Friday 31 December 2021

"Don't Look Up" - Netflix Film

This seems to have caused rather a Marmite type of separation in opinion .. some love it but then people some hate it.

I love it ;) 

15mm Malburian WIP

Step 1: They made it to the painting table (see below, trimmed from flash and filed - stuck to coffee stirrer with UHU glue): 

Step 2: Airfix Acrylic (01) Primer (see below, I need eight basic figures and a flag bearer with a leader type for each "battalion"):  

Step 3: Paint on Vallejo Beige/Brown Dipping Wash (see below, that helps define the painting areas as well as having a nice brown shadow that should work well with the basic "Red Coat"):   

The idea here is to approach things "Factory Style"

Reference site for uniforms:

Thursday 30 December 2021

John Madden RIP

Sad news:

RIP. The passing of a legend

"People always ask, are you a coach or a broadcaster or a video game guy?" he said when was elected to the Hall of Fame. "I'm a coach, always been a coach."

Wednesday 29 December 2021

2022 15mm Malburian Project

As the word Blenheim has been mentioned and "we need some more British" the 15mm Malburian "stash in the attic has been activated (a Dixon's generic 15mm Malburian army pack I got four years ago) into a New Year's painting project (see below, there are enough for eight battalions at ten men per battalion which correspond to the house rules we use)

Watch this space.

Tuesday 28 December 2021

New D&D Friends for 2022

Courtesy of a shopping expedition in Edinburgh, several monsters were unboxed and are due to hit the Painting tray in 2022 (see below, a Rust Monster, Beholder and "somethings" called Cricks - never met the latter as a player but it is a snakelike thing with a pointy beak): 

Please don't take me as of face value, the kind of DM who just throws high level monsters at a low level party just because he has them in figures ;) 

I am much meaner than that!

Monday 27 December 2021

Waterloo 1815

The second December 2021 major historical battle refight was none other than Waterloo itself, the big wargaming granddaddy of them all, played under Sam Mustafa's Blucher rules. Myself, I am an inexperienced but enthusiastically keen Blucher player (with a grand total one play-test game under my belt) so I was really appreciative of some old hands "on-side" to assist me. I was playing "Allied" (aka British) and hopefully we expected to see some Prussian colleagues appear at some point to supplement our Dutch and Germanic comrades in arms. "When" was shrouded in the scenario designer's "Fog of War" card turning "chilling suspense" mechanic. To win the French had to hold at least three out f four of the Victory Points (Frischermont, Papelotte, La Haye Sainte and Hoguemont) at the end of any one of the Allied turns (which stops the French player from ignoring one half of the battlefield). 

My part of the line was on the Allied left, from Frischermont, Papelotte to behind La Haye Saint, hence the focus of my few snapshots there which quickly developed into a fierce cavalry combat, one the Allies "had to win" (see below, the French push hard at Frischermont with a whole corps of infantry and a cavalry corps in support, they clearly hope to sweep round the Allied left [while Papelotte off camera to the right is being invested by French artillery]): 

The highpoint of the French cavalry attack was to make a bold and audacious charge that was left "high and dry" as Allied committed its cavalry reserves, including horse a flanking unit of artillery. However because of this sacrifice, the French infantry was given the clear run in to assault Frischermont, a costly soak-off for sure (see below, the Allied success was still costly in strength points and commitment of "key" reserves): 

Frischermont is assaulted by the French infantry corps, but the French are beaten back at heavy cost to both the defending garrison and the attackers. The garrison is now critically weak and the Allies know that the French will come again, they have to. The stout hearted British (as there are Scottish in the mix here) infantry ready themselves for an inevitable bayonetted counter-attack with full highland swirl (see below, this is the end of "thin read line" that cannot allow itself to be curled up from its flank, the only remaining chance of reinforcements are Prussians "when" [or "if" the come]): 

To buy the garrison some time it is now the turn of the British cavalry to charge forward, in order to finish off the remains of the French cavalry and more importantly pin the French infantry into a static defensive square formation, though in so doing so, paying a "blood price" for this gallant gesture (see below, still no news from the Prussian - where are they? Grouchy seems to be doing his job properly today!): 

Across to the Allied centre and right of the battlefield a huge cavalry flanking attack to the far right of Houguemont has come nought, both sides fighting themselves to a standstill. The heavy French infantry attack is commencing at Hoguemont proper, La Haye Sainte has been pounded mercilessly by the Imperial French Artillery Reserve - its garrison being destroyed and now La Haye Sainte is occupied by British infantry, with a French infantry assault bearing down on them. Papelotte is also being assaulted after the garrison was bombarded by yet more French artillery. The battle is reaching a "critical moment" (see below, note how more French cavalry tussle with the Allied cavalry near Hoguemont to allow the infantry clear line of attack to go in):  

