Friday 29 December 2023

Attack Warning Red (Julie McDowell): Audible Book

Not a light Xmas read, but a very rewarding one as it gave a fascinating glimpse of the "What if" or "What could have been" with a chilling reveal of strategic war planning - or rather, the lack of the ability to effectively plan for the unthinkable which on reflection .. makes sense. The Government's natural desire or want to "protect national assets" (even in a selfish way) was simply defeated by the Physics of Oppenheimer's and Teller's Hydrogen Bomb, "game changer"  (see below, not quite the happy nuclear family I was thinking about, I am more of a "The Simpons" man myself): 

My verdict: So good that, after listening to the Audible version I bought the hardback copy (I could not wait for the April paperback edition to come out). It caused much stimulating conversation with the older members of the family who lived through the Cuban Missile Crisis and Cold War 1980's! I also need to watch Threads again as well as catch up on the latest Podcast of The Atomic Hobo.

Thursday 28 December 2023

Alternative Nativity Scene (D&D Vibe)?

Kids having fun with nativity scene (see below, Avengers figures were too large to fit in correctly): 

Well at least the Roper seemed to be the correct scale!

Wednesday 27 December 2023

Another go at "Ghosts of the Jungle"

In the interests of diverse game play I introduced my D&D group to Ghosts of the Jungle to see how these lads (RPG'ers, aka none mainstream wargamers) played it (see below, I was also experimenting with new novel markers [sourced from the random wood decoration department in "The Works" shop] - 'big feet' markers to say that a square had been entered, and as a "trail" marker [VC tracker to pick up, but teh method was a bit cumbersome]):

As I explained the rules, appropriate beverages [for the Aussies at least] were imbibed (see below, the exotic range of non-standard glassware down to what was left in the cupboard - aka stuff that teenagers like to drink their fizzy pop from): 

Sarge leads his troops off into the jungle and stops when he sees something suspicious. Is it a villager or VC? (see below, green squares are jungle vegetation hiding spots, red ones rural village houses, the warped cardboard sufficed as make-shift road [appropriate as it is a poor quality dirt track]): 

The gameboard gets a bit more complex as the VC and village encounters pose challenges for the strung out ANZAC patrol. The RPG'ers tried not to "shoot first and ask questions later" as the D&D "send the thief scouting forward" strategy came through in droves (see below, edging forward quietly and then ... the shooting started and all hell burst forth): 

Things looked bad as the SAS LRRP got trapped in a mathematical puzzle (insufficient actions to safelt do it and nobody wanted to get stuck in the middle) in trying to safely cross the road (despite all those scary 1970 BBC educational cartoons helping children to cross the road safely), but eventually they "reset" and went round the longer way (see below, the end result was a pile of VC [or are they really just innocent villagers] as the SAS exited safely off table):      

The RPG boys found the rules at first a bit of a challenge in understanding the [simple] game play, but their RPG problem solving skills ensured collaborative play so they got out alive and made devasting use of the "grenade" rule (when the VC attraction to noise makes them "clump" together). All-in-all a  nice diversion, but back to wizards, orcs and fireballs next time!

Monday 25 December 2023

Merry Xmas 2023

Space Marines can also be used as Xmas decorations (see below, which is my excuse for keeping them in a box in the loft): 

Merry Xmas 2023 to all!

Friday 22 December 2023

Audible Book: Black Holes by Brian Cox and Jeff Foreshaw

Following my son's interest in Physics (I was pretty useless at hands on Science at school and ended up doing Computers instead) I thought I might try and "audible" my way into what makes him so excited about it. The latest book by Brian Cox and his compatriot Jeff Foreshaw seemed as good a place as any to start (see below, "to boldly go" or rather "sit back and listen") : 

Well there is an Elton John song that comes to mind, aka Rocket Man and the line "All the science I don't understand", but I enjoyed the ride and bought a physical copy of teh book to go back to! I may well have to listen again to this one. Thought provoking and often mind blowing!

Thursday 21 December 2023

Waterloo done the Airfix Way with Phil Sabin

Following on from Bob Cordery's example (in his Wargaming Miscellany blog) post, I too have to pay tribute to Phil Sabin's latest completed project (and anybody painting 450 Airfix 20mm [1/72 in old money] old school wargaming figures gets my respect). Waterloo - The Dunnigan way (which to teh man's credit, originally created as a free wargame) with a few new Sabin tweaks added: 

In Phil's own words: 

Coinciding neatly with the release of Ridley Scott’s new blockbuster movie on Napoleon, I have just posted the 450 significantly improved 2nd edition of my own much-downloaded tweaks for Napoleon at Waterloo, together with a video illustrating and explaining my changes and showing a complete game using my new bespoke 3D playset with 450 painted Airfix figures, each representing around 400 real troops or 50 cannon.  

You may find the tweaks and video at and respectively.  

Please share both links as widely as possible on other relevant board and miniatures gaming for a (together with the link to Charles’s book at, so that other enthusiasts are made aware.

Our discussions of Charles’s ideas in his article and book provided the main impetus for me to create the 3D playset (using figures I first painted decades ago) and to revisit my original 2020 tweaks.  Although the amendments proposed by Charles and myself coincide in several areas, our approaches are rather different, as is discussed in the thread below on ‘Tweaking Published Games’.  Charles mostly takes the existing game system as read and focuses on more literal modelling of aspects such as the size of the farm garrisons, the tractability of woods and the times at which various contingents became available.  I have used much more of a ‘design for effect’ approach, by playing the game repeatedly and introducing successive tweaks and constraints so that it comes closer to the historical course of events as regards aspects such as the differences among the three combat arms, Wellington’s reliance on  defensive terrain,  the fatal impetuosity of British horse, the long resistance of the farmhouses, the French cavalry charges, the progress of the Prussian advance and the time represented by each turn.  Charles rather surprisingly leaves the original Anglo-Allied forces mostly unchanged, whereas I have shifted and combined a number of Wellington’s units to yield a far better model of his forces.

