Friday, 27 February 2015

Get Outah My Pub

My friend Andy Singleton, Medway's professional painter, assists at pub chucking out time at the Marquis in Gillingham.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Cavalier 2015

Spent an enjoyable day out on Sunday at Cavalier 2015 in Tonbridge.

The photo shows the bring and buy room. Bring and buy seems to e on the way back after a high minimum postage rate rise in the UK has killed the market in cheap second hand items on eBay.

The show seemed rather quiet this year with fewer traders and display games - and noticably fewer visiters - or is that just my subjective impression? You will notice the average age of the people in the show was on the senile side. I wonder if the change in strategy at GW to dump the kids has started to impact through the hobby.

This Bolt Action winter '44 display stood out. A German unit attempts to protect a V2 launch site from commando attack.

Continuing the winter theme, I like the look of this Spy Who Skied scenario.

And to the other extreme there was a wonderfully colourful Vietnam game on show.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.

And finally, a bad day in Dry Gulch.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

When the Lion Feeds

Photo source

I have a new short story available to read for free at Baen Books - here.

It is set in the same universe as the new novel I have out with David Drake next month.

Monday, 16 February 2015

Batman - The Scarecrow

The Scarecrow is caught in Batlights at the top of a ruined tower in Gotham City

All scenarios in the Batman Miniature Game take place at night.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

Review - HaT 28 mm El Cid Almoravid Heavy Cavalry

I have painted up a few more of my HaT El Cid hard plastic 28mm models: the  Almoravid Heavy Cavalry.

The only problem is that the thin plastic spears are a bit brittle. Otherwise these are nice models. They are from the same sculpts as the 1/72 figs so have the same style and look.

 They are to-scale models (I suspect 1/56) rather than chunky wargaming 28mm size models but the difference is not great. Above is one of the models placed alongside a Deus Vult medieval cavalryman. In my opinion the two will mix fine but then I am liberal on such matters.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Review - Wargames Tournament Bombed Out Buildings

My Berlin 1945 project meanders on - somewhere in the garage I've got a half built KingTiger tank and there's not many men can say that. Recently I bought a half dozen bombed out 28 mm ruins in laser-cut MDF from Wargames Tournament for the princely sum of Forty Quid.

The kits are a little tricky, for God's sake use proper wood-glue by Evostik or similar, but the results are excellent. There are even some tiny window ledges which I have chosen to leave off.

The basic kits without all the buttresses, etc, can be had for three for a tenner, which is astonishing value although personally I think the extra bits give a nice 3D effect. You also get lots of extras - like steps and gratings which will come in very handy.

A view of the rear. There are plenty of suitable places to stand your snipers and so on. Oh, ignore the weird effect caused by the flashgun. When I first saw this pic I thought my eyeballs had fried.

You could use the model straight from the packet but I will probably paint them up. Bombed out concrete buildings tend to be in various shades of light grey.

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Review - Osprey's Lion Rampant

Sir John de'Rainham rides to a sit down with Shaun of Rochester escorted by his loyal Men at Arms

I have never owned a medieval army but I've liked rules by Daniel Mersey in the past so was moved to pick up a copy of Lion Rampant from Osprey Games.

Lion Rampart

I was impressed. They were relatively simple, self-contained and I understood them on the first read through. So I persuaded my friend Shaun to give them a try. We used some of Shaun's colourfully painted Brettonian armies and restricted ourselves to three units while we learnt the game.

The various types of troops are classed into a limited number of troops: Mounted & Unmounted Men at Arms (the heavies), Mounted & Unmounted Yeoman (mediums), Fierce Foot (nutters), Serfs (oiks), Missile Troops (bowmen & slingers) and finally Crossbowmen. There are a few special rules to tailor troops and distinguish between, say, bow-armed and javelin-armed light cavalry.

It's a skirmish game, one model equals one man, so has very fluid and free movement and only requires forty or so models for an army.

For our trial game, we decided on a tiny scenario of one unit of knights, spearmen and bows each.

