Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 In Review

And so we come to the end of the year and the now customary review. From a personal perspective 2013 has seen a number of highs and lows. Settling in to the new house, enjoying our first Summer in the country and getting our third pony (little Ianto) has been lovely. I've been away visiting some lovely places around the world including Atlanta and Tromso, and on the work front I got promoted - yay! There have also been some rather unpleasant lows for us but with luck they are now behind us (mostly at least) and are not worth dwelling on more, especially in a wargaming blog :)

Ianto - Mr Cute :)

Gaming wise I'm pleased to say that I've got more games in this year than the last 5 at least combined, having joined the Berkeley Vale club in October 2012. I've played all sorts of games; colonial and western gunfights have been popular but I've also run several Sails of Glory and Wings of War games, and played in Muskets and Tomahawks, various WW2 games, A-47 (first edition of course), Russo Japanese using Square Bashing and lots of others. I also sorted out my X Wing collection and we've run a few good games of that. Looking forward to bringing in the Correllian Corvette into the games next year. 

On the show front the Naval Wargames Show in June was a great success and I will be organising the next event, again to be held at Exploson! on June 21/22 2014. I've also run or take part in a number of Wings of Glory and Sails of Glory demonstration and participation games around the southern UK (including Penarth, Devizes, Reveille and Colours) and ran my "Cod War" parti game at Salute - it was great to see a friend on Shapeways producing bespoke models to accompany the rules. The long awaited release of Sails of Glory is happening as I write, with Kickstarter backers receiving their sets around the US and Europe. I have put a lot of effort into supporting Ares with rule development and advice on the models, and this should continue into 2014 as Wave 2 and the first "special" releases hit the streets. It was a long time coming, but I think the wait was worth it.

Sails of Glory at Berkeley Vale

Now, how did my 2013 plan go? Lets see.....

1)      More games – see above. Although the plans I had to run a  few mini campaigns here in Gloucestershire didn't come off overall I've done well here.

2)      Medieval Naval – all the cogs I had at the beginning of the year were painted successfully. I then bought another 40, of which 10 are now done. With a stock of 100+ I think they can wait now :)

3)      Wings of War – played loads. Bought an airship. Still love it.

Our game at Thornbury IPMS Show - won the "best of parti game show" award :)

4)      X wing – All ships, including the large stock of Micro Machines, sorted out. A few more games of this would be good though.

5)      The Sudan – Apart from games of BFE2 at Slimbridge this part of the plan was a non-starter. The Bashi Basouks have at least been undercoated now. Plans for a colonial campaign at Slimbridge may see this take off though in 2014/15.

General Mitch McMog reviews the troops - alas no manoeuvres have been conducted this year!

6)      WW2 Coastal – Apart from a few uncompleted models painted up I didn't get anywhere with this either. 

So I'd say that was a 66% success rate on the plan. On the plus side though I did bring "War Rocket" into the plan and get my entire collection painted and based in quick time, and I managed to renovate my Babylon 5 collection (rashed after our previous house move 6 years ago) as well as my DBA Vikings on the strength of watching the TV series on Lovefilm (can't wait for season 2!)

So now here I am, planning the last game of 2013 - probably a playtest of the development of my medieval rules - and thinking about the plan for 2014. More of that tomorrow, but I suspect Sails of Glory and the new "Armada Invencible" game from Zvezda (got the first two model releases for that today) will feature in it.

Oh, and one last model to paint up before midnight. Something I've been waiting for for months!

The new Zvezda 1/100 T-35. I raided Antics today for a second one :)

EDIT: just for the record, my last game for 2013 has been a playtest and development of my set of medieval tactical rules. They seem to be coming on nicely :)

Monday, 30 December 2013

Odds and Sods

As usual the end of the year sees me finishing off various painting and modelling projects that stalled during the year. Or even in previous years. This year is no exception and in the last few days I've sorted out:

A number of 1/600 coastal craft
A couple of 1/600 models for my Lake Tanganiyka project
Four Shapeways 1/144 WW1 aircraft
Four 28mm "cowboys"
Ten 1/1200 medieval cogs
A Tau sniper team
Rebuilt 30+ broken Babylon 5 starship models and a handful of Full Thrust models
Finished a babylon 5 "Azimov" clas liner that I started 6 years ago (!)
Two 20mm M3 half tracks
 Repainted my collection of 15mm Vikings and added several stands of Peter Pig characters and captives

And I've just kicked off painting 32 Peter Pig Bashi Basouk cavalry (although I would not be surprised if they are still on the painting table this time next year!)

So, a busy few evenings. And still one more to go before 2013 comes to an end (although it is games night at the Berkeley Vale club tonight so little chance I think).

