Monday 31 August 2020

An App of a Distraction: FREEBLADE on the iPhone

Every now and then, a bit of gratuitous Sci-Fi violence works wonders on freeing the spirit, even better when it is free (see below, the Games Workshop iPhone Freeblade  Game App, plays well, finger-tapping with plenty of explousions that give a true great sense of relief and not too much deep thinking involved - just the ticket): 

Given the price of a Titan from Forge World this is the closest I will get to touching one ;) 

Sunday 30 August 2020

ACW 20mm Project - Confederate Infantry WIP Review to Date

In the beginning there was a sad forlorn box in the loft of "based figures" that bore the scars of many false starts (see below, needing some love I tried to bring everything to a base level, the Union boys seen below were covered in PVA and then "washed black" with Vallejo Dipping Black):   

Conversely the Confederates were PVA'ed and then "washed brown" with Vallejo Dipping Brown (see below, Confederates to the left and the Union Federals to the right):

The original Revell painting diagrams and Tamiya (in period with the original purchase date) acrylic paints (see below, I decided to go Confederate first as the challenge of painting highlights in grey was easier than the study of "variations in blue" for the Union): 

An earlier post showed my first Confederate unit (a unit being: six bases, three figures per base) so here is my second (see below, a column marching to the front, keeping in step): 

The first unit with Confederate flag flying in the breeze (indicating an "elite" unit for me in the "One Hour Wargame" rules), lined waiting for the action to start (see below, the first two units were all of similar/identical poses and a "detailed study of grey"): 

The "third division" got a more interesting "rustic mixed bag" of Southern gentlemen, where the grey gives way to browns, khaki and butter-scotch (see below, there is definitely some Confederate character in these poses and I do like the range of poses that work well together): 

The "fourth division" was a good mixture of poses but more back to the uniform Confederate grey (see below, again with a flag to indicate an "elite" unit): 

Finally the "fifth division" a mixed, mixed bag of poses and colours which feels really in keeping with the Confederates, particularly the longer they were on campaign (see below, this units completes "the max" number of infantry units I need for the One Hour Wargame Rules ACW army): 

Gathered in mass they look a fine sight (see below, they still need some TLC on the bases [aka flock], but with a sense of relief and pride I can put my paint brush down): 

I think the boys are looking good, time to move onto their [Confederate] artillery and cavalry supporting arms!

Saturday 29 August 2020

AI Book: Referenced Multiple Times at US Connections 2020

The next step in the "AI Saga" - the sages are now telling us how to build "trusted" AI (see below, "slippery when wet" could be ab obscure reference to Def Leopard): 

Somehow I see the connection to "The Demon  in the Machine" and "Upheaval". Well with Covid-19 still in full swing there is no excuse not to get some reading in ;) 

Thursday 27 August 2020

Holiday Painting Project: Confederate Infantry in 20mm (Revell Plastics)

These boys started "their journey" with me in 1992 or thereabouts as a fire damaged (as in the packaging) job lot at as a penny a figure (see below, the "to be completed" flags actually come from teh Revell Union packet but are IMHO are totally "inter-changeable" - one is blue the other is grey!): 

In keeping with the retro feel I used the good old Tamiya paints wherever possible, which almost matched age of the figures, but with a rousing stir [a couple of minutes] they were ready to go as if brand new. Although I had already started some I PVA sealed them all, and washed them with a Vallejo Brown "Dipping Wash" to be at a consistent starting point (see below, note - there are several packs of "same pose" Confederates gathered for this group shot): 

I stared long and hard at the blank flags and plunged in with a Rebel Yell. I plan to do a mass "flock" at the end (see below, I think it makes all the difference): 

A basic unit of play, the flag would denote an "elite" unit in the One Hour Wargame rules (see below, I need to paint up another four infantry, two artillery and two cavalry): 

The plan is that a unit of six stands would be a One Hour Wargame unit .. six of which basically make up an army. Yes, I want to introduce my Padawan to the ACW to see if he is as lucky with a musket as he is with a spear.

Wednesday 26 August 2020

Holiday Reading Books: "The Demon in the Machine" and "Upheaval"

Despite my family trying to convert me to the Kindle I still manage to slip in "the hard stuff" trying my best to get the best of both worlds (see below): 

I think there is a tenuous common thread of simulation between the two, one is about hidden connections between information and complex systems and the other is weaving a comparison between personal and national moments of crisis ;) 

Tuesday 25 August 2020

Online Magazine Repositories: "The Dragon" and "Space Gamer" + bonus UK ASL Fanzine site [and AH General]

 While looking through the Internet I came across these interesting sites: 

The interest stemmed believe or not from reading an old AI article that mentioned Traveller, and many hours later ... tons of good stuff there!

