Tuesday 30 June 2009

Rampage 09 - Pt 4

Part four of my review of Rampage 09 focuses on a Wargames club situated in my hometown, Dagenham. I never knew these guys existed so this is a bit of a discovery for me. I'm awaiting details of their gaming schedule to see if I can pop along to one of their game days.
It was good to see a 'large' battle being played out with a wide selection of miniatures representing Germans v's Russians.
Once again everyone it was nice to meet and chat with gamers willing to interrupt their game to talk about the rules they were using.
This was a busy table with lost going on and lots of little details that made this fun to watch and look at.
I have a few more pictures to post (Pt 5 tomorrow) and then I'll make up a Picasa album with all the photos in.

Rampage 09 - Pt 3

For Part 3 or my picture review of Rampage 09 I am focusing on another game that I had previously seen at Salute. This was a recreation of the famous Brécourt Manor Assault which was immortalised in the HBO Miniseries Band of Brothers.

This game was put on by Horchurch Wargames Club using scratch built terrain and teddy bear fur for the grass (how many Teddy's did they have to skin to make that table I wonder?).
This table won two awards at Salute 09 and deservedly so. The attention to detail is outstanding.
The assault of the gun emplacements at Brécourt Manor by the 101st Airborne is often cited as a classic example of small unit tactics against a superior force.
As well as being pleasure to look at the guys running this game were very friendly and willing to chat about some of the details of the table.

Later today I'll post more pictures from this show.

Monday 29 June 2009

Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick

I've just noticed my hit counter has passed the 10,000 mark. Wow....
It's good to know that I'm not talking to myself with this blog but I never thought I'd get 10,000 hits (15600+ Page loads) in a little over 6 months. The blog attracted a lot of interest in March when I posted pictures from the Salute show. Numbers dipped a little at the end of April early May because I was ill for a prolonged period and posting was sporadic to say the least. However since then interest in the site has grown week on week.

I have to say I'm both excited and humbled that this blog has attracted so much attention over its first six months. I never expected such a good reception for my daily ramblings. Thanks to everyone that has visited but especially the Subscribers (the backbone of the blog) who's regular comments and feedback have helped (and will continue to help) shape this little corner of cyberspace.

May your dice always roll high (or low, depending on the rules).


Rampage 09 - Pt 2

There was an interesting selection of display and participation games at this years Rampage, although there was a notable lack of games for pre 20th century historical settings. This is a great pity because nothing epitomises the classic wargame more than massed ranks of Napoleonic or Ancients. Having said that the games that were on display were high quality eye-candy and seemed to be attracting a lot of attention from visitors.

One game that couldn't help but catch the eye (as it was positioned just inside the entrance) was the Dambusters table put on by Whitstable & Herne Bay Wargame Club. I first saw this game at Salute 07 but never took the opportunity to play the game. This time I was arm twisted into playing (not much arm twisting though... "Would you like.." "YES").
The game took less than 10 minutes to play and the rules were pretty simple but resulted in a quick paced and exciting 'Bomb Run' towards the The Möhne Dam.

As a player you can adjust your attacking Lancaster's speed and height during your run down the lake, trying to avoid Flak where possible. However to drop your bouncing bomb the Lancaster must be at 220 mph and 50 ft altitude. More importantly you have to gauge your distance from the dam by eye and release your bomb Exactly 28 inches from the target!
There's about a half inch leeway in that measurement but its still quite a feat of skill to get the distance right. Unfortunately after fighting my way through the Flak and making it to the target, I dropped my bomb too early sending it harmlessly over the top of the dam.This was actually a cut down version of the game as presented at Salute, the table being shorter by a few sections dues to lack of space. But that didn't detract from the fun of the game or the impressive scope of the table with 1/72 scale Lancaster's zooming towards their target.

