Saturday 31 December 2016

BBC Time Commanders: A review

If you are a Wargamer and live in the UK then it probably hasn't escaped your notice that the BBC has revived the historical warfare program Time Commanders, this time hosted by Gregg Wallace. The format pits two teams of players against each other in historical scenarios and uses a computer simulation to track the action on huge TV screens. Each team has an elected leader and two captains who interpret orders via computer operators and each episode focuses on a different period of history. The show is interspersed with weapons and tactical analysis from co-presenters Mike Loades and Sandhurst’s Dr Nusbacher.

Right lets start on a positive. This is a history program that (sort of) gets wargaming on TV and in the public domain. The format is designed to engage the viewer in something akin to a game show but is actually a history program in disguise.  I like the segments that look at the weapons and tactics and the experts they have on hand do a good job of conveying the uniqueness of the periods being played. I would prefer these to be a little longer and more detailed but maybe that isn't suited to the time slot and target audience (I'm not sure who these are, but more on that later).

At the core of the show is the simulation engine being used to play the battles out. As in its previous incarnation Time Commanders uses a complex computer program which supposedly takes into account multiple variables covering everything from the weather to fatigue and morale. I say supposedly because there have been a couple of moments where I felt an in game event should have had a much more significant impact on the outcome of a battle. In particular the first show which re fought the Battle of Zama between Hannibal's Carthaginians and Scipio's Republican Romans. At one point Hannibal came under personal attack, was cut down and killed, but this event apparently had no effect on the morale of surrounding units.

Variables like this aside I felt that the computer program being used (it looks like a version of Total War) just didn't seem to offer a sense of realism and just doesn't work for me. The game play looks too fluid, movement appears to be too fast and the result is something that feels utterly unrealistic. The Waterloo game for example seemed to be over far too quickly with the whole battle descending into a rather scrappy close quarters slugfest. Part of the attraction of using a 'real time' computer game rather than a IGOUGO turn sequence tabletop game is that decisions are simultaneous and this will favour commanders who can think on their feet. But so far it seems that all the commanders have struggled to keep order and devise a proper strategy beyond reacting to the other sides actions. Worse still as a viewer its almost impossible to tell what is going on. I accept that some of this may be the result of poor editing but my attitude is that if it looks and feels unrealistic when what is the point of the show.

In the end the whole thing feels like a televised computer game (which of course it is) and not a 'proper' wargame and while the big screen and graphics look very cool, when the battles start I just feel the format was missing something pretty significant. Ground scales are constricted and unit numbers are representative rather than realistic and are therefore more akin to a tabletop wargame... which begs the question why not play a tabletop wargame?!?  If you have a big graphics engine to run a simulation on it should make at least some attempt as looking realistic. The analogue wargamer in me finds it very hard to be inspired by pixels instead of figures but I also find it hard to see what the non gamer would get out of this show.

One of my other major criticisms of the show is that it is sadly one sided in the Gender balance. In the first two episodes one of the team commanders was a woman but thus far she has been the only female competitor to feature. I hope this balance is redressed in later episodes but so far it seems the message from the BBC is that wargaming is only for blokes. I was also dismayed that among the presenting team the only female face to be seen was that of Dr Nusbacher, and this is only because 'she' used to be a 'he' when the format was previously aired. (acquiring a female presenter by chance like this doesn't count BBC!). 

Lastly, and for me most importantly, I can't stand Gregg Wallace. He grates on my nerves when he's presenting TV programs about things he understands (ie food programs). Putting him at the helm of a historical gaming show is nonsensical. The BBC appear to be desperate to get their moneys worth out of this presenter by shoehorning him into as many shows as they can get away with. Wallace certainly has the energy and enthusiasm to carry off programs about food and cooking but in this format his exuberance just comes across as deeply irritating and condescending. Maybe its just me but I find it hard to think of a less appropriate presenter for this type of show. I can think of at least half a dozen excellent female presenters that could have been called in to host the show and reduce the teenage testosterone levels that turn what could have been a serious program about tactics and history into a typical Saturday in Games Workshop.

