Sunday, 8 February 2015

WBQ3 - Wargame Bloggers Quarterly - is published

The other piece of good new is that the third edition of Wargame Bloggers Quarterly is now available, free of charge.

You can pick up your issue HERE

And yes, the editor for this issue, the super-talented PK, very kindly has featured my "Operation Gericht" game from Partizan in the Park last June, with the photo from the Germans' flammenwerfer attack in the second game making the cover.

I was very grateful for this honour, and it came as a complete surprise when I found out.  As I mentioned before, all of the four Operation Gericht games we played last year, at both Partizan and Evesham, were great fun and huge thanks go again to everyone who took part in wonderful spirit.

I promise to get around to posting the backgrounds and scenarios to the "Operation Gericht" game here shortly.

As for Wargame Bloggers Quarterly, I've taken the reins as editor for the next issue, number 4.  The first three issues will be a very hard act to follow.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Painting Challenge 2015: French Soixante-Quinze and Trench Raiders

It's taken me quite a while to get started with this year's Painting Challenge, hosted by Curt Campbell over at his splendid blog "Analogue Hobbies".  Nothing but the usual excuses, I'm relieved to say - general family stuff, work, winter colds - although my daughter's swimming routine which starts at 5am every Friday morning is pretty much wiping out Thursday evenings for me.

So, in brief, these chaps have been much delayed making it here on to the blog.  Which is a shame, as they were fun to do.  First up, there's two French 75mm artillery pieces from 1917, with 28mm Brigade Games late war French crews.  The guns are made by Great War Miniatures and fit together very easily.  The guns can be mixed very well with the Brigade crews.

Also, I wanted to paint up a small force of French Trench Raiders from the First World War.  I really struggled to find any detailed information about French raiding, although I found enough to be able to tell that it certainly happened.  Without photos, it was a bit difficult to recreate that these chaps might have been equipped with.  I therefore too the easy route for figures, converting some Musketeer Miniatures British trench raiders, and some Brigade Games French officers, with the addition of Woodbine Miniatures heads.  I have a vague plan to do some trench raiding later this year as a fill-in game at the club, with the French and German raiders mutually looting each others' trenches and amassing all kinds of interesting loot.  Possibly not the most serious of games, but certainly fun nevertheless!

The next figure is the first test figure for the Tirailleur Senegalais.  I tried a few times to get the figures skin tone right, and what you see here is the result of some experimentation.  I also wanted to try and ensure that the tone can be achieved with simple Vallejo Model Colour paints, so that it should be easy to replicate for me, and for you!

I'd like to post the paint formula for the skin tone for the Tirailleur Senegalais, and also the Tiralleur Marocains I did last year, on the blog in the next few weeks.  I just want to paint a few more figures before posting anything - which, conveniently, gives me a chance to ask you what you think.  Does the skin tone look OK?

The figure is one of the very nice Old Glory 28mm French casualties, with a Woodbine Miniatures head-swap.  The black port on the base is to fit a casualty or "shock" dice into.  Grassy tufts from Silfor.  There are 80 of the Tirailleurs to get through, all of which I have converted (and yes, my fingers have almost recovered).  Fortunately, I think the uniform colour - a kind of khaki/mustard/ochre dye tone - seems to be a lot easier to get the hang of than Horizon Bleu. Again, any comments welcomed!

I couldn't resist a photo of the French Soixante-Quinze side by side, with both intact and destroyed guns.  I tried to get the ground work consistent, with suitably autumnal leaves and more grassy tufts across all of the bases. 

Next up, hopefully some more painting for the Tirailleurs - I've a couple of infantry sections and a Hotchkiss machine gun I'm working on - plus a couple of other things, including the latest edition of Wargame Bloggers Quarterly, which is just about ready to roll off the presses!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Rangeworthy Heights: January 1900 - Second Boer War AAR

Happy New Year!

It’s been a while! My blogging, and painting, has rather fallen off a cliff since November, but I’m hoping to get on track during the start of the New Year. Although I am still painting figures (in a slow and disjointed fashion), I thought it might be more fun to start out with a couple of AARs featuring the forthcoming new Boer War rules from TooFatLardies.

