Wednesday 25 November 2015

Horus Heresy Word Bearer's - Betrayal at Calth

After my experiences of Dreadfleet and Age of Sigmar, I swore I was off GW games for good but my local flgs advised me that Betrayal at Calth was actually pretty good - so I succumbed.

And it is pretty good. I haven't played yet but the components are high quality and value for money - and the game rules look simple but interesting.

I have so far painted up a single tactical force - my God, I'm painting more space marines - and have been charmed by their retro appearance. Very nostalgiac.

We are in the land of the winter dark here in southern England at the moment so it is difficult to get a decent photo. I took this one with natural light (ha ha) from the right and a bounce flash off a distant wall to the left.

Calth is apparently flying off the shelves. After the Dreadfleet and Age of Sigmar debacles this might just have saved GW's Xmas.

Sunday 22 November 2015

Lullingstone Villa

Known buildings of the villa complex.

Roman villas are plentifully scattered across the English lowlands, mostly alongside the military zone but also in the London zone. The River Darent had a villa every two kilometres or so along the bank. The one at Lullingstone was built in the first century AD.

The artwork depicts  Lullingstone in the 4th Century, showing the known buildings: (i) the main villa on a levelled shelf cut back into the hill, (ii) immediately behind it a kitchen building, a mausoleum up on the hill to the right containing lead coffins with a man and woman in their mid twenties, and (iv) a massive barn to the right to store agricultural products for shipping down the Darent into the Thames.

It went through roughly three phases (i) as a farming estate with a manor house, (ii) as a high status country retreat possibly for the Governor of Britain, and (iii) as a major grain supplier probably for the Roman Army in Gaul.

The villa had an expensively imported bust of Pertinax, son of a freedman, teacher soldier, Governor of Britain and finally Emperor of Rome (192-193 AD).

Lullingstone is quite small but was always more than just another villa. A deep cellar-like cult room for veneration of river nymphs was built under the left wing (top right in the photo) with external exit for use by the community.

External access was blocked off, presumably in the second phase when the villa was used by senior officials.

Eventually a Christian chapel was built in the room over the pagan cult centre in the fourth century.

A Chi-Rho from the chapel.

One of the paintings of worshippers from the chapel. Note if this looks Byzantine, that's because it's late 4th Century Rome.

The main dining room at the back of the villa.

A high-status dinner party for the elite, say 380 AD

Note the mosaics in the dining room are pagan, built at the same time as the Christian chapel.

So what happened to the cult room? It was accessed by a wooden ladder from a trapdoor in the floor of the chapel and was still used to venerate the river gods.

The pagan Anglo-Saxon burial at Sutton Hoo has a mixture of Christian and pagan symbols - but so does the late Roman villa at Lullingstone.

The villa and estate reached its peak in the last years of the fourth century and then it burned down in the early fifth and was never rebuilt. The next record we have of any activity at Lullingstone is the estate recorded in the Domesday book. The hamlet is now dominated by a 15th Century Manor House that has always been owned by the Hart-Dyke family.

In between the fifth and eleventh centuries there is only minimal evidence of Anglo-Saxon activity. Lullingstone translates into modern English as something like The Enclosure of The People of Lull.

In 390 there was a massive agricultural complex along the Darent exporting food across Europe. One generation later in 420 it was all gone - and we don't really understand why.

Imperial Skys Wargame

Robin Fitton, games designer of this parish, has a new kickstarter out for an aeronef set of rules.

The rules are designed to work with Brigade Models miniatures and Army Painter stuff.

I intend to get a copy of the rules.

The kickstarter is here.

Note: You are an investor not a customer. Although I judge this a low risk project it could go tits up if Robin is struck by lightning or something. Always pledge only what you can afford to lose.

Monday 16 November 2015

Review Perrys Foot Knights

 Foot Knights 1450-1500 Set

The Perry twins hardly need an introduction from me. Since they left GW they have built up a successful historical model range including many plastic sets.

Their set of 38 late medieval plate-armoured dismounted knights retails at £20, making them superb value for money. These are multipose figures that can be a little tricky to put together but on the other hand there is so much variation on offer that no two need be the same.

