Sunday 31 December 2017

Goodbye 2017!

This time last year I had just packed in my job and was about to take a leap into the dark with a new job, with no guarantee that it would work out. In the end. it's gone pretty well (fingers crossed) and I have had four pay rises and my contract extended to July next year, so a big sigh of relief all round. On the other hand, my wife was made redundant and is now looking to start a new job, which means that things still aren't quite sorted. Enough of the real life stuff, what about the wargaming?

This year things have definitely picked up for me on the wargaming front, even though my output is now far below that of a few years ago when life was a bit more predictable. I set out in 2017 to do 1/600th scale air wargaming, 1/600th scale WW2 coastal warfare, 15mm modern / sci-fi skirmish and 1/2400th scale steam and sail wargames projects and, to a greater or lesser extent, I've had a good go at all of them.

As far as output is concerned, I have added some 1/285th scale P47D's, Gloster Meteor III's and FW-190A8's to my Bag the Hun squadrons, with some B17G's not quite making it across the finishing line. I also completed most of the 1/600th scale Flashpoint Taiwan aircraft for both the ROCAF and PLAAF, which was a good start in this scale and led onto the Korean War stuff that's now on the workbench. I'll be taking this further in 2018, as it has loads of potential.

I also almost finished painting a platoon sized force of 15mm Sci Fi figures, AFV's and mechs for Gruntz, although the summer holidays truncated that project and I didn't pick it up in the autumn. It's 90% done but I'm still deciding on the camouflage and basing, with an arctic warfare theme rather than a desert one being the most likely approach to take. I'll get this lot finished in 2018. I also added some more desert soft cover to my Old West collection with some really nice cactus scatter terrain bases.

As far as games go, I've been able to get up to the club to run three WW1 Knights of the Sky aerial games, a couple of Back of Beyond games and three very enjoyable Bag the Hun games as well. I enjoy writing the scenarios for these and umpiring them as well. The scenarios included a North Africa bombing mission, a May 1945 dogfight over Berlin and a  November 1944 fighter bash as well, all of which were good fun but need a bit of tweaking before I can send them off to the Too Fat Lardies for publication in a Special.

As far as naval games are concerned, I  played some more coastal warfare games using Schnell rules for Schnellboote and a single Victory at Sea naval game at the club. However, I am a bit disappointed that I didn't do more naval gaming in 2017, and didn't paint up any of the 1/2400th scale Steam and Sail ironclads I have prepared for 1864. I want to get more naval gaming underway in 2018, as it requires minimal terrain and a handful of models to be feasible, using my nice new sea cloth for starters.

To top it off, I  even had a small bit published in Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy, although it was very insignificant! I'm hoping to get some more stuff published in 2018, although I'm not sure what, given my fairly limited expertise and gaming interests. I'm sure I can think of something related to aerial wargaming? I'll set out my plans for next year tomorrow, but it is looking like more of the same, which has been a fairly successful if not overly productive approach this year!

Thanks for tuning into the blog in 2017 and I hope you have a very, very Happy New Year!

Friday 29 December 2017

L'Armee de l'ombre

I have all three books in the L'Armee de l'ombre trilogy now, having popped into the local bookstore while shopping for the trip home. This series of graphic novels details the experience of a group of soldiers on the Eastern Front, so it is pretty brutal stuff but beautifully realised by the author / artist, Olivier Speltens. It's also a cracking story even if I am struggling through the French text at times, with some very well thought out set piece scenes that really capture the experience of war on the Russian Front. If you are looking for inspiration for your company or platoon level scenarios, you need look no further.

Thursday 28 December 2017

15mm Sharp Practice Pirates

Another very interesting article and set of scenarios popped up in the TFL Xmas Special this year, focussing on Sharp Practice and pirates. The rules adaptations and army lists are by Chris Stoesen, who has also written material for Bag the Hun, amongst other things. He has used 15mm Peter Pig figures for his games, which jogged my memory as I have a big stash of these in a box along with three or four resin pirate ships, all of which I acquired via eBay many, many years ago.

I've done quite a bit of pirate gaming in 28mm and also fiddled about with 1/450th scale pirate ship skirmishes a while back, using the Peter Pig ships and Galleys and Galleons (I really should paint up the models and have another go at this). Anyway, I really liked the piratical scenarios that Chris has written for Sharp Practice and quite fancy giving them a try with the 15mm figures, especially as I'm never, ever going to do 28mm Napoleonics or the like!

