Sunday 29 December 2019

Putin's Late Xmas Toy: Hypersonic Missile

Travelling at twenty times the speed of sound:

Sleep well!

Kipling's Six Serving Men

I Keep six honest serving-men:
(They taught me all I knew)
Their names are What and Where and When
And How and Why and Who.

Imperial Fighters Assembled: 40K

I have to say that GW are turning into a nice modelling shop, comparable with Warlord Games for producing interesting (though expensive it has to be said) pieces of kit. After "doing" the Orc air component for AI (Aeronautica Imperialis) I moved onto the Imperials (see below, for some reason they remind me of the USN Air Force - thinking Corsairs here for some reason):

This is another example of a "game in a box" independent of buying into the whole genre. I am keen to try the rules to see if they work well for modern air. Speaking of air I feel an urge to get into Blood Red Skies (interestingly Renko likes  to play both sets of these "air rules" and was last heard begging me to "finish painting those Orc jets" because he sorely needed help from being blown out of the sky by the heavily gunned Imperials). 

Saturday 28 December 2019

My Cunning Plan for 2020

In the spirit of Spike Milligan's patent way of paying off his debtors (he put their names in a hat and at the end of the month picked one [of the many] out and paid them, but if they have annoyed him during the month [for example by being asked to be paid promptly] he simply omitted to put them in the hat), I have decided to have a "free format small project pool" and "lucky dip" into it (or should I just say "when") I get to an 'artistic impasse' - of wanting to do something but don't know exactly what. The idea being that there can be anything on "the card" - a small painting project, a book to read (or maybe just a chapter), a board game/ziplock to play .. the idea being "just go do it" and there will be a 'good result' at the end of my exultation (kind of like those endorphins at the end of a sweaty exercise session). The "cards" will therefore have to be of limited duration and achievable ideally in either in a weekend spare-time session or series of week day nights 'hobby time' maximum - ideally in a four hour burst.

Suggestions for my first "small project pot" are (and note they are not in any particular order as they are random numbers to be drawn from the pot as required):
  1. .. Writing: Compose a Short Article for the Nugget
  2. .. Make a Model: Cruel Seas 1/300 E-Boat
  3. .. Play a Game: Rummicub (at least one other player required)
  4. .. Figure Painting: LOTR Moria Cave Troll with Spear
  5. .. Escape from the Dark Castle (can be played solo)
  6. .. Figure Painting: D&D Boxed Game Bugbear
  7. .. Make a Model: 1/144 WWI SE5a ex Skytrex Red Eagle Miniature
  8. .. Painting a Figure: D&D Adventurer - Woodland Ranger
  9. .. Make a Model: 1/72 Japanese Chi-Ha Tank - Airfix
  10. .. Play a Game: B-17 Queen of the Skies - Avalon Hill (Solo)
It is now standing in the background waiting for "its time to come".
Let's see how it goes in 2020!

Quote of the Day: SCRUM

“Embrace the unknown! That’s where learning lies! If you’re too afraid to learn, you will never get any better. This is the key to being successful at Scrum: embrace change.”
- Dr. Jeff Sutherland, The Power of Scrum

Friday 27 December 2019

Fantasy 28mm Bugbears:

They started as four dark shapes of low grade soft plastic but I could see they had potential (see below, they were actually the monsters from one of the many variations of a boxed D&D Game, TSR and Wizards tried, crude but a good monster representation - I have seen others use them well [Philotep]):

The temptation is that if you paint them up you have the basis of a "Dungeon in a Box" - big, small and medium monster representations and as they are from a churn out figure mould you can have a little fun with them too! They paint up quite nice too (see below, a Bugbear I call "Bill"):

Another three to do! But there is also an ensemble of "others" (see below, fiendish collection of interesting encounters for the adventurers):

All good fun!

Thursday 26 December 2019

Getting Ready for The Xmas Rummicub "Battle Royale"

With the pending arrival of the Scottish in-laws it was time for me to brush up on the rules - I had already "gone over the rules" with a colleague at work so felt half prepared (see below, getting familiar with the playing pieces):

Note: Please don't be alarmed at the bright red, fake "cap" gun laying on the table, it was something absently minded left on the table by my youngest - so nothing to do with a high-stakes gangster gambling den.