I guess my overall feeling with regard to this show is the same as when the format was aired before, and that is one of dismay. Its not an entirely unwatchable show but there are so many disappointing elements that I feel this has been an opportunity missed by the BBC. 

Wednesday 28 December 2016

Tentacled Beast

I have been looking forward to the 7th Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge for several months and the tension has been mounting as the start date drew nearer. Then no sooner had the starting pistol fired than I fell ill with a bed chest cold which rapidly morphed into Bronchitis (surprisingly uncontrolled coughing isn't helpful when trying to paint 6mm figures!). So I lost most of the first week laid up in bed trying to motivate myself to pick up a brush again. I did eventually do so but decided to start with something quick and easy until my blurred vision and fuzzy brain had cleared a little. The result was that my first submission to the challenge was a little bit of madness. 

This resin miniature was actually bought by my Daughter at Salute a couple of years ago and she never got round to painting I thought I'd give it a bash. The figure is about 40 mm tall and came in three parts. I decided to give it a red undercoat and then built up with successive layers of purple and pink. The whole model was then washed with a deep purple ink. 

It earned me a solid 12 points and meant my first week wasn't a complete washout. I have now started some 'proper' painting and hope to have something decent to show off next week. 

Thursday 8 December 2016

Market Building

With most of my Analogue Challenge preparation done I have turned a little time to some unfinished projects that I wanted to square away before the competition starts in earnest. This building is from Timecast and is described as a Middle Eastern Mosque although it looks a lot like a building I have seen in pre-war photo's described as a Market Hall. It'll make a nice addition to my collection, whatever I use it for.

The paint job was relatively simple with a base coat of Iraqi Sand and an ink wash to bring out the brickwork. Then several gently applied layers of dry brushed Ivory to bring out the sharp edges and the top of the domes. 

Wednesday 30 November 2016

Calm before the Storm

Sorry the blog has gone a bit quite for a while, but its not because I haven't been busy. Like many of my fellow wargame bloggers I am entering this years Analogue Painting Challenge. Preparation has been underway for some time and the net result is that although I seem to have been very busy for weeks, I haven't got a lot to show for it.

Prep work is nearly finished, at lest on the models I have at the moment. I've already broken my first rule of (this years) challenge which was to get through it without recourse to points from the bonus rounds... but the siren call of some of the categories was just too much to resist. And if I didn't enter the 'Armour' round I couldn't legitimately call myself a tread-head any more!

More models are en route to Castello del Hadley and I have what passes for a strategy (it'll probably go to pot in week one, but I live in hope). I have also put together a spreadsheet to keep track of my progress and measure it against last years performance and against my target for this year. Either I have too much time on my hands or (my preferred explanation) I have been inspired by the statistical antics of fellow challengers like MilesR. His stats are a wonder to behold.

My Phalangites now all have very sharp pikes in their hands. I have also increased the number being painted from four to five bases of 48 figures per base....that's 240 opportunities for me to puncture my fingers! Painting this lot will take a lot of patience and quite a bit of care but hopefully they will look awesome when they are finished. The only minor problem I have encountered is that I have run out of the spray primer I like for my 6mm figures. I use a brown primer which I find works really well as it means if I miss something on a model it looks like I did it on purpose! Brown also makes it a little easier to see the details than using a black primer. The brown I like was English Uniform from Bolt Action, but as far as I can see its no longer available and I need to find a similar alternative.

Hopefully all this prep will be finished by the end of the weekend and that will give me a couple of weeks to finish off some terrain projects before the Challenge starts in earnest. 

Monday 21 November 2016

The Battle of Pampilhosa - Portugal 1810

On Sunday some of Posties Rejects gathered in the shed-o-war to play a neat little Napoleonic, Peninsular War game. This was a fictional battle set with historical forces pitting French forces against a mixed force of British and Portuguese in a strong position. The French had managed to hook around the allied forces and get behind them resulting in a harried defence with the troops at hand. The Allied army is a mixed bag in terms of quality but their General has taken full advantage of a string defensive arc of hills. The French are numerically superior but can they smash their way through without taking serious casualties in the process. 

