Monday 29 November 2010

Ultramarines Movie

Today sees the release of the digitally animated movie Ultramarines. Set in the Games Workshop Warhammer 40,000 universe this has been a long awaited - and much anticipated - move from game to film. Featuring the voice talents of Terence Stamp, John Hurt, Sean Pertwee and Donald Sumpter amongst others the makers certainly haven't stinted on paying for good actors. However the animation looks a bit ropey, especially when a live action version was dangled before fans of the game as a possibility for many years.

The movie is a straight to DVD release and can be bought via the website address listed above, although I expect this will also be available in all GW stores at some point in the future. The 'Special Edition' collectors set includes 2 DVDs, one of the film and the second with 'bonus' 40k material on it. The set also includes a graphic novel by Dan Abnett and David Roach. Priced at a whopping £25.99 in the UK and $39.98 in the US this is definitely aimed at the committed enthusiast.

Sunday 28 November 2010

Big Picture : SE5a

I'm probably going to be corrected by someone who knows better (Please! My notes from that trip have been lost so I'm not 100% sure) but I think this is an SE5A Fighter from WWI. I'm assuming it's a replica and it took part in a re-enactment flying display at Military Odyssey in 2007.

The SE5  performed better than its more famous rival the Sopwith Camel but engine problems meant it was always in short supply even up to 1918. Originally designed by the Royal Aircraft Factory in 1916 with the SE5A becoming available soon after. It was a very stable plane making it an excellent gun platform and easy to fly for novice pilots.

Its not often we get to see magnificent aircraft like these in our sky's and they are usually guaranteed to make you look up in awe when they do fly over.

Friday 26 November 2010

Like London Buses

The saying goes you can wait hours for a bus only to have three come along at the same time. Well its happened to me this weekend with three events all scheduled for the same day and a busy weekend in general.

Tomorrow is the Dragonmeet convention at Kensignton Town Hall. This event describes itself as "London’s foremost roleplaying and collectable card gaming convention." and who am I to disagree. The day will be jam-packed with participation games and has a full schedule of panels and seminars going on throughout the day. As always there will also be a good selection of traders selling their wares in the main hall... time for a little last minute Christmas shopping I think!

In addition the show has several special guests, chief amongst them being Ian Livingstone of Fighting Fantasy and Edios fame. I'm looking forward to meeting him as it was probably his and Steve Jackson's efforts setting up Games Workshop and bringing D&D into the European marketplace in 1975 that ultimately got me into the hobby. The Fighting Fantasy book series in particular was an early influence and opened my eyes to a different type of game experience.

I booked my tickets a while back and am look forward to seeing some old friends there. Its also an opportunity to hit some art supply shops in London that I wouldn't otherwise get a chance to visit. I'll be taking my camera (of course) and will post a few pictures next week.

Earlier in the week I also got an invitation to wargame the Crimea with Posties Rejects (formerly The Group With No Name). Due to Dragonmeet I've had to blow them out but the invitation was very much appreciated. Maybe next time guys.

On Tuesday I also reported that The North Weald Airfield Museum is having another Model Show. This should be an enjoyable event for anyone interested in Air Warfare and WWII. Again because of Dragonmeet I can't make it on the Saturday.

In addition I'm playing Taxi to my kids as usual and trying to cram in some Christmas shopping with the wife. If I'm lucky I may even get some painting done, but I'm not holding my breath.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

When the Sky Falls

I recently bought an old (and out of print) game supplement for the 3rd edition D&D game. When the Sky Falls was published by Malhavoc Press in 2003 and has since become available both as a softcover book and as a download. At 64 pages its a slender volume but in its pages contain all you need to know to change your game world forever.

This is described as an event book and was produced under the Sword & Sorcery brand title in the boom following the adoption of Open Source rules for D&D. Here's a description from the Malhavoc site:

"This event book serves as a guide for DMs and players whose world is struck, and struck hard, by a meteor. Following the model of the popular event book Requiem for a God, D&D Epic Level Handbook designer Bruce Cordell brings you When the Sky Falls. This book presents a variety of new prestige classes for characters close to ground zero, a variant magic system powered by residual meteor fragments, and many new feats and spells. When the Sky Falls also describes frightening new monsters -- creatures twisted by their proximity to the Afterfall."

Although the rules were designed for 3rd edition the core of the book could be adapted easily. As a sourcebook for ideas I think it still works. There is a great review on the Geek Native site which is well worth reading.