Rummicub is a cross between cards and dominoes it plays an entertaining game. I was to discover there can be regional rule variations - Newcastle to Edinburgh variants, all subject to the subtle interpretation of the English/Scots language. The Scots lore took precedence, something I will pass back to my Newcastle colleague. In the long rule my "rule discussions" with the mother-in-law served to focus the attention of my wife who swooped in to win and be hailed as Christmas House Champion!

Update: Won first game of Rummicub (thanks to wife showing me how I could get out with an "Orange 4"). Technically "Reigning House Champion" but another game is scheduled after dinner and I fear my performance may be alcohol affected!

Back to "Escape from the Dark Castle" for me then!

Dear Santa .. Can I have my own Internet .. Yours Putin

Wednesday 25 December 2019

Gaming Xmas Presents

I now have a new brand hobby mug to make the essential "painting brew" to keep the spirits up during those long painting sessions of 2020 (see below, a sporting theme in honour of England's ODI World Cup win!):

A new board game, playable solo or up to four players, "Escape The Dark Castle". A cooperative style of game play - everybody gets out alive to win or nobody wins (see below, a Gothic atmospheric fantasy - variations allow for three boss monsters and 45 story cards (15 needed for a game) making for many combinations on "Game Nights" ahead):

Plus the first expansion pack, "The Cult of the Death Night" (see below, ideas for many D&D spin-offs into my dungeons methinks):

Game on in 2020! And not to forget that I an reading a very interesting book (see below, which could have an alternative title of "What I learned during my life and times as a promoter of, and an active professional wargamer"):

2019 has ended on quite a high!

Merry Xmas

To all my wargaming friends wishing you a wonderful Xmas and Happy New Year!

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Talking about a "Matilda", but not the Roald Dahl one, even though it is Xmas!

The "Master of Leipzig" from Battleground 2019 placed a special request, to play some more Blitzkrieg France 1940 (Panzerblitz, Avalon Hill style) in early January 2020, with the BEF. To the spares box I went and found a covey Skytrex 1/200 Matilda I's and II's Battalion which beckons forth the Battle of Arras. A "Battalion of BEF infantry" and an "Infantry Tank Battalion" should suffice to represent "Frank Force". The only 'fly in t he ointment' being the Matilda I assembly process (see below, this tiny micro tank comes in 'four pieces' - out with the superglue):

The first company (Coy) of Matilda I's completed (see below, equivalent to the German Panzer I albeit much slower, armed with a single HMG - the redoubtable Vickers machine gun):

The 7th RTR had two companies of Matilda I's. Each model represents approximately 4-5 actual vehicles therefore the Company has three models [in the Arras battle 4th RTR had 35 Matilda I's and 7th RTR had twenty three Matilda I's and sixteen Matilda II's]. I have six Matilda I's and four Matilda II's tanks, along with two BEF Bren Carriers and a MkVI Light Tank to represent the 7th RTR (See below, that is thirteen models in total using Command Decision and Spearhead OoBs):

The three tanks of the heavy company (Matilda II's) are shown below, plus a fourth tank for the Battalion command tank (see below, the only issue I have with the metal models are the "Western Desert" external "extended range" fuel tank - I may have to "snip" them off):

The origins of this Order of Battle sates back to 1990 when I first started a rejuvenated interest into wargaming (a second birth) when I was living in Aberdeen, UK. I picked up Frank Chadwick's "Command Decision I" from Virgin Games on the high street, long before the Internet when you had to find stuff in shops. Inside the CD rule box was a quarterly newsletter (called The Command Post), in Section S-2 Intelligence the Order of Battle Section the British Infantry Tank Brigade, France 1940 by Jeff Glasco was given (see below, it seems to have lasted the test of time given my reading of France 1940 since 1990):

First Army Tank Brigade

  • HQ: 1 x Matilda I (Command Tank)

4 RTR (Battalion)

  • HQ: 1 x Matilda I (Command Tank), 2 x Carriers, 1 x MkVI Light Tank
    • Light Squadron: 1 x Matilda I (Command Tank), 2 x Matilda I
    • Light Squadron: 1 x Matilda I (Command Tank), 2 x Matilda I
    • Light Squadron: 1 x Matilda I (Command Tank), 2 x Matilda I

