30 December, 2011

Adieu 2011

So, as it seems to be the time of the year to do this sort of thing - here's a brief rundown on some memorable pieces of the year, with a peek into 2012.

Gaming Highlights

Devil Take the Hindmost

DuPont takes charge
While the prospect of doing a game I'd previously done in 10mm in a different scale seemed foolish; I really enjoyed this. The 28mm stuff really drew people in when I ran it at Gaelcon and got enough interest to make me consider publishing the rules myself. With lots of potential for action without dinosaurs for some more straight-forward pulp-era adventures

Attack State Red

Approaching Objective 8
Wrote a handful of scenarios based on the fantastic book following the Royal Anglians in Afghanistan for the Trinity Gamers. They all went well, and I'm on hiatus for completing the full 10 scenarios I envisaged - probably for a return event next year. Of course some great company (and booze) helped make the experience enjoyable!

Old School redux

Mastiff trains MG on Taliban leader
Went on a bit of an old school jaunt during the year - playing a version of Blasthof Bridge (using C&C Napoleonics), a reimagining of Sittangbad and staging one of Battlegames' Tabletop Teasers (both using Force on Force). More along those lines for the coming I hope

Blogs of the Year

Tiny Solitary Soldiers

Brilliantly realised gaming from a man who convinced me that solo is not a last resort. The painting's not half bad either.

20mm and then some...

Gunbird from The Guild finally bit the blogging bullet early in 2011 - it does not disappoint. His painting and scratchbuilding is just fantastic and his predeliction for wrecks and ruins is charming.

Cold War Hot Hot Hot

Richard's blog shows a single-mindedness that's frightening - his work, whether on vehicles or infantry is just inspiring.

Gaming Releases of the Year

Force on Force

This really covers all the Ambush Alley Games releases since the Osprey edition of Force on Force came out. From present-day Afghanistan to what-if Cold War the sourcebooks are very well put together, with 20 scenarios in most of them. Add Tomorrow's War to the mix and it really was Ambush Alley's year. My review, posted here in April was my most popular entry within a week and almost has a thousand views.

Command & Colours: Napoleonics

The long-awaited release of the latest addition to the Richard Borg Command & Colours stable was up to the usual high standard. Sometimes deceptively simply, intricacies continue to surprise and we're satisfied that the system is a standard bearer of the quick-play, results-oriented wargame.

Byzantium Models' Arabic Buildings

Byzantium released this well-stocked line of resin buildings in August - I'm desperately resisting picking them up as they look the business for my Afghanistan games...

This year seemed to be replete with first-rate wargames, avoiding Saga, but I did pick up I Ain't Been Shot Mum 3 from TooFatLardies and Kampgruppe Normandy from Warhammer Historical too - I may not play but they do look very good.

Projects in the Pipeline
In 2012, I'm keeping my new lead purchases to a minimum - and so all three of these projects are mostly already in the house.

Heymans and Yamada Security Force

LandMate steps out
A third force for my Novaya Sakha campaign, I'll be adding to the large powersuits and drones with some light vehicles, personnel and some suits! I'm planning to have these guys in action for Leprecon at the start of March. Vehicles from a variety of sources (GZG, Old Crow and Antenociti) and infantry from GZG's 25mm Stargrunt range.

African Warlords

The Guild's Big Game for 2012 is in August, so that's a pretty firm deadline for me. A large mechanised infantry force with supporting artillery and armour. Infantry by Liberation/RHModels and vehicles mostly by S&S at this stage.

Thunder on the Danube

Marching up Road
Didn't I promise something for Austria 1809 last year? At least all I have to do here is just run the campaigns and the individual battles which occur. That shouldn't be too difficult, right?

The Thirty Years War (in 6mm - so says the electorate) will be strictly kept on the long finger until the end of the year.

(I'm not going even start on my discussion with the esteemable Conrad Kinch of our doing Waterloo in 2015...)

