Friday 31 July 2009

Where do you Game? Poll Results

The July Poll has now closed and the results are in. Here's a breakdown of how you voted and I find it quite revealing and maybe even a little surprising.

I have been to several conventions this year and in conversation with attendees and clubs I would have been forgiven for thinking that most people were part of (and therefore gamed exclusively) at clubs. Draw your own conclusions from this admittedly limited set of data but I do find it reassuring that home grown games are still going strong.

Thursday 30 July 2009

Wot I Bought

This is a brief follow up to yesterdays review of the To The Redoubt show that I attended on Sunday. I bought quite a few items in preparation for playing Flames of War, much of it from the Bring & Buy stall.

I bought a Panzer IV H Platoon from the Stafford Games stall (with the usual 10% discount on FoW). This should keep my busy once I start painting. The Panzer IV was the most common German tank in the Normandy area during and after the D-Day landings. Consequently it was the most often encountered by allied troops. Maybe not as glamorous as the Tiger or as affective as the Panther this tank formed the core of German panzer divisions right to the end of the war.
I also bought a Panzergrenadier Platoon for support but I won't start on these until I have finished the Panzer's. I also picked up two resin Opel Maultier just because they looked so good.

As regular readers know I've not played 15mm before so in addition to building up forces to fight with I am also having to buy all the scenery I need as well (most of what I currently have is 28mm fantasy). I bough a pack of resin Destroyed building pieces, enough to make 4-5 buildings. The painted examples on display looked excellent and I look forward to working on these.

I also bought several books from the Bring & Buy stall including "Panzer: The Armoured force of the Third Reich" by Cooper & Lucas for £3.

Another bargain was "Tanks & armoured Fighting Vehicles of WWII" by Surmondt.

Keeping with the theme I also bought the Flames of War supplement Villers-Bocage by Battlefront. Finally the best bargain of the day has to go to my Brother-in-law (who accompanied me to the show). He found this little booklet "Armor in Normandy:The Germans" by Thers which is full of full colour pictures making it an excellent guide when painting.

For such a small show I managed to come away with quite a few purchases which will keep me entertained for months to come.

Wednesday 29 July 2009

Last day to vote

The current site Poll closes today so you have only a few hours to get your vote in.

Where do you Game?
-At a friends house
-In my own home
-At a Club
-Anytime, Anywhere

Wargames by the sea

To the Redoubt! is an annual wargames event held at the Eastbourne Redoubt in East Sussex, UK. Situated on the seafront the Redoubt was once part of Britain's defense against the French during the Napoleonic wars and later against the Germans during WWII. In 1977 a group of ex servicemen acquired the Redoubt to hold displays and thus the fortress became a museum. The show is run by the Eastbourne Wargames Club and this year was the events 25th anniversary. The parade ground inside the Redoubt is put to good use housing the traders at the event. According to those I talked to they have enjoyed unprecedented good weather over the 25 years the show has been running. Although the show is a fairly 'quiet' affair, none of the traders seemed to mind when they could combine a business with a bit of sunbathing!

