PIC

PIC

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Dark Future



As part of my 'play more games' approach this year, I've been looking out for boardgames that I can pick up and play with the kids and at the club. I've long had an interest in Mad Max style automotive mayhem, having been an avid Battlecars player in my mis-spent youth, and having established small collection of diecast Hotwheels conversions that I put together for Axles and Alloys a couple of years ago.

I've also been inspired by orlygg's excellent Route 666 blog, which is definately worth a look:

http://route666darkfuture.blogspot.co.uk/

This is a great example of wargame recycling, using an obsolete but perfectly good set of rules as a basis for the re-animation of long forgotten but once 'trendy' gaming systems. I really like this approach and have always tried to follow the same philosophy, with the Darkest Africa and Back of Beyond projects as good examples.

Why jump on the bandwagon while it's at full steam ahead, when you can climb on board at a leisurely and parsimonious pace, once it's been shunted into a rusty siding somewhere?

Anyway, I now have an almost mint condition Dark Future box set, complete with unpunched counters, weapons sprues, bikes and cars, all for not much more than twenty five quid. The cars are assembled but not glued together or painted, so can easily be pulled apart and rebuilt with added extras. I've also downloaded the free version of the rules and the White Line Fever supplement onto the Kindle Fire HD, giving me the opportunity to work through the rule manual in my spare time, whenever that is?

A bit of a result and a very promising project for the future, dark or otherwise.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Full Thrust February [1]



It's looking as though I'll be as busy next month, if not more so, than in January. As a result, I've decided to postpone the Bag the Hun Operation Bodenplatte project until half term, when I hope to have sufficient time to do it justice. In the meantime, I'm going to tackle a second small fleet for Full Thrust, this time using the GZG Neu Swabian models that I bought at Warfare in November. If I can get these done as quickly as the Neu Soviets taskforce I'll be really pleased, although I have yet to decide on the actual paint scheme.

It's a tank!



Well, it's actually three rather sorry looking but perfectly serviceable Sherman M4A2's, once I scrape the last vestiges of Humbrol enamel from the track units and fiddly stowage bits. These will save me about twenty quid and will be ideal as Sherman III armour support for the IABSM 5th DCLI, with the addition of a Sherman Firefly which I already have in the box. A worthwhile result, even if I very nearly knackered the kitchen sink with paint stripper...just don't tell the wife!

Monday, 28 January 2013

Can you tell what it is yet?



In the immortal words of Rolf, I present the latest salvage effort from the enamel coated depths of the past, this time in the form of some 15mm Peter Pig armour. I found these in a box at the weekend and thought they'd be perfect for my IABSM 5th DCLI project, together with the figures that I've now accumulated using my sister's generous birthday present voucher.

In case you were unable to sperate the toxic paint stripper goo from the actual tanks, they're stowage laden M4A2 Shermans from the US range. The 5th DCLI had armour support from Sherman III's of the 4/7th Dragoon Guards in the advance to the Rhine, so these are perfect for the job. I just have to seperate the caustic gloop from the models and give them a good scrub up, to be able to re-assemble them as a very useful support unit.

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Bag The Hun Operation Bodenplatte [13]





I managed to get the last of the planes prepared and based for the BTH2 Operation Bodenplatte project today. These consist of a flight of four Bf109G10's, a flight of four FW Ta152's and a single extraordinary Do334 Pfeil, to add something out of the ordinary to the collection. The latter is a Raiden Miniatures model while the other two are from the Leading Edge range by Museum Miniatures. I didn't get round to undercoating them but I'll do that tomorrow, when I also hope to start some actual painting.

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Duel in the Dark


One of the things I've promised myself this year is to spend greater time actually playing games, rather than just preparing for them. As a result, I'm going to try to play more boardgames which require virtually no set up time and can be pulled out of the box at a moments notice, which is especially useful given my current scarcity of time. I used to play loads of board wargames, so it's not something radically new and should be easy to get going again, if I can find the sort of games that suit my current circumstances.

As part of this effort, I'm trying to set up an X Wing game at the club with some like-minded players, but I've also been on the lookout for simple, pick up and play style historical wargames. I already have quite a few in the cupboard but most are of the Squad Leader school of gaming, so a bit too involved for an evenings' lighthearted entertainment. However, I have just acquired a copy of Duel in the Dark which looks absolutely spot on for my level of one brain cell, beer and pretzels boardgaming.

