Wednesday 31 December 2014

2014...where did that go?

It's time for the annual review of the year, which has very much been a bit of a downhill slide after a promising start. I set out this year to focus on World War Two things, with the scope to try out some other sidelines along the way. In the end I have completed two projects to the point at which they are playable, the first being the Victory at Sea French fleet and the second the RN and Kriegsmarine Action Stations coastal forces. However, it took me all year to get the Chain of Command platoon assembled, based and undercoated but at least I got that far, leaving the painting for a summer holiday project in 2015.

Although the 28mm WW2 Japanese didn't get painted, I did put together an Airfix-style jungle outpost using the excellent Sarissa Precision mdf kits, which will be great when I actually get round to a game of Chain of Command. The kits were easy to build and look great, so I'll be making some more mdf flat packs as soon as I can find some useful ones in 15mm. I also scratchbuilt a crashed missile objective marker for AK47 and assembled a Lost World temple thing for the club participation game, although the pirate ship that I started on didn't get past the hull stage.

Other half completed things included the 10mm Aliens project, the 1/2400 scale Second Schleswig War flotilla for Iron and Fire and the 28mm Ronin project, that I started but then hesitated with, due to the fiddly painting and second thoughts about the old Citadel figures that I decided to use. It's definately one that I'll come back to though, perhaps with some alternative figures from the Perry Miniatures range, as I have a shedload of mdf buildings to put together! On the plus side, the AK47 superpower backed army rumbled toward completion including lots of new APC's, softskins, AFV's and even a Hind helicopter gunship.

AK47 continued to be my game of choice in 2014, with three cracking games using the 'classic' rules ending up in two victories and one ignominious thrashing. I also enjoyed some new games at the club including a try out of Judge Dredd and Victory at Sea, both of which were good fun but a little clunky as I was learning the rules in the process. I was on more familiar ground and a less precipitous learning curve with my late war US infantry platoon in Bolt Action, the RFC dogfighting through Knights of the Sky and the Texan Oil expedition getting ambushed in the Back of Beyond, all of which added to the gameplay. My scratchbuilt armoured train also made it onto the cover of this!

That's my train that is...

A very special mention has to go out to the long suffering but loyal Bag The Hun playtesters at the club, who helped me to fine-tune a couple of scenarios this year, one a convoy strike in the Med and the other a low level fighter interception over the Russian Front. The latter scenario, 'Catch the Pigeon', ended up as a published scenario in the Toofatlardies Xmas Special, along with a trio of Malta scenarios aka 'Hurricanes over Hal Far' in the Summer Special. The Westland Whirlwind themed 'Rhubarbs and Roadsteads' project is one that I've been working on over the year, so some new linked scenarios are definately on the cards.

One thing I won't be tackling is anything in 28mm for the immediate future, aside from the Chain of Command Japanese, after struggling through the SAGA Normans over the summer holidays. This was fun at the time but, after trying out the basecoat and dip approach, I won't be trying it again. The four point warband looks OK from a distance but it's not up to scratch on closer inspection, so perhaps the time and effort involved in proper, fiddly 28mm painting is not really affordable. I may do half a dozen figures at some point but 15mm is much more likely to fit in with my workload next year.

So, on reflection 2014 wasn't a complete washout even if it fizzled a bit toward the end. To use a slightly cheesy football analogy, it was definately a game of two halves, with a good start but a lacklustre finish. I have worked through some of the issues that I've come up against this year (I'm sounding like some sort of new age lifestyle guru now?), so have some cunning plans for 2015 that will mean a return to my previous levels of output and enthusiasm over the next twleve months. I hope you have had a great New Year and best wishes for all your projects in 2015!

Tuesday 30 December 2014

Lion Rampant War of the Roses [2]

I sketched out a couple of possible retinues for Lion Rampant over the holidays, having done a bit of background reading on the Wars of the Roses. The first is designed as the retinue of a minor member of the rural nobility, with an emphasis on less well armed and armoured retainers backed up by a small contingent of hired mercenaries.