7 RTR (Battalion)

  • HQ: 1 x Matilda II (Command Tank), 2 x Carriers, 1 x MkVI Light Tank
    • Light Squadron: 1 x Matilda I (Command Tank), 2 x Matilda I
    • Light Squadron: 1 x Matilda I (Command Tank), 2 x Matilda I
    • Medium Squadron: 1 x Matilda II (Command Tank), 2 x Matilda II

Note on actual strength: Prior to engaging in combat, total Matilda strength dropped to 58 Matilda Is (12 stands), and 16 Matilda IIs (3 stands) due to mechanical breakdowns.

Background References:

Monday 23 December 2019

November Wargaming Show: Stockton Battleground

Looking back to November this year I had the good fortune to help out with an exhibition game at the Stockton Battleground Wargame Show. A 10mm epic Napoleonic feast, the last day of the 1813 Leipzig battle, the largest Napoleonic battle. The battlefield set-up and rules were a hex driven (Kallistra scenery) tribute to the Avalon Hill era  - you could say an Avalon Hill rule appreciation society. The goal being to be able to play epic sized Napoleonic battles "quicker" than they actually took (see below, these 10mm figures came from the Pendrakon stable, which seemed appropriate as they organised the show):

In addition to playing I managed to do some shopping between dice rolling and figure moving (see below, following on from the Wargames Illustrated "freebie" - after several good recommendations from friends I took the plunge and bought the starter set, yes yet another Napoleonic Naval scale!):

Catching the corner of my eye I saw a "must have" throwback to my childhood, 2000AD tribute to Judge Dredd (see below, get ready for Block War .. mine is the JRR Hartley Block, fly fishing anyone. Watch out from those no good perps from the Homer Simpson Block, they are trouble and they will catch some "rod"!):

The last purchase was looking forward to my communal 2020 project, the Western Desert in 10mm, my bag is the Italians (see below, a party pack from Pendrakon):

So plenty of painting planned for the festive break!

Sunday 22 December 2019

It is the Season of Party Games: "Munchkins", "The Pretender" and 'Pandemic: The Cure'.

Unexpectedly or rather totally unplanned on my part, I notice it has been a canny while since I last bogged, as this December seems to have been a most hectic affair, but in a good sense. I seem to have dropped out of the blogging habit (partly because I find one of my kids constantly in front of the family computer) but on the plus side too I have been "doing" plenty of "stuff," just not getting to report it. It does also seem to be the party game season. Two separate instances of old friends bringing their families together with mine caused much hilarity through 'Pretenders' and 'Munchkins' (see below, 'Pretenders' is a family favourite as one player has to guess what the others are miming before it's their turn to mime, so are you faking it or just bad at miming?):

'Munchkins' is the deadliest of games, addictive and unforgiving - a D&D spoof as it is a race to get to 10th Level through a combination of kicking in doors, killing monsters, looting treasure, stealing treasure off other players or cursing other players and basically getting lucky at other players expense. "You are dead to me!" is a frequently used phrase in our games as backstabbing and mischievous double dealings are 'normal behaviour' (dystopian or what). The game really assumes its best form when the players "go dirty" in a bare knuckled free for all, running away and dying (getting busted back to Level 1 with no possessions) is all par for the course (see below, a pile of 'door cards' and a pile of 'treasure cards' and a foursome of players adventuring around them):

The third of the trio of games is my personal favourite genre, that of collaborative problem solving, "Pandemic: The Cure" which a remodelling of the original Pandemic game using smart (intelligent rule driven: dice and cards) playing pieces to reduce the 'required pre-game reading' and rule memorisation. Instead of small car manual it is reduced to eight A4 sheets of large print rules and diagrams. Good job by the designers as the play flowed smoothly (see below, the game is in progress, we are three players trying to find the cure for four diseases, you can sense the game mechanics are finely mathematically balanced between winning and losing):

