Thursday 30 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [12]

I had a rare hour or so this evening in which to start on the islands and shoals for Galleys and Galleons, using  some very useful ERM mdf terrain templates, pink insulation foam offcuts and slates from the garden path. It's all a bit rough and ready at this stage but will start to look a bit more like the real thing once I've applied some smaller stones, gravel and sand. The sea will then be sculpted using the ever versatile acrylic modelling paste, which will also be used to undercoat the pink insulation foam before any painting.

Tuesday 28 April 2015

Not at Salute 15mm Sci Fi Splurge

As I missed Salute last weekend, I thought I'd make uo for it by taking advantage of the free post offer at The Ion Age which is due to run out on Friday. The postage is normally a hefty five quid, so this seemed like a good time to add some more space opera style 15mm sci-fi nick-nacks to the resin pile, destined for my Imperial Commander revival project. This is slated for some point in the future, possibly even this year if I get my act together.

The Ion Age habitation base modular terrain is really neat and I already have enough bunkers, domes, corridor connections and landing pads to build a pretty impresssive Imperial outpost. However, I wasn't keen on the missile pods that come with the bundled set, so have ordered a selection of weapons mounts to add some variety. I'm sure these can easily be classifed in Laserburn terms as sun guns, heavy support bolters and laser cannons, as they look very similar in style to the original illustrations in the rulebooks. 

I've also ordered a 'Skylark' gunship lander type thing that I've had my eye on since it was released last year. It is very similar in design to the old Laserburn law officer air raft, although a bit bigger and more heavily armed and armoured. As a result, it will be used for my Red Redemptionists as an assault vehicle, alongside the air rafts that they already have. I'll probably leave off the weapon turret and add some crew figures to make it look the part.

Monday 27 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [11]

After a very busy weekend, I'm looking forward to the Bank Holiday and the chance to get some more scratchbuilding underway for the Galleys and Galleons playtesting project. I'm going to make a start on some more islands over the next couple of days, now that I've worked out how to go about things. I also have a couple of ships to glue together and some painting to do, if they're going to look anything other than a pale imitation of the real thing.

I'm also planning to have a crack at a scratchbuilt Elizabethan star fort, very much in the style of Star Castle on St Marys in the Isles of Scilly. My parents spent their honeymoon in Star Castle hotel in 1964. Later on,  my uncle was stationed in the islands as the resident police sergeant and official arm of the law, so we spent many of our summer holidays in St Marys or St Martins for several years in the late 70's. It's a very evocative place so I'll be doing my best to make my 1/450th scale version look the part.

Sunday 26 April 2015

Monty's Marauders

We had a fantastic weekend in the IOW and the Winchester Rugby Club Under 9's did very well, with the sprog's team achieving a well-deserved 'runners up' and missing an overall win by a whisker. However, the boy took a couple of nasty knocks to the head and ended up with a free ride in a St John's Ambulance, although he recovered to play his part and only missed one half of a match. He's off school tomorrow, just in case, which means I'll be off work for a day to keep an eye on him too.

We also had an afternoon to kill in Cowes where I found a pristine hardback copy of Patrick Delaforce's book on the 8th Armoured Brigade for a quid! I've long had an interest in the Sherwood Rangers Yeomanry and 13/18th Hussars, as both regiments at one time or other, supported 5th Battalion Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in the NW Europe campaign. This was a Rapid Fire! project of mine a few years ago and is destined for revival in 15mm with IABSM or 28mm with CoC, so it's a great addition to the bookshelf.

Friday 24 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [10]

We're off to the Isle of Wight this weekend for an end of season rugby tournament, so I won't be going to Salute this year, which I was planning to do for a change. It does mean that I won't be spending any money on things I don't really need, which means I can save it up for more useful bits and bobs.
In the meantime, I've been searching for a sea monster of some sort to use in the Hollywood style scenarios in the Galleys and Galleons draft rules. I wasn't having much luck until I remembered an old Dungeons and Dragons board game that I found in the Works years ago and which the boys used to enjoy playing.
The game has a set of not too badly scuplted hard plastic figures including various characters and creatures, so I'm going to pinch one or two to use as giant sea monsters. The Carrion Crawler model is ideal for this, standing about 50mm tall and towering over the 1/450th scale ships, with a very aquatic look including some impressive tentacles. It just needs basing and painting!