Order of Battle
French c/o General Junot (Lee)
  1st Division - c/o Clausel
     1st Brigade - Monard
        4/19th, 4/25th, 4/28th, 4/34th + Medium Gun Battery
     2nd Brigade - Tavein
        4/15th Legare, 4/46th, 4/75th + Light Gun Battery
     3rd Brigade - Godart
        22nd Line (4)
  2nd Division - c/o Solgnae
      1st Brigade - Gratien
         15th (3) & 86th (3) + Medium Gun Battery
      2nd Brigade Tomieres
         65th (4), Irlandais Rgt (1), Regt de Prusse (1)
   Cavalry Division c/o Seinte-Croix
      1st Brigade
         1st Dragoons, 2nd Dragoons
      2nd Brigade
         4th Dragoons, 9th Dragoons
      3rd Bridage
         14th Dragoons, 26th Dragoons + Horse Artillery Battery
      4th (Reserve) Brigade - Ornans
         15th Dragoons, 25th Dragoons

British - c/o Maj-Gen Cole (Ian)
    4th Division - Maj-Gen Cole
       1st Brigade - Campbell
          2/7th, 1/11th, 2/53rd, 5/69th (1 Company) + 1 Medium Gun Battery
       2nd Brigade - Kemmis 
          2/27th, 1/40th, 1/97th, 5/60th (1 Comp)
       3rd Brigade - Collin (Portuguese)
          11th (2), 23rd (2) + Light Gun Battery
    5th Division - Gen Leith
       1st Brigade - Barnes
          3/1st, 1/9th, 2/38th + Light Gun Battery
       2nd Brigade - Spry (Portuguese)
          3rd (2), 15th (2), Tomar Militia
       3rd Brigade - Eben (Portuguese)
          8th (2), Loyal Lusitanian Legion (3)
    Cavalry Division
       1st Brigade - De Grey
          3rd Dragoon Guards, 4th Dragoons
       2nd Brigade - Slade
          1st Dragoons, 14th Light Dragoons
       3rd Brigade - Anson
          16th Light Dragoons, 1st Hussars KGL + Horse Artillery Battery

The Action
Initial Setup - The British and Portuguese hold a strong defensive position on an arc of hills with rough ground and fields to the front.  I was the Commander of the French but relied heavily on Ray as my 2iC as Napoleonic games are not my strongest period! The plan we developed was to hit the weaker Portuguese Division facing our right flank. Rays division would also press in the centre to stop the British from reinforcing the Portuguese and on our left the Cavalry division would protect the flank from attack by the British Cavalry. 

The French advance in attack column to the beat if drums. The British and Portuguese move their troops up onto the hills and spend a couple of turns shuffling units around in a vain attempt to convince themselves they can defend the line!

The French columns press on. In the Centre the 2nd Division (under Ray) aims itself at the gaps between rough ground. They have the toughest job as they will be facing British troops on the hill. Meanwhile my 1st Division advances either side of the cornfield. On the right flank I shield my Columns as best I can from artillery and skirmish fire with my own skirmish line.

My Legare regiment advances in skirmish line and while they take casualties the Portuguese fire is thankfully ineffectual at best. Maybe Johns dice rolling will improve later in the game?

In the Centre the 2nd Division also come under fire...but so far very little damage.  

Meanwhile on our left flank all is strangely quiet... The British Cavalry clearly doesn't like the look of our Dragoons and Surjit holds back from attacking. That's fine by us because we don't need to defeat the Cavalry to win the game, we just need to stop them from interfering with out infantry assault. 

Looking down the table as the French columns march onwards to glory or defeat. 

Ray quite rightly advised me to sweep the skirmishers from the cornfield. They duly evaded and fell back while my unit consolidated and prepared for another charge a few turns later. 

