Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Wargamer show

Last Sunday I popped along to the Wargamer Show ( to see what it was like. I have been going to the Guards Club for quite some time now and know the show organiser, but this was my first chance to go along and I would have missed it entirely had Paul not reminded me at the club last week...

The Venue
The show was at the Great Barr Leisure Centre in north Birmingham, a location which unfortunately put the city exactly between me and it, so it was a fair drive over. On the plus side, parking was ample, spilling over from the Leisure Centre into a school playground. The show itself was in a large sports hall, which was filled with stalls without feeling too cramped, so points for that in my book. Food and refreshments were provided, although I did not sample them.

There were several traders as one might expect, along with a good sized bring and buy. It seemed that quite a few stalls were selling second hand figures and books, which worked out great for me as I was able to pick up several bargains. My favourite find, though, was a first edition hardback of Flashman at the Charge, in almost mint condition, for £1. Nice! During the morning I spent at the show, I made several circuits of the hall and picked up something each time. So the traders were pretty good as far as I was concerned!

There were several games in the centre of the hall and, pleasingly, the majority of the people running them were happy to stop for a chat, something I have not always experienced at shows.

My 'game of the show' award (for looks at least!) goes to the Shrewsbury Wargame Society's AWI game, which was shockingly impressive. The terrain took 18 months to prepare and included amazing details including a scarecrow, washing line, fish in the river and an owl in a tree. My pictures, alas, do not do it justice.

The Guards Club had a large game of Hail Caesar (28mm) and a WW2 North Africa (20mm) game on, both of which appeared to be jolly good fun. I find that, while it is good to have the opportunity to see impressive display games, the Guards' games were quite indicative of what one might see at a club night, and therefore what a 'regular' gamer might play. So kudos to them for that. In fact that is part of the reason why the WW2 game won the best game award at the show.

Bonus prize for 'most figures on the table goes to this Napoleonic game:

Finally, an unfortunately blurry group photo at the Bring and Buy. From left to right: Paul's daughter and photographer for the event, Paul - event organiser and a most decent chap, and Maurice - custodian of the Bring and Buy and a jolly good fellow too.

My only regret is that I didn't take more pictures! I got a bit carried away with all the fun of the show and didn't even take a decent one of the whole hall. I guess that just goes to show how good it was!

All in all, the Wargamer Show was a highly enjoyable event and I certainly recommend it. I suppose to fend of accusations of bias I should offer a couple of points of critique, but the only one I can think of is that the website could do with more than a little bit of work. But I guess as this is my blog, you'll just have to put up with my opinion. If any of you were there, I'd be interested to hear your point of view.

I look forward to going again next year.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Update and musings on costs

I have been somewhat quiet over the last month and a half. The main reason for this is due to me being made redundant at work and having to frantically search for a new job. I have fortunately managed to sort that out in the nick of time, so am sufficiently 'relaxed' to return to thoughts of little metal men!

Last week GW announced the first items in their new Hobbit range to accompany the film (Out on 13 December, yay!). I was thinking that the starter set would be a good way to pick up some Dwarf heroes, but was a bit taken aback (if not entirely surprised) by the £75 price tag.

But this isn't a moan about that, rather it acted as a trigger to me thinking about the 'cost vs use' of my figures, particularly my Lord of the Rings collection. Thanks to eBay, this has been growing at a considerable rate. I mean, when I can get a handful of figures for almost nothing, why not?!

On the other hand, this has left me with a substantial quantity of unpainted figures bought on a whim. Which got me thinking, sure I have managed to collect them at a fraction of the price, but if they are not being painted and used, it is not just money spent for no reason?

This thought led me to a rather scary place, which was: Would I actually have been better off buying direct from GW? The premium prices would make me feel a need to 'justify' each purchase instead of just buying randomly because things were a bargain. As a result I would feel a sense of obligation to paint the figures and actually use them, instead of just adding them to the pile.

