Thursday 30 May 2013

British Heavy Machine Gun Platoon

I've finished another unit for my British 8th Army forces and this time its a Vickers HMG Platoon. The Vickers was a development of the Maxim Machine Gun first seen in 1912 and saw service virtually unchanged until 1968. The Vickers was an incredibly reliable weapon able to fire almost continuously for hours on end with a rate of fire of about 450rpm. Machine-gunners were trained in methods originally devised in the First World War for firing machine-gun barrages of indirect fire out to more than 4000 yards.
British 8th Army HMG Platoon

The Vickers HMG in a Man-packed Gun team and has a Range 24”/60cm, ROF 6, AT 2, FP 6 and it’s ROF it only reduced to 2 when pinned down. When firing bombardments their range is 40”/100cm. They can pin down the enemy, but only harm those unit caught in the open by their bombardment.

I will probably paint another platoon of these as I have plenty of models and they are a very versatile unit, able to fit into several different types of company lists. 

Wednesday 29 May 2013

British 8th Army Rifle Platoon

I have finally finished painting another platoon of British Infantry for my 8th Army North Africa forces. I'm also within a gnats whisker of completing an accompanying Heavy Machine Gun Platoon to  provide support, which should be ready to show off by tomorrow. Although the Desert war is often seen as a tank war it was the Infantry Divisions that were the real backbone of the British Eighth Army. This Rifle Platoon comes with seven Rifle/MG teams, a Light Mortar team and an Anti-tank Rifle team.

British 8th Army Rifle Platoon
I'm in two minds what to do next. I have enough British infantry models in hand to consider painting a couple more rifle platoons or possibly even a whole new Infantry Company. Many of the units already painted for the Infantry Tank Company would be interchangeable and would give me much more flexibility in building bespoke forces for specific games. The other option is for me to work on some infantry for my Afrikakorps forces. This needs to be done eventually as I have none completed at the moment, but I do have plenty of models just waiting for a lick of paint. I'm going to give this some serious thought but I want to make my mind up soon so I can get straight on with the next lot of painting while I still have momentum on my side! 

Monday 27 May 2013

Killer Bunnies of Catan

The Dagenham Delvers gathered on Friday and played our way through a trio of boardgames that ranged from the funny to the bizarre and the excellent. Playing multiple games like this in a single evening gives us a chance to evaluate and assess which ones we would like to see come back for more in depth games. More importantly it lets us know which ones should be avoided!

Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot - What can I say about this rather strange game? Well for a start its not the sort of game I would have expected to find myself playing at a gathering of the Delvers. First published in 2002 by Playroom Entertainment it is for two to eight players and the manufacturers give a suggested aged suitability 13 and up (although the game is simple enough to be played by much younger kids). Games take between 60 and 90 minutes although a lot depends on random chance and the number of players. Its simple and fun to play with an emphasis on cartoonishly grisly deaths for your own and opponents bunnies. One the things I liked about the game was the fact that you play your cards two turns in advance, making planing vital. A fun 'popcorn' game aimed at families... or desperate former roleplaying groups in need of en evenings entertainment.

Killer Bunnies is a strange but rather funny game of Bunniecide for two or more players.

Relationship Tightrope - I have absolutely no idea why John even bought this game, let alone why he brought it along to Game Night. But having brought it along we decided to give it a go.  The aim of the game is to keep your relationship in balance by bidding against the other players for coloured markers (you guessed it, blue and pink). Pairs of opposite colours cancel each other out so the player with the least tokens of any colour wins. Lets just say this is possibly the most sexist game I have ever played, with all the artwork on the cards seeming to depict every gender stereotype its creators could think of. It was so bad it was almost funny. Almost. Trust me when I say we won't be playing this again.

Why John brought this game along (any why we played it) is still a mystery. The game mechanic is simple but the point of the game still eludes us.
Settlers of Catan - The last game of the evening was the popular and award winning Settlers of Catan. We should have got this game out earlier because we really enjoyed it. The game mechanics are quite simple but the complexity of interactions with other players makes this an addictive game to play. For the new players this was an easy game to get into although we could probably have done with a second game to really get into it. 