Oh and the best bit, I picked this book up from a 'sale bin' for one pound. I do love a bargain!

Tuesday 23 November 2010

Model Show at North Weald

I've just been told that North Weald Airfield Museum will be having another model exhibition this coming weekend.

I literally stumbled upon this fascinating little museum back in April when they had their last model show. Unfortunately I can't make it this weekend as I'm already triple booked (don't be fooled, my social life isn't normally this busy) but I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone who can get there. The collection of models on display is quite breathtaking and a joy to explore.

The Museum is open from 12:00 till 5:00pm (last admission 4pm) and entry is a mere £2.50 for Adults and £2.00 for concessions.

Monday 22 November 2010

Assembling the Troops

No sooner have I finished one project - the Flak 36 Platoon for my Panzer Lehr Army - than I'm into the next one with Gusto. I've spent a lot of time this weekend preparing, cleaning and assembling the US Motorised Rifle Platoon which I bought so cheaply a few weeks ago on eBay. I'm determined to get both forces ready for battle by the end of the year.

I thought I'd share a few pictures of my weekends work (to prove I'm not making it all up).

First I got all the infantry figures out and had a good look at them. I did a little clean-up work on some but mostly left this until I started putting them on their bases. For the moment I just wanted to figure out what each model was and put together the various squads and teams that make up this platoon.

This actually took a lot longer than I thought because the information and pictures on the box are a bit sparse. In the end I fired up my computer and went on the FOW website and looked at the pictures there before assembling my squads. In particular the M3 37mm Gun was a bit of a mystery until I looked at a finished squad pictured on the website.

Next I prepared all the bases by scoring the surface with a modelling knife. This will help the filler I use for the bases adhere properly. I also washed them in soapy water to remove any grease and dirt. I then thoroughly dried them before starting to stick anything on. Patience is key to every stage when working with miniatures (even at this early stage) but its often a lesson everyone has to learn for themselves!

Once the bases were prepared I glued the infantry into position. Some modellers prefer to paint infantry separately and base them when finished. I had to do this for the infantry on my FlaK 36 bases because there would have been too little space to paint them properly. The downside (as I discovered) is that its easy to ruin the paint job when you try and base them after painting. In this case there is plenty of room on the base to get access to all the fiddly bits when painting.

Once stuck to the base I then fill in the gaps with a ready mixed wall filler. The cheap brand I use is smooth grained and dries in 20-30 minutes. I sprinkled a handful of ballast on the still tacky putty to add a grainy texture. Although this stuff dries quickly I will leave this overnight to make sure its fully set all the way through... again patience is key!

One thing you should not do is put your Mortars the wrong way round! Fortunately I spotted this now and was able to remove the self defeating weaponry and reposition it correctly. I also assembled the five M3 Halftracks that came with this platoon but it was the infantry that took most of the time and effort.

So there you have it, this is what I did at the weekend. I need to leave these for 24hrs to dry fully and then I can undercoat.

Sunday 21 November 2010

Big Picture : Toy Soldier Moulds

Today's Big Picture is of some rubber moulds for casting toy soldiers which are on display at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green.

I find these fascinating because they represent a level of technical sophistication that is worlds away from the simple metal moulds (featured in this post) that many kids of an older generation may have used at home to cast figures.

Friday 19 November 2010

8.8cm FlaK 36 Anti Aircraft Gun Platoon

The German 8.8cm Flugabwehr-Kanone (flight defence cannon, or FlaK) gun is one of the most famous guns of the Second World War. The Wermacht ordered larger replacement for their 75mm gun and in 1933 received the Krupp designed 8.8cm FlaK 18. Battlefield experience (during the Spanish Civil War) resulted in improvements and design changes that lead to the new Flak 36. It was an excellent multi-role weapon and its long range and high rate of fire enabled it to play an important heavy anti-tank role on the battlefields of 1944 and 1945.

The Platoon box contains two 8.8cm FlaK 36 guns which fit onto resin cast Scenic bases with two medium scenic bases for additional crew (which increase ROF to 3). There are enough crew for both sets of bases plus a couple of spare figures. In addition the box contains two Sd kfz 7 (8-ton) half-track tractors, one Kfz 15 field car and a HQ Command team. As a bonus the set also includes the bogies that carry the guns when being transported. These don’t have any game purpose but they do make for nice ‘scenic’ extras when setting up the Platoon.