Of course, I may have just ended up with a more costly pile of unpainted figures, but I would probably have considered each purchase more. I don't think this rambling is actually leading me to a profound conclusion, but may be interesting to bear in mind for the future...

Anyway, I am hoping to have some more interesting posts for you all in the near(ish) future. Thanks for hanging around during my period of silence!

Monday, 8 October 2012

This is what I have to put up with...

So, following on from my last post I'm exciting about being focused on a couple of projects and prioritising them, but there is one slight obstacle to overcome... my filthy man cave....

Okay, that sounds a bit dodgy, but you know what I mean. Once more the place is a mess, so as a motivation I have decided to show you all the extent of what I am dealing with. Along with useful annotations! (Hopefully you can see the letters I have added in red...)

To start, the left side of the table. Usually reserved for figures I am working on or a secondary project. Currently, it is occupied by:

A) My Starship Troopers project. Not stalled, exactly, but it has sort of become swallowed up by the mess of the rest of the table so it is almost indistinguishable. I could do with finding storage for the figures and freeing up the tray from assorted paints and half finished hedgerows so I can use it for other things.

B) A plastic tower which has been there for months. A SST Brainbug which is far too big for 15mm. A unit of Warhammer Beastmen who don't currently have a home. Small plastic bags from various models. The lesson from this is not to use my table as a dumping ground for things I should really put away as soon as possible.

C) Paints, toothpicks, dice and, errrrrr, a shot glass for absolutely no reason whatsoever except that I once put some water in it to dip my brushes in....

If you thought that was bad, the right side just gets worse...:

A) Recent eBay acquisitions I have not done anything with.
B) A bag of counters I am too lazy to put away
C) Tape, glue, water. There for the same reason the counters are...
D) Bits and pieces. There are a cut up Dalek and Weeping Angel which are going to be made into objective markers for a Doctor Who game I have been planning.
E) Barrow-wights, old Citadel Chaos Dwarf Bazuka Team, spooky trees and left over WW1 I was unable to sell on eBay.
F) A Gondorian Knight Standard Bearer which I bought from a friend but have done nothing with (you know, like almost everything else here...)
G) A hidden treasure! Two packs of old WEG Indiana Jones Miniatures. I don't want to sell these, but keeping them means I should really paint them, which in turn means I need to buy a bunch of Nazis for Indy to fight! (The potential new projects never end!)

I did have some more pictures, but they are less interesting and merely add to the horror. I really need to find the time to tidy this up so I can get cracking on projects again. The rest of the room is covered in boxes of games and DVDs. Unfortunately these act as convenient platforms for me to deposit rules, modelling materials, boxes of figures etc etc, so it isn't even like the table is all I need to deal with.

So, urge me on with whatever words you deem appropriate. I can only hope some of you have a similar problem and I am not alone in this terrible situation!

Friday, 5 October 2012

New season new rules...

I don't think I am the only one, but when the season  changes I always feel like playing a different/new game or revisiting one I haven't played for a while. At the moment this looks like the following list:

  1. Pirates
  2. Gothic Horror
  3. French & Indian War
When I think about it, there is usually a reason for certain games coming to the fore of my mind. Pirates is there due to Monkey Island. I got this game as a child for my Birthday one October and the first section, set in a perpetual night on Melee Island, has always has always had a wintry feel for me.

Gothic Horror is a new one for me, due to having just returned from a holiday in Whitby (Anyone who does not know why this should be the case should google Dracula). We had a fantastic time and left wanting to go back as there was so much more to see. I'm going to hold fire on this at the moment though as I am not sure any of the current horror rules really meet my needs (open to suggestions if anyone has them though).

Finally, the French & Indian War. Again, a slightly convoluted reason for this, but it (again) stems from my childhood and memories of watching episodes of Hawkeye with my Dad before going out to help rake up the fallen autumn leaves.

It is this last one where I succumbed, aided in no small part my the arrival of an email from Maelstrom games giving a whopping 30% off. So I paid about £8 for the "This Very Ground" rules from Iron Ivan. I think that is entirely justifiable for that price. I'm not even sure I will actually get round to playing them, but perhaps at some point....

