Friday, 28 February 2014

See you at Hammerhead

Just packed the last three important things:

- GCN paperwork for the club
- 44 flyers for the game
- a stuffed cat toy

To find out why, you know where to come :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Dreadball Xtreme beta rules

I made the mistake of trying to dictate the title of this post using Siri. 

"Dribble extremely beautiful".


 Anyway, the beta rules are out – at Mantic Digital - and looking rather interesting. Main takeaways; some interesting changes to Jacks compared to Dreadball, no refs, and no leaving the field when injured. I hope to have a play sometime.

 Apologies for the rather terse post. Those of you who know who I work for, will know why. :)

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Match Report - 24-Feb-2014 - Dreadball

First round of the club's Dreadball tournament. As it turned out, we had 7 players, so I ducked out to start with to check up on our Hammerhead game, and returned in time for a game against James' "Dream Reapers", another Void Sirens-based human team on his excellently painted Mantic MDF pitch.

So it's over to the Reaper Stadium, and Jason and Vish:
"And you catch us with two rushes to go in this battle of the Sirens, the Valykries against the Reapers. The run of play has gone the way of the Reapers so far, as they're three points up with the ball in hand. Vish?" 
"Vish in his happy place. Two teams of..." 
"Must you? The Valkyries haven't been able to catch a thing all game, star Striker Ola Gunnarson dropping two absolute sitters for three or four pointers. Surprisingly low on carnage, too - the worst we've seen is a two-rush benching for a mild concussion, and the Reapers being done for having seven women on the pitch." 
"Not enough blood, Vish think. Valkyries been double teaming the Reapers' Guard, Dawn, but it all been a lot of push and shove and handbags..."
"Right there, big guy. And here come the Reapers now with a gift of a Strike that'll put the game out of reach... And oh... my..."
"Vish can't believe she missed that. Absolute sitter. My grandmother could have scored from there with her eye shut." 
"The ball scatters, right into the path of Valkyries' Jack Katya Svensson... she's not been with it these last few rushes: rumours abound of too much mead last night. But Ingrid Sigurdsen..." 
"She looking fine for Jack with major neck surgery last week. Mighty fine." 
"She is that. A neat pickup without breaking stride as Greta Fredriksson and Reapers' Guard Dawn are having another pushing and shoving match. She crosses halfway, flicks it neatly to Gunnarson - the Valkyries are going to have to play for overtime, because the two guards are still arguing, haven't moved an inch off the four point spot..." 
"For about five rushes. Bo-oor-ing. Vish can watch that on the kiddie channel..." 
"Yup. Gunnarson catches the pass from Svennson... fingertip juggle and snag at full stretch at the third attempt... and... That's it. The siren. Game over, the Reapers WIN! If only she'd caught that cleaner, she could have had time to flick in a three pointer and take us to overtime."
A fun game: it took me a couple of rushes to remember I was playing a team that valued carnage less than scoring, so I was a couple of points down before I adapted my strategy. My dice rolling sucked: must have dropped three or four sitters, and fluffed more than one throw.

As ever, though, it's a great game. Off home now, to grab and read the Xtreme Beta rules.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Hammerhead this weekend

It's that time of year again - a couple of weeks later at a new venue, but nonetheless it's time for Hammerhead...

...which as ever means our club takes a borderline (to put it mildly) wacky and insane participation game to the show.

This year?

Well, have a teaser pic:

See you there - as ever, look for the mid-blue club shirt.

Monday, 24 February 2014

Chain of Command DAK list released

For everyone among my readers (and you know who you are! :D ) who succumbed to the siren lure of the Perry's rather tasty 28mm Deutsche Afrika Korps figures, the list for using them in Chain of Command is here.

First impressions?

Interesting - three squads each with two MG34 teams, so lots of firepower, but like a lot of German lists, only one Senior Leader, and no intrinsic supports with the platoon.

The '34's will make it pretty brutal, though, if used properly: the list has the standard German national characteristics, you'll need to be sensible with your use of leaders if you want to take advantage of them. Just like in real life, really.

Supportwise, it's pretty decent - things like a Panzer 1 or a Sdkfz221 armoured car are only List 3, so mobile support is cheap, and the ubiquitous BMW R75 and sidecar as transport for an MG34 is List 1!