That British and Portuguese line looks quite formidable on the hill...but its a thin red line and the French columns continue to advance. 

Now the nitty gritty begins. With most of the enemy skirmishers pushed out of the way my leading columns begin to line up for the assault. I never expected these to still be intact at this point (marching as they were down the sights of an enemy medium gun) but here they are ready to launch a first wave assault up the hill. 

Meanwhile two units of Dragoons have inserted themselves into a gap in the centre of our line and may just have an opportunity to cause some havoc in a couple of turns. The British on the hill have still yet to shoot, they are holding their fire until it can be most effective. 

My Dragoons are now in position for a charge next turn. Meanwhile one of my columns has charged a Portuguese unit and it has run away! My column take the position without a fight, ready to exploit its good fortune next turn. Meanwhile just down the hill I have managed to get one of my units stuck behind a hedge! It takes me a turn to back it up and realign it for a charge. On the extreme right flank my skirmishers continue to shield the columns from the enemy gun and my leading columns are ready to charge the Portuguese on the hill next turn. We (the French players) think the other side have made a tactical error because they have placed the Portuguese Militia here. This is the weak point we have been aiming at from the very beginning of the game. 

Over on the left flank still nothing is happening! Surjit tries to tempt us to attack by removing his light gun from the line, but he has failed to realise we have absolutely no reason or desire to attack here. 

Meanwhile our columns have advance unmolested almost to within charge range of the British lines. 

Possibly the most amazing turn of action in any game I have played in my entire wargaming career! Ray and I win the initiative for the French and declare 9 simultaneous charges across the whole of the right flank. Unfortunately Rays three columns (far left in this picture) are a fraction of an inch out of range...but my six columns rush towards the enemy. As each charge takes place the Portuguese commander (John) has to make a Moral check to see if they stand and fight. He has to roll 4 or lower on a d6...and he proceeds to roll 5,6,5,6,5,6. !!! Every single Portuguese unit I charge falls back disordered off the hill and into a haphazard mess in the valley behind! My columns take the entire ridge line without a single casualty. 

This is game over...even if some of the British players wouldn't believe it. Their entire flank has fallen back disordered and my columns are still fighting fit, virtually undamaged and crucially within charge range of the enemy. Oh, and I have four more columns, spare heading to consolidate the gains.  

The final positions show the British lines in disarray and the French still in good order. 

I can't recall a plan ever working quite so well as this game. Ray and I had a clear plan of attack from the first turn and we didn't really need to change it at all. The saying goes that no plan survives first contact with the enemy...unless, it seems, your enemy is Surjit, Ian and John! (Sorry guys!)

Friday 18 November 2016

Pre Challenge Prep

A Macadonian Pike Phalanx
Over the last week I have been making a start on my preparation for this years Analogue Painting Challenge. I want to go into the competition as ready as possible this time around and that means getting as much of the cleaning and base coating done as possible before things kick off in December. This time I have a clear plan of what I want to achieve and for me its not really about the points but the outcome...i.e. two complete armies for two different periods. 

By far the hardest part of this process has been the building of the pike Phalanxes. I bought 'open handed' models meaning the pikes are not cast with the pike. Instead these must be added manually and in my case I have opted to use 25mm dressmakers pins as these are just about the right size. Of course adding them one by one seemed far easier (and less painful) in my head than in reality! 

I'll glue these figure strips onto wooden mounts like all my other models to make painting them easier. I can see this construction job will take some time to complete but better now than during the challenge itself. I know that I am going to have even less time for painting this year than I did last year so setting myself realistic targets will be essential to keep things moving. But I also recognize that the Analogue Challenge is a massive motivator and my output during the three months of the competition will be several times more than my regular snails pace. 