The third game of the evening (and the only proper one IMHO was Settlers of Catan. Two of the group had never played this before but found it very easy to get into the rules. 
All in all a pretty fun evening improved by the fact that we ended on a high note with Settlers. We will definitely have this back for a future session, assuming we can scrape together enough players that is!

Friday 24 May 2013

Matilda Scorpion Flail Tanks

The revolving drum and chains on a Matilda Scorpion
The mine-clearing flail concept was first devised by a South African officer, Captain (later Major) A. S. du Toit. While du Toit went to England to develop the idea, Captain Norman Berry, a mechanical engineer who had been sent to South Africa in 1941 to evaluate the system, championed and experimented with the idea. Later Major L. A. Girling was tasked with developing the concept and it was Girling's team that eventually produced the Matilda Scorpion.

The first prototypes were mechanically unreliable and kicked up so much dust that engine filters blocked and crews had to wear their gas-masks in order to breath. But the flail had proved itself and the design went on to be improved and revised for the Grant tank and later the Sherman and modern variations on the concept are still in use today.

These 1:300th scale (6mm) Matilda Scorpion Flail Tanks are from Heroics and Ros and I bought them on a whim (I saw, I wanted!) when I was at Salute a few weeks ago. Initially and rather stupidly I only bought two models and only later realised I would need three for a Platoon. At this small scale its almost impossible for the vehicles to be cast showing the flails spinning so these models just show the chains hanging down as if at rest. But I wanted to inject a little bit of movement into the finished models, so instead of adding the flails I have added the dust kicked up by their rotating chains. I used the same method for making these clouds that I used on my Dust Cloud bases a few months ago, only these are much smaller and have been shaped to fit around the flail drums and the tank itself.

Matilda Scorpion Flail Tanks begin to enter the minefield
In Flames Of War mine flail tanks do not need to take a motivation test to enter a minefield. They are well trained and confident of their armour’s ability to withstand any mine that their flail fails to detonate. A mine flail tank that crosses a minefield without being hit by a mine has cleared a lane through the minefield in the same way as a Pioneer team.

Passing through the minefield...
..and out into open desert.
I'm really happy with how these turned out and I'm looking forward to incorporating them into my British Infantry Tank Company. 

Wednesday 22 May 2013

6mm Desert Terrain: El Alamein Train Station

El-Alamein is located about 66 miles (110 Kilometers) east of Alexandria and takes its name from the twin peaked hill known as Tell al-Alamein, upon which it stands. In 1942 there were just a few buildings clustered around the station, and it had no strategic significance in itself. However this general area, hemmed in by the Mediterranean to the north and the Qattara Depression to the south, presented the British and Commonwealth forces in 1942 with an ideal defensive position. Here at last was a front line with secure flanks, short lines of supply and communication, spanning a distance of just 40 miles and protected by hastily expanded minefields. With Rommel's advance towards Alexandria blunted at the First Battle of El Alamein (and his later pre-emptive offensive stopped at the Battle of Alam el Halfa) the allies were finally given the breathing room they needed to begin planning offensive rather than defensive operations.
El Alamein train station in 1942 
Today the Rail Stop at El Alamein has been replaced by a much more modern building further down the track and the original building is in very poor condition. It is still a focal point for battlefield tour groups and there are tentative plans (in conjunction with the Imperial War Museum) to restore the building. Nearby there is a war museum with collectibles from the Battle of El Alamein and other North African battles as well as Italian and German military cemeteries on Tell el-Eisa Hill just outside of town.
El Alamein train station today
I chose a 6mm model of the Station made by Timecast from their North African and Middle Eastern Buildings collection. I've bought and painted some of the other models in the range and was impressed with the quality of the casting. Timecast use an acrylic polymer/high density gypsum mix for their buildings, which gives a high level of definition and detail. It looks and feels like it is made from plaster but this material is much tougher and less likely to break. I have found the buildings to be quite absorbent, especially with the first coat of paint, so it is essential to prime these models properly before proceeding any further. Having said that this is a wonderful material to work with and I am surprised it isn't more widely used.  
The platform side of the building
Entrance to the ticket hall
This is a two part model comprising the station building and a separate platform. I chose not to glue the two parts together as I didn't think the bond would be very strong, and working separately also simplified the painting process. I tried to find a colour photo of the station that was contemporary with 1942 but couldn't (no doubt one will turn up now that I have finished the model!) so in the end I painted this to match the version on the Timecast Website shown here. Of course I now need to find some rails to lay in front of this building, so I guess I need to check out the likes of eBay for some cheep Z Scale track. 