The Bring & Buy stand was a particular highlight for me as items for sale were turning up during the day (I went on Sunday but the show had already been open one day by this point). I popped back to look several times during the days and picked up a few bargains, mostly books. My best buy of the day has to be a mint copy of the Rapid Fire rules, a snip at £3! Inside the fortress itself (in each of the casemates) and situated amongst the existing exhibits and displays were a number of games run by local gaming groups. This game run by the West Country Originals was particularly good to watch. Based on the French and Indian Wars this game was titled The Harrowing of Quebec and was set during the summer of 1759. The British General Wolfe has launched a campaign in the area around the town of Quebec in a bid to convince the Canadian Militia (working for the French) to desert. The Museum itself has an excellent Diorama of the Battle of Quebec which took place in September 1759, during which Wolf was mortally wounded. Another excellent display game was The Italian Job run by the South East Essex Military Society (SEEMS). This was based on the Normans in Italy and at the time I turned up a vicious struggle was taking place in the crest of a hill.
Meanwhile members of the Eastbourne Wargames Club were playing Wings of War in an adjacent casemate. I've seen this game played at a couple of shows and it looks like fun...
I also met up with a couple of chaps I saw last year, Adrian & Richard of the Deal Wargames Society. This year they were playing Skirmish in Sicily 1943, a fictitious encounter set against the historical setting of Operation Husky (the invasion of Sicily). In this game elements of 2 SAS and 3 Commando attempt to hold a bridge over the River Simento. They are supported by armour from the 3rd Country of London Yeomanry and 2nd Kings Royal Rifle Corp. Facing them are Fallschirmjaeger from the 1st Parachute Division and Panzer-Grenadiers from the Herman Goring Panzer Division.
Out in the courtyard/parade ground there was another participation game, run by the South London Warlords. I first saw this game earlier in the year at Salute 09 and its remained as impressive second time around. Anyone who loves the film Zulu will enjoy this game and can't fail to be impressed. Here we see the British have corralled their cattle and pack horses against the impending attack.
As well as the games and traders the Redoubt is also the home of an impressive museum that fills most of its interior. Currently there is a special exhibition about Prisoners of War but the museum also holds permanent exhibits and displays. Here we see a cut-away Mills Hand Grenade showing the detonator mechanism.
There is also a nice display of uniforms and other items from the Crimean War.
Aside from these larger displays there are hundreds of miscellaneous items that are fascinating to explore. This spitfire engine was one such item and was accompanied by an interesting description of its recovery and transport to the museum.
This Iron Cross is just one of hundreds of medals on display in the museum.
One of the larger exhibits that caught my attention was this Kf Z 21 Staff Car. This belonged to General 's Steyr (Erwin Rommel's successor in Africa) and was captured at the end of the war. Quite how it made it to Eastbourne I'm not sure and exactly how they managed to get it inside the building is a mystery.
I really enjoyed this show. The combination of traders, displays and the museum made this a full days event and made the two hour drive down and three and a half back (don't ask) worth it. I have posted all my pictures from the show in a Picasa Web Album which you can see by following this link. I hope you enjoy the pictures and encourage you to make this show part of your convention calender for 2010.

Tuesday 28 July 2009

To The Redoubt - Video

I'm working on my pictures from the To the Redoubt show at the weekend. I'll post a review and all the pictures as soon as I've got them ready. In the meantime here's a video of the courtyard and some of the traders to wet your appetite.

This is the second year I have gone to this event and have enjoyed both times. The combination of traders, display games and the museum itself makes for a very enjoyable and interesting day out.

Monday 27 July 2009

The Muckleburgh Collection - Video

While on holiday I got a chance to visit the excellent Muckleburgh Collection in Norfolk. I'm working through the pictures I took (editing, cropping and changing file names to something more descriptive than just a number) and hope to have these available to view later today. The plan is to get an album put together in Picasa and feature it here (on the right) as a slide show. I'll then feature some of the best pictures with some commentary over the next few days.

In the meantime here's a bit of video I took in the WWII tank hall. This was only a fraction of the museum and gives you some idea of the impressive scale of this privately owned collection.

This collection is well worth the visit and is the best tank/vehicle museum I've seen outside of Bovington.

Update: The pictures are now in a Picasa Album and a slideshow can be seen on the right.

Sunday 26 July 2009

There and back again...again

I'm back from holiday so hopefully posts will be back to their regular daily schedule from now on. While I was away I managed to fit in a visit to the excellent Muckleburgh Collection, the UK's largest privately owned military museum with an impressive collection of vehicles on display. Needless to say I took LOADS of pictures and as soon as I've had a chance to download and sort through them I'll post a review of the visit on this blog.

However, having barely unpacked, I'm off out all day again today. This time I'm going To the Redoubt, the wargames show at Eastborne Redoubt. It's their 25th anniversary event and not to be missed if you're in the area. Of course I'll be accompanied by my camera and will write a review later in the week.

Friday 24 July 2009

Battle of the Halftracks

Some more old pictures today, this time from two great Living History events and both featuring Half-tracks. The first picture is from the 2007 War & Peace Show and features a couple of German Sonderkraftfahrzeug (SDKfz) Half-Tracks (two different designs) in different camouflage patterns.
The second picture is from the 2007 Military Odyssey event and shows a US M3 armoured vehicle.

Wednesday 22 July 2009

Myth Weaving & World Building

I’ve played D&D for a long time and I’ve played a lot of different campaign settings. A good few of them were ‘home grown’ settings invented by the GM and every one has been memorable and enjoyable to play. I was trying to put my finger on the reason for this the other day. Why was it that these so called ‘amateur’ settings were as engaging as their bigger budget cousins the ‘official’ settings like the Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Ravenloft and the granddaddy of them all Greyhawk?