So over to the encounter.

Battle of Wrinkled Bottom

Trial by Combat

Sir John and Shaun of Rochester have long disputed grazing rights for their peasantry in Wrinkled Bottom by The Medway. The Bishop of Rochester, the Right Reverend Taxbrake, organised a meeting to discuss the matter like civilised Christian men.

Unfortunately, the meeting got off to a dodgy start when Sir John congratulated Shaun of Rochester's family for doing so well considered that they had floated down the Medway on a sinking raft after being cast out of the Weald by the other bandits. Shaun noted in rely that Sir John's family had come over with The Conqueror, where they had been employed to muck out the horses on one of the transports.

After that it went downhill.

Such insult could only be settled by blood. So Sir John and Shaun fought a duel (I won the initiative and made a leadership challenge. If Shaun refused it might destabilise his army). We each launch three blows (dice), hitting on a 5+.

We both scored twice, a draw so no effect and the leaders were returned to their units.

The knights charge eager to join the combat

Mounted Men at Arms have a 'wild charge' so I was forced to charge Shaun's knights who promptly countercharged.

My bowmen moved up towards Shaun's while my spearmen went into a huddle (a schiltron) and refused to move.

The knights recoil

After the first clash, our knights retreated to regroup with few casualties. They have excellent armour. Shaun's bowmen shot up mine - memo to self - don't move into bow range of enemy bowmen. Astonishingly Shaun's billmen charged my knights - what were they thinking?


The spearmen got a bloody nose and my emboldened knights, gander up, rode down Shaun's retinue forcing him to flee the field.


So there we are, great fun all round.

Look, this is not the sort of game one will play for week after week, armies will tend to be a bit samey after a while, but it is the sort of game you will come back to for a quick game time after time.

I like it: recommended.

As for Shaun of Rochester, I'm sure he will not take this lying down. I feel a campaign working through the provided scenarios coming on.

He will be back!

Wednesday, 11 February 2015

New Kitchen

After years, decades, of putting the ghastly business off the civilan authorities and I have decided we have to update the kitchen and cloakrook.

Pip, pip'

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Review - HaT 28mm El Cid Almoravid Heavy Infantry

The major toy soldier companies seem to be waking up to the market for 28mm wargame figures. Italieri are offering Warlord Games WWII infantry under their own brand for inclusion with their new 1/56 range.

HaT have chosen to rescale some of their 1/72 range as '28mm'. This is not done by scaling up a 1/72 figure but by scaling down from the original large sculpts. So these figures look just like the 1/72 models.

So the miniatures are scale miniatures with a model of a man being 28mm high. Now this is different to most 28mm figures which are not sculpted to scale. They are usually bigger than 28mm and have bodies which are way out of proportion to real human shapes. 28mm wargames miniatures are too fat, their heads and hands are usually too big and their weapons are exaggerated in bulk.

That is not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes you need to change proportions when changing scales to make the figure 'look right'. And wargame miniatures have to be robust to stand handling and travel.

1. So the first point to make is that the HaT range is 28mm to scale figures rather than the usual wargame style. I don't think that matters particularly and would be happy to use these models on the wargame table with traditional 28mm. However, if you are a bit autistic and OCD about scale this might be an issue.

2. The models are hard plastic, polystyrene, so are stuck together with normal plastic cement. One point is that spears are thin and rather brittle. They break rather easily.

There will be three El Cid armies: Spanish Christian,  Almoravid Berber and Andalusian. Each consists of four different boxes: heavy infantry, light infantry, heavy cavalry and light cavalry.

I chose to start with the heavy infantry from the Almoravid range.

The models are wonderful value for money with 32 infantry in the box for around a tenner.

They paint up fine - see above.

I think I will get a box for every unit in the El Cid Range which I intend to use for skirmish games - by far the normal type of warfare in Medieval Spain.

£120 will buy three complete armies for Lionheart or similar.

Recommended if you can cope with a slightly different 'look' to your armies.