One unit of mounted sergeants* (6 figures) @ 4 points
One unit of  expert foot sergeants (12 figures) @ 6 points
Two units of expert archers (12 figures) @ 2x6 = 12 points
One unit of bidowers with handguns (6 figures) @ 2 points

The unit of mounted sergeants represents the leader and his immediate men at arms, kitted out in less than full harness for everyday patrols, raiding and skirmishes. The foot sergeants and archers, both upgraded to experts as bill men and longbowmen, are the landowners tenants, with the hired handguns or crossbows as professional back up.

I'm pretty sure that I have all the 15mm Peter Pig figures required for this retinue but will have to check when I get home.

Monday 29 December 2014

Aerojournal Hors Serie 19

We're going back home tomorrow so it was high time to visit the local newsagent today to check out the modelling and aviation magazines. This was a bit of a fruitless task, as there wasn't that much of interest for a change, but I did get a copy of Vae Victis and the latest Special Edition of Aerojournal, the latter giving a detailed overview of Fw190 operations from 1941 through to 1945. This is another really useful addition to the reference library for mid-war Bag the Hun scenarios over the English Channel and the Russian Front.

Sunday 28 December 2014

WBQ Interest Group

Over the last couple of years I've made an effort to join a wargaming society or group of some kind, partly to give me some inspiration and partly to support the wargaming community. This has led to membership of both the Naval Wargames Society, which has an excellent and regular bulletin All Guns Blazing, and the Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy Wargamers, which has the equally splendid Ragnarok journal.

This year I'm thinking of joining the Lance and Longbow society, which as you are no doubt aware is an interest group dedicated to medieval wargaming and medieval warfare in general. I had a chat with the chaps on the stand at Warfare this year and they seemed like a very nice bunch, so this will probably be my first choice and will fit in well with my medieval skirmish plans using Lion Rampant in 15mm.

In the meantime, I've finally got round to signing up with the Wargames Bloggers Quarterly interest group, which was launched last year to much acclaim and rightly so. At some point in 2015 I will endeavour to scratch build something stage by stage for inclusion in one of the Quarterly issues but, as I have abandoned 28mm for the foreseeable future, this will have to be a one off or even a 15mm effort?

Saturday 27 December 2014

Les Chasseurs Allemands Tome 2

My wife bought this for me today as an extra if belated Xmas present. It's packed full of colour profiles and camouflage plan views of a wide range of Luftwaffe Fighters including the Fw190, Bf 110, Me210/410, Me262, Komet and He162 Salamander. The artwork is really stunning and indispensable when painting up accurate aircraft camouflage patterns.

A lot of these profiles have been culled from previously published magazine articles but here they've been assembled together into a comprehensive overview, complete with accompanying text to add the historical detail. There's also a first volume in the series covering just the Bf 109 and its variants, so I'll have to track it down for the reference library.

I was particularly pleased to see profiles for Fw190A3's and A4' s of JG in 1941-42, which are very useful for the Bag the Hun Whirlwind scenarios that I've been researching over the year. There's a 25% off sale on in January on the Leading Edge range from Museum Miniatures, so I really should get on with this scenario project at some point in 2015!

Lorient U Boat Pens

I finally got to visit the U Boat bunkers in Lorient yesterday, which is only twenty minutes down the road from the in-laws but has always been put off for various reasons. The three bunkers are now part of a museum complex including a preserved French submarine from the 1960's. 

I did take some photos but am unable to upload them at the moment, so will do so once we get back home. It's a very interesting site, if a little sinister and bleak on a rainy December afternoon, so I worth a visit if you are interested in the U Boat war. 

I couldn't help thinking about all the U Boat crews who left from the Keromen base but never returned, not to mention the thousands who died in the Battle of the Atlantic. The whole of Lorient was also bombed flat with massive civilian casualties. All a bit disturbing but food for thought nonetheless.

Friday 26 December 2014

The Battle of Palm Sunday Field

This is the next book on the Lion Rampant reading list and, after the first couple of chapters, it's well worth it. Although the narrative skips around a bit the overall coverage is very good, with some useful details on contemporary tactics. It was interesting to find out that the impact of an 'arrow storm' would be the equivalent of forty tons of arrows in the space of ten to fifteen minutes! 

Wednesday 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas!

I'm looking forward (?) to a full-on French Christmas blowout tomorrow, with a six course five hour food marathon to negotiate, so I'll be thinking of England as I get fattened up by the mother in law, who doesn't take no for an answer when it comes to second or even third helpings.