I really went to town on these models and painted more detail than on previous figures. I doubt if it makes much difference when viewed on the game table but up close they look pretty cool. I even had a go at painting uniform insignia like rank patches and Waffenfarbe (shoulder boards)! Here are a few pictures of the finished platoon. I hope you like them.

In service    1936-1945
Designer    Krupp
Number built    18,295 (all variants)
Calibre    88 mm (3.46 in)
Elevation    -3° to +85°
Traverse    360°
Rate of fire    15-20 rpm
Muzzle velocity    820 m/s (2,690 ft/s)
Effective Range    14,810 m (16,200 yds) Ground Target
Effective Ceiling    7,620 m (25,000 ft) Air Target

Wednesday 17 November 2010

Super Glue, Super Facts

Super Glue or Cyanoacrylate is the name given to several fast-acting adhesives. The type found on hardware store shelves is either methyl 2-cyanoacrylate or, more commonly, ethyl-2-cyanoacrylate and is marketed as Superglue or Krazy Glue.

Cyanocrylate is actually an acrylic resin and hardens into strong chains of molecules in the presence of water vapour (actually it's the hydroxyl ions in water that are needed but you get the picture) - which is why it hardens when exposed to the air. This is also why superglue bonds skin to skin better than any other product - trust me, I know!

Most superglue bonds can be dissolved using Acetone or Acetone based nail varnish remover. When applying the acetone use a small quality at a time and do so in a well ventilated area. I have found the beast way to apply Acetone is with a Q-tip or cotton bud applied directly to the glue. This dissolves the bond without damaging the skin but you still have to be gentle when peeling the bond apart. Its also worth noting that Acetone de-fats the skin so make sure you wash with soap and water after use and apply a suitable hand lotion to the treated area of skin.

Because moisture speeds up the hardening process, breathing onto a bond will make the glue set quicker. Similarly there is little point using large amounts of superglue on a join because as the outer layers harden they form an air tight shell that stops moisture getting to the rest of the glue. It will harden eventually but the speed of the overall reaction will be slower. Water vapour will also effect the glue in your tube once opened. The best way to extend the shelf life of an opened tube of Superglue is to put it in an airtight container, like a small Tupperware box, with a packet of silica gel.

Cyanoacrylate glue has a low shearing strength, which means it can be used as a temporary adhesive where the bonded surface can be flexed or twisted off. I use it for instance when fixing sticks to models so they can be painted. I then twist the stick off when I've finished painting. Sometimes the glue can take a bit of effort to break but sufficient shear pressure will break the bond. The 'Super' in superglue comes from its Tensile Strength which means it can adhere incredibly strongly (doh!). So used on good fitting joints - especially those strengthened with a pin - the bond is virtually indestructible. Some manufacturers (such as Gorilla) have been able to increase the shear strength of their glue making the bonds much stronger where heavy handling is likely. Consequently this product has become a favorite of wargamers.

Superglue can come in liquid or gel formulations and they are essentially the same product and react in the same way. Gel is easier to use for modelers because it has less tendency to run and can be applied in a more targeted way. I've also found that superglue gel has better gap filling properties than the liquid version although this isn't always a benefit. Apparently (although I have never tried this) superglue can be added to baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to form a hard, lightweight filler. However the chemical reaction is highly exothermic (heat producing) and can apparently result in the production of noxious vapors.

There are lost of different makes of superglue on the market, from the expensive versions by companies like Loctite or Unibond through to the cheep Seven4APound variety. So Which is the best?  This is actually a very hard question to answer, mainly because manufacturers don't routinely make their technical specifications available. It is probably best to try different products and make your own judgement based on the properties you want. It's also worth checking out various online Forums for anecdotal evidence on glue performance and for general advice.

Monday 15 November 2010

Old Boardgames - Superpower

I was digging through some cupboards last night and I found an old game that brought memories flooding back. Superpower was an early (1986) Games Workshop board game, created in the days back before they became the Evil Empire when they still made innovative products. Designed by Bruce Hollands and Daniel McGregor it was a game of political warfare and world domination and was very much a product of the Cold War era. Created before the breakup of the Soviet Union the game was heavily influenced by the power play between the superpowers in the early 80's.

The rather un-PC - but probably very accurate - object of the game is to control as much of the Third World as possible. This is achieved by using economic influence to control countries; by sponsoring (or turning a blind eye to) coup d'etat against a non-fortified countries; or by direct military action. Once a country is controlled it can be fortified against further attacks to prevent it being taken over by a rival superpower. None of this takes place in a vacuum of course and manipulating world opinion by the use of propaganda is a vital element in the game.