I think any setting built with a solid myth/back-story can be enjoyable because the world has a dimension beyond the narrow viewpoint of the PC’s. A setting with a history, a creation myth and distant lands is by definition ‘larger’ than the view of the characters, and therefore feels more real. I decided to canvas the opinion of my gaming group and here are there views on this matter.

Derek – “Creating a world with history, mythology and timelines is very time consuming and not something that can be achieved for a quick get together and play. However, if you have the time and imagination to work on this then it can deliver a full and rich gaming experience for both the GM and the players. It allows you to live in worldscape not restricted by other writer's view of right and wrong, or in the case of predefined game settings what can or can not happen to certain lands or characters. I suppose it depends on how seriously you take your escapism.

A character that has been fleshed out with a decent back story, a bit of history and mystery gives a much better gaming experience and you tend to feel more affinity towards the character whether they be lawful good or chaotically evil. Creating such a character is even more fulfilling when they appear to have a place in the world in which they live. The world exists, their ancestors exist and this breeds legends that can filter forward into the campaigns giving both the characters and the campaign much more depth.”

Peter - “If the world is constantly being created five feet in front of the PC's and ripped up again as soon as they have passed you're really playing a version of hero quest. While the PC's actions should be the main focus of the story, it's good to know things are going on elsewhere, [it] gives the impression there is more to the world than the bubble of space the PC's currently occupy.

Having a less detailed world gives the DM far more flexibility - you generally only detail the bits around the PC's and if they do head into a new area of the map you create terrain and cities etc that are tailored to your current needs. Also results in a far easier set up and the GM doesn't have to do anything like as much work, and also means less waste

I do think home-grown worlds, however sketchy, do need both a strong background, and also a lot of background activity. The background ties everything together, gives shape to the campaign and gives the players a sense of their PC's place in the world”

Both make good point's but I have to say I tend towards the more detailed end of the spectrum. I wrote a campaign guide for my Isles of Ethos Setting that went into lots of detail, but I definitely see the benefit of the more flexible approach of Peter. I drew heavily on the resources and ideas from the Mythopoets website, and I heartily recommend it to any GM considering writing a world setting.

Monday 20 July 2009


Here are some more old pictures I recently uncovered in my albums. This is the 2007 Military Odyssey show and features a Jagdpanther. This was probably the best tank hunter of the war featuring the 8.8cm Gun of the Tiger with the proven chassis design of the Panther.
These two shots show the vehicle from the front and in profile.

Saturday 18 July 2009

Holiday v 2.0

I'm off on holiday for a week and this time I'll try not to get ill while away! I'm going to a part of Britain that I've never been to before, Heacham, near Kings Lynn in Norfolk - Nelson Country! I've done pretty much all of the south east of England but not this Northern part of Norfolk so I'm looking forward to discovering this hidden corner of the isle.

But fear not, this blog will not be idle while I'm away. I have scheduled posts for the 'missing week' and while I'm AWOL I'll be taking pictures of anything vaguely game related to post on my return. Trust me when I tell you I may be on holiday, but my hobby never sleeps.

Thursday 16 July 2009

The Cure of Lycanthropy

During my D&D campaign one of the PC's found himself in need of a cure for Lycanthropy. I decided that this would make quite a cool scene in its own right and turned the act of curing the afflicted character into a whole encounter. This formed a bridge between two campaign arcs and (hopefully) helped the PC's develop a sense of trust with the Mages in their home town (as I have previously implied, Magic Users in my campaign setting are not generally trusted or liked).
Anyway here's the ceremony/ritual I devised as the Cure for Lycanthropy.

Materials that need to be used:
~A chalice of pure silver - Wolf motif decorates the interior
~The blood of the cursed - Small sample from patient.
~Wine made of the fruit of the afflicted's homeland
~The blood of a member of the same family as the afflicted
~A Remove Disease or Remove Curse Potion
~A small quantity of Powdered silver - Prepared 'fresh' during the ritual.

The Ritual itself must be performed by a Mage rather than a Cleric:
~Only the Magi performing this ritual must touch the ingredients
~During the preparation he or she must chant an appropriate "Chantra"
~The afflicted will need to be Magically bound at this point.
~Next clean the silver chalice thoroughly using a Bless spell.
~Pour the wine into the chalice while maintaining the Chantra of Gould.
~Next, the blood of the afflicted must be poured into the wine.
~The Magi must add the magical potion to the Chalice and then the powdered silver.
~The afflicted has to drink (or be made to drink) the solution.

