Monday, 31 December 2012

Great looking Empire Unit

Don't usually towt for other blogsas a rule but saw this unit being done over the last couple of weeks and now it's complete and thought I'd share.

James Wappels' Empire Handgunners
If you haven't seen James' work, have a look at his blog here, it's well worth it for some marvellous eye candy, mainly sci-fi fantasy but getting into historical. Check it out.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

That Was the Year that Was - 2012

With another year drawing to a close, it's time to look back on the progress and projects that we've been up to in Warblog Towers over 2012 and see how they match up with the planned activities.

It's certainly been an eventful year and one full of change and various goings on within the hobby and out, daughter getting married, getting made redundant and now getting several job offers for the new year, all sorts of visitors (friends, family, and others) from around the world, a few people gone and some new arrivals. The ups and downs have generally kept me away from the hobby a great deal but it's been a blast.

At the beginning of the year I laid out (very roughly) a plan of attack for my hobby activities and this was really the first time that I'd really thought about what I wanted to achieve in the coming twelve months and found the process quite rewarding on several levels.

The 'Plan' for the year could be broken down into three main categories; 1 - Ongoing Armies/Projects, 2 - New Armies/Projects and 3 - Terrain Projects and all have had varying amounts of success and progress through the year.

1 - Ongoing Armies/Projects

  • El Cid Berber Army - Has been an ongoing project for some time and I had thought to get at least two or three units finished off over the year. Progress has been mixed for this army and though failing dismally to get units actually finished, I've managed to rebase a multitude and progress several units to the point of 'nearly completed' status. I'll put that one down to 'must try harder' though progress has been made.
Berber Skirmishers
  • Hungarian Black Army - Had thought to do a little on this project but really only targeted one unit to be completed. Total failure there, but I did manage to get some semblance of order to the planned army and got a few bits assembled and under-coated.
Armigeri WIP for Black Army Project
  • Italian Wars Project - Thought to get this project moving towards the end of the year but though lots of lead bought and a fair number of figs prepared and undercoated, no real progress. This one gets a 'must try harder' sticker too.
Italian Pike WIP
  • Warhammer Empire Army - A low priority in the painting stakes, but though the troops have had a few outings over the year (and didn't manage to win a single game I may add), the paint brush didn't get used here either much. No progress.
Empire Flaggelants WIP
  • Mordheim Project - One that was really a bit more of a success in that several figures were painted up over the year and the first campaign was played and brought to a conclusion with all that participated having fun and another campaign planned for the new year. I would put this under the 'completed successfully' category.
Gunnery School Cadets for Mordheim

2 - New Armies/Projects

  • Future Wars - Probably the main thrust of my interest over the first part of the year, though I didn't manage to get the platoon finished off it is well developed and the idea grew over the year to encapsulate a whole game including the original platoon, the Enemy, game rules and planned out terrain. Though not completed, I did get this one moving and will be high on the agenda for next years plan.
First Section completed with Pin-up
  • Malburian Project - No progress at all here. 
3 - Terrain Projects

  • Abbey Terrain Project - Planned progress here has actually been met and largely exceeded with the parts started all finished, the next parts planned and well under way. Really carried out early on in the year and casting and material gathering since but pleased about this one. and will be continuing with the build next year.
Abbey Ruins 003
  • Scatter Terrain - Didn't manage to get any other miscellaneous bits and bobs done through the year as planned so no progress on this one.
  • Misc Modelling - a slow steady march on things which took my whim but nothing to shout about.
All in all a pretty poor showing from what I thought at the beginning of the year would be a bumper one in modelling and modelling terms and though I've managed to get more done this year, in terms of overall progress, than the last two years combined, I didn't get as much done as I had hoped.

The reasons for this are many fold and all fairly mundane and the usual life bits that get in the way of all of us wargamers at some point, mine all seemed to come this year from about April onwards, so from that point of view I'm actually quite pleased that I managed to get done what I did.

Though the painting and modelling progress has been disappointing overall, I have had lot's of great gaming through the year and picked up a fair bit of experience along the way too. I've expanded my gaming network in several unexpected ways and now in contact with more people than ever before in the hobby which is fantastic on all sorts of levels. The FDWC has had a very good year and with lots of new and active members there is another good bonus and different thoughts and games and preferences appearing there, the pot pouri that is the club is an even better source of inspiration and chat. All good there.