Update: The General [Thanks to Ed M's comment below]

Monday 24 August 2020

One Hour Wargame - Ancients "Take II": Revenge of the Padawan

And so it came to pass that the little Padawan said "Master, that army had no archers, that is why it lost." The old Master looked up from his iPhone, "How so, my little joystick twiddling fiend, was not your advantage in cavalry sufficient enough?" "Pah! Horses are for girls .. give me an army with archers and I will show you how it is done, you old fool!" A raised eyebrow followed by silence .. "Here is your army master Robin Hood." (see below looking down from the Acropolis, Padawan on the left and Master on the right, that's [2 Horse, 3 Infantry and 1 Archer] versus [1 Horse, 4 Infantry, 1 Skirmisher]):

The Padawan moved his central infantry forward and flung both flanks of cavalry deep while leaving his precious archers on the hill (see below, the one cavalry of the master is with his skirmishers on "his" right): 

The Master in reply and refuses his left flank (see below, "let the unarmoured horse impale themselves on my spears" he thinks to himself): 

The Padawan continues his onward rush, contacting the Master's line of skirmishers [ow, that hurt] in front on his horse and he finally moves his archers off the his to support his slowly advancing infantry (see below, so far the Master thinks he is in control of the situation): 

The Master retires his skirmishers as they pass through his horse and charges in turn .. that why they can be the first to do damage in the cavalry battle, meanwhile he pushes forward with his infantry and angles them at a 45 degree incline (see below, the Master has sprung his trap .. or so he thinks): 

The young Padawan commits his cavalry to fight spears (not a good idea) and engages will some but not all of his infantry .. meanwhile the skirmishers have pulled back and the Master's cavalry are fighting well, he sits back contentedly (see below, take care for "hubris" is a Greek word): 

Thinking the old adage of "hitting first" is best the Masters takes the spear to the Padawan's last remaining un-engaged hoplite unit (see below, he senses no danger, but that does not mean there is not one): 

It is now the turn of the Padawan to smile (see below, to his horror the Master now sees a threat approaching, an group of archers and a hanging hoplite flank): 

Crunch-time (see below, archers are much more of a threat than skirmishers in these rules and they begin chewing the Master's hoplites):  

Casualties mount as most units are now "locked in melee" (see below, the red dice may look unsightly but they keep track of casualties, fifteen being the magic break point): 

The Master has the first successes (see below, the Padawan is now bereft of his cavalry): 

But the Master is soon to lose his first heavy hoplite infantry unit (see below, "pop" and teher is a big whole in the line ready to be exploited): 

The Master's skirmishers are out of position to intervene and the hoplite and archer combination works again to good affect (see below, once committed to fight the enemy hoplites the Master's hoplites have what you call "a hanging flank" the archers are all too keen to exploit) 

The Padawan succeeds in removing another hoplite unit (see below, top of the photo, but the victorious Padawan's hoplite unit has its own "hanging flank" exposed to enemy cavalry):  

Pop goes two "Padawan" heavy infantry units and he has a moment of crisis, but fleet of foot archers swing round to attack the victorious but battered hoplites of the Master (see below, desperate times call for desperate measures):  

Before the Master's cavalry can intervene both hoplite phalanx of the Master crumbles, in desperation the Master chargers home with his battered cavalry (see below, the Master's skirmishers have been laggards and have not made their presence felt for over half the game - an oversight): 

Although taking damage the Padawan's archers are winning (see below, the skirmishers again are "out of it" when they should at least be "doing something"):

Alas the Master's brave cavalry fall and with it last hope of winning (see below, two units to one is a foregone conclusion and despite their javelins taking a few last hoplites down the skirmishers are about to "run for the hills"):  

It all end horribly for the skirmishers or rather the game mechanics perhaps reflecting the "goodnight and thanks for all the fish" fleeing skirmisher monologue (see below, game - set - match to the Padawan): 

And so it ends and a stillness descends on the battlefield. "Well done Padawan", said the former Master, "You have shown an old dog a new trick, or rather that no one is immune to a temptation of a short-term advantage that turns into a long-term disadvantage! You have learned well!" He bows, "Now tell me more about your Geography homework!" (see below, not much remains of both armies but the Padawan has the field, if not a completed Geography assignment): 

As per the Abba song, "The Winner Takes It All"! The Padawan has undone his Master ;) 

Wednesday 12 August 2020

You Tube - Little Wars : Naval Battles of Guadalcanal 1942

 Another interesting video pertaining the the US - Japanese Pacific War. This time analysis from the US recreational wargaming community. Still plenty of good stuff:

Tuesday 11 August 2020

USN - (Another) Naval War College Video - Distance Learning 1963 Cold War Game Kit

