Friday 30 November 2012

Bookshelves: Then and Now

James at Grognardia has stared something that a few other Bloggers have taken up and as you'll probably have guessed by now I'm loath to ignore a good meme. James wrote; "What I'd love to see are more photos like this, with people showing off the shelves to which they most frequently turn in their writing and (especially) gaming". I had actually done this way back in May 2009 when I wrote The Sourcebook Treadmill so I pulled up those old photos to reuse here. But it soon became apparent that my bookshelves have changed (and expanded) a bit in the intervening years. So I grabbed the camera and shot some new photo's to show my 'work area' as it looks today:

There be dragons!
My Fantasy corner. A collection of RPG rulebooks and campaign settings all overseen by faithful dragons and my trusty Axe.... There's also the model tank my kids made me for my Birthday earlier this year and (on the far right at the end of the books) my drinking horn. And yes, it has been used, on more than one occasion!

The old core rulebooks are still there (I'll never part with these) but most of the D&D sourcebooks have been sold or given away. This reflects my changing needs as a gamer and the fact that with 4th edition D&D any real possibility of my running a game as GM pretty much faded away. My focus has also changed a bit since then with much more wargaming and historical material moving onto my shelves.

The Wargaming section
On the other side of the room some of my Wargaming rulebooks and historical reference works are kept. I don't actually have space for everything so increasingly books are being boxed up and stored around the house. I have already 'bagsied' my daughters bedroom when she leaves home. That may be a decade from now, but I'm patient. I also have a pitifully small number of my painted models on display, but as you have probably guessed by now free space is at a premium in our house.

Painters corner
A wider shot showing my painting desk and the bookshelves beyond. Don't be fooled though, most of those are actually the wife's cookery books. Her book collection makes mine look tiny!

My tiny painting desk as it looks today

My work desk, where I do most of my painting, is actually a small writing bureau in the corner of our family room. Its not nearly big enough for my collection of paints or the multiple projects I always seem to have on the go at any one time. Here you can see some 15mm figures and vehicles, a 1/72 plastic Jagpanther, two platoons of 1/300 tanks (Panzer III J's and Panzer IV F's) and 30 bases which I am painting for later use. I would like a much bigger desk but and at the moment there just isn't any space.

I'll only get the bigger work space I crave when my wife gets rid of her Piano - or hell freezes over. Having said that we are planing on re-decorating next year (so I am told) and this may be my chance to make some changes. Hmmm maybe that bigger desk isn't a pipe dream after all...

Tuesday 27 November 2012

DIY Painting Tool for 6mm

Following on from my post yesterday showing the first of (hopefully) many 6mm models I thought I'd share this simple painting stand I threw together. At this scale painting really is a production line and anything that helps speed the process along and minimises the handling of the models while painting is a good thing.  

This was built using a simple off-cut of wood about 3cm wide by 15cm long, chosen because it fits nicely in the hand. I then picked three long coffee sticks and glued them together with PVA glue and clamped them while it dried. Any thin strip of wood would do but these were the materials I had to hand.

The beauty of this set-up is that I can fit five or six vehicles on it (I just uses Blue-tack to stick them but you could use a glue gun) for painting while still keeping it easy to handle. Then in between each stage I can put the whole thing down on the table to dry without the risk of them being knocked over. Another important advantage of this painting stand over the traditional 'lolypop stick' method is that the model is raised slightly and it is possible to paint from below for those really difficult to reach spots.

I may adapt this idea and make another version with individual dowels for holding vehicles but this Mk.1 version worked just fine and will be ideal for painting 6mm infantry. 

Monday 26 November 2012

Aww shucks…Thanks!

Some of you may have become aware of a little Blog meme that is currently rippling across the wargaming community blogosphere (and elsewhere). I'm not strictly eligible for the Liebster Blog Award because BLMA has over 200 followers but I have been given an Honourable Mention by Neil at the excellent site Toy Soldiers and Dining Room Battles.

I've been trying to find the origin of this award to no avail, so if anyone knows where it started let me know because its bugging me!  