Some of my Challenge models ready for primer. This represents about two thirds of the total, the rest (including the pike units) have yet to be mounted. 
I quite enjoy this stage of the process because its the first time I get to really look at the models in detail. I'm already considering how to paint them, what colours to use and what I need to research. I have started a new project notebook - something I do with every new period - just for the Challenge. This already has details of the army lists I am working on, a calendar and a work timetable. Later (when they are published) I'll record the points available, details of special rules and the bonus rounds. Then I'll be adding painting notes and pictures for each of the units in an attempt to be as ready as possible before I even break out the brushes.

I'm also working out how many points I'm likely to earn by painting all these figures and I have come to a startling conclusion...Its not enough! I need more models!! When I told my wife she just looked at me for several seconds, quietly shook her head and wandered off muttered something under her breath. I'm not sure she thinks I am operating on the same planet as the rest of the human race... and of course, she 's probably right. 

Monday 14 November 2016

Cisalpine Gauls - Allies of Hannibal

The latest addition to my 6mm Ancients collection are three large units of Cisalpine Gauls. These will be added to my Carthaginian army as allies. Hannibal built a complex and varied alliance of troops from North Africa, Spain, Northern Italy and further afield in his invasion of the Roman Republic. His Celtic allies - in particular the Boii and Insubres of the Po River valley - were particularly important after the long and costly march across the Alps. These Celtic tribes chafed at their recent subjugation by Rome and Hannibal was able to convince them that an alliance would bring a chance for revenge, plunder and freedom. 

I originally had enough figures to make four bases but these have sat around on my desk for several weeks and several models got damaged. When I finally returned to the project I realised that some figures had broken weapons and a couple broke off at the legs because they had been bent. In the end I decided to take the best strips of figures and make three bases rather than four, which is ample for my games anyway.

These will probably be the last figures I paint until the Analogue Challenge starts in December. I have a lot of figures to clean, prep and prime and this will keep me quite busy until then. One of the things I want to do plan out a proper schedule of work and calculate an accurate target score this year. I got a lot done last year (despite entering the race rather late) but I was very haphazard in my approach. I have even less free time going into this winter than I did last year so careful planning is absolutely essential if I am to hit a meaningful target. 

Friday 11 November 2016

Remembering Private Job Henry Charles Drain VC

This remembrance day I will be thinking about all the men and women who have served their country and given their lives. But I will also be remembering those that came home and had to live with what they experienced. One man in particular has caught my attention more than most recently, a local lad who's statue stands just around the corner from where I now work. I walk past the statue of Private Job Drain almost every day and a few weeks ago I stopped and read the inscription on the plinth.

Job was born in Barking in 1895 and joined the army in 1912, so when war broke out just two years later he was part of the BEF. He was just 18 years old when he won his VC while as a Driver in the 37th Battery, Royal Field Artillery.

His citation leaves in no doubt this young man's bravery. "On 26 August 1914 at Le Cateau, France, when a captain (Douglas Reynolds) of the same battery was trying to recapture two guns, Driver Drain and another driver (Frederick Luke) volunteered to help and gave great assistance in the eventual saving of one of the guns. At the time they were under heavy artillery and infantry fire from the enemy who were only 100 yards away." [London Gazette, 24th Nov 1924]

He later achieved the rank of Sergeant and unlike so many of his comrades survived the war. He married in 1919 and was part of the honor guard for the Unknown Warrior in 1920. He died on 26 July 1975.


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.

Wednesday 2 November 2016

Sting of the Scorpion

The story of the Long Range Desert Group has been written many times, often from a single perspective but rarely from the viewpoint of so many of its veterans. Sting of the Scorpion by Mike Morgan brings together the stories and recollections of dozens of former members of the LRDG that takes the reader from the units unlikely conception through to the end of the war.

Despite being a collection of many voices and many different styles the author has managed to bring them all together in a clear narrative that tells the inside story of the LRDG. This is not just the story as seen and narrated by the commanders but by the men of all ranks from Private upwards and is therefore a uniquely frank and complete tale of life as kings of the desert and beyond. This has been made possible by the incredibly strong bonds of comradeship that existed long after the war ended between the men of this elite unit.