The real learner from this year (baring the unforeseen life bits) is what I can and should be able to achieve for the next year and so I'm planning the wargaming activities for 2013 with an open (and probably optimistic) mind. Lot's to build on and projects to explore and will be doing a bit of planning over the next few days and see if I can get 2013 off to an even better start.

Can you guess what I'm adding to my projects for next year?

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Future Wars Update 003

Sarissa Gantry Bridge Dry Build
A little Christmas pressy for myself this year was to try out some MDF bits and bobs from Sarissa Precision, which I've had my eye on for a while.

I ordered them last thursday thinking they'd arrive after Christmas, but in they popped into my letter box on Saturday so really quick service there.

I ordered up three or four movement bases to see how they are and also ordered up a quick 5 for 4 deal, going for some of the low gantry pieces in their fairly extensive range of 'System 8' future terrain pieces; going for a set of steps, two long low gantry sections, a long low bridge section and one of the long canopy pieces.

I've been thinking about doing some walkways and gantry terrain for my Future Wars project and noticed these sets on the Sarissa site and thought they might have been a good starter for 10.

I'm pretty sold on the speed and simplicity of the various MDF terrain manufacturers out there and have tried a few bits from Warbases and the like for more traditional structures, but thought the idea particularly suited the modern/future aesthetic.

Opening up the packets was a pleasant surprise and was met with all the pieces cleanly and accurately cut and all the bits present and correct. I then tried a dry build to see how the bits went together. As you can see from the photo, the assembly was trouble free and as the build is a glue free assembly, pretty robust too.

I'll get the seperate pieces glued up and painted and the bases suitably textured etc though I may add some plastic sheeting on the decks as I think the size of the holes slightly excessive but that is a pretty small gripe and by no means necessary, just my own preference.

All in all, quite pleased with these and will get some more to add a 3rd dimension to the upcoming games and I'll post the results once complete.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Merry Christmas!

Wishing all the Warblog readers and followers a very Merry Christmas!

I hope you've all been good boys and girls this year and that that Santa is good to you! Have a good one!



Saturday, 8 December 2012

End of the World?......

....but not as we know it!
Things have been a bit remiss of late around the Warblog for a couple of weeks and I haven't managed to do much hobby wise in that time.

The reason being that I've been hit by the economic downturn and generally tough situation the building industry finds itself in at the moment, and it looks that I'll be being made redundant in the New Year.

So a time of reflection on the goings on in the real world (Boo! Hiss!) and getting things moving to see what's out there in job land, so obviously wargaming and modelling activity has slowed to a stop up until now.

I've been using a few days off for the last week to catch up on contacts etc and tidying up my CV (and of course decorating...yes dear, nearly finished) which have been an interesting time and brings on a time of reflection, as a time of change often does.

As a general rule, I'm a pretty optimistic kind of guy and see this period as an oppurtunity as much as a potential problem, so as much as it's obviously worrying, it's also quite exciting. With a potential change in jobs and what that will mean, it shakes things up too and may be a change for the better. As some clever guy once said; 'The only constant in the Universe, is change.' So going to embrace the whole experience and see what I can grab.

As part of the reflection thing going on, my thoughts have occasionally drifted to the world of wargaming and my part in it.

With the vague thought that this change may be the catalyst to something new, one of my thoughts was pursuing a hobby related career move. Certainly I have a multitude of talents (he said immodestly) I could pursue here, but would they be enough to make a living. Times are tough for all industries and anything hobby related is under pressure from drops in disposable income in most households, so another kid on the block doing what ever in a probably shrinking market may not be the best move, certainly at the moment.

It's not everybody that can make that transition and make a go of it unless you're producing an innovative product or getting in at the 'right time' with the likes of Brian Ansell, Ian Livingston or Rick Priestly who not only are talented guys, but also persued their careers in wargaming/modelling at a good time. Right place and right time and all that. But an interesting train of thought and a rewarding one too.

The other side of that same coin was that it is my hobby, something I enjoy doing in my free time. If I was to successfully do something hobby related as my means of earning a living it would perhaps cease as being a relaxing past time and therefore what would I do to relax?

I've started looking to get some progress done on my ongoing projects, and with the end of the year looming (and the usual end of year reflections merging with the rest), and the general lack of progress on many of these looking large, I've also been thinking about my eclectic approach to my hobby activity and wondering if I was to be more faithful to one project or another then I might get more done.

In the end I think I've decided to progress as I've always done in this area, go with the flow and do what I'm enjoying at the time and see what transpires. A bit 'lese fer' but it works for me, at least most of the time.