The rules of the Leibster Blog Award very simple:
  1. Copy and paste the award on your Blog linking it to the blogger who has given it to you.
  2. Pass the award to your top 5 favorite Blogs with fewer than 200 followers by leaving a comment on one of their posts to notify them that they have won the award 
  3. List your nominations (complete with links) on your own Blog.
  4. Sit back and bask in that warm fuzzy feeling that comes with knowing that you have just made someone's day!
As already stated I'm not really eligible to take part but exclusion has never stopped me form participating before and I don't see why it should now! I've stuck to the rules for nominations so my five Blogs of choice are all mostly small emerging sites that I think deserve a little publicity (the aim of the award after all). If your Blog isn't included it may be that you already 200+ followers or have already been nominated (there have been some great nominees so far). I follow in excess of 300 blogs on a regular basis so choosing just five has been really really hard and I have spent quite some time pondering my final selection. 

1000 Foot General - This blog has a lot of what I like, a wide range of games, excellent pictures, humour and some very interesting terrain building projects. One of my recent favourites was the  Desert Terrain Cloth tutorial. 

One Inch Warriors - Some excellent little articles and good pictures. Not a high volume poster but quality beats quantity any time.

Model Dads - I'm not actually sure how many followers this site has but its almost certainly over the limit of 200. But ignorance is bliss and so I'm nominating this excellent blog for a Liebster. This is by far one of my favourite blogs out there and one I read religiously. If you haven't seen their site yet then get over there now!

Sgt Steiner's Wargaming Blog - Another great blog with a wide variety of articles, good humour,  a satisfying dose of nostalgia and some great photo's. This is a true Grognards blog and well worth a visit.

DJK's Fantasy World - For my final nomination I think I can justly be accused of bias as young master Derek is a member of my RPG group. But that shouldn't detract from the fact that this is a great little Blog and deserves a nomination just for the articles covering his amazing scratch built buildings.

Congrats to all and let the meme roll on! 

M14/41 Compagnia Carri

The Italians are their little tanks! Well I've been hard at work trying to paint the first batch of models from my newly acquired collections of 1:300th scale models. I'm still waiting for a few other purchases to arrive so I decided to have a go at some Italian tanks first. This is the HQ and first two platoons of M14/41 tanks from an Italian Compagnia Carri (Tank Company). I need to buy a few more of these to bring this company up to three platoons but in the meantime these will get me started.

The M14/41 was a slightly improved version of the earlier Fiat M13/40 with a more powerful diesel engine. It had a limited production run as it was already considered obsolete by the time it entered service. Despite the upgrade the M14/41 was unreliable, cramped, and caught fire easily but and was only really suitable for recon missions.

Saturday 24 November 2012

Superpowered RPG

The Delvers have had another game of the Marvel Heroic RPG system and its definitely growing on us. We were supposed to have a game last week but I got my weeks messed up (dementia setting in!) and I was double booked. So instead we decided to have an out-of-sequence game night and take advantage of available players to fit a game in yesterday instead of next week when several of us can't make the it. This might end up being our last game of the year as we are fast approaching (or already entered?) the 'silly season' when parties and social engagements make spare Fridays for gaming as rare as hens teeth.

As always we had a good game with plenty of laughs and some absurd situations played out. On the plus side my character (the Thing from Fantastic Four) got to thump that annoying Tony Stark a few times although in the end we lost the fight. We're playing the Civil War story arc from the rulebook and as someone who is not familiar with the intricacies of the Marvel Universe I'm finding this all very confusing but enjoyable. 

Thursday 22 November 2012

I bought an army!

After last weekends disastrous 15mm Napoleonic Battle (aka The revenge of the Dice Gods) I was offered a load of models by fellow Reject, Smiffy. About ten years ago he was into 1/300th wargaming and had put together quite a large collection of mostly Heroics & Ros miniatures. A sizable portion of the collection were for the mid war battles in North Africa and so my interest was definitely piqued. 

The collection includes over 350 vehicles and tanks
I didn't want to rush into buying them so I was initially a little reluctant to say yes on the spur of the moment. But Smiffy could no doubt smell that I was weakening and graciously let me take them home to look through, knowing that if I wanted them I could pay him when we next met. So over the weekend I went through every model identifying the vehicles, listing them by nationality, identifying the years they were deployed in Africa and of course how many of each type there were. It took a long time (and yes I know it was a bit anal) but the end result was that I was more than happy that I was getting a good deal for the money wanted and more importantly I know knew that I could actually use a significant portion of the collection for the period I want to play. 