“'The Long Range Desert Group caused us more damage than any other unit of their size" 
[Erwin Rommel]

Some of the stories are funny and irreverent truly reflecting the outward appearance of a lack of discipline that no doubt horrified officers from regular units. But these stories show that this impression was completely superficial and underneath the Arab headgear, dirty faces and beards were some of the toughest, most resourceful, highly trained and independent soldiers in the allied forces.

For me one of the attractions of this unit is the incredible glamour and romance of their private desert war. These soldiers were part explorer, part warrior and were literally venturing into the unknown with every mission. There are elements of the glamour of T.E.Lawrence in their desert exploits [a man who was an inspiration to some of the men who joined the unit in its early days] but this book also looks past North Africa into the units redeployment to Yugoslavia, Albania and Italy in the latter years of the war. Within months men who were desert specialists were accomplished mountaineers. The unit suffered heavy losses in the Dodecanese in an abortive attempt by British forces to take the Island of Leros. To their credit many of the LRDG men captured managed to escape and some went on to link up with local resistance fighters and continue a private war against the Germans until liberation in 1945.

This particular paperback edition crams in hundreds of individual tales of triumph, adventure, hardship and adversity and is a truly gripping read from cover to cover. I can give a whole hearted recommendation for this book for anyone interested in this unit.

Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: The History Press; New Ed edition (9 Dec. 2003)
Language: English
Rating:      ★★★★★

Monday 31 October 2016

Vehicle Dust Clouds

I may have finally cracked. Certainly the wife is looking at me funny and I'm pretty sure she's ready to call the men in white coats to take me to the funny farm. Why am I destined for a padded cell you ask? Because for the last week and a bit I have been making (not entirely successfully I may add) Dust Cloud models for my desert vehicles.

OK lets back up a little and explain the mad impulse that started this. Nearly every picture from the North Africa campaign featuring moving vehicles also shows long dust plumes billowing behind those vehicles. Just because its a game I see no reason why these shouldn't also be a feature of my tabletop battles. In fact I'm convinced that poor visibility resulting from dust should have a significant in-game effect that is largely ignored by most rule sets. I have read multiple accounts of tank crews that mention dust blocking their vision, getting in their eyes and generally making the job of spotting and aiming at targets all the harder.

Flames of War does actually have a rule for dust clouds:  Place a 2”/5cm diameter Dust Cloud marker behind each vehicle moving more than 4”/10cm in the Movement Step. If the vehicle moves later in the turn, the dust cloud moves with it staying on the same side of the vehicle, even if it changes direction (you can’t hide in your own dust!). Vehicles moving 4”/10cm or less do not create dust clouds. Remove all dust clouds from your vehicles at the start of your turn. Troops behind a dust cloud count as Concealed.

Its that last sentence that is important. Plumes of dust will effectively reduce line of sight to potential targets further afield. The dust will settle quickly but while it remains on the games table it can be exploited by the wily commander to shield the movement of other units.

Some time ago I found that I could make quite effective looking dust clouds using PVA coated clump foliage and a little patience (see here). The initial set I made looked excellent but as usual I never made enough, so it was time I revisited the project and made a load more dust clouds to service even the biggest games. As I described last week I started this time using a different method for making billowy dust clouds utilizing tiny polystyrene balls. The experiment was an unmitigated disaster and after almost a week of effort I had to scrap what I had done and start again. Fortunately the second set - using my original method - worked out much better.

I now have about 50 of these dust clouds which should be ample for my games. The next step is to put the new models next to the ones I made before and compare colours. I suspect this batch is a little bright but the difference between the two batches is probably negligible...but that is a job for another day.

Thursday 27 October 2016

An Unmitigated Failure

I haven't posted anything for over a week, partly because I went away last weekend with the family and partly because I have been working on project that just didn't go to plan in any way, shape or form. I wanted to make a big batch of vehicle dust clouds for my desert games and I had a cunning plan to make them. The reality however was quite simply an unmitigated disaster and a very disheartening experience. 