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [9]

Not a lot this evening, as real life has intervened but I have started on some range rulers for Galleys and Galleons using 20mm lengths of obeche stripwood tastefully sprayed in Halfords Gadget Blue and Humbrol Crimson. The blue strips are designed for movement and the red ones for firing, with both being cut to the required lengths and drybrushed for visual effect later on.

I've decided to go for the 75mm short, 120mm medium and 180mm long range rulers, which is a good compromise for the scale and should result in some suitably close action. I've also covered the prototype island with modelling paste, which is absolutely wonderful stuff for texturing and perfect for basing in smaller scales. It's all coming together slowly but surely, with some playtesting just over the horizon.

Tuesday 21 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [8]

I've scraped half an hour this evening in which to experiment with some ERM mdf terrain templates, high density pink insulation sheet and assorted scatter material, in an attempt to scratchbuild some islands for Galleys and Galleons.

The prototype island isn't too bad and, with some additional texturing, a PVA undercoat and half decent paint job, could well turn out as a useable terrain feature. I'll have a crack at something a less monolithic and a little more adventurous tomorrow.

Monday 20 April 2015

Spy or Die Trying

It was back to work today, so I've been catching up on the marking this evening and have just finished. To cheer me up, I'm going to have a rummage in the contents of Spy or Die Trying, which I ordered over the holidays having been let down by a previous supplier. It arrived today and has already been opened for a quick look through, with first impressions being really good. The rules are very clearly laid out, with plenty of examples to follow and lots of clarification, so it shouldn't be difficult to pick up.

Sunday 19 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [7]

We got home today at 7.00am and I've spent the day unpacking, tidying up and sorting things out. The post included the extra ship kits and accessories that I ordered from Peter Pig including a second schooner, which I have converted into a fore and aft rig, unshamedly copying the idea of Mr D.Manley Esq. from his blog. I think it looks pretty good, so many thanks for the idea.

I also rummaged in the 1/2400 scale bits box, looking for some coastal emplacements that bought from the Tumbling Dice stand at Warfare last year. There was one that didn't have any scale specific features, so I've added a trio of Peter Pig light guns with crew to create an ad-hoc shore battery, the sort of thing any self respecting pirate crew could throw up with a few spades, a taste of the lash and some sugar-based liquid refreshment.

On a more permanent basis, I also uncovered the resin model of Chateau du Taureau that I aquired in France a while back, originally as a target for my 1/600th scale ironclads. It will now be used for it's intended purpose, as a coastal defence against English privateers and the Royal Navy, although scale-wise it's a little bit off. Nonetheless, I've stuck it to an mdf base, then used modelling paste, sand and PVA to blend it in, with some Peter Pig medium guns to add a bit of scale effect.

Friday 17 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [6]

I finished assembling the last of the Peter Pig 1/450th scale pirate ships today, although there may be one or two more to glue together later on. This one is another brig but with some heavier 'medium' guns and an outer and inner jib added to the bowsprit, using a spare sail set from a schooner model. The idea is to differentiate it from the other brig that I have already assembled, although I think both would benefit from an additional spanker and some rigging of some sort.

Anyway, we're off home tomorrow so there will be no more posts for a couple of days or so, especially as I'm back to work after the weekend. In the end, I didn't get any board gaming down this holiday due the unexpectedly fantastic weather, so Heroes of Normandie will have to wait until half term for a decent play through. I'm also looking at a pile of marking when I get back to work, so will be concentrating my wargaming efforts on Galleys and Galleons for the next couple of weeks in between the paperwork.

