Monday 31 January 2022

US Naval History Podcast

I am finding this fascinating listening (see below, something I have a daily chat about with my AI friend Alexa who plays hard ball with me when I say "Play US Navy History Podcast" until I remember it is "US Naval History Podcast" - which serves to remind me of the limits of 'AI Assisted' to 'Generic AI'):

Twelve nice episodes do far. The twentieth centaury episodes were a nice revision that complemented my bookshelves, but from episode seven (the Spanish American War) back to one I am learning new material. Dangerously interested in the ACW as well as the SAW episodes.  

Update (12/02/2022): Now listened to them all - can highly recommend, especially the early pre-twentieth century ones!

Sunday 30 January 2022

Still not really sure what this is: The Modular Body (OSCAR) Online Science Fiction Story ... [Not true .. yet]

Please keep a "steady head" while reading this ...

Art or Science?

Comments appreciated - Please help me understand as I am finding this thing this hard to comprehend! Not a spoof exactly, but a thought experiment .. (it fooled me, the animation was superb, the right level of believability) 

Explanation .. sort of ..

Animation Explained:

Got to say, I love those Dutch accents, which just seem to add to the Mad Scientist feel ;) 

Perfect for a Traveller Sci-Fi Adventure?

Saturday 29 January 2022

Purchase Number 1: Long Awaited Xmas present - Epic Waterloo Collection

January seems to be becoming a month of deliveries for me - this first one comes from a long standing Xmas present pre-order (see below, Warlord Games Epic Waterloo collection, British and French Starter Armies):

Seeing as I did not possess anything like an existing large collection of Napoleonics  in 15mm, the Epic scale was OK for me (I was also sold on the ease for the "hard of thinking" assembling a large collection at one go, aka the Warlord Games "Army in a Box Special straight off the shelf",  jump-starting into a period which I have long been thinking about). To be honest the only other viable alternative for a Napoleonic project would probably have been a 6mm for me - too small for these tired eyes. If it just starts and ends at Waterloo, then that is fine by me!

My first though is even not to bother with any form of fancy painting but to go retro with the Airfix Waterloo Wargame of yesterday - simply Red fighting Blue. I am thinking along the lines of a "condensed form" of DBA representing a Napoleonic battle with a Left, Centre, Right and Reserve perhaps on a table four foot wide by two-three foot deep.

Thursday 27 January 2022

What next ... 2022 fun things explored to date and those currently being explored

Well for a start .. in the spirit of mindfulness .. getting back into the habit of blogging a snippet ever day or so of wargame progress (not using the term "projects" anymore) and thoughts, I find really cathartic. AS a matter of fact I have already blogged more in Jan 2022 than in any month in 2021, so I think that is a good sign (see below, my friend from the 1990's past, I remember that box cover art, the classic menace of the Panther tank, all Sherman crew beware):

I am continuing to play Steel Panthers on my computer and I am finding the scenarios very interesting. My approach is to do them one by in numerical order, previously I jumped from small scenario to small scenario, but it looks like in doing so I missed out on some real gems.  To date sixteen done so far out of a catalogue of three hundred and forty four, [note the sixteen was including the eight training tutorials - which also exposed my "superficial click mouse button bait" style of play. Dumb game play at times but it seemed to be working, sort of. That was my naivety and just surface knowledge of some elements of the rule system. When you slow yourself down (less haste gleans more speed), rather than rushing through stuff as quick as you can, you find Steel Panthers is a very feature rich game (though heavy on the mouse clicks). 

Board game to miniature wise ...

I really want to play the Beda Fomm board game through to completion, but a slight Covid complication is delaying that at the moment (nothing too serious, touch wood). Then after we are all "board gamed-out" doing that - transfer to the table-top some small battalion-sized vignettes to be played under [Frank Chadwick's] Command Decision rules and compare the battles results - then perhaps replay them with some different rule (and compare them too)? That means a bit of a rush on some British early war tanks to be painted up for me (A9s, A10s,and A13s) plus some Morris ACs. (I also have to say that the more I learn of the battle the more unhistorical the Steel Panthers version of the scenario looks). There is an incoming Pendrakon order of 10mm tanks expected oh so soon!

