Thursday 28 February 2013

Dalek Relaxation Conditioning

Burdened with the stresses of modern death?
Losing your zest for extermination?
The damn Doctor getting on your TITs (transient illumination transponders)?

Then try the Dalek relaxation tape and you'll be back to conquering and destroying in no time at all.

Remember: Seek, Locate, Exterminate.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Guest Blog: Battle of Stallupoen

Battlefield: looking to the north east

I recently had the pleasure of running a playtest of my Stallupoen scenario at the local game shop (Lost Legions Games in South Charleston, West Virginia, USA). John was kind enough to invite me to say a few words about the game as an After Action Report.

A prelude to Tannenberg, Stallupoen was the first major contact between the Russians and Germans in August 1914. The German war plan entailed awaiting the Russian attack, defeating it, and then counter attacking. On August 17, 1914, the Russian 1st Army crossed the frontier into East Prussia, where they were assailed by the German I Corps. Contrary to prewar planning, the I Corps commander believing his troops to be superior to the Russians sought an open-field battle with the Russians. Historically, the Germans inflicted about six times the casualties or prisoners taken on the Russian forces. Calling it a win, the Germans quit the field. The subsequent Battle of Gumbinnen was a direct result of Stallupoen.

The game was played using the Command Decision – Test of Battle miniature rules. Command Decision: Test of Battle (TOB) is the fourth edition of the venerable rules set Command Decision (CD), first published in 1985. The CD rules focus on maneuver warfare, which is to say combined arms warfare during World War Two (WW2). The CD rules are tactical, for engagements at the battalion, regimental, and brigade level. With 25-years of development, TOB is a mature and elegant rules set.

In 1990, a supplement for CD entitled Over the Top was published; it covered the entire gamut of WW1. Over the next twenty years, while multiple editions of CD were published, no additional material on WW1 was forthcoming. In 2011, The Death of Glory – France 1914 (France 1914), covering the opening campaign of the war in the west, the Marne Campaign, was published. This Stallupoen game was a playtest for a new WW1 scenario book, Great War East – 1914.

Armies collide south of Stallupoen, Germans to the west (left)

The game was played with a division bathtubbed to a battalion. Thus, the Germans had two battalions representing the two divisions of I Corps. A 77mm field gun battery was assigned to each battalion. The regimental HQ, similarly had a battery of 150mm guns attached. Likewise, the Russians had two regiments of two battalions representing the 3rd and 20th Corps. Each Russian regiment/corps had a battery of 76mm field guns attached. The Germans were rated Experienced, Morale 9, and the Russians - Trained, Morale 8.

Key move to the north

The attached photos show the terrain for the tabletop battlefield and several highlights from the game. There were three victory conditions in the scenario:

(1) Terrain points - 1pt for farm, 2pts for town; 6 terrain points total.

(2) Inflict casualties - on troops

(3) Inflict casualties - guns

Heavy casualties ensue

The game was a tie for terrain points, each side having three. The Germans were awarded conditions 2 & 3 - a German victory. Most importantly, the players had fun.

Army positions in the centre at the end of the battle

Battle Report by Jessee Scarborough

One Thousand

The last post was the one thousandth to be put up on this blog so to celebrate I thought I would show a photo of a Suzuki GSXR 1000 for no better reason than I once owned a Suzuki.

In those thousand posts, 130,856 people, well computers really, have looked in. Around half of them are repeat customers. 61% come from the USA, 16% from the UK, and about 4% from France.

The most popular single day was looked at by 615 people, on  the 8th April 2022, but I normally average around 250.

Nothing was actually posted on the 8th but a few days earlier I put up a taster for my new novel, Wolf in Shadow: out in July (shameless advert).

Clearly I will have to do that more often.

Battle of Alabaster

The Battle of Alabaster was released this month, an SF package in the Sedition Wars range from Studio McVey.

What strikes me about it is how it represents three recent trends in wargame products: (i) the enormous range of SF game systems on offer, (ii) the trend towards a packaged 'play straight out of the box' product, and (iii) the use of kick starter to promote (not fund) new products on a small scale.

The next two pics show the playing components, which suggest we are in Space Hulk, Project Pandora country.

The game will set youback about £70 plus postage if you mail order, which is not bad when you realise you get 50 Studio McVey models included.The models alone are worth the price even if the game is pants.

All in all, worth a look

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Cavalier 2013: The Gravesend Mob

One of the more enjoyable thing about shows is you bump into old friends and digital friends. The Gravesend mob were in the canteen at Cavalier. I never go to Gravesend as it means crossing the River Medway and they be strange folk inland.

On the left is wargame blogger Big Lee and on the right, Ray Roussel.

Cavalier 2013: Trade Stands

Just a couple of the trade stands that caught my eye at Cavalier. First up is 7TV, aka Crooked Dice, who have links to Kent.At one point they had the entire British end of the Hammers Slammers team on the stand. Chap on the left is my co-author, John Treadaway.

Early War Minatures do a great line in 20mm WWI and early WWII stuff. Highly recommended for Very British Civil War armies.

I didn't catch the name of this manufacturer but I like their stuff.

Tempting range of Steampunk from Ironclad Miniatures.

So many lovely models, so little time (so little money, Mrs John).

Monday 25 February 2013

Space Rats!

Giant mutie space rat with industrial drill and chemical sprayer.

