Saturday, 16 November 2019

Prince of Wales

I'm just back from a very enjoyable day in Portsmouth seeing the new baby of the fleet, HMS Prince of Wales, make her first entry into Portsmouth ahead of her commissioning next month. It was a lovely day, made better by the presence of all the friendly and chatty ship enthusiasts on the Round Tower - I was first there at 0800, it was toppers by 1000, ship passed the tower at 1400, but the atmosphere and chat was great and the time flew by.

PoW has special meaning for me for a number of reasons, so I must admit there was a small tear in my eye as she came past :)

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Far Distant Ships

This is my first blog entry for a while, so you could be excused for thinking that I've not been up to much. In fact the last few months have been quite busy (and you'll find a brief summary at the end of this entry).

The reason for this entry is to post an update on a project that has been on my books for two decades, and that is a set of fast play fleet action age of sail rules. I've had a number of false starts on this but over the past 6 months this project has accelerated a bit and it looks like it is coming to fruition. The rules now sit within my set of fast play rules, between the Renaissance and the age of the ironclads, and players of my other sets such as "Broadside and Ram", and "Cannon, Cross & Crescent", will be familiar with the mechanics (although they differ in a number of details). The rules have been the subject of some gritty playtesting by a number of groups, not least of which is Bob Blanchett and his antipodean team who have done a grand job highlighting areas for improvement.

My latest play test here was last Monday, wherein my friends in the Berkeley Vale wargames club took to the high seas off the Netherlands to refight the Battle of Camperdown/Kamperduin - Monday was Trafalgar day but I wanted something a bit smaller for this game as it was the first time the BV team had seen them.

As in the real battle the aim was simple - Dutch need to escape to the West, the Royal Navy needs to stop them. And thats sort of how it turned out, although the RN wasn't as successful as in real life. The Dutch vanguard and middle squadron managed to extricate themselves quite nicely, and gave the British vanguard a  bit of a hard time. The British rear managed to get itself out of position and ended up trading shots at long range, but the centre squadron hit the Dutch line between the Dutch centre and rear, isolating the rear squadron which was hammered at close range. As the game ended (and last orders called) the Dutch rear was lost, but they had managed to get their other squadrons into a position from which they could escape, albeit with some damage sustained.

Start of the game. The Dutch (right) decide to close the distance to the British fleet 

Closing, closing......

Battle is joined. The white and yellow puffs are markers representing damage suffered. 

Towards the end of the evening as the Dutch rear is isolated

A fun action, and the BV players picked up the essence of the rules very quickly. The important thing though from my perspective was that they enjoyed it and want to play again. Perhaps we will get Trafalgar done this year after all? :)

Just for info, the models are 1/2400 scale ships from the Hallmark range. I first got these to do Trafalgar around 1995, and Andrew Finch of A&AGE painted up my first batch (plus the Danes at anchor which I bought to do Copenhagen). The last batch of models, which I bought soon after the first, I finally completed earlier this year :)

** So what else have I been up to? Well, in no particular order:

  • The Naval Wargames Weekend at Yeovilton
  • The Wings of Glory / Sails of Glory weekend at Doncaster Air Museum (I won the naval tournament, came 3rd overall in the weekend event)
  • Published "Narrow Seas" at last
  • Printed and painted a whole host of 1/600 craft for Narrow Seas, including Finnish and Italian squadrons, and some additional 1/700 PT boats and Japanese "targets" for my Pacific collection. This lot has comprised somewhere in the region of 60 new craft
  • and probably a whole lot more :)

Monday, 12 August 2019


Whilst I was thinking about storage for my new BSG/Buck Rogers fighters I got thinking about how some more "targets" (aka "vessels in need of escort") wouldn't come amiss. Some hunting around on Thingiverse and a few hours of printing later.....

The model is based on the Senators' Shuttle from Star Wars but has been modified by "Snickett" to act as a typical ship's launch or cutter in the Traveller RPG setting, so it also makes an ideal shuttle for use in my BSG/BR games (and might also work for X Wing). 