In other news, I have been thoroughly enjoying the new X-Wing game from FFG. I have yet to play a 'real' game yet, but the solo learning games I have played have been good fun. Here's a picture to prove it!

I have also been loving selling old things on eBay as it means I could plonk down the cash for several ships without feeling the pain in my bank account! It takes a bit of getting used to for a game hoarder like me, but the results are well worth it!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Fog on the Barrow Downs

Well, it is time to return to my Lord of the Rings campaign! The scenario was more fun than some write ups have led me to believe, but that might have been because I was trying to play the Hobbits 'in character' rather than have them gang up and hunt the barrow-wights or other such nonsense. Anyhow, it was a fairly close thing with an added sense of peril knowing that any deaths could last through the rest of the campaign!

So with out further a do, here it is:

There you have it. I really thought Pippin was gone for good, but he managed to make a 50-50 die roll to pull through. All the pictures are from the game in progress, except for the last one, which was staged for the purpose of the narrative.

Hope you enjoyed it. Comments welcome as always.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Random news

Somewhere between my last post and now, I seem to have picked up a 50th follower, so a big welcome to him!

Thought I’d just post a few bits and pieces as it has once again been quite some time since my last post. I don’t know what is going on with my time at the moment! So let’s see what kind of news I have for everyone...

The Cull
Well, I have finally bitten the bullet and opted to sell some of my stuff that wasn’t seeing much action. First out the door (and on to eBay) was my 28mm WW1. Why this? Well, the uniforms are pretty drab and I am struggling to paint 28mm as it is! Secondly, the cost of trench terrain to sit on top of my table is fairly prohibitive in the scale (unless I opt for Amera stuff). Also, tanks. £25 for an Old Glory MkIV is a cost I am not wiling to bear. Also, I have decided that if I want to play a big game and get the full impact of the period then 15mm is the way to go for me. It will make the whole thing cheaper, easier to paint and more likely to actually get on my table.

The Heresy
After getting all excited about Warhamer Fantasy Battle 3rd Edition, I am sorry to say I find myself more and more drawn to 4th Edition. Now, I still regard 3rd as a fine game and will continue to play it, but the more I think about it, the more I realise that, like it or not, 4th was ‘my’ edition as that was what I would see in issues of White Dwarf when I was a youngster. Plus I am more and more drawn to the content of early army books (Skaven Doomwheel, I’m looking at you). So that is where I currently stand. Fortunately I have a copy of the rules, along with Battle Magic and Arcane Magic at my folk’s house, so I just need to collect them and I am ready to go. Sorry 3rd edition...

The Resurgence
Well, resurgence may be too strong a word, but I have finally got round to painting the Barrow-Wights, Tom Bombadil and Goldberry for the next scenario in my Lord of the Rings Campaign. That should hopefully be played this weekend. I am also thinking of cost effective ways to make a multi-part, close approximation of Weathertop for the scenarios that follow.

The Bonus
I have been lucky enough to be testing a new version of a popular rule set and am happy to say that it is looking pretty good. Hopefully we will see some more news on that over the next month or so.

Finally, I've taken up the tiniest part of the dining table to play little LotR skirmishes. As no blog entry is complete without a picture, here is one!

So that is about it for the time being. I also need to update my other blog (link) as I am ready for the first scenario for that. Guess I have just been too busy over summer!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

HO scale buildings

A few days ago I bought 6 'HO Scale' buildings on eBay for a little under £6. Not bad. But when I unpacked them, I found that 2 were clearly smaller than the others and really didn't work with my 15mm. Now, I have no knowledge of HO scale except that I have read it can vary widely and, for the price I paid, I am happy I got 4 usable buildings.

The purpose of this post is to show the buildings next to some figures and invite some discussion on the subject of using HO scale for 15mm.

First up, the church. This, along with the following house, look wooden and handmade, which surprised me as I expected them all to be plastic. I quite like how it looks. a sticker underneath identifies it as by "Vau-Pe" and having been "Made in Western Germany". I don't know if this is being used synonymously with "West Germany" and just suffering slightly in translation but, if so, it seems to be quite old! Note the spire/bell tower is not in the picture as I was mainly trying to show the scale with the figures.

The second building is a house in the same style of construction as the church. This is by RS and has an ink stamp underneath clearly stating it was "Made in West Germany".

Next up is a 'building under construction' made out of plastic. I have seen this advertised elsewhere. I like this as a variation on all the fully built buildings I'd normally have on the table.

Again, based on the size of the door/windows, this one works okay with 15mm figures.

Last from the 'good batch', a smaller plastic house.

Again, it seems to scale well with my figures and will be useful for games in rural areas. Of course, most of these buildings are 'European' rather than 'American', but such things will not stop me from using them for my zombie games.

Now the difficulties begin. This was actually the first building I opened and it made me fear the worst for the whole lot before I saw them:

Aside from looking like it came out of a Kinder egg, it is clear that no one 15mm in height would be able to fit through that front door!

The last one looks like a kind of Alpine barn I have seen in Europe, but is also woefully small:

I am very interested in hearing if other 15mm gamers use HO scale buildings and what their experiences have been. I have a feeling that the smaller two are actually of a different scale and were described incorrectly by the seller but, having read about the amount of variation and not having any real knowledge of the scale, I don't feel sure about it.

Ideally, I'd like to gain a clearer idea in my mind about what an HO scale building 'should' look like. If they are generally like the first four, than I will be keeping an eye out for more eBay bargains.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

"Do you want to know more?"

My new 15mm Starship Troopers project is coming along fairly well, so I thought it was time I posted something...

First up, the handful of warrior bugs that I have completed so far:

They are from Khurasan's range, but I am trying to paint them black/red/yellow like the ones from the movie. The light has made them look a bit greyer than they are in real life.

For the humans I have completed two Light Armour Squads and some Power Armour figures (all GZG):

I have several more bugs to complete as well as a few more squads of humans. As I was trying out the rules again today, I thought I'd present a little walk-through of a simple turn to show how the game plays.

This example only displays the simplest parts of the game. You can have multi-hit units, air-support, tunnelling, bug holes and much more with these rules. I am impressed by the way in which they are familiar yet at the same time have a lot of differences which add up to a fresh experience. I look forward to building my collection of figures and playing more games.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Getting my mojo back...

Well, it has been a tough couple of months. Not for any 'real' reason of course, I am purely referring to my hobby output! Real life is just fine, but not something I concern myself with in this blog!

What has been tough has been my painting output and my disinclination to put a brush to anything vaguely 28mm tall. It seemed to start when I was painting my Warhammer army for 3rd Edition and just couldn't muster the energy to finish even 500 points of troops. Fortunately my friend was terribly understanding about it and did not grumble. It probably helped that my ramshackle Empire force was utterly trounced by his gloriously painted High Elves.

But this fielding of an unpainted army was obviously of great concern to me and I went into a period of hobby-hibernation (as evidenced by my lack of posts). However, something slowly started to change. I became inspired to start a little 15mm project which I had been wanting to get off the ground ( and I found I really enjoyed painting the little fellows. So perhaps scale was an issue?

Thinking about the two big projects which have entirely stalled in the past, WW1 and WAB, it struck me that they were both 28mm games which required a fair number of units to be painted. The more I thought about it, the more I felt that this was the crux of the issue. As a result I have cut back on my 28mm projects to a few 'core' games which I either can't, or don't want to, game in 15mm:
  • Pirates
  • Doctor Who
  • Lord of the Rings
  • Warhammer Fantasy 3rd Ed
  • Rogue Trader
  • Gorkamorka
  • Star Wars
All except WHF are really skirmish games and Star Wars doesn't require any painting!