Wednesday 27 December 2017

Atlantic Wall Doelan

I've been to this little fishing port many times and have posted before about the defensive fortifications on the headland but, having found a diagram of the layout of bunkers, machine gun positions and casemates, I thought it would be a good idea to re-visit. The weather was a bit windy, as you can see in the photos, but the layout of the defensive positions was very clear and tied in very well with the diagram based on plans from 1944. This would be a great terrain feature and objective for a commando raid, so I am thinking once again about my stalled Achtung Kommando! project, perhaps for a re-boot in 2018 using Where Sten Guns Dare?   

You can see my previous post, in somewhat less inclement weather, here:

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Magasin de Presse

I've been raiding the newsagent again but the haul of wargame related swag hasn't been so good this time round. I did find a couple of decent magazines, however, so it wasn't a total washout. As well as the usual copy of Vae Victis, which has a nice after action report of a Bolt Action! French Indochina game, I picked up the latest edition of Los! 

This has a great article on S-Boat development and camouflage, as well as a cracking article on the destroyer action at Narvik. There's also a detailed overview of Mers el Kebir and a feature on the Dutch Fleet Air Arm contribution to the Battle of the Atlantic, which I had never heard about before. 

It's a very interesting read and there really is loads of stuff for naval and air wargaming packed in this edition. The S-Boat stuff is great for my coastal warfare project, while the Mers el Kebir and Narvik articles are spot on for Victory at Sea or Naval Thunder. I can even pinch some scenario ideas for Bag the Hun using Dutch Swordfish against U Boats!

Monday 25 December 2017

Slowly Digesting

I have managed to survive the marathon blow out that a five hour Christmas lunch represents here in Brittany, but only just. I won't go into the gory gastronomic details* but there were six courses and it lasted from twelve until about half past six, if you include the drinkies at the beginning and the chocolates at the end. I kid you not. It will probably take about forty eight hours for me to recover, if not an entire fortnight, even though I was pacing myself and avoided the mother in laws efforts to belay me with extra portions.

Anyway, I've been trying to digest not only the food but also the contents of the latest TFL Special, with a particular focus on the Bag the Hun articles which are my 'thing' more than some of the other features. There's an interesting article by Nick Skinner on aerial gaming and the potential within the Bag the Hun system for various theatres of war to be recreated. Nothing spectacular but I really enjoyed his take on the origins of air wargaming and the role of roleplaying in Bag the Hun itself. There's a couple of good scenarios too, one for North Africa and one for the Russian Front, both of which I will have a look at as potential club games.

Personally, I thought Bag the Hun had dropped off the TFL radar recently but clearly they are trying to give it a bit of a re-boot? Anyway, as always there's a load of additional stuff to browse through so this Xmas Special comes highly recommended, even if air wargaming isn't your cup of tea! Got to go now as the mother in law has just announced that it's supper time.....

*Drinks, canapes, more drinks, oysters, crevette, shrimps, winkles, salmon, more drinks, foie gras, toast, more drinks, turkey, roast potatoes, peas, stuffing, more drinks, cheese, bread, salad, more drinks, Xmas log dessert thing, same drinks but more of them, coffee, biscuits, chocolates......but no wafer thin mints.

Sunday 24 December 2017

Saturday 23 December 2017

Holiday Reading

I thought I'd do some background reading for the Lion Rampant War of the Roses project, so have started with From Wakefield to Towton, as a general introduction to the first phase of the conflict up to 1461. I read quite a few books on this a couple of years ago but my subject knowledge is a bit rusty to say the least!

Friday 22 December 2017

TFL Xmas Special

This slipped under the radar recently and, having taken a look at the contents on the TFL website, I may well fork out not quite seven quid for a copy. There's a couple of Bag the Hun scenarios and an accompanying article that look interesting, which was a surprise as BTH2 has been overshadowed by more recent TFL 28mm skirmish rules. There's also some other things that I might find a use for, so it should be a good bit of post-Turkey reading.

Thursday 21 December 2017

Lion Rampant Retinue Commanders

I realised that I don't have any figures suitable as commanders for my Lion Rampant War of the Roses retinue project, so I have bought a single sprue of mounted men at arms from a seller on eBay to fill the gap. I suppose I could have just bought a couple of packs of metal command figures direct from Perry Miniatures but, in keeping with the plastic fantastic theme, I thought it would be more fun to use the do it yourself option. I only need a couple of figures for each side, so this will be just the job!

