29 April, 2011

Stylish Blogger (apparently!)

This Stylish Blogger Award is doing the rounds (I can't imagine that it originated in the gaming sector!) but I am happy to be in such august company. It doesn't have the usual threat of a Chain Letter (i.e. do this or else!) so I took the time to compile my lists...

1. Thank and link back to the person giving you the award.

Ashley, of Paint it Pink was kind enough to mention me in dispatches

2. Share seven things about yourself.

a. My first wargaming experience was Little Wars-style shenanigans between the Afrika Korps and the 8th Army in the furrows of our back garden.

b. I am a qualified library and information professional, though I have only worked a year in an actual library since I got out

c. I've always been an avid reader (though my teenage practice of re-reading stuff has definitely passed). Click on the My Library tab on the blog to see some of the 2500+ books in the house

d. In school and at university I had a summer job testing barley and deciding whether we would buy it for beer. Oh the joys of negotiating with farmers who may not have agreed with my assessment!

e. Before the two girls arrived our holidays were usually trips to Mediterranean countries. My wife would get sun, and I would get historical sites - a perfect compromise!

f. Calvin & Hobbes is the funniest comic strip I know - give Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons a try, you will thank me later.

g. I am also a roleplayer, though these days I'm mostly running games rather than playing in them. You can catch up with my current fantasy setting The Giyhonan Chronicles

3. Select 10-15 blogs who you think deserve this award.

This list is neither exhaustive nor in any particular order, and I have avoided choosing blogs which have already received the honour.

While the Campaigns of General William Augustus Pettygree haven't been updated as often recently, the posts there are just of a fantastic quality. Such drama and story-telling isn't common in wargaming.

The quality of Chris' painting and conversions on 20mm Moderns over at Small Scale Operations is just fantastic.

Vinnie's work on Lonely Gamers, especially the sheer scale of his 28mm games continually take my breath away.

Again with the conversions! Eduardo at Hetairoi Wargames hits all those projects I dream of: 28mm Samurai, Gladiators and Galley Warfare.

The first hint of nepotism, Conrad Kinch is a good friend and regular gaming companion. But his thoughts over on Joy and Forgetfulness are always very interesting and his interpretation of what's on-topic keeps his readers on their toes.

I'm a big fan of Piquet, and in Eric Burgess' Din of Battle, I find someone who can turn it to siege warfare in the Age of Reason, through Colonials and all the way to 40K!

Ruaridh fights a losing battle against the Ooh Shiny Complex it seems that all wargamers are afflicted with.

Tiny Solitary Soldiers takes on 15mm Sci-Fi with gusto.

Another gamer concentrating on a single period in Golconda Rising. As well as expounding the historical context, there is some really well-turned out armies on display.

Fran, aka The Angry Lurker discusses a lot more than just gaming, reviewing book and films in gamer-friendly genres.

4. Contact these bloggers and let them know about the award.

On it!

28 April, 2011

Lead Painters' League Going Strong

Round 7 is underway over on the Lead Painters' League and I am increasingly gobsmacked at the high quality of painting on display, week-in week-out.

As before I'm not picking out my favourite pieces, but I'm hoping to highlight a few match-ups which are (or ought to be) very close

Cossacks: Scourge of the straggler vs Red Peterman & his Copious Seamen

Prof Witchheimer's Crew vs The Wild Aces

Masks on boys! vs Death Cometh...on Short Legs

Predators vs Minbari Federation

Some outstanding work there, head over to vote or just soak in the oodles of eye candy!

27 April, 2011

Britannia Update

Piers posted an update over on The Guild yesterday which is worth repeating here.

As announced last month, Andy Grubb of Grubby Tanks was sold the model ranges and he's been moving all the Britannia stuff to his premises. He's hoping to get some ranges back into production over the next few weeks.

Awesome news deserves an awesome picture
Piers suggests dropping Andy a line (I used the Contact Us form on the website) if you're after any Britannia models. It probably won't be quick to get everything up as there are over 1300 moulds involved!

26 April, 2011

We Salute You!

Over the past week or so, various bloggers around the place have been recounting their Salute experiences. With a new(ish) baby in the house, I am forced to life vicariously through them. (Heading over to London for the weekend is more than my life is worth...) Enjoy!

General Roundups

Neil and Henry recount the entire affair on Meeples & Miniatures

The Gallipoli game grabbed BigRedBat's attention (and to be honest this was one which had hit my radar well before the show)

Steve counts down his top 10 over on his Random Musings English Civil War appears to have grabbed his attention this year and who'd blame him! His Top 5

Giles gives us a nice selection of photos on Tarleton's Quarter, including a great all-singing all-dancing rendering of Operation Barras (Sierra Leone hostage rescue)

Mike gives it a quick once-over on MiniStories. He's painted up the freebie miniature already!

Ashley gives us a nice blow by blow of her day over on Paint it Pink.