Monday 20 May 2013

6mm Desert Terrain: Roads

A few weeks ago I picked up some sheets of Emery Paper and a set of Sanding Belts for an Electric Sander at my local discount store. I should point out that I don't plan on polishing any metal and don't own an electric sander and that my purchases were for gaming purposes only. I had a vague idea that I could use these materials to make some cheap and quick roads for my desert battlefields and over the last week or so I have put that idea to the test. 

The reason I bought two types was that I decided I needed to make two types of roads. The Sandpaper belts were quite course and once painted would represent dusty track ways in the desert. The dark grey Emery paper, which was much finer grained, would become metaled roads such as the one pictured here on the right.

I cut the emery/sandpaper to approximately 35mm wide which is about the same width as a FoW Small base. In total I have been able to make about 9ft of track way and 8ft of metaled road for less than £5. This will be more than enough for my needs at present but they were so easy to make I can easily add to my road network if needed later.
Quick and easy roads
A Tiger rolls down a sandy track way in the desert
A column of tigers on a metaled road
They aren't perfect - I would have preferred something with a bit more utility such as a flexible rubber material - but they will certainly suffice for now and are more than sufficient for smaller games.

Friday 17 May 2013


This milestone sort of crept up on me and it was only this morning that I realised that sometime over the last week BLMA had acquired its 500th Follower. I wasn't keeping an eye out for it (too busy naval gazing) but I have to say I am more than a little humbled by the support of my readers. So thanks to Vulcanologist for joining my New Model Army and thanks of course to the other 499 regulars that keep coming back and keep me writing and taking pictures.

BLMA's New Model Army!

Thursday 16 May 2013

Negative Waves

I've not posted much this week because I haven't had much to post about. That's not to say I'm not working hard on stuff but nothing has reached the finished stages yet. So rather then attract them negative waves (you know who you are!) I thought I'd outline some of the stuff that's been keeping me off the interweb.

6mm Roads
I'm working on some more 6mm terrain items including some roads and a few buildings. These are all at various stages of work but hopefully in the next few days the first will be completed and I'll show it to you here on BLMA. The Roads are very simple yet already look very effective and are more than suitable for basic games. I won't give away the details just yet but I think you'll be surprised by my choice of materials and just how easy these are to make. 

Desert Buildings
When I was at Salute I bought a model of the El Alamein Train Station from the Timecast 6mm desert building range. I've started to prepare this but am holding off painting it for a few days while I research the real building, to work out how it looked in 1942. Recent photo's of this iconic building show it to be in a very sorry condition and give few clues as to its original look. I guess its only a significant building to us Brits (and our Allies) but to the local population its just another part of an old and crumbling infrastructure. 

Boldly Trekking
At the beginning of last year Mrs BigLee and I decided we would try to go out a little more. Our eldest daughter (the Young Jedi) is now old enough to babysit our youngest daughter (the Young Padawan) so we decided that we would try to have one evening out without the kids each month. That was January 2012 and 17 months later we have managed to go out twice! So it was with some surprise that we found ourselves at the cinema to see the new Star Trek movie last night.

I have to say I loved the film (much better then the last one) and so did the wife - she's as much a Trekkie as I, she just won't admit it! The film has some great humour, a pretty good well written story, lots of action and plenty of references to the old films and TV series scattered throughout to keep the fans happy. Its also good to see a big budget Hollywood film with so many great British actors in it. Benedict Cumberbatch may have a silly name but he is a brilliant actor and has a really great role in this film. I won't give anything away about the story but will recommend you just go to see it. I don't think you'll be disappointed.

Infantry Stands and Matilda Scorpions
I'm still working on the infantry and vehicles I started a couple of weeks ago. I have made some significant progress but there is still a lot to do. Last weekend was quite busy and I didn't get as much done as I would have liked but progress is progress even if it is slow. I'm going to do a little more work on these tonight and I am setting myself an objective to do a little bit each day, even if its only 15 minutes in between other jobs.