Pep Talk to Self: Now be a good boy and crack on with the "Western Desert" stiff .. never you mid about any sort of calling of the "Warlord Epic Scale" of the ACW in your mind, or the immanent arrival of the Napoleonic range. 

Wednesday 26 January 2022

Heading to Beda Fomm .. a troop of A13 Mk IIa (10mm Pendrakon)

All this talk of the simulation of the battle of Beda Fomm has left me (or the collective "us") a few models short of being ale to create the British RTRs for Beda Fomm on the table top. Particularly because the A9, A10 and A13 fleets of British cruiser tanks did not have a long shelf life, particularly when they later came into contact with the Africa Korp. So A9s, A10a and A13s don't make it into the 1942+ battles, which is the popular 8th Army collection phase [for us currently]. Therefore "I had to" (or rather chose to) order some early war British kit from Pendrakon - well that was my excuse anyhow. That really meant I better start painting the three A13's I already had (see below, stunned into action I have primed in the Airfix acrylic primer grey): 

Next stop will be a Vallejo Brown Wash and a dark sand colour. I am thinking four collections of three tanks  (comprising or rather representing a squadron) would make up the armoured regiment, with a couple of the precious CS tanks (which could fire HE to take out AT Guns and fire smoke) in the HQ Troop. That should be enough for Beda Fomm as the cruiser formations were understrength by that point in the campaign anyhow.

Tuesday 25 January 2022

TheACDC - ArmChair Dragoons/Digital Convention 14-16 January Video Recordings

I missed this first time round but sincere thanks to the Armchair Dragoons for hosting all these great sessions online for a catch-up:

I need to make some time appear in my diary to watch these.

Monday 24 January 2022

Beda Fomm - Board Game Play - Play Testing

You read the set of rules, they seem straightforward (but even ten pages can contain a lot - now don't get me talking on DBA's six pages of simple rules needing seventy two pages of fan based explanation spanning several years of collaborative argumentation - over the meaning of rules after well-meaning and competition gamers get their mucky little hands on them) but until .. you get the playing pieces out on the board and start moving them around .. you don't realise the limitations of the brain's short term memory in understanding stuff. All good fun when play testing with friends though (see below, Beda Fomm set-up after what we thought was an accurate turn one - but looking at the board, flicking back to the rules and then reading the small print we realised "how wrong we were"): 

In the above you see an overuse of the "Move - No AT Fire" marker - which looked messy and we thought that cannot be right. Reading the rules again we find this isn't needed for all troops as not all troop types have AT fire capability (makes kind of sense). So particularly with respect to infantry, AT and Artillery if they do have inherent AT capability and they move they get a marker (tick). Art, AT and Regular firings are split out into different phases so this is an  fiddly but important "aide memoire" for the game (and as I sit typing I could not tell you for sure if that also applies to armour - I don't think so as it represents set-up time for guns etc but I will have to check). 

Secondly stacking limits really make this a "puzzle game" (as per the comment in the video I watched), but the Italian has some crazy "battalion sized truck units" (that represent feeing Italian non-fighting admin units) that have "minimal combat value" (aka the mighty "1") and serve mainly to get in the way of Italian unit movement and be VPs for the British and Commonwealth player. As it is a battalion size it will block another battalion from moving through them on the road - but the Italian has the option of "parking by the road" (stacking value zero but an auto kill if in combat). On the game test we even read simple movement values wrong, as we saw one Italian unit had a movement value of eight which translated into thirty two road hexes (wow) .. but only as we were packing away did we discover other units had a value of six (twenty four road hexes) so the convoy would really have travelled at the speed of the slowest unit until "first contact" with the enemy. This meant that the above board is wrong and a turn one encounter is impossible which also explains why our first move looked so unhistorical (as historically British and Commonwealth infantry blocked the road while the armoured cars prowled the flank shooting up "parked" lorries - but as we were playing it, the infantry would not have time to get there). 