Great TV

In Treatment

This is probably as direct a drama as I watch - just two people in a room talking for 25 minutes. The show follows a psychotherapist and his patients week by week. A really nice touch is the scheduling, which puts a complete round of episodes on every week. We follow each patient with over 7 or 8 episodes so there's no quick-and-easy solutions to their problems (if at all). Inevitably this third season is also the last, unless plans to revive it in a different format come to fruition. Given similar discussions for Deadwood came to naught, I'm not holding my breath.

Game of Thrones

The big one for the year; I even plugged this as one to watch out for this time last year. HBO did not disappoint. Of course some fans were unhappy, and while I agree with some of their concerns, I thought that the acting was first rate. It's a feature of the medium that would upturn the carefully constructed Points of View of the novels, but in Viserys, Robert or Jaime we got to understand some of the more unappreciated (nay - hated!) characters of A Song of Ice and Fire.


Series 10 brought the flagship BBC show to an end - what I really enjoyed about this year's outing was that all 6 episodes were bound together tightly into one plot, with only a couple of side cases to distract. As usual unforgiving high stakes are the order of the day, with some (un)healthy doses of realpolitik.

Books of the Year

Gunpowder and Galleys: Changing Technology and Mediterranean Warfare at Sea in the 16th Century

John Francis Guilmartin classic study of warfare in the Mediterranean has been updated with new research, but his thesis remains intact (even stronger actually).


Sebastian Junger's insightful work following an infantry platoon in the Korengal Valley in Afghanistan (perhaps more familiar as the documentary Restrepo) is powerful because he gets very close to the men and yet is able to put their psychological state in some kind of context.

1809 Thunder on the Danube

This is only the first volume of Jack Gill's masterful account of Napoleon's 1809 campaign against Austria. Clear analysis combine with useful maps to make this the perfect companion for the aspiring wargamer.

So, there you go! Hope you have a good 2012, may your lead pile grow smaller (but not vanish altogether).

22 December, 2011

Flanking Manoeuvre

After a botched heliborne assault into Zhawar, a renewed ground assault is directed at Dawri Gar. Meanwhile a flanking column is sent eastwards towards the Moghulgai mountain to try to manoeuvre the Mujahideen out of Zhawar.

Squads #1 (restored to full strength for this phase of the operation) and #2 move down a stream bed to the dried river bed south-east of Moghulgai

Towards Moghulgai

With their BMP-1s and a BRDM-2 (the last one in the recon platoon!) leading they're confidant about the manoeuvre - though the rough ground prevents the vehicles from making best speed. There are some Mujahideen behind the ridgeline.

Mujahideen behind the ridgeline

The platoon moves along the dried stream bed hugging the banks while some of the column breaks off to the left to secure that flank

Moving along the dried stream bed

Clambering up the steep ridgeline, the Mujahideen strike to ambush - but a rockfall brings half of the group down before they can open fire - which is ineffective (though scaring the hell out of the Lieutenant)


At the lead of the column, a heavy machine gun opens fire, but the BRDM weathers the storm and cuts them down

Heavy MG opens up

As the BRDM turns right into the river bed a second Mujahideen group climbs the treacherous banks and its fire is deadly - bringing down all four of the fire team in the open.
The Lieutenant's decision to request the Company Medic pays dividends, as all four get back to their feet - quick action sees only one of the soldiers worse for wear!

BRDM turns onto river bed

A freak dust storm breaks out and now everything is slowed to a crawl, and visibility is severely reduced.
Backing up the team above them, both BMPs inch forward putting pressure on the Mujahideen group lurking in the small forested area

BMPs supporting each other

On the other flank, the BRDM suddenly develops a problem with its weapons system, rendering the machine gun ineffective - it still has the heavy machine gun though.
The platoon is making good progress and has a dominant position in the centre of things

Taking control of the river fork

A hesitant IED attack - which did hold up the Soviet advance for a while - is thwarted by some quick shooting from the BRDM

IED attack thwarted

A mass of Mujahideen arrive from the direction of the mountain but their shot at the BRDM is ruined with the RPG gunner is taken out [ruining the 'Golden BB' card just picked up!] With that the BMPs roll forward with impunity, there's simply no way for the Afghans to see them off. Funnily enough the BRDM develops an electrical fault and becomes a rather static pill box - how is the unlucky crew going to explain that back at HQ!