 Ten Man Unit With Swords

The models are a true 28mm and with a slim rather than heroic build and are nicely detailed - detail that is easily brought out with a simple black wash.

Twenty Man Unit With Two-Handed Weapons.

Bulked together the models look great, even with a very simple two-colour ad a wash paint job.

King And Standard Bearer

As well as six identical sprues, each with six figures, you get a leader sprue consisting of a King/Baron (change head as required) and Standard Bearer. Incidentally, the box includes a number of coloured flags to cut out - mainly English and French.

All I have added are some bases.

A great box of figures and superb value for money at £20.

Highly Recommended.

Sunday 15 November 2015

VBCW Spode's Blackshorts - Mechanised Platoon

I have finished a 12 unit army of Spodes Blackshorts: mechanised platoon.

Spode, Viscount of Sidcup and would be dictator of Britain, is able to acquire the very best equipment from Mosley's BUF. To whit:

Command Section: Strike Leader Egbert 'Eggy' Phipps-Prinkle with standard bearer, radio-man, and Jaguar command vehicle.

Three Storm Sections each of: Storm Leader with Tommy Gun, VB grenade launcher, bren-gun team and four riflemen.

Support Weapons: Two inch mortar, and bren-gun team.

Artillery: 18 pdr medium howitzer with bren-gun armed van serving as a prime mover.

Open-Topped armoured lorry with fire ports to lift a storm section.

Improvised armoured car with bren-gun.

Vickers 6 ton light tank armed with a 3pdr light howitzer and a coaxial mg.

Hornet medium C tank armed with a 6pdr naval medium anti-tank gun, various mgs and the platoon mascot spot.

I think you will agree that these will present a fearsome challenge to the Chatham Soviet


An interesting sculpture in Godinton Gardens.

Thursday 12 November 2015

Medway Wargames Club Poppy Day

This week was annual Medway Club Poppy Games Night.

Andy Singleton (ValleyForge Painting) and I staged a Tank War scenario based on Kursk. Von Singleton of the Gross Deutschland Division was tasked with taking a ridge line whereupon Comrade Johnski had dug in a pakfront of 45mm AT guns and AT rifles with selp-propelled guns and heavy tanks - to whit a Churchill and a KV.

In reserve, Johnski had a platoon of T34s from the Fifth Guards.

The left flank of the ridge came under immediate pressure from a Panther and two Stugs, which brewed up the KV.

The Soviet right flank did better withstanding an attack from three Stugs lead by a Tiger. The thick armour of the Churchill withstood two 88mm hits with only track damage. My AT guns took out two of the Stugs.

By chance my four T34s came on in just the right place to plug the gap on the left flank. The Panther and a Stug were blasted but the remaining Stug took out a T34.

I was confident I would soon take out the remaining Stug but two of my tanks missed their shot at point blank range and the third failed its morale check and ran away!!!

 I have taken the tank commander's name. He will be shot, his family will be shot, his pet gerbil will be shot and a bloke he once met in the pub will be sent to the gulag.

Finally got the Stug.

The game ended one turn early on a die roll.

All my T34s missed again, but the tiger didn't and when we counted up the trophies we had five each: a draw.

Mind you I am claiming a moral victory to Comrade Stalin because the Hitlerites never did take the ridge.

Men of the match were the Tiger and the Soviet AT Guns who did most of the damage to the fascist oppressors.

All told, the club raised £138 pounds for the Poppy Fund: £20 up on last year.

Many conga-rats to Mick who organised the event.


Click on above to see it more clearly.

Please note, it comes with a government credulity warning.

Tuesday 10 November 2015


 Russian Civil War reenactors with a Tachanka

A Tachanka was a carriage with a rear firing maximum gun used primarily in the Ukraine and related areas. It was a support weapon for cavalry formations in the first and second World Wars, the Russian Civil War and the Russo-Polish War.
Warlord Games Model

I put one of these together and painted it. I have to say the model is great. The crew are in in WWII uniforms but heads could be swapped to make earlier examples.