It has the added appeal of the subject matter and, from the reviews that I've read, both looks and plays in an impressive style. I'm planning to try out the game solo as soon as it arrives in the post, so that I can master the rules, then intend to get some games going at home with the boys and at the club as well. I think this will enable me to balance my work and home commitments with my wargaming hobby a little better. It also means that I can still crack on with my miniatures based projects, when time allows.

(Incidentally, my plans to start on the Operation Bodenplatte project have fallen foul of the usual obstacles today but I'm hoping to have a crack at some more basing up tomorrow, if I can squeeze it into the ever busy schedule).


Friday, 25 January 2013

Books, Books, Books..and more Books







In case you were worried that my new found love affair with the Kindle Fire HD had somehow tempered by book fetish, you can rest re-assured. I have a trip into town on Friday afternoon after work, ostensibly to take the boys to their Judo lessons, but in reality so that I can pilfer the shelves of the excellent Oxfam charity bookshop. It's on the way to the sports centre after all.

Anyway, over the last few couple of weeks I've assembled a rather splendid collection of pristine hardback second hand books, which collectively set me back a little over fifteen quid. I feel a little sheepish about this, as I suspect they belonged to a military history enthusiast who is now longer with us. However, it all goes to a very good humanitarian cause and the various volumes have now found a very good home.

I will be saving these for the holidays, when I have the ever rare time and concentration to appreciate their worth, without dropping off after a chapter or so. I'm a total novice when it comes to things Malburian, so I'm looking forward to some historical enlightenment, although that was a bit later on. I'm also keen to brush up on my Napoleonics, so Richard Holmes' biography of Wellington is a definite front runner.

If only I had the time!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Bag The Hun Operation Bodenplatte [12]


I've decided to make the Operation Bodenplatte project the focus for February. There are a number of compelling arguments for doing something less fiddly and out of the box but, for some reason, I have a fixation with 1/285th scale aircraft that I can't seem to shake off. I could do some additional aircraft for the Malta project including some SM79's, Fulmars, Beaufighters and Spitfires VB's but I'm a bit tired of sand, spaghetti and mid-earth after painting up a full squadron's worth of Hurricanes and Blenheims last year.

The late war Luftwaffe stuff is, however, ready to go and has the advantage of being both interesting to paint and to game with, especially as the various fighter types are all equipped with cannon. I have some lovely Museum Miniatures Leading Edge BF109G's and Ta152's to add to the flight line but, in all other respects, it's a straightforward production line paint job, albeit with some cool mottle effect camouflage and funky decals. I'm looking forward to getting started over the weekend!

Pauke! Pauke!

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Full Thrust Mini Project [5]



I now find myself in unfamiliar territory, having completed a project that I started less than a week ago, leaving me in a bit of a quandry as to 'what next'? I'm sorely tempted to have a crack at a second small fleet for Full Thrust now that I've got the painting sorted, give or take a few refinements.

I have a good selection of GZG Neu Swabian ships that would be easy to clean up and assemble, allowing me to field some suitable opposition for the Neo Soviets. They wouldn't take long to paint but I'd have to think up a different scheme based on a three stage wetbrush, drybrush and highlight approach, probably using the Foundry paint system to make things easy.

I've also got a small selection of Brigade Models South African ships, which caught my eye when they were released last year and which could act as stand ins for the Royal Navy. I quite like the idea of a small taskforce of spaceships with classic Cold War era aircraft names as class types.

I'm thinking along the lines of Hunter class frigates, Lightning class destroyers,  Javelin class heavy cruisers and Victor class battleships. It's just an idea, and I'll probably stick with the GZG models, but it would complement the Neo Soviets really well and give me a use for some  otherwise superfluous lead.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Full Thrust Mini Project [4]

Taskforce Red October

Krivak Class Battlecruisers
 
Kotlin Class Cruisers

Suvurov Class Dreadnought

Udaloy Class Frigates

The Sub Light Engines

I finished off the Neo Soviet taskforce this evening with some I-94 and Doms Decals insignia, followed by a spray overcoat of GW satin varnish. I was thinking of adding some battle damage but, in the end, I decided to keep things simple and avoid any fiddly bits. I think they came out quite well, especially as I spent little more than a few hours on them, even though they're not up to close inspection.

Hurrah!

Monday, 21 January 2013

Kindle Fire HD


I've been playing around with the Kindle Fire HD over the weekend and have now uploaded most of my .pdf rules from the laptop, using the USB cable that comes with the reader. It's a very simple process that only requires a bit of dragging and dropping. As a result, I now have my back catalogue of rules well and truly accessible including all the stuff by the Toofatlardies, some Wessex Games essentials, the GZG Full Thrust library and some top notch AAGE rules as well, all in glorious spinny rotaty technicolour.