Rampage 09 - Pt 1

Yesterday I went to the Ilford Wargames Group annual show, Rampage. I went with a shopping list of items to buy and questions to ask and came away thoroughly sated in both instances.
The show was held at All Saints School in Dagenham which is very convenient for me as I live only five minutes drive away. The only problem with the venue was the lack of ventilation on one of the hottest days of the year so far. That small gripe aside I thought it was an enjoyable show with a varied selection of games and traders.
I bought my first few items of 15mm scenery (roads and walls) from Quick Reaction Force and some hills from the Bring & Buy stall - a bargain at £3.50 for two. However my main expenditure was on books rather than miniatures. I bought two Osprey reference books - The Panzer Divisions (Men-at-Arms series) and Panzer Crewmen 1939-45 (Warrior Series) - from Lanchester Books. I also found a rare copy of Germany's Panzers in WWII by Jentz & Doyle (Schiffer 2001). Following on from my recent purchase of the Flames of War Rules I picked up the Cobra source book for wargaming the Normandy Breakout.

Having spent a small 'recession-busting' fortune on books and scenery I found myself short of the required funds for the paint and miniatures I had initially set out to buy. Disaster! At first I cursed my over zealous shopping spree until I found to my delight that the trader selling the items I wanted (Tole Haven of Hornchurch) took plastic! I now have the paints I need to get started on my first 15mm German Panzers. Phew!
All in all a very expensive day but a great success. I bought everything I set out to get, discovered a local gaming group and got to play in a participation game - but that's a story for tomorrow. More pictures will be posted over the next few days and I'll get an album together on Picasa as soon possible.

Sunday 28 June 2009

The Old Republic

Just seen this AWESOME trailer for the game Star Wars : The Old Republic. I'm not into computer games much (too many demands on my time as it is) but I could be persuaded to alter that stance after seeing this.
[Update 29/6/09 : I've had to remove the trailer because it started automatically and was slowing down page loading to an unacceptable level. Just follow the link above and you can watch the Trailer from there.]
I'm off to Rampage today so expect to see some pictures tomorrow onwards.

Saturday 27 June 2009

Which war?

This is my Great Uncle (my Nan's brother) Alfred Boniface, and he served somewhere during WWI. I don't have a service number or even a firm date for these pictures although various family members say they think they date to around c.1918.

Now family legend say he served in South Africa during the Boar War. That's clearly wrong as he would have been just a child at the time so I'm guessing they mean WWI. Some of the pictures - such as the picture of the marching unit below - seem to have a more tropical look about it. I know very little about the British Army's activities outside of Europe during this period and with so little to go on these pictures remain something of an enigma and I hate a mystery. So the question is can anyone identify the regiment and maybe make an educated guess as to where he was stationed?

Friday 26 June 2009

Discovering the Panzerkampfwagen

I've not done any painting or gaming this week, primarily because I have been reading extensively on the subject of the Normandy Panzer regiments. I recently bought the Flames of War rules and plan on putting together a German Panzer regiment for the Late war period. I've never played a historical wargame (outside of a participation game at a convention) before and so I'm approaching this period with some caution before I start spending lots of money. I need to buy the right paints for a start and part of what I have been doing this week is making a short list of colours needed to get started.
I'll be attending the Rampage show this weekend and hope to pick up everything I need then. I'm looking forward to getting some paint on the few models I already have and needless to say I'll post pictures of my progress here on the blog. As I have never painter 15mm or historical vehicles before this will be a bit of a learning curve for me.


No the title isn't a reference to a Monty Python stage show. I've been getting a lot of spam mail lately and it finally reached a point where I needed to take action. So instead of writing a witty and entertaining blog entry for today I spent the evening and this morning tinkering with my spam filers and upgrading my Internet security package. It took longer than I planned but I consider it a small price to pay to avoid emails inviting me to 'Enhance my Manhood' etc.

Keep your eyes peeled, I'll try and get a proper post up later today. TTFN.