A big bag of tiny Polystyrene balls - beanbag filler actually. I didn't need this much, this was just the only size bag I could find.

Glued together with PVA glue the tiny balls look like billowing dust clouds. This took a really long time (several evenings work) but they look pretty good. 

Each base was built up one ball at a time with copious amounts of PVA to bind everything together. I then coated the while model in PVA to seal the Polystyrene before painting. 

The idea was that the PVA coating would protect the foam balls from the paint. I wanted to spray the models and realised that the solvent in the spray paint could very well dissolve the styrene balls. I decided the PVA coating would do the job and opted not to hand paint the models with a non solvent based paint... BIG mistake.

Gutted! Days of work dissolve before my very eyes! Time for Plan B!!

I was so disheartened by this disaster that I have decided not to continue with this method. The huge bag of polystyrene balls have been thrown in the back of a cupboard and I have reverted to my original method, PVA soaked clump foliage. Plan B is progressing slowly as this method needs several days drying time for the models to harden. I'll post some pictures when I finish the dust models but in the meantime I need to consign this sorry episode to the waste bin and move on. 

Tuesday 18 October 2016

More Smoke Columns

As yet another distraction from painting my 6mm Celts I have been working on a new set of smoke columns for my North Africa project. I already have a load of these made to various designs (see here, here, here and especially here) but I reckon you can never have enough destruction markers! 

I made forty this time, which should be more than enough...for the time being! 

This batch of smoke markers started life as foam ear plugs super glued to washers for weight and stability. Yes, a weird choice, but it seemed like a good idea when I came across these in a pound shop. 

The whole lot were then coated in a mixture of ground up clump foliage and railway turf. 

Once made I dunked the models in 50/50 water/PVA solution and allowed them to dry for several days until they went hard. I then spray painting and dry brushed the whole batch. The process is a bit messy but very effective and looks pretty good when complete. 

Saturday 15 October 2016

Looking back and looking forward

Yet again not a lot of painting being done here at BLMA HQ but I have been busy getting a load of little jobs finished instead. I'm making some more smoke columns for my desert games but this is taking a long time while I wait for each stage of the process to dry before moving on. I have also been sorting through my paint collection which seems to have spread all around the house in various boxes. I have found pots of paint that are older than my kids including a load of ancient GW Citadel Colour paint that must be over 20 years old. Needless to say they were dried up and useless (about five minutes after buying them as I recall!) so they went in the bin with no regrets.

The other thing that has occupied my attention this week is the news that I will be putting on a demo game at Broadside next year. Yes folks, it’s time for my 6mm North Africa project to hit the big time and go public! The show is nine months away but that hasn't stopped me from getting all fired up and enthusiastic.

Most of the game I want to run is already prepared, using existing figures and terrain from my desert collection. I now have nine months to add the finishing touches with more terrain and special models. I've only run one other game for the rejects, and never one for a public audience, so this is a big deal for me. So much so in fact I immediately went back to school with the rules and started re-reading everything - which is why little else has been done this week. Regular readers will know that I use the Flames of War rules largely unadulterated for my 6mm desert games. I have found the ranges and distances work well at this scale and go a long way to alleviating the ‘tank car park’ feel of some 15mm games. The only thing I may change are the Artillery templates as these seem far too big for this scale, but other than that the rules are unaltered.

For the scenario I have in mind (top secret of course) I will need to make a few special rules and will try to streamline game play a little to take into account the fact that most of the Rejects are not familiar with this rule set. My plan is to run a load of mini play-test games to practise my knowledge of the rules and hone my umpiring skills. I'll need every skill and trick in the book to wrangle the Rejects into compliance... they can find the fault with even the simplest rule set!

One of the things I have started on now (in prep for next June!) is writing up a handout for the public, and some signs for the table. I also have some special player handouts in mind, to add a little flavour to the game. Nine months prep sounds like a lot of time, but it feels pretty short to me especially as I would like to get a couple of trail games in with the Rejects before the show. I must me mad!