Wednesday, 31 December 2008

HLBS - Rapid Service

There are rumours that Honourable Lead Boiler Suit Company are going to discontinue their 28mm ranges as the 40mm is doing better. Consequently I decided to pop an order in on Monday for some of their Great White North figures for my Northern Russian Expedition project.

I was somewhat surprised to have a package arrive on my doorstep this morning with the figures enclosed. Well done HLBS, noice figures, nicely packaged and amazingly fast service!

Tuesday, 30 December 2008

Wargames Weekend Planning

With another weekend of wargaming fast approaching I am starting to put together the scenarios, figures and terrain for the three games I'll be putting on. Assuming everything goes to plan it will be three Nuts! based games with an Irish War of Independence game, a scenario from Atacar es Vencer! (Spanish Civil War) and one from Peiper at the Gates (WW2).

Those three will allow me to get my Musketeer Miniatures IWI and Anglian SCW figures (both by Paul Hicks) to the table for the first time and my Artizan/BAM WW2 winter figures once again. I am currently in the process of basing the former, writing the IWI scenario (based on a real life encounter - I can't give too much away as it will spoil the surprise for Lenin) and converting another Crossley tender along with doing the necessary conversion to the SCW scenario so that it fits with Nuts!

The trouble with only three game slots is that I have loads of ideas which I can't fit in!

Saturday, 27 December 2008

1938: A Very British Civil War - The Source Book

Having spotted various posts on the Gentleman's Wargames Parlour on a British Civil War in an alternative 1930's and having an interest in the inter-war period this booklet was a must.

Solway Crafts and Miniatures have published the source book by Dr Rob Jones, Steven Mortimore and Simon Douglas and are making it available through their eBay shop. The 48 page booklet is glossy with colour photographs and illustations throughout (although the resolution of some of the images could have been better - a little blurry for my liking).

The source book, which is not rules specific, provides a background for an alternative history where Edward VIII did not abdicate and caused a constitutional crisis leading to a civil war. The run up to the conflict is nicely laid out and then short sections are included on each of the various factions covering their organisation, arms & equipment, uniforms and rule possibilities. These are then followed by 10 scenarios, a couple of pages of just photos, suggestions for figures and a quick "Over to You" section.

This is a fascinating period of history and the booklet provides a background and sufficient information for a few games; however, it clear the intent is to provide a jumping off point for gamers to develop their own specific ideas focussed on their own particular areas of interest.

I did find the sections on each faction are a little repetitive in places but the inclusion of illustations for the various flags and banners was a lovely touch and the photos, which are mainly of painted 28mm figures certainly demonstrate the possibilities.

I really enjoyed the ideas included in the source book and it has certainly got me thinking about gaming in the 1938 world. I found the book provided just enough information for me to make it useable (give me the kick start I would need to actually get a game to the table) but no so much as to constrain any creative ideas of your own.

If you are looking for an alternative to the historical conflicts of the period and would like something closer to home then this may be the book for you. It retails for £10.99 plus £1.50 P&P.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Projects for the New Year

As Christmas approaches I start pondering new projects for the coming New Year. Notwithstanding that I have quite a bit of work to complete my 2008 projects (basing and painting mostly) I like to give some thought to more unpainted lead (which will ensure my survival if the wargaming myths are true!).

I'm hoping to finish off my outstanding 2008 projects between Christmas and New Year to clear the decks for something new. Of course it may be a little while before these have all seen a decent amount of table time but that's certainly true of most of my collection. Currently on the workbench are:

28mm Winter War
The Finns are now completed and have seen the table. I have finished one of the two BAM houses I bought and so the other needs painting. I just have the Russians to base and a FoA Gaz truck to paint. Of course I'll need a few more vehicles if I want to represent a decent Motti.

28mm SCW
All the figures are now painted and just need basing (I've still to settle on a basing style I'm happy with - and I need to consider one of my proposed 2009 projects there). I have sufficient Grand Manner buildings for a decent sized village (although I really would like their church) and I have a couple of armoured cars to paint to go with a softskins I picked up from eBay.

28mm WW1
The early war French and Germans have already seen the table and I only have to base up a few more figures to finish enough to cover all the scenarios in my SkirmishCampaigns booklet. Most of the late war are done withe the exception of the French (which only need basing) but I have a few additional figures and support weapons to base and the artillery to assemble and paint.

28mm Irish War of Independence
All the original Musketeer figures I bought are now painted and based. I have almost finished the first Crossley tender conversion (from a die cast) and now I think I have the hang of it I'll give the second a go. The I just have the Sloppy Jalopy armoured car to assemble and paint (although, having looked at it, I think the FoA vehicles were an awful lot easier to put together)

28mm Tudor Irish
These have been languishing in a box for a little while now. The figures are all painted with only pikes to be added and basing to be finished but I am still awaiting the inspiration for the rules!

Which, now I think about it, may be a tall order to get done by the end of the month but I'll give it a go. So on to 2009, here's what I've been thinking about:

28mm Early WW2(ish)
I've always had an interest in the early part of the Second World War and have been toying with this as a 28mm project to complement the 15mm range I've already been working on. I think I'll probably start with some Crusader Germans to go with the Foundry figures I already have. Along with these I'll probably get some of their British too. This will give me some flexibility as I would like to explore some alternative history options with them as well as the more mainstream games. Operation Sealion and the possible (as opposed to probably) aftermath are of particular interest. But I have also been attracted to the various discussions of a Civil War in Britain before the war which would allow me to reuse some of my IWI and SCW troops too.

28mm Wild West
Having come a little late to the attractions of Deadwood I have rekindled by interest in the Wild West. I originally got into the period through the Dixon range but have always hankered after some character figures. I have now settled on the Brigade Games range and have picked a few of their's up (no prizes for guessing why I picked them). I suspect I'll use Six Gun Sound from Two Hour Wargames as the rules (the original set rather than Blaze of Glory).

28mm Polar Bear Expedition
I've been thinking about this one for a while and the demise of the HLBS 28mm line is likely to prompt me to get the figures. It will be another period for my snow terrain mat anyway. I'm hoping that Santa might be kind a give me some reference reading for this one which will spur me on.

