Saturday, 28 February 2009

Grand Manner 28mm Manor House

I've been looking around for buildings to use for my planned 1938 and Operation Sealion games but haven't been having much luck. Then I remembered that Grand Manner had a manor house in their WWII Carentan range. I had looked at it previously for earlier period games as it's described as a 16th/17th Century stone manor house; however, I think it looks more like 18th Century but, in any case, it looked pretty usable. I popped an order in just under two weeks ago (which, when you remember it's hand painted is pretty rapid turnaround) and it arrived this morning:
Grand Manner Manor House

I know it's pretty pricey but, I hope you'll agree, it is a lovely model and nicely painted too. Plus the service I have received from Grand Manner has always been excellent.

Friday, 27 February 2009

Blimey, more 1938 figures...

Musketeer Miniatures have just revealed their Militia Command, Militia riflemen and a Toff and his Gentleman's Gentleman figures:

These super figures should be ready for Salute - so I'll be adding them to my shopping list!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Chain Reaction 3.0 - Free!

Just in case you missed my Twitter post, Two Hour Wargames have released an updated version of their Chain Reaction rules incorporating all the latest mechanics from their main rule sets.

And they're letting you download it for free!

Of course it doesn't have all the bells and whistles (and particularly the period specific campaign rules) of the their other sets (Nuts!, FNG etc.) but it's a great way to take a look at their excellent reaction mechanics.

You can find it available for download at

Monday, 23 February 2009

And All The King's Men

And All The King's Men is a novel by Gordon Stevens which was kindly recommended by Felix in a comment on my Operation Sealion reading list post.

The story covers the period up to and beyond a successful invasion of Britain in 1940. Whilst there are a few passages in the book which don't flow as well as I might like the overall storyline is engaging and the tale moves along at a brisk pace. As with all alternative fiction there are places where you could question the credibility of some of the plot devices but if you are prepared to do a little suspension of disbelief (this is alternative history and fiction after all!) it makes a ripping yarn.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Cavalier 2009 and my thoughts on shows

For the first time in a number of years and the first since they moved the show to Tonbridge I actually managed to get along to Cavalier. It is a show of relatively modest proportions and, whilst the venue makes it a little fragmented (those less so than the old school venue), it had a decent selection of traders and a few attractive games.

I successfully managed to pick up the few bits I had eventually decided to get and conveniently made a decent saving as Musketeer had a 6 packs for 5 offer on; however, I came away from the show a little underwhelmed. I should quickly add that this was nothing to do with the show itself of the TWWS who organise it but rather a personal reaction I have been having more and more frequently at various shows.

I decided to examine my main reasons for going to shows and came up with the following:

(1) To buy stuff - which either I would have bought anyway and so can avoid the postage or which I wanted to see in the flesh (metal or resin - whatever) or even to get a bargain from the bring & buy.

(2) To see cool new stuff - as some manufacturers schedule there new releases to tie in with shows and some people's websites are so awful as to be useless.

(3) To be inspired - by other people's games and ideas.

(4) To meet up with old friends - people I have gamed with in the past but don't see now due to the simple matter of geography.

With the improvements in the internet (for those traders who "get it") and eBay buying stuff is pretty easy from the comfort of my own home so this just isn't as important as it was 10 or even 5 years ago.

Wargame new sites like The Miniatures Page and Tabletop Gaming News post and the various discussion sites around news travels pretty fast and people are often kind enough to post photos even where the manufacturer doesn't. As a result I don't often see anything I didn't know about at shows any more.

Maybe I'm getting a little jaded but I'm not often inspired by the games I see at shows. I don't doubt that some of this is just me and I need to try harder but some of the games are just sooo ordinary.

So I'm left with the social angle and that is, of course, dependent on people being able to make it to the show.

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Snapdragon Studio's Revetments

I just received an order of revetments from Snapdragon Studio the other day so I thought I post a couple of pictures (as there isn't a complete set of pictures on the Snapdragon site).

FFP1 - Straight Plank Revetment (8)
FFP3 - Crew Cutouts (2), Ends (4), Sally Point (1) and Artillery Platform (1)
FFP11 - Straight Trench with Head Logs (6)
The straight sections are roughly 6 inches in length and they are all designed to work with 25/28mm miniatures. The resin castings are pretty clear with very little in the way of bubbles or other blemishes and are of a sufficiently generic design to work for a wide variety of periods. With the first two sets coming in at £11 each and the third at £15, I think these are pretty good value for money. The service from Snapdragon was very good too.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Operation Sealion: The Miniature Operational Campaign Game

Having had an interest in Operation Sealion for some time, I was interested to see a Campaign Game being published by S-2 Shop Productions. The campaign consists of two volumes, the first covering the initial landings and the up through Kent and Sussex to London and the second widening the theatre of operations to the west and into London itself. The campaign is designed to be used with a variety of different sets of wargames rules including Spearhead, Command Decision, Kampfgruppe Commander, WW2 Micro Armor: The Game, Clash of Armor and Tac. It reflects the invasion plan for September 1940.

The campaign is designed to be played with rules having a single stand representing a platoon; however, the orders of battle have been scaled down one level from reality so that a Corps becomes a Division, a Division a Brigade/Regiment and so on.

