31 December, 2013

Auf Wiedersehen 2013

Trying to piece together some highlights of the year whilst recovering from various Christmas excesses. Hope you and yours had a good one too!

Gaming Highlights

Waterloo Day
Getting 8 or so wargamers to hole up for an entire day takes a bit of effort. Hats off to Conrad Kinch who disguised the Waterloo Campaign in three connected C&C Napoleonics scenarios. As the French, our gallant victories in the first two battles weren't enough to see us to the finishing line. Such a success, that plans are in motion for a similar game of Battle Cry...

Apocalypse World
I know, not a wargame by any stretch, but a damned good time was had by all in this roller-coaster ride of a post-apocalyptic game. This is the game that got me back into regular roleplaying with my group, so kudos are due.

The Hunt
The long-awaited Pulp meets Predator game was well-received. I ran this for what seems like a record-number of players at Gaelcon. The tension and heroism in that last game went to 11!

Blogs of the Year

An entry on my best blogs list for the second time, not just for his ongoing work on BattleTech or his great moderns, but for his Aliens vs Predator project. Take a look around the great work on the Marines and terrain for gloomy corridors

Tamsin's workrate beggars belief; in her celebratory prize draw I was lucky enough to get some post-apocalyptic survivors (including some familiar-looking pesky kids!) done by her

While concentrating on Longstreet for the past while, there's a good variety of projects going on over at Lord Ashram's. I was especially impressed by the 15mm moderns

New Releases

Having contributed significantly to this one, I am very biased. But I'm quite proud of my involvement and feedback has been very positive on the smaller-scale scenarios in this book.

With BattleGames having been on the ropes less than a year ago, it's dizzying to think that the new merged magazine seems like a mainstay of my hobby reading (and arriving twice as often to boot!)

This unmistakably civilian sci-fi vehicle looks lovely; Antenociti's range sets the standard for me now. 

Projects in the Pipeline

Rainbow Six
With the death of Tom Clancy late in the year, I revisited Rainbow Six to see if there was anything suitable for refitting as a wargames scenario. I've decided that Rogue Spear (the old PC game) might be a better fit, and a takedown inside a warehouse and/or cargo ship is definitely on the horizon

Istvan V Dropzone Massacre
I didn't get this off the ground at all this year, so I'm going to make a concerted effort to paint up my 50-strong force of marines with supporting units this time around.

The Diomedes
While I completed all of the fighter craft I was planning to, I wasn't able to actually find something suitable as the Diomedes itself until very recently. Putting this spaceship together will be a major goal of the year.

Outstanding TV

This short dark conspiracy series was exceedingly well done, albeit quite disturbing. It followed the hunt for a comic book manuscript, which held a secret vital to stopping/continuing vast world-altering machinations.

I was very dubious when I first heard of this project. But I must admit to having been won over by the two central performances by Hugh Dancy (as Will Graham) and Mads Mikkelsen (as Hannibal) as well as the visual style of the production. The writing has been nigh-ingenious and the psychological horror is top-notch (whilst using the gore factor in a relatively restrained way)

This Cold War thriller about two deep cover Soviet agents living in the US. Wigs, disguises and the constant danger of discovery make this one a bit more pulpy than usual, but it's highly enjoyable and well done once you buy into the idea.

Books of the Year

Slim, Master of War: Burma and the Birth of Modern Warfare
So, the title's a bit of a mouthful (as well as making a grand claim) but this history of the 'forgotten' 14th Army in Burma and it's path from defeat to victory tells a powerful story on the ability of one general to turn around the fate of a fighting force

This straight-forward account by a CIA officer of his involvement in intelligence and military actions against Al Qaeda is well worth a look. It's heavily redacted in places, but despite this the narrative places the blame for Bin Laden's escape from Afghanistan squarely on central command's shoulders.

Henry Hyde's all-encompassing coverage of tabletop miniatures wargaming is a must-have for gamers of all stripes. As would be expected the layout and photography is top-notch.

As always, I hope you all have a great 2014!

18 December, 2013

Top (Film) Chases: #3, #2, #1

So, the post you've been waiting for all year!

#3 Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers (Train Chase)

Another one from the lighter side, this rip-roaring scene has most of the tropes of train chases, with extra kudos fo track laying and the great final capture sequence!

#2 True Lies (Horse vs Motorbike)

By no means a classic film, but everyone's cutting loose and enjoying themselves! This horse vs. motorbike chase is riveting and has quite a few unexpected comedic beats. The chase is actually a little bit longer than this, but I can't find the full version.

#1 Ronin (Wrong Way)

The second great car chase in Ronin, is just hair-raising. Heading down busy Parisian streets, through a tunnel and then into heavy traffic.

I realise that if you were expecting lots of classic 70s car chases (looking at you Sapper Joe!) you'll be disappointed; as I'm not a huge fan, so no Vanishing Point, no French Connection, no Seven-Ups, no Gone in 60 Seconds, no Driver. I did have fun re-watching them, but only Bulllitt from this generation made the list.

Also considered:

  • Tomorrow Never Dies (Handcuffed on Motorcycle)
  • The Italian Job
  • The Seven-Ups
  • French Connection
  • The Matrix Reloaded

12 December, 2013

Top (Film) Chases: #6, #5, #4

Mid-table of this top ten list

#6 Casino Royale (Parkour)

This opening sequence in the initial outing of Daniel Craig as Bond was the first real impact of Parkour in popular culture (or at least, the most famous instance of it).

#5 Way of the Gun (Slow)

A fantastic spin on the chase genre; some cat-and-mouse action from one of my favourite films.

#4 Bullitt (Opening)

The classic car chase - a whole ten minutes of it (just don't count the hubcaps spinning off!)

You can't wait for the top three, right?

06 December, 2013

Top (Film) Chases: #10, #9, #8, #7

So a return to one of the most popular topics of last year's blogging; I'll be looking at my top ten chases from film.

#10 Bolt (Opening)

This likeable Disney animated film about an 'enhanced' dog isn't quite up to Pixar standards, but the opening chase sequence is so well crafted I've got to put it on the list. Some great slow-mo sequences where Bolt is outwitting those hapless minions of the Green Eyed Man.

#9 Point Break (No Parachute)

Point Break (1991) - 3 - by Sebmagic

I'll take an extra helping of cheese with this one. I know MythBusters debunked this, but still...

#8 Fallen (by Touch)

An unusual entry on this list, but a chase I knew I had to include. This relatively unknown supernatural horror tale includes a demon who can move from person to person by touch, and this is exactly the skill used to chilling effect in this chase

#7 Bourne Identity (Red Mini)

Probably the first listing that's expected by all - this is the first real inkling that the Bourne Identity was not your normal action fare - the poor mini is hurtled around the streets, footpaths and stairs of Paris.

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