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Planning and Chain of Command

I'm delighted at the number of AARs and blog posts there have been recently about Chain of Command: I'm also particularly delighted at the number of people who seem to have "got" one of the subtleties...

I have jokingly suggested in the past that Chain of Command actually does have 'points', but that in fact it's more akin to playing WAB with a 2500 point list of which 2000 is pre-ordained and 500 you get to pick after you've seen the scenario. This is actually quite key to pre-battle planning in CoC.

Appendix B ("National Army Lists") says in its first sentence:
"Selecting your support options is probably best done once you have determined which scenario you will be playing and have seen the table you will be fighting over."
In essence: you are a platoon commander. You have a platoon, of known composition. Once word comes down from on high (with map references etc) that your next action will be at such and such a place with the following objectives, you get to ask for some supports, with knowledge of the terrain and objectives you have, and your plan, just like your real-life counterpart would. (And if you're playing the campaign game from At The Sharp End, your CO gets to tell you to take a hike if he doesn't like you, too!)

I think some folks may have missed that first sentence in Appendix B: it's VERY important to a realistic game. As is the fact that you're not obliged to tell your opponent what you've chosen, above and beyond that he's facing a unit of whichever list you're playing of platoon strength with some supports. (And he'll know roughly what your support value is, although again if you're playing with At The Sharp End, and you trust each other, I'd suggest he doesn't get to see your modifiers on that.)

Speaking of things that people (*cough*) missed, for those of you with the At The Sharp End PDF, there's a 'see page xxxx' reference on the third paragraph on page 20. 'xxxx' should be '36', or you can download a fresh page 20 to print out from the TFL Yahoo! Group files section. (If you're not a member or are having trouble, drop me a note and I can wing you one.)

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Review - Dreadball Azure Forest expansion

I got back from worship band rehearsal last night to find the wargames fairy had paid a visit (yes folks, he even delivers) and left me a copy of the new Dreadball supplement - not Xtreme, but the Azure Forest expansion - the first in the Galactic Tour series.

It's one of Mantic's standard figure 'DVD-style' cases, containing a couple of figures (a trophy and an MVP - both metal, and nice sculpts), some extra cards, and a small rule booklet that fits neatly into the case.

But hey. This is Dreadball. I don't do Dreadball. Over to Jason and the big guy:
"What you got there, Vish?"
"Is handy-dandy pocket tourist guide for Azure IX. Print a bit small and grey for Vish's eyesight: Vish wondering why they not go digital yet."
"One too many blows to the head knock your vision out of whack, big guy?"
"Vish still seeing just fine. And you talk while Vish interrupting. Where was...."
"Azure IX?"
"Vish wishes. New Azure Forest League look right up his street. Open-air pitch, weather, extra chance players fall over and get hurt. More blood always good."
"You have a one-track mind."
"Two - also cheerleaders. Azure Forest League cheerleaders closer to pitch and crowd , more chances to affect game. Mmmm. Cheerleaders... Vish wish he was still cleared to play. Maybe Azure Forest shamans cook something up for him...."
"Huh? Shamans?"
"Make potions. Give to losers, even things up to fair fight in League. Vish not so sure about fair fight, but potion to make him irresistible to ch..."
"Vish? Hello? Family show. Still. Just. Let's keep it that way."
"Hrmph. Vish been doing this three years and still not get how it okay with you humans to describe Trontek player's head go squish like ripe Earth melon, but not allowed to speculate on what Julie Summers not got on under uniform..."
"This is Jason Barker handing you back to the studio right now...."

So - several pages of in-character fluff, more event cards, weather, potions ("Blessings Of The Jungle"), rules to make your cheerleaders more useful, a new MVP.

On top of that, there's a definitive/official set of tournament rules, plus photocopiable forms, and the stats for the three backer-submitted MVPs from the original Kickstarter. All in a 32 page book.

All told? Looks like fun. Definitely keen to give it a try, and I'd also be keen to see more in the series - hey, Mantic, if you want me to write one for Asgard... :D

Friday, 21 February 2014

Friday news roundup

Just a quick one :D

The Dreadball Xtreme Kickstarter is (predictably) off like the proverbial rocket - clearing $200K of its initial $100K goal in about 5 hours. The cynic on me notes that it feels more like a preorder than a Kickstarter, and I find it hard to believe that Mantic couldn't deliver it all by other means anyway.