In the longer term I'm hoping that work will ease up a bit, especially once the exam season has finished in a month or so. This will mean a long overdue and much sought after chance to get some decent painting and gaming done from mid-May onwards. The Galleys and Galleons project is top of the list at the moment, to be followed by the 1/600th scale Bag the MiG and/or Air War C21 projects, the latter of which may include the ultramodern aircraft for Flashpoint Baltic! I'd also like to do some more 1/285th scale aircraft for Bag the Hun at some point.

I'm also desperate to get the 15mm Lion Rampant War of the Roses project underway, and have even considered having the figures painted professionally, if the price is right. I'd rather paint them myself but time is a real challenge so who knows? Finally, there's at least four 28mm projects to get finished including my Darkest Africa tribal natives, my Vikings for SAGA, the extra bits for the Chain of Command US platoon and the early war Japanese platoon, although this will probably be tackled in the summer holidays.


Pointe de Combrit Coastal Forts

We went for a walk this morning out the headland at the end of the bay. There's a really interesting early eighteenth century coastal battery and an impressive coastal fort c1862, constructed as the replacement for the obsolete earlier works by Napoleon III. The fort is now an art gallery but has been restored to its original configuration rather than being convertedfor other use or left to decay, which is what has happened to some other examples including the fort in Benodet which is now a sail training centre. All very inspirational for some Galleys and Galleons scratchbuilding.

Thursday 16 April 2015

Armageddon: The Battle for Germany 1944-45

I'm reading this now as it's one of the few books by Max Hastings that I haven't yet read, for some indeterminate reason.

I really like Hasting's approach to historical writing as he always focusses on the experience of ordinary people in extraordinary situations, rather than from the top down, yet also incorporates the strategic decision making side of things, which not infrequently led to the extraordinary situations the people at the bottom found themselves in. 

He has a very readable style and an eclectic approach to contemporary sources of evidence, which often provides an unusual perspective.  He also rarely 'takes sides' like some other popular military historians I could mention, with equal criticism of both the US and British high command.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [5]

I found this kit in the toy aisle of the local supermarket this morning and thought it might be useable for Galleys and Galleons, even if it's slightly underscale. The kit itself is pretty simple but has some nice details and scales out well against the 1/450th Peter Pig ships.

I would need to cut down the hull, replace the underscale deck guns and the spindly masts but, otherwise, this is an impressive addition, even if I only use it as a scenario objective of some sort. It is enormous and would probably blow everything else out of the water in a normal game!

Galleys and Galleons [4]

Here are the latest ships to be added to the 1/450th scale fleet, a large warship for La Royale and a medium merchant for her to escort. The warship will probably be a Frigate or a Galleon (war), although I've yet to work out which would be the better fit, given that I'm going to set my privateer versus naval games in the latter half of the 1600's. I have a couple of models left to build and base but will probably call a halt after that as we'll be heading home at the weekend.

Tuesday 14 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [3]

I was really pleased to get an email from Nic Wright, author of Galleys and Galleons, yesterday to which was attached both the current draft of the rules and a QRS. A big thank you to Nic for adding me into the play testing team!

I now have a much better idea of what I need to get some playtesting underway, with the scenarios and campaign system in mind. I already have seven Peter Pig ships assembled and based but need some extra bits before I can run something at the club.

The shopping list includes:

* some scratchbuilt shoals and small islands.
* a scratchbuilt harbour or small port.
* a section of coastline.
* a scratchbuilt coastal fort or battery.
* some wreckage markers.
* some templates to represent shallows.
* a couple of extra ships to make full use of the rules.
* some measuring sticks.

All not too much trouble to put together and with lots of opportunity for some gratuitous mucking about with bits of mdf, plastic card, glue, filler and paint! I've ordered a small selection of extra ships and guns from Peter Pig and will get scratchbuilding the other stuff when I get home.

Monday 13 April 2015

Magasin De Presse

I always check out the military history and aviation sections of the newsagent when I'm on holiday in France, as there's always something of interest and of potential use as painting or gaming reference material. 