No doubt I'll do a post come the end of the year as is traditional, and look back on the past years activities and look forward to what's planned for the coming year, but that may be a little coloured with recent events but be rest assured it will involve toy soldiers and polystyrene.

Oh, and sorry to anyone who has had a look at the blog looking for something related to the impending 'end of the world' at the end of the current solar cycle and has instead found my ramblings on the state of the ecomomy and wargaming. My tu'pence worth there is that I think that the end of time may be a bit of a way off yet, there's still way too many rule sets to try before that happens.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Ruination - Empire vs Orcses

Another game of WHFB on the cards and with the general success of the last couple of games using scenario's as the basis, we had decided for this week's game to follow ion that vane and play another scenario.

Ian had suggested playing the 'Ruination of Glumhof' scenario from the WHFB rule book with the scenario being a good one to try, and one which would be fun to try reversing the roles of attackers and defenders, so the game was duly set up with this time the traditional Empire defending against the Orc hordes, (next time the Orcs defending and Empire hordes attacking).

The hordes line up prior to attack
The scenario is pretty straight forward one, the defender gets 75% of the points of the attacker and tries to defend the settlement where he gets a number of buildings to defend including a 'strong point' in the form of a watchtower and a number of barricades and walls to defend behind. The attackers aim is to occupy or destroy as many of the buildings as possible (the watchtower counting double) in the time allowed, stated in the rules as 7 turns. Who ever has the most buildings occupied or controlled at the end of time allowed wins.

The horde closes for the kill
Ian had gone for a pretty 'horded up' horde so lots of numbers totaling 2400pts and I had hoped that his numbers might impede his progress slightly, units getting in the way of each other, which they did a bit. My 1800pt army list was probably a bit too shooty but I had gone for a bit of an army list experiment having only core troops plus artillery and warrior priest to see how the list played as a bit of fun.

As a list in it's self it was fine but probably not the list for the scenario as the forward position of much of the troops meant they really didn't have enough time to cause casualties on the approaching horde to make a difference.

As it was Ian had also experimented a bit with his list and was using two units of squig hoppers as cannon killers and these two units launched themselves at my two great cannons with 50% success rate easily taking out one in short order but the other got a severe bloody nose and was repulsed. It did eventually re-appear to annoy me later as alone squig.

The game then boiled down to the horde advancing and pouring over the less well defended of the sections of the town defences and the Empire troops causing casualties on the way but not nearly enough or in the right places.

The squigs did get their comeuppance getiing cut down by a hail of fire near the end of the game. 

In the end, the game was over by the end of round 4 as we ran out of time, but with the orcs in possession of 4 of the available 5 points a definite victory. Even if we had had more time the numbers in play meant that even though the larger part of my army was largely un-hurt, I was not in position to dislodge the orcses from their new homes.

A poor deployment on my part to start and with nothing tough enough to stand up to the rampaging large Orc numbers for more than a turn meant the Empire had another poor result, though it had to be said was largely still intact at the end of the game, which is for me is a result. 

Another interesting a pretty enjoyable game with the vision of a unit of six trolls being air-lifted by the Hand of Gork behind the Empire lines to seal the victory (and incidentily avoid the combat with 30 hate-ridden halberdiers with a Warrior Priest aflame) was a quite memorable mental image.

A fair enough scenario in the grand tradition of such things and all in all fun, the only quibble being that both Ian and I thought that the extended 7 turns timescale didn't make sense was by far too generous for the outnumbering attacker, and very likely not needed by just about any Warhammer force (except possibly Dwarves) with a more interesting 5 turns limit probably producing a more nail biting game.

Next time, we'll try a reversal of the attacker/defender and see how the troops fair, though I think the Orc Toughness 4 might make them a bit more of a tougher defending proposition than the Empire are. Should be entertaining in any event.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Warmachine Civil War

Another weekly game and this week it was back to Warmachine and a bit of practice and getting to know the rules a bit more.

With the planned Marignano refight being put to bed last week, Dave K and myself were looking for something with a difference from last week and Dave plumped for Warmachine to try out his newly purchased rule set to go with his pretty new Khador forces, which suggestion I was happy to go along with.

A fairly small skirmish at 30pts each, we decided to go for a random scenario from the rule book, with the 'throw down' scenario duly being rolled. Basically a battle to control two zones in the centre of the battlefield, the first player to control both zones at the end of his turn after the third turn minimum, wins. 

The game was as is common a game of two halves, the two halves being one; the half that Dave struggled to throw above three on as many dice and two; the half he did manage to throw above three (a bit).