28mm Greek Myth
Lenin already has the Foundry and Eureka figures I plan to use for this and we have tried the Typhon rules once before and they showed some promise. I am currently reading David Gemmell's last book (the thrid in the series on Troy) which is putting me in the mood for some ancients!

Of course there are a number of ongoing projects which really need moving toward completion (or at least table time) including 15mm colonial, 28mm gothic horror, 28mm Pulp and 25mm SF to name but a few...

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Figure Review: Brigade and Bolt Action Finns

As you may have noticed from the last Wargaming Weekend post I have already had an opportunity to get 28mm Winter War Finns to the table. Lenin has, again, made a super job of the figures and I thought it would be an idea to do a quick post on them. I have also posted some comparison shots below with the unpainted figures.

The figures are pretty compatible from a scale perspective (as you can see from the comparison shot of the officers); however, the Brigade Games figures are in full winter gear and the Bolt Action Miniatures ones are in the M36 tunics.

I was slightly worried that the Brigade winter gear would come out a little bland but they have sufficient definition for dry brushing to bring out enough of the detail to make them work.

Both sets of figures work well with my Baker Company Finns which I picked up from eBay which are also in winter gear; however, I do prefer the Brigade figures to the Bake Co ones as the poses and detail are better in my opinion.

The BAM Bofors anti-tank gun comes with its own resin base.

Finn Infantry Command/winter gear

(Unfortunately there was 1 figure missing from this pack originally but Lon from Brigade popped it in the post as soon as I told him)

Finn Infantry /winter gear I

and here's a comparison of the Brigade officer against the one from the Bolt Action command pack:

More photos can be found in my Picasa web album by clicking on the link below:

The Wargame Shed - Figure Review No. 7

All in all I am very pleased with both ranges as they provide a nice variety for my Winter War and Continuation War skirmish games.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Peiper At The Gates

Two Hour Wargames have just released Peiper at the Gates a scenario book and mini campaign for their Nuts! WW2 rules. The booklet was written by Darby Eckles, who was responsible for FNG Vietnam rules, and covers the Ardennes offensive by the Germans in December 1944, often known as the Battle of the Bulge.

The booklet is 42 pages in black and white with a colour front and back cover and contains a brief introduction, additional rules, tips for playing solo and 11 scenarios. Judging from the maps the ground scale of the scenarios does vary somewhat with some being nicely compact and some rather larger in scope. Each scenario has a brief background, the scenario description, objectives, setup (which is based on rolling on various tables for forces), which special rules are in operation, map notes and the impact of results on subsequent scenarios.

The booklet is clearly intended to provide a player with a small campaign for a US squad which can move from scenario to scenario.

Since I am planning to play this using my 28mm Artizan/BAM figures on a 6 x 4 table I was a little concerned that some of the scenarios did look a little larger in scope than I could cram on my table without it looking absurdly cramped; however, the notes in the booklet do indicate the maps are intended to be indicative rather than prescriptive. Of slight;y more concern is the likelihood of a significant number and variety of vehicles finding their way into the various games. At 20mm, or even 15mm, this would be less of an issue by at 28mm the availability and cost of vehicles is something that is a serious constraint. The Americans can have jeep, half track, M8, M4 (75 or 76) and/or M10 depending on the relevant rolls. The Germans could have SdKfz 234, 251 (with or without IG), Pz IVH, Panther or Tiger II. So I may have to limit the possibilities to the vehicles I actually have available (or this could become somewhat expensive!).

Overall, the booklet is an interesting read and looks like it should produce some challenging games (the solo options using Nuts! also make it more likely to see an outing) and the additional rules look to add some nice period flavour.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Winter War: 2009 Calendar

I spotted this calendar on one of the Yahoo Groups I'm on and then again on TMP. It's a print on demand through Lulu and might be considered a little pricey but I justified it on the basis that I was interested in the photos and it supports the Armour Guild which is a non-profit organisation and supports the Parola Tank Museum.

The calendar contains 13 black and white photographs of Winter War armour (huge surprise there!) with explanatory captions. Being print on demand there are a couple of areas where the formatting could be a little better - top lines of captions cut off at the top and the hole (for hanging it up) going through others. But it does contain useful Winter War info on the relevant dates through the year which is interesting.

Hardly an essential buy and certainly too expensive for some (at 16 Euros) plus postage but worth a look if you're interested in the period.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

First Impressions: Sharp Practice

Sharp Practice are a set of Napoleonic skirmish rules from the TooFatLardies. We've only given them a single outing so this isn't intended to be a review but rather a few initial thoughts.

The strapline for Sharp Practice "Wargames Rules for large skirmishes in the Black Powder era" starts to give you an indication as to whom these rules are aimed. The nearly 70 page booklet is a combination of rules and background information which is obviously heavily influenced by the Napoleonic period and in particular Bernard Cornwell's eponimous hero from the Sharpe series of books. The rules themselves are geared around individually based figures but not in the 1 figure=1 man sense as with TW&T or IABSM. Rather they are intended to be more representative to enable variable sized games to be played.

The origins of several of the rule mechanics can easily be seen if you are familiar with any of the other rules from the Lardies' stable. The card based activation system is present along with Big Men from IABSM along with additional initiative cards similar to those found in TW&T and the combat system bears more than a superficial resemblence to Triumph of the Will. Notwithstanding the clear Lardies heritage these are not a simple repackaging; quite some thought has gone into the "feel" of the game and the combination of formations and background information on tactics and manouvers means these are a decent enough read.

Our first game suffered from the usual hiccups relating to learning a new rule set and we had, perhaps, less figures than might have been idea to test out its full scope; but we came away thinking that these are worth persevering with (something a lot of rules have failed to do after the first game).

Once we've given them another couple of outings I will feel confident to post a full review.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

Gaming Weekend

Last weekend Lenin popped over for one of his regular quarterly visits and we managed to get a few games in.

Winter War - The Church Village

We tried out one of the smaller scenarios in the SkirmishCampaigns Winter War booklet using a mixture of 28mm Brigade, Bolt Action and Baker Company Finns and Lenin's Copplestone RCW figures standing in for the Soviets (my Bolt Action ones should be ready soon).

The variable attachments meant that the Soviets added an additional squad to their base two and the Finns gained an HMG and assault squad.