About half are suitable for North African forces up to 1942 with enough Italian vehicles to make at least one Light Tank Company and the core of several German companies as well. I'll need to buy a few extras to fill in the 'gaps' in the army lists but at least I now have something to work with. A further quarter of the collection would be suitable for US north African forces in late 42-43 although I'm not planning on playing them. I may hang on to these for a while until I make my mind up what to do with them.

The remaining quarter of the collection are only suitable for Late War NW Europe and I will tidy these up and resell them to recoup some of my outlay. Most of the models are unpainted but even the painted ones will need a make-over to bring them up to standard. I'll also need to re-base them as most are mounted on card and I want them on larger bases. I expect this little haul to keep me very busy painting for a long time and of course my modest efforts will be displayed on BLMA as I complete each part. 

Monday 19 November 2012

The Dice Gods hate me!

By now some of you will have already seen Fran and Ray's excellent posts about the Rejects game last Saturday. They did such a good job of conveying the wider battle that I thought I would focus just on my little corner of the battlefield, especially as this was where we effectively lost the battle (both tactically and in terms of victory points). You will already know from Fran and Ray's posts that my forces in this game - a division of French cavalry - were charged, routed, trampled on, scattered and destroyed by just two units of Hanoverian Hussars.

Never have any of us seen such appalling dice rolling (on my part) in all our combined experience of wargaming. As you can tell from this picture I was not amused... and this was taken before the worst had happened!

I should give up wargaming and take up Macramé or something! (Picture courtesy of Ray)

Since that utter thrashing I have been trying to find the will to sort through my pictures and write something about the game. I could have posted something yesterday but frankly I was still in shock and just couldn't face the prospect of thinking about it. Now that 48 hours have passed I feel a little more able to ponder my defeat, although I still wince when I think about it.

The game was a what-if scenario and assumed that Blucher had not arrived at Waterloo in time and Wellington had lost the battle. He had been forced to retreat to his planned fall back position at Hal. Unfortunately the troops there are of poor quality and outnumbered, although they have the benefits of good ground on which to fight a defensive battle. The French outnumber their opponents and have better quality troops, but most units are below strength after three days of fighting.

The initial deployment; The allies command the Brussels road but most of their troops are Levy and Militia. The French on the other hand have a lot of elite units, albeit depleted.

I commanded the 1st and 6th Chasseurs a Cheval and the 5th and 6th Lancers and a 6pdr horse artillery battery under the Comte Hippolyte Marie Guillame Pire. Early on in the game (before it all went horribly wrong) I also received reinforcements in the shape of the 12th Cavalry Division, consisting of 2 Carabinier and 2 Curassier units under the command of Baron Nicolas Francois Roussel d'Hurbal. Unfortunately they arrived right behind my advancing Chasseurs and Lancers creating one huge cavalry traffic jam. But, I thought, I just needed one turn of movement to untangle them and all I needed to do was sweep aside the two units of Hanoverian Hussars in front of me....

The arrival of re-enforcements creates a bit of traffic jam, but it'll soon be cleared (which it was, but now I imagined it!). 

The Hussars charge towards the French and my Chasseurs counter-charge  My opponent and I both roll a fist full of dice and...I don't inflict a single kill. In fact I loose both melee by a wide margin, the Hanovarian's snatch both my flags and I then roll impossibly badly for moral (NOW I get a six!). I then roll to see how far they fall back and of course its the maximum, one full move plus six inches taking them through the supporting Lancers and then the Carabiniers and Curassiers crossing behind them (disordering every unit in the process). This is bad, but the worst is still yet to come!

The Lancers flee the advancing Hussars straight through my Curassiers and Carabiniers

The Hussars elect to follow through with their charge and hit the now disordered Lancers who also loose their melee, turn tail and flee through the 12 Cavalry Division behind them. Then the b**dy hussars charge the next rank of French Cavalry, this time the Curassiers who are not only disordered but side-on meaning they get hit in the flank. You guessed it, I loose that melee as well and by now the whole division is in full flight and I'm making (and failing) Brigade and Divisional moral checks left right and centre!! This can't be happening!

"Courir pour les gars des collines, notre commandant est un coq!" 
(Run for the hills lads, our commander is a knob!)

By the end of this massacre-of-epic-proportions the light was fading and the battle drew to a close. But the shear volume of destroyed and dispersed units, not to mention lost flags, meant the Allies won a resounding victory of 20 points to ten.  