The game uses a roll and move game mechanic and utilises small plastic tokens and card decks. I remember the tokens being a pain in the butt during play. They were very small and easily knocked about if the table got jogged and were generally very fiddly to use.

The game can be played by two people but works best with up to six players. This is when the politics, backstabbing and power play truly come into their own. It was the player interactions that made this game fun even if the mechanics were a little cumbersome at times. I'll definitely be pulling this game out into the daylight again and I think its central concept is as relevant today as it was in the 80's. The global superpowers may have changed a bit but some of the tactics and politics of global control haven't changed much at all.

Sunday 14 November 2010

Friday 12 November 2010

The Eye of the Beholder

Despite being a long time D&D player I don't hang on every product release from Wizards of the Coast. Once upon a time I probably did but my interests are more varied now and my opinion of WoTC is more jaded and cynical. That's not to say I don't think they make great products, it's just that I'm a little exhausted at the rate of new stuff coming out. If I tried to keep up with all the latest products I'd be a very poor man and probably single too. But now and again Wizards produce a product that ticks all the right boxes for me and my first and only thought is, it must be mine!

Next week (on the 16th) one such product is due to hit the shelves and - if I have anything to do with it - will be going directly on my shopping list. The Beholder Collectors Set is a limited edition box of four pre painted models of the infamous D&D monster. The box contains a Beholder Eye of Frost, a Ghost Beholder, an Eye of Shadow, and a Beholder Eye Tyrant plus stat cards for each monster. That's one hell of a family reunion!

Of course I won't be telling The Evil GM about this set... I'm not that stupid. Last time our group went head to head (no pun intended) with a Beholder we were lucky to walk away with all our limbs still attached. Given our groups recent brush with utter destruction I don't want to give the GM any reason to pull one of these beasties out on us.

The set is priced at about £29.99 ($34.99) and is available for pre-order from various online retailers.

Thursday 11 November 2010

Remembrance Day

At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. To mark this moment, all across the country (and in many countries around the world), there will be a 2 minute silence at 11am today as a mark of respect.

"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."

['For the Fallen' by Laurence Binyon]

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Nazi 'Zombies' in Outpost

Outpost is a movie set in the present, with a historical backdrop and a good helping of fantasy thrown in. It features Nazi Zombies (or Ghosts as the story suggests) in an abandoned SS Bunker deep in disputed territory in Eastern Europe. A team of mercenaries is put together to take a 'surveyor' to a facility his organisation has recently acquired. Their job is to get him safely to the site and allow him to do his job. Of course the reality of their mission is nothing like what any of them expected.

SPOILER ALERT: The 'surveyor' is actually a scientist who's life work has been trying to unravel the Unified Field Theory of physics. This proposed theory would bring together all branches of physics into a single discipline and (the film alleges) would give those with the ability to manipulate the 'unified field' incredible power. And in the great tradition of Weird War 2 a group of Nazi Scientists under the auspices of the SS achieved just that in the last days of the Third Reich. Their aim: to create an unstoppable army of indestructible 'undead' stormtroopers.

Now I like a good horror film as much as the next man but I have to admit to having an unreasonable fear of Zombies. Basically they give me the creeps like no other celluloid monster. I love to watch Zombie movies... but only with the lights on. This film had one of the creepiest Zombies I have ever seen, in the form of the SS Colonel. Despite not uttering a single syllable throughout the film that character stole the film and made for an iconic and terrifying foe.

Staring Ray Stephenson this is an excellent little Brit Flick funded on a shoestring but not lacking in suspense and chills. If you're into Weird War Two wargaming or Zombies in general I think you'll enjoy this movie. It isn't a genre I have explored much until now but it's certainly worth taking a look at. A sequel is in production and is slated for 2011 release.

I'll be waiting for the DVD release so I can watch it in daylight.

Monday 8 November 2010

Bloggers Choice Awards

My site was nominated for Best Hobby Blog!I'm feeling rather red faced and embarrassed at the moment because I recently found out that my blog has been nominated for the Bloggers Choice Awards. This site bills itself as "The most popular user-generated blog voting site on the planet"! So to find myself even listed is a great privilege and honor. It's always nice to know that I'm not talking to myself and the feedback and comments I get from readers keeps me motivated and focused. The odd award nomination also helps ☺.

Now, having stated my humble surprise at being listed that doesn't mean I'm going to turn down the chance to harvest a few votes from my readers! If you enjoy this blog, and can spare a few minutes to vote for it, please use the link provided (there's a button to the right). Thanks for your support and for your vote.