The next batch of Chain of Command lists are in motion - the British list for the early part of the Western Desert campaign is up: one possible opponent (the 1940 Italian army) is already available, and it looks like I missed mentioning them at the time. Next up should be 8th Army and DAK, and after that, apparently, lists for Operation: Barbarossa.

On the subject of CoC army lists, if there's anyone out there with access to WW2 Greek military organisation charts and reads modern Greek, Rich could use the help, since none of the CoC lists get published without research.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

Meeples and Miniatures episode 120 - Rich Clarke of Too Fat Lardies

Neil's finally edited together his and my chat with Rich Clarke of Too Fat Lardies a fortnight ago into Meeples and Miniatures episode 120. In which we learn about the new Chain of Command campaign supplement and the new Dux Britanniarum 'Raiders' expansion.

Two hours worth of chat, which I hope is as fun and informative to listen to as it was to record!

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Kickstarter watch - Dreadball Xtreme

First off - you have all changed your Kickstarter password, right?


Ok. That's fine. I'll just wait here while you go and do it. Right now.

Done? Good. :)

Mantic are currently teasing the start of the new Kickstarter for Dreadball Xtreme with a site at GCPS Central, which as of today has a countdown timer (due to end at about 2pm on Friday) and a rather over-effected and not very informative video. Essentially, though, the slogan is 'No Ref, No Rules. No Mercy', so you can have a pretty good guess.

More interesting are a couple of photos: one's from Jake Thornton's blog of a game in progress:

and the other a teaser of the gameboard from Mantic on Facebook:

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Match Report - 17-Feb-2014 - Dreadball

I spent most of last week trying to remember where the heck I put the Dreadball 'Extra Time' pack (cards, refbot, ball) and counters that I'd bought....

...until I remembered that it was the stuff I'd been meaning to pay Reuben for when I left the £60 at the ATM (thanks to the Coop bank for clearing that up for me)...

Which involved a blog search to find where I'd grumbled about that, and thus which game I'd been playing that night, and thus which Really Useful Box they were likely to have been dropped in for safe keeping. And indeed, there they were: in my trees box.

Who says blogging regularly isn't useful? :D

Over to Jason and Vish at the match:
"And you join us in the last rush of this exciting game from the brand-new stadium here on Valhalla: the Asgard Valkyries are three points up, with an opening score that came via a fumbled pickup by star striker Ola Gunnarson, that bounced back into her hands off the ref bot. But now there's a Teraton with the ball just off the four point spot. This could be curtains for the Valkyries..."
"Vish need to interrupt here, Jase. Not best way for Teratons to win."
"How do you mean, big guy?" 
"Vish think you just watch and tell the nice people at home what's happening. Vish going to enjoy the carnage."
"Whatever you say, big guy. And... oof... That has to smart. That's Ingrid Sigurdsen, the Valkyries' last jack, carted off with what looks like a broken neck. In fact, that's their last player on the pitch. Just as Greta Fredriksson, their guard, makes it out of the treatment room onto the bench, clearly annoyed, from the trail of concussed trainers she's left in her wake."
"Vish think you should remind people of overtime rules."
"OK.... you don't argue with the big guy. So. If the scores are level, we play sudden death overtime...."
"Vish like that phrase."
"...until either one team scores or their opponents are unable to field any players who are able to. And teams may not field any replacements.... and there goes a Teraton, standing right under the three point target. It shoots. STRIKE. And the score's back to zero, and we have overtime."
"No we don't. The Teratons WIN! Heh. Vish always wanted to get that in first."
"The... Oh... And Greta Fredriksson is attempting to pound the refbot into scrap in frustration. The Valkyries have no players on the pitch. The Teratons WIN! Even if Fredriksson was out of the treatment room in time, she's not a Striker or Jack, so she can't score anyway. Who's she think she is, Anne-Marie Helder?"
Lessons learned:

  • the clear 'Home' tokens need a coat of paint. They vanish on my pitch at some angles.
  • the new FF Fields pitch is awesome. It is though slightly larger than a standard one, so it won't fit in the Amera stadium.
  • Googling for Anne-Marie Helder produces someone else unless you qualify with 'dreadball' :D
  • Double-teaming Teratons is the way forward.
  • I have some seriously silly ideas for a tarted-up Dreadball stadium.
Dale and I had a second game. Same result. 0-0 in overtime, and I ran out of players :D I swear, I haven't laughed down the club so much in months.