I would love to see the detail in that manual (tantalisingly flicked through) and compare it to commercial wargaming systems:

Absolutely fascinating! Close to Harpoon and General Quarters but the attention to tactical turning was interesting .. they did provide dice alongside deterministic tables of hits/damage ,, what they used was up to the umpire 

On the "to watch list":

Evolution of War Plan Orange:

How Wargaming changed the shape of War in the Pacific:

Monday 10 August 2020

Ancients - "One Hour Wargames" an excuse for some 15mm Family Fun

It came to pass that in the land of ancient Greece, a city state whose name has now been long lost in the annals of antiquity, fell into dispute with its local neighbour over access rights to a local temple and gathered together a force of hoplites, skirmishers and a band of mercenary archers to do battle (see below, three infantry, two skirmishers and a troop of archers): 

Within sight of the sacred grounds of the ruined temple a battle was to be fought to settle the dispute once and for all (see below, the "Corfu airport travel shop" surrendered this little beauty for me, a perfect 15mm DBA camp if ever I saw one, I thought to myself and with "last few Euros" of holiday money well spent, it began its trip to England - note the two temple attendants are from Essex [Miniatures] and are probably my oldest "ancients" miniatures - holding up well but I might be tempted to add a layer of modern "wash" over them):   

The invaders obviously came from Thessaly, bringing two powerful contingents of horse, plus three heavy infantry and a band of skirmishers (see below, the armies are yet ti form into their distinctive hoplite lines of battle as they deploy from their respective camps):  

That soon changes as the battle lines of bronzed hoplites masses in the middle of the battlefield and a relentless heavy push of bronze begins. The system is not grid based (like Lost Battles for instance) so although the movement comes in pleasant "big chunks" combat overlaps can easily occur. However only one unit can fight each other frontally (like Impetus if I remember correctly) so I did not force "lining up" to avoid DBA/DBM movement geometry to spoil the ebb and flow and lt units scrum together naturally (see below, I was using Neil Thomas' "One Hour Wargames" rules to blood my teenage son into the hobby. as he has familiarised himself with the complex mechanics of 5th edition D&D, this should be a breeze - but I wanted a "fluid" game noses out of the rulebook if at all possible - Note dice are damage points accrued, get to fifteen and the unit goes "bang", which I liked): 

The unarmoured horse suffer badly (as they should) as they try and push their way through a solid hoplite block (see below. there is a nice mechanic in the rules that armour halves damage which seems to work very well representing ancients) 

The horse unit "cracks" (if I had thought on I could have had them scattering away fro the picture) leaving a whole in the line that the victorious hoplites wish to exploit (see below, the attrition caused by the combat system slowly builds to a "busting point" which again I quite like, creating moments of dreaded tension): 

The horse was the first unit to fall, but the unit of archers is lost making an equally unsightly whole in the line, however the hoplites that vanquished the horse are the quicker to turn and bear down on the flanks of their hoplite cousins. The challengers are about to lose their heavy infantry at teh end of this turn (see below, another feature of the rules is the relative ineffectiveness of skirmishers against heavily armoured troops - they can bother but they do not kill, see far left as despite being on a flank a unit of skirmishers is merely tickling the hoplites locked in combat with another hoplite unit):    

That said, as it was often the way with hoplite battles the "rights" of both sides 'win' and a swirling/wheeling motion occurs. The last unit of exhausted heavy infantry do indeed fall to the outrageous slings and arrows of the skirmishers (so much for my ""nothing to worry about" write-up in the last picture):   

What remains of both armies turn for the final face-off. Two relatively untouched skirmishers, but the heavy infantry looks more menacing than the battered horse (see below, I suppose at this point "morale" should click in with a reality check - with all the heavy infantry gone .. would the horse and skirmishers really slug it out? On the other hand they have come all this way and there is really no way back):    

After a brief "pivot" dance the bloody end-game battle commences (see below, no one fancies the chances of the skirmishers against the armoured hoplites, but the battered horse versus the "still fresh" skirmishers is harder to call) : 

In the end the horse perish, they were obviously too tired from their previous exhortations to pull this one out of the fire (see below, the temple attendants can now safely return to their duties as nothing has changed - apart from a field full of dead and dying Greeks, which means plenty pf work for the temple):   

All in all a very good game. A simple set of rules. yet circumstances arose which were not covered and were met with more "mutual agreement" that "rules lawyering". A competition set of rules it is not (and thank gawd for that") but a nice set you can modify from sound beginning and add flavour to suit, yes. Already after one game it have made a good "Return on Investment" (ROI). It already had bloodied my son's interest, brought some toys out of the loft and started my grey cells turning. The other set of rules I have been reading was Piquet which stands on the opposite extreme compared to these. I cannot wait to try out more scenarios and play with other periods.  

