Tuesday 30 September 2014

VBCW: Shuttleworth Collection, On Silver Wings

The Hawker Hart was the RAF's front line light bomber in the early 1930s. Powered by a Rolls Royce Kestrel it was embarrassingly faster than the RAF's Bristol Bulldog fighters.

Monday 29 September 2014

Bolt Action: French '75 Field Gun

I bought this a while back but have been spurred on to finish it by setting up a game with Andy Singleton next week. It is an official Bolt Action model from Warlord Games and comes with an observer as well as the three crew. Every French Army should have a '75, not least because you get one 'free'.

This particular piece has a very laid back gun-layer

Thursday 25 September 2014

Here We Go Again

Games work shop are advertising for yet another new CEO.

Generally GW CEOs have the career lifespan of a Mayfly since they may find their job has 'ceased to exist by mutual consent' not long after starting.

Still, there's a great opportunity to pig out on pay and bonuses while it lasts - :)

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Mars Attacks

Mantic's Mars Attacks is out and on sale at Northstar. I might pop around to Rochester models tomorrow and see if they have them in.

Military Progress

This is a Bristol Fighter.

It cost around $5K each.

Used to drop bombs on Iraq to express Imperial Displeasure and convince the public something is being done.

This is a Lockheed F22 Fighter.

It cost around $420m each.

Used to drop bombs on Iraq to express Imperial Displeasure and convince the public something is being done.

That's Progress Folks.

Sunday 21 September 2014

Bolt Action: Haupsturmfuhrer 'Schmeisser' Schmitt

This is the free special model given away with each copy of  the Bolt Action Tank War supplement.

Schmeisser Schmitt, mad panzer commander, at your service.

Saturday 20 September 2014

Review: Song of Shadows & Dust

Song of Shadows and Dust is an urban conflict skirmish game - but a rather original one. It is based on the lawlessness and conflict in the cities of the Roman Empire during the late Consular period and the Early Principate, roughly the first century BC.

The author is Nicolas Wright and the game is based on the popular Song of Blades and Heroes skirmish engine devised by Adrea Sfiligoi.

Song of Blades and Heroes is a stunningly simple system. Models only have two characteristics, combat ability and morale. It achieves this by using a variety of unique special rules that are thrown onto the scenarios. This is very much a story-based game that is entirely unsuited to competition play or rules lawyers. Games last less than an hour so it is possible to get an entire campaign into an evening.

Heart of the game are the activation rules. To activate a model, a player throws one to three dice - his choice - and every successful throw as measured against the model's morale factor allows one action. Actions are basically move or fight. However, as soon as a player rolls two misses his turn ends immediately, without being able to activate his remaining models.

Very simple but intricate game play. In that property it reminds me of In Her Majesty's Name - although the mechanisms are different.

Song of Shadows and Dust rules are a complete game. You don't need the core rule set. Many preprogrammed 'characters' are listed. Characters include people like: Militia Officers, Magistrates, Faction Leaders, Street Leaders,  Patriarchs, Politicians, Gladiators, Prophets, Witches, Courtesans and others. There are also pregenerated plebs: Militia, Henchmen, Retired Soldiers, Apprentices, Assassins, Muggers, Thieves Urchins, Gladiator Bodyguards and so on.

There are some lovely touches. For example, your forces may get distracted by a model such as a famous beauty or a popular soothsayer, or kicked over by an ass.

That brings me to a key point. The city is full of neutral civilians that can get drawn into the fight. One of the characters is the Demagogue who can make a speech to start a riot. Off hand I can't remember another game that handles the civilian side of an urban conflict so elegantly.

Similarly the game ends when seven people drawn from any mix of factions or neutrals are 'killed' (injured badly enough to be out of the game). The logic is that the mayhem is reached such a serious scale that the authorities have summoned soldiers. Everyone clears the streets before the Urban Cohorts or equivalent arrive.

Models come in three types:
Unarmed: civilian improvised hand weapons from a knife to a club or something agricultural
Armed: military grade hand weapons weapons like swords, spears and shields (very illegal for civilians to carry these in Rome)
Projectiles: slings and bows

Civilians can come together to stone some unfortunate :)

This is a great game - simple, tactically challenging, atmospheric, well thought out, historically accurate.

You don't need many models but you will need civilians. Some great packs are available from Foundry.

With Song of Shadows and Dust you jump straight into the worlds of Falco, Marcus Corvinus, Gordianus the finder or Vespasian - by chance I have just read the Crossroads Brotherhood by Robert Fabbri which is about one of the crossroads collegia in Rome. Such collegia were a sort of cross between a religious group, trade union and organised crime network.

Next post I will take us through a game. Watch this space.

Volksmarine Machine Gunners

Finally finished my Volksmarine Maxim-Gunners.

These were Spartist allies in the German Civil War of 1918.

Thursday 18 September 2014

Wednesday 17 September 2014

My X-Wing Ships

Two X-Wings escort a Rebel Transport.

I am very taken with FFG X-wing range of ships. They are not exactly cheap but they are very high quality. Shop around, there are discounts to be had especially on unpopular ranges.

A A-Wing escorts a Rebel armed shuttle.

Here come the lads.

Queue sinister music.