To the victor the spoils...and some well deserved smugness! 

As I said earlier, none of us has ever seen a cavalry charge of such devastating proportions, nor are we ever likely to see it again (I hope). But it has to be said that although the Dice Gods clearly had it in for me on Saturday my opponent John was cool under pressure and pursued his advantage ruthlessly despite the odds. My only hope now is that I have used up a lifetimes worth of cr*ppy dice rolls and will have better luck next time! 

Thursday 15 November 2012

T34/85's in the Desert

When I decided to try out 6mm micro armour I bought several sets of tanks just to paint as a test. These included the Tiger I's I featured here a while back. But buying them on their own just didn't seem right. They needed an opponent, even if this was just a painting test. I hadn't decided at that point that I wanted to play a North Africa campaign otherwise I could have bought the first elements of my forces there and them. Instead I bought a couple of packs of T34/85's purely because I like this tank and because... oh who am I kidding?!? This is just a classic example of Shiney-bloody-itus getting the better of me at a show! 

I couldn't leave them unpainted so here is a totally historically inaccurate paint job of three T34/85's in the Libyan Desert! 

Sometimes I do wonder what the hell is going through my head when I'm buying models.

Wednesday 14 November 2012

Desert Buildings

I'm still waiting for my 6mm Afrika Korp order to arrive but I'm trying not to be idle while I wait. So I bought these desert buildings and quickly painted them up ready for action. The larger buildings are two-storey Libyan mud-brick village/town houses. The three smaller ones in front are meant to be Arabic town/village houses, although this type of building can be found almost anywhere in the Arabian peninsular or north Africa. These later buildings had smooth walls but I wanted something that looked similar to the Town houses so I covered the walls with fine sand before painting. 

Desert buildings from TimeCast

These were base coated with Humbrol Desert Yellow then drybrushed with Vallejo Ivory and then given a couple of layers of diluted wash of GW Devlan Mud to tone the highlights down a bit.

Tuesday 13 November 2012

Panzer Commanders Binoculars

Its been a while since I showcased something from the Newlyn Collection but this item has particular relevance especially as I am getting started on my North Africa project. When the first elements of what would become the Deutsches Afrikakorps were moved to Libya in 1941 the Germans under Rommel quickly took the offensive. But their aggressive and successful assault on the British masked the fact that the DAK were outnumbered and were equipped with largely inferior tanks than their opponents. 

One area however where the Germans had an advantage - one that lasted throughout the war in all theatres - was the quality of the optics installed in their armoured vehicles. This even extended to the field glasses supplied to officers such as this pair of Zeiss binoculars. 

7X50 Zeiss Binoculars similar to those used by Rommel (pictured)
Although the exterior of the glasses is a bit battered and worn the optics are still in perfect order. This pair was 'recovered' from the battlefield somewhere in North Africa by my Sister-in-Laws Grandfather who served with the Desert Rats. The newspaper clipping showing Rommel wearing a pair of these is just for illustration (I'm not for a minute suggesting these belonged to him!).

These come complete with the eyepiece cap.
My German is a little rusty (ie non existent) but from what I can tell the words on the Eyepiece cap "Benutzer" mean "Owner/User" with space below for the user to scratch his name. On the other side the words "Okulare festgestellt, Nicht Verdrehen" mean something like "Do not rotate eyepieces". 

Makers Stamp

The Binoculars themselves are stamped with the Carl Zeiss makers mark and the Nazi eagle and Swastika which I think shows they were made specifically for the armed forces. No doubt there were many thousands of these issued and a quick search of the internet shows a few up for sale, but this is still a remarkable survival story for an artefact that brought the Desert War literally into my hands. 

Sunday 11 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday

The D-Day Memorial at Lepe, New Forest

"They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old: 
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. 

At the going down of the sun and in the morning 
We will remember them." 

['For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon]

Friday 9 November 2012

Patience of a Wargamer

I had an email earlier in the week from the company I am buying my Afrika Korps 6mm stuff from. I won't name them just yet because my feelings on the issue are a little undecided at the moment, but it goes without saying I would have liked to have had my figures by now. I'm glad the company concerned have communicated their stock problem to me although I do feel they could have done so a bit quicker (seven days after I placed the order online). Plus their website was showing stock available when it clearly wasn't so they have some issues they need to resolve there.

