Friday 29 September 2023

Note to self: MIT AI Reference: David A Mindell

A person whom I had not encountered before in AI (see below, on the relationships between humans and machines): 

Looks likes science fiction is becoming reality!

Thursday 28 September 2023

Books of Interest

It comes from my early childhood days, I am hooked on the "book habit" (they are magical things) and throughout my life nice people (damn them) keep encouraging me to read, by making very good book recommendations. If that were not bad enough, some authors (damn them twice over) are not just content to write one interesting book, but they then go and have the cheek to write another or more! Imagine this crazy situation, what am I to do? (see below, this "book" made me want to read more about the sciences, Ben Miller being a well known TV comedian who kept a dark, secret [as in, he liked science]!): 

I am pretty sure it is a form of mind control (see below, from sensible science mysterious to looking for alien life - then a friend recommended a book that says it is about structure problem solving - but it has a hidden use, designing wargames): 

The question is do I push for another bookshelf or try and squeeze them into my existing ones, or pile them discreetly on the floor, until they become a tripping hazard? Your recommendations greatly received!

Wednesday 27 September 2023

Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) Red Alert - Spaceship Bundle Pack

Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) made me another offer I could not refuse. 168 hard plastic space ships (admittedly of two types - "cruisers" [72] or "freighters" [96]) for a tenner (and six fifty for P&P because it is so heavy) .. so I bought two packs (same P&P), thinking this is the Red Alert (as this is the game the components originate from) "space ship offer" to end all "space ship offers"! What is not to like. Wow, I think it was the heaviest "toy" arrival to my door though, seeing the poor DPS delivery man struggle up my path to my door with a solid pack of plastic (see below, toys and toys galore - now to find a use for them!):  

But to what use these beauties for? The Trillion Credit Squadron (Traveller and Classic Traveller scenario) comes to mind (quantity wise  - you really need a lot of ships) but Billion Suns also looms large for a quick, quick win. The appealing aspect of this kit is that there is great potential for customisation with 'odds and ends' items from the "spares box" plus ubiquitous bits of generic plastic card!

Watch skies and watch this space for more updates ...

Tuesday 26 September 2023

Big "Near" - Small "Far Away"

To honour a genius of British TV comedy, the sit-com Father Ted, I present wargaming terrain in perspective (see below, "near" is Big, whereas far away is "small" - but it is really the same thing): 

Or to the more wargame informed 15-20mm and 6-10mm, don't get them mixed up in the boxes or you will have a very funny looking game!

Monday 25 September 2023

US Artillery and AT Guns WWII (Part 1)

I was recently looking at my old favuorite Command Decision and the WWII US Infantry (1944) OoB, circa the Battle of the Bulge, to see what 1/72 scale hobby "bits and bobs" I was missing. For the infantry and vehicle types I was pleasantly surprised to see I had them rather well covered but for AT and artillery there were a few "gaps". The US Battalion 57mm AT Gun was a simple conversion project from the stalwart Airfix British six pounder (although I did need four of them for the complete RCT). The heavier three inch cousin, converted AA gun to AT gun was another matter though, but an internet search eventually came up with a stockist of an ACE model kit (see below, sadly they are currently out of production so it was a one off tad pricey purchase - but it is all done now): 

The US artillery was a cheeky, cheap by comparison purchase of 105mm standard US Howitzer (also suitable for post WWII conflicts like Indo-China) from Grubby Tanks and their Britannia Miniatures stocked range (see below, I got two but really on reflection want three for the battalion so I know I will have to "go back" to them - and while there also get some more of their nice US Art Crew): 

Coincidently like all good wargames when I had been to a local DIY superstore for a "bathroom project" - I was also on the lookout for "potential wargame materials" (as well as a bathroom sealant remover). I passed an artificial lawn section where they selling off "cheap" small patches. What is not to like?. Could they be of use? (see below, I think there is potential): 

This was Part One of my WWII US RCT OoB scan, more to follow - such as the "cannon company" gun!

Sunday 24 September 2023

Plastic Soldier Company: 1/300 Plane Pack

Something I could not resist buying (sorry Mum it's in my blood) - a party pack of what I can only think of as "surplus to use for PSC" .. but 100 planes for a tenner (and £3.50 P&P) - there has got to be a great glorious wargaming use for them somewhere! Plenty of Stukas (27) for sure, Gloster Gladiators, Me 110s, Bristol Blenheims and various Luftwaffe Medium Bombers (see below, pass me the spray can, I got this!): 

I am thinking tactical formations of bombers to give a certain "mass" in the tactical element of the (Plastic Soldier Company remake of the original Airfix) Battle of Britain game. More visual that individual, as I am not keen on fiddly moving parts!