Volume 1 is a 64 page softback booklet broken down into a number of distinct sections introducing the campaign, special rules, orders of battle and maps of the locations. The campaign map consists of a double page theatre map showing the individual locations and the transport connections between them. Each location has an individual map which is intended to present the particular locale on the tabletop. Units may travel between locations and the time taken is indicated (although not on the theatre map in this volume). The individual landing areas are covered with the different invasion waves being shown as well as the historic deployment of the British forces (who are focussed on the anticipated East Coast landing).

Volume 2 is a 40 page softback booklet and comes with a separate theatre map which covers the locations from both volumes and also shows the travel distances between the locations on the map itself. It covers the introduction and rules from volume 1 (with some revisions and corrections) and then provides the orders of battle for the later invasion waves and British reserve forces along with the individual maps for the new locations.

It is clear that a lot of effort has gone into the product and it provides a straighforward way to put on the land element of a Sealion campaign with the minimum of effort. Some may not like the downscaling of the units but this is understandable. Others may feel that the individual location maps oversimplify things but it certainly does make setting up the wargames table an awful lot easier.

My major qualm was, however, the price with each volume costing $24.99. This has changed recently as it appears that S-2 Shop Productions are closing down and are currently offering both volumes together at $5.99 plus shipping. It is also available in the UK from Monarch Military Books but at the higher price of £28.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Musketeer BUF

My order from Musketeer Miniatures cam through today and it had their new BUF figures:

Now all I need to do is make up my mind what colour scheme to use. Given that they are in a hypothetical uniform anyway it does give a little latitude though. I was thinking of going with caps and jackets with dark grey trousers but am not sure whether to go with grey, black or khaki puttees...

Monday, 2 February 2009

Operation Sealion - Reading List

Here is a quick run down of my own little library on the subject:

Invasion 1940
An account of the German preparations and the British counter-measures
Peter Fleming
Published in 1957 and with the author being the older brother of the creator of James Bond this book is quite different to some of the later ones on this list. Fleming is quite realistic regarding the flaws in the German plans and presents a clear and balanced view of the opposing plans. It presents a purely factual account and is one of my favourites.

Invasion of England 1940
The planning of Operation Sealion
Peter Schenk
This account, translated from the original German, provides one of the most detailed explorations of the German plans. It is by far the most useful book here from a gaming perspective as it gives details of the invasion fleet, landing plans and units proposed. Highly recommended.

The Alternate History of the German Invasion of England, July 1940
Kenneth Macksey
Macksey's book is essentially a fictional history of the invasion. He decided to base his story on a July 1940 invasion which makes the British defence somewhat weaker, coming not long after Dunkirk but makes the invasion less plausible historically as the Germans simply weren't ready. Of course as a "what if" you can make whatever assumptions you need to make the story work and, had the Germans been serious about an invasion and not been surprised by the speed of their own advance, you can make a case for this approach. It is an interesting read.

If Britain Had Fallen
The real Nazi occupation plans
Norman Longmate
Based on a BBC television film of the same name, this book is similar to Macksey's in that it is a fictionalised account of the invasion. In this case it takes the more usual September 1940 date for the invasion. Another interesting read.

Invasion 1940
The Nazi Invasion Plan for Britain
SS General Walter Schellenberg
The introduction to the book by John Erickson puts the remainder into an interesting context. The balance of the book is actually a translation of a handbook, for which Schellenberg claimed a large part of the credit, developed by the Germans in preparation for an invasion. This book is interesting for the glimpse it provides into the German view of Britain at the time; however, it is not really "The Nazi Invasion Plan" as the sub-title suggests. Interesting for background.

Operation Sea Lion
The German plan to invade Britain, 1940
Egbert Kieser
Another translation from German this book has a somewhat wider scope than some of the others in that it covers a much greater portion of the early part of the war in the lead up to Operation Sealion. As such it does provide the appropriate context for the invasion and approaches it from the German perspective; however, it does not go into the level of detail of some of the other books here.

Invasion, 1940
The explosive truth about the Battle of Britain
Derek Robinson
The "explosive truth" of the sub-title isn't really terribly explosive I'm afraid. It is simply that, whilst important, the Battle of Britain wasn't the only reason the Germans didn't actually invade. Put simply the Royal Navy played a significant part. Even with air superiority or even supremacy the invasion force would still have had to cross the Channel and the Royal Navy was much larger than the Kriegsmarine. Robinson makes his case well, even if it is a rather easy case to make, and tries not to play down the part played by the RAF.

Operation Sealion 1940
Martin Marix Evans
Unfortunately I can't really say much about this one as its still on my reading list. I'm hoping to get on to it after I've finished the three books I'm currently reading. In which case I'll post my thoughts then.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Where is our Green and Pleasant Land?

Or, more precisely, where can I get 28mm terrain to represent it?

With both my 1938 and Operation Sealion projects moving on a pace, I started looking around for some suitable terrain to represent England that the time and there is surprising little of it about. Unless I want 1930's England to look unchanged from the 17th Century or bear a remarkable resemblance to 1944 Normandy I seem to be struggling.

"Why not scratch build?" I hear you cry. Well, mainly because (a) I find it difficult enough getting the time together for the other parts of the project and (b) because I'm not really much good at scratch building and (c) I'm blooming lazy and I'd like it handed to be on a plate (preferably painted too!). OK, those are (probably) all exaggerated but I was hoping to try to find something to help me along.

Ideas anyone?