With two zones to go for and two players the inevitable happened and Dave got control of one zone on my right flank, and I got control of the zone on the left, pretty much simultaneously  Each of us going for the left first, with our centres being a bit cagey.

With the forces pretty equal (both Khador) but different in make-up and commanders numbers were beginning to pay off with Dave's loss of one unit of 5 Men O War and his second unit down by half in the centre to my loss of a unit of 3 Men O War and a Berserker Warjack we had to call it a day due to running out of time with equal honours and similar points on the table. Though it looked to be moving in my favour as Dave's centre was about to be beset by all of my forces before his left could do much about it which would mean that I could move on to his Warjacks and Warcaster if time allowed though undoubtedly I would loose some casualties in the process.

Another enjoyable game but more of another learning experience where we both picked up some more pointers. Certainly the more I play the game the more I like the rules ethos and tactical possiblities as a game. As is usual in these types of SciFant games the percentage of looses of a force are very high even for the winner, but mayhem and slaughter even in a small isolated skirmish is very much the order of the day for the genre.

Look forward to some more practice on this one. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Marignano Trial Refight

Everyone out there in bloggy-land loves a good campaign. I am one of that number for certain and have taken part in several over the years and enjoyed taking part in them all.

One thing that puts many people off campaigns is the fact that they often run out of steam and many do not get to a conclusion, satisfactory or otherwise. One campaign that I have been involved in with friend Dave Knight was a mini-campaign based around the battle of Marignano in 1515 and the events leading up to this famous conflict, and Dave and myself started this campaign about five years ago and for one reason or another the campaign did the fizzle just before getting the final event played. Before you know it a couple of years have passed and beyond the 'we must get that game played to finish the campaign', it just hadn't happened.

So, after talking about other campaigns, Dave suggested to get the battle played, if only for rounding off the series and for a sense of 'completeness', and this was duly agreed to.

The campaign had been played out using a multitude of rules; WRG 2nd Edition Renaissance, Tercio, Bad War and the skirmish set 'Sword & Pistol' and all these had produced a fun game for the various scenario's leading up to the final match. With the current favourite at the club being Impetus, we decided to go with that rule set for battle refight.

A trial game was decided upon to test out the deployment and ruleset before the final conclusion. Our army lists were drawn up and the amendments from the previous scenario's dragged out of the depths and battle lines drawn for the pretty simple battlefield layout. 

As a tester for the battle I was pretty up for the event and was keen to try out the tactics employed by the French on the day with light cavalry out front to delay the Swiss pike blocks and give me more time to fire the artillery, crossbow etc and soften them up before the inivitable clash, and to see how the troops fared in a pretty French type 'en avant' style showing lot's of elan and perhaps foolhardiness which I could then temper this strategy for the main event next week, possibly altering the troop types and strategy based on the results.

Pretty quickly we noticed a few issues with the rules, the main one being the range of the artillery was only 30U or about 2', I also discovered that my archer cavalry under Impetus is very un-manoeuvrable and they're attempt at delaying the pike blocks an almost impossible task but the skirmish screen of crossbow and mounted arquebus did work quite well. The up shot was the heavier archer cavalry got cut to bits and shot to hell with only a couple of minor casualties inflicted in return but the lighter troops inflicted a greater degree of damage while avoiding contact. What was successful was the break up of the Swiss advance to the pikes arrived in a piecemeal fashion, though I paid a hefty 6 Victory Point price (for the loss of the archer cavalry) to do it.

As the Swiss got closer Dave picked up speed with his pike blocks (managing to get the initiative every move until contact) and allowed only one real attack on the pike blocks from the artillery and crossbow units before the crunch.

The general melle over the ditch ensued with a glimmer of hope at first for the French with the centre and right melees at first going the French way but this was just a tantalising 'what might be' before it was cruelly taken away and the Swiss surged forward and pushed back the Landsknecht and Gascon Pike (though the Gascns lasted a lot longer than expected). With a couple of pretty hefty prolonged combats the back was broken of the Fench line and pushed the army over it's break point and thus a victory for the Swiss.

We did make a few mistake's while playing, forgetting about the zone of control a couple of times resulting in some easy kills for the Swiss against artillery and crossbow, and the effect of difficult terrain (the ditch) on the Pike Blocks dice but I don't think there would have been much difference in the result if we had remembered.

We both felt a bit disappointed after the trial game and felt the Impetus rules didn't really give a good renaissance feel to the event, and decided to call that the final match in the campaign rather than revisit what was a bit of a flat experience gaming wise next week.