The Effects will be dramatic:
The Afflicted will be wracked with spasms and pain. Their blood will seem to boil and they will have a dangerously high fever, at least in the beginning. Six to twelve hours later the Patient will awake and all presence of the contagion will have been eradicated from their blood. The Magi performing this ritual will be mentally & physically drained all spell casting ability for at least 24 hours.

This ritual could be simplified or added too depending on what you wanted to achieve with it.

Wednesday 15 July 2009

Lifestory of a Drow

I'm a big fan of the fiction of R.A. Salvatore, but especially his Forgotten Realms stories focusing on the life of Dark Elf Drizzt Do'Urden. I've read all but the last book (still awaiting release later in the year) and thoroughly enjoyed every one. Of all the 'official' D&D settings the Forgotten Realms has to be my favorite.

Some time ago I trawled the Internet trying to find a Chronology for the Drizzit books. I never found a single definitive list that I was happy with but found several sites that had lists of varying completeness. The following Chronology is a mish-mash of the information I found on sites such as the FR Wikipedia page; the 'True Chronology'; the excellent FR Library; and the Wizards of the Coast Official FR Page, so I take no credit for compiling this. So here's my version of their lists, focusing on the Novels specifically about the famous Dark Elf renegade.

The Dark Elf Trilogy
Homeland (1990) (Between 1297DR and 1328DR)
Exile (1990) (Between 1338DR and 1340DR)
Sojourn (1991) (Between 1340DR and 1347DR)

The Icewind Dale Trilogy
The Crystal Shard (1988) (Between 1351DR and 1356DR)
Streams of Silver (1989) (1356DR)
The Halfling's Gem (1990) (Between 1356DR and 1357DR)

Legacy of the Drow
The Legacy (1992) (1357DR)
Starless Night (1993) (1357DR)
Siege of Darkness (1994) (1358DR)
Passage to Dawn (1996) (1364DR)

Paths of Darkness
The Silent Blade (1998) (1364DR)
The Spine of the World (1999) (Between 1365DR and 1369DR)
Servant of the Shard (2000)* (1366DR) - Now in The Sellswords Trilogy
Sea of Swords (2001) (Between 1369DR and 1370DR)

The Hunter's Blades Trilogy
The Thousand Orcs (2002) (1370DR)
The Lone Drow (2003) (1370DR)
The Two Swords (2004) (Between 1370DR and 1371DR)

The Orc King (2007) (1371DR and 1471DR-prologue and epilogue)
The Pirate King (2008)
The Ghost King (October 2009)

Tuesday 14 July 2009

Finished Stug G Platoon

At last I have finished painting my first 15mm Flames of War miniatures. Its been a slow process but a worthwhile one as I have learned a lot of valuable lessons for the future. I've mentioned several times that this is my first attempt at 15mm and my first Historical subject outside the occasional 28mm figure. So its been a steep learning curve in many respects and I feel as if I have had to re-learn how to paint to get a good result in this scale. Here are a few of the lessons I have learned. Resin Miniatures - The Schürzen plates (The additional side armour, hung from rails to protect against anti tank rockets and artillery fire) on the resin models are very fragile. I learned this the hard way... after painting, applying decals and varnishing I cracked the top half off and had to use superglue to repair. It looks terrible and I've got the right hump about it! I'm buying metal next time!!Holding the miniatures - Blue tack doesn't adhere to the resin models and the metal mini was too heavy to hold in this way. Next time I'll superglue a holding stick to the base and cut off when the model is finished.
Order of painting. I tried block painting & dry brushing to apply the base Middlestone (Vallejo 882)colour. I preferred the look of the dry brush method but it takes at least two coats to get solid enough colour to look right. I then washed with dilute black but in future I'll try a wash of dark tan (Vallejo Flesh Wash). I then did a highlight dry brush with Ivory (Vallejo 918)to define the edges. I need to be bolder at this stage in future. Applying the Camo tones down the whole mini and it was necessary to reapply the highlights towards the end of the painting process.
Camouflage - I spent a whole afternoon experimenting with paint and flow improver to achieve a result that would simulate paint applied with an airbrush. I tried several mixes of watered down flow improver with paint but could never seem to achieve the same opacity and smoothness as airbrush applied paint. However my last experiment used pure flow improver with the paint (5:1 ratio) and produced far better results. This is the recipe I used when painting the camo on my Stugs although I should note the paint & Flow Improver separate and needed to be re mixed with each dip of the brush. Next time I'll try and apply the paint in smaller ribbons and give each line a second coat once dry. SS Pea Dot Camo - I enjoyed painting this impossibly detailed camo pattern but felt the overall effect was too dark. I've since seen some alternative instructions for painting this camo starting with a lighter base colour and I felt the finished effect looked much better. I'll have to decide which method to use before I paint a whole platoon of Panzergrenediers.
Overall a good experience and a lot learned. I'm pretty happy with they way these turned out but I'm determined the next lot will be better!