The scenario also gave me an excuse to paint up one of my Bolt Action Eastern Front houses and an Anglian T26 (which, unfortunately, didn't hit the table as it was one of the other variable attachments).

The first challenge was to convert the SkirmishCampaigns statistics to Nuts! which are our preferred skirmish rules. The approach we adopted was a straightforward conversion using the full Rep range from 2 to 6 with exceptional leaders getting additional attributes. With this particular scenario that meant the Soviets were all Rep 2 including the officers (other than the Commissar - which Lenin wasn't lucky enough to get as a variable attachment). Whilst the result was probably not unrealistic it did make the game a little one sided as the Finn's Reps were significantly higher.

Nevertheless the game was fun as the Soviets were dug in around the church but it did make us want to rethink the conversion system.

Modern - Lebanon
Next up was a 15mm game using one of the TooFatLardies new supplements for their Troops Weapons & Tactics rules - Rock the Casbah. We'd previously tried TW&T and, whilst we like I Ain't Been Shot, Mum (from which they're derived), we thought TW&T added complexity but without adding extra enjoyment. Consequently, Lenin adapted one of the scenarios for FNG.

The Israeli column was exceptionally lucky as, despite being ambushed several times, none of the RPGs fired at the vehicles actually hit. Had they done so then, under FNG, the occupants would most probably have been Out of the Fight.

Given that the period is a favourite of Lenin's (he owns it in a large variety of scales) I think this will be one which will be hitting the table again.

Modern - Blackboots on the Beat
We followed up with another 15mm game using a new Lardies supplement, this time B'Maso. This time Lenin decided to stick with the Lardies rules and used I Ain't Been Shot, Mum. Using Peter Pig figures and vehicles, the scenario featured the British South Africa Police investigating a suspicious incident at Mr Patel's Wondermart.

Of course the BSAP were ambushed and (mainly owing to initially playing the straight IABSM rules rather than the B'Maso variant - Doh!) they took rather substantial casualties. Having concentrated the whole force to see off a few insurgents the BSAP lost one of the vehicles to a landmine and spent the rest of the game chasing the oppostion across the board.

It was a fun game that warrants more plays (especially using the right rules!)

Great War - Rommel's Route to Verdun: Recon at Cosnes
Back to 28mm for our fifth game and the second to use a SkirmishCampaigns booklet, this time Rommel's Route to Verdun. I plan to play all the scenarios in this booklet in sequence over coming weekends as they're all just the right size for a good Nuts! game.

This scenario game me a chance to get our my new early war Germans and French from Renegade. In this case only two small sections of Germans against a single larger one of French. We used the same conversion approach was with our earlier Winter War game and, whilst the Reps weren't quite as extreme, it did reinforce our view that we need to revisit the conversion.

As the Reps were a little closer, the game wasn't quite such a walkover. Although the Germans did get the variable attachment which meant that both their officers were Rep 6! Of course the other issue is converting turns to Nuts! - we settled on using activations and counting only the successful ones for both sides with the limit being that both had to have the requiste amount.

Napoleonic - Blunte's Village
Next up was a Napoleonic skirmish during the Peninsular campaign in 28mm. I'd just picked up a copy of the Lardies latest new rules, Sharp Practice and also wanted to give my new Grand Manner buildings an outing.

The scenario was a bit spur of the moment and the Big Men were rolled randomly from the rules. Basically an advance party of the 95th Rifles under Lieutenant Blunte had secured the little village of San Guano (after which the infamous Banana Republic was named) and had to hold it against all comers until relieved.

In the end Blunte didn't live up to his normal reputation and actually saw off the French!

Whilst we weren't using all the optional rules (e.g. no bonus deck) it did give us a decent initial view of the rules (I'll probably post a more fuller description of my first thoughts later) and left us thinking that we should try them again with more figures.

Aegypt - Temple of the Skull
Our final game was another 28mm one but quite, quite different from the others. Lenin put on an excellent Aegyptian game using the new fantasy rules from Rattrap - Broadsword Adventures. As with the other Rattrap rules these are designed to work on small tables (2 x 2') with only a few figures and loads of terrain.

I suspect it was also an excuse to use his catgirls! The game played very well despite the lack of ranged weapons (quite a departure from the usual Rattrap scenarios) and the scenery looked great.

I suspect we will be using the Broadsword Adventures rules again in the future in preference to our usual Savage Worlds.

I've posted a few photos of all the games in a Picasa album:

Gaming Weekend - Sep 08

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Wargaming Weekend Preparation

With another of our quarterly weekends of gaming rapidly approaching, I'm in the process of planning a few games and putting together the kit required. This time around my three games have a bit of a Nuts! theme to them but will, I hope, be quite different.

The first will be the start of a series of games from the SkirmishCampaigns book Rommel's Route to Verdun. This will allow me to give my Renegade early WW1 28mm figures an outing. I managed to put together the terrain I need but will, for the moment, be using a card house rather than a more substantial resin items (largely 'cos I haven't got one!). Obviously the scenario has to be adapted for Nuts! and this will be a good chance to see if the approach Lenin and I have discussed works.

Next in line will be a Winter War scenario, another from the SkirmishCampaigns series albeit this time selected on the basis of the troops available. We'll be making do with Lenin's Civil War Russians as stand ins pending the arrival of my Bolt Action figures (which I hope will get an outing next time) along with a mix of BAM, Brigade and Baker Company Finns. My Anglian T26 might also see the light of day but that will depend on how the variable attachments rolls goes for the Soviets.

As to game number three, it's a bit of a toss up between the Irish War of Independence and Spanish Civil War as I have new figures I'm just in the process of basing for both. I suspect I'll probably plump for the latter as it will give me an excuse to get out my new Grand Manner buildings. This will be another experiment as I'll be using some suggested Reps from the THW Yahoo Group which are rather lower than we're used to using so that should be interesting.

I don't think Lenin has settled on his games as yet but I think something using one of the Rattrap rule sets is likely.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

First Look: Thebes

We managed to get Thebes to the table a couple of days ago for the first time. As with Shogun, the other Queen Games product I have, the production quality is excellent. The theme is turn of the 20th Century archaeology with the players travelling around Europe, the Mediterranean and the mid-East researching ancient civilisations, conducting excavations and then exhibiting their finds.