Frischermont is taken by the French infantry but they are immediately thrown unceremoniously back out again by a bloody British counterattack, lead by Pictons "devil's handmaidens" the Highlanders, Picton falls mortally wounded in teh front line as the last French cavalry unit is destroyed. The left Allied flank has now been successfully stabilised, but at a high cost (see below, off camera Papelotte was attached, it falls to the French infantry but Maitland's Guard follow the Scots fine example and quickly retake Papelotte - still only 'bad news' from the Prussians as Grouchy is seemingly stopping their arrival on the battlefield):   

Hoguemont was attacked and lost, but retaken by Allies the following turn, a literal blood-bath and the French are exhausted on the Allied right flank. This means with the advancing passage of 'game time' "night is coming" for the Allies and will arrive well before any reinforcements from Blucher (Wellington did say he would take "either" in the film). With this in mind Wellington now orders a central infantry advance to stymy the dangerous French infantry attacks from taking any of the four strongholds, as tomorrow he will surely be joined by the whole of Blucher's forces for sure (after Blucher gives a sound telling-off to Scharnhorst and Gneisenau for prevaricating on this day). Note: La Haye Sainte had fallen but it too had been retaken by spirited counterattack, the French Artillery Reserve was now "out" of ammunition and being hastily withdrawn and the French Imperial Guard was as yet still uncommitted on Napoleon's baseline (see below, with less than a hour of daylight even if the Guard is committed it will not be able to achieve the three VPs required): 

Night falls and Napoleon retires conceding the battlefield and his fate. A great game, an Allied win, even without Blucher. All told this was my fourth full blooded attempt at a Waterloo refight and I think it pulled it off best, partly because of the rule-set (Blucher) and partly because of the attitude of the players themselves. A spledid day out .. I will play more of Blucher in 2022 methinks .. perhaps in Epic Scale though ;) 

Sunday 26 December 2021

Ramillies 1706

Well I managed to get a couple of big games in during December, one of which was Ramillies, a great Marlburian bash of epic proportions in 15mm (see below, a confident [Umpire Driven "Bot"] French General surveys his dispositions - he may be facing the feared British but he has two line of solid French infantry defending a water obstacle, backed by fortified villages and with "life" insurance of the finest French cavalry behind them - over to his right securing flank is the Elector of Bavaria and his army, what could possibly go wrong?):

John Churchill meanwhile has it in mind to unsettle the Frenchman with his superiority in artillery to both counter battery and bombard the French strongholds before his "obvious" assault with his dreaded British infantry (see below, this activity completely transfixes the Frenchman): 

Meanwhile the Duke of Marlborough has amassed the most cavalry seen on a European battlefield facing the Elector of Bavaria's forces. He intends to smash the Bavarians while the French stand transfixed at the British flags; the French haunted by the thought of Blenheim and fixated by Louis XIV's instructions to defend sturdily against the British - aka not be beaten by "them" (see below, the Allied cavalry will soon hurl themselves forward in a desperate gamble): 

There are columns of Allied infantry to back up the cavalry by assaulting the Bavarian held fortified villages on the Allied left (see below, a lot depends upon the tenacity of the Dutch infantry):  

Meanwhile the British artillery continue to pound away (see below, they are keeping the French artillery quiet with some "good rolling"): 

In fact the defenders of Ramillies find themselves situated n a place far too hot and give way to fear and panic (see below, the [yellow counter indicates a] routed unit disrupts the unit [indicated by an orange counter] behind it - in so doing "fixating and worrying" the French commander away from the Bavarians plight, somehow the village needs to be garrisoned again): 

Meanwhile the Allied cavalry are trading blows with the Bavarian cavalry away on the other [Allied left] flank (see below, the disruption this leaves the defenders in will be seized upon by the next fresh Allied wave of cavalry): 

Before the French can re-garrison an Allied infantry unit takes opportunely enters Ramillies (see below, the French commander in incensed and it will be immediately counterattacked): 

All hell has broken loose on the Bavarian flank. Ramillies is being fought over in the background but the Allied infantry have stormed the far right Bavarian village and flanked the Bavarian cavalry line to make a crushing "L" (see below, the Allied cavalry have the upper hand and Elector of Bavaria commits his reserve and hastily sends a note to the French commander pleading for additional help): 