Saturday 23 September 2023

The Korean War - Mig Alley

The Korean War is a war I know relatively little about, other than it was the real setting for the TV series M*A*S*H (not as many thought, Vietnam) and also known for the famous last stand of the British Glouster's on a place now known as Glouster Hill, where it was made on the Imjin River. A British Army last stand like traditional British Army "last stands", being heroic but tragically a battle that in reality should never have been fought in the way it was. I have the Max Hastings' Korean War book on my shelf (both real and Audible) long overdue to be read. However, within the Korean War itself, the Air War was a bit of a mystery to me other than the enigmatic 10:1 kill ratio claimed in favour of the United Nations (aka the United States of America) pilots. It was also the training ground and inspiration for the Mad Major/Colonel (Boyd of the USAF in developing his air war combat theories) producing the OODA loop - which also decades later greatly influence AGILE software development!. Thomas McKelvey Cleaver's "Mig Alley" book came as a revelation to me in many ways (see below, a shot of the enigmatic F-86 Sabre USAF jet - its aerial combat versus the Mig-15 legendary): 

I can highly recommend the book as it came as a shocking myth buster to me - (spoiler alert if you read on) as it revealed recent statistical analysis of Soviet era and USAF era data shows the "10:1 claim" to be far closer to propaganda that proven fact. That is taking nothing from the USAF pilots who attained air supremacy over the North Korean (aka Soviet) pilots and Chinese PLAAF pilots. The revelation is that in the early combat Soviet pilots in 1951 started off on the better end of kill ratio [0.8 - 1.0] because they were filled with combat veterans from  WWII - both sides were learning first hand "jet combat". The USAF was by comparison trained (in jet flying) but unbloodied (in actual combat). The longer term operational mistake the Russians then made was to swap in and out whole Air Regiments at a time, whereas the USAF consciously only replaced individual pilots so there was always a combat capable cadre for new, the younger pilots to learn from. They were slowly bloodied from "wingman" status to "guns" - learning their trade in the skies above Korea. Boyd himself never shot a Mig down but flew 22 missions as "wingman". The seasoned in theatre air crews then returned stateside to teach tactics to the rookies before they went out. The clever American logic was assisted by the fact that there was only two Sabre air groups "spare" so rotating formations out of theatre was far too troublesome whereas the Soviets had plenty of air regiments - all of which were bloodied in turn, so each experiencing there own costly combat learning curve (and allowing an American ascendance). Then towards the 1952/53 period the Chinese pilots took over the bulk of combat were initially poorer in training and so had to relearn the lessons of the Soviets. A statistical ratio of 4:1 (in favour of the UN) was more likely over the whole war, but the early war was very touch and go. Boyd's first gut instinct about the Mig-15 being "theoretically" better than the F-86 may well be true [Boyd came to think better US canopy (observation) and automatic hydraulics (reaction time) were the difference, but in reality there was also combat experience of the man in the plane]. By comparison the Soviet cannon was greatly feared, the Sabres were comparatively under gunned with six fifty calibre machine guns - later Sabres experimented with cannon. The final remark across all eras is that pilots always over estimate their kills, with a lot of damaged planes limping home (although total write-offs on landing). 

For me the software development implications are stark (for Agile), never underestimate the value of experience - aka don't go for cheapest staff available no matter how great your AGILE SCRUM MASTER is or OODA your method is (or what the Accountant says - that is a dangerous false economy)! 

Footnote: I am trying not to "scratch the itch" of an Airfixclassic kit F-80 Shooting Star, some other manufacturer's F-86 or even the F-84 Thunder Streak - plus the Mig 15 (ironical that I had an Airfix Mig 15 in my hand years ago and did not buy it, could not see the reason then!). I think it is the RAAF Boomerang thing all over again!

Friday 22 September 2023

Another 15mm Sci-Fi Shuttle (Star Trek Federation) Charity Shop III

A third charity shop purchase (and probably the last for the time being) was another Star Trek collector's miniature - something I view as a "classier shuttle", for Travellers more accustomed to representing the Federation on official business (see below, after performing a nifty planet take-off): 

VIPs and Federation Officials get your electronic boarding passes ready.