There are a couple of novel mechanics which fit in very well. The "currency" of the game is time with each action taking a varying amount and the players' counters being moved along the time track appropriately (the game is played over 3 years with time measured in weeks). The key being that the player who has used the least time acting first. This mechanism works really well with valuable research actions taking a long time. The second mechanic relates to excavations with each civilisation having a different selection of artefacts tokens and blank tokens placed in separate bags. When you carry out an excavation you count up the amount of knowledge you have about the relevant civilisation and then decide how many weeks to dig for. By consulting a nicely produced little wheel you determine how many tokens you may draw (unseen) from the bag. The blank ones are then returned making subsequent visits progressively less likely to find anything.

With nice production, a well integrated theme and not too much complexity, Thebes turns out to have been a good choice - it got the thumbs up from my wife which is always a good sign.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Birthday Bounty

Thanks to the excessive, and very much appreciated, generosity of my relatives I netted a fair haul on my birthday. It included a couple of Ospreys on World War 1 trench warfare which will make interesting reading and, hopefully, provide food for thought for my growing collection of 28mm WW1 figures. It also included a couple of useful references on the Polish-Soviet War, the Irish War of Independence and Homage to Catalonia by George Orwell, all of which will fill my reading hours for the next few months!

Along with the books I was fortunate to get a couple of new games. Firstly, there's one to play with my daughter - Wallamoppi - an interesting looking dexterity game whether the timer is a ball-bearing track built into the wooden box. Secondly, there's one to play with my wife and friends - Thebes - a euro from Queen Games with an archaeological theme. And finally, there one pure wargame - Europe Engulfed - not sure when I'll have the 7-14 hours I'll need to play it but, having looked in the box, I'm going to try to make it happen sooner rather than later!

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Battle of Fredericksburg

The weekend saw a reunion with some old gaming buddies and a day long re-fight of part of the Battle of Fredericksburg using 15mm figures (including my own) and Fire and Fury. I was allocated the role of Darius Couch commanding a corps containing French's, Hancock's and Howard's divisions. I was to assault the confederates behind the stone wall opposite and take Marye's heights behind them. Unfortunately, lady luck was not shining on me, as I only managed to roll over 5 in combat two times in I don't know how many melees. Although I did get over the wall twice, on each occasion the rebs managed to through me back and, in the end, with only one unit not spent I was forced to withdraw.

The Union forces as the other end of the table had varying fortunes but put the confederates under considerable pressure and, at one point, actually managed to cut the road to their rear (another of of our objectives).

The game ended in a pretty bloody draw with both troops and players pretty worn!

I managed to forget to take my camera (doh!) but here are a couple of photos courtesy of Uncle Del:

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

New KaiserRushforth Trays

Having spotted the new 40 slot trays from KaiserRushforth and needing a new box for my Anglian Spanish Civil War figures I ordered one with the new trays. Here are some pictures comparing the new tray to the existing 36 slot one.

First the two trays side by side (new one on the left):

Then close ups of the slots:

I've stuck with the 32mm deep trays and it's clear that unless you're storing spear armed figures or chaos spiky bits then the 40 slot trays are worth considering.

Saturday, 21 June 2008

Workbench Update

I thought I'd just post a few pictures of what I'm currently working on. They're mostly vehicles I picked up at Salute from Anglian and Force of Arms but I'm also trying to convert a Matchbox Crossley die cast.


Sunday, 15 June 2008

Figure Review: Bolt Action and Artizan WW2 US Infantry

As you may have noticed from my earlier post Lenin brought my 28mm late WW2 US figures over last weekend. They are a mixture of Bolt Action Miniatures and Artizan Designs figures the latter from their greatcoats range. The two ranges are both interesting and well sculpted, and they mix very well (as you can see from one of the pictures I have included in the album.
The Wargame Shed - Figure Review No. 6

I also included a picture of the Bolt Action German panzer crew which may be useful if I ever get my Panther or Tiger as reinforcements and they fall foul of one of bazookas!

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Grand Manner Latin/Hispanic Buildings

I decided to pick up a couple of Grand Manner resin buildings for use with my Peninsular and SCW figures. Given my limited painting skills I opted to get the painted to a "wargames standard". Here are the results (with a couple of Front Rank figures included for scale):
Grand Manner Latin/Hispanic Buildings

I reckon they're pretty nice!

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Gaming Weekend

Lenin paid a visit last weekend and we managed to get quite a few miniatures games in. Here's a brief summary and some photos:

Late WW2 Nuts!

Keen to use the Artizan and Bolt Action figures which Lenin has kindly painted for me, along with my new Terrain Mat I put on a late WW2 game using Two Hour Wargames' Nuts! rules. We hadn't previously used the reinforcement mechanisms and so we were keen to test those out too. This was a recon mission with the US advancing from the woods into the town and the Germans in defensive positions. In the end it was a US victory with the Germans withdrawing but it certainly showed that the rules work well. The terrain was mostly Eslo and Terrascenic.

Hour of Glory

Next out Lenin put together Warm Acre's Hour of Glory which he had bought as a download. We used my Wargames Foundry German infantry as the defenders and the Warm Acre Rachael Knight figures for Lenin's single raider. In the end it was very close with Lenin conceding that he couldn't get the last bit of intelligence he needed in the last couple of minutes but it had been a tight game.

Clash of Patrols in Belleau Wood

Next up was another Nuts! game, this time late WW1 with USMC and German patrols clashing in Belleau Wood. This was really intended to get my WW1 figures on to the table and to see how Nuts! performs when there aren't any automatic weapons. For some reason in the WW2 game we hadn't paid much attention to casualties and were just taking the "Out of the Fight" figures off the table. In this game we decided to be a little more realistic and make sure we moved those troops back to safety. This gave the game a completely different flavour and the rules worked well even without automatic weapons - so they'll be our rules of choice for this earlier period too.