Monday, 17 February 2014

Ranging in Artillery (via WWPD)

It's not often I link to WWPD, since they do tend to be somewhat unrepentant Flames of War fans (sorry guys :) ), but since a recent podcast on their network included a rather nice brief review of Chain of Command, never let it be said I'm not a reasonable man :D

One of the WWPD guest posters is ex-Royal Canadian Artillery, and he's just posted a very interesting piece on ranging-in artillery fire.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Kickstarter and passwords....

Don't groan and hit 'next' on this one either, 'cause it's important. Even if you're not a Kickstarter user.

The following turned up in my email last night:
Important Kickstarter Security Notice
On Wednesday night, law enforcement officials contacted Kickstarter and alerted us that hackers had sought and gained unauthorized access to some of our customers' data. Upon learning this, we immediately closed the security breach and began strengthening security measures throughout the Kickstarter system.
No credit card data of any kind was accessed by hackers. There is no evidence of unauthorized activity of any kind on all but two Kickstarter user accounts.
While no credit card data was accessed, some information about our customers was. Accessed information included usernames, email addresses, mailing addresses, phone numbers, and encrypted passwords. Actual passwords were not revealed, however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one.
As a precaution, we strongly recommend that you create a new password for your Kickstarter account, and other accounts where you use this password.
The bit I'd like to emphasis is this[1]:
Actual passwords were not revealed, however it is possible for a malicious person with enough computing power to guess and crack an encrypted password, particularly a weak or obvious one.
"Enough computing power?" You're almost certainly using it to read this blog. Given a dictionary and a list of encrypted passwords, it's relatively trivial, especially if you know what encryption method is being used (which if not, it's probably pretty easy to figure out).

Why? Because you don't need to break the encryption[2]. All you need to do is what the site[3] does when it checks your password when you log in: encrypt what you type, see if it matches what's stored. If you encrypt the whole dictionary that way, and compare it against your list of stolen passwords? Watch the matches drop out. In fact? You don't even need the dictionary. Take a list of passwords from say, here, encrypt those... Of course, if you're serious about cracking passwords, you can do better yet.

I can't stress what the KS folks say enough but I'll add to it:

  • Change your KS password now. Don't assume its secure just because it isn't a dictionary word or one of the top 100 bad ones!
  • If you use that password anywhere else, change it there. Some lowlife out there now has a list of email addresses and encrypted passwords. If yours is one they cracked, where else can they log in?
  • Pick more secure passwords everywhere as a matter of course. Because KS wasn't the first, and won't be the last. Your basic two choices are non-dictionary words (and don't just change letters to numbers, either!) or a passphrase... 
  • If you have trouble remembering passwords, use a password manager like 1Password (which will also generate highly-random passwords for you) or similar. 
  • If you use a password manager, for heavens sake make sure the one password you DO have to remember (namely its own password for its password store!) is both secure and one you can remember.

[1] Yes, people with IT backgrounds, I'm oversimplifying :D But unfortunately, so are a lot of web-site developers.
[2] In fact, you'd be daft to try. Most password 'encryption' algorithms are intentionally one-way for sane levels of computing power, i.e. you can't get the plain text given the encrypted text. Your mileage may vary if you're the NSA or GCHQ[5].
[3] Assuming the site is not so stupid as to store your password in clear[4].
[4] In case you'd ever wondered why you normally have to reset your password, rather than get the site to send you a new one? This is why. Because any sensible site doesn't KNOW your password. It only knows what it encrypts to, using a 'one-way' algorithm.
[5] *smiles* *waves*

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Do you ever have one of those moments....

...when you wish you'd picked a different colour scheme for figures?

No problem with the booster pack for the Valkyries in primary team colours - the AP (well, AP made for Maelstrom) purple spray is great, the only real issue is remembering to undercoat the areas that need to be yellow (which doesn't cover well) in white.

The secondary colours, on the other hand...

Undercoat - AP white. No problem.