As a design comment I can so see Frank Chadwick's interest in morale (which came through hard and fast in the later Command Decision set[s] of rules), as each formation (not counter) has its own morale tracker. Some of the Italian (mostly infantry) start really low at 6 (and as morale checks are equal to or under this value on 2d6, they are already behind the curve). Lots of combat results ask for "morale checks", lose one and you can die or retreat - and losing a morale also check means your formation "morale tracker" goes down by one and as continual combats keep asking you to pass a "morale check" - life becomes very hard vey quickly, which makes a nice vicious circle. With all these vital statistics captured on the board with small counters on tracks, it is a game that you don't want to play around cats or small inquisitive children! Nevertheless I am looking forward to the next game test when we move onto a bit of combat. I am interested to see how the game plays for the first five turns as the game quickly board fills up with Italians facing Combeforce (the RTR start arriving for the British and Commonwealth forces at the start of turn six). 

Note: The goals here are to (a) play the game in full 'correctly' and (b) spot battalion+ sized vignettes on the table top in Command Decision.


Sunday 23 January 2022

Old School Friends continue our D&D Dungeon Hack

Damn it, is it not a frustrating blast when those darn adventurers get their act together and bamboozle a clump of dangerous looking monsters (in this case a band of five Bugbears). By deft and cunning use of a magician's familiar, a Dragon Breath spell (see cotton wool below in the picture below) which as it came from a completely unexpected direction, "spooked" the monsters into stampeding into a well set up trap, aka killing zone (see below, as their "singed" [Bugbear] leader fell along side another Bugbear to the deft back-stabbing of the party's two thieves [the tiny Gnome thief dropping down from a point above the archway - a set-up that is becoming his trademark move], the "force morale" of the remaining three Bugbears crumbled [as per the three Bugbears exiting south at the bottom of the photograph]): 

Catching but a short breath the adventurers then moved onto the "next room" and came across another three Bugbears plus their Drow overseer. Two of the Bugbears and the Drow were distracted as they searching in a chasm for "something" (see the figures in the white 'chasm floor' area [top part] in the photograph below). Silence whispers and mutterings  - the PCs were up to something. Sure enough they had a "plan" very similar to their last escapade. However, the party's next assassination plan (meticulously worked out beforehand) came unstuck right at the start of its execution. The magician's familiar was this time spotted and "plucked" from the sky [by exactly "what" the party are not sure of], but at least the party's thieving duo still managed to take out the isolated Bugbear on guard duty up top, already dead as he toppled to the chasm below (see below, the party's killing spree continues, but now the enemy now know they are there):  

I am looking forward to the resolution to this Mexican stand-off in the next session.  

Friday 21 January 2022

Battle of Britain PSC Game Preparation - 1/300 Planes Painting

Take a quick look at my 'behind the scenes' frantic painting tray situation a few months back, all in preparation for the Stockton Pendrakon "Battle ground" wargaming show where I helped put on a Battle of Britain game (by PSC but revamped from an older TSR version). I decided that the little bland little playing pieces (standard raw plastic grey) in the PSC game needed to be painted up proper to look authentic (see below, the RAF contingent are being prepared, as the models had handy roundel indents I decided to try and paint them by hand - there are also a few 1/300 "metals" I found [milling to the left hand side, two Fairy Battles, two Hurricanes and three Spitfires] these were just  "kicking about", but in the end I did not use them): 

My good old fashioned Tamiya paints come to the rescue as the RAF fighters (Spitfires and Hurricanes) receive their classic BoB [Green/Brown] basecoats and I used a Revell acrylic Sky Blue for their undersides (see below, twelve basic fighter markers are required for the game, the exotic Bristol Blenheim, BP Defiant and a Gloster Gladiator are seen as "stretch goals"): 