I've also been browsing for free or very cheap military history books to download, which may well open up an enormous but interesting can of worms. I've found two titles already, the first a biography of a Canadian Kittyhawk ace, the second an autobiography of a less well known Beaufighter pilot, both of which look suitably inspirational. In fact, the latter has inspired me to make the most of the soon to end Museum Miniatures 25% off sale, with the aquisition of half a dozen sleek Beaufighters for the BTH2 Malta project.

It's all in a good cause...

Sunday, 20 January 2013

Full Thrust Mini Project [3]





In a series of very disjointed sessions I managed to get the Neo Soviet fleet wetbrushed, drybrushed, washed and detailed today, despite feeling pretty rough due to my resurgent cold. It's self inflicted as I've spent quite a lot of time outside in the snow with the kids over the last couple of days, which was less than sensible but also unavoidable.

The models were given the tried and tested Foundry Phlegm Green coverage to start with, then washed in gunge. I painted all the tiddly windows in Foundry White followed by GW Bad Moon Yellow. The engine exhausts were painted in two shades of Foundry Sky Blue, followed by a highlight in Foundry White, although you can't see this in the photos.

If I feel up to it, I'll add the decals and some battle damage tomorrow before giving the whole fleet an overspray in satin varnish, in order to seal the decals and tone down the shiny effect of the wash. I'm not going to go overboard with the fiddly details, as this is a supposedly quick mini-project, but I may also do some additional farting about to pick out some features.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

Birthday Presents


Although the postie wasn't able to get through the snow, I did get some excellent presents for my birthday this year, some of which I chose myself and others that were a pleasant surprise. The lady wife bought me a 32GB Kindle Fire HD to share, so I'll be able to delve into the vast selection of military history books that are available as downloads, ready for reading during the holidays when she isn't. I can also download all my rules .pdf's to the harddrive for instant reference at the club. Cool!

My offspring allowed me to spend some of my own money on shiny new metal, which was very nice of them and a change from the usual one way financial arrangement. I took advantage of the Northstar 1675 range sale and bought myself a French and a Dutch army in 28mm, which was quite extravagent but a very good deal. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them but they're some of Mr Copplestone's best figures and might be used with Maurice, which includes some special rules for this earlier period.

Finally, my sister has sent me some Peter Pig vouchers, which will be used to start an IABSM version of the now defunct 5th Battalion DCLI project, this time in 15mm. I'm going to focus this effort on a company of infantry with some tank support, using the figures in the late war British range. However, I'll be avoiding the usual Normandy theatre and instead have a wet/cold weather equipped force to break the Siegfried Line and tackle the Reichswald.

Good stuff!

Friday, 18 January 2013

Full Thrust Mini Project [2]




We had a snow day today, so I was at home with the wife and kids for at least some of the time, when not sledging on the nearby golf course. I was thus able to get the Brigade Models spaceships prepared and based up with tiddly magnets, ready for undercoating and painting tomorrow. I've had these stashed away for several years now, so much so that the large resin dreadnought is now out of production!.

The models are mostly from the German range but I'm going to use them as a Neo Soviet task force, complete with attached medium transports. I didn't like the gun mountings on the cruisers or the stub wings on the dreadnought, so I left them off. I do, however, really like the look of the heavy cruisers and the various frigates. 

These are not the GZG models that I was planning to use for the Full Thrust set up but will be useful as a test bed for the quick painting technique that I'm going to try out. If it works, I'll have a good looking starter fleet for Full Thrust and an effective approach when it comes to painting up the much larger GZG Neu Swabian fleet that I aquired last year.

.

Nbuto Independence Day!


Today is Nbuto Independence Day!

Vive Nbuto!!

(It's also my 45th birthday....Happy Birthday to me!)

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Full Thrust Mini Project [1]



This weekend I've decided to try to paint up a small flotilla of ships for Full Thrust. It's snowing at the moment and it looks like I'll have the day off tomorrow as the school will be closed, so I have a rare window of opportunity in which to speed paint some of the GZG or Brigade Models spaceships that I have stashed away. This fits really well with my 'things not figures' cunning plan and should be feasible in little more than a weekend.

I'm not planning anything flash but will be going for a production line undercoat, drybrush and wash approach in order to churn out the fleet at something approach FTL speed. I have some ideas for the paint scheme and the identifying features of the ships, but I haven't quite made up my mind yet. I prefer a not too near future type setting, rather than a classic space opera style approach, so some sort of Neo Soviet theme is a strong contender.

I'll get cracking tomorrow and hope to have a decent sized force based, painted and ready for action by the end of the weekend. I'm under a bit of a workload squeeze at the moment, so bite sized mini-projects have to be the way forward for a few weeks at least. This is a bit of a trial run so, if I can pull it off, I'm hoping to expand my mini-project 'weekend wargaming' efforts over the next two or three months.

(the AK47 project has now been put on ice for a few weeks as a result...but it will be back!)

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Macchis for Breakfast













The Bag The Hun Malta game worked out well this evening, although it took a while to get off the ground. This was partly down to the timing of the scenario and the large number of aircraft involved, but also due to some measured decision making on the part of the players, who took their time when plotting moves. This wasn't a big deal but I'll be modifying the scenario to speed things up and will be introducing a randomised time limit for plotting moves in future games, based on a simple D6 roll.

I'll do a full write up later but, in the meantime, here's some pictures of the game. The end  result was a draw, with the Italians and the British both having two planes shot down. One of the Italian pilots baled out successfully but the other was killed outright by a burst of machine gun fire to the cockpit. The RAF also had one pilot blown out of his exploding Hurricane but, fortunately, he was able to parachute into the sea. The second was killed when his aircraft disintegrated, so sadly wasn't able to bale out.

I've decided to give Bag the Hun a rest for awhile but will definately be running another game at some point in the not too distant future. In the meantime, I'm thinking of starting the first mini-project for 2013, once I've worked out how to go about it. I'll be posting some further thoughts and some details of the plans that I have over the next couple of days, once I've tidied up some loose ends and squared things away. Either way, I'm aiming to make a start at the weekend!

Monday, 14 January 2013

Bag the Hun Malta Game Two [4]



I've been trying to get the last bits and pieces sorted for the Bag the Hun game tomorrow but have only managed to design some new cards, which have yet to be printed, cut out and backed. You can see what they look like in the quick preview above. Nothing flash but they do the job! 

The final finishing off will have to wait until tomorrow but will get done in time for the game. I've also got to fill out all the record sheets for the various aircraft but this will have to be done tomorrow when I get home from work, as I have more marking to do tonight.

I'll take some photos of the game and post them when I get back from the club, complete with a brief after action report. Tally Ho!

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Bag The Hun Operation Bodenplatte [11]


Leading Edge (L) Raiden (R)

Leading Edge (L) Raiden (R)

The Luftwaffe Fighter Collection

It's been the usual very busy Sunday, made even more so by number two sprog having an away training session for rugby, which required a four hour excursion to the wilds of Alton this morning. At least I had some time to think about up and coming wargame related things, while I froze my knackers off in a wind blasted muddy field. I've had a few ideas that may well see the light of day, although they're all from the extensive back catalogue of unrealised projects.

On return to HQ, I found myself parcelling up several packages of surplus to requirements wargame stuff that I successfully shifted on Ebay. This took far longer than expected and resulted in a lot of purple language, as I individually bubble wrapped tiddly tanks and stabbed myself with scissors. It's worth it, however, as I have now raised a very respectable £200 toward future projects.

I have achieved something today, though, having worked out the cards I need for the Bag the Hun game on Tuesday, along with clarification of the special manoeuvres for the Italians that are mentioned but not explained in the rulebook. I've also had a chance to inspect the superb Leading Edge Ta152 models that I ordered from Museum Miniatures in the January sale, along with some equally smooth Bf109G's for the Operation Bodenplatte project.

In comparison with the excellent Raiden Miniatures equivalent, you can see that the Leading Edge models are sleeker and less defined but, in my opinion, have a certain sculptural quality that strands them apart. Before I get too arty farty, I hasten to add that they're also very easy to paint and will match my existing collection of late war Luftwaffe fighters really well.

...when I get round to them that is.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Bag the Hun Malta Game Two [3]


I spent some time this afternoon writing up the scenario for the Bag The Hun 2 multiplayers game on Tuesday. As you can see, this is aptly titled 'Macchi's for Breakfast' involving, as it does, the dawn dogfight that I described in my previous post. I'll work out the cards that I need tomorrow and see if I can cut a few corners by using the cards that I already have on the hard drive.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Bag the Hun Malta Game Two [2]


I have been thinking about the scenario for the Bag the Hun 2 game next week for quite a while but have yet to sit down and actually write it up. As a result, it's about time that I worked out the finer details and sorted out the various resources that I need for the game on Tuesday.

I've selected a dogfight on the 21st November 1941 as the focus for the scenario, with the  'A' Flight Hurricanes of 185 Squadron up against MC.200's of 54o Stormo and the MC.202's of 9o Gruppo, 97a Squadriglia. The scenario will focus on the early morning efforts of 'A' Flight to bounce a formation of five MC200's, which were actually bait for a failed counter bounce by five MC202's.

The end result was a bizarre encounter in which the Italians peformed an array of superb per-war display aerobatics, including 'rolls over the top' and 'bunting' (whatever that is), whilst the gobsmacked pilots of the RAF zoomed around the sky in a state of complete amazement.

Anyway,  I think it'll make a jolly good sceanrio and I'll be working out the various arcane permutations over the weekend, using the combat reports from invaluable book 185: The Malta Squadron, and the excellent Italian Biplane Aces website that I mined for the previous scenario.

I've worked out the various pilot ID's for 'A' Flight and for the 97a Squadriglia, but the 54 Stormo MC200 pilots are a complete mystery. I also need to think about the entry points for the different units, although this is fairly easy to determine once you cross reference the different post action reports with the relative position of the different combatants.

I'm not going to give too much away, in case the enemy is listening, but the position of the sun won't be a significant factor in the game...

Tally Ho!



Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Oxfam Bookshop Hardback Haul





I had to take the eldest into town after work today to get him a much needed haircut. He was under the mistaken assumption that he looked cool with extensive vegetation but this was corrected by a good, old fashioned short back and slap.

On the way back, we popped into the Oxfam bookshop, which I haven't visited for several weeks. I was very pleased to find some more excellent hardbacks in pristine condition, all for a fraction of their cover price and with all proceeds going to a very worthwhile cause.

I've stashed them away safely in the relevant section of the bookshelf but probably won't get round to reading any of them for at least a couple of weeks, given my current marking workload and lack of time. In the meanwhile, it's back to the Year 11 exercise books....

:O(

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

AK47 Winter Warmer [3]



I've been swamped with work in the last couple of days, so have had to miss the Muskets and Tomhawks game this evening, although I had hoped to have popped in to the club for at least an hour or so. Instead, I've been wading through a mountain of marking in a futile attempt to clear some work out of the way for next week, when I have loads of reports to write. Not a great start to the wargaming year, to say the least.

I've now lost the will to live, so to achieve at least something before I retire for the evening, I thought I'd finish off the casualty figures for the AK47 army, although this took little more than some superglue and sixty seconds. I've also extracted the very old Heller 1/100th scale Puma kit from the model vault and have dusted it off, ready for assembly at some point in the next few days if I can find the time.

I'm annoyed for missing out on the game tonight but, hopefully, once I've cleared the current workload I'll have time at the weekend to prepare a scenario for the Bag The Hun game next week.


Monday, 7 January 2013

Off To The Games!



I'm watching over a game of Muskets and Tomahawks at the club tomorrow and, luckily enough, my copy of the rules arrived in the post today, so I'm going to spend what's left of the evening giving them a good read through. They look pretty neat with lots of illustrative diagrams and explanatory bits, so I'm hoping that I won't slow things down with too many stoopid questions.

I also got the ex-Conquest Miniatures and now Warlord 28mm Woodland Indians and some French Regulars in the post this morning, the latter being a last minute addition to the set up. They're really nice figures but noticeably smaller than the Northwind French that I already have. I suppose they could be mixed but they'd look a bit odd next to one another, so I really should pick one range over the other..

Anyway, I'm looking forward to the game as it should be quite relaxing after a very hectic return to work! I've also booked in a game of AK47 for the end of February, by which time I'm hoping to have completed the new army which is virtually ready for painting up, with only some casualty markers and a couple of helicopters to finish off.

I'm in the final stages of my planning for the Bag The Hun 2 game next Tuesday and will be working on the scenario over the weekend. It should build on the experience gained in the previous game and will give the opportunity for some deployment of bogeys, making it a little less balanced and a little more frenetic than the last rather pedestrian encounter.

Finally, there's a chance I can squeeze in a game of Bolt Action at the end of the month but this will really depend on how much work I have to do. I have the chance to try out the rules at the club and it would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity, if I can make it. It's being umpired by the skirmish gaming enthusiast at the club, so it should be a really good game.

So, lots of gaming to look forward to for a change!