It's all a bit too much but, in the interests of the entente cordiale, it has to be done! I hope you have a great Xmas and a very sensible Xmas lunch, with lots of fantastic wargaming presents to play with once you've put the kids Lego / Playmobil / Barbie things together for them!

X Wing TIE Interceptor

We took the kids to Quimper yesterday to go ice skating, so while they were whizzing round in circles and falling over, I took a short trip to the local games store. This is an excellent little shop stuffed full of board games, although most are in French, which means some hunting around is required to dig out the ones with English-language rules. 

However, they did have some X Wing expansion packs, so I now have a TIE Interceptor, complete with pilot and upgrade cards in French, which isn't a big problem as the rules are easy to translate. We've been playing a bit of X Wing over the last couple of days as the weather has been a bit rubbish, so the kids are excited to have a new Impeial fighter to take for a spin. I really should play more X Wing as there are a couple of enthusiasts at the club and it's a cracking little game!

Tuesday 23 December 2014

Edward IV and the Wars of the Roses

I'm reading this over the holidays as part of the background research for the Lion Rampant project. It's a very wargame friendly biography which focusses on the military side of Edward IV's rise to power, including the key battles of the Wars of the Roses that led to the Yorkist supremacy. It's very readable and contains some excellent period detail with regard to contemporary military organization, strategy and tactics. Good stuff, especially as I'm a bit of a Yorkist sympathizer!

Monday 22 December 2014

Lion Rampant War of the Roses [1]

We're in Brittany for the Xmas holidays again, so I've brought my copy of Lion Rampant with me for some background reading. I've decided to put together two twelve point retinue to start with, one Yorkist and one Lancastrian, with room to expand them to a full twenty four points later. 

These will be in 15mm using figures from the Peter Pig range and various bits and Bob's that I have lying around. To help with the research, I've got hold of a second hand copy of this booklet via Ebay, which will give me some ideas when it comes round to painting the refined up.

Friday 19 December 2014


I found a second hand army pack of GZG UNSC/L figures on Ebay last week and put in a tentative bid, so that I could add some options to the pack that I already have. I ended up winning it for a tenner less than the full price, so I now have plenty of extra figures to play around with as I plan out the orbat for the platoon sized force that I'm going to paint up. I'll have some left over figures but I reckon I'll be using up most of the pack, if only as optional re-inforcements and extra heavy weaposn teams. Excellent!

Wednesday 17 December 2014

New 15mm Sci-Fi Rules

A couple more sets of sci-fi / near future rules for reading over the Xmas holidays and for some playtesting in the not too distant future, if I get my act together. The first set has just been published and looks really promising, especially as it's designed for exactly what I'm looking for and is from the same stable as No End in Sight, which I'm planning to use for skirmishes in Malaya and Borneo. 

The second set is similar in scope and scale, although with a more sci-fi and less near future feel, so will fit in well with my plans for next year. There really is a goldmine of rulesets for this sort of thing out there and with digital downloads, it makes building a library of potential rules really inexpensive. I have another one or two rulesets to consider but I think I have more than enough for the moment!

Tuesday 16 December 2014

Lion Rampant and the Black Vegetable

I'm not going to have as much time for wargaming next year for various work related reasons, so have been putting my mind to the problem of greatly reduced painting time and far fewer trips to the local club. I've been struggling of late to do both and the prospect of free weekends and evenings is looking more remote than ever before. However, I'm not going to let that stop me from doing something in the time that I do have, so I have come up with a Plan B.

This revolves around down-sizing both the scope and the scale of my wargaming projects next year, with fewer overall but at a manageable level of output. This means that 28mm is definately out and that 15mm or smaller scale projects are firmly the way to go. It also means reducing the size of my games to platoon or squad level skirmish sizes, which can be focussed around a handful of figures on a playing area of no more than 2' x 4', with a 2' or 3' square area being my best fit ideal.