Finally a flight of painted Hurricanes takes to the skies. The main purpose of the game was to show how a "double blind" version of the game played, so the painting was a "bit of chrome" (see below, with a WIP Blenheim, lurking in the background, varnish drying and ready for battle against the Luftwaffe): 

Squadron scramble teh RAF "are all up" (see below, 100% of RAF planes needed for the game are complete, nine on green mat and three on brown wooden table):

Both sides needed to be represented so once the RAF were finished out with those dark green paints for the Luftwaffe. A selection of seven planes of various "representative" types were required, some fighters, some bombers. I did use some existing painted metal Me 109s and a Stuka, to which I hand crafted some crosses on. It was the medium tactical bombers that I was really after. The He 111, Ju 88 and Do 17z  (see below, the first application of the base colours was rather unimpressive as the two colours were almost too close together to be able to distinguish between them): 

The painted Luftwaffe "end game" or rather finished products looked better though, as I darkened one and lightened the other - even though painting on the crosses by hand was nearly the very end of me (see below, a Heinkel He111 "Blitz Bomber" and a Dornier Do17z light/medium reconnaissance bomber): 

And with that they were ready for the show and off they went!

Monday 17 January 2022

Article to stop and make you think

Just when you think you have it all under control:

Don't be paranoid but beware the Black Swan that is around the corner. That is why we should wargame.

Sunday 16 January 2022

Beda Fomm Board Game - YouTube Game Report (1979 version)

Found by a friend for me, amazing what is out there on the internet!

Interestingly this was for the 1979, not 2010 version! Point taken with respect to it being a scenario specific puzzle game based on the uniqueness of he Beda Fomm circumstances rather than a generic battle system. 

Thursday 13 January 2022

Beda Fomm Boxed Game

A few weeks into 2022 and already there seems to be a steady meme or theme to my interests emerging, aka around the battles from the early Western Desert 1940-41 with the Western Desert Force taking on the Italians 10th Army. I was just thinking out loud to myself on a previous post of pushing this thought experiment forward, along the lines of perhaps revisiting the old Command Decisions rules set (aka Frank Chadwick) .. Benghazi Handicap being long out of print and circulation (but there is a Beda Fomm scenario on the Command Decision: Test of Battle website). Then out of the blue a good friend (who read the earlier blog post) sent me a special "surprise" package through the post - a very, very relevant game called Beda Fomm. This is an absolute gem, being a Consim Press 2010 republished version of a 1979 game from Frank Chadwick [yes, of my favourite Command Decision fame .. but note the year "1979", this is pre-Command Decision I publication date, but reading the game you can clearly see the influences coming through that he tool and emerged/developed into Command Decision miniature rules set]. Please see the Boardgamegeek links below for more detail (see below, and it just goes to show that a "good game" is still a "good game" no matter the "age of the game"; the difference between the two edition just seems to be more of map and counter production quality not rules):

1979: Original

2010: Re-Published

There is some lovely evocative box art too on the new game too, along with excellent quality counters and maps inside (see below, you have got to love seeing those MK VIs tin-can light tanks looking busy as they boldly go striding across the desert): 

The actual game map (or battle area) is only a very small part of the Western Desert as the battle came at the very end of Operation Compass - when the Italians were in full retreat and was in effect a brilliant "closing the door" swinging movement of British armour from out the desert which sealed the fate of the Italian 10th Army once and for all in Cyrenaica (see below, the map; the plan is to play the game to see where the battles occur and then put this area of interest onto the table top under "Edition One(?)" Command Decision [CD I]): 

All this Western Desert Force interest in 10mm means that there has been lack of painting progress on the15mm Malburians - they are "furloughed" as such for the time being, but rest assured their time will come.