Finished bases in their magnetised box
But on the plus side their email to me seemed genuine and apologetic and they gave me the option of cancelling or putting the items on back order. After a further email exchange they also gave me an ETA for the arrival of their new stock so I could make an informed decision about what to do.

A lot is now riding on how long I actually have to wait, the accuracy of the order when it arrives and of course the condition of the models I receive. I'm being very cautious about all this because I am conscious of the fact that I am breaking into a new scale and pretty much everything is a learning curve at the moment.

So while I sit, wait and metaphorically twiddle-my-thumbs I'm trying to keep busy. I've got a veritable production line for desert bases going on at the moment. Once I have painted my first batch of tanks they can simply be glue onto the prepped bases, given a finishing spray of varnish and they'll be good to go. Of course I need the models to arrive before any of this can happen. Sigh...You'd think after all these years of painting and gaming I would be better at this patience malarkey.

Wednesday 7 November 2012

Second (third, fourth and fifth) Bites

On Thursday last week I received the latest edition of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy in the post. I really look forward to this magazines delivery and in particular the regular columns by the likes of Rick Priestly and Dan Johnson. Ricks article this month is all about second chances and in particular new editions of well loved games. This Gaming Life - A second bite was of course talking about the news that Warhammer 40,000 has been re-launched for the sixth time - but his article struck a cord with me because I immediately thought of the imminent 5th Edition re-boot of the Dungeons and Dragons Roleplaying game rules. 

The central premise of the article is that while it is almost inevitable that games designers and publishers might want to update, revise and improve on successful rules systems this process nearly always fractures and divides the existing community of players. Warhammer 40,000 appears to have bucked this trend but I suspect this is more to do with the business model of GW and its relentless supply of teen and pre-teen players feeding into the hobby and moving on as they get older (yes, I know this is a stereotype and probably inaccurate, but its my perception of the business). But for games like D&D, which have always had a broader audience of players the result of each subsequent re-boot has been the inevitable and painful division of its core player base. Old farts like me hanker for the game they knew in their youth while newer players are brought into the fold by the latest glossy edition of the rules.

There are still players out there that have resolutely stuck with the Basic Rules, or AD&D or 3rd Edition etc. With the possible exception of 3rd Edition (which introduce the popular d20 system) every other reincarnation of these rules has had a painful birth that has left some players behind. Ever since the acquisition of D&D by Wizard of the Coast many players have been suspicions of the over commercialisation of the brand. WoTC are essentially a publishing house and they make money by selling books, so it was no surprise when supplement after supplement began to be churned out for admittedly eager players and GM's. As a player during that period it sometimes felt as if there was a storm of reference works being published, many by companies other than WoTC. So while the D20 system arguably revitalised the brand it also sowed the seeds of its own demise at the same time. 

The problem with supplements - especially the 'unofficial' ones, is that with each new set of the rules the flaws in the core rules became more and more obvious. A common complaint during that period (and still today) was "the maths are broken". Thus the pressure for a new edition (beyond the need of a publishing house to publish another book) became inevitable, resulting in yet another splinter group undermining the core fan base of the game. This cycle is being repeated once again with 5th edition. I've read a lot of pro-5th edition rhetoric about how this version is inspired and developed by the fans and will usher in a new golden age for the game. I've been around long enough to have heard it all before. Sooner or later a new set of supplements will start to be published and the whole downward spiral will start again. And in the meantime a few more players give up, move on or abandon the 'new' version for the one they prefer the most.

I should state that I don't subscribe to the rather pessimistic view that 'real' D&D is dead. Although I have my preferences regarding which edition of the rules are best (duh! Basic of course!!) I don't see the splintering of the games player base as a necessarily bad thing. We are all essentially playing the same core game, with the same principles of co-operative storytelling that Gygax and Arneson forged way back in 1974. Ok so the rules systems have diverged with each edition but when you put the rules to one side its clear that the respective systems have more in common than they have in conflict. If you put two D&D players together its not the rules they tell anecdotes about its the 'adventures' they had with their characters.

So will I be buying 5th Edition D&D? Probably, but only out of curiosity and not because I expect to play the game. And if my group decides to return to the best RPG in the world I expect it may be using an earlier edition... with a healthy dose of house rules thrown in. At the end of the day the rules are unimportant; the adventure's the thing that really matters. 