You may remember we used these for several playtests a few years back. We took a break from working on them, but Richard Clarke has placed them back on the front of the line for completion later this year.

Called “A Mere Question of Pluck”, they simulate the field actions of the Second Boer War. They have both a “tactical”, and a “grand tactical” mode, and represent brigade actions and upwards. As such, they are perfect for the various battles of the War, such as Colenso, Talana Hill, and Spion Kop (among others). Our figures are 6mm, produced by Pete Berry at Baccus 6mm. We think they look excellent on the table, and have the major benefit of being easy to paint.

The battle we fought last night was the action on the 19th of January 1900, on the Rangeworthy Heights to the south west of Ladysmith in the colony of Natal. We played this action before, in the “tactical” scale of the rules in 2011. Rich produced a report on his blog HERE

Last night’s game was using the “grand tactical” scale of the rules.

The table for the game we used last night was 6’ x 5’. The game took 3 hours and 45 minutes. Rather than produce a “they moved, then we moved, then they moved and fired” report, I’ve placed the main actions of the game as captions to the pictures below. I hope they are easy to follow, but please let me know in the comments if you prefer something else.

I thought it might be useful to try and gather a couple of the themes from the game:

  • We played through the game in just under four hours.  This was a large game, but easilt fitted into an evening's play.  We placed the British under a time clock - they had to achieve their objectives by 6pm (in game time), after starting the deployment at 8am.  
  • Time constraints focus the players. The time clock we used (christened by Rich as being "Tick, Tock, Dong") is wonderfully simple, but speeds up game as it progresses.  The "clock" is actually 6 cards, held in a separate deck.  One "Dong" and five "Tick Tocks".  At the end of each turn, a single card is drawn.  If the card is "Tick, Tock", the hour (in game time) does not advance.  If the card drawn is "Dong", the hour does advance (8am...9am....and so on).  On a "Tick Tock" being drawn, it is removed from the Clock deck permanently.  The result is that there are multiple times at the start of the game when time seems to be moving slowly - essentially, being when "Tick, Tock" cards are being drawn at the end of each game turn.  However, once the "Tick Tock" cards are used up, time moves very quickly indeed.  A wonderfully simple device for propelling time faster towards the end of the game - precisely when the British want, and need, more time to complete their objectives.
  • Boer vedettes - memorably described by Rich as "scruffy blokes smelling of horse p*ss with a rifle" - are as entrancing to the British players as a hypnotist's pendulum.  They inflict shock (only) but can harass, fragment and dislocate a smooth British advance.  Dealing with them slows the British players' advance, but ignoring them is nearly impossible - as was the case historically.  All British players, so far, have struggled to deal with them effectively (including me).
  • British artillery is a battle winner.  Correctly deployed and commanded, it is devastating.  However, the command structure of the guns, requiring draws of a "Staff Card" is (as historically) cumbersome unless the British commander remains with the guns.  Command choices such as these are critical to British success.
  • Commanding the Boers requires sure-footed thinking, and good anticipation.  Once deployed, they are costly to move and/ or redeploy.  They can be tough, but they are not regulars.  They can trade land and positions for time, but eventually they have to stand and fight.
It'll be fun to see how these themes develop as other groups of playtesters worldwide enjoy the rules.  
Head over to the TooFatLardies forum for more details if you're interested in playtesting.  The best post for that can be found HERE.

Also, you may well be very interested in Rich's report on this very same game, which is available at the Lard Island blog HERE and was posted within minutes of this post.


Next up, (finally) contributions from me for the Painting Challenge! (after posting on the Painting Challenge blog site in a day or so).

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas and Sesaon's Greetings

It is Christmas Eve.  Gosh, it has come round quickly, again!

I hope everyone reading this, following the blog and looking at the various tweets I'm posting (as Roundwood's World) has a wonderful Christmas.

And at this time of year I think of friends who may have had a tough old year, or who are far from home.  My heart-felt good wishes for the season go out to all of you.