A Museum Exhibit


The Tachanka is always associated with Nestor Makhno, the anarchist leader in the RCW, who used them extensively.


There are all sorts of theories about how the word Tachanka was derived from various Ukranian or Russian language sources but the truth is no one knows. It is, however, as iconic to cavalry warfare on the Ukrainian plains as the Spitfire is to the Battle of Britain.

Saturday 7 November 2015

VBCW - Militant Wing of the Woman's Institute

The Woman's Institute in the village of Little Dimpling in the Wold has its own militia commanded by Brigadier Mrs Daut Paulker, wife of Colonel Daut-Paulker.

Here she is shown with an infantry section led by Mrs Jackson, the local publican's wife, who has acquired a Tommy Gun. Local Church Schoolteacher, Mrs Fotheringay has the Lewis gun with the librarian, Miss Peabody carrying the reloads.

Mrs Dault Paulkers's daughter Hetty is driving the Colonel's Crossley while her boyfriend, Sebastian 'Woofy' Winkerton who is just down from Oxford mans a Vickers that he borrowed from the University Combined Cadet Force.

This particular patrol was a response to the rumour that the Watt Tyler Brigade of Anarchist Agricultural Workers intended to raid the village and steal the Colonel's prize pig.

Models by Blind Beggar.

Tuesday 3 November 2015

Review - Warlord Games T34/76 Platoon

I recently picked up a box of Warlord Games T34/76 Platoon in polystyrene - 'hard' plastic.

What you get in the box are kits to build three T34 models. You get a choice of three different turret types classed according to year of build. The Soviet Union had a policy of evolutionary upgrade rather than revolution in tank design to keep the production lines flowing. The USA had a similar philosophy with Sherman and light tanks - and the wisdom of this approach is supported by considering who won.

Also in the box were three tank commanders, eight infantry, and three sheets of tank decals.

The tanks proved to be very easy to assemble, 'chunky' fast-build models. For example, the track/wheels are a single unit. There is very little in the way of tiny detail that is not modelled-on. This makes the kits ideal for wargaming models because they are quick and easy to assemble and the finished model is very robust to handling and being transported around in the boot of a car. On the downside, they are not great display models - which suits me as I'm a wargamer. Modellers should look more to Tamiya or similar.

I chose to build three identical tanks from the middle period of the T34/76 production - sounds a bit like an archaeologist describing pots - to simulate the great tank battles of 1943. This is the period when the  Soviet and German were perhaps most evenly matched.

My tanks are 'Guards' with appropriate slogans on the turret, not that I have a clue what they say. I chose to use only one tank commander to indicate an HQ vehicle. Soviet doctrine at this point was for the commanders to remain inside the tank in combat.

I chose to make some extra specialist troops with four of the infantry models, a sniper team, and an anti-tank rifle team. The Soviets used huge numbers of AT Rifles in '43. They didn't kill tanks but they wore them down with damage to the running gear.

I built the remaining four figures as part of an assault team with grenades, SMGs (stick and drum magazines) and an LMG.

I also own a Warlord resin T34 and the tank hulls are not quite to the same scale - something people should consider when they get wound up about which tank scale to use with 28mm infantry.

And the great thing for a scratch-builder is that you get lots of lovely spare bits. I put one of the tank commanders in my BA10 armoured car model. The early model turrets will make great German bunker turrets and generally  will be fodder for VBCW stuff.

The gun barrels are from the extra stuff in Plastic Soldier's Soviet anti-tank gun kits. You get two guns for £15 with six gun barrels - four spare in every box.

I heartily recommend  Warlord's box of goodies: at £50 it is a great buy.

Sunday 1 November 2015

VBCW - Motorised Tachanka

A Tachanka was a horse-drawn carriage used as a mobile machine gun platform. Here is the Very British Civil War equivalent: a Crossley limosine fitted with a Vickers Maxim Gun.

It is driven by Lady Clementina "Dimpy" Dimpleton and the gunner is The Honourable Reginald "Stuffy" Pratt-Bailey.

I bought this pretty much as is off eBay for a few Pounds.