Gloire in Old Japan

Lenin put together a "3 Act" game using the Rattrap Productions Gloire rules but applied to medieval Japan. It was a bit of a departure for Lenin as not only did the game not have any firearms (which is pretty unusual) but there weren't any ranged weapons at all! The style of play fitted nicely with the Rattrap approach and again the 2' x 2' playing space makes the games efficient and economical. It did, however, give Lenin a chance to use some JJD walls he had recently painted (very nicely too!). With a little more cosmetic modifications (appropriate sword fighting styles and the like) I think he's on to a winner here.

Seconds Away WW3!

Two Hour Wargames' rules got another outing with our next game which was a nice mix of both our figures and terrain. Set in the latter part of the 20th Century and following a coup in the Soviet Union the Russians launch a conventional first strike. In this case they dropped paratroops to capture a weapons storage facility in West Germany housing tactical nuclear weapons. Guarding the facility is a section of TA. As might be expected the Rep 3 & 4 TA didn't last terribly long against the Rep 5 & 6 Russian paratroops. Fortunately, help soon arrived in the form of a section of Paras who were a better match for the Russians. Not only was this another good test of the reinforcement rules but it also demonstrated that the reaction based rules work very well when everyone has automatic weapons. It also gave some clear indications as to how varied Reps would perform when pitched against each other - I do have my reservations about Rep 6 though (but maybe that's just me!)

Solomon Kane and the Dark Continent

Our final big game was simply an opportunity for me to use my Solomon Kane figure. In a scenario loosely based on the Moon of Skulls we pitched a lone Kane against a table full of faithful followers of the Vampire Queen in an attempt to rescue the maiden. Using the stats from the Savage World of Solomon Kane our Kane cut through the tribal warriors like a hot knife through butter. In the end the Vampire Queen had to barter the maiden for her own survival and Kane left triumphant - of course the Vampire Queen isn't dead...

Gaming Weekend - Jun 08

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Terrain Mat - Nice product, Customer Service needs work

Having used Lenin's desert Terrain Mat, I decided it would be a good solution to my snow terrain dilemma. I put an order in via the website for a 5' x 7' snow mat, suitable for 25mm figures, on 24th March. I got a confirmation email and then started to wait.

On 18th April I got my credit card bill and found that I had been charged the full cost of the mat on 24th March (something that wasn't mentioned on the website). As I hadn't heard anything from them since the order confirmation I decided to drop them an email to get a progress update. I got an email back two days later saying "We are completing the end of March orders at the moment so we should be ready to send next week or the following." OK, I thought as these things are made to order, although it would have been nice if I hadn't had to chase them; however, the email also said "Please make sure you are at home when package arrives as you can be charged £12.00 for a further delivery attempt." Now this was quite a surprise, it wasn't something that had been mentioned on the website (I subsequently discovered it's part of the terms the couriers they use applies and he has to use a courier as the Royal Mail won't take the tubes as they're too big!). So I carried on waiting patiently.

On the 1st May I got an email stating that "Items are in manufacture. Once items are in manufacture it is usually 1 week to dispatch." But it wasn't until 15th May that I got an email requesting confirmation of the delivery details. At that stage I gave them a call to confirm the delivery information and the chap on the other end was quite friendly and open about the issues they've had with sending the mats. The delivery is on a guaranteed 3 day arrangement (of course that's 3 working days as the couriers won't deliver at weekends) and so I had to make arrangements for someone to be in or leave instructions as to where they could deliver to avoid the redelivery charge. The mat was eventually delivered on 21st May just three days shy of two months after I ordered it.

Now obviously there's the issue of them charging for something they didn't even start to make until six weeks later but my main gripe is the lack of information. If most of this stuff had been made plain on the website I would have factored it into my expectations. I know this tends to be a cottage industry but when you're spending over £70 including postage I don't think it's unreasonable to be told what to expect. Anyway, enough of the customer service and on to the product.

The mat is made from a black fabric base, similar to some of those weed membranes you get for the garden, with a coating applied to it and texture and colour applied to the top. This does mean it is flexible but the coating does come loose in small areas, I had this within minutes of getting mine out of the tube. It doesn't currently distract from the overall effect but does give me some concerns about long term durability.

I must say that the mat looks nice on the table and, with the appropriate items put under it, provides the undulating look I was hoping for. Here are a couple of photos with some Artizan late war Germans (painted by Lenin) and a Corgi die cast Panther from their skirmish range:

I will be using the mat in anger next weekend for a gaming session and it will be seeing a few more outings as I start to progress my Winter War project so I'll post more photos and updates on how it performs over time.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

What's wrong with the Royal Mail?

I just went down to the sorting office today to pick up a package that they had tried to deliver yesterday. This wouldn't be out of the ordinary but this package was posted 2 1/2 weeks ago recorded delivery! What is the Royal Mail coming to, only 1 delivery each day at some indeterminate time, no specified time for collections from post boxes, packages going missing, won't take large packages, no idea when stuff is going to arrive and to cap it all they've put their postage charges up and now their handling charge is up to £8!

What's more disappointing is that I now don't have any confidence that something I post will arrive. It used to be that the Royal Mail had a really good reputation but it seems to me that has gone and they've simply lost the plot.

So effectively we're getting a worse service and paying more for it - come on Royal Mail you can do better than this!

Great Service again from the WCP

I picked up some Brigade late WW1 French, German and USMC figures from The Wargames Command Post and, once again, the service was great. Unfortunately, Bob didn't have the Skirmish Campaigns book I wanted in stock but offered me a refund or to wait until he gets a restock but the figures were sent out straight away.

The USMC and Germans are a supplement to the figures I already have as, when I originally bought them, I didn't get any MGs.

The French are nice figures, which on its own would be reason for getting them, which I am intending to use for both WW1 games and as Haller's Blue Army for Russo-Polish War.

Thursday, 22 May 2008

Bolt Action Russian House

My order from Bolt Action arrived this morning. A few packs of early war Russians and two of their resin Russian houses both intended for my Winter War project. I know the architecture probably isn't right but they're the closest I've found so far.

The houses were a little rough around the edges and had plenty of flash (is that the right name when you're talking resin?) in the windows, doorway and around the edges of the roof and the base of the building. Nothing a little filing can't sort though.

The house comes with a white metal door. I'm trying to figure out whether to paint it specifically for winter terrain or if there's some cunning way to make it usable for other seasons.