There's still a lot of ill informed stigma attached to roleplaying games and wargames and anything that helps get our message out - and attracts new player's in - has to be a good thing. There are several gaming related sites listed in the awards so its worth taking a few minutes to look through the nominations and voting for any other sites you enjoy.


I'm currently working on a German Anti-Aircraft platoon for my Flames of War forces. However I'm already thinking ahead to the next project for which I need to buy the models. The US boxed set Armored Rifle Platoon (UBX01) has a RRP in the UK of £48. But like everyone else in the civilised world I'm short of cash and need a cheaper option. Various web based retailers do a 10% discount bringing the price down to £43.20. One retailer at Salute earlier in the year was even doing a 20% discount but I just picked this set up for the measly sum of £25.80 plus £4 postage. That's just short of a 38% discount!

The set is listed as being new and unopened so this isn't a second hand kit. The seller also has an excellent feedback rating so (as far as it's possible to judge these things) I can be confident in his reputability. Within minutes of winning the bid and paying by Credit Card I had an email telling me the item was packaged and ready for dispatch the next morning. With luck I should get this through the post before the week is out. If all goes to plan, I can see myself using eBay a LOT more in future when hunting for models. This isn't the first time I've bought from eBay but this has to be the most unequivocal bargain of all my purchases from that site.

Sunday 7 November 2010

Big Picture : Wings of War

This was a Wings of War display game at the 2009 Rampage show run by the Ilford Wargames Group.

I may pick up a few of these models myself and give this game a go... if I can find time! Looks like it could be fun.

Friday 5 November 2010

M4A1 76mm Sherman Platoon

I've finished painting a Sherman Platoon for my Flames of War US Tank Company. This version of the Sherman wasn't available until July 1944 and was rushed to frontline units as a result of earlier battlefield experience against heavy German tanks. The larger gun gave this Sherman some real hitting power and other changes (such as water jackets for the ammo storage bins) improved crew survivability.

Secondary armament took the form of two .30 cal MG's and one .50 cal AA MG. However with a maximum armour thickness of just 62mm the M4A1 remained vulnerable in head to head battles with German Panthers and Tigers. However as with earlier models the real advantage of the Sherman was its speed and manoeuvrability and the fact that it was available in huge numbers.

I've painted two tanks up with Cullin Hedgerow Cutters fitted to the front. The hedgerows of the Normandy Bocage were a serious obstacle to movement of Allied armour. The Cullin cutters enabled allied tanks to plough through these hedges without exposing their weak underside armour. Ironically these accessories were often made from reused metal taken from German hedgehog sea defences.

Here are the steps I followed painting these vehicles.
1) Cleaning flash and mould lines from all parts
2) Assembly using superglue and Epoxy Resin.
3) Washing in soapy water to remove all grease and mould release residue.
4) Spray undercoat with GW Black
5) Dry brushing with Brown Violet (887). Three coats applied to whole model with a large brush.
6) Dry brush with 50/50 mix of Brown Violet (887) and Khaki (988) to bring out detail.
7) Apply Black (950) to tracks and metal items such as machine guns and tools.
8) Drybrush tracks Gunmetal Grey (863), Machine Guns, Tools and other bare metal items.
9) Black (950) camo pattern added to Hull and Turret of vehicles
10) Details such as wooden tool handles in Black Brown (822) and Highlighted with Dark Sand (847)
11) Black lining using 1 part Black (950) to 3 parts distilled water.
12) Apply decals using softener - Allow 24hrs to harden and set
13) Dirt and mud effects added to hull and tracks using Tamiya 'mud' pens and acrylic paints.
14) Allow to dry for 24hrs. The Mud Pen effects in particular take a long time to harden.
15) 2-3 coats of Testors Dullcote spray, allowing 24hrs after the first and 12 hrs after subsequent coats.
16) Superglue Magnets inside turret cavity (making sure they are oriented correctly)
17) Sit back and admire.

I've deliberately tried to make painting vehicles as easy as possible, with the minimum number of steps between starting and finishing the project. I've spent far too long gathering together my FoW figures and its time I 'stepped up production' and got serious about wargaming with my models.
Now all I need to do is focus on the next project which is already assembled and under-coated!!