Converting Rules
This is a project that I have been thinking about for months, but have put off starting. Basically I'm systematically working my way through the Flames of War rules and asking myself the question, do these need to be adapted for 6mm Wargaming? I've run a couple of play-tests and haven't come across any significant problems but I really need to put my ideas and thoughts down in black and white. So I have started to write a post about converting the rules for use with 6mm miniatures so I can share my findings. This is very much a work-in-progress and the finished article is likely to be long and detailed and may take weeks to complete (don't expect anything too soon!) so keep your eye's peeled.

And finally....

Wargaming Girl's Prize Draw
Time for a quick plug of the Prize Draw over on the Wargaming Girl's Blog. Tamsin only started her Blog in January 2012 and she has already hit the 100,000 hit mark. I'm sure this will just be the first of many milestones for her Blog, especially when she does a grand celebratory give-away like she is this week.

Over the next 5 days she'll be drawing for 5 prizes and today's prize is a box of 28mm plastic WWII Late War British and Commonwealth Infantry from Warlord Games. I've already put my name in the hat for this prize and all you need to do to take part is become a follower of her Blog an leave a comment. 

Sunday 12 May 2013

Preparing for Broadside

The closed circles of MI-5 or the CIA have nothing on Posties Rejects this weekend. On Sunday we met up at our top secret bunker (Posties Shed-of-War) to plan our takeover of the world. Well, actually we were working on our Display game for Broadside but the level of detailed planning and scheming is the same. I can't reveal too many details but I have been authorised to show this sneak peek of Sundays practice session.
Battle of the Boyne
The game looks great and the planning by Ray and Richard has been exemplary. I really can't say any more than that at this stage, you'll just have to come along to Broadside on the 9th June to see the results of our efforts.

Friday 10 May 2013

6mm Desert Terrain: Sand Dunes

The desert terrain of the North Africa Campaign was probably more varied that many people realise. Uncomplicated by a civilian population and the accompanying infrastructure the desert was none the less a varied and difficult place to wage war while being perfect for the sort of wide sweeping manoeuvres of armoured formations. I have been slowly building up a collection of (usually) scratch built terrain for my North Africa games and one item that was missing was Sand Dunes. 

Dunes can come in a range of sizes and shapes, can be found singly, in clusters, or as part of massive 'Sand Sea' features covering many square miles. I decided I wanted to make some smaller individual versions, still large enough to block line of sight and be hazards to movement. These could be placed together to form an 'area' terrain feature or be placed separately. 

The basis of these dune models was a set of Ice Cream sticks which are about 3 Inches long by ¾ Inches across. I used a pack of DAS modelling clay bought from a local arts and crafts store (£3.99 for 1kg from The Works). This clay is sealed in foil and is ready to use straight from the pack. It air dries to a hard durable Matt finish without the need for firing, which is ideal if you don't happen to own a kiln! The best thing about this clay is that it doesn't shrink as it dries and once hard it it can be painted with acrylics.

I bought some sculpting tools but in the end I found the easiest way to mould the clay was by hand, using wet fingers to shape the dunes. It only took a few minutes per model to create the distinctive dune shape which is longer on the windward side, where the sand is pushed up the dune, and shorter on the slip face in the lee of the wind. I used a soft wet brush to smooth out any fingerprints in the clay and then just left the model to dry for 24 hours. I actually put these in my boiler cupboard, which is warmer and dryer than room temperature, to speed up the hardening process. I decided not to apply sand to the surface as at this scale it would make the dune look like it was made from rubble. Instead I just painted the clay and used shading to emphasis the dunes shape. The finished models were then varnished with Winsor and Newton Gloss Varnish for toughness and then a couple of layers of Testors dullcote to give them a flat matt finish.

A troop of Valentines moves around the dunes.
I'm really happy with these. For such a simple build they look very effective on the table and afford some much needed cover and obstacles on the battlefield. I still have about 750g of the clay remaining so I'll be making more dunes and other terrain items from this material in the near future. 