If anyone wants to try  the model out you can find it here:  

Thursday, 8 August 2019

INWarD 2019 - Save the Whales

My offering for INWarD 2019 was a run through of my "Whale Wars" game. In this scenario a trio of Japanese whalers has its sights set on a small pod of whales, whilst the ea Shepherd organisation is out to frustrate their efforts. An Australian patrol boat stands by to observe the action.....

The start of the action. Japanese to the bottom of the picture, Sea Shepherd to the top left, RAN centre right, whales in the middle.

The Japanese whalers steaming in formation - whales ahoy!

George and Gracie blissfully unaware of the peril that is about to befall them

Meanwhile the Aussies look on...

 Sea Shepherd dashing to the rescue - The Steve Irwin and Brigitte Bardot head towards the danger zone

As the Japanese close in the Steve Irwin slows and launches inflatables

Boats away!

The inflatables streak ahead of the Steve Irwin as the Brigitte Bardot closes on the Kaiyo Maru 3

Interception to the South as Brigitte Bardot crosses the bows of Kaiyo Maru 3

Collision! Kaiyo Maru 3 hits Britte Bardot. Both ships heave to and a vigorous "debate" on the application of COLREGs ensues 

Meanwhile the first inflatable group swarms the bows of Kaiyo Maru 2

The inflatables swarming Kaiyo Maru 2 attempt to daub slogans on the side of the ship, appealing to the world's media (embarked on the Aussie ship), whilst the whalers retaliate with fire hoses

Kaiyo MAru 2 and Brigitte Bardot continue to bounce off each other and trade insults

chemical bombs thrown from the inflatables distract Kaiyo Maru 2, whilst the Steve Irwin amkes a run at Kaiyo Maru 1 

Steve Irwin and Kaiyo Maru 1 collide. The Sea Shepherd ship is temporarily disabled, the whaler undamaged 

Kaiyo Maru 1 slips past the Steve Irwin and heads towards the whales, a pair of inflatables positioning themselves between the Japanese ship and George 

Meanwhile, Kaiyo Maru 3 gets under way again and heads for Gracie

The Japanese continue to close, the inflatables marking George get into position btween the whale and the ship

Kaiyo Maru 1 fires its harpoon, but the inflatables crossing her bows distract the gunner and his harpoon falls wide of the mark

as the Steve Irwin gets under way again the whales decide it is time to make deep dives. As they disappear from the surface the game ends. A victory for the protesters and the whales.

This was a fun game that lasted a couple of hours and which threw up a few improvements needed to the text of the rules. It also reminded me that I need to knock up some markers to show the various attacks taking place, such as fire hose sprays, stink /chemical bombs, harpoon shots and slogan daubing. Some thoughts on that needed over the next few days.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

Thornbury IPMS 2019

Well dang it, we only went and won "best participation game" at the Thornbury show again. More news later but worth noting that Tim won the award for most damage taken in a single game turn. Well done Tim :)

Thursday, 1 August 2019

INWarD 2019

The start of a new month means that it is only 6 days until INWarD 2019, the International Naval Wargames Day. To be honest I'm nt sure what my INWarD game will be this year, th 6th is a work day so I may try to get one in early at the weekend (that said it is also the IPMS model and wargaming show at Thornbury and I'm there all day doing Wings of Glory - but I guess I could break out the CMBs and we could run an air/naval game). The alternative is something on the 7th as I may be having a well-earned day off (assuming I don't go for a day trip to the Mach Loop.....)

Whatever happens, INWarD should be a fun day for naval wargamers around the world - even if it does start and end a day or two either side!

Frakkin' Toasters!

The ability to splice 3D models together brings some interesting possibilities. So here's an example of a well known sci fi phrase being brought to life :)

Also just completed, a couple of B5 Starfurys, almost my favourite SF fighter (just edged out by the Buck Rogers Thinderfighter and one other that shall be revealed in a few days....)