Sunday 28 February 2021

Roadmap to the Return of Wargaming

Earlier in the week, the Government in England outlined what it calls a 'Roadmap' to the reopening of the country from the current Coronavirus lockdown. This weeks video walks through the document and assesses what this may mean for us as individual wargamers, and for the hobby industry as a whole. When will we be able to meet our friends for face to face gaming again? When will shops and clubs reopen and when will our much-missed wargaming shows be able to resume? 

As I repeatedly say in my film, everything could be subject to change, but we won't really know for sure until will get much closer to each of those key dates mentioned in the Roadmap. Despite this, I am trying to remain positive. Many of us have made the most of any opportunity to keep our hobbies going in the last 12 months. We have painted more than ever (traders have repeatedly said internet trade is way up), have adapted to new technologies and explored solo gaming options - but I'm sure I'm not alone in looking forward to a return to face to face gaming with friends. 

I hope you found the film interesting and if you did please like, subscribe and share. Until next week, keep safe and keep rolling high!

Friday 26 February 2021

Rorke's Drift Part 2

Last week I posted the first of a three-part series on my recreation of the battle at Rorke's Drift in 1879 using my 6m Anglo-Zulu War collection and The Men Who Would Be Kings. I discussed the history, the terrain options I went with and the house rules I adopted to make this ruleset work with my figures for this particular engagement. This week the battle gets underway and I finally see if the changes I introduced work as intended, or whether they unbalance the rules. Will the British hold the mission station again, or will the Zulu's overrun the tiny collection of buildings at Rorke's Drift in a spectacular overturning of history?

The video is a little over 30 minutes long, and the concluding part of the game will be posted next Friday. In the meantime here are a few 'teaser' pictures to whet your appetite. 

The first Zulu's to arrive approach the Hospital

The battle for the Hospital turns into bitter hand to hand fighting.

The Zulu's begin to lap around the site looking for a weak point.

British casualties are light, but with every man down their ability to defend the barricades is diminished. 

More Zulu Regiments move around towards the front of the Mission Station.

Wednesday 24 February 2021

AHPC XI - Week Nine - Printed PAK's to a Mouse that Roared

Its been a mixed but productive week for me, with several painting projects coming to fruition and a series of videos on my Channel queued up and ready (after a LOT of editing). I've been making an effort to focus my painting on miniatures that have sat neglected for a long time. Often these are models that were primed and ready for challenge XIII or IX two or three years ago! I really ought to do a video on procrastination!

3D printed 8.8cm Pak 43/41

A couple of weeks ago I panted up some trenches from Ironclad Miniatures but the gun emplacements were missing their ordinance. I'd ordered some 3D printed models but they hadn't arrived so I finished the trenches knowing I'd be revisiting them in due course. The printed guns arrived last week and here they are. Two 8.8cm Pak 43/41 guns from Butlers Printed Miniatures. I've never bought any 3D prints before so I was interested to give these a go and I'm pretty impressed with them. The printing layers can still be seen in some areas and the models needed a lot of cleaning up when they arrived, but they were half the price of a plastic or metal equivalent. I bought these primarily as 'terrain', simply to put them into the trenches so my British Para's could attempt to knock them out. So while the quality isn't as good as a metal model, I'm pretty pleased with them as terrain, especially at the price I paid.

When you read accounts of the battle in Northern Franch and tankers describe being attacked by 88's, these are probably the weapon they are talking about. Krupp designed this weapon in direct competition with the Rheinmetall Flak41, and they produced a very successful weapon indeed. The Krupp gun was the most powerful anti-tank gun in service with the Wehrmacht and a modified version (the KwK 43) became the main gun of the Tiger II tank.

Its relatively low profile meant it was ideal as an ambush weapon and the wheeled version (the original had a cruciform mount) meant it could be moved quickly from location to location. I once talked to a British veteran who served in Normandy as the driver of a Cromwell tank, and he described a hit from a Pak43 which split the engine block of his tank clean in two. Fortunately, he and all his crew were able to escape, but the tank had to be abandoned.