Saturday 8 August 2020

Amazing You Tube Video: US Naval War College

What a find! Courtesy of using the same search technique as my youngest son came up trumps with this series of videos (old horse, new trick):

The greatest respect to this institution (the US Naval War College) and the philosophy of playing wargame, front and center and not just skipping "a wargame or two" in "on the side" as specials for courses. It is remarkable that cadre of USN Officers that fought WWII, particularly the higher command, graduated from this institution with "chalk on their faces" from wargaming (see the video). Another "commercial/recreational" side was the popularity of Fletcher Pratt's wargame and the fact that it was in a way in advance of the NWC rules as it went further into the detail of ships as opposed to generic classes of ships.

I am hooked on this series of videos :)  

Tuesday 4 August 2020

Vietnam - Tour of Duty: Major Robinson's Challenge

Covid-19 social distancing rules are a game changer fro the tabletop wargaming experience, but where there is a will there is a way (see below, weather permitting you can always go outdoors - note hand sanitiser for the post figure/dice exchanges - each player having "their own" side's set of dice): 

The venue is Vietnam and a beautifully modeled A3 terrain piece to model a Firebase and three "friendly" villages [from Pendrakon] - (see below, the jungle mat and trees courtesy of the with the trails made with the assistance of an electric razor, I kid you not): 

The figures were from Prendrakon's 10mm Vietnam Range ( range and enhanced with flags denoting nationality and factions (see below, red VC and NVA and blue US):

The ubiquitous Huey .. essential for any Vietnam game, transporting the troops from Firebase to village and adding additional support fire (see below, not sure what manufacturer, I just remember it was a very heavy piece of metal): 

The big thing about the helicopter is that it gets the troops there and back in the same turn, not one turn out and one turn back with the constant danger of a VC/NVA ambush (see below, it certainly looks neat):  

The final touch was the playing cards, a normal deck but with nicely styled decals (see below, the game itself is based on Wayne Thomas' Small Wars, in particular .. "Six months in the Sahara" courtesy of the History of Wargaming Project (see below, I can highly recommend the book which is available at 

The game is ready to start, the US safely in their Firebase and the friendly villages with orange intelligence counters for the US to collect (see below, oops one of the villages already does not seem to be so friendly with VC and NVA "educating the villagers", so much for a quiet start): 

The Americans have the advantage in the firepower department, hitting on 4, 5, or 6; the NVA on 5 or 6 and the poor old VC needing a six. To the US Player's horror "Charlie" (VC) should never be underestimated in his ability to throw sixes at the most awkward of moments (see below, the US Player gets a nasty wake-up call early on, two boys not going home - also note the flags denoting ownership of the villages, "all bells and whistles" for this game): 

Mid-game action shot, VC and NVA presence in all three villages, the US Player has to clear them out while the garrison is small and before they "grow" too big [the US Player does not want to be drawn into a sucking firefight] and the twist is that only "cleared villages" can start generating the vital intelligence (see below, the game is very attritional for the US Player - intelligence helps generate reinforcements [a positive reinforcement mechanic])

The Huey is not guaranteed (a six being required at the start of each turn) but when it comes it is a good safe way of getting to a village and adds an additional firepower punch (3d6) which is a welcome to the grunts intrinsic squad firepower (see below, "fun-time" here is over quick-time for Charlie): 

As the game progresses the danger is that the US Player gets drawn into "sucking firefights" that draw in resources and linger over several turns. This means that the VC/NVA Player gets stronger elsewhere and the US Players finds himself running from firefight to firefight (see below, the US Player prefers 2:1 odds in his favour .. it just takes one lucky dice throw to upset the balance):   

Night time falls, in character to the setting jungle midges appear in swarms (my bite count was close to twenty [a bald head was a killer here] akin to the tally of US casualties but nowhere near the NVA/VC losses) and the game is lit by an atmospheric "false moon" on the table (see below, the game sequence "pack of cards" has almost run its course and the last turn "Tet Offensive" is about to start): 

After the last normal card is turned "The Tet Offensive" begins in earnest. All on table VC and NVA attack the fire-base, US troops on patrol cannot assist. That caught the US Player with six defenders against ten [4 VC and 6 NVA] attackers, but the attackers needed a natural six to hit, the VC are the first wave and hence are killed first. The dice is rolled and all go down by of the ten NVA/VC dice three natural sixes are rolled. Four more round follow, with shamefully poor US combat dice. Major Robinson and his staff are captured by the remaining three NVA (see below, epic ending to a great game [yes, I was the VC/NVA Player]):  

A great start back to face-to-face wargaming, with hopefully much more to come as normality slowly resumes!