Monday 5 November 2012

A Proper Wargamer?

This is my response to another one of those viral memes that occasionally do the rounds in our little online community. This one was kicked off by Phil Broeders on his blog The Wargaming Site and has been picked up by several other bloggers including Tamsin at The Wargaming Girl, Mike at Trouble at T'Mill, and Vladd at Too Much Free Time. I have decided to apply a points system to this so if you answer yes you get a point, half points can also be earned and of course no points for negative answers. As the first question has two parts the maximum score attainable is therefore 21 points... With the extra questions posed by Phil the maximum is now 57:

** This is an updated version of this article and includes an expanded list based on Phil's Pt 2 Post **

To genuinely call yourself a Wargamer, then you must have done most or all of the following:
* Spent at least £500 on figures / tanks - and you get extra kudos for every £500 you've spent
Oh yes, five hundred quid and then some... definitely get extra kudos for this one  (2 points)
* Pricked your finger or thumb on a pike block - several times
Do the lances on Russian Cossack's count? I took more damage from my own troops in one game than they dealt to the opposition. (1 point)
* Tried at least 10 different rule sets and vowed never to play half of them ever again
Nearly... I own about 7 or 8 WWII rulesets most of which will never get played. Not that this will stop me from buying more in my pursuit of the perfect rules. I also have a couple of ACW rules sets although my F&F rules do get used (½ Point)
* Bought an army off EBay
I have never bought a whole army on eBay, but I have picked up a real bargain or two from here.(0 Points)
* Sold an army on EBay
Never sold on EBay but I guess there's always a first time (0 Points)
* spent months painting an army - then used it in anger once
..or never! If it wasn't for my membership of the Rejects I probably wouldn't get to play at all.(1 Point)
* tried several different periods and genres
Definitely yes. Since joining Posties Rejects I have played dozens of periods, scales and rules sets. (1 Point)
* dropped a box of figures on the floor from a great height
Oh yes...the pain of opening the box and finding all the models in bits still haunts me.(1 Point)
* lost a battle on the last throw of the dice
Moral checks are the bane of my life and on more than one occasion I have lost a battle by failing a moral check even though I was winning tactically. If my life depended on one throw of the dice I'd be a dead man. I find that the more crucial the dice throw the greater the chances are that I'll roll a 1 (1 Point) 
* made at least one enemy for life
Yes, my Mother... oh you mean because of wargaming. Then thankfully the answer is no (0 Point)
* had a proper, stand up argument over a wargamers table
Once, long long ago when I was still a teenager. I like to think I have a matured a bit since then! (1 Point)
* thrown a dice across a room
Several times. I have also taken dice outside and set fire to them, hit them with hammers and even on one occasion cut one in half with an axe! My dice know who's boss... (1 Point)
* rebased an army for a different rule set
Ye gods never. The thought alone makes me shudder. (0 points)
* inflicted a whopping defeat on an opponent
Only once, and I felt so sorry for him after the game it took the shine off the victory.(1 Point)
* suffered an embarrassing defeat due to a stupid tactical decision
Long ago, in a Galaxy far far away... back when I played Warhammer Epic I had a massive Imperial Titan and basically forgot to move it at the start of a crucial turn. All my main guns were unable to come to bare on the enemy and I was so annoyed with myself I nearly broke my fist punching a wall! Did I say I have grown up a lot since then? (1 Point)
* joined a wargamers club
I've never been a 'club' type or person but I guess the Rejects are a sort of club. (½ Point)
* bought a ton of lead that remains unpainted
I did have a big lead mountain. I have made an effort to reduce it in recent years.(½ Point)
* been to a wargamers show
Duh, yes! I love them, as regular readers will know. (1 Point)
* have more dice than is logical or necessary to own - and have used most of them
I have thousands of unnecessary dice in bags, jars and boxes all round the house and I still come home from shows with new sets of dice...its gone beyond obsession and become a mania. I'm sure there must be a clinical name for this disorder but I don't want to be cured. (1 Point)
* have taken boxes of troops down to a club just to show them off to your mates
As already stated I'm not a club man. But I do like showing off my models which is why I started writing this blog. (½ Point)

And now some extra questions....