Kights Solar - Paladin with Elemental Sword

At least I have reached the Third Level of the Chambers of Challenge. It's taken a while to reach it but every stage has been interesting and fun so I'm not complaining. Now we get to the most challenging rooms and I'm starting off with my entry for the Kights Solar. The brief says "A chamber for painting Kights of all kinds, and their knightly deeds, love's, pastimes and quests". Hmm, the ultimate expression of Kightly piety in the fantasy world is the Paladin and I had the perfect model for that. This warrior venutred into the frozen city of Felstad in search of a fabled elemental sword. He has been searching for it in lost scolls and ancient tombes for many years and now he has found it. His Quest is over...but first he must make it out of the city alive.

This is a 28mm Ral Partha Figure from their Pathfinder range and looks particularly heroic. The casting is wonderfully clean and the face was so well sculpted it was a joy to paint. Once again I have based it for use in my Frostgrave games (really must venture back there soon).

The Mouse that Roared - Panzer VIII 'Maus'

I'm aware that I have painted a lot of fantasy figures this Challenge, so I thought I would paint something historical for a change...well sort of. The Panzer VIII was only at the design and trials phase in late 1944 when the Soviets overrun the German testing grounds and of the five ordered, only two hulls and one turret were completed. Had it been completed it would have been the largest tank in service.

At 33 ft long, and 188 metric tons the 'Maus' was absolutely huge, dwarfing all other German and allied tanks. Its main armament was the Krupp-designed 128 mm KwK 44 L/55 gun with a coaxial 75 mm KwK 44 L/36.5 gun. The main gun was powerful enough to destroy all Allied armoured fighting vehicles then in service, some at ranges exceeding 11,500 ft. But like all grandiouse vanity projects, it was plagued with practical problems, not least finding an engine powerful enough to drive the tank. At a time when the Wermacht was desperately short of regular tanks, this hugely resources heavy development project could only have been dreamed up in the minds of a political system that couldn't comprehend defeat, let alone appreciate the practical needs of fighting a war on two fronts.

Of the two hulls built, only one survived the war and was married up with the surviving Turret and taken back to Russian for evaluation. After testing it was taken to the Kubinka Tank Museum for storage, where it remains on display.

Nearly There

Progress towards my target is steady and I should hit it next week if all goes to plan. My points trajectory isn't going to blow anyone's socks off but its been the right pace for me at a very busy time of the year and I'm enjoying it immensely.

Next week I hope to have some more British Para's finished and a few more odds and ends that will take me to my target.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Solo Wargaming

This week The Quarantined Wargamer discusses the benefits of Solo Wargaming. This is a video I have been meaning to do for a while, and while I only briefly discuss Solo techniques this article is more my attempt to advocate for Solo Play to those wargamers that maybe haven't given it a try yet. 

I've done a lot more Solo games in the last twelve months (unsurprisingly) and I really do think it has bigger benefits than just as something to do until the club reopens. 

Friday 19 February 2021

Battle Report Rorke's Drift in 6mm - Part 1

Several years ago I started building a collection of 6mm figures for the Anglo-Zulu war of 1879. I've playtested a variety of game systems with my figures and even had a go at writing something myself (unsuccessfully I should add) but in the end, I settled on The Men Who Would Be Kings by Daniel Mersey and published by Osprey. Now, this ruleset is not designed for 6mm games but I realised that with a few small changes and some house rules, I could get a workable game system for use with my 6mm collection. Last year I did a couple of solo games to test this out and earlier this year I posted my first couple of Battle Reports on my YouTube Channel. All of this has been building up to a battle that I have wanted to wargame for years; Rorke's Drift. 

Today's video is the first of three covering my preparation for the game and the battle itself. This week I discuss the history of the battle, highlighting some key details that stood out for me when I prepared for this game. Then I discuss my interpretation of the terrain, based on several maps, some contemporary some more modern. Then at the end of this video, I run through the house rules that I introduced that enabled me to adapt TMWWBK's for my 6mm figures and terrain. 