Thus far, I've failed to find any copies of Vae Victis, which is a shame, but I have picked up Aerojournal 46 and Batailles & Blindes 66, both of which have some really interesting and well-illustrated articles. 

The Aerojournal main article on the Imperial Japanese Naval Air Force is particularly good, well worth the 6.50 € outlay for the equivalent content and quality of an Osprey. 

There's an Aerojournal Hors Series (special edition) out at the moment on the Lavochkin La5 too, so I'll have to add that one for the ongoing Bag the Hun on the Russian Front project.

Sunday 12 April 2015


Studio Tomahawk have posted some further details of the new colonial skirmish rules that they are currently developing, which have a distinctly Darkest Africa theme. 

From the blurb it looks like you only need thirty or so figures, which means that my tribal villagers will easily make up the numbers, although I'll also need an expedition or some slavers to ambush. 

Now, I should finally get round to painting up the tribal villager army that I put together for In the Heart of Africa a couple of years ago, as they've been languishing in a box for far too long, all based up and ready to go.

Friday 10 April 2015

Galleys and Galleons [2]

The weather wasn't all bad today so I used it as a background!

The weather took a turn for the worst today, after being absolutely fantastic for the whole week, so I got on with the assembly and basing for the 1/450th scale Peter Pig pirate ships. The privateers have been launched first with a top sail schooner, two sloops and a brig, along with three longboat bases for cutting out raids. They'll get an undercoat as soon as I can find some suitable matt white spray paint.

The Privateer fleet ready for painting

I'm thinking of substituting one of the sloops with a second schooner using  a conversion of the Peter Pig schooner kit into fore and aft rig, taking a leaf out of David Manley's book. The surplus sloop will then be re-assigned as a warship for the naval contingent, which I'm thinking of making 'La Royale'  rather than Royal Navy. This will include a frigate and a brig as well as the aforementioned sloop / cutter.

A room with a view

I'll start on the assembly and basing for this tomorrow, if the weather doesn't get any better. As I'm typing this, the sail training ship Belem has just anchored for the night in the bay, which is a bit of a coincidence but handy as reference material nonetheless. It's pretty cool to look out of the window and see this every day but, unfortunately, I can't retire here just yet....just another twenty one years of full time teaching to go!! 

Thursday 9 April 2015

Army of Shadows

We went to the market in the local town this morning, which also has a very nice bookshop with a particularly comprehensive section for BD's. I was looking for the new book by Romain Hugault but found this instead, which is in a very similar graphic style and theme. 


It's the first volume in a quartet, following a landser in the 332nd infantry regiment on the Russian Front from winter 1942 onwards. The art work is excellent and, once I get my head around the French dialogue, I'm sure the storyline will be equally good.

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Dragon Rampant Ramblings

Something else that grabbed my attention over on the Lion Rampant forum was a discussion about the fantasy variant of Lion Rampant, which I have yet to play in its original format but which I'm keen to try out, once I've got my act together with my 15mm WOTR retinue. This is on the 'to do' list later in the summer.

The fantasy option is featured as a couple of army lists in the rulebook, one for the forces of evil and one for the forces of good, in a nod to classic '80's style gaming. However, the next issue of WSS is going to feature a full article by Dan Mersey giving more ideas to convert the rules over to a fantasy setting.

I have a pretty good HOTT skeleton army that could be re-based for this and plenty of spare 15mm dwarves, elves and undead in the lead pile, so it looks like a good way to make use of them, especially as I really like the original rules. I'm looking forward to the Dragon Rampant article to see what the potential fantasy units look like?

Black Ops

I was having a look for details about the forthcoming Osprey Fighting Sail rules for Napoleonic fleet actions, which are out next month, when I spotted the next set of wargames rules in the pipeline. These look like a small scale, tactical level stealthy skirmish with a cyberpunk style theme, which sounds like it might be fun. I'll have to dig out my old Copplestone Future Wars figures and paint some up in advance of publication, which is scheduled for September this year.