The Bavarian flank must hold or the combined French/Bavarian army is lost. The Bavarian infantry has been forced to hold defensively against the cavalry in square which is perilous given the proximity of the advancing Allied infantry - in particular an elite Dutch regiments (see below, the cotton wool smoke indicates how much of a battle there is, all along the line, the majority of it being a head on cavalry-on-cavalry engagement): 

The battle swings back and forth. Ramillies had been re-taken by the fierce French infantry counterattack (see below, routing [yellow] and disordered [orange] Allied infantry stream away from Ramillies, however note, the battalions of red coated Danes forming up to the left of the routers. They have secretly countermarched from the Allied right flank to the Allied centre and will again attack Ramillies - another testament to the brilliance and planning of the Duke of Marlborough): 

The Bavarian infantry is fighting at hopeless 3:1 odds and the first line of Bavarian cavalry has been swept away - the Bavarian reserve is committed but is ground down by waves of fresh Allied cavalry. There were even sightings of the Duke of Marlborough himself leading the attack in (see below, at last the French commander has sensed something is amiss with the Bavarians - so he is committing French reserve cavalry in, but alas it is only in "penny packets" which is too little too late. By the time it takes to reach the Bavarian flank it will be all over): 

The Bavarian infantry breaks and routs away and the remaining cavalry (French and Bavarian) are hopelessly outnumbered as fresh Allied cavalry are ready for a third attacking wave (see below, the second column or rather lined mass are ready to attack Ramillies the hinge of the Bavarian/French line): 

The Allied infantry in the centre retake Ramillies (for the third swap in ownership for the day), this time it is the brave Danes who unpack their suitcases and take up lodgings (see below, the French seem to fear every form of "Red Coat" in Marlborough's army): 

The Bavarian side of the battle is where all hangs in the balance. Confusion and disruption reign on both sides of the battle lines, the only difference being the Allies can pull their disrupted units out and send in plenty more fresh units (see below, over half the French cavalry will not move or engage in a meaningful way today as it is in the "wrong" place whereas all bar a token force is exactly where John Churchill needs it): 

The Elector of Bavaria stands transfixed as powerful formations of  Allied horse hold him in square and a line of fierce Red Coats (again not strictly British but lead by an enigmatic character some swear was the Duke re-horsed from a "previous adventure" with Bavarian cavalry) assault the Elector in close quarter fighting (see below, the Bavarians in a tight spot, vexed with both numbers and tactical dispositions against them): 

The Bavarians are crushed, the Elector falls badly wounded and is captured, this event causes the first of several French/Bavarian morale checks as the Allies have delivered to date, through crushing routs and combat losses, that are 20% of the total French/Bavarian forces (see below, this game mechanic is an additional "line of sight" morale check that makes some "Fresh" units go to "Disordered",  "Disordered" to "Rout" (see below, for atheistic reasons I really think there really should have been more "cotton wool" used at this point to convey the tragedy of the situation): 

The Bavarian right flank (aka the Allied left) has crumbled and "gone". It no longer holds any of the fortified villages, its general has been captured, most of its infantry has routed off table and further resistance depends upon reconstituted "disordered" units outnumbered 4:1 (see below, the writing is well and truly on the wall and in actual fact running, kicking and screaming off the battlefield): 

The next round causes another army level morale check (25% and 30% checks come in quick succession). The Allied cavalry have pushed the Bavarians completely off the battlefield (see bottom left of the photograph) while Ramillies itself is convincingly held by the fierce Danes and the British infantry (although outnumbered) are now walking up to the water obstacle unopposed (see below, as the French Army now starts its withdrawal in a completely different direction to the Bavarians (see below, this is a strategic disaster, the French King Louis XIV will be most displeased [sent into a fit o rage], even if his "orders" were followed "to the letter" by his Marshals):

The battle of Ramillies thus falls into the strategic category of an Allied "major win", as per history which felt right. The rules were a house rules set and are designed to play very quick (combat and morale factored into one spreadsheet driven dice roll) - in total it took five hours to play the game, so it was able to complete the battle  in a single Saturday afternoon (which I consider a major accomplishment). My previous club attempt of refighting Ramillies using "Under a Lilly Banner" rules in 25mm literally took months of actual calendar time (the battle area left set up) and had a playing time of weekends and evenings that tallied in upwards of twenty plus hours. Although that was a beautiful spectacle, "doing the deed" in an afternoon is an Olympic Gold result IMHO ;)  

Saturday 18 December 2021

Dungeon Hack - Cleaning up the Baddies Lair (Lost Mines of Phandelver)