While I don't think he made it over (from Australia!) The Man Cave highlights a few nice photos of the Battle of Maldon

Ray notices a lot of the games which caught my eye over on Don't Throw a One, plus some nice ones from a World War One trenches game. More

Some great photos from Sidney of Roundwood's World

Surprise attack by the Japanese on the Americans on the Solomon's in this brilliant Aeronef game. Steve of Yours in a White Wine Sauce gives us a nice gallery, including this coastal facility

Fran, aka Angry Lurker gives us a nice tour of the show

A brief summary, but some lovely closeups of a couple of games from Dinium's Loft

Tomsche of Societa di Archeologia e Cimeli took a great selection of photos including this American Civil War blockade running affair

6 Mil Phil has a huge selection of eye candy for our perusal including a nice Abyssinia (I think) game

Iron Mitten is a big English Civil War fan too! More

A late entry (I only discovered the blog today) from Paul at Sho3box. He's spotted some nice games, including this table from Antenociti's Workshop

The Demonstrators

Gruntz demo their 15mm sci-fi game, and also takes a quick look at some new releases from GZG and CMG. The entire thing, figures, vehicles and table looks fantastic, and it's very nice to see some good high-rise buildings in play.

The Rather Large Towton Project finally got its day, This is a fantastic display of what is possible using 6mm. Hats off to Ruaridh et al. Glad to see their effort was rewarded with 'The Most Impressive Troops'.

An Evil Giraffe conspired to produce a gruesome Cthulhu-esque (or is it Doctor Who-ish) Cluedo game

Another English Civil war game, this time from Saxon Dog

I've been following the Verneuil project over on Harness and Array for months now and I'm happy that it got 'Best Demo' for this pain-stakingly well-researched collaborative effort.

A great urban firefight from Akula's Battlefield

Brandlin's highly anticipated game shows off his gorgeous terrain work. Some photoshopped skullduggery on the background - but it's all good

Not a blog entry, but some photos posted over on The Guild from The Escape Committee's Cold War Gone Hot game (featuring the French against the Soviets for a change). Apparently, this is them throwing together something at the last minute!

It's not up on their site yet, but the Loughton Strike Force ran this amazing-looking Budapest 1945 game. Winner of 'Best in Show' I believe.

Steve of Bleaseworld has a great eye for a photo, and has compiled a rockin' video too!

Hats off to all those who ran games. Maybe next year...

18 April, 2011

Force on Force - Review

I pre-ordered this back when it was first listed at the start of the year, and it finally got here on Friday (ahead of schedule). No surprise given Osprey Publishing’s involvement, but this is probably the single best-looking and professionally produced wargaming book I’ve ever had in my hands. I’ve been reading it straight through, as well as dipping in and out of it when I’ve had a few minutes over the weekend, and I must admit I am as impressed with the substance as I am with the style.


A few early typos aside, there’s really nothing I can complain about on the production side of things, and there’s plenty I am pleased with:
  • Proper cloth binding (that’s hardback to you) which means this book will last and it will stay open on the table
  • Well laid out, with plenty of whitespace (the margins and such which make a book like this readable) but not so much that makes you feel like you’ve been cheated. Also, the headings, sub-headings and text boxes make it easy to quickly scan a page
  • A decent contents section and a good index are hugely important and often neglected – how often do wargamers spend five minutes looking for some rule they’re not sure about?
  • The art is just fantastic. A healthy mix of drawn artwork (from other Osprey books), photographs (from the frontline) and gaming miniatures in action.  


But who am I kidding; most of us do not buy wargaming rules just to look at the pretty pictures (even if that’s all we do with many of them!). One thing immediately stands out about the book:
  • Not only do we get a general ‘big picture’ introduction from Shawn & Robbie Carpenter at the beginning; but littered throughout the book are individual designers’ notes relating to single aspects of the rules. I really appreciate the insight into a designer’s head, both at the high level and drilling down to an individual decision.
For those who are not familiar with anything out of the Ambush Alley Games stable, a few pertinent points need to be made about the rules and the book in general:
  • The rules are clearly written, and we are in no doubt that a level of abstraction is intended. There is no discussion of the thickness of armour on a particular tank, nor the relative benefits of 5.56mm vs. 7.62mm ammunition.
  • Linking to that aspect, the fact is that these rules are outcome-driven and not process-driven. The quality of the troops is crucial and the tactics utilised vital. The player doesn’t make decisions which his alter ego on the battlefield (typically the platoon commander) wouldn’t.
  • The quality of troops is modelled by the use of different die-types. From D12 for very rare ├╝ber-soldiers, to D6 for badly trained militia and such. Troops have a score on a similar scale for morale. Depending on the circumstances more dice may be thrown but typically the outcome is determined through opposing die rolls.
  • Battlefield friction occurs primarily through Fog of War cards, which may be viewed as a random events deck. When things heat up, unexpected things happen.
  • The rules are built up from the most basic principles into more complex facets (like vehicles, or asymmetric engagements) and each time an extra aspect is added there is a small scenario to demonstrate
  • In an asymmetric engagement scenario balance comes from a different set of victory objectives, even though the forces involved may be wildly different in behaviour and quality