Thursday 25 June 2009

Embarrassing Monsters

I spend a lot of time trawling the Internet for ideas and inspiration, especially for my D&D campaigns. Most of the time the material I find is interesting but not unusual. However I recently came across a mythical beast that I’d never heard of before, probably because as monsters go this one, the Bonnacon, has a rather embarrassing self defence mechanism. "There are reports of a wild animal in Paeonia called the Bonasus, which has the mane of a horse, but in all other respects resembles a bull; its horns are curved back in such a manner as to be of no use for fighting, and it is said that because of this it saves itself by running away, meanwhile emitting a trail of dung that sometimes covers a distance of as much as three furlongs, contact with which scorches pursuers like a sort of fire." [Pliny - Natural History, Book 8, 16]
The Bonnacon is also mentioned in a number of medieval Bestiary’s including a fully-illustrated Latin manuscript currently held at the Bibliothèque Nationale. This creature is also described in the famous Aberdeen Bestiary, written and illustrated in England about 1200 AD, and is considered to be one of the best examples of its type. This document describes the Bonnacon as an Asian beast whose head is like a bull but with horns curled inwards. Also referred to as the Bonasus or Bonacon, medieval illustrations of the beast’s skin are almost always depicted as reddish in colour and lacking any signs of hair. As in previous descriptions this beast expels burning dung when threatened and the illustration in this Bestiary shows the wise hunter protecting himself with his shield.
I love the Internet. Sometimes you can find some real gems of information... and other times you find Napalm excreting Bison.

Wednesday 24 June 2009

The Battle of Solferino

One hundred and fifty years ago today (1859) the Swiss businessman Henri Dunant witnessed the aftermath of the Battle of Solferino in Italy and set in motion a chain of events that eventually lead to the formation of the Red Cross.

The battle of Solferino was a particularly gruelling one, lasting over nine hours and resulted in over 3,000 Austrian troops killed with 10,807 wounded and 8,638 missing or captured. The Allied French & Sardinian armies also suffered a total of 2,492 killed, 12,512 wounded and 2,922 captured or missing. In the end, the Austrian forces were forced to yield their positions, and the Allied French-Italian armies won a tactical, but costly, victory. However it was the reports of wounded and dying soldiers being shot or abandoned without any form of medical care which added to the horror and the impact of this battle.
Dunant arrived at the scene of the battle on the evening of June 24, 1859. "Thirty-eight thousand injured, dying and dead, remained on the battlefield, and there appeared to be little attempt to provide care. Shocked, Dunant himself took the initiative to organize the civilian population, especially the women and girls, to provide assistance to the injured and sick soldiers. They lacked sufficient materials and supplies, and Dunant himself organized the purchase of needed materials and helped erect makeshift hospitals. He convinced the population to service the injured without regard to their side in the conflict as per the slogan "Tutti fratelli" (All are brothers) coined by the women of nearby city Castiglione delle Stiviere. He also succeeded in gaining the release of Austrian doctors captured by the French" (Source: Wikipedia)
Dunant was so affected by what he witnessed he was ultimately inspired to found the International Red Cross and the 1864 Geneva Convention was based on Dunant's ideas. In 1901 he received the first Nobel Peace Prize.

Tuesday 23 June 2009

Milliput Putty

This is a long overdue post to expound the wonders of Milliput putty. I've been using this stuff pretty much since I started modeling and converting miniatures way back when I was a wee lad. Let me start by makign it clear that I don't do a lot of sculpting - beyound basic items like extending hairlines or adding chainmail - but I do use this putty for gap filling and base building. In this respect I can't praise it enough for its durability and versitility. Milliput works by mixing equal parts of the two different colour putty's together for about 4-5 minutes depending on the size your using. I tend to employ a ‘folding’ technique to avoid streaking and uneven mixing of the putty. Basically squish two balls of putty together into a flattened oblong. Then fold in half and squeeze flat again before folding again. Continue this process for a few minutes or until you have a uniform colour.

Ensure surfaces are free of dirt or grease before applying the putty. Surfaces can be cleaned with solvents or soapy water. I use a soft bristled toothbrush and washing-up liquid to wash surfaces before painting or sculpting. Most metal miniatures may still have mould release still on them or grease from handling so its a good idea to clean models before working with them even if your not using putty.

Freshly mixed Milliput can be very sticky so I dip fingers and tools in water before handling and working with it. However you can wait and let the mix cure slightly and work with it after an hour or so when it becomes less tacky and more rubbery. This is fine for sculpting but of course you miss out on the best adhesive properties when you use part cured putty. Always mix a little more putty than you need and keep the excess after you have finished sculpting or filling gaps. This extra piece serves as a way of testing the strength of the cure as it will set at the same rate as the material you used in your project. Once cured the beauty of this material is that it can be drilled, filed and even sanded while still retaining its adhesive properties and bonding strength.