Monday 13 July 2009

Just Jane - Lancaster Bomber

More pictures today from my archive. This time some nice photo's of the Lancaster Bomber "Just Jane" at the Lincolnshire Aviation Heritage Centre.
""Just Jane" was built by Austin Motors at Longbridge near Birmingham, in April 1945. Given the serial number NX611, she was one of the first 150 B Mk VII Avro Lancasters destined as part of the RAF's Tiger Force in the Far East. However, Japan's early surrender meant these aircraft were suddenly surplus to requirements and, instead of seeing service, NX611 ended up in storage at Llandow." (Source: Lincolnshire Aviation Website)
While checking some details for this post I came across this great little video (Not mine I hasten to add) shot inside the Lancaster during the museums "Taxi Ride Experience". The roar of those engines is just superb and an iconic sound as recognisable as the Merlin engines of a Spitfire.

Saturday 11 July 2009

Crimea Reenactment

Once again I have been reviewing and digitising some old photo albums and came across a few pictures I took at a reenactment weekend back in 2003. This took place at Tilbury Fort in Essex (run by English Heritage) and featured a small number of reenactors talking to the public about the war in the Crimea.
In particular the event focused on the work of Florence Nightingale in cleaning up the hospitals and improving the survival chances for wounded and sick soldiers.
This is a selection of the best pictures I got on the day showing uniform and weaponry from that period. There was also an excellent display by a group of lancers which made this a very interesting event.

Friday 10 July 2009


When I was writing the second D&D campaign for my setting the Isles of Ethos I spent quite a lot of time considering the nature of hell and its effect on my players. The whole second campaign was an elaborate trap set by a Demon Lord bent on deceiving the PC's into inadvertently opening the Gates of Hell. The idea was that the relatively low level PC's would have no choice (responsibility for the worlds predicament weighing on their shoulders) but to enter hell itself and undo the damage they had caused.

The problem was I never liked the idea that they could just stroll into hell, complete their mission and go home unaffected by the ordeal. This was Hell after all. So I adapted an idea - culled from countless films and books - and came up with the idea that all who enter hell are Helltouched. This means that if they survive long enough to leave Hell, they leave changed by the experience.

I wrote the guidelines with 3.5e in mind but can be adapted to 4th Edition easily. All PC's gain +4 Knowledge - The Outer Planes. This should be treated as Bonus Skill. Players may spend skill points to buy further ranks in this skill and can treat it as a Class Skill for that purpose. However at the same time they also pick up a flaw. Some ill effects are purely physical, others mental. Some are curiosities while others are serious weaknesses of body and mind.

1-10% White Hair The PC's hair turns completely white or develops a white streak.
11-19% Vivid Scar The PC has a scar that never fades and often throbs painfully.
20-28% Colorblind The PC See's everything in black, white, and shades of gray.
29-37% Pupilless Eyes The PC's eyes are clear white orbs. The PC's vision remains as it was before despite the change in their appearance.
38-46% Second Sight The PC may have flashes of vision when in contact with other people. However the visions are only ever those of death, misery & depravity.
47-54% Death Sense The PC can sometimes 'sense' death before it happens. This is not an exact skill and is often vague and misleading.
55-62% Withered Limb The PC's right hand always appears to them as withered and ancient. There is nothing wrong with the limb and only the PC can see the illusion.
63-69% Tick The PC has an uncontrollable tick that gets worse when they are under stress. 70-74% Catatonic You cannot speak or even make noises. Physically there is nothing wrong.
75-79% Amnesia You are unable to remember anything about your past, yourself, or your family. Your life is a blank slate.
80-83% Post-Trau Stress The PC relives the trauma of their time in Hell through persistent thoughts, dreams, and flashbacks.
84-87% Obsession The character cannot help thinking about an idea, image, or impulse incessantly, often involving violence and self-doubt.
88-90% Hamartophobia The PC has an unreasonable fear of sinning. The existence of hell cannot be denied & the PC knows what is in store for them if for their evil ways.
91-92% Bleeder The PC's blood is thin & wounds bleed more. If the PC drops below 0HP blood loss is now twice as rapid (2hps per rd) until healed or treated.
93-94% Stutterer The PC's speech is broken by occasional bouts of stuttering. Charisma based skill checks that rely on verbal communication suffer a -2 penalty.
95-96% Broken Will The PC has a nervous disposition. You take a -2 penalty on Will saves.
97-98% Shaky Hands You have to concentrate to stop your hands shaking. You take a -2 penalty on all ranged attack rolls.
99-00% Panic Attacks These culminate in palpitations, sweating, trembling, & difficulty in breathing. Will save (DC15) or suffer an attack lasting 1d10 rounds.