For those who have encountered the system before, is there any reason you should buy this book?
  • Since first published in 2006, Ambush Alley has undergone some big changes. Extra rules have been added, the scale of the game has increased and the prospect of regular forces clashing has come into it. This edition represents the definitive clean-up of the sprawling game engine.
  • As well as that, a lot of things have been tightened up. A lot of games have been run over the last five years, and a lot of questions have been asked on the forum and it’s obvious that things that were clear in the small group are less so when a rule set is published and set free!
  • The vehicle rules are now more streamlined and easier to use. While tables aren’t for everyone, I can definitely say the new system works better.
  • There’s a very nice unit-driven campaign system in the book (which you may recognise if you bought the Vietnam supplement ‘Ambush Valley’. In deciding to just follow the platoon involved (or in tracking an insurgency develop) it’s avoided most of the bugbears of campaign wargaming.
In short for £25 (currently available on Amazon for just £15.19) this book is well worth it on all levels.

12 April, 2011

Cold War Gone Hot - Preview

While I'm waiting for the new rulebook and Road to Baghdad supplement to arrive I've noticed that Ambush Alley Games & Osprey will be releasing a Cold War Gone Hot companion book at the end of the year.

Piers has posted a few teaser pictures over on the AAG forum and the lead author Jim Roots has given a brief glimpse into what it's going to cover.

The book will have three main divisions:

1) The Cold War We Thought...this is a collection of essays, scenarios and stats for what we thought was going to happen. E.g., Fulda Gap, Soviet breakthroughs, etc.

2) The Cold War That Was...this is the same, only for what we know now. The declassification of documents on both side showed that the Soviet Union was a lot tougher on paper than in reality. Think, The Bear Went Over the Mountain applied to all theaters.

3) The Cold War of Hollywood. We all have our favorite movies and books...we're taking it one step further and writing scenarios in that vein.

The book will also have scenarios for all budgets. There will indeed be a few Piers "armor parks" scenarios, but there will be special ops, infantry slugfests and whatever other coolness we choose to throw in the book.

The Guild's Big Game this year will be another Cold War bash so there'll be plenty of more eye candy to tempt you before the release of the book, but I can't wait for this.

The book is available for pre-order over on Amazon...

10 April, 2011

French ad hoc Brigade

A small force of French to bolster the West Germans against the Warsaw Pact hordes

A French reinforced regiment of heavy armour and mechanised infantry

French Regiment

A tank squadron

Armour Squadron

Artillery Battery alongside CO

Artillery Battery alongside CO

HQ with Air Defence and FAO

HQ with Air Defence and FAO

Mortar Carriers behind FAC

Mortar Carriers behind FAC

Mechanised infantry company

Mechanised Infantry Company

Air Defence with Support coming through

Air Defence with Support coming through

Flight of Mirages

Flight of Mirages

Well-balanced, I shall have to come up with some scenario to get them into action - as the typical Cold war gone Hot setup doesn't include the French.

06 April, 2011

The Battle of Sahagun

As designed by Mr. Kinch over on Joy and Forgetfulness

As the climax of the Campaign of 1808 approached, the army of General Sir John Moore, 33,000 men strong, was advancing from Salamanca in the general direction of Burgos, intent upon surprising and all being well defeating in detail the dispersed forces of Marshal Soult, and thereafter creating a threat to the vital French lines of communication running from Bayonne through Burgos to Madrid, which Napoleon had recently occupied at the head of his Corps d'Armee.

Ahead of Moore's main body moved his screening light cavalry under command of the 40 year-old Henry Paget, Lt. General of Cavalry, who was described at about this time by his younger brother as "always at the head, and in the thick of everything that has been going on. He is, in this respect, quite a boy, and a cornet instead of a Lt General of Cavalry, but in every other he is the right hand of the army."
Some very nice background and accounts of the battle

With the element of surprise fast dissappearing and time running short Lord Paget made a characteristically bold decision and ordered a charge straight into the teeth of the enemy.

Initial skirmishing goes against the British, though they have forced some of the heavy cavalry back into the town

Initial skirmishing goes against the British

Fierce countercharge lead by Colonel Tascher continues their good fortune

Fierce countercharge lead by Colonel Tascher

Lancers lead by Debelle drive the hussars from the field

Lancers drive the hussars from the field

British sweep towards the ford, and a last ditch attempt by the French to turn the tide fails

British sweep towards the ford

We played this again, and despite a 'Cavalry Charge' drawn by the British, the French counterattack sweeps the tightly packed British squadrons from the field - the game lasts but a single turn!

[2] French counterattack sweeps the field

A nicely balanced scenario, even though the initial handsize of the French has the potential to be disastrous.

More like this