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Lion Rampant Retinues

I found my notes that I compiled when I was planning a War of the Roses retinue for Lion Rampant a couple of years ago. This has given me lots of options for the holiday project to glue together a load of Perry War of the Roses plastic figures for a small local force engaged in the habitual foraging, raiding and skirmishing that took place through the winter months. If I get a move on, I might even get a couple of 24 point retinues assembled and based, although that's a bit of a long shot.

I also had a look at an article by Dan Mersey in which he suggested putting together a retinue from the late Hundred Years War c1415-1429, using just one box of Perry English bows, bills and men at arms. I thought this was a great idea but, as I'm in France over the Xmas break it might not go down so well with the mother in law. I ordered a box of figures via eBay anyway, as I can't let a good idea go to waste!

Tuesday 19 December 2017

MiG Alley USAF Decal Dry Run

I have started adding the Dom's Decals insignia to the 1/600th scale USAF aircraft, with a tentative trio of a couple of F-84 Twin Mustang night fighters and a lone T-6 Texan FAC. This was about all I managed to do before I began to freeze solid in the garage, so the Sabres, Thunderjets and Shooting Stars will have to wait a bit longer. The photos make it look like I'm a really sloppy painter, which isn't too far from the truth, but the splashes and over painting really can't be seen from even a short distance away (honest!). I also sorted out the MiG-15's and a second Texan FAC aircraft, as I need two of those to operate as a loose pair in MiG Alley. I'm off out to a Xmas concert now so no more decaling in an arctic garage tonight!

Monday 18 December 2017

MiG Alley USAF Progress

I finished painting the various 1/600th scale Tumbling Dice USAF aircraft for MiG Alley and Bag the MiG yesterday, so I now only need to add the decals to complete the first instalment of the project. It's too cold at the workbench to do the decals tonight, so I plan to tackle them at some point later in the week. Once I have done that, I can start on the North Korean contingent of MiG-15's, Il-10's, Tu-2's and Yak-9's, although I may just concentrate on the MiG's to speed things up a bit. I really want to get started on the USN / USMC aircraft but these should wait until I complete the opposition, otherwise the project will be a bit lopsided!

Sunday 17 December 2017

Xmas Holiday Project

It's less than a week to my Xmas holidays, so I've been planning a little assembly and basing project to take with me to the in laws over in Brittany. I've been doing this sort of thing in the summer holidays for a few years and have amassed quite a lot of based but as yet unpainted lead as a result.  It's a good way to get things ready for the day when I have the time to actually sit down and paint them!

This Xmas, I thought I'd finally tackle the Lion Rampant project that I've been promising to do for a couple of years, namely the War of the Roses. I have decided to do this in 28mm rather than 15mm, against my better judgement, solely due to the plastic Perry box sets of infantry and cavalry that I can assemble in the Xmas holidays with minimal faffing about. All the cold weather recently has inspired me to paint them up in a winter theme, if I can actually get them ready to go.

All I need to bring with me is a craft knife, some files, emery boards and plastic glue, with washers as bases to give the figures some much needed weight. The plan is to put together at least one retinue and possibly two, using the plastic longbow men, men at arms and light cavalry box sets that I've accumulated ready for the project, only needing to find a suitable window of opportunity. I'm hoping to begin painting them at some point in January-February, if I actually get them done.

Wish me luck!

Saturday 16 December 2017

Crom Christmas

It was pay day yesterday so time for the customary weekly wargames purchase, which is something to look forward to after a whole week of work but strictly limited to a maximum of twenty quid, so that I don't blow the wages on spur of the minute 'ooh shiny' stuff! This week I decided to make good on a promise I made to myself back in the summer, to get hold of a pdf of the Crom fantasy skirmish rules from Matakishi's Workshop.

This was inspired by the excellent 15mm figures and terrain now being produced by Crom's Anvil, including the games that have been written up on the website:

I don't know if I'll ever get round to doing this myself, although I'm sorely tempted by the Copplestone Castings 15mm fantasy range, but at least I'll have the rules and the supplement to flick through and some ideas to think about over the Xmas holidays. I really like the idea of scaling down to 15mm for skirmish games and think it's definitely the way forward for my gaming plans in 2018.

Thursday 14 December 2017

Osprey Military History Hardbacks

I was in Southampton today for a fieldwork trip and, in the lunch break, decided to pop into The Works. As a result, I now have two very glossy Osprey hardback books, the first on trench warfare on the Western Front and the second on the German Army in WW2. Both are compilations of previous books with new text and additional photographs, maps, diagrams and artwork, much of which is very good indeed. Excellent material for wargaming and not bad for a grand total of £17!


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