Next step - wash. Unfortunately,using straight AP Soft Tone just produces a muddy pale brown, which would work perfectly for mediaevals or ancients, but not for the bright environment of Dreadball.

At the second attempt, I managed to fake out a wash using the AP purple, very dilute - works fine in the shadows, but leaves the rest a very faint pink. So out with the white again, and a fairly heavy dry brushing to restore the purity of the white while still preserving the shadow detail.

On to the trim, in yellow and purple....

Which is the point at which I discover that the AP purple is pathetically thin, and not the same shade as the spray after all, but considerably paler.


More later in the week, I think, as I need to do some colour matching work (and repaint at least one of the figures back to white....)

Friday, 14 February 2014

Some thoughts on the patrol game in Chain of Command

While bouncing ideas past Gary for our Brécourt Manor scenario, I got to thinking about the patrol phase in CoC.

I may well do some deeper thinking and playing of trial games for a piece in the TFL Summer Special, but here's a couple of things that did occur to me. For now, I'm just thinking about the 'deploy from a single point' version of the patrol phase.

First off - the 3 vs 4 patrol markers question. 3 patrol markers limits you to a frontage of at most 24", where as 4 gets you a max of 36", but you move the whole thing slower. The problem with those max widths, though, is that if you have markers in a line that wide you can only move the end ones..

Movement indicated by red arrow.

Note that you can't move the middle ones because they are already at the maximum distance apart. It turns out that the optimum setup for a rapidly advancing frontage is more like this (parts of a series of equilateral triangles)....

Movement again indicated by red arrow. 
The other interesting question is, if you get bonus patrol phases before your opponent, how far can you get? Assuming you move in a straight line...
  • 1 bonus moves? 12"
  • 2 bonus moves? still only 12" (2 @ 12" from start, rest at start)
  • 3 bonus moves? 24" (1 @ 24", 1 @ 12" away, 1 or 2 @ start)
  • 4 bonus moves? 24" (1 @ 24", 2 @ 12" away, 0 or 1 @ start)
  • 5 bonus moves? still only 24" (2 @ 24", 1 @ 12")
  • 6 bonus moves? finally you can get to 36".

Thursday, 13 February 2014

WIP - Dreadball players

Back to Dreadball - I now have two full booster sets plus a second main Void Sirens box, so I can field the Asgard Valkyries in their primary (purple with yellow and white trim) or alternative (white with, predictably enough, yellow and purple trim) strips. (We have too many teams down the club with dark blue/purple colours :D)

The purple ones? Still on the 2"x1" in the laundry
having just been sprayed.
Tonight being the first night this week I haven't had to be the parental taxi service (who'd be a parent?), I finally got the figures for the change strip assembled and undercoated in white, as well as the booster pack in purple. The Dreadball minis are, as plastic goes, not at all painful to put together compared to some. They're sprueless, and where there are parts to attach, they come with a little keyed peg and hole arrangement so they're quite hard to get wrong once you've figured out which bits go with which figure.

I doubt I'll get them painted tonight, but it's a start. :)

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Battle Report - 10-Feb-2014 - Chain of Command

And yes, full marks to the lot of you who guessed from the teaser on Monday night: yes, t'was Brécourt Manor.

We're testing this out for a club D-Day all day on June 8th[1], where we aim to run a set of scenarios using IABSM3, Chain of Command, BKC, Battlegroup: Overlord, Bolt Action and possibly Flames of War: this was the Chain of Command scenario designed by Gary.

As the US, I got a slightly over-strength force of two sections of Paras, a 60mm mortar and a sniper team. Gary's Germans were crew for the 4 105s, two tripod MG42s and two sections with bipod MG34s. Here's an annotated version of Monday's teaser image, showing the initial setup.

US jump off points were under Lipton's tree, in the corner of the field to the left of that, and on the road about level with Gun 2.

The scenario and setup still needs a bit of tweaking: we played, and I think, having looked at pictures since, this may have been incorrect, that most of the hedges were bocage, meaning that for MMG 1 and 2 to be any use at all they had to be outside the hedge/trench layout. The scattered copse to the north (left side of the map, bottom of the picture) of MMG 1 is more a block to vision than fire, I think.

Which leads to the next interesting question of where to start the scenario?