I feel the problem is that I the rules dictated the flow of the game. I like to play a game where you feel there is a narrative with points in it which tell a story of the event and get the imagination going. Impetus is too intrusive a game system to let you do that. Great rules for having a game and doing this fairly quickly but more of a feel of monopoly rather than re-fighting a moment of history on the table top.

It could be that we both didn't know the rules sufficiently well that the fluidity of playing would allow the narrative of what transpired on the table top to come to the fore, but I'm guessing that this is not the case and the mechanics are too abstract to allow that kind of interaction.

Oh well, a campaign completed at least, so a +1 for tidiness and back to the drawing board for finding a rule set we like for the Italian Wars - so far my favourite 'feel' wise is Bad War even though it's torture to decifer, but definitely gives a good story.

Monday, 5 November 2012

LotR Impetus Style

Earlier last week I took part in an experimental game of Impetus Fantasticus, using the LotR mods from the Impetus forum, with the game organised by Kev and with myself, Andy, Ian and Dax as the guinea pigs and Kev umpiring the event.

A pretty quick game all in all even though the there was four players (two commanders a side) and each taking it in turn to play.

The game was very much a trial of the rules and mods as Kev had a few reservations on the suggested stat lines for the various racial troops being, as a whole too good.

The game was quite fun all in all, even though my command was annihilated, mainly due to consistently atrocious dice on my part and losing the game for the bad guys in the process.

The consensus at the end was pretty much unanimous. Good game, but too many special rules (for almost every troop type) and everything a bit too powerful.

Kev is now way planning changes to the rules and unit stats to find a happy medium probably using the Impetus game mechanics but using a more LotR turn structure. All good stuff and the way I think all gaming should be, if you don't like the rules, change 'em to what you like playing. All very 'old skool' methodology. I look forward to next bash where Kev has promised a big game round the relief of Helms Deep to trial the ammendments. Should be fun.

Friday, 19 October 2012

Favourite Wargames Rules

With the recent 20Q posts about in the blogosphere fairly recently, started by Ray and Fran over on Don't Throw a 1 and The Angry Lurker, and various bloggers about have done their versions of the questions and all these have been very entertaining.

Being fairly late to these kind of things, I haven't got around to doing my own version (but may do at some point) but several of the questions do get the old grey matter going. One question in particular had got me thinking, namely, which was my 'Favourite Wargames Rules?'.

Now there have been many rule sets over the years that I've enjoyed using and many fond memories but once I'd thought about it I came to the conclusion that my favourite rules would have to be the first proper rule set I ever owned and used, namely 'Middle Earth Wargames Rules' written by SELWG back in 1976 and produced by Skytrex Ltd

The these rules were very much old skool and were of their day with lots of tables and factors for combat but even so they were a pretty quick set to play and filled a whole that needed filled in my gaming world at that point in my life. Having just read LotR for the first time a year or so earlier and discovered through my interest in modelling (a copy of Military Modelling, which sad to say I still own) a range of miniatures for Lord of the Rings (Minifigs Mythical Earth range for those of you out there old enough to remember such things) and it all came together when I saw these rules advertised soon after.

I quickly got into the whole wargame thing and haven't looked back since. I still have all the figures up in the attic hat I used and now I've got it in my head, I'm going to look them out and have a reminisce about innocent games of slaughter and mayhem.

I doubt that the rules would stand the test of time now and may be a bit too off piste to be re-usable but it's always good to look back at where you've been before you go forward.

I wonder if anyone out there remembers these rules too?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Conquest of Majorca

As I mentioned in my last post, I'm recently back from a short break with my wife where we were away for just a week in Majorca for a bit of late sun.

Now, I don't know about the rest of you out there but when ever I'm abroad (or even just down the road a bit) I tend to look about and delve into the local history, partly just out of interest and partly to see if there's any inspiration for further reading or research, or more pertinently gaming potential, scenario's, terrain, new periods etc etc.

The one bit of local history which I quickly picked up on with my interest in the Berbers in Spain was the fairly prominent conquest of the Balearic Isles by Jaume I of Aragon, starting with the conquest of Majorca in 1229. This was prominent largely because we were staying in Santa Ponca which is where the Aragon forces landed to begin the conquest.

Disembartion Point Monument

The campaign to conquer the Balearic Isles lasted several years and the conquest of Majorca lasted several months mainly due to the siege of the Medina (now Palma) but there were at least three engagements including the siege, the largest set piece being near Santa Ponca.