I like old style D&D despite it being 5th Edition rules. My teenage son favours the computerised Roll D20 with its precision and its magic lighting, but I like pulling together whatever is on  hand and improvising, making a "mash" of it. I like the organic flock and pseudo chaos of that ensues. Here are few shots from early on in the adventure (the Lost Mine of Phaldelver" used in the 5th Edition Starter Campaign). You have my old 1980's 2D dungeon floor plans resurrected from the loft and old school miniatures of the same period plus a few newbies (see below, clearing out the "minor" baddies lair under the ruins of an old manor house a classic party "snaking its way" through the dungeon): 

The rugged cavern section is covered without major trauma, then the party finds a more structured (aka "square shaped") section of storerooms and are dutifully explored (see below, when there are a series of rooms to investigate it is always interesting [fun for the DM at least] to see "who" goes [or is nominated to go] first into the 'next room', a bit of reluctant "turn taking" is always FUN (karma inducing moments) - as in who's time is it for their luck to run out and spring a trap): 

An interesting find. Rinse and repeat. Steps leading down, especially when they are narrow (5' wide which means single abreast), which is always a "bad sign". The classic 10' by 10' cube awaits at the bottom with the classic choice of two doors (see below, "Wasn't this why we brought a thief along, to go first?" says the fighter to the magic-user):

Behind one of the doors .. is a guardroom (what else would you expect) garrisoned by drunken brigands who fight at disadvantage (see below, one sleep spell later and they are tied and bound up and ready to sing like canaries): 

The party advances to meet an important bad NPC (magic user) whom escapes .. with the expense of his beloved familiar -- which all adds rich narrative texture to the adventure which is good stuff! Don't worry they meet up with him later and he has a score to settle (he was attached to that rat [as in it was his "familiar"] the party killed)!

Note: If truth be told the adventure has passed far beyond this point, as I believe the pictures are over two years old (my posting to this blog has really slowed down). The characters have advanced in levels and explored the Sword Coast ;) 

Monday 13 December 2021

Midway Aerial Combat - Warlord Games Starter Set

I hummed and hared and at first said "no" (with a surprising almost believable inner voice), as I was already collecting the same period in a different wargaming scale 1/144 (or should I really say scales, as on a stock-check I also had kits in 1/72 - for a separate more "modelling" based project - but not for air combat, despite what Airfix will have you think). Then I took another look at the contents of the box and the expansions in progress (sigh) and saw all the models I had not been able to yet collect (and did not really know how I was going to collect [Devastators, Kates and Vals]). So my inner self laughed at me and said "I was only kidding!" (see the result below, I am now the proud owner of a mighty Midway Air Combat Box although gawd only knows when I will be able to get round to paint them):

I already have my eyes on the USN Bomber pack for a Xmas present! 

Sunday 12 December 2021

A13 Mk II British Cruiser Tank: 10mm Pendrakon

Time to see how this little fella paints up. Recently picked up from the Battleground 2021 Stockton Show from Pendrakon miniatures(see below, the early war Western Desert Force, the precursor to the famous 8th Army): 

I am keen to build up an early war British force to face against my painted Italians, probably using Sam Mustafa's Rommel as a set of rules. I also have some 8th Army Infantry to paint up. First I should check out what tanks were with the 7th Armoured at this time.

Additional source of inspiration for this Western Desert Force project scenarios courtesy of Bob Mackenzie's website:
Orders of Battle and Command Decision Websites:

Saturday 11 December 2021

Nikola Tesla: Audiobook

I found this book both interesting and disturbing. To me Tesla was an enigmatic background figure I knew very little about, bar references to photographs of strange sparking coils [plus the crazy one of fields of planted 'lit' light bulbs] and his name being assigned to a unit of scientific measurement (for magnetic fields). The fact Elon Musk named a car after him is an interesting footnote. The disturbing aspect to me was drawn from the time period (mid-nineteenth century to mid-twentieth century) in which he lived and the attitudes that permeated societies, the scandalous battles of patents and sharp business practices (see below, the Serbian genius, the father of the polyphase AC current and whose full impact on science is still shrouded in mystery [the mystery of the missing Tesla papers]): 

A brilliant original inventor who could make remarkable prototypes but who again as often as not, could not bring a viable product to market (but others used his technology to do so and the consequently costly litigation of patent law battles ensues [Marconi implementing something]). Who knows how history will truly judge Tesla, were it for not the US dropping their suite against Marconi because of the first world world war his precedence might have been. Dying as a recluse, "all" were keen to see the material he was working on in his latter days. 

Other Reference Material: