Thursday 31 December 2015

Goodbye 2015



I have achieved absolutely nothing that I set out to do this time last year! In fact, I have completely lost the plot when it comes to what I set out to accomplish, especially as far as 15mm skirmish concerned. This has been due to the usual distractions but also an avalanche of work and stress, which has kept me far too busy and away from both the club and the workbench. This looks likely to continue for the medium to long term, so I'm not too optimistic about getting much done in 2016, although I will do my best.

The first half of the year was a frustrated trail of half finished and incomplete small projects including Aliens in 10mm, the Alto Cenepa War in 1/600 scale for Air War C21, 1864 naval in 1/2400 scale and Galleys and Galleons in 1/450th scale. I did get a couple of games of Galleys and Galleons in at the club, which went down well, so at least that was partially completed, unlike my actual paint work on the ships themselves. I really should finish the USCM figures for Aliens...then that would be another project completed, although it's a bit late now!

In the Summer things picked up a bit and I completed a unit of labourers for my Back of Beyond exploration army, a truck mounted field gun and an elephant gun armed explorer. This adds some much needed AT firepower to the force. I also started on the big project for the year, a Japanese platoon for Chain of Command. This got to the painting stage over the holidays but has since stalled, with a re-think for Bolt Action now the way forward. I also cleaned up and based my British commandos for the Achtung Commando! project, which will continue into 2016.

The Autumn was a completely different story.  The Fistful of Lead Reloaded Kickstarter appeared out of the blue, changed my direction and led to an mdf construction frenzy. This ended up with a whole town built over two months including a railroad station, livery stables, saloons, a jail, hotels and stores plus a mine complex, hills and even some railroad tracks for my converted toy train. I really enjoyed this project and the end result, which was the successful club game of Fistful of Lead Reloaded at Warfare in November.

In terms of games this year I have actually taken part in or run much more than I expected, having made a real effort to get to the club more often, despite the never ending marking and lesson preparation workload. In total I have enjoyed two AK47 games, two games of Back of Beyond, four Fistful of Lead Reloaded games, a couple of Galleys and Galleons games, a Bag the Hun playtest, a game of Maurice, a Bolt Action game and several games of X Wing. Not bad but I still need to make time for more!

....and I have plenty of plans lined up for 2016 too.

Dragon Rampant Ice Elves [1]

I dug the Mantic elves out of the loft yesterday and started to work out how I could turn them into an army for Dragon Rampant. This theoretical exercise then ended up actually being put into action, as I fiddled around with the various plastic bits and started to glue them together to see how they would look. This is the end result of an evening spent with plastic glue and a craft knife, although I now remember why I hate assembling plastic figures. I've tried to just use what's in the box and still have some leftovers that I can fiddle around with to make into something useful.

I'll finish this lot off today, to give me a unit of offensive heavy foot (6 points), a unit of heavy foot (4 points) and a unit of scouts (2 points) minus any extra tweaks. I also have a couple of champions or leaders that I haven't worked out what to do with yet and a reduced unit of four heavy or elite riders, which are on horses but may well end up riding something with more teeth. I'm also going to try to find a magic user from the lead pile and a big nasty plastic dragon from the kids toy box, if I can remember where I put it.

I've also had a play around with Humbrol aluminium spray paint and Army Painter strong tone dip, followed by a wet brush in Foundry Spearpoint, to see how easy it will be to paint the army up in one quick blast. The test figure is looking OK so far and I have a plan for the next two or three stage of painting to keep things simple. This will be a no frills painting job, although I hope to add a little bit of detail here and there and do some nice snow and ice basing. There are some fantastic shield decals available for these figure from the Mantic web shop thingy too which are very tempting!

Good fun!

Tuesday 29 December 2015

Black Ops Car Chase

We were on the way back to the ferry yesterday so stopped off at a supermarket in St Malo for some last minute essentials. Taking a quick look at the toy section, I spotted a display of 1/43rd scale diecast toy cars for only 2.95 euros each. I had a quick rummage and found a Mercedes saloon that is perfect for my Besson - Bond - Bourne inspired Black Ops project, even though 1/43rd is supposedly way too big next to 28mm figures.

The range is by a firm called Mondo Motors and also includes a selection of security and police vehicles in various national markings, so next time I'm in France I'll see if I can pick up something for the Gendarmie or Police Nationale. I've matched up the car model with some Copplestone Future Wars figures and it is spot on, even without any bases on the figures, so this looks like a good way to go. 

Sunday 27 December 2015


I'm now reading this, having been inspired by a fantastic after action report of a commando raiding game over at the Silver Whistle blog, which takes a TFL scenario for Chain of Command to a totally different level. I started my own 28mm Achtung Commando project in the Summer holidays, so will be continuing with it in 2016, although my version features an objective a little bigger than a radar station. It also will be making use of my winter terrain being set in wartime Norway. All will be revealed in due course....!

Saturday 26 December 2015

X Wing 'The Force Awakens' TIE Tactics

I've been playing the latest incarnation of X Wing over the holidays and it's just as much fun as the original game, even with the loss of one of my TIE/FO fighters which my daughter managed to drop on the floor and then tread on. The TIE fighters are pretty vulnerable, with only one shield token and two dice for firing, so you really have to make the most of any pilot skill, the weapons guidance upgrade and superior manouverability. This is a lot like the original game, so no surprises there but you do have a couple of new tactics to play around with in the latest rules.

The barrel roll action and the Segnor's Loop really help to keep your TIE fighter from being blown to pieces, before it can cause enough damage on the T70 X Wing to even things up. The T70 X Wing isn't as handy as the TIE but has more upgrade options and packs a bigger punch, especially when loaded out with Proton Torpedoes, even though these are a one shot deal. You really need both TIE fighters to make things even up, although I have managed to win once in a head to head game by getting in really close and staying out of the rebel firing arc.

Good fun!

Friday 25 December 2015

Christmas Presents

I don't usually get much for Christmas as I have a birthday in January but I do get two Christmas present openings, one in France and the other one when we get back home, to save carting all the kids gifts to and from Brittany. This is great for the sprogs, although the simultaneous existence of Father Christmas and Pere Noel took some explaining when they were little!

Anyway, aside from the usual eight course Christmas lunch which I barely survived, there have been a couple of really good presents under the French Christmas tree this year. The first is the Millennium Falcon for X Wing which is an excellent addition to the collection, especially as I've just seen The Force Awakens (in French). I also got an illustrated hardback book on the French Indochina War which I haven't got, so another great present.

We're now watching all of the Star Wars films back to back on TF1, so a good day all round, although I still haven't recovered from the lunch.They're not quite the same in the dubbed version, especially as Darth Vador has a high pitched voice, as though he's rattling round inside his helmet. They can't pronounce Darth either so he's called Dark Vador instead.

I hope you had a great Christmas Day too.

Thursday 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas!

Dragon Rampant Barbarica

This is the other plan for Dragon Rampant, which I've mentioned before but done nothing about, as usual. I have a birthday coming up so a Northlander army is on the wishlist, as I really like the figures especially the bear and elk riding war leaders. I have a couple of packs of the cavemen like Picts already, to use as the core of a second army. It also fits very nicely with my winter terrain, so what's not to like? 

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Dragon Rampant Ramblings

There's a definite 80's look and feel to Dragon Rampant including some excellent art work that reminds me a lot of old editions of White Dwarf and the covers of the Sword and Sorcery paperbacks that I read when I was a kid. I don't know who the artist is but the illustrations are very much in a Chris Achilleos style...brilliant!

This got me thinking about a not-elf army for Dragon Rampant that I could assemble using the Mantic Elves that I bought cheap a couple of years ago, in a futile attempt to get my eldest into wargaming. I think they would make a splendid Melnibonean army, complete with an albino sword wielding sourcerous anti-hero.

I have enough figures for a unit of heavy cavalry, a couple of units of heavy spears and a unit of archers, which is plenty to start with and would fill out the twenty four points required for a warband. I can also include a couple of reduced size units including characters like Elric, Yrkoon or Dyvim Tvar, the latter as a heroic champion.

I might even stretch to a dragon....although it will probably be a bendy plastic toy one in keeping with the budget! Either that or they'll just be generic high elves, perhaps even ice elves so that I can use them with my new snow terrain cloth and scenery. I quite like the idea of an ice themed army and it would be an interesting painting project, with lots of light blue washes and highlights.

In an ideal world I'd splash out on some of the Nick Lund dwarves, orcs and chaos warriors from Forlorn Games, which would be very nostalgic and lots of fun to paint up, but the plastic option is far less expensive and easier to put together in the ever decreasing spare time that I don't have for the hobby.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Star Wars Bunker Busting

I spotted this on the back page of the local newspaper, so used the force to google for a video version, as it's a very clever but completely bonkers use of some old slabs of concrete, white emulsion and aerosol spray paint. I'm off to see The Force Awakens tomorrow too in 3D and in French, which should be interesting to say the least.
'These are not the grafitti artists you are looking for. Move along, move along.' 

Monday 21 December 2015

The Jedburghs

I'm reading this at the moment. A really fascinating subject which I've read a lot about before, as quite a lot happened very close to the relatives local area in southern and central Brittany. I've always thought the SAS and Jedburgh operations in Brittany would make a great tactical level skirmish wargame, not in the obvious 28mm but in 15mm using Peter Pig figures based in elements, with a 1:1 figure scale. It'll probably never happen but it's something I've had on the 'get round to it one day' list for a long time.

Sunday 20 December 2015

Dragon Rampant

This dropped onto my Kindle this morning having been pre-ordered a couple of weeks ago. I really like the look of Lion Rampant although I have yet to do anything with it, so the fantasy version seemed like a sure fire bet. I have a Mantic elf army that I could paint up for this along with stacks of the old LOTR plastic figures, so it's a cheap and cheerful option (although the old Grenadier range that is now being manufactured by Forlorn Hope is tugging at my wallet). Oh dear. I'll have to find out what the guys at the club are planning to do before I start anything silly!

Thursday 17 December 2015

Xmas Painting Plans

I have singularly failed to get any figures painted over the last couple of weeks, so will be taking this lot off on holiday tomorrow, with the aim of getting them finished for the start of 2016. I've added an extra squad of ten riflemen and an NCO plus a surplus to requirements bazooka team, as I had already based it up and undercoated it, so thought it might as well get a lick of paint too. I have a paint scheme worked out for these figures so will only need to pack a small selection of colours and some brushes, so all I now need is some peace and quiet to get them done. 

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Iron Cross First Impressions

I only opened the envelope a couple of hours ago but I have had a brief flick through of Iron Cross to get a few first impressions. The rulebook is very nicely presented but is definitely on the thin side, which isn't a bad thing and reflects the 'easy to learn' and 'compact' format of the rules. The booklet itself is well laid out with a full contents page making it easy to navigate and with plenty of diagrams, helpful tips and explanatory box outs to make things easy to work through. I particularly like the artwork, which is a nice touch.

I haven't had time to read through the turn sequence in any detail or work out the order of play beyond the use of command tokens to activate units, which is a bit like card based activation crossed with order dice, but will get down to a proper read through over the weekend. I have had a closer look at the orbats and lists, which are a bit abstract but include the typical AFV's, support and infantry units that you'd expect. The lists are for the usual NW Europe theatre and include US, British, German and Soviet forces, so no radical surprises there.

The use of five man 'detachments' as the basic infantry unit seems a bit odd until you either think of them as fire teams or take into account that a lot of people will have Flames of War element based armies, which I suspect the rules have been deliberately written to accommodate. It also means that you can field a decent sized force with about 30 figures in 28mm, so ideal if you haven't got a lot of them or don't have the time to put a historical platoon sized force together with all the whistles and bells, as in Chain of Command, for example.