The campaign and it's various goings on are pretty well documented, as indeed are the whole reconquest campaigns of Jaume I along the eastern coast of Spain, and a good bit of reading for this subject is 'The Book of Deeds of James I; A Translation of the Medieval Catalan' (which you can read on Google books).

The whole checking out of this bit of history quickly merged into an idea for a small campaign for my Almohad Berbers pitting themselves and defending their homeland against the infidel invader.

The good thing about this campaign idea is that it is pretty compact and self contained and could be played out over maybe three or four games and involves a reasonably limited number of troops on both sides.

A slightly harder thing to figure out is the 'victory' conditions for both sides, with the end result being if not a foregone conclusion, then at least a likely conclusion of the Aragon forces winning out against the Almohads. The main consideration here is likely to be time, so I think I'll try and base the objectives around a timescale, the Almohads trying to delay the progress of the Aragonese forces and the they trying to win out quickly.

A bit of reading up is still required for this little side project to take off but gives a bit of a direction for me and my on-going Berbers, so I'll do a bit more reading and jot down some ideas and see if this idea has got some legs on it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Wargaming Magazines - Views and Reviews

Just getting back a couple of days ago from parts-foreign and had a great time, but missing my normal gaming fix, I headed off to my local purveyor of periodicals and picked this months conucopia of Wargaming Journals.

I knew that this month would have some bumper editions to look forward to, and it certainly seemed to be the case with Wargames Illustrated 'Bumper Family Fun Edition' 25th Anniversary Issue bringing back childhood memories of the summer holiday prints of your favourite comic, White Dwarf ringing out the changes (about time too) with their October 2012 issue, Wargames Soldiers and Strategy Issue 62 always something of interest and Miniature Wargames Issue 354 still in with a shout.

The magazines are all very much in their own niche within the hobby and being a bit of a periodical junky I generally pick up them all on a regular basis.

The exception to this recently has been White Dwarf, which I have been reading since Issue 1, but of late say the last year or so I haven't as the level of interest the couple pieces of eye candy that the magazine has had that would interest me did not match the cover price, with nothing else in the contents to interest me. With the announced mash-up of the mag I thought I'd check it out.

With the increase in the cover price of the new look White Dwarf, you certainly get a pretty weighty piece of work at over 150 pages of good quality printing stock with a cover layout I quite like with it's current comic-esque glossy feel. The magazines' content has gone through a pretty rigorous change too and the look and feel to the pagation and type setting reminds me a great deal of an art-house catalogue with lots of type and image blocks and a fair amount of space. A look I quite like all in all, a bit old hat in art circles but a nouveau look for wargames mags, definitely a good move away from the Facebook-esque cluttered feel to the layouts.

The articles included in the mag are a mix of old and new themes with re-hashes of the old favourites including batreps, the very annoying ten pages of stores, Jervis' couple of pages of rote and so on but a couple of new bits have crept in with the one that peaked my interest was a regular slot for John Blanche and his delightfully dark meanderings. A big point in favour of the new regime is the tone of the writing has grown up markedly, a big plus.

The art house feel is of course enforced by the fact that the mag is a closet catalogue for this months new releases but I accept that tacitally but did note that the prices for each of the delights on offer this month were noticeable by their absence. All in all, I see a big improvement here (there was a lot to improve in fairness) and will give the mag another go if only for the improved eye candy count (and John Blanche column) but it does count as a coffee table mag rather than really being 'of use'.

The Bumper issue of Wargames Illustrated again falls into my category of 'I've been getting this since Issue 1' and as it's bound to full of nice piccies, I don't want to miss it.

As it's a pretty weighty tome too with close on 300 pages to it's name, there's bound to be something in here that interests most people but with the idea of a 'Bumper' lot's of games issue, there's not much content that you would come back to once you've looked at all the very nice pictures.

I will admit that I was a wee bit disappointed with the issue, if only because my favourite periods were ill represented (and the trotting out of Agincourt a wee bit unimaginitive, even though nicely done). I know as a celebraterly issue it needs to be all things to all men but there was little in there that after the initial flick through made me want to sit down and read immediately. The possible exception to this was the modelling article, a 'how to' for a Manor House and Palisade Fort being a tribute to Ian Weekley and the Y Gododdin Dark Age game.

Don't get me wrong, all the stuff presented was top notch and well done, it just didn't catch my interest. Again I would put this issue as a coffee table edition which I will no doubt return to over the next couple of weeks to pick at, but a bit deflated over this one.