Thursday 9 May 2013

Bush and Zombies

I've just came across this old (2007) YouTube video and it made me realise just how much I miss George Bush. 

Comedy gold. 

Wednesday 8 May 2013

Battle Story : El Alamein 1942

I saw this book several weeks ago and decided to buy it primarily because I had read other works by this author and knew it would be a good read. Pier Paolo Battistelli earned his PhD in Military History at the University of Padua and is a scholar of German and Italian politics and strategy throughout World War II. He has written and collaborated on several Osprey guides about the Afrikakorp and the North Africa Campaign and is a contributor to the Italian Army Historical Office. 

The book is divided into several sections which lay the foundations for a good broad overview of the campaign and the battle itself. Starting with the background to El-Alamein the author looks at the North Africa Campaign up to this moment and makes the observation that the weakness of the supply chain meant that despite seemingly huge advances by both sides neither was able to gain a decisive advantage. Rommel's failed offensive at the Battle of Alam el Halfa - and Hitler's refusal to allow Rommel to fall back on his supply lines - gave the Allies under Montgomery an opportunity to deal a fatal blow to the Axis forces arrayed against them.

The author starts the book by presenting an overview of the forces on either side as they were by mid 1942. He reviews the Commanders, the soldiers, their kit and their tactics and shows how they had evolved over the previous two years. In particular Battistelli emphasises the all arms flexibility of the Axis forces that enabled them to punch above their weight for most of the campaign.

Having brought the reader through those early inconclusive stages of the desert war, Battistelli then looks at the preparation's made by both sides for the inevitable offensive that would take place on this relatively narrow strip of land between the sea and the Qattara Depression. He reviews the relative strengths of both forces, the training they received and the planning that the Commonwealth Forces made for Operation Lightfoot (the opening stages of the battle) and the preparations of the Axis forces to repulse the attack.

Sherman tanks of the 8th Army pursue the Axis forces
retreating from El Alamein. 
Having now comprehensively set the scene Battistelli now moves on to the Battle itself. This is divided down into the break into the German & Italian defensive lines and how the axis forces reacted. Emphasis is placed on the fact that their temporary leader, General Stumme, died from a heart attack early in the battle. Rommel's swift arrival from Berlin re-galvanised the axis defence. The battle now entered the phase known as the Dogfight, the grinding down of the axis forces by the blunt instrument of attrition referred to in Montgomery's plan as the Crumbling. Finally operation supercharge results in the breakout of the allied armour and enables a restrained pursuit of the enemy.

Montgomery has often been criticised by armchair generals (and real ones for that matter) for not pursuing the axis forces more forcefully after Alamein, but he was vary aware that his forces were exhausted after the battle and was vary wary of stretching his own supply lines and weakening his own strategic advantage for the sake of short term gains. The debate will no doubt go on but it was Montgomery's measured and straightforward approach that gave the Commonwealth forces one of their greatest victories and turned the tide firmly against the Axis in North Africa.

I found this to be an good introduction to the Second Battle of El Alamein because it provides all the background needed to understand the events leading up to this climactic moment in history. When I bought it one of the things that caught my attention was the use of maps, order of battles and timelines throughout the book. The maps in particular are clear, detailed and compliment the written text very well. This isn't as scholarly a work as say Pendulum of War by Neil Barr but it is a good introductory book and cuts through the details to the heart of what happened. Battistelli's style is easy to read (although his paragraphs are often long and ponderous) and engaging enough to keep the reader interested without bogging down in unnecessary detail. 

Hardcover: 160 pages
Publisher:   The History Press Ltd; 1st ed (Sep 2011)
Language:   English
RRP:          £9.99

Monday 6 May 2013

Duxford in the Sun

I took the wife and the young Padawan to Duxford on Sunday to take advantage of the fine spring weather that has finally arrived in time for the Bank Holiday weekend. I've been to Duxford dozens of times (it's less than an hour from where I live) and as Friends of the Museum we got in for free. There was a classic car rally on the site,  but to be honest if its not painted green and packing a couple of MG's and a Gun I'm not that interested! I didn't take many pictures (I've posts lots on BLMA over the years here, here and here) but here's a few from this visit.
The B17 Flying Fortress 'Sally B'
Junkers Ju52/3m "Iron Annie"
Myself and my Young Padawan at Duxford
A V1 Flying Bomb on its launch ramp
The V1
Part of the USAF Memorial Wall at Duxford
An Overlord C-47 Decota 
Part of the infamous Iraqi 'Supergun'
USAF Flight gear
A rather dilapidated Radar dish
A Replica Spitfire in the Battle of Britain hanger
Part of the gas catapult system for another V1
The second V1 at Duxford
I'll be back at Duxford in mid June for a military vehicle rally and no doubt again later in the year for an Air Show or two. 