Wednesday 20 September 2023

Avalon Hill Games - Raid on St Nazaire Solo Games

I managed to get my hands on this classic little number from Avalon Hill, The Raid on St Nazaire, which will become part of an ongoing WWII Commando project (see below, an evocative piece of cover art - not sure if I agree with the spanking "blanko" webbing though!):  

Review from Board Game Geek: 
Helpful Tutorials: 
Time to push some counters around!

Tuesday 19 September 2023

Connections UK 2023 Professional Wargames Conference (at RMAS) was Spectacular!

The Connections UK 2023 Professional Wargaming Conference has certainly bounced back post Covid in fine style. Hosted quite appropriately at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) it served up a feast of wargaming talks and more importantly practical wargaming sessions. For more details see the Connections UK web-site:

Specifically for Connections UK 2023:,to%20Thur%2007%20Sept%2C%202023.&text=After%20two%20years%20of%20scaled,face%2Dto%2Dface%20conference.

It was a "Who's Who" of the Professional Military and Academic (with hobbyist representation), crammed full of fascinating talks and plenary sessions.  

Friday 15 September 2023

Battle of Britain 1940: Remembering the Battle through a Board Game

When considering the Battle of Britain I am always thrown back to the epic 1969 film which captures the mood perfectly, the authentic (well near enough) actual flying machines (pre-dating CGI with scale models when they had to blown up) and the sheer scale of the battle for me - including the bombing of Duxford aerodrome (see below, "Repeat Please" as the Polish pilots unofficially join the fight and thank God they did): 

The Plastic Soldier Company (PSC) did a revamp of the (Airfix?) boardgame and I even managed to paint most of the planes for the board game (see below, the start of the campaign, Kanalkampf - I still have a few German planes still to paint!):  

We managed to stumble through a turn, with heavy attractional losses for the Luftwaffe and big recovery problems for the RAF (see below, damaged RAF planes radar stations and an airfield, but a mass of Luftwaffe planes did not make it back to France):  

Definitely needs a longer revisit [probably three hours+ to do it justice]/ I think the key to a successful game is playing following the German historical sequence of attack by arranging the Mission Cards - historically, rather than drawn semi-randomly as suggested by the rules. In its purest form it needs to be played double blind with a White Control Room and added atmosphere!

Sunday 3 September 2023

Info Chess - ECCO Links

Thanks goes out to Brian Train for pointing me to these links on Info Chess, as any form of online reference seems somewhat illusive to pin down (see below, I don't think a definitive or comprehensive set publicly exists [neither free or for sale]): 


Naval War College (NWC)

For the uninitiated Info Chess is a Fog of War style of Chess, where players choose (or rather army build) their own sides chess set and can buy special properties to "power up" the pieces. Invisibility, Scanning and Turning pieces are all integral parts of the standard play of Info Chess.

Note [1]: This is not to be confused with XTR Command Magazine War Master Chess 2000 in Issue#49

Note[2]: Promises of signing up for an online game seem to be stalled sadly in a "Work in Progress" state.

Note[3]: The "other" ECCO games are of interest too!

Saturday 2 September 2023

28mm Greeks for Mortal Gods - Reminder to self (Kick Start This)

These are the Victrix plastic 28mm Greeks that came with the Mortal Gods game (purchased a while back) ... and they are good figures that need some TLC (see below, a pack's worth or hoplite mercenaries - for hire to the best bidder, good value "in plastic"):

The poses are good and warlike with plenty of character(see below, we are in the age of the plastic pack of forty, taking over from metal dozen for the same price - but does that mean mass resin is to follow?):

I am going to resist the temptation to DB'X' them on a base of four [as those games seem to be on the way "out"], but retain them as colourful individuals that can be hoarded together into an appropriate fighting mass): 


More [Greek assembly] to follow, my ultimate aim is to get three figures worth of figures on the table .. but maybe not this year! 

Friday 1 September 2023

Benghazi Handicap - Command Decision - WWII North Africa Campaign Source Book [Including Command Decision Scenarios]

Sigh. I finally caught this one. Whenever I had looked for it before, it had eluded me - so when I saw a copy of it at Cavalier Books, I jumped at the chance (see below, Frank Chadwick's masterpiece on the early part the Western Desert War): 

This is my designated playground for 10mm play ground for Pendrakon miniatures, although I do have my old Airfix, Matchbox, PSC, Italeri/Esci collections of 20mm toys that can be used too. I am a sucker for the clanky tank era and this theatre of operation was full of them (usually in a state of burning).

Yes, Command Decision is back onside for me! In truth I never felt it had really left ;)