I had my players make a random dice roll to determine the effect applied to their PC but other GM's may feel it more appropriate to pick effects based on the PC's experiences in hell. Either way it means the characters will go home to the Material Plane with more than just XP and Duty Free.

Thursday 9 July 2009

Painting Camo

I've spent the evening painting camo patterns on my Flames of War miniatures. To be precise I've been painting the Waffen SS 'Pea Dot' camo on the Commander figure for my Stug G platoon. I was half way through painting this 15mm mini when I realised just how insane this was. This is the pattern....

Now imagine trying to replicate it on a 15mm miniature. Utterly bonkers! But totally fun as well.

I followed the excellent guide to painting Pea Dot camo on the FoW website and I'm really happy with the result. The Stug Platoon is nearly finished and I'll try and get some pictures up by the weekend.

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Writing a Campaign Journal

Throughout its many editions the D&D character sheet has always included a small section for Game Notes. While this may have been sufficient in the 'Dungeon Crawl' era, many modern players realise that this small section is inadequate when faced with the often complex and plot rich games of today.

Gaming groups now often keep a campaign journal or at the very least detailed set of notes to record events during the course of a campaign. This is especially important if your sessions are irregular or players miss games because of work or family commitments. As a GM I also find that a Journal is often the only record of a campaign, long after the original notes have been thrown away.

With this in mind here are a few of my top tips for writing and maintaining a Campaign Journal.

Header Your Notes & Number each page. When note taking I always start the page by recording the Session date (and number if possible), the In-Game date and time and who attended. I then finish every set of notes with the XP awarded for that session.

Only record the important stuff, don't get bogged down with mundane details. Try to stick to key details such as names, dates, distances, key events & encounters, enemies fought, NPC’s met and treasure found. It's also important to record the actions of the PC's as this will make the notes relevant on a personal level to each player. Record memorable quotes, heroic deeds and key PC actions such as who took the lead in parleys, negotiations & battles.

Use Abbreviations & Symbols as a form of shorthand to make notes quicker & easier. In particular use Character Initials to identify PC's rather than full names. Whether your a player or GM you don't want to spend the whole game making notes and not participating yourself.

Record by Encounter. Separate your notes into sections, one encounter at a time and Identify journeys between encounters with blank lines. In fact its a good idea to space your notes to allow for additions/amendments later.

Probably the most important thing to do is always review your notes at the end of each session. This is your chance to go back and add little details you missed during the game. Or maybe at the end of a session something stands out as important but didn't get recorded because its significance wasn't clear at the time.

If you like to type up your notes after a game, try to adopt a system to Colour code key facts such as names, foes, NPC’s, treasure found, and key locations. This will make the notes easier to scan and will make them a much better aide-mémoire during later game sessions.

A campaign journal can be both a useful tool and a permanent record of your gaming sessions. As such I consider it a vital part of enjoying - and getting the most out of - the game.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

Tiger & Halftracks

Here's another video from the vaults. This was the 2007 War & Peace Show and features the replica Tiger I've pictured on this blog before plus some German half tracks. Also in the background is a replica V2.


Monday 6 July 2009


I've got a stinking cold. In fact the whole family have been ill all over the weekend. Its the sort of cold that makes you feel like **** but isn't bad enough to stop you from doing the chores or going to work. Fortunately it also hasn't stopped me from painting so the weekend wasn't a total loss.

There are a few scaremongers out there and one mention of illness and they suspect Swine Flue. Panic not my gullible friends, I have a plan. And like all good plans I have taken my inspiration from the great tactician, Winnie the Pooh....
OK, so maybe I am a little delirious.