Breaking News: Somebody else seems to be doing something very similar to me in 2022! Lovely terrain, some nice 6mm models and Command Decision (IV) Test of Battle, see link below: 

Wednesday 12 January 2022

model Shop Bliss: 1/72 Plastic (Pegasus Miniatures) 1965 Vietnam USMC Figures

To my delight in a local village across from me I discovered [well I was "tipped off" about] a new little model shop (or rather one that had relocated out of an urbanised centre), you know the kind filled to the brim with an eclectic collection of scales, types and periods. Along side Scalextric, Hornby and radio controlled models I found the precious plastic, paint and glue. A good rummage I did have and found a pack of Pegasus 1/72 scale Vietnam USMC figures that can supplement my ESCI/Italeri range (see below, the finding of something was half [or more than half] the thrill - very, very nice figures): 

Reflection: There is something unfulfilling about internet shopping and by the power of the search engine being, swamped for choice, meaning there is less certainty in knowing what you want, or rather - wanting it all instead and getting frustrated by what you can afford. Whereas finding something amongst a heap of 'other' stuff and then convincing yourself you actually do want it has an "effort and reward filter" - plus that random element of pot-luck. As (I thought) Bertrand Russell once said, "into every system a little chaos should be sown" but I have not managed to source this quote on Google!

Monday 10 January 2022

Steel Panthers: World at War - Generals Edition (in Sale) - Nostalgia

Steel Panthers is an old friend of mine from the mid-nineties. Albeit in the modern 3D graphics department it is lacking, certainly in the photorealistic first person shooter sense, but it still has massive appeal for me by being effectively being "Squad Leader with working tank rules". Without the hassle of arguing (with yourself or another player) what you could and could not do in a specific circumstance [and when you really "wanted it" there always seemed to be an exception]! So ... I independently searched for it knowing it was last seen in the hands of Matrixgames to see that it was in a "Winter Sale" (see below, for old times sake I just had to get it):

I have started playing the rule learning scenarios - and the same love/hate game mechanism is there ,, but I can see some mindless hours of fun being spent here :) 

Sunday 9 January 2022

Dungeon Fun: Skeletons

Ain't it always the same, a room described in the most non-descriptive way .. "a room filled with a bunch of trash really, intermixed with the now skeletal remains of the former guards who once inhabited and died in this area" .. the adventures trundle in and start rooting around from loot (see below, notice the eagerness of the thieves to be 'first in'): 

Imagine their surprise and my glee as the skeletons animate and surround the party gaining a two to one attack [apparently when this happens one of the attacks comes in at advantage] which started to beat up the party until the Cleric used his "anti undead" magic .. boo hiss .. and they all relaxed (see below, figures of the skeletons [Warlord games and really nice] are only partially complete [highlights, wash and base work still to be done] but have that lovely Jason and the Argonauts feeling which defines "skeletons" in D&D to me):

So spoiler alert, they got away (how did these guys make it to third and fourth level, I am sure in Second Edition Dungeons and Dragon their numbers would have been long up) but a more serious threat in the form of a guard room full of Bugbears awaits.

Wednesday 5 January 2022

Xmas Jigsaw Fun

It may have been a Walt Disney family-themed jigsaw but to me it was a thousand pieces of fiendish family fun that had three generations of family [grandmother to mother to granddaughter] poring over the pieces with intense determination for three whole days (see below, especial thanks goes to Gran's patience in finding all the edge pieces for a sensible "framed"start):

For a moment at the very end we thought it was going to be an "unfinished masterpiece" as there were three missing pieces but thankfully they were found after a hurried search of the floor under the table ;) 

Tuesday 4 January 2022

New Year Promise to Myself: Chill and be Kind to Yourself

Note to self: 

I am going to forget or rather ban the terrible word "project", certainly with respect to everything that is related to my hobby. Two years of lock-down has seen me make such an overuse of this simple word. I am also going to forget the concept of timescales and deadlines for "hobby stuff" I was planning for this year (too formal by far). 

Things will either happen or not. If they are fun they will definitely happen, and they will happen all the more sooner because of how "fun" they are ;)  

If I remember correctly my hobby is there first and foremost there for fun and relaxation, or rather it is a catalyst for generating many fun experiences - with me, my family and my friends. I am therefore going to concentrate on things that help generate fun for me, my friends and most of all my family. 