Next Friday part two of this battle report will cover the opening phases of the game and we get to see if the British can repeat history or if the Zulu's can overrun the small garrison defending the mission station at Rork's Drift. 

Wednesday 17 February 2021

AHPC XI - Week Eight - Last Survivour

Time is speeding by in that slow-motion rapid blur timewarp that is the UK's covid Lockdown, and before I know it we are two-thirds of the way through the painting challenge. I'm still plugging away at the Chambers of Challenge bonus rounds, working through a pile of old lead miniatures and revisiting my youth with some old school fantasy figures. I have some historical stuff to work on this week but for the time being here are my entries for week eight of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge. 

The Oubliette - Undead Standard Bearer

This old figure is the last survivor of a lost army. The first wargame I played was Warhammer Fantasy Battle, back in the early '90s. It was a logical choice for my group of friends because we were all committed D&D players so trying out a Fantasy wargame wasn't as big a step as it would seem. The first (and only) army I build for this rule system was an Undead Hord which included masses of zombies, skeleton warriors in rusted armour, undead horsemen ready to sweep across the battlefield and even a Zombie Dragon that set me back a lot of money. The thing that made my army stand out was that of my group of 8 friends, I was the only one who fielded a fully painted army. Indeed most of the time I played against entire forces of grey unpainted miniatures (the horror!).

As a group, we only played this system for a couple of years and eventually, we moved on to other games and one by one we sold off our armies, mine included. I regret not keeping a few pieces of this army even if, looking back, the panting was shockingly poor. Then I recently found this model and realised he had somehow missed the cull, and survived in my collection long after his comrades had gone to another home. When I saw the Chamber of Challenge entitled Oubliette, I knew instantly what I was going to paint. 

I actually had four of the same model (no idea why I bought four) so this Grenadier figure from 1991 will go on display with his unpainted companions. Because he's the last survivor, and a reminder of my earliest days of wargaming, I also made a small terrain base for it using some spare resin scenery I bought and didn't use in the last challenge. 

The Tomb - Gothic Vault and a Restless Resident

I can imagine the conversation had by the family of the occupant... "If we build him a really outlandish gothic tomb maybe he'll stay dead this time". 

I bought this excellent resin crypt from Debris of War before the last Challenge but didn't have time to finish it. It is such a nice model that it couldn't stay unpainted any longer. I really like the resin terrain by this company as it flawless and paints up really well. The model is pretty small at 3.5"x3"x4" so it is barely a 5th of a terrain cube...but it looks marvellous so it had to be my entry for this round. 

The figure is a 1984 Grenadier Zombie which I bought on eBay a few months ago. I couldn't let the poor fella go unpainted any more, and while his torn shirt may once have been expensive and fancy, his tattered appearance now made me feel sorry for him. 

Sunday 14 February 2021

A Healthy Hobby and a Healthy Mind

This week the I discuss how my hobby has helped me deal with the stress of the last year. The last 12 months have been incredibly difficult for most people, particularly for those that have lost loved ones. And while I count myself incredibly fortunate to have got this far relatively unscathed, I have not been immune to the pressures that the last 12 months have inflicted on all of us. But I realised recently that things could have been a lot worse was it not for my hobby.  This week The Quarantined Wargamer discussed how having a pastime (and our hobby in particular) is one way to deal with the deleterious effects on our mental health that COVID and Lockdown can impose on us.

I'd really like to hear from you and hear your own stories. How has your hobby helped you get through these extraordinary times? And will it change the way you view your hobby in the years to come?

Wednesday 10 February 2021

AHPC XI - Week Seven - Trenches

I didn't get a lot finished last week and only submitted one entry to the Painting Challenge. This is partly because I am ahead of my target for this point, but also because I allowed myself to get sidetracked planning a big Solo Game. The game took place the weekend just gone and I have started to edit several hours worth of film! Cutting it down to a reasonable length (in maybe two or three videos) will take a bit of time but I hope to have them available to view in a couple of weeks. 


