knew experiments had taken place coupling Airships with Airplanes but the potential of a flying aircraft carrier, but flying off a torpedo laden Devastator? Certainly far cry from the early Zeppelins of the First World War. A fictional Pacific Theatre operations are shown in the cover picture (see below, US Airship power versus the conventional but relatively new aircraft carriers): 

Meanwhile it all starts back in 1914/15 with a simple scenario of Zeppelin maritime patrol (see game board below):

The game mechanic is that the Zeppelin stays in the central grey zone at a "height" and the landscape flows by underneath. There is also a rather complex hydrogen flotation "mini-system" which dictates the internal state of health of the Zeppelin - aka its "ability to float". The mission cycles through "events" which transverse the map and are resolved as a series of encounters. The above  was an example from our second playing trial. Events can be hostile aircraft, extreme or not so extreme weather conditions and sighting naval units below (and potentially attacking them). More fun to follow as we play through more complex scenarios and get to grips with the rules. So far we concluded an uneventful maritime mission and aborted an attack mission on England after bad weather caused catastrophic internal damage to the Zeppelin. We were lucky to get back in one piece. Intriguing stuff.

Note: Link to Game on Board Game Geek

Sunday 9 September 2018

Churchillian Page Turner .. Churchill's Hour

Just finished this WWII "fictional" narrative on Churchill's trials and machinations during 1941, Everything from domestic politics, tempestuous family relationships to tumultuous world events with the ever pressing strain of trying to induce the US into WWII (see below): 

A light enjoyable read but nevertheless thought provoking.

Friday 7 September 2018

Connections 2014 Retrospective: The Quick 1914 Game

I know the lucky ones have gone to Connections UK 2018 but as part of a retrospective look at Connections UK 2014 I managed to sit down with a friend and finally play the mini-1914 game Phil Sabin did. He had about 50 games going in parallel as part of a mini practical gaming session in 2014. I had not attended so I was keen to "wet my feet" (see below, both sides gets eight playing pieces [I used deluxe Risk counters] a side, each in theory representing an army XXXX, aka three XXXs aka six XX. A hex is 100km across so we are talking a large operation scale - the map is duplicated for each player and played "double-blind". You can move one hex per turn and the game lasts five turns): 

It played so quick (approximately 20 minutes) we repeated each taking the other side on the second go. Note I am not in gloat mode, but I managed a slightly better than history German result (5 VP - Historical was 4 VP) but a smashing French victory (0 VP which is four better than the historical event - managing to rout three German armies). The double blind game certainly made it fun, however it did feel lacking 'user satisfaction' in the depth of complexity offered. It was however stated as an "introductory" level taster which I think it did well.

Phil Sabin's slides and the original game stuff can be found at:

A larger variant (including another strip of hexes, the Belgians and twelve XXXX units a side) which is the natural progression in complexity can be found at:

However I have an eye on playing the Connections UK 2014 Mega Game set-up:

But you do need a few more bodies for this one!

Wednesday 5 September 2018

The Rule of Wargaming - Borrowed from Wargaming Miscelleny

The First Rule:
‘Nothing can be done contrary to what could or would be done in actual war.'
- From 'The Rules of the Naval War Game' by Fred T Jane

The Spirit of the Wargame:
‘Wargames are played, for the most part, without the supervision of an umpire. The game relies on the integrity of the individual players to show consideration for other players and to abide by the rules. All players should conduct themselves in a disciplined manner, demonstrating courtesy and sportsmanship at all times, irrespective of how competitive they may be. This is the spirit of the wargame.’
- Adapted from 'The Spirit of the Game' in 'The Rules of Golf' as published by the R&A Ltd.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

At last ... WWII 20mm Pz II Luchs (Revell 1:72)

My fellow wargamer and blogger partner in crime Renko has commented (in posts and in person) on the irrationality of my 20mm WWII "obsession". I cannot help it the "range" is too broad and too deep for me to say "no" to. I can only hope each of my models can fulfil some form of wargaming destiny (at some point). So it came as no surprise to me that when I saw the Pz II Luchs in Edinburgh's Wonderland Models .. that I had to buy (despite a hefty £18 - yes I could have got it in metal perhaps for less) because it nicely "closed a collection" (see below):

I cannot complain of the quality of mould (excellent), clear instructions and the final look of it but I am still baffled at the price! Is this evidence of a sinister form of "Brexit model price" economical cliff edge we are approaching? Still it looks very nice (see below, painting and decals required):

The only thing I can think of now wanting is a Pink Flamingo (Pz II Flamethrower tank) available via Milicast.

Sunday 2 September 2018

Zombie Risk .. Family Fun Planning for the Zombie Apocalypse

In a departure from normal programming, the horror genre was activated and the family (or rather families), aka dads and lads, sat down to play "Risk meets The Walking Dead" (see below):

Unwittingly we played an "advanced version" forgetting about some of humanities reinforcements (just counting one per three territories instead of, that plus three extra survivors per turn). The result was a far more deadlier (but fun) game. I think that most of those "extras" would have been spent fighting other humans instead of zombies, so perhaps no great loss. The game set of at a heady pace with two human sides forming - The Lads versus The Dads (see below, the initial set-up -everything looking under control until "the walkers" start turning up):

After we had mercilessly battered both human sides down to the ground we suddenly realised "too late" that the Zombies were the real enemy here, but by that time they were multiplying too fast (see below. mid-game zombie menace trauma):

I was then congratulated (by several hard stares and gasps of "why?") by my fellow human players for supplying a source of extra zombies when the game's limited supply "ran out" (see below, courtesy of Hannants mail order - two packets makeing 90+ zombies, yummy):

The Zombies multiplied and the humans dwindled to the point of extinction. A truce was declared between all humans (apart from one instance of patricide - birthday and Christmas present downgrade activated). Then with that tragic sense of fatalism the game ended with a few human survivors desperately waiting for "sounds of  Huey choppers" coming to their rescue (see below, but no such luck - I was hoping for a special event card called "rescue", looks like I will have to write it myself and sneak it into the pack):

[Note to self: Waiting for the Zombie Master to send my a photograph of "the end" as the battery of my phone as well as "lives of my clan" had expired]

The moral of the story (?) "At least you know what a Zombie will try to do! Zombies can be inherently trusted to try and kill you." Fantastic fun game though ;)