With the exception to "Pretender" which is a classic pick up and play in 30 seconds, the other two "Munchkins" and "Pandemic" had to be first played with a dry-run round (or two) to get the feel for the rules and a sense of what the strategies were. In fact richness in the "Munchkins" cards and interactions were revealed with more and more play. Being nasty (for "Munchkins") was a characteristic of play that had to be learned (counter intuitive in many ways to be so overtly nasty and in your face). We were not getting the rules wrong (the sequence of play was very simple) but combinations of cards "worked". "Pandemic" is a little more frustrating because after playing it four times I "think" I have the rules now .. and the designers did a good job making it simple .. something about how the dynamics pull together. It makes me think I should make better of You Tube instructional videos and the like, games like Chain of Command fro the Two Fat Lardies unashamedly use it wisely. The classic statistic from the 1970's/80's Avalon Hill/SPI period was that 55% of games never got played - those that did, I wonder how many were really played correctly? Are we any better off now in getting games played?

Sunday 8 December 2019

GW LOTR Balrog (Post 2)

From a collection of shiny parts to an assembled model (see below, it is an ill fitting beast that will require a great deal of additional filing and Milliput filling - quite atrocious in all honesty):

Fear not my dungeon adventurers it will probably not be painted in time for Friday's game. Although if I pushed hard enough the Moria Cave Troll could be finished :)

Wednesday 4 December 2019

GW LOTR Moria Cave Troll - Assembly

Along with, or apart from the Balrog, the most iconic "boss" monster from The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, must be the Moria Cave Troll (see below, equipped with Hobbit hunting spear - be sure to pack your best "mithril" armour): 

He certainly is a chunky piece of lead, this being long before the resin Fine Cast 'experimentation' (aka disaster) and more modern injection moulding techniques replaced all the old metal "large monsters" (see below, from another angle you can see what a good pose the figure is in): 

I found it lying next to the Balrog and decided to slip it together and was pleasantly pleased at how well the pieces fitted. I toyed with the ideal of pinning the joints but (something I may well regret later) I used a bit of cheap to hold the pieces in place an d then applied a good quality superglue. It seems to have worked really well (so far)!

Tuesday 3 December 2019


They are dark evil spirits (see below, Arifix Acrylic Primer, Vallejo Black Wash, Vallejo Wolf Grey and Citadel Base Stegadon Scale Geen - gives a good base foundation layer)

Time to play with the mid-tones (see below, Citadel Technical Nighthaunt Gloom over the light bits and then shading up with Wolf, using Citadel Layer Thunderhawk Blue to highlight the Stegadon, base charred brown and gun metal on other areas):

A touch of of the lighter highlights (see below, make those candles shine):

Before I play with the Citadel Technical Mordant Earth (which gives a broken textured base) I was taught a top tip by a member of the GW staff - paint the base in a light colour you want to seep through the base (see below, I chose the haunting light blue - the first five):

I almost left the bases as they stood as I liked the unearthly feel they had to them (see  below, adding an extra bit of highlight to these as I went along - the last five): 

Thrown into a mock encounter (see below, maybe the Cleric would prefer the Doggelgangers now):

I like the look and feel of the recent GW undead range as them have an excellant fantasy feel to them, useful for generic dungeon fodder!

Monday 2 December 2019

Dopplegangers .. Your Worst D&D Nightmare

After a long arduous night adventuring in the depths of a dark and deep dungeon the surviving members of the party gather round what they sense is the final door, behind which is either fabulous treasure or a hideous "boss monster" (see below, steel your girth Cleric, the Wizard and Fighter have your back):

The Cleric pauses, sensing something is wrong, but the moment passes and he steps forwards raising his magical mace (see below, but "facing dangers to the front"):

But when the real danger lies behind you (see below, your fellow characters are not at all what they seemed to be (see below, "evil hisses" give the game away): 

Attacked from behind, multiple times at advantage, perhaps casting a "Detect Evil" is a good deep cleanse precaution - something to be done whenever possible (see below, "so ends the Cleric's holy career): 

The Dopplegangers come from the new D&D primed resin range Deep Cuts/Pathfinder Battles/Wizkids range. Although I was initially frightened of a 'fragility' I managed to cut away the tiny bits of excess flash and paint them up rather nicely.

Still a nasty DM trick though! The other two PCs could have gone home hours ago ;)