Mixed Milliput can be stored for up to 36 hours by freezing it. Freezing slows the curing process and means a batch of putty can be made and stored to be used over a couple of days. Officially the shelf life of Milliput is 2 years but I have been successfully using one particular pack that I know for a fact is over 10 years old. Shelf life can be maximised by keeping the unmixed putty in airtight bags.

Lastly its worth mentioning Greenstuff and other custom epoxy putty's for the miniatures market. I have used various brands but always come back to Milliput.

Monday 22 June 2009

Panzers in Normandy

It's been a busy weekend, just not a 'Hobby' weekend. I had planned on writing up some notes from Fridays D&D game and then starting work on my 15mm vehicles for Flames of War. But the weekend sort of got away from me.

On the plus side I finally got to chat with my brother-in-law about joining me in playing the FoW game and he seemed very enthusiastic about collecting a late war (Normandy) army. He gave me an excellent book on Panzer regiments in Normandy, which seems a great place to start researching this period of history - especially as I plan on building a Panzer Company for use with the FoW rules. Published to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Normandy campaign, Panzers in Normandy is a detailed study of the German panzer regiments in 1944 as seen from the German side. The book first details the composition of the 1944 model of the panzer regiment, its equipment and personnel. The second half of the book then discusses the seventeen panzer units which saw service in Normandy. Interestingly it was research for this book which resulted in the discovery of the location of the grave of the most famous panzer commander of them all. Formerly listed as missing in action, the author of this book discovered the last resting place of the victor of Villiers-Bocage, Michael Wittmann.

So it looks like I have a lot of reading to do this week. I'm still working my way through the FoW rulebook, I have this book on Panzer regiments to read, the latest issue of Wargames Illustrated landed on my doormat on Saturday and I'm expecting a Wermarcht painting guide by Battlefront to arrive any time today.

Sunday 21 June 2009

Memory Lane

Just a quick post today as I'm going out in a few minutes. I'm taking my Nan to Woolwich, where she grew up in the inter-war years. We only intend on driving around (she's 91 and disabled) so she can see her old hometown. She met my Grandfather while working at the Woolwich Arsenal and lost a brother to the Blitz before moving across the river to East Ham. I'm hoping to tease a few old stories out of her for my Family Tree project (another hobby of mine!).

Saturday 20 June 2009

Unfortunately True

I found this while scanning the web today and I had to laugh. This is drawn by Aaron Williams, creator of Nodwick.
I wish it wasn't true but it is.

Friday 19 June 2009

Mausell Sea Forts

I went to the Museum of Docklands a few months ago and came across this model of the Maunsell Sea Forts. Built in the Thames estuary and operated by the Royal Navy they were designed to deter and report back on any German attempts to lay mines by aircraft in this important shipping channel. As well as extending radar coverage in the Estuary the Army Forts also provided anti aircraft fire. Each of these AA forts carried four QF 3.75 inch guns and two Bofors 40 mm guns. During the war the forts shot down 22 aircraft and about 30 flying bombs. (Source Wikipedia)
Being a gamer geek I looked at the model and thought this would make a great table for a fictional WWII SS-Jäger Battalion (German Commando) attack on the fort. Somehow I doubt if the Museum of Docklands will let me borrow their display...

Thursday 18 June 2009

Nepoleon in Defeat

194 Years ago today, Napoleon finally met his nemesis, Wellington, on the battlefield. Probably one of the most written about and most wargamed battles in history, Waterloo remains as fascinating today as it was in the previous two centuries.
There is a ton of material available to read and download on the Internet and hundreds, if not thousands, of books on the battle and on the men involved. I own a few myself but its the personal stories that I have always found more fascinating and these were best illustrated for me by two items in two different museums.
The Royal Engineers Museum in Chatham contains Wellingtons map of the battlefield. This map comes complete with annotations and notes made days before the battle when the Duke surveyed the site and decided this would make a good place for a holding action against the "little dictator". More poignantly the map also still bares the bloodstains of Wellingtons Chief of Staff , Sir William de Lancey, who later died from wounds sustained that fateful day.