I have played All Things Zombie and, most recently, The Department in 15mm and it proved that even skirmish games can work in that scale (at least as far as I am concerned). As for the rest, between manufacturers such as Khurusan, Rebel Minis, GZG and Peter Pig (to name just a few) there is very little that cannot be done in 15mm. And of course there are profound benefits in terms of cost and storage.

As if to cement my decision, I leaped into a new sci-fi project with great fervour, the fruits of which are almost ready to be blogged about. I am able to paint figures without succumbing to utter tedium and the speed with which they can be painted means I feel like progress is fast and constant.

So my decision is to shift all my gaming primarily to 15mm from hence forth. Of course, none of this is to say I feel that it is objectively a 'better scale', just that I have been lucky enough to find what I think really suits me as a wargamer.

Hopefully you will see some interesting posts in the not too distant future.

Monday, 2 July 2012

It's all a bit quiet!

Well, it has been a very long time since I posted anything. To be honest I have been woefully unproductive on the painting front, and almost as unproductive on the gaming front... Last Saturday night I did get a chance to play the Gears of War boardgame, which is a really fun solo/co-op game. The enemy AI is really rather effective and you feel under constant pressure as a player, two things which are essential to a solo game, in my opinion.

A hoard of Tickers prepare to be blown sky high...

My guys getting brutalised by the far superior AI!

Today I got to play my first games of Commands and Colours: Napoleonics. I was a slightly unsure as I have mixed feelings on the underlying system from my experiences with Memoir '44 and Battlelore, but this was a very different beast. Highly enjoyable. We played twon and a half games and perhaps were a little ambitious trying to re-fight Waterloo when we didn't have much time left, but the end result was that I really want to play this again as soon as possible.

Waterloo, C&C:N style
Apart from that I have a whole new 15mm project which I will be starting soon. I will be posting more on that as soon as the figures arrive, Can't wait!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

New Blog!

Well, I thought it might come to this. I have found a small project which I have decided is worthy of having a blog by itself.

15mm Havoc

Please take a look and follow if it is of interest to you.


Monday, 18 June 2012

Epic Armageddon (Small Game)

 I found the opportunity last week to print off the current Epic rules available free from Games Workshop. Although I enjoyed the previous incarnation, it felt to me that the amount of work required during the army creation process did not yield a proportionate amount of fun or detail in the gameplay, so was keen to try a different version.

I put together a small table and fought a battle using two Space Marine forces, mostly consisting of Marines and Land Raiders so I didn't have to worry about a lot of special rules, although I did include a few characters and a small titan. The simple story was that one force had turned traitor and the other had been dispatched to show them the error of their ways and flush them out of the city they had fortified.

End of Turn 1
 The assault got off to a reasonable start. I like how each side alternates in giving formations an order, with the option to attempt to command two in a row. This makes a change from the usual IGOUGO format of GW games and, although I played solo, I imagine this would add to the meaningful decisions during a game as you have to decide which formations are important to be ordered early on and which can wait until later in the turn.

End of Turn 2
At the end of turn two the defenders had started to take a battering. Their only Land Raider formation had been almost destroyed by the titan's firepower and the defenders on the right flank had been driven back from their fortifications.

End of Turn 3
By the end of the third turn it was all over. The attacking force had shown itself to be overwhelming and there was no point continuing. 

Add caption
Although it was very one sided, it was a fun enough learning game. I definitely feel motivated to paint up some of the vast amount of Epic figures I have, more so than when I played the previous version of the rules. I'm very interested to see what it is like with a greater variety of unit types and different armies. The rules are not very complex at all, but have a better level of detail than the last edition, which I think makes the game feel more engaging and interesting.

It is slightly disappointing that GW decided to focus on the Armageddon campaign and therefore focus on Imperial and Ork forces, as there has only been an Eldar list published in addition to the core rule lists (and two alternative Ork and Imperial Guard ones). That said, there are fan made lists for Tyranids and Squats, which I look forward to using.

I always liked this scale of game in the Warhammer 40K universe and look forward to painting and playing more battles using these rules. I had previously intended to use Dirtside 2 for 6mm, but they are back on the shelf for now...