Wednesday 3 November 2010

Lunchtime Warfare

I usually try to make sure I take my lunch break every day. In some work environments this is frowned upon and the mantra 'lunch is for wimps' can damage any career. Aside from the fact that I'm past caring what other people think of me we have a much more relaxed attitude to breaks in my office. So I often make sure I get some reading done during lunch. I've even been known to work on some models but recently I've been playing a simple little web-game called Tanks.

Its not a complex game of strategy. Its not even a battle of wits and tactics. Its just a simple turn based 'shoot em up' game that has been keeping me amused while I eat my sandwiches. It can become a little compulsive though because some of the ammunition choices available to the player are such fun. There's nothing quite like blowing something up in your lunch break to relax and refresh you before hitting the work again in the afternoon.

At the end of each section the player gets money to spend buying weapons or upgrading their tank. Its tempting to spend all the money on upgrading the health or shields but its much more fun to spend it all on an Air strike or a Nuke.

The only downside to this game is you have to play through all the easy levels to get to more challenging battles. I've made it to level nine a couple of times but it takes a lot of patience to get that far. Having said that its been fun. So now and again my colleges get to hear me chuckle maniacally or punch the air and growl "eat my thermonuclear wrath you little $@*&# !!!!". 

Tuesday 2 November 2010

Cthulhu Rises after BP Disaster in South Park

BP are at it again! Disaster in the Gulf has unleashed Cthulhu on the world and only the Guys at South Park can stop him.


I've had a strange and sudden upsurge in hits on this blog (up 300%!!) over the last six days and I've been trying to figure out why. Then I stumbled upon this clip on YouTube and now I understand why the Cthulhu keyword keeps coming up in search engine hits. This episode of South Park aired in the US on Thursday 28th October... right when my hit counter started to go mad. Far be it for me to ignore the gift horse... here are some more of my Cthulhu related posts.
  • Cthulhu killed Paul the Octopus - My own personal conspiracy theory about the late football loving Psychic Octopus.
  • Artifact from R'lyeh - Relics of R'lyeh turn up all over the place, including the British Museum.
  • Hollywood Schmollywood - One of my favorite H.P.Lovecraft stories is going to turned into a big budget movie. I just hope they get it right.
  • Mi-go Dreams - My daughters artwork can sometimes be a little disturbing!
  • Cthulhu Fhtagn - I have troubled dreams. Maybe the prelude to insanity?
iä iä Cthulhu fhtagn iä iä Cthulhu fhtagn iä iä Cthulhu fhtagn!

Monday 1 November 2010

Once more, A Bridge Too Far

I finally played my board game A Bridge Too Far with my Brother-in-Law at the weekend. It took a while to get into the game because of the initial complexity of the rules (I'd read them but Ray hadn't) but once we'd run through one turn the game picked up and sped along smoothly to the conclusion. I'm sure we got a few things wrong (air Interdiction missions for instance) but we are both determined to play again soon and I'm sure we will iron out any errors next time.

I decided to play the allied side while Ray coordinated the German counterattacks in an attempt to stop my offensive and cut my supply lines. I definitely think the Allied player has more work to do in this game and I seemed to spend most of the game fighting and winning battles continually. During the first turn of the game the Allied player has a +1 to the initiative rolls for for each of the random number of battles to be fought. Despite this advantage I constantly lost the initiative to the Germans (I can honestly say I have never rolled so many 1's in any game in my life). It was uncanny, and not at all funny. Having said that I definitely had the upper hand for the first couple of turns as I pushed up the board and extended my offensive.

I decided early on the game to concentrate on a single powerful thrust up the right hand side of the board with the intention of focusing on taking the Nijmegan Bridge. It seemed clear to me that this bridge was vital to the success of my allied thrust. Unfortunately Ray also understood the value of this route and focused his counterattacks on this spot. The result was a series of battles that saw this vital Bridge change hands several times, ending with the Germans retaining control of both the bridge and the town.

By the end of the game I had failed to secure the Nijmegan Bridge and link up with my Paratroopers at Arnhem. Between them the town of Nijmegan and the Bridge zone were worth 110 points and failing to secure them meant that Ray retained these points and we ended the game with a decisive win for the Germans.

The game lasted about two and a half hours but probably an hour of that was taken with reading and interpreting the rules. Subsequent turns went much quicker and the next time we play I expect we could easily finish in the 90 minutes the rules suggest. The Allied player certainly has his work cut out and despite the superior number of Firestorm troops at his disposal - and the bonus to initiative in the first turn - victory is most definitely not a foregone conclusion. Considering the outcome of this first game I have to say I thought it played very well and emphasised the ambitious nature of the Market Garden offensive.