Tomorrow - the annual review of "The Plan"
Wednesday - The plan for 2014 :)

My posse for the Berkeley Vale western gunfight games :)

These are the new cogs from Ral Partha Europe. Very nice, and I may be getting a few more :)

A couple of Shapeways Morane Saulnier Ps

And a Shapeways Morane Saulnier BB - there should have been two, they only sent one. replacement coming :)

The Tau snipers. A snap buy on Ebay last January for a quid :)

I do rather like the Tau. Very businesslike compared with most 40K stuff :)

Thursday, 26 December 2013

Fort Barrista

Hello readers, and I hope you have all had a very happy Christmas. Santa was kind to me this year, with a new tablet for whiling away the hours with movies and ebooks on my various trips across the globe, a new book by Susan Rose on medieval navies, and a reading light for the lounge so that I can enjoy my library collection during the gloomy winter months whilst swinging in my hammock. Also some nice socks and ties, and large amounts of chocolate (including a stack of Tunnock's caramel bars - yum!)

Anyway, on to the subject of today's post. Inspiration comes in many forms, and it hit me whilst I was drinking a rather grim cup of coffee in the restaurant at NATO. Disaster relief had been high on the agenda at the day's meetings and so my thoughts were in the Caribbean. Being a naval wargamer they then drifted to the collection of 1/450 pirate ships from Peter Pig and I inwardly lamented the lack of terrain pieces to accompany those lovely models, in particular shore batteries and forts. I had already scratch built a couple of open batteries, but what PP really needed to add was a stone fort. As I opined to myself my eye was drawn to the plastic lid of the cardboard coffee cup. And in there I saw my inspiration. The coffee was finished (bloody hub of Europe, representatives from 20+ nations and you can't get a decent sup of coffee), the lid carefully put away in my case and then packed for the trip home and, on Christmas Eve in between bouts of wrapping Fort Barrista was created.

The fort, as you can see, is essentially formed entirely from the coffee cup lid. The imprinted text on the lid was obscured with polyfilla and the drinking hole covered with a wooden construction davit fr lifting guns up to the fort. The whole thing was stick on a sheet of heavy card cut to form a small island, the base sculpted with more polyfilla, decorated with a few small stones from the garden to form rocks, and then sprinkled with sand. More sand was included in the paintwork for the outer walls to give them a slightly rough finish, the original plastic appearing too smooth. The gun deck was finished off with a few spare guns and crews from the Peter Pig "Pieces of Eight" range. The end result was just what i was looking for.

Of course now I'm on the hunt for larger coffee cup lids to see about building a larger fort. But for now my PP pirate ships have a  shore based opponent that will give them a run for their money!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Sails of Glory - Mind That Island!

As some of you may know I have been lucky enough to get hold of a production copy of "Sails of Glory" - as far as I know the first such copy in the UK!  I must say I am impressed at the quality of the finished article. The card components in particular are thick and nicely cut, and the box provides ideal storage for the game and components once its all opened up and punched out. I also received the five damage chit bags that were available through the Kickstarter - again very nice. Of course, having put the counters in the bags the volume of the ensemble is too great to fit in the box but I'm using a second box for other bits and pieces, a laser printed copy of the rulebook, mats etc. so tats no great shakes.

Anyway, I took the game along to the Berkeley Vale club this week. A couple of the guys there have played before using the pre-production set. This time I had six players plus me umpiring. Two frigates, one SoL each side. The Brits took a quick look at the stats and realised they were on a sticky wicket (those cunning Euros have used nice weak British frigates and SOLs as their first releases, and they generally don't stand up too well to the bad guys), and so they started calling for carronades and higher rates of fire (knowing that I have devised house rules for these aspects). However, the evil umpire insisted on "rules as written". 

We played on a 6' by 8' table, just a few small islands and rocks - four small pieces. Of course these acted as ship magnets. The RN moved to secure the weather gauge, the French firstly thought it would be good to ran their SOL with one of their frigates, park said frigate alongside the British SOL and then run their second frigate argound. Brits at this point realised that lower ship stats can be mitigated by fighting enemies who (a) can't drive and (b) ignored the briefing at the start of the game, which included "keep away from islands", "keep frigates away from enemy SOLs" and "don't hit each other.

In the end the poor French SOL commander decided discretion was the better part of valour and headed for the hills once his mobile frigate struck and his second supporting ship was stuck on the putty.

Interestingly, whilst we were using the full gunnery rules, no-one wanted to use any ammo other than roundshot.

Anyway, another four players who hadn't tried the game were sucked in and we are now planning an episodic campaign, hopefully running irregularly through 2014.