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Projects Update

The Great War

My WW1 early war French arrived from Renegade on Friday. They're nice figures albeit with a couple with a little more flash than usual but easily cleaned up. Unfortunately, the Osprey I had ordered from Amazon as a painting reference seems to have gone AWOL in the post (is it me or is that happening more than it used to?). Fortunately Amazon are sending me another one so that should be sorted later this week. With the early war Germans that I bought from Renegade these will allow me to play out the scenarios from the SkirmishCampaigns: Rommel's Route to Verdun.

I'm planning a game in a couple of weeks using my Brigade US Marines and late war Germans which will recreate an encounter in Belleau Wood. I plan to use Nuts! from Two Hour Wargames as the rules which will really test out how they work without automatic weapons as there won't be any on the table. I'll report back on this one.


I've been starting to plan out how to get the scenarios from the Russo-Polish War 1919: Battles of the Borderlands to the table. My Brigade late war Germans will be useable again but I'd like to get some of the Brigade later war French which look superb; however, with the cost of postage etc. these are starting to look a little pricey. I'm enquiring as to whether the Wargames Command Post actually have any in stock - if they do then I'll try them as their service has been excellent to date. As to the opposition, Lenin has some beautifully painted Copplestone Bolsheviks who will fit the bill. There are a couple of scenarios which need Polish cavalry and, short of converting the BAM WW2 ones, I may have to improvise there (along with the locomotive and railway trucks needed in one of them!). I've also ordered a copy of Warsaw 1920 by Adam Zamoyski on the recommendation of John from the club.

In an attempt to get the maximum use out of my Brigade late war Germans I've also ordered a copy of Osprey's The German Freikorps 1918-23 which may provide further inspiration! I like my figures to do double or even triple duty (does this make me a cheapskate?)

I'm hoping to see my first SCW and IWI figures back from painting next month (fingers crossed) and in the interim I'm ploughing through Antony Beevor's The Battle for Spain, which is proving quite enlightening to someone with only a passing knowledge of the subject. I also picked up a couple of movies as inspiration for IWI (OK - I know they're not likely to be historically accurate Mr Purist - but hey they're more likely to get the juices flowing, if you'll forgive the expression, than most books) - Michael Collins and The Wind that Shakes the Barley.

Winter War etc.

I'm hoping my snow Terrain Mat will arrive next week, after a bit of a wait (I'll let you know what I think overall when it gets here) and that will allow me to sort out the tree basing and the like. I also need to have another look at the basing of the Bake Company Finns I got from eBay as they aren't terribly "winter". I've ordered a couple of the wooden Russian houses from BAM as they seem to be the best I've seen for ones I can get away with for Finland (and also use for Eastern Front when I get around to that). However, the full game will have to wait until the Brigade and BAM Finns are painted as the Baker Co. ones alone aren't quite enough. I've also ordered some early war Russians from BAM for some of the larger scenarios (that and they look pretty smart!).

I've assembled the Anglian T26 and it went together reasonably well. It is a nicely detailed piece and I'm now going to have to decide which shade of green to use. I'm going to avoid markings as I'd like to use it for SCW too (am I frugal or what?).


Hopefully Lenin will be bringing the Artizan US in greatcoats along in a couple of weeks for a late war winter game (on the Terrain Mat all being well). So I should have some pictures of that out soon afterwards.

I'm still in the planning stage for the Poland 1939 project though (i.e. haven't done much other than got the SkirmishCampaigns booklet and an Osprey).

All in all quite a bit of progress but my wallet is feeling a lot lighter so I may have to go and have a lie down now!

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Swift Service from The Wargames Command Post

I popped an order for a couple of the excellent SkirmishCampaigns books into The Wargames Command Post on Sunday night and low and behold they arrived today! Pretty decent service when you consider that Monday was a Bank Holiday.

Well done Bob - you can be sure of more orders from me in future!

The Northman Cometh

The errant Finn from my Brigade Games order arrived today - thanks to the great service from Lon Weiss (I always think you can tell how good a company is when things don't go smoothly). Here's a picture:

Monday, 5 May 2008

Project Housekeeping

Like most wargamers I have quite a few projects in progress at any one time and which progresses depends on my mood and what inspires me at the time. I've found that for any project to make it to the table I need to satisfy three basic elements - figures, terrain and rules. Without all three most projects will end up in some part finished limbo whilst I search (sometimes in vain) for the missing element.

Figures are often a starting point for my projects. I see some really nicely sculpted figures and they often inspire me to get into a new period. As you can see from my Salute purchases the work of Paul Hicks is currently being pretty influential in my choices. Lets face it the Irish War of Independence isn't exactly a popular choice!

Terrain seldom forms the basis for a new project but it is essential to it's début on the table. I've always liked my games to be visually appealing and skirmish games demand key terrain as either objectives or simply to block line of sight.

Rules are often a stumbling block as without them it doesn't matter how good the figures and terrain looks the game either simply won't work or won't "feel" right. Fortunately my latest projects are mainly early 20th Century skirmish outings and so the Two Hour Wargames CR2.0/Nuts! system is ideal. For larger games, particularly for earlier periods, I have found you need to have a bespoke rule set to get the proper feel for any period. And just to reiterate the dawn of time to 1485 is NOT a single period!

So what have I got on the go at the moment, in no particular order (does that say something?):

(1) Early WW1: My Renegade purchases (British and Germans) are off to be painted and I'm now planning to expand into French (well, who can resist les pantalons rouge?). My usual practice is to try to make sure at least some of the figures are usable in some other games and so it is with the Brits and Germans who will, with the addition of some German rocket troops, form the basis of some VSF (or ESF to me more precise!). As to terrain, I'm hoping that by avoiding the trenches I can utilise some of the existing terrain pieces I have for this one.

(2) Winter War: Having picked up some Baker Company figures from eBay, I have now added Bolt Action and Brigade figures to bring the numbers up to something usable. Obviously the BAM and Brigade ones still need painting and the basing will need to be aligned. I also have a T26 (Anglian) and Gaz truck (Force of Arms) to build (and I suspect will need to get some more of them too). What I am looking for at the moment are appropriate buildings and a suitable source for more trees! As I've previously mentioned I initially plan to pitch my Finns against Lenin's RCW troops until such time as I can organise some BAM early war Russians. The big advantage with this one is that the Finns can be used right through the Continuation War into the Lapland War.