I was hoping that the rules would be more 'historical' than Bolt Action but I'm not sure that this is the case, at least as far as unit composition is concerned. I'm sure that the tactical game play is what this claim is based upon although whether it does so 'better than anything else on this scale' remains to be seen. I suspect the Chain of Command and IABSM fraternity might disagree, although the Bolt Action fans probably don't care either way? I do like the idea of a bit of tactical ping pong and if the rules cater for this it will be one step up from the predictability or artificial randomness of some other rules.  

Anyway, I hope to get a game set up at the club in the New Year, once the dust has settled and I've finished off the last of my 28mm Artizan US infantry and my new tanks. The rules seem to favour the wheeling out of AFV's alongside a core of infantry units, so it's a definite combined arms approach to WW2 by the looks of it. This makes me think that it would possibly work better as a 15mm or 20mm ruleset, in the same way that Rapid Fire is pitched, rather than a 28mm skirmish level game like Bolt Action is designed for. I don't know but this is the 'feel' that I get from my first flick through of the rulebook, with an in-depth review coming along as soon as I can find the time.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Monday 14 December 2015

Bolt Action Tank War

The Corgi diecast M4A3E8 that I found on eBay a few weeks ago has arrived and it's a cracker! Here it is next to my existing Shermans that I've repainted for use with my Artizan US infantry platoon. It won't be difficult to refurbish the Easy Eight to match up with my other tanks, with the potential for a Bolt Action Tank War game on the horizon. The new Iron Cross rules also seem to feature relatively large numbers of AFV's, at least in the game reviews that I've been reading, so I'm sure I'll be able to make use of the Shermans for that too. You can't beat a bit of armoured punch!

Sunday 13 December 2015

Bolt Action USMC

I went to my local model shop yesterday to see if they had any Warlord Finnish blister packs but ended up walking out of the door with a cardboard box of plastic US Marines and a sweaty palm full of US Marine support weapon teams.
How the hell did that happen?
The plan, if that's what it can be called, is to give my stalled Chain of Command Japanese project a re-boot by re-organising it for Bolt Action which means that I can cut down on the number of figures needed and thus the painting workload. The US Marines will be used as the focus of an opposing early war force, so I can justify adding them to the lead pile...sort of. They are really nice figures and have been on my wish list for quite a while, so why not? .
I was originally planning to do a Gurkha platoon for this and will still do so at some point, but the USMC will be quicker to paint and cheaper to expand into a full strength reinforced platoon in the long run. I haven't given up on Chain of Command either but will be scaling this back to 15mm or even 20mm, once I have decided the best way to go about it, so that I don't get swamped by sheer numbers again. 

Saturday 12 December 2015

Iron Cross

I decided to order the new Great Escape Games WW2 rules yesterday, along with some counters for the US and Germans. I'm hoping they will arrive in the post sometime before next weekend, so that I can read them through over the Xmas holidays, although the post is very slow at the moment so I'm not holding my breath. I have also finally received my order of Artizan late war winter Germans and the extra US riflemen in greatcoats that I need to complete the third squad for my Bolt Action reinforced infantry platoon. These arrived today, so I haven't had time to base them up but will do so tomorrow, ready to take them on holiday for a lick of paint.

Friday 11 December 2015

War of the White Death

The Winter War isn't a conflict I know that much about, beyond the usual stereotypes of plucky Finnish ski troops running rings around freezing Soviet soldiers deep in the snow clad forests of Finland. This means some reading is required, especially from a Russian perspective rather than just the Finnish side of the story, so this book looks really interesting. I know you shouldn't judge a book by its cover but if the content is as stirring as the artwork, I won't be disappointed.

Wednesday 9 December 2015

Stocking Fillers

I'm running out of steam at the moment and drowning in marking, so I thought I'd get myself a stocking filler to cheer myself up a bit. So, here's a small but perfectly packaged Finnish force for skirmish gaming in the frozen forests of the far north, which is all very festive and not too expensive either given the current drain on finances due to Xmas shopping for the sprogs. The ski troops might even be useable for WW2 commando raiding games in Norway? I wonder if The Heroes of Telemark will be on the telly over Xmas?


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