Monday, 28 May 2012

Doctor Who game report

Today is apparently one of the last days of sunshine we are going to have in the UK before normal weather service is resumed, so how better to spend it than sitting indoors pushing lead men around?

A good buddy of mine also works part time and has Mondays off, so we were able to take advantage of this coincidence (finally) and play a game of Doctor Who.

We modified a scenario from the main rulebook, which has Sea Devils attacking a UNIT base while the Master searches buildings for a vital component for his escape from earth. Our version had Cybermen attacking a village while the Master searches buildings for a vital component for his escape from earth...

I took the part of the good guys, controlling the 4th Doctor, K-9, Leela, the Brigadier, Sgt Benton and several UNIT soldiers. My friend took control of the Master, a Cyber-Leader and several Cybermen.

Here is a summery and some pictures:

The Cyberman assault begins!

The Master sneaks into a building which also happened to contain material the Doctor could use for inventions

Leela entered the house to confront the master but ended up being hypnotised by him!

Cyberman advancing on the right flank, soon to be shot!

The Cyberman left flank approaches the village

You can see UNIT forces deployed along the road with the intention of slowing the Cyberman advance and buying the Doctor time to deal with the Master or come up with a useful invention!

The Doctor stuns Leela with his sonic screwdriver!
 The above picture requires a bit of explanation. After hypnotising Leela and conducting a search of the building, which showed it did not contain the device he was after, the Master left and ran into the nearby woods.  Under his control, Leela attacked the Doctor with her poisoned blowpipe, fortunately missing. As she attacked an ally, she was entitled to make a check to break the hypnotism at the end of the turn. However, the Doctor was not taking any chances and stunned her with his sonic screwdriver. Fortunately she made the hypnotism roll and came back under the control of the good side. Unfortunately she failed every single stun recovery roll for the rest of the game except the last couple of turns! This kind of 'narrative' event which spontaneously happens in the game is absolutely fantastic and makes it a great experience.

Cybermen fall to concentrated fire from UNIT

The view from the UNIT battleline

Man down!

The left UNIT flank starts to buckle. Cybermen distruptors are brutal when they hit...

More dead Cybermen...

The casualties mount up.

Okay, this is how it went... I was so pleased with my defence of the village that I took a few pictures of the dead Cybermen. My buddy insisted I return the favour and photograph the UNIT casualties. The result? A load of picture of miniatures on their backs... Ah well...

The Master breaks cover from the forest and is confronted by K-9 and his nose laser!

The Master makes it to the church, where he will again search unsuccessfully.

UNIT starting to feel the pressure. Their fire was most effective when concentrated on a single foe. By this point he Cybermen were gaining ground and able to bring their superior weaponry to bear. Nasty...

Cyberman viewpoint along the road

Sgt Benton falls, the Brigadier fails a morale test and starts to run!

At this point the good side had about 4 figures left and the Cybermen had breached the village.

The stunned (quite literally) Leela looks on as the Doctor finally completes his invention. A quick d6 roll shows it to be a weapon designed to take out Cybermen with ease! Hurrah! Just a shame it is a little late...

A view of the village and UNIT corpses...

A Cyberman makes his ominous way along a hedgerow.

The Brigadier looks on, helpless in the face of the Cyberman advance.

"Delete! Delete!" The Brigadier falls!

The Doctor and companians make a last ditch effort to stop the Cybermen.

Regeneration time... the Doctor falls.
So, the good side didn't do too well at all. It all seemed to be going okay at the start and I rolled some excellent damage dice against the Cybermen, but when they got close enough to use their slightly shorter range weaponry they really started to take a toll on my forces.

The Doctor was fairly slow in creating an invention and by the time he did, most of the UNIT force was dead. The Master didn't have much luck with finding what he was after, but in the end it didn't matter too much! UNIT definitely should have tried to avoid the full on firefight with the Cybermen.

Final Victory Points: Bad Guys 12, Good Guys 1. But a very fun game!