Sunday 5 July 2009

Experimenting with colour

I've been exploring different techniques for painting my 15mm vehicles. I'm looking for a process that is both quick and effective. I don't want to spend huge amounts of time painting game pieces but I do want cool looking models when I'm finished. I've never done 15mm before so I appreciate that the techniques for a successful miniature will be a little different from a 28mm mini for example. I've therefore decided to experiment with differing styles on similar models (my Stug G's) to see which method I prefer. The first tank was given two drybrushed coats of Middlestone (Vallejo 882) while the second was base coated in solid color (picture above). I then used a wash of black (1:10) to bring out the detail on the second model. I'm still unsure which method I prefer and need to experiment further.

The other experiment I tried was how to get the camouflage pattern right. I painted a blank patch of Middlestone and tested different methods for applying the two colours (Chocolate Brown 872 and Reflective Green 890). I don't have an airbrush (yet) so I'm looking for a technique that will produce soft edges. Battlefront's painting periodical, The Art of War (Issue 2), suggests a watered down technique applied in multiple layers. However I found the paint pooled too much and left a 'tide mark' around the outside edge. So I tried it again diluting the paint using my 'special water' (Water & Flow Improver 1:4) but again it didn't have the soft outline I wanted. So I made a third mix, this time with the paint diluted about 4:1 with stronger water mix (This time 50% flow improver). Disaster! Far too much flow improver and the paint just spread across the surface uncontrollably.
Back to the drawing board. This time I reverted to my regular 1:4 water mix and applied one part paint to 2 parts my special water (1:2). This looked better but still not quite where I wanted it. The final test produced the best results with a 3:1 ratio of Special Water to Paint. The resultant patch was soft edged and slightly opaque. It's not as good as airbrushing but it might be a suitable alternative.

Having played around for a couple of hours its now time for me to hit the forums and see if anyone else has a better technique.

Warning : Experiemnt in Progress

I'm currently experimenting with paint and application techniques. I'll post a proper progress report when I have something to report...

Saturday 4 July 2009

Alfresco Painting

It's been hot lately. Damn hot. Too hot in fact to sit inside painting...

So I took the painting tray outside (at last, an advantage to not having a fixed table space!). I've never painted outside before - UK weather doesn't usually cooperate - and its a different experience to painting under a lamp. The heat made my paint dry quicker than normal but a little water mixed with slowdry sorted that out.
This was a productive afternoon, keeping an eye on kids in the pool, enjoying a cool breeze and getting started on my painting project.

StuG.III Ausf.G Sd.Kfz.142/1

I found this video on YouTube showing a working Stug G at Tankfest (Bovington). I've not seen a moving example before, and given my current painting project I found this quite interesting to watch.

"The StuG was an assault gun based on the chassis of the panzer 3. This example was restored by the Sd.Kfz foundation, it had sat on the bed of the black sea for 60 years after its transport ship was torpedoed by a Russian submarine. Two were raised a few years ago but the other one has not been restored yet."

Friday 3 July 2009

StuG Platoon

I've started working on my first 15mm models; the resin StuG G's from the Open Fire box set and a command StuG from the Panzer Kanonen boxed set. I'm taking my time with these as I'm entering new territory. The Resin models just needed a wash and the turrets Superglued into place before undercoating (black as usual for me). The other vehicle has more metal parts and they need some cleaning up before I attempt assembly and undercoating.
The Sturmgeschutz III was originally conceived as a close-support and mechanised artillery vehicle. However it swiftly migrated toward the anti-tank role after the Germans encounter with the soviet KV-1 & T-34 tanks on the Eastern Front. In line with the general trend toward heavier armour and armament, a new vehicle based on the StuG Ausf. F was designed, mounting the 105mm FH 18 howitzer. This version of the StuG was designated Sturmhaubitze (StuH 42) and saw its first action in November 1942. Coming off the assembly-line in December 1942, the Ausf G was fitted with a 75 mm StuK 40 L/48 anti-tank gun and was produced until the end of the war with no major changes to the design.

"The vehicles of the Sturmgeschütz series were cheaper and faster to build than contemporary German tanks; at 82,500 RM, a StuG III Ausf G was cheaper than a Panzer III Ausf. M which cost 103,163 RM to build. By the end of the war, 10,619 StuG III and StuH 42 had been built. This was due to the omission of the turret, which greatly simplified manufacture and allowed the chassis to carry a larger gun than it could otherwise." (Source: Wikipedia)
There is an interesting article about the StuG G on the FoW Website. I also found some interesting pictures of the StuG G (and other variations) on the Achtung Panzer website.