(3) Irish War of Independence: Inspired by the Musketeer figures I've started assembling some background material (I wanted to know more about it anyway and the figures were simply a kick start). Terrain isn't so much of an issue (unless I want some rural Irish dwellings which are a little problematic) but I'd really like an armoured car for interest and suspect I'll be going with the Sloppy Jalopy Austin one as Copplestone has worn out his moulds for the Rolls Royce A/C he used to make. I'm hoping that my early WW1 Brits will be usable if I want to do an element of the 1916 rising and, stretching it a bit, Free State army for the Civil War.

(4) Early WW2: I do have a decent amount of Brits and Germans in 15mm which I use with the Lardies' IABSM rules but I'd really like to move into 28mm too. Conciously trying to avoid just duplicating the existing theatre I am currently contemplating Poland. BAM have started a nice little range of figures and vehicles which would be useful to explore the beginnings of the Blitzkrieg. The Poles could also face up to my early war Russians (when I get them) as they were sandwiched between Hitler and Stalin at the time (not an enviable position!).

The 15mm forces also need finishing as I have still to base some and add the armour (only some of which I have painted) to enable me to use them for the early fighting in France and then for Sealion (something I have a great deal of interest in - irrespective of how unlikely any invasion was in reality).

(5) Maximilian in Mexico: I've had a set of Freikorp (now LKM) 15mm figures, that I picked up from a chap a the club some time ago, languishing in a box for a while now. The big stumbling block for this one is rules (apart from actually getting them painted, of course) and I'm still searching around for an appropriate set. I've tried a variant of Fire and Fury but it still felt like Fire & Fury to me (which is indelibly linked to ACW in my mind I'm afraid). So the quest goes on.

(6) Tudor Ireland: This is an offshoot of my Border Reiver project inspired by the Vendel figures. They're painted but need the basing finishing. Again the key element missing is rules. I want something that really reflects the core differences between the forces and am still looking at the moment although I do have a home brew set in mind as well.

(7) Montrose: I have had these Redoubt figures sat in a box for several years now as a result of not having a set of rules I was happy with. I'm planning to get these out again in the near future and start the search afresh.

(8) Sudan: Another 15mm project which is partially based. I really need some inspiration to get me restarted on this one. I'd really like to use Science vs Pluck but may have to fall back on Battles for Empire in order to get these to the table.

(9) Gothic Horror: With the figures now based and Rippers selected as the rules I just need to build Whitechapel in order to get these ones to the table.

(10) Spanish Civil War: Having got some of the excellent Anglian Miniatures figures at Salute these are now off for painting. I'm currently looking at terrain options but have a couple of suitable buildings already from my Peninsular War skirmishes. I've just started reading Antony Beevor's book to get me going.

(11) Greek Myth: With a mixture of Foundry and Eureka figures I have the bases covered here (when they're painted) and with Typhon as the rule set I just need to get reinvigorated to get this one going again.

(12) Vietnam: Bizarrely I have both the rules (Two Hour Wargames' FNG) and the terrain sorted (including some Corgi die cast vehicles) but, as yet, no figures!

I think that's enough to be going on with!

Thursday, 1 May 2008

Thrilling Expeditions: Valley of the Thunder Lizard

The latest supplement from Rattrap Productions has just made it's PDF debut. Thrilling Expeditions: Valley of the Thunder Lizard is slightly different from previous supplements as it's designed to work with several of their genre rulesets, in this case, .45 Adventure (pulp), Gloire (swashbuckling) and Fantastic Worlds (pulp SF).

Valley of the Thunder Lizard is 126 pages long and is intended to be the first of a series. In brief it covers adventures with dinosaurs, so the Lost World, anything with Doug McClure in it, time travelling tourists in pre-history etc.

It contains a few new rules, some new archetypes (one each for the 3 rule sets) a couple of new special abilities (Big Game Hunter and Tracking), stats for various dinosaurs (including info on how to create them), prehistoric mammals, neanderthals, saurians and scenarios for each of the three genres.

At $12 for the PDF it's pretty good value (especially with current exchange rates) and will make some interesting reading!

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Brigade Games - Great Service

Kudos to Lon Weiss at Brigade Games! When I told him I had a figure missing from one of the packs of Finns he popped the missing figure straight in the post - what a guy!

Great figures and great service too, Brigade Games come highly recommended!

Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Brigade Games Finns Arrive

Having only got the email from Brigade Games on Saturday the figures arrived in the post today! As with the other figures I've had from Brigade they are nice sculpts and clean casts. Here are a couple of photos:

Finn Infantry Command/winter gear

(Unfortunately there was 1 figure missing from this pack for some reason)

Finn Infantry /winter gear I

and here's a comparison of the Brigade office against the one from the Bolt Action command pack:

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Winter War Reading

I may have mentioned earlier that, having picked up some Baker Company Finns from eBay, I have developed a serious interest in the Winter War. I picked up some Bolt Action figures at Salute and have ordered some more figures in winter gear from Brigade Games (I've just had an email from Lon @ Brigade apologising for the delay to my order as their Finns were out of stock). So in order to get maximum use from the figures I started to look out for some reading material.

First off is William Trotter's book The Winter War: The Russo-Finnish War of 1939-40. I have just finished reading it and I can confirm the good reviews that I read of it. It is very readable and has provided an excellent introduction to me for the period. The author has clearly done his research and breaks the conflict down into the different areas in a very clear and accessible way. I can heartily recommend this one.

At Salute I spotted a copy of GURPS WWII: Frozen Hell - Finland in the Winter War and Beyond which is a supplement for the Second World War sourcebook for the Generic Universal RolePlaying System. I've always found the GURPS sourcebooks an interesting read and not too system heavy (something that's not always true for d20 sourcebooks). Interestingly the book as a brief introduction by William Trotter. Overall it's a good introduction to the period but obviously provides nowhere near the depth of the previous book; however, on the plus side in addition to the Winter War it also covers the Continuation War and the Lapland War, albeit briefly, which are both beyond the scope of Trotter's book. As with the other GURPS sourcebooks the sidebars provide some interesting asides and detail, and it also covers the weaponry used. A useful source.