And also, in particular, I think of friends in the blogosphere who will not be with us this year, and of their families who will find this a difficut time of year.  This Christmas, I particularly remember two greatly respected and much loved personalities from our hobby who passed this year - blogger Captain Richard, and wargamer (and grumpy old chap) Allen E. Curtis.  Their kind words and grace blessed me many times, and I shall never forget them.

To Richard and Allen's families, I wish you all the blessings of Christmas.  I shall be thinking of both Richard and Allen tomorrow, with great fondness.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Dragonmeet 2014

As mentioned in my last post, I made the trip to Dragonmeet 2014 in London a couple of weekends ago. This was my third Dragonmeet in a row, and the first in the convention’s new location of the Ibis Hotel, Earl’s Court. 

I had a great time. The convention seemed bigger and busier than ever before. In addition to roleplaying and boardgames, the show has grown to encompass miniature gaming as well. There were demos of “Dead Man’s Hand” a couple of zombie-themed games, as well as trade stands from a decent number of miniature manufacturers and retailers (North Star Miniatures, Hawk Wargames, Warlord Games).

The gaming halls were packed with every roleplaying/ boardgamining variety and combination of games you could think of. “Zombie/Nazi/Occult/Godzilla mash-up, Sir? – you got it. Table 48 on the right”. “Old-school Village of Hommlet – ah yes, upstairs by the bar”. All gaming life seemed here, and a pleasure it was to behold.

For me, though, pride of place should go to Ashley Pollard’s fantastic Ogre/ G.E.V. game, which I was pleased to see was placed right in the centre of the gaming hall. Ogre for me is a game which always conjures up 1981. It was one of the games I discovered at my school wargames club, and I’ve never forgotten. There was something about the combination of strange alien planets, monstrous armoured leviathans, hordes of space-suited infantry rushing over the battlefield on hover tanks, and accessible and fun rules which caught my eye then. And still does. 

Ashley’s games have always captured that for me, and it was great to catch up. Her collection of Ogres, armour, grunts, mobile command centres and recon vehicles was enough to hypnotise any gamer. She umpires a great game as well – always good to see. Awesom stuff!

In addition to the games and gamers, the other thing I love about Dragonmeet is the lectures. Paco Garcia Jaen had done a wonderful job this year of arranging some terrific presentations but a luminous cast of speakers. The great and the good of roleplaying were definitely in evidence, but it was great to see speakers who were less well known, and who contributed their own take on the roleplaying world. I was desperately disappointed to miss Johnny Hodgson’s talk on art direction for roleplaying and boardgaming game publishing – I was cheering my son’s football team on a cold, rainy north London pitch at the time. I did catch up with the afternoon panels though, including a live version of the podcast “Ken and Robin talk about stuff”. The stuff talked about was as witty, erudite and funny as ever. If I could talk about anything as well for 5 minutes, I’d be a happy man!

All in all, this was a wonderful Dragonmeet.  I'd like to say a huge thank you here to all the organisers of the event, the speakers and the staff in the Ibis hotel who were a model of courtesy throughout. If you get the chance to attend next year, I would thoroughly recommend it.  

The day’s loot consisted, for me, of a pre-ordered copy of “Dreamhounds of Paris” and the "Livre de Fourmis”, by Pelegrane Press, and both chiefly authored by Robin Laws. Both Robin and co-author Ken Hite graciously signed “Dreamhounds”, very sportingly answering my questions and shooting the breeze for a couple of minutes.   

I always feel tongue-tied when asking authors to sign a book.  I end up saying something pretty lame like "I really enjoyed your last book", or "I'm really looking forward to reading this one".  As a default mechanism, I normally just go into "polite mode", but I feel this desn't really go anywhere towards showing appreciation for authors who make a long trip to a show or convention and take the time to meet their readers and patiently answer questions.

I tried harder this time, and actually came with something to say in advance!  I mentioned to Robin about how much i was looking forward to his books, and talked about my first trip to Paris in 1981 when I was 14 (with my French Exchange family) to see an exhibition of paintings by French surrealist Yves Tanguy.   That trip, and Paris, has always stayed in my mind.  So Robin, if you read this, thank you so much for listening patiently, and for the lovely ants you drew in my book!