Not a bumper issue or a a revamp, but I have soft spot for what I feel is the oft overlooked Miniature Wargames.

I have always felt that MW has been the 'Penguin Classic' of the wargames magazine world, full of little gems hidden away under unassuming covers.

I quite liked this issue, not for the fact that it covers the periods I like and usually play but just for the opposite reason that there's a couple of articles on a completely different (and unusual) area of coverage namely Anglo-American conflicts away from AWI. Having read recently about the War of 1812 (which I thought was immensely amusing) the theatre does have some legs and the articles here do get the thought juices going, which is really why you should buy any of these periodicals.

I like the reviews and the columnists in the mag with Darker Horizons always useful and often amusing, and Higher Ground though absent this issue, quite thought provoking.

Another mag in the same sort of stable but with it's recent re-vamp under it's belt is WSS. Again I like it's understated classiness, with a open moderne feel to the layouts and an eye for something different in the way of coverage.

The main thrust to this issue being the pulp fiction market, not one that immediately grabs me but one that I've certainly played in the past and games always tell a story which is what the genre is all about and the theme articles are varied enough to not be staid.

The Medieval plastic conversions article by Richard Lloyd (Captain Blood)  was an added bonus for the issue and something I was looking forward to having been following his posts on Lead Adventure forum and enjoyed the piccies. Not a relavation having been a kit basher for years but a nice, clear article which gets the inspiration (and motivation) going.

The articles I read first when reading WSS are once again the regular columns, this time by hobby worthy's Rick Priestly and Richard Clark, both of who's columns could happily be longer as both have an engaging writing style and generally pitch at the right level.

The foregoing magazines have all something in their favour, and in fairness something against them, but why do I spend a not in-considerable amount of cash on these every month and indeed over the last two or three decades?

I know a few of my fellow gamers who do not buy, or indeed read, any of the wargames magazines. I think I still own every one I've ever bought and use them as a depository of ideas and source information. Opposites.

Probably as i said at the beginning of this post, a quick fix, and indeed a habit from my early days in the hobby where the only place you could find stuff out and what was new was to buy the rags and see the adverts. The magazines general content has changed dramatically with source info really being completely absent now where before it used to be common place,uniform info, flags and modelling all good. The info-web probably has a lot to do with that trend. As mooted recently 'in the press' that wargaming is getting mo0re and more commercialised and the wargaming press is all part of this trend, the coverage you get in the magazines is bound to change and if we as wargamers get a slicker, more professional product this is I think welcome, but comes at a cost and the wargaming press shows this.

This post has turned into a bit of a ramble, but is a topic I think has a lot of legs (and perhaps arms too). Why do some not touch them and think they're a waste of money while others (like myself) buy most issues. What makes a good wargames magazine, and what makes a great one?

From my perspective, all I can say is they are a springboard for all sorts of projects and games in the past and hopefully will continue to be so and, if I'm honest, I just like looking at pictures of nicely painted figures and models.

Sunday, 16 September 2012

More Perry 'Italians'

Just recently released by the Perry's again are a couple of further releases in their European Armies Range are some separate heads for Italians for the Mercenaries boxed set and round and oval shields as separates too.

The eye candy to go with the release are the Stradiots;

EA26 Stradiot Command

EA27 Stradiot with Lances
Up to the usual Perry standard and a useful addition to this useful and hopefully further expanding range. Though actually Albanian and the Balkans generally, they were brought into 'notice' by the Venetians, so come under the heading of Italians I suppose, hence the release with other Italian bits.

There haven't been many decent sculpts of Stradiot available (probably The Assault Group being the best available currently and Old Glory's older sculpts but with more variety) so these are a welcome addition.

I would like to see how they shape up size wise with the TAG miniatures to do a bit of mix and matching if possible, but we'll leave that to later in the year hopefully once I get some progress under my belt with the Italian Wars project first. I suspect that the mix and match here is not likely to work due to the differences in style but we'll check it out.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Future Wars Update 002

Bravo Section - 1st Platoon - 1st Company
3rd Scots Battalion (Mechanised Infantry) 2065
I've now finished off the second Fire Team for the first section of my Mechanised Infantry Platoon for the Future Wars project, and I'm reasonably please with the results.

The completed Section now makes a small viable gaming team which coupled with the APC looks quite handy. All the figures in the section are Copplestone Castings.

I also painted up an old Urban Mammoth character, Major Kali to add a bit of character for the force for a possible character/hero use.

She certainly adds a bit of character to the project and no doubt will come in handy for scenario's etc.