Cavalier 2013: Display Games

WWII big beautiful display with superb terrain.
Air attack on a bridge.
The Soviet Union on the attack, WWII.
Reenactors try some minaiture gaming.
One of the few non WWII displays.
Back in the Twentieth Century.
And the cry went up, "Anyone want to be a Communist?"

A Very French Civil War: 1936 and  communists and nationalists clash over who gets to steal the locals' vehicles to advance on Paris. The locals attempt to defend their property and call for army support. Meanwhile there are a group of suspicious looking nuns.

Thursday 21 February 2013

Adeptus Mechanicus Technomage

Adeptus Mechanicus technomage painted froma Scribor Iron Brotherhood model. These miniatures are good value for money for a high quality resin model and there are a number of designs. The only one I don't like are there 'skitari', which are dumpy and overpriced.

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Space Opera: Rats with Ray Guns

I picked up an army box of Mantic's Warpath Veer-Myn, aka Space Rats with Rayguns, from eBay at a very good price.

These are the first squad I have assembled and painted. They are made from plastic-resin not unlike GW finecast only more plasticy, if you see what I mean. The models are very good but can only be stuck with superglue.

A squad consists of ten rats including a leader, with ray pistol, and a chemical sprayer. They are 'heroic scale', the same as Citadel.

Monday 18 February 2013

Frontline and the Unsung Heroes of Wargaming

The unsung heroes of wargaming are the small manufacturers operating out of modest premises and surviving by the skill of their hands and a great deal of hard work. Without them we would have access to very limited ranges indeed.

One such is Frontline Wargaming who are a family company based locally to me in the Medway Towns. They kindly allowed me to have a snoop around on a cold snowy January afternoon, when my Ford Focus was leaking like a trawl net.

The first thing one notices when entering the nerve centre of Frontline to meet Tim, the local warlord, is that this is the domain of a wargamer, one of us, a genuine nutter. The gaming table with the assortment of replica weapons on the wall above proves that.

And here is Tim, himself. Frontline had its inception in Leicester in the 1980s when he was retailing wargame gear and models. He organised a WWII game and made scenery for it including resin trench lines. Pretty soon other club members got him to make terrain for them and he had a business.

Frontline is perhaps still known for its resin models especially an extensive and very good range of WWII vehicles in 20mm (1/76). I have bought a number of these over the years and can recommend them. A number have already featured on this blog in earlier posts, notably, his early war and Dad's Army British range which is perfect for VBCW games. he even has some armoured lorries and 1930s Vickers medium tanks.

I had a peek in the resin production room, which reminds me of the surfboard factories in my home town of Newquay. I have played around with resin myself and it is very witchcrafty. It all ain't as easy as the hobby books would have you believe.

Frontline 20mm resin models in my collection

 Some early war 1940 British tanks.

 An early war and colonial warfare Rolls Royce armoured car.

 Beaverette improvised armoured cars to replace the losses in France, used later to guard airfields.

I might add that I paid full price for all these models and intend to buy more.

In recent years Frontline have branched out into 15mm metal  production and have built up a massive range of WWI figures including all the minor powers. These are marketed under the IT brand.

Metal moulds are radial, with the molten metal poured in at the top.

A mould split open to show the solid figures. Now you know why 15mm is sold in small batches.

Some idea of the range is given by the racks of moulds.


And this is why the mould are round. Molten metal has a high viscosity and you need a centrifuge to force it down the channels into the figure bays. Apparently, everything depends on the rate of pour, coupled to the spin speed and the metal consistency and the background temperature and and and...

Some of the finished product.

I am a wonderfully cack-handed person and it always fascinates me to watch craftsmen in action.

Many thanks to Tim for taking time out in his busy schedule to show me around.

Saturday 16 February 2013

GW backs away from Social Media

Games Workshop appear to have backed away completely from their tentative foray into social media. Their Facebook page is deleted and nothing has been posted on their Twitter account @voxcaster for four days.

The company have been very slow to exploit the growing virtual world but they did apparently announce at a recent GM that they intended to develop their reach in this area.

Then came the PR shambles of their attempt to ban the eBook version of Spots and the Space Marines, but astonishingly not the dead tree version, using trademark law.

Their problems were exascerbated by their reaction to the slightest criticism or teasing: to 'ban' those they regarded as their 'enemies'. Given that their critics were SF fans and wargamers, they were clearly targeting their own customer base. Not a very sensible decision. And they were not helped by snootily telling the BBC and Guardian that they don't talk to the press.

It remains to be seen whether this silence reflects a drawing back into their shell, a pause for reflection to develop a more enlightened strategy, or a regroup to renew a futile offensive against their customer base.


Tuesday 12 February 2013

Space Marines - The Streisand effect

The Streisand Effect is a subdivision of the law of unintended consequences, where the attempt to ban something backfires horribly and actually promotes it.

Thanks to Fred for drawing my attention to this cartoon from were geeks.

You may recall Games Workshop's fatuous attempt to bully a poor indie author's book, Spots the Space Marine, off Amazon using a trademark claim.

After the intervention of the EFF and a massive outcry in the SF community Amazon has reinstated the eBook and it has become a best seller.

GW has retaliated by blocking people on social networks - including me - from their announcements. Well that has taught me a lesson. In future I will be more subservient. Yeah right!