So, what to do? One definate project will be Lion Rampant in 15mm, using my Peter Pig War of the Roses figures that I originally intended to use for Impetus. Now, despite having a (very rusty) postgraduate degree in Medieval British Archaeology, I know next to nothing about the aformentioned conflict, which means that I would have a lot of background reading up to do, were it not for this excellent article on the equally excellent Menne of Warre blog:

This opened up all sorts of ideas and has given me some new directions in which to move the project to the first stages of planning. To me, the Wars of the Roses are symbolised by posh plate clad men at arms, tough brigandine armoured retainers and sturdy local yokel longbowmen slogging it out in the mud and snow of Towton, as portrayed in the evocative Peter Dennis cover art on the Perry plastic figure boxes. So, the first thing will be to set the project in the deep mid-winter, with two rival Lancastrian and Yorkist garrisons vying for supplies, taxes and extortion over some random stretch of the deep frozen Midland Shires.

This would be ideal as a solo or two player mini-campaign of linked scenarios, using the system described in the rulebook. In turn, this gave me the idea to develop something along the lines of the slightly 'tongue in cheek' Scruttockshire campaign in the old 1644 ECW rules, with a fictional area of bucolic countryside mapped out as the campaign focus. In a nod to the Peter Pig War of the Roses army packs and AK47 (?), the two rival retinues would be commanded by appropriately titled local magnates, with the forces of Lord Wensleydale being opposed by the Earl of Cheddar (or somesuch). There may even be a cameo appearance by the Black Vegetable himself...

I think you will get the basic drift of my imagi-nations approach to the whole thing, although it still has lots of room for development, especially after I re-watch the box set of the first series of Blackadder again. I'm not taking this too seriously and won't be doimg this as a club game, at least in the first instance, in order not to make any promises that I may not be able to keep. So, it will be a solo project for the moment, although I'm hoping that the middle sprog will be interested in having a go, being a big fan of Cry Havoc. I think this could be a lot of I'll be doing some more thinking to pull it together over Xmas.

Sunday 14 December 2014

Stocking Fillers

Here's the other stocking filler for Xmas this year, a very cool 15mm resin sci-fi moon base type thing from the Ion Age range. This is not going to be deployed with the GZG / Brigade Models / Antenociti's Workshop near future armies but is destined instead for my long overdue but very old school Imperial Commander project. 

This is something I've wanted to re-do for a long time, mainly for nostalgic reasons, so I thought this habitiation base would be perfect as a terrain feature, perhaps an Imperial desert outpost not unlike Bunker 17? It certainly has a very retro, 1980's space opera look about it and I think it will look fantastic painted up, based and suitably weathered.

Saturday 13 December 2014

TFL Xmas Special 2014

This is now out and has a Bag The Hun scenario in it titled Catch the Pidgeon, set on the Russian Front in the summer of 1944. It's only one page and has a bit missing due to the DTP editing (oops) but it is worth a try if you want some low level seat of your pants flying.

Anyway, I'm hoping to submit something a bit more substantial for Bag The Hun for the Summer Special next year, probably involving a series of mid-war linked scenarios based on Westland Whirlwind operations over the Channel.

My bit aside, this special has some really good stuff in it for various Too Fat Lardie rules including Chain of Command, IABSM and Through the Mud and Blood amongst others, so well worth the very reasonable asking price.

On top of that, I am now officially a 'Winchester based Ace', at least according to the blurb in the contents page if not the wife and kids. Whatever next? Tally Ho!

Thursday 11 December 2014

Stocking Fillers

The lady wife has come up trumps again and has offered to fill my stockings with wargaming goodies, the first of which is a full on armoured company of M577 series APC's from Antenocitis Workshop. These will be added to the handful I picked up at Warfare to give me a pretty impressive task force for the 15mm near future project that I'm planning for 2015. These really are lovely models. Woo hoo!

US Marine v Japanese Infantryman

The Chain of Command project has hit the buffers of late but, in the meantime and when I can grab a bit of a lie in (?), I've been doing some more reading around the subject. This is the latest digital addition to the bookshelf and it's really not bad at all, which is a recurring feature of the series in my experience, despite initial misgivings about the slightly cheesy 'man to man' concept. This one is particularly good and features some excellent annotated artwork alongside a detailed and well-researched text. The colour plates will definately be useful as a guide to shades and washes, when I get round to painting the Japanese platoon in the new year.

Monday 8 December 2014

Up in the Loft

As you may have noticed, things have slowed down a lot recently, primarily as a result of work and the run up to the end of term. However, I was up the loft yesterday in search of decorations for the tree, so thought I'd have a rummage in the rules archive for some stockpiled sci-fi rules. 

This resulted in a second hand but pristine copy of Stargrunt II, a freebie stripped down copy of Hammers Slammers and a copy of Future War Commander, which I decided to leave where it was, as I'm not a massive fan of the BKC rules system. I also found my old copy of Imperial Commander but that's going in another direction.

I've also downloaded a pdf of Victory Decision: Future Combat, which looks like an interesting option, although the current front runner is still FUBAR, followed closely by Tomorrows War and Gruntz. It's all good reading material for the holidays and a signpost for the focus of next year.

Saturday 6 December 2014

Brigade Models Sohei Heavy Tanks

The platoon pack of these arrived today in the post, which is a pretty fast turnaround and a very pleasant surprise, as I was expecting them to turn up next week sometime.

They're pretty impressive in terms of size and heft, with an ingenious two part metal turret and three options for gun barrels. There's also a turret mounted missile launcher unit which is designed to be glued to the left hand side.

There are a couple of air bubbles on the engine grills and covers but nothing that can't be sorted out with some filler. The hull casting is otherwise very clean and surprisingly detailed for such a large vehicle. think they look great and will definately find a place alongside the Antenociti's Workshop APC's. Very cool!

Friday 5 December 2014

The Imperial Japanese Army

I'm reading this at the moment as part of my background inspiration for the 28mm Chain of Command Japanese project, which is getting close to the all important painting stage. This weekend, I'll be finishing off the command elememts of a platoon commander, a standard bearer and a medic, with a couple of resin Chi Ha tanks to round off the armour support. If I can find the time.

Thursday 4 December 2014

Brigade Models 15% off Xmas Sale

I need some cheering up today so have splashed out on yet more 15mm sci-fi good things from Brigade Models. These three heavy hover tanks will provide the armoured punch for the GZG NAC /  USCM platoon, with some serious firepower and the ability to roll over the opposition, whatever that will turn out to be. I really like the retro look of the Sohei, which reminds me a bit of the Vietnam era M60 series, so I'm looking forward to getting them through the post sometime before Xmas.

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Brigade Models Rhino Tanks...!

Well, the proof is in the pudding as they used to say, so here's the superb Brigade Models SAC Rhino heavy tank up against an equally cool Antenociti's Workshop M577 APC. I reckon that's a pretty good match, with very similar dimensions in terms of angular, functional styling and near future design.

I'm very happy with the combined effect, so will be putting some more M577's on the Xmas list, along with some even heavier armour support from the Brigade Models catalogue, especially as they have a generous 15% off special offer on at the moment.

Tuesday 2 December 2014

Catch the Turkey?

I've neglected my usual attempts to get an article written for the Toofatlardies Xmas Special this year, mainly due to the on-going management meltdown at work, so I decided to submit the Catch the Pigeon scenario that I wrote and playtested at the club earlier in the year. I think I've left it a bit late but it might make it into the Xmas Special if Nick and Richard think it's OK? I may even suggest a re-working of the title to give it a festive theme?

Sunday 30 November 2014

Chain of Command Japanese Platoon [11]

Here's the penultimate element of the 28mm Japanese platoon for the Chain of Command project, in the form of a ten man grenade launcher or 'knee mortar' section. This was supposed to have been assembled and based over the preceding week, but real life means I've had to fit them into the last forty eight hours of the weekend. Plastics may be cheap but they're a bugger to put together.

Anyway, I now need to do the command bases and at least one more 'add on' reinforcement element, which will probably be a simple two man engineer team, in order to keep things manageable. At the current rate of progress and with a bit of luck, I might even get the project painted and ready for a game sometime in the late summer of 2015!

Saturday 29 November 2014

Brigade Models Power Armour Arrives

It's been a very busy day, which primarily revolved around test driving and buying a new car, so I've had little time for anything else. However, the Brigade Models power armour figures arrived in the post and have been sized up against the GZG UNSC/L infantry, with the end result being a definite thumbs up! I've also started assembling the much delayed 'knee mortar' section for the 28mm Japanese platoon, which I'm hoping to wrap up tomorrow.

Friday 28 November 2014

Brigade Models SAC Rhino Platoon Pack

It's Friday again and, after a particularly long and !*^"%@ tedious week, it's retail therapy time too. The GZG NAC infantry platoon I got at Warfare already has some M577 series APC's, so I thought some AFV's would be a good idea. These would have to fit in to the general 'look' of the figures and the vehicles, so wheels were definately on the shopping list.

Searching around the various maunfacturers for something similar to the M577 models, I picked out the Brigade Models SAC Rhino six wheeled heavy tanks, which are close enough in style to fit in well. I've always liked the design and the platoon deal is good value, so it's a great addition to the platoon and well within my pre-Xmas budgetry constraints.

Thursday 27 November 2014

Gruntz 15mm Sci-Fi Rules

These seem to have had some enthusiatic reviews, so I thought I'd take a closer look and have ordered a pdf and hardcopy via Wargames Vault. They're designed for single based figures and vehicles on a 1:1 scale, so look ideal for what I have in mind, especially as they're not tied down to any particular setting or scenario. I'll give the pdf copy a speed read over the weekend, to see how they compare to Tomorrows War and FUBAR, which are two rulesets in the equation.

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Used Sci Fi APC's Are Us!

The endless marking has squished my knee mortar plans for the moment but I have been cheered up by the arrival of the second-hand Antenociti's Workshop near future APC's. These need a bit of a clean up and some minor repairs, as several of the resin wheels have been broken off, but otherwise they're really cool.

One of the remote gun mounts also had a snapped off gun barrel, so I pulled it off with some pliers and will replace it with either a hatch and figure, to make it into a command AFV, or a heavy weapons missile mount from the really useful Brigade Models accessories range.

To save on the postage, I've also ordered some of the impressive Brigade Models Power Armour figures, which I have in 6mm for Iron Cow, to use as a power armour platoon for the UNSC/L force. They look very similar in style to the GZG light infantry figures and will fit in well as a heavy support or assault unit.

Monday 24 November 2014

Knee Mortars

The plan for this week is to assemble, undercoat and base the grenade launcher section for the Japanese platoon, consisting of three Type 98 'knee mortar' teams of three men each and an NCO. As you can see, I've finished the last of the LMG teams to complete all of the rifle sections, so I only have the grenade launcher section and a couple of command figures to round off the basic platoon.

I'm going to aim to glue together one three man team each evening, which doesn't sound like much but is all I can manage at the moment due to work. If I can base up a heavy weapons team or even a Chi Ha tank or two, that will be a added bonus. The longer term goal is to get at least some of the platoon actually painted up by the end of term in three weeks time...just don't hold your breath!

Sunday 23 November 2014

Narrow Seas [36]

I finished off the S38 class boats this afternoon and have now completed all that I need for a game, apart from torpedo markers, range rulers, starshell markers and other such things. As a result, I'm calling a temporary halt on the coastal warfare project for the moment, so that I can get on with the 28mm WW2 Japanese for Chain of Command* 

I have plenty of space in the coastal forces box for additional models and loads of boats ready for painting, so I'll be adding some R Boats, VP boats, trawlers, destroyers and escorts in 2015, once the current work related distractions are out of the way. I've really enjoyed the project thus far and I'm looking forward to a game of Coastal Patrol at the club at some point, if the usual suspects are willing to give it a go?

* the 1/2400th scale Rugen / Jasmund ships might also get squeezed in somewhere, if I have the time?

Saturday 22 November 2014

Narrow Seas [35]

I finally found the time to finish off the early war Skytrex E- Boats this evening, with only the basing left to do to have them ready for a game. They look OK but I would have liked a little more time to add some detailing and to clean up the rather too obvious rough areas of paintwork. I'll get the bases done tomorrow, then it's back to the 28mm Japanese for Chain of Command or the 1/2400 scale Prussian ships for the Battle of Jasmund.

Friday 21 November 2014

Ion Age Modular Resin Habitation Base

I saw this on TMP yesterday and thought it looked really cool. It's exactly the sort of thing that I'd love to have for Imperial Commander, with a very retro 1980's sci-fi look and some neat Laserburn style design features. I think the landing pad command module is definately the best bit. 

I can imagine hordes of Red Redemptionists attacking this across the desolate sand dunes, while the Black Guard put up a 'last man standing' defence. Unfortunately, it's a bit outside my budget at the moment, so I'll have to wait for Father Xmas to drop it down my chimney. There are some good deals if your wallet is deeper than mine:


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