As you can see from this post, I've also been mucking about with photographing the figure's which I think can be a bit of fun in it's own right, and if nothing else is a bit of practice with the camera and photo editing software. All part of the enjoyment of the hobby really.

Now that the first Section is complete and out of the way, I have a clear idea of how to complete the whole platoon, which is just a case of plodding through the painting and getting it done. Should be fairly clear cut.

I have had the vague idea of expanding the force from the Platoon to a full Company, which would would be fun, maybe including Manoeuvre Support and an attached Assault Platoon, but I'll park that one for now. One reason for that being having checked on the Web that Old Crow is not producing his existing line at the moment due to working on some movie project plus new lines. This all sounds very interesting, and I'll be watching his website with interest, but a bit of a pain if your wanting to expand your current collection. I think you can contact him with a wishlist of his existing range and he'll get back to you. 

Anyway, I've caught up with this project a bit, and I'm keen to progress with it and get it up to the finish for the end of the year, at least to get the original Platoon complete at any rate.

However, next up on this project fairly soon will be...The Enemy. Watch this space.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Warmachine - Trading Blow for Blow

Once again the troops assemble for a tussle in the world that is Warmachine.

My Khador forces still needing the practice and require to hone their skills, and Jim's Menoth Protectorate were much the same.

We had decided on a thirty point skirmish with a no holds barred 'fight to the finish' game, so lot's of blood and scrap metal was sure to ensue.

The forces advance towards each other
 - the Protectorate line abreast, Khador refusing the centre.
The game was a great free for all and basically a ding dong battle with each of the forces dealing out what felt like huge damage in turn. First my Windowmaker snipers got wiped out by a well placed flame thrower attack which I hadn't expected in turn two. Turn three and Jim fell into my refused centre trap and I managed to jump on his heavy warjack and one of his light ones and reduced the heavy one to scrap in one turn and nearly take out the lighter too with a Warjack, Ironfang pike man and Man O War combo.

Khador combo makes a hole in the Monoth line

Jim's Menoth forces then retaliated and bashed the living daylights out my Berserker Warjack who stoically held the right flank on his own (but only just) and took out the last of the snipers and made a big dent in the Destroyer Warjack.

Destroyer Warjack - On fire and on the way out
Khador retaliates and finishes off the first Light Jack, the Berserker makes a few swings but is really there to hold up a unit of knights on his own, the Juggernaut Jack plows into the nasty knight unit and takes one down, and the pikemen join in and drop another while my Warcaster Irusk drops an Airburst on the Menoth infantry which take 50% casualties and break.

Mid game - from both sides
Menoth once again swing into action, finish off the Destroyer Jack, the knights on the flank take out the Berserker (who even in death creates an obstacle) and the light jack moves out wide and manages to flame a third of the pikemen and the Exemplar Knights take out another couple while making a big dent in the Juggernaut.

The Berserker holds up and entire unit
Another round and another couple of Knights go down in the centre including one knocked down, another Airburst leaving a solitary Flame Infantryman and the Men O War close in for the kill to destroy the last light jack next.

Menoth hit back and the last of the pikemen go down and the Juggernaut takes a good hiding but the steel is taken out of the Menoth forces with a whole unit on the flank moving trying to get into the fight.

The end of the Menoth Warcaster and his forces nears
With the last gasp nearing I went for the kill. Another knight goes down, the Men O War charge the Jack taking it apart an my Warcaster loaded with focus sweeps round on the Priest Warcaster and off loads all his focus on his gun firing 10 shots at the priestly one and finally killing him with the tenth shot. End game, with a win for Khador but with only 5 figures still standing.

A good toe to toe, blow for blow, anybodies game game, but the early kills and the fire and forget Berserker occupying a nasty unit for what turned out to be the whole game sealing it for the Khador forces. 

Enjoyed the game immensely and once again picked up some more of the niceties of the rules, so the learning curve continues.

I enjoy the depth of tactics that the rule set gives it's games, and in fairness, the amount of tactical gamesmanship that it affords. It isn't just the UEMC 'I got the latest biggest baddeest thing, I win' sort of game, in that each forces troops are fixed and every force has nasty surprises and all are capable of winning, you've got to use them right and have a bit of luck too, I like that. Also the size of games is of a nice size too. More a skirmish than a battle, which gives lot's of scope for story telling, cinematically or otherwise, a thing I like in all my games. If the game tells a good story, it doesn't matter in you win or lose, it's the story that counts.

Looking forward to some more story telling soon.

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