Monday 6 April 2015

AK47 Campaign Rules

I wanted to run an AK47 mini-campaign at the club this year and planned to kick it of in February, but all this went out of the window due to the meltdown at work. Now things are looking slightly less manic and my workload is, hopefully, going to be reduced a bit next term, so I'm looking to relaunch the mini-campaign idea in the next couple of months.

I have three or four players lined up and have two useable armies to deploy, give or take a unit or two to paint up, so there's no problem getting the factions equipped for the game. I also have enough terrain with some room for a few extra bits. With the old AK47 rules available in pdf format everyone has ready access to the mechanics, so all that I need is a decent campaign system to make it work.

Luckily, I have a tried and tested system up my sleeve which has been used for both Back of Beyond and Aeronef. This is the system devised by Chris Peers for simple, fast play campaigns requiring minimal paperwork and record keeping. With a few tweaks and the incorporation of some club rules for various things, which we've worked out over the last half a dozen games, it should be spot on for AK47. 

I'm going to write something up over the holidays and post it on the club forum, so that it gets the once over from the AK47 grognards. If there's still sufficient interest in a mini-campaign, I can then go ahead a set it up in June / July. It's been a long time in the making but, fingers crossed, it'll finally get up and running this year! 

Air War C21 Flashpoint Baltic [6]

I'll be off to the magasin de presse this morning in search of copy of Air Combat No.11, which thus far has been difficult to locate. It looks like an interesting source of ideas for the Baltic Flashpoint project. In the meantime, I'm going to get on with the pirate ships for the Galleys and Galleons project, as soon as I can find some superglue!

Friday 3 April 2015

Happy Holidays

We're off on holiday now for a couple of weeks, so I'm packing Heroes of Normandie and Wings of War for the rainy days. In a typical U-turn I've also decided to take some Peter Pig 1/450th scale pirate ships to assemble and base, ready to paint up when I get back.

These are destined for Galleys and Galleons, which I'm going to get hold of once they're published. In the meantime, the models will be glued together and undercoated. I'm looking forward to having a crack at them, with a small flotilla of smuggler and pirate sloops and brigs versus the cutters and frigates of the Royal Navy.

Thursday 2 April 2015

Zone Interdite

That was a very, very long term but it's now over and we're off to Brittany tomorrow, so I'm looking forward to some decent sleep and a much deserved wind down. The very good value No Go Zone bundle arrived today and this set me off on another random line of enquiry, with some ideas for a 'continental' variant of the basic game, using the existing chaos and civilian figures with some 'yet to be sourced' figures for the forces of law and order.

The plan is to locate some 1/56th scale toy vehicles for the Police Nationale and, if possible, some 28mm metal figures for both the regular Police Nationale and scary CRS riot police. The vehicles should be relatively easy to track down but I'm not sure where to find the figures, although some conversions and headswaps using the Warmacre coppers might be an option. If you've seen La Haine, you'll get the idea. I'll see what I can come up with!

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Heroes of Normandie

First the bad news. The company that I ordered Spy or Die Trying from have run out of stock, so I'm back to square one as far as 1960's Mission Impossible meets James Bond board gaming is concerned. I'll try re-ordering from a different supplier once we're back from the Easter break. It's a shame, as I was looking forward to trying out the game with the kids, but I'm sure we can wait a bit longer.

The good news is that my other belated birthday present board game has arrived. This is Heroes of Normandie by the French developer Devil Pig Games, which I read about in Vae Victis last year and thought looked really good, if you can get over the Warlord comic book graphics and the Kelly's Heroes style narrative. I had my doubts to be honest, but thought it would be a really good way to get the boys into some historical gaming, even if it's a bit 'tongue in cheek'.

Having said that, the quality of the rulebook, boards, dice, counters and cards is superb, probably the best I've seen in a long time. It's a bit pricey at £45 but still very good value for money given the heavy duty, full colour game components and the care with which it has been put together. The proof will be in the gameplay, so I'll be hoofing it over to Brittany for the holidays, with fingers crossed for some really crappy weather and plenty of lazy afternoons!


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