* You have reference books on each period / army you play (I must have ten samurai books now)
Yes, my 'library' keeps on growing (1 Point)
* Having played so many different games you confidently quote rules for a totally different period, scale or ruleset to the one you're playing at that moment
Hell no, my mastery of rules is shaky at best (0 Points)
* You have lied to your partner / spouse about how much you've spent on the hobby
I've never lied to my wife...I have on occasion been economical with the truth, but I've never lied. (0 Points)
* You get genuinely excited when a package arrives in the post
Most of my parcels get delivered to work and my colleges are used to seeing me rushing through the office to the lunch room gleefully clutching a parcel and grinning like a kid at Christmas. (1 point)
* You have joined a re-enactment society (5 points for this one!)
No, but if I were ten years younger (and 10 stone lighter) I might consider it (0 Points)
* You have played in an unsuitable venue 
My first Warhammer games were played on the floor rather than a table. That was a killer on the knees  I can tell ya. Too old and decrepit for that now! (1 Point) 
* You continue to search for the perfect Napoleonic / WW2 / Ancients / ACW etc. rule set (knowing that it doesn't actually exist).
Currently WWII rules are my obsession and 'money pit' (1 Point)
* For that reason you have developed your own house rules for certain periods.  And think them far superior to the original author's efforts.
Not yet, but I'm on the verge of doing so. (0 Points)
* You have returned from a wargames show and sneaked upstairs to hide the stash.
Life's too short for secrets...and besides I'd only get caught (0 Points)
* You have an irrational aversion to some genres and vow never to play them regardless of how much fun they look.
I can't say I have. I'll play anything and haven't encountered a period I 'hate' (0 points)
* You have made your own wargames scenery.
Yes, lots of it. Its cheaper and its fun in sad way (1 Point)
* You have reached a painting 'wall' 
Often. When I'm in the mood I can paint like the wind, but then I'll just dry up and do something else for a while until the bug bites again. (1 Point)
* You have lost - and regained - your wargaming mojo.
I have spent my time in the wilderness playing other games, but wargaming is a hard addiction to beat (1 Point)
* You have the occasional (and short lived) sense of guilt with your wife/children when complaining to them about the money spent in clothes, shoes or toys/Xbox games when you have £200 of unpainted metal stuffed in an upstairs drawer.
I'm as hypocritical as the next gamer but yes I have had a moments guilt now and again. (1 Point)
* You have done armies in different scales for the same period 
Currently doing WWII in 28mm, 15mm and now 6mm (1 Point)
* You have jealously coveted someone else's troops.
Pretty much every painted army I have seen at shows! (1 Point)
* You have laughed (secretly or otherwise) as someone else's paint job 
Ah yes, the Turquoise Death leap to mind. My friends rather oddly painted Space Marine army...I swear he must have been colour blind or something (1 Point)
* You have provided a piece of useless trivia relating to the troops on the table to show off your wargaming knowledge. 
Yes, and then got slapped down by an even bigger nerd who knew his stuff better than me! (1 point)
* You have contradicted someone elses' trivia - demonstrating your superior knowledge and giving you a warm glow inside.
Revenge is a dish best served hot! (1 Point)
* You have caused a major disaster on a wargames table (spilling a pint, collapsing the table, dropped someone else's figures on the floor). 
I've knocked the occasional bit of scenery over but thankfully nothing big and catastrophic (0 Points)
* You have cheered when an opponent's dice lets them down at a critical point (I have literally danced in front of someone when he failed a morale roll) 
I have done the War Dance too, I'm ashamed to say (1 point)
* You have lied to your partner about going gaming.  "Mothers' not very well - just popping around to see her.  I'll be back in about - oh - seven hours".
See my earlier answer about not lying to the wife! (0 Points)
* You have lied to an attractive woman (man) about your hobby.  
...except of course back when I was courting her. I didn't admit I was a gamer until we'd been going out long enough I was sure she wouldn't walk out there and then! (1 Point)
* You have made an opponent cry.  It doesn't count if they are under 8 years old though.
No. I'm not that good. (0 Points)
* You have painted the same army in the same scale more than once (Monty, you dawg!)  
No. But there's still time.. (0 Points)
* You have reference books on armies you haven't even got.
Yes. My 'library' is extensive and growing (1 Point)
* You have bought figures for a period you have never and will never play - because they were cheap.
We're all guilty of that, aren't we? (1 Point)
* You have inflicted grievous bodily harm on a dice that has let you down. 
As earlier indicated I have been known to destroy badly performing dice. (1 Point)
* You blog or have a web-page about your Wargaming activities
Clearly that is a yes! (1 point)
* Your book collection is almost all war and wargames related
My wife and I love books and our house is like a library, but mine are almost exclusively military history related. (1 Point)
* You critique 'war' movies (especially Hollywood war movies) for historical accuracy.
Don't get me started! (1 point)
* You spend car / train journeys checking out the lie of the land - considering which way you would attack from and whether it would make good wargaming terrain.
When the muse is upon me I become a motoring menace! (1 Point)

Total 37/57 (65% Wargamer!)