I’m in the process of reading the PDF copy of Dreamhounds (which Pelegrane Press send you for free when you purchase the hard copy book) on my daily commute. Even if you’re not a keen, or practising, roleplayer, there is much in Dreamhounds of Paris to love if you even have a passing interest in any of the following: Paris, the 1920s, Surrealism, the Cthulhu Mythos, French Occultism, beautiful books, fantastic art design, or wonderful writing. Very highly recommended.

One final postscript to picking up my copies of "Dreamhounds of Paris" and the "Livre de Fourmis" at Dragonmeet.  I'd pre-ordered these from Pelgrane, really becuase I wanted to show my support for the project (which I'm very excited by).  Yesterday, Cat from Pelgrane (out of the blue) went to the trouble of refunding my pre-paid postage on my debit card, and emailed me telling me she'd done it.  Exemplary customer service, very thoughtful and deeply cool.  Many thanks indeed, Cat and Simon! 

Finally, for those of you wondering where on earth all my painted figures are for the start of Curt’s 5th Annual Painting Challenge, I have to confess that I’ve been delayed somewhat through being busy at work. December is always a frantic month for me work-wise, and this year it’s been doubly so. Long nights and busy weekends with the family have kept me away from the brushes, although I’ll hopefully be catching up fast by the end of this week. Fingers crossed for getting off the mark!

Friday, 5 December 2014

Ladies and gentleman, start your (painting) engines...

Yes, it is that time of year again. By my watch, it should be about midnight in Regina, Canada on the 5th December just around ..... now. Which means that the Fifth Analogue Hobbies Painting Challlenge should be well and truly under way in the home of one Mr Curt Campbell Esq., and indeed throughout the world and known universe.

I'm able to record this fact becuase I am already up, dressed and ready. Sadly, not for ready painting duties... Today is the first day of my daughter's new swimming schedule at her local swimming club, which means that I'm required to get up at just before 5am and take her to the pool, then wait around with other similarly bleary-eyed parents for an hour or so. Hertfordshire, England at 5am is as bleak as just about any other place at 5am - at least in my book.

Anyway... on to happier thoughts. When I eventually get to my painting table tonight, I'll know that I'm joining a great many friends in the Painting Challenge for three months of fun and mayhem as we each strive to reach our personal painting targets. So this seems like a great time to say "good luck" and "bonne chance" to everyone taking part, and indeed everyone who stumble across this post - and especially anyone doing so at 5am in the morning, wherever you are.

As an introduction, here's some painting I (almost, bar the final groundwork) finished in November. There's a couple of 28mm snipers from First Corps' Great war range, and a ruined battery of French 75s comprising Old Glory French casualties and Scarab guns.

I really struggled to find information about French snipers of the Great War. There seems to be little reference to them in the English language books I have on First World War sniping, but I doubt that's the end of the story. There's also no 28mm figures which I've found of a French sniper, which is a great shame. There's a vacancy there in some figure ranges for anyone interested!

The damaged battery of 75mm field guns was something I'd thought about for a while. I've yet to finish off the groundwork, but the figures came together quite well with the artillery - although, for the purist, I am sure the figures are noticeable as infantrymen and not artillerists. It's no surprise that there seems to be no figure manufacturer making artillery casualties, so I had to make do with the terrific Old Glory French casualty models for the wounded and fallen crew. The models of the artillery guns are from Scarab, albeit damaged and broken by me. I can promise you that, intact and painted, the Scarab models do liik very nice indeed, and fit very well with the purpose designed Scarab artillery crews.

On a final note, this Saturday is Dragonmeet in London, held this year at the Ibis Hotel Earls Court & ILEC Convention Centre.

For anyone with a few hours to spare on Saturday, I can very strongly recommend Dragonmeet as a roleplaying convention which any wargamer would enjoy. The quality of traders and speakers is very high indeed, and I've enjoyed it greatly whenever I've attended.

I shall be heading there in the afternon to collect my copies of Pelegrane Press' new "Dreamhounds of Paris" and "Le Livre de Fourmis", and hopefully getting them signed by their well known author (and all round gentleman) Robin D Laws. Hopefully more on the Dragonmeet show in the next blog post.

And, until next time, I need to find some coffee and recover, slowly!
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