For example Dungeons and Dragons in lock-down has been a blast. 
Re-fighting Ramillies was a blast.
Re-fighting Waterloo was blast.
Reading about the WWII early war Western Desert Force was a blast (all new to me).
Reading about the ACW (from Paddy Griffith's perspective) was a blast.  
The Netflix "Don't Look Up" film was a really big blast and made me laugh. 
Also the world needs more games of "Exploding Kittens".

Feeling guilty over looking at a big, bad, pile of lead; thinking to myself "Have I bought the right stuff?" was 'not fun' and in the end is just plain silly, as it is all the "right stuff" .. there is no "wrong stuff" in this hobby (scale, period or rules) - just stuff people chose to spend their time on :) 

If it all came to pass that the hobby journey was without generating fun "all along the way", then there would be no point taking the first step along the path and doing it in the first place. Enjoy the little things all along the way :) 

PS: Fun does not mean winning; "winning" is a rather random concept in the first place.
Fun does mean getting completely lost in the narrative of the game, rather than any sort of worry of "am I doing it right?" Making sure the game works!
Best wishes to everyone in 2022!
May your paint flow freely and your dice bounce untidily in a truly random fashion - enjoy it all the more for it ;)

Now if you can excuse me, I have to understand why these "Babies are attacking Bears" (See below, is this really a 'family game' my responsible wife bought to play with the children?):  

To be continued ... with fun ;) 

Monday 3 January 2022

Test of Battle Beda Fomm Scenario

The last revision of the Command Decision WWII wargame rules system was Command Decision: Test of Battle (see link below): 

The site itself does not seem to have been updated since 2011, however from here you can see the OrBats and scenario (see below, a screenshot of the British Order of Battle):

And the Italians too (see below, quite a few M13/40's required)

Command Decision formation morale values are shown (see below, not sure what game system WPD is referring to)

The aim for me is perhaps to do this in 10mm Pendrakon. It would be interesting to find out if CD: Test of Battle (or any other variant is still actively being played in the wargaming community). There does seem to be "some" activity on the linked CD:TOB forum. 

Sunday 2 January 2022

WWII Western Desert interest for 2022

This will be a thing for me in 2022, the Western Desert theatre of operations - starting with the British 1940 Western Desert Force (O'Connor's boys) Tolls Royce Armoured Cars, those quaint light (MK VI) tanks and woeful early cruiser tanks (A9, A10, A13). Doing it in 10mm Pendrakon (see blow, my first British Cruiser troop assembled - A13 Cruiser Mk II): 

Meanwhile scanning the internet and bookshelf for inspiration ... and hitting You Tube over the remaining part of the holiday ..

Operation Compass:



Recommendations gratefully accepted ;) 

Saturday 1 January 2022

Xmas Presents: Naval Aviation and an Osprey Submarine Game

From underneath the Xmas tree I was given these little crackers. Two Blood Red Skies (BRS) Midway expansion packs (IJN and USN carrier naval/carrier-based bombers) plus a surprise modelling project in "large scale" 1/48 of the marvellous Royal Navy Sea Harrier. I must confess that I hummed and hared about asking for the Midway expansion packs, but the Devastators have such a soft spot in my heart and I cannot easily see them in 1/144 - the alternative wargaming scale IMHO. I justified the BRS packs as going from a "complete game in a box" to a "complete campaign in three boxes" which was good value for money (see below, one resin project and one traditional plastic project - sharp eyes will also note the Pacific war Vallejo colours in the background [USN Pale Blue and IJN Ivory White]): 

From flying above the waves to swimming beneath the (Cold War) waves! A game from the Osprey stable but written by a former RN Submarine Commander. Also an excuse for a few 1/3000 Navwar modern miniature perhaps (see below, note in the design notes it is very much a "game" rather than a "simulation"  but based upon "the principles"):  

Fun to be had in 2022 with these, but my first (January) 2022 project is cracking on with some British 15mm Malburians! 

Happy New Year

 Here's to 2022

Gotta be better than 2021 right?