A Tie Phantom leads two Tie Fighters followed by a Tie Bomber

Apparently a Spaceship game is acoming - but can I afford it?

Saturday 13 September 2014

Peter Pig Pilots for Wings of War

Some of the earlier Wings of War planes came without pilots which looks a little odd. This Spad was one of them so I have added a pilot figure.

Peter Pig make a pack of pilot torsos, Range 6, Pack 72, that might have bee made for the WOW planes. One packet has enough for dozens of planes so the mod is not expensive.

And the results are fine. One can even position them a little differently to make it look as if the pilot is looking up or over the side etc.

Wednesday 10 September 2014

English Tank Commander

New Steampunk game from Infamy Miniatures.

The game looks to Mailfaux-like to interest me but I do like their tank commander.

Tuesday 9 September 2014

Star Wars - X Wing

I managed to turn up late for the club the other day and took over a pair of Rebel Starfighters, an X& Y Wing. They were in a rather awkward configuration so I decided to sort myself out into a fighting element. Until I find out better I intend to treat X Wing as an air combat game.

A pair of Imperial Starfighters turned in on me.

Always turn into the attack and always use both planes in an element to  support each other.

I was disappointed to do very little damage on the lead Imperial but  pulled out and away to give myself space to set up another attack.

The Imperial Flight Leader turned in for another attack on my X Wing.

The X Wing fired Photon Torpedoes and the Imperial blew up. The second Tie turned away from me.

My XWing followed him through the turn and pumped lasers into the Tie's unprotected rear: bang.

And that was it as far as my contribution to the scenario went.

This is the second game of Star Wars I have played. My thoughts on the game are as follows:

X Wing is an airgame based on Wings of War.

Fantasy Flight have added lots of Special Effect Cards to try to turn it into one of those collectible card game - type designs like Malifaux, where choosing killer units is much more important than the wargame element. Fortunately FF have failed and X Wing is still a manoeuvre game because the fighters mostly just fire forwards.

So all the usual airgame tactics apply:
Fight in element formations not individual planes
Manoeuvre into your opponents rear and stay there
Be patient and manoeuvre to set up a favourable attack
Follow through when committed to an attack
Get in, fire at the closest range possible, and get out to set up another attack

Sunday 7 September 2014

IHMN, Zanzibar Slavers

I had a birthday recently and my wife bought me some of Wargames Foundry 19th Century Zanzibar Slavers. They will do for any of the Gulf Arab states in this period.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Wings of War - Aces Falling

The WWI display at the Wings & Wheels show fired me up to get my Wings of War game out of storage. Rereading the rules took all of ten minutes and I was ready. I always play the game in its simplest mode since, in my opinion, extra complexity adds nothing to the realism of the game particularly but does impede the smooth flow.

I reverted to type as Rittmeister of the German air arm against my regular opponent Captain Shaun of the RFC.

We used a scenario of my own devising. You pile all the allied plane cards you have into one pile and all the German into another and shuffle. Then you deal one of each and dice for where they come on: repeat for the next two turns. The scenario simulates the sort of large chaotic battles that occurred at the end of the war.

The first photo shows the position on Turn 4 when all the planes are engaged (in combat, not nuptials).

C - Camel
A1 & A2 - Albatross DV
N - Nieuport 17
S - Spad XIII
F - Fokker VII

The first victim was one of the Albatri. The Nieuport was shot to pieces in return but somehow stayed in the air. Note the Fokker VII turning in behind the hapless Frog.

And the Fokker's guns jammed.

And jammed and jammed.

But it couldn't last and eventually the gallant avieteur was caught in a crossfire and blew up.

The Camel was the next victim.

The Spad lined up a perfect shot on the Fokker - and his guns jammed!

At that point the surviving allied pilot upon reflection considered discretion the better part of valour and legged it.

Tuesday 2 September 2014

My First Wheels - The Lambretta SX150

My wonderful dad bought me one of these on my 16th birthday. Mine had yellow trim but was otherwise identical. Well, I had the tinted windscreen, chrome crash bars, six mirrors, spotlights, ten foot whip Ariel with pennants, air horns....

Now I think about it, the amazing thing was that it still motored.

I used to wear a parka with a rabbit fur trimmed hood and the trick was to sit with your kneels against the shield and your back against the point of the seat so you could lean backwards. It took a great deal of skill and practice to ride like that without killing yourself.

Ah, the wonderful follies of youth.

VBCW, De Havilland Dragon Rapide

I have always had a soft spot for the Dragon Rapide, one of the last biplane airliners and capable of operating from short grass strips.

I took this photo at Headcorn where a Rapide in RAF WWII colours was taking people on joyrides over Kent.

King Edward used one as a royal plane so no VBCW player should be without a model.

More Greek Pseudo-Legionaries

At some point in wargaming one has to do the painting grind, churning out repetitive models to fill the ranks of an army. These are Wargames Factory late Republican Romans kit-bashed with Hellenistic helmets to fill the ranks of my Pontic Army.

I used  Army Painter Dark Tone. I don't dip the models but dilute the tone down with white spirit and paint it on. That way you can restrict the stuff to bits you want to shadow, like the mail armour, while leaving shields brightly polished.