I searched in vain at Salute for a copy of the Finland '39-'40 - The Winter War booklet in the Skirmish Campaigns series. Fortunately I found that The Wargames Command Post had a copy and they sent it to me very quickly. As with the other booklets in the series it provides a brief introduction, an outline of the format, information to enable the scenarios to the adapted to many sets of skirmish rules and then the scenarios, in this case 10 of them split into 4 separate campaigns. I am already checking to make sure that I have the kit for the various scenarios and, with a few exceptions (not enough T26's and trucks for one scenario; no Russian mortar for a couple of the others) I think I will be pretty close when the Brigade figures arrive. I plan to get some of these scenarios to the table later in the year - probably using Nuts! (which annoyingly isn't one of the rule sets they provide translation details for - but it shouldn't be hard) and will post the details.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

No SELWG Again!

One thing I did notice at Salute was the notice the chaps from SELWG had posted next to the bring and buy (they run it for the Warlords). It said that the refurbishment works at Crystal Palace are significantly behind programme and so the venue wouldn't be ready for the SELWG 08 show they had planned - so it's cancelled.

It's a damned shame as SELWG has always been one of my favourite shows - a good selection of traders, not too busy, ample parking (and cheap compared to Salute!), a good selection of games and a nice atmosphere overall. Oh well, just have to wait until next year...

Figure Review: Bolt Action Miniatures WW2 Russians

As I mentioned in a previous post Lenin let me have some BAM Russians at Salute. They include the main command group and the two scout packs. I asked him to paint these up in winter camouflage to allow them to be used against my Artizan Germans and Baker Co/BAM/Brigade Finns in the Continuation War.

As with the majority of the BAM range these are super figures with interesting poses and, as you can see, paint up very nicely:
The Wargame Shed - Figure Review No. 5

The Arrival of Solomon Kane

Lenin has done a superb job with the Black Cat Bases Vampire Hunter figure to create Solomon Kane!

Saturday, 19 April 2008

Back from Salute

The show is a bit of a trek but I managed to get there at a reasonable time (the DLR was suspended but the rail replacement bus service was pretty quick) and wasn't too far down the Q-Buster queue (isn't that an oxymoron?). The venue is still very much like an aircraft hanger and finding stands can still be difficult (particularly when it's full of people) but I managed to have a good look around.

Lenin had a less fun time initially as not only did he drive but the parking was expensive and the machines weren't taking cards to he had to queue to pay (not wishing to waste his precious cash!). He kindly brought along some WW2 Russians for me - I hope to post some pictures tomorrow - and my Solomon Kane figure. All excellent as you'll see once I have time to take and post the photos.

Back to the show. My first stop was at Musketeer Miniatures, who I had noticed only yesterday have an Irish War of Independence range sculpted by Paul Hicks (who also does the Anglian Miniatures SCW range and some of Bolt Action's figures). I realise that this period isn't to everyone's taste but it is something I'm very interested in and the figures will prompt me to do the detailed background reading. The figures themselves are lovely but how quickly they see the table is anyone's guess!

My next stop was Anglian Miniatures to pick up my pre-order of Carlists, International Brigade and a T26 (which I can also use for the Winter War). As I mentioned these are also Paul Hicks sculpts and again great figures. I added a couple of vehicles from Force of Arms later in the day, a truck and an Italian IZ armoured car. I also picked up a suitable painted building from TableScape (it must be relatively new as it isn't listed on their site yet).

I picked up my pre-ordered Finns from Bolt Action and despite a little initial confusion, which was quickly sorted out now just need the other figures from Brigade I ordered to have a decent force. I also picked up the Frozen Hell supplement for GURPS from Leisure Games. OK, so it is an RPG supplement but it has some nice summaries of the information for the Winter, Continuation and Lapland Wars along with weapons and other information.

Having saved enough in postage to justify the trip I wandered around with Lenin having a look at the traders and games and bumping into old friends and acquaintances. I must admit that the various radio controlled vehicles running around the show looked fun and the re-enactors were somewhat less controversial than last year. Attendance looked like it was similar to last year but that's just my impression.

It was a long day but having had a look at my figures now I've got home I think it was worth it for those and to catch up with old friends.

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Salute Prep

With Salute rapidly approaching I decided to do my usual - make a huge wishlist of all the stuff I'm interested in at the moment, price it up and then, having scared myself, pare it down to a more manageable level. The Winter War was a bit of a given so I decided to add to my Baker Company Finns with some Bolt Action and Brigade figures (obviously the latter are mail ordered). I emailed a pre-order to BAM and they responded in a matter of minutes - excellent.

I've been debating whether to take the plunge and go for Spanish Civil War. Having yet another look at Anglian Miniatures site has finally persuaded me and I've pre-ordered some Carlists and International Brigade with a plan to follow that with more orders in phases. I emailed Anglian and got a pretty prompt email back from them (I would have said quick if it hadn't been for BAM's performance) letting me know that they're offering 10% off for pre-orders - result!

Whilst I was sorting my figures out I pulled out the Eureka German rocket troops and decided that I needed to work out a way to use them. I've come up with a slightly left field alternative WW1 background and decided that I needed some more conventional opposition. Having liked the Renegade range I thought I might pick them up at Salute but no luck - they're not there. But I did spot that they're running a promotion (£6/pack inc postage) at the moment so I put an order in on line on Sunday and the figures arrived in the post today - jolly good show Renegade!

Not sure what else I may pick up at the show, I have my eye on some resources for both the Winter War and SCW along with some trees for my winter terrain but who knows maybe I'll spot something that really floats my boat. I'm going to give the new Ironclad figures the once over and, if they are scaled appropriately for my Parroom figures, I might take the plunge with them too (always assuming they've got any left!)

Monday, 7 April 2008

Saturday, 5 April 2008

VSF Figures from Ironclad

Lenin kindly pointed out some pictures of some VSF figure greens posted on the Lead Adventure Forum.

They look very interesting and depending on the actual size might become some opposition for my Parroom Station Masked Minions!

Alternatively they could be more of a match with my Eureka German Rocket troops.

In both cases it would actually allow me to get the figures out of the box and actually use them! Woohoo!