I have a growing collection of terrain suitable for 15mm WWII, which now has a sizable gap filled. Painting these Trenches by Ironclad Miniatures has taken a lot longer than expected. They are such good models, with so much detail, they deserved my time and attention to make them look as good as I could get them. 

A with all my terrain and miniatures I gave them several coats of varnish (4 in fact) to ensure they will survive rough handling and keep looking good for years to come. 

I also have a couple of German PAK anti-Tank guns on order to use with this terrain, but I'm still waiting for these to arrive so they will have to be entered to the painting challenge at a later date. 

Sunday 7 February 2021

Using Player Handouts in Wargames

Last week I discussed how to create narrative in a wargame and touched upon the use of player handouts. I thought this was an area worth discussing at more length, hence today's video. I've been a Roleplayer and a Wargamer for decades and I firmly believe that some of the storytelling skills of one genre of gaming can be used to enhance the experience of the other. It is easy to dismiss this as showmanship and irrelevant to the wargamer but I believe the use of handouts such as maps, written orders, captured intelligence and photos can turn a good game into a great game. 

Maybe you already use some of these elements in your games and as usual, I would love to hear your experiences in the comments below, or on my youtube channel

Wednesday 3 February 2021

AHPC XI - Week Six - Guardians of Felstad

Week Six of the Painting Challenge and we are almost at the halfway mark. My painting output has slowed a little because I have diverted some time to prepare a couple of Solo games for the coming weeks. The rules I am using required a bit of tweaking for the game I want to play (top-secret for the time being!) and I needed to relabel some bases to match the historical units...all time consuming but enjoyable work that has distracted me from the painting table. Another reason for the reduced painting is that I have ordered some resin terrain and 3D printed models and was still waiting for them to arrive. The Terrain has now been delivered and I have started work on it, and if the models arrive I should have the whole thing completed by next week. Fingers crossed! 

Chambers of Challenge - The Orcs Pit - Orc Hero

I bought this model three years ago and its been looking at me accusingly ever since. At first glance, he looked quite simple to paint but as I worked on him I found all sorts of little details that demanded to be painted, such as a tiny gold ring in his lip or the various charms and amulets hanging from his belt. I went for a deliberately dark theme as it seems appropriate and matches the dark look in his eyes... I certainly wouldn't want to encounter him while exploring the ruins of Felstead. 

The model is mostly cast in a yellow resin that must be unique to this manufacturer. The axe hand and shield hand (and their contents) are cast in metal. Combining the parts was trickier than I had hoped, not because they were ill-fitting but simply because they needed to be pinned and supported while the Epoxy I used to join the set. Then both of the legs broke at the ankle! This required yet more pinning and repair work before I could even prime the figure. The sculpting is wonderful, but the choice of material lets this particular figure down. 

Standing at 35mm tall this guy is very imposing and will make a significant presence on the games table. The implied threat in his expression will also leave little to the imagination for any that face him!  

Chambers of Challenge - The Shrine - Cult Priest

Paint something religious said the brief, so I rummaged through my lead mountain and ended up buying two figures from Ebay instead. But the postal service being what it is (or more specifically Royal Mail being what it is) the models still hadn't arrived when it came time to start on this chamber. So I had another rummage in the lead mountain and found this guy/thing. "He looks fairly religious" I thought, so I give you a cult priest raising the dead. 

The not so sharped eyed will notice that the pages of the book are completely blank. Somehow I managed to overlook that until right now when adding the pictures to this post! I'm going to plead tiredness and the fact I allowed myself to be sidetracked by work projects (something I never normally do). I guess it is one of the hazards of working from home... those lines between work and home life become very blurred. I will add a few arcane letters and symbols at a later date. 

The model is from Grenadier I think, although I'd happily be corrected if I'm wrong. The tab on the base had been filed flat and this is usually where the manufacturer and date are located. I decided to go with a simple but bold red and green colour scheme and I'm happy with the result.