It is interesting to compare my own tweaks and illustrative refight with those provided by Charles on pp.137-48, 157-58 and 299-300 of his book.  Both offer better simulations than does the original game, but their significant differences show the highly personal and individualistic nature of wargame modelling, which Peter Perla rightly compared to creating a painting of the real phenomenon.  Our respective contributions give us plenty to discuss in this forum if desired.  Besides the thread I mentioned above, newcomers may like to browse the other threads below on ‘Simulation vs. “Glorified Chess”’ and on ‘Esdaile’s Analysis of Waterloo Sims’ to see the extensive discussions we have had already.  I hope that our contributions (including the inspirational sight of my figure version of the game) will encourage some of you to revisit this classic design and to tweak it in your own preferred style.  After waiting patiently in their box files for decades, my bespoke miniatures have already seen extensive action during my many playtests, and I look forward to using them in plenty of future refights, perhaps with Bondarchuk’s 1970 movie playing in the background for added atmosphere!

The final word from this Blog: 

Just those two screenshots make it mouth watering for me, what Phil has done in the rules, explained in the video makes it cool! Respect for completing a nice little project!

Tuesday 19 December 2023

1904-1905: Russo-Japanese Naval War Literature References

Following of from my hypothetical WWI Naval Russo-Swede battle at CoW-2023 I had a wide ranging conversation with Toby Ewin (a Naval Historian) who kindly passed on these references for the Russo-Jap War (see below, I never knew there was so many and so much to read!): 

I have to confess to once having Julian Corbett's history of the Japanese War but could not get into them (I did read his WWI histories cover-to-cover, so I do not know what mental block I had for the Russo-Jap) and so passed them onto a friend for a 1/3000 figure [ship] swap [I received a modern USN Carrier Battle Group]. I am content with the battles in Avalanche Press' 1904-05 Russo-Jap Naval War board game and David Manley's White Bear and Red Sun rules and scenarios (see below, the amount of detail in the reference list is fascinating):  

I am pleased just to have the complete range of Russo-Jap ships [bar the full number of destroyers] represented in the Navwar 1/3000 figure range for this period (see below, more and more references): 

Final page just to be complete (see below, as the wife says, this is what libraries are for - get it on Kindle if you must!): 


I look forward to Toby's book on Russian Imperial Naval Wargaming in the History of Wargaming Project in due course at it is a fascinating subject (that will probably find its way to my book shelf as it has wargaming in the title).

Monday 11 December 2023

My Navwar Projects Review and "Get better soon Tony!"

I was reviewing the Navwar 1/3000 production line of ships (lots of WIP here). It is a naval wargamers collectors paradise for Pre-dreadnought, WW1, WW2 and a bit of (Falklands) modern. Here are a couple of my current active project streams (see below, firstly filling out the German WW2 destroyer and minor vessels  as we all have the Bismarck):  

The French Capitol ships (see below, because in that early war 1939-1940 period they played a big part in the numerous  "hunt the raider" groups - long before the interesting Vichy side of things started up): 

Imperial Japanese Navy in all its mighty glory (see below, a selection of their carrier force, the Pearl Harbour, Coral Sea and Midway "bad boys"): 

Just as scary as the CVs are the IJN Heavy Cruisers (see below, this is where the calculus of the 1922 Washington Treaty and subsequent treaties met its match against the minds of cunning naval architects and Civil Servants/Officials who measured tonnages wrongly [accidently]): 

Then there is the heavy tonnage f the renovated IJN WWI battlefleet, with later "big boy" additions of the Yamato and her sister ship the Mushashi (see below, but in the era of the carrier all this 'stuff' became scrap iron in a plane's cross-hairs or an expensive form of AA protection and 'bomb-soak' for the important CVs):  

I find out it fantastically good fun slowly collecting this stuff (for over twenty five years now), so I should give a shout out to Tony the owner of Navwar, as I heard he had a fall recently, but is on the mend. Get well soon mate and thank you for this awesome range of 1/3000 models. 

Sunday 10 December 2023

How to Paint Black Templars -Tips from the Internet

Linked to my recent interest in using "Vallejo contrast [Xpress] paints"- and possessing  a bottle of Black Lotus (very evocative naming from the marketing department, top marks) I was looking around for some "dark chaps" to paint up. Two candidates jumped to mind, one from Vietnam - black pyjama Viet Cong, the other from the unpainted bucket of Space Marines - some Black Templars. Time to turn to the Internet for some help (see below, saviours of  universe [Black Templars] needing a coat of paint before they can go "hand-to-hand "with Chaos in the name of the Emperor - all WIP): 

I have surrounded them with a sophisticated painting task-force of Vallejo dark paint ranges to see if anything works, I have great hopes for Dark Grey (994), Black Grey (862) in combination with Xpress Black Lotus (423) and Black Ink (094), highlighted perhaps with Glossy Black (861). Talk about "fifty shades of grey"!

Meanwhile this is what other people did (very well) on the Internet:  
The exploration of black painting space continues!