The second item was at a special exhibition about Napoleon and Wellington at Greenwich Maritime Museum a few years ago. This was the uniform of the young Napoleon, back before he became Emperor. The most fascinating thing about this uniform was its size, it was tiny. It seems his much disliked nickname was actually very apt indeed.

The Hollow Earth

I have been reading a lot about arctic customs and myths over recent months. I’m working on an adventure idea for my D&D campaign setting, The Isles of Ethos, which will take my players into the icy north. Many of the myths of the Inuit are fascinating and have spawned lots of ideas for my game, but it was a more western concept that has caught my attention. The Hollow Earth Theory. First off I should say that I don’t think it should be called a "Theory" - it would dignify this pseudo scientific hogwash with the trappings of legitimacy - especially as this myth is still perpetrated to this day by Internet kooks and shysters. However there was a time when the idea that the Earth had an inhabited inner world did not seem so ludicrous.
The Hollow Earth concept is an ancient one, and for many centuries made some sort of sense as the home of Hell,
Svartalfheim, Hades or other subterranean realms. The idea had many proponents even into more modern times, including Edmund Halley on 1692, and even (in part) prompted the19th century US Polar expedition of 1838-1842.

In the 20th century the Hollow Earth myth was explored by the Thule Society which had close links to Adolf Hitler and the Nazi fascination with the occult. There are even theories that Hitler ordered a research journey to the Arctic to find an opening to this inner world. This is partly based on the claims of
Admiral Dönitz who spoke during the Nuremberg Trials of "...an invisible fortification, in midst of the eternal ice". I hasten to add (in case my players are reading this) I’m not using this idea in my game but it would make a great game in its own right. Indeed Exile Studios produced the ENnie nominated Roleplaying game Hollow Earth Expedition in 2007. HEX is set in the 1930s where secret societies and villainous organizations (including the Thule Society) have a vested interest in the Hollow Earth.

As usual my game design research has lead me on a major tangent away from its original focus, and I don't think that's such a bad thing. In fact I'd go so far as to say this is one of my favorite things about game design and writing: you never know where you'll end up.

Wednesday 17 June 2009

Tiger Tank at Odyssey

I'm about to start preparing some 15mm tanks for the Flames of War game and I got thinking about colour schemes and camouflage. I probably need to buy some new paints as most of my current collection of Vallejo colours is from the game colour range and designed with fantasy miniatures in mind. I've been making a short list of essential colours for German & US Armour and found this picture in my albums.
This Tiger Tank was at the Military Odyssey living history event last year. I'm not sure if this is an original tank - I had read that there were no working Tigers outside of a museum - but it certainly looked the part.

Tuesday 16 June 2009

Finished Space Marine

I've finished the Ultramarine miniature I have been working on. Last week I posted some development pictures and here is the finished product.
As always I used Vallejo Game Colour paints and started with my customary Black undercoat. I then used a slightly darkened Ultramarine Blue (#22) as a base coat highlighting with successive coats of Ultramarine Blue lightened with Electric Blue (#23). I then used a wash of Night Blue (#19) and Black to add shading to those areas not in direct sunlight. I finished off the armour with a dilute (10:1) Skin Wash (#72093) on the lower legs to give the impression of dirt and weathering. I also used the Skin Wash, this time undiluted, to create a rusting around the bolts in the manhole cover.

I decided not to put unit markings or decals on this model for two reasons. First I wanted this to be a generic marine and second (and most importantly) because I'm no good at painting decals! Overall I found this model very easy to paint and good fun as well.

Monday 15 June 2009

M10 Tank at War & Peace Show

I have been looking through my digital albums and found this short film from the 2007 War and Peace Show. It caught my attention because I have just got a 15mm M10 Tank model for the Flames of War game.

My main memory of this Living History event was the mud. It had been raining heavily for days and the whole site was a quagmire.

Sunday 14 June 2009

Cthulhu Gunman

Here are a few pictures of a recently finished project, a Gunman for a Cthulhu game. I'm working on a set of character models and this is the first. These are not being painted to display standard, just good enough to game with. The first two pictures are development pictures and the final is the completed model.Not my best work but certainly good enough for a game.