Thursday 2 July 2009

The Chase

Today I thought I'd share a piece of short fiction that I wrote when I created my home grown D&D setting, The Isles of Ethos. It was inserted in a printed Setting Guide I gave to my players before we started the campaign. Magic Users have a hard time of things in my world, with prejudice and suspicion directed at them (not entirely undeservedly) on a regular basis. I wanted anyone that played a Mage in my game to be under no illusions as to what they were getting themselves into.

Favion’s lungs felt like they were about to burst out of his chest. The muscles in his legs burned with the exertion, but he had to force himself to keep running. He stumbled over a pile of rubbish lying in the street and crashed into a wall. Temporarily dazed he drew in a few quick breaths to clear his head. In the distance he could hear the sound of running feet and the assorted cries of the mob. Tears of frustration and fear welled up in his eyes but the young Magi fought them back and began running again. He had grown up in the city but now he didn't know where he was. In the dark the city was a stranger to him. His quite life of study and discipline now looked as if it would end with a premature and pointless death.

The fine robes that marked him out as a Mage Acolyte were streaked with filth. Blood, from a cut above his eye, flowed freely down his face staining the high white colour of his shirt. He had been lucky to have survived this long. When he had been surrounded by the Followers of Manifest Destiny fear had immediately filled his heart. But he had kept his mind clear and when they attacked he was able to use his arts to buy time for escape. Favion’s legs felt like lead now. He couldn't run for much longer and when he stopped the mob would be on him. He skidded into an ally and made one final effort. His legs gave way and he crumpled down in a doorway totally spent. He was now too exhausted for tears, each breath was agony and with each moment he could hear death approaching.

How had it come to this, he asked himself. He had started the day full of optimism. His new robes had arrived from the tailors and having now come of age the way was open for him to take his studies to the next level. Proud and eager he had donned his robes and gone out to buy new materials. He had almost finished his shopping and headed down to the dockside. Heading off of Fish Street and into the maze of little shops Favion crossed into the market square. Immediately he was aware of many eyes watching him and it was clear they were not admiring his gold and purple robes. Mumbled words quickly turned to angry shouts and then Favion found himself surrounded. He knew he was in trouble immediately. The followers of Manifest Destiny, the Manifestors, hated wizards and blamed them for the cataclysm. Some cities were virtual no-go areas for wizards but Deephaven had always been cosmopolitan and tolerant. But down here by the docks many sailors from other islands mingled with the crowds of city folk. It was a tanned and scarred sailor that roused the crowd against him and sent him running for his life through the streets of a city he called home.

Lost in his pain and self pity he was caught completely off guard when the door behind him swung open. Panic entered his heart as several hands gripped his robes and he was hauled unceremoniously inside the building. The door was quickly shut plunging Favion into utter darkness. He struggled free of the hands and shuffled back across a polished wooden floor. Brief thoughts of fighting his way out were quashed with the sound of the doors bolts being thrown. Whispered voices echoed in the dark and when he tried to speak a hand was thrust over his mouth. "Be quite you fool or you will kill us all" hissed a woman’s voice. Favion’s eyes were by now growing accustomed to the darkness and in the cave like gloom he could make out two adult figures, one obviously a woman. His captors stopped whispering as the sound of running feet approached. Many people were passing by and from their tone it was clear this was the mob that had hunted Favion.

After what seemed an age to the young Magi the sounds outside died away and his captors let out a collective sigh of relief. The hand was removed from his mouth. "Where am I?" he managed to say. Again the woman’s voice "You are safe from the Manifestors. This is the house of Gilalian, and I am his Life Mate, Freneya". Across the room a Lamp fluttered into life and the fine features of a young Elven woman appeared before him. "We will tend your wounds and then Gilalian will make sure you get home safely. But first we will have to do something about those ridiculous robes of yours."

Wednesday 1 July 2009

Rampage 09 - Pt 5

This is the concluding part of my picture review of Rampage 09 . Monday I focused on the Dambusters game by Whitsable and Hern Bay Wargame Club. On Tuesday I looked at the Brécourt Manor Assault which was run by Horchurch Wargames Club. I also looked at a game run by Dagenham Wargames Club. This post is a selection of pictures of the other games also on display including another WWII game, Pirates of the Cursed Seas, Wings of War and Warhammer 40k.
This game was Big Cats & Hedgerows by Enfield Wargamers. Again I liked the attention to detail with this game.
This is a Wings of War game run by South East Essex Military Society.
A Pirates of the Cursed Seas game run by Graves End Gamers Guild.
Truk Waagh! by Braintree Wargames Group.

I've put a Picas Album up now will all the photo's shown plus a few more.