Sunday 5 May 2013

Charging Highlanders

Continuing the occasional series of pictures of Toy Soldiers.

Britons, Armies of the World Set - Highlanders, Charging in Khaki. House on the Hill Toy MuseumStansted Mountfitchet.

Saturday 4 May 2013

Back to the Grindstone

After yesterdays excitement I have calmed down and started on some new projects. Here's a sneak peek at my workdesk...

My workbench

I have three platoons taking shape, all British. A rifle platoon, a machine gun platoon and a couple of Matilda Scorpion mine flails.

Friday 3 May 2013

How the f*** did I survive that? (NSFW)

Its been a long hard week and I almost didn't make it. I've had a busy work week combined with a  bad cold and some terrible night's sleep, so it was already shaping up to be a pile of shit that I was glad to get behind me. But the icing on the cake is that twice this week I have come within a gnats whisker of being killed by mentally challenged (and possibly blind) lorry drivers. This morning's brush with death was over so fast I didn't even have time for my boring pointless fucking life to flash before my eyes! I reckon I must have a high Midichlorian count or something because I swear I started to react before I was actually aware of the danger I was in. If I hadn't responded with a degree of precognition I would almost certainly be a red smear on a concrete wall right now. 

I was on my regular drive into work on a three lane 'A' road and was slowing in the last 50 yards before my exit. The lorry in question was in the middle lane overtaking when he suddenly swerved into my lane, presumably because he realised he needed the same exit and was going to overshoot. He didn't indicate, there was no gentle lane change, and he clearly didn't know I was there because he was pulling into the space occupied by my car! The problem is that that stretch of road crosses a rail line and is enclosed by ten foot high concrete barriers and has no hard shoulder. I was literally inches from being sandwiched between this idiots rig and the concrete wall, and in retrospect I have no idea how we missed each other. Needless to say I fucking shit myself and when we were off the main road I had to pull over and calm down. 
So my message to the driver of the of said truck is simple...Grown a fucking brain you useless fucking twat! Open your fucking eyes and learn to fucking drive before you kill somebody, you fucking useless puss filled excuse for a human being!! 

I'm f**king livid!
Sorry about that, but I needed to get that off my chest. 

Thursday 2 May 2013

The Dreaded 88

This unit has been on my desk for several weeks as I have been sidetracked by one thing or another. Now that I have cleared my desk of diversions, and and re-organised it, I have finally made time to finish this Platoon. This Heavy Anti Aircraft Gun Platoon can be added to most companies as Divisional Support and consists of two 8.8cm FlaK36 Anti-Aircraft Gun sections.

The German 88mm wasn't actually as good an AA gun as the British 3.7inch gun but it was the Germans innovative use of the weapon in its Anti-Tank role that gave this gun its formidable reputation. The high velocity of the gun resulted in a very flat trajectory when firing AP rounds and this made for a very accurate weapon over long distances. When used in prepared positions coordinated with the Panzer's, it was a lethal weapon, able to knock out almost any British tank sent against it. Although the British could have used their 3.7 inch guns in much the same way (indeed Churchill encouraged its use in this way) the simple truth is that the German army was much more adept at this kind of tactical combined arms integration than the Allies.

The normal rate of fire for these weapons in Flames of War is 2 but if you increase the crew from five to eight the RoF is increased to 3 making them even more deadly. There isn't enough space to fit 8 models around this gun so I have used the same method that Battlefront employed in its 15mm model  of the Flak 36 by creating a small supplementary base containing the extra crew. This is placed behind the gun and can be removed if casualties are taken. The extra crew cost just 10 points extra per gun so this is a pretty good investment.