Does a score of 15 from 21 37 from 57 make one a 'proper wargamer' I wonder? Thanks to Phil for the great list and the inspiration. It brought back mostly good memories of over 30 years playing wargames.

Saturday 3 November 2012

Death of a Leviathan

The Delvers met on Friday night, minus the Evil GM, which means that yet again we didn't play our by now moribund D&D4E campaign. I think the life has gone out of this particular beast and when we talked about it we realised that the last game was so long ago none of us can actually remember what we did or where the story was heading. But while one great leviathan breaths its last (at least for a while) others are bursting with new life. As several members of the group were in attendance we took the time to discuss the future direction of the Delvers, including a couple of alternative RPG's. 

The first of course is the Hollow Earth Expedition RPG that I have mentioned here before. I'm almost ready to run the first game (been a bit distracted with my new 6mm tanks!☺) but I wasn't quite comfortable to 'wing it' last night. I want a chance to play-test a few solo combats first, so I can be sure I understand the mechanics of the Ubiquity system properly before I try and run a game. Its one thing to improvise storytelling during a game but quite another to pretend you know the rules when you don't. Most of the group were quite positive about giving this game a try and hopefully we can have our first game session sometime in the next few weeks.

The other RPG we looked at was the Fantasy version of the Marvel Heroic RPG we played a few months ago. The core mechanics look to be the same and it seems like a very easy system to improvise with. It should be fun and will be a refreshing alternative to the increasingly rules-heavy system we play now. Both these 'alternative' RPG's are much simpler in design than D&D and require far less investment of time (and money) in order to just sit down and play. 

I've long been an advocate of going back to a much simpler and basic version of D&D in our group (the Basic system itself in fact) where the emphasis is on actual roleplaying rather than power gaming and rules management. I'm sure I've just committed some sort of heresy saying that (I expect the D&D community to dispatch an  angry mob forthwith) but as someone who has played this game in all its forms, for over 30 years, I think I have a valid opinion. Part of me hopes the 5th Edition currently in development will be simpler and more 'old school' but the realist in me knows that will never happen. 

Thursday 1 November 2012

I've been to the Science Museum

The kids are on their Autumn Half Term holiday this week and although I wasn't able to book the whole week off work I was able to book Monday off. So myself the wife and the kids went to the Science Museum in London. Its been a few years since I was last there and some of the displays look a little dated now, especially the 'Space' hall. It was exceptionally busy with the usual quota of tourists plus what seemed like thousands of kids and their parents, ourselves included. 

Up on the top floor there are several aircraft on display and I had one particular exhibit in mind that I wanted to photograph, a rare surviving example of a German ME163 Komet. There were at least 29 confirmed Komets captured and shipped out of Germany after the war although only 10 have  survived in various museums around the world with three of these in the UK. Me163B "Yellow 6" has been on display at the Science Museum since 1964 with the Walter motor removed for separate display. The aircraft itself is suspended from the ceiling and hangs dramatically in a prominent position in the hall making it an eye catching exhibit. 

The Messerschmidt Me163 'zooms' over the head of visitors

The lighting in the hall seems designed to thwart photography!

The forward 'skid' landing gear of the Me163. 

Although in generally poor condition it does retain it original paintwork

There was also a rather interesting special exhibition dedicated to the brilliant mathematician Alan Turin and his work on breaking the German Enigma code. There are several examples of Enigma machines on display and a replica 'Bomba', the mechanical decryption machine used to break Enigma. Also if like me you are a bit of a computer geek you'll be interested in the original Pilot ACE Computer (an early electronic stored-program computer) built to Turin's design which is also on display. 

If you have a chance to visit this exhibit and the rest of the museum it's well worth going, although I suggest you avoid the school holidays with all those annoying kids and their parents!