Mujahideen reinforcements

On the left flank the platoon clear the woods and the house, and despite a fierce assault by some new arrivals, takes control of that end of the river bed

Storming the building

The Mujahideen's brave effort to separate the infantry from their armoured vehicles come to naught, and to heap insult on injury a full squad of paratroops arrive on the battlefield from an unexpected direction to close down all their options!

Mujahideen remnants fight on

A tense battle, though one where the Mujahideen were done no favours by their RPG die rolls - they were helped out by the weather though!


Last post for a week at least, so I'll wish you and yours a good holiday (or Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! to all you traditionalists).

20 December, 2011

Inch by Inch

As the Mujahideen from Lezhi retreated south a small Mujahideen force blocked the Manay Kandow pass. The Soviets want to dislodge them before the main Mujahideen force has a chance to regroup and prepare the defences.

A switchback trail passes by a few small compounds - difficult ground held by a rearguard of committed Mujahideen

Manay Kandow Pass

The rest of the platoon participates in the operation, led by the Lieutenant (the Senior NCO is still invalided out) and backed by 3rd Squad's BMP-1 and another BRDM-2 from battalion reconnaisance.

Soviets enter the first village

They are joined by a paratroop sniper team, taking cover behind the armoured car.

VDV Sniper Team

The platoon PKM team takes position on the rooftop and immediately zeroes in on a lurking RPG team at the far side of this section of trail - the tankies in the unit breathe a sigh of relief

Machine Gun sets up

The BRDM's happiness is quickly extinguished as another Muhajahideen group avoids its heavy machine gun and lets loose with an RPG - knocking out the armoured car - one of the crew is seriously injured and the rest drag him back to cover.
The BMP barrels around the corner and opens fire on them, causing havoc but more importantly killing the RPG gunner

Mujahideen outflanked

Another VDV fireteam runs on, this is going to be more of a challenge than the Lieutenant thought - these paratroopers are heading straight for the ridgeline. It'll be difficult to get over, but if they get there without delay they'll be able to control the entire area

VDV team trots on

A Mujahideen group in a small copse advance quickly to a lone house on the other side of the ridge - from here they'll be able to drive back the stripey-shirted Soviets!

Mujahideen advance to lone house

Another brave move from the BMP crew - they careen around the sharp bend in the trail and drive the Mujahideen out of the house

Forced off rooftop by BMP

The paratroopers make it onto the ridgeline without incident and set up on overwatch - someone's got to save those ground pounders!

Paratroopers set overwatch

The Lieutenant, leading the second team out of 2nd Squad to the ridgeline in support of the paratroopers, finds a warmer welcome there. Two men go down - fire is coming at them from all angles

Platoon HQ taking fire

Some men from 3rd squad race across open ground to clear the large building at the end of the first switchback and despite some heavy resistance they clear that compound

Clearing out second settlement

The platoon crosses the ridgeline in force, taking control of the lone house and setting it up as an impromptu casualty centre (one of those hit on the ridgeline is dead and another lightly wounded)

Across the ridge in force

Running behind the BMP looking for another commanding position, the sniper team is caught in the open, but their quick reflexes and some support from the BMP drive back the Mujahideen lurking in the wood

Snipers caught in the open

Taking that copse of trees, the Soviets prepare to tackle the last compound - their timeline set by Company HQ is almost up

Tackling the last compound

The Mujahideen group which had been resisting from the compound wall, falls back under pressure and holds out behind the main building

Holding out

The BMP drives through the gate and the Mujahideen are quickly wiped out. A good success for the platoon - the men look approvingly at this new Lieutenant - beaten up badly just yesterday he's bounced back with the result!

14 December, 2011

Executive Jet

Arrived the other day and has done its duty as a kids toy for the required twenty minutes.

Like the legenday Beanie Hat, it does not fly by itself!

Found it online and reckoned it'd be nice as a corporate interface shuttle for Heymans Yamada executives on Novaya Sakha. I'll be painting over it in corporate grey and blue - and hopefully I'll be able to enter it in time for the latest Speed Build over on the Guild

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