The Guns come from the Skytrex 1:300 range which is now owned by Heroics and Ros. I may buy another couple of these when the old Skytrex stuff becomes available again in a couple of months. I'm not sure who manufactured the crouching figures on the gun bases but the quality was so poor I actually put some on facing the wrong way and it wasn't until I tried to paint them I realised my mistake! However the figures on the supplemental bases and on the HQ stand are from GHQ and are much better quality with good sharp details. I've now bought several blisters of Afrika Korp infantry and Artillery crew for future use. These are 1:285 scale but don't look out of place along side the 1:300th stuff. The difference in height (for infantry) is less than half a millimetre and against vehicles the slight scale variation it is imperceptible.

Game Statistics
Mobility      Immobile
Range         40"/100cm
RoF            2 (3*)
Anti-Tank  13
Firepower   3+
Special        Gun Shield, Anti-Aircraft, Turntable

Wednesday 1 May 2013

WSS 66 - The New Golden Age

My copy of Wargames Soldiers and Strategy arrived in the post yesterday and I've had a quick scan through its pages. I'm kicking myself now for not going digital when I resubscribed a couple of months ago. Its great to get the magazine in the post but I have definitely 'seen the light' as far as digital is concerned. Next time I resubscribe I'll opt for an electronic version. 

This months theme is the Battle of Gettysburg, and its a cracker. The American Civil War is my favourite period after WWII and I always enjoy it when The Rejects dust off the Fire and Fury Rules for a game. The Themed articles are a series of Scenarios for playing the opening stages of the battle. They could all be played as stand alone games but equally they could form the basis of a campaign-like series of games that enable players to really get under the skin of this pivotal battle.

Presenting the scenarios like this is a really good idea because it gives players a chance to pick and choose the level of engagement they want to go for and has the flexibility to be easily converted for different scales and rule sets. As always each of the 8 scenarios is accompanied by excellent colour photo's and usual high quality maps readers have come to expect from WSS. 

This issue isn't all about the Civil War though and there are some notable articles details of which can be found on the WSS website. But as usual its the regular columns that have caught my attention and got the old grey matter working.

Rick Priestley's This Gaming Life has got to be one of my favourite columns in any gaming magazine. This month he's discussing the phenomenon of brand loyalty and how us gamers have a tendency to be a tribal bunch. I'm not sure I agree with the suggestion that this is the predominant situation within the gaming community but certainly there are some gamers who are 'loyal' to certain games to the exception of all others. These are probably also the same people that vent their often 'colourful' opinions about alternative rules systems across various forums, or maybe I'm falling into the same trap of stereotyping my fellow gamers. I certainly don't recognise myself in this article but maybe that's because I have the benefit of being part of The Rejects who's interests are diverse and wide ranging.

Richard Clarke's column Up Front suggests that the supposed The Golden Age of Wargaming back in the 70's is in fact something of a myth. Instead he suggests that now is the Golden Age with such a wide variety of periods being covered by stable and long lasting and mature companies that are increasingly sophisticated and professional. Gone are the bad old days of 'here today, gone tomorrow' game companies where ranges were short lived and sometimes poor quality.

Alexander Kawczynski (of Anatoli's Game Room) has written a good article about the The blessings of the World Wide Web. Like me he started gaming back in the dark ages, before the Web and before most ordinary people ever thought a home computer was for anything other than playing games. As a newbie entering the hobby Alexander, like me, had little or no access to painting guides and finding a local club was pretty much down to luck. But since we first discovered miniatures and wargames the Internet has exploded on the scene and changed our world quite radically. For wargamers that has meant forums, advice websites, on-line retail, video tutorials and of course more Blog's than you can shake a stick at.

In some ways this article links to Richards because for all its pitfalls (and there are many) the Internet has in my view created a new golden age for the hobby. Support and information for the newbie is better than it has ever been and the breadth of games, periods and rules available mean there are multiple routes into the hobby. Maybe (looking back to Rick's article) this is why us gamers tend to be tribal; there are so many good choices out there the only way to avoid an overload of shinybloodyitus is to focus on a particular game or a particular brand. We are in fact spoilt for choice and we should count ourselves lucky to be so blessed.