Gary (and I think rightly) decided to skip the patrol phase, as with the Germans in fixed defensive positions it seemed a bit pointless. It does remove the initial scouting done by Winters in real life, and assumes that MMG 1's presence is known to the Americans.

Be aware that as of Monday I hadn't (deliberately) read up on the Brécourt Manor assault. I deployed a section, and Lipton's sniper team in Lipton's tree, mooched up to the hedge and offloaded half a dozen grenades in two phases at the machine gun bunker while Lipton tried to pick off MMG 1's crew. Of course, what I should have done was what Winters did, and concentrated everything on that MMG to take it down: as it was, I lined that section's MG up on  MMG 2, and send the second section to deal with it as well…

Splitting the (already beefier than Winters had) force? Dumb move.

I got away with it. Even though Winters AND the Junior leader in charge of the first section got wounded taking out MMG 1, the LMG got wiped out by long-range fire from MMG 2 and the first section was down to 3 men, I managed to take on and take out MMG2 by taking advantage of two phases in a row and a Chain of Command dice, and then cross the field to the trench line and take out Gun 4's crew and close assault and wipe out a rifle team. (First time ever I've used the Covering Fire rule, too!) Somewhere about there the Germans ran out of force morale...

Matters arising: (Note, no criticism of Gary's scenario design intended - we have to start somewhere!)

Stealth: CoC really doesn't have rules for this. Depending on when we think the game should start, I think that either:
a) Winters should have jump off points that basically allow him to deploy at the point where the Germans notice him, and thus the US to deploy and fire
b) there should be rules for spotting :D

Victory conditions: I won because the Germans force morale hit 0, by, effectively, wiping out four teams and attached leaders. Not 100% sure this felt right - wasn't helped by a bad initial Force Morale roll for Germans.

Forces: I pulled this off with two platoons (and Spiers' section which never turned up), rather than Winters' 12 men. Choice of forces needs some thought.

Anyway. There you have it. HUGE thanks to Gary for a great scenario, and we're both open to any comments/thoughts before our next test.

[1] Readers interested in dropping in for a game will probably be very welcome. Drop me a line :D

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

RIP Tony Barnes - GCN President

The first arrival at club last night (after me unlocking) was Tony Sampson, who sadly informed me that Tony Barnes, the President of the Gaming Club Network, had died suddenly in the early hours of Monday morning.

I can't say I knew him that well, but the few times I'd spoken with him, both at various shows and while sorting out our club's application to join GCN, he'd never being anything but funny, friendly and incredibly understanding and helpful, especially in steering us through the minefield of slightly out of date GCN guidelines as to club constitutions, and how to fit our rules and the GCN.

A better epitaph by far than the one I can give is below, from David Wise, secretary of the GCN:
Tony Barnes 1956-2014
It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the passing away of our president, Tony Barnes, early this morning from a sudden illness. 
Tony Barnes was a gentle giant of the UK wargaming world.
His term as president of the GCN was testament to the incredible hard work and organisational skills that he brought to the job. 
His tact and diplomacy poured oil on many troubled waters over the years and I would ask that all the members of the GCN remember that over the coming months. 
As president he oversaw an incredible threefold rise in membership and with the support of the Council took the Network through what had been shaky start as an independent body into a confident and well respected organisation which this year is taking its first steps overseas into Europe. 
The wargaming world has lost a true leader.
He and I ran the Chesterfield Gaming Society, known for its presence at so many shows with participation games including Hammerhead, the show we organised together until last year.
Tony was also a family man with two daughters, one of whom recently married. He was also my best friend. Few people are probably aware that outside of wargaming, we and our wives shared an enthusiasm for dance and musical theatre, enjoying many trips out to see shows together.
Our condolences go to Christine his wife and family.
Thank you, Tony, for being a giant among wargamers and a gentleman to match. 
David Wise
GCN Secretary and Friend

Monday, 10 February 2014

A teaser....

So... What encounter is this we're trying to recreate....?

...and how would YOU go about it in Chain of Command?

Sunday, 9 February 2014


Well, I'm back and absolutely cream-crackered. And just to add insult to injury, my son and heir has to be at school at 0645 tomorrow morning for a trip to the National Art Musuem. Arghhh....

I have, however, taken a few minutes to update my Wish List page with the latest, culled largely from my IABSM scenario requirements spreadsheets. As the page says, this isn't a 'please buy me stuff' begging list, it's just there a) for me to keep track of, b) so that if anyone has stuff they want rid of they know what I'm after and c) for 'payment in kind' should I sell stuff on forums etc.

Anyway... bed now. A 5.45 am alarm beckons..... *sigh*

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Heraldry 101, summary post

As promised:

Heraldry 101, part 1 - introduction
Heraldry 101, part 2 - what colour is it?
Heraldry 101, part 3 - left, right, top, bottom and divisions
Heraldry 101, part 4 - ordinaries, and the Rule of Tincture
Heraldry 101, part 5 - charges, and arranging them
Heraldry 101, part 6 - Lions, Tigers (well, almost) and Bears, oh my!
Heraldry 101, part 7 - an aside, and answers
Heraldry 101, part 8 - strictly for the birds
Heraldry 101, part 9 - Fish Heads. Roly poly fish heads
Heraldry 101, part 10 - Crosses
Heraldry 101, part 11 - Marshalling Coats Of Arms
Heraldry 101, part 12 - Marks of Cadency
Heraldry 101, part 13 - 'patterned' backgrounds
Heraldry 101, part 14 - edges
Heraldry 101, part 15 - a broader palette

Friday, 7 February 2014

Busy weekend...

Somewhat busy today and for the rest of the weekend.. if you thought the tech necessary for a podcast was hairy... This is for an entire SF/music con.  

It's the only live sound rig I've worked which has its own LAN and two private wifi points :)

Normal service resumed real soon :)

Thursday, 6 February 2014


A question, prompted by recording an episode of a certain podcast last night, of which more later ;)

What's your favourite rule mechanism in wargaming? Which is the one that makes you go "ok, that's neat/elegant/brilliant"?

Me? I'm torn between the Dreadball throw & catch mechanic, and the Chain of Command pre game patrol system.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

My Dreadball pitch has arrived

Courtesy of FF Fields, my new Dreadball pitch has arrived. Check THIS out.

FF Fields do varied pitches for all the obvious scifi/fantasy sports games. Their basic approach is that for standard designs, you can have a core design (mine is 'Arctic') and pick one or two highlight colours (in my case the Asgard Valkyries' purple and yellow).

You can also choose between roll-up and hard pitches. I assume the roll-up ones are on some kind of high quality mousemat-like material, like the Dreadball Ultimate pitch. I went for the 'hard' which comes as half a dozen very very precisely cut jigsaw pieces in about 0.5mm thick… well, I'm not sure what it is, but it's rigid, doesn't appear to flex where it shouldn't and joins pretty much perfectly.

FF Files also send you a proof image before they mail out your pitch, which is great. Quality control is superb, and the whole thing looks fantastic. Delivery from Italy to the UK is reckoned on about 7-10 days, and this pitch cost me £41 or about £35 including P&P from Italy.

In the interests of full disclosure, I should note:

Delivery was a bit delayed by what I suspect was a breakdown in either cross-language communication in my approval of the screen shot (FF Fields are Italian), email issues or just plain bad luck - however, I'm impressed by their response to realising I'd been waiting rather a long time, which was to ship it TNT Express next day, no questions asked. Full marks for dealing with customer problems.

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

PMC Games and Caliver team up

I missed this about a month ago, but as I was considering buildings for my Home Guard campaign, I was having a look around…

You will notice quite a few of PMC's resin buildings in club reports, not least because we bought a boatload a couple of years ago. They're very pretty, but were usually only available at shows, via direct mail order or via their eBay store, and did have something of a reputation for being very very slow.

Imagine my not inconsiderable delight when I discovered that the range is now being managed by that ubiquitous presence at nearly every war-games show, Caliver Books. Here's their press release:
Caliver Books is now the proud owner of the PMC GAMES range of high quality, painted Resin buildings ( 6mm; 15mm and 28mm -Biblical through to Gulf War ) and Steam Punk/ Very British Civil War vehicles & Boats
We are re-launching the buildings/scenery under the BATTLEFIELD BUILDINGS banner (see and the rest under FORGOTTEN FRONT MINIATURES (
Once we are properly up and running we shall be selling all but the vehicles with painted or unpainted options - (The vehicles will always come un-assembled but undercoated). The price in the catalogue is for the PAINTED version. Postage will be added at the standard normal rate for now
At the moment[1] we are offering straight out of the molds buildings/scenery at 20% off the price as listed in the catalogue- - with payment by card only so we can deduct. 
We shall be taking a small display selection to shows, plus bundles of illustrated catalogue. Like Minifigs, these are mail order items produced in their own timescale by a specialist team separate from the normal mail order and as such they will not be available to grab off of the shelves when we are getting ready for a show, so no pre-orders I'm afraid though we are happy to take orders AT shows!
[1] Note this press release is at least a month old, so this may not still be true. (Mike)

Monday, 3 February 2014

Gun, foot. Nice one, GW.

Image via @kingpash on Twitter.
Remember the new White Dwarf announcement?

Ok. So here's how it works.

If you have a sub to the existing magazine, your sub is transferred to the new Warhammer Visions magazine.

Which means for your remaining subscription money, you get a monthly 200+ page picture book of figure porn (and I make no apologies for the choice of term this time out) with last month's news dotted here and there in minimal text in three languages.

If you actually want the news about Games Workshop products, you need the new White Dwarf. Which is only available in GW stores every Saturday, or as an eBook from the Black Library site, yours for circa €3, $4 or I guess about £2.50.

So to get the information that White Dwarf used to give you for your subscription, you need to spend another £100+ a year, and either have a tablet or a local GW store.

Just brilliant.

Thanks to several folk on Twitter and FB, including Erwin Blonk, for drawing my attention to this masterstroke. Oh, and they haven't yet updated the White Dwarf pages on the GW site.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

WIP and a small grumble

I love Battlefront dearly...

...OK. No I don't, but I love most of their miniature ranges...

...but when they supply a blister which clearly a) needs assembly and more importantly b) contains MORE parts than appear to match the description on the pack, it would be really really nice if it also contained at least an exploded diagram of what's what. Or even a HINT that there's assembly instructions on the website.

That aside? Productive day.

So far I've assembled and undercoated 4 15mm US .30 Browning teams, 3 60mm Mortar teams, and a spare bazooka team, as well as doing the base groundwork for yesterday's Germans and Brits.

I'm currently in the middle of assembling 2 57mm AT guns, which is the source of the above irritation as the blister pack doesn't actually mention that it includes both the infantry and airborne versions of the gun. Fortunately, the website, now I've found it, does. So I love Battlefront a little more again.


Although perhaps a little less given how fiddly both it and the 3" AT guns are. They're very nice sculpts, but the guns are a pig to keep held together until the glue takes.

[Later still...]

Done. All the AT guns (2 x 57mm, 2 x 3") undercoated, as well as three more Big Man bases. I undercoat my US in spray AP Matt Black, for historical reasons, and the fact that I tend to do a bit of a mix-and-match of M1941 and M1943 uniforms, some with HBT jackets or trousers. The 3" guns were separate from their bases, so I took the opportunity to undercoat those with the PSC US Armour War Spray (in other words, Olive Drab).

Quite the productive day.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Today's little project

A nice quick and easy job to add some colour and 'feel' to my Chain of Command battlefields.

These are MDF telegraph poles - according to the fret they're punched from, they're by Sarissa Precision, but they don't show up on their website. I picked these up from one of my two or three regular eBay suppliers, Arcane Scenery. All I've done with them is washed them in AP Dark Tone ink, used AP Skeleton Bone to pick out the porcelain insulators, textured the base with Tamiya Dark Earth textured paint, and added a scatter of the usual Javis Summer static grass.

They're rather nice, but they have a couple of minor drawbacks, one of which may bother you should you acquire any, one of which definitely will.

The not-so-fussed one is that three of the six have off-centre holes in the base: if you really care, you can re-drill fresh ones. More annoying is that they're too light - the merest brush will knock one over or send it skittering across the table. Again, an easy but more necessary fix - before basing, I superglued each one to a 2p piece.

While I was at it, I also based another 6 Gaugemaster apple trees on 2p pieces, and undercoated (using PSC War Sprays) a bunch of 15mms - 2 German MG platoons, 3 heavy mortar platoons, a scattering of Big Men on 1p and 2p pieces, and 2 British FOO teams on 2p pieces.

Not a bad day.
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