Monday, 10 February 2020

Conn....Sonar

Some time ago I joined the Conn...Sonar FB group and downloaded the rules. For those that don't know, CS is a fun set of submarine vs submarine wargame rules (there are later additions that bring in ships and aircraft, but at its heart it is sub vs sub). I have a load of 1/700 models - and I keep finding odd ones that I never finished; a 688 was unearthed in my spares box yesterday. However, 1/700 models look way too big on the table. They would be ideal for a demo or parti game at a show but unless the "ground" scale was stretched in a regular game the models would look quite cramped.

Fortunately, Thingiverse and the Photon have come to the rescue. After a few searches, some downloading and a series of mostly successful prints I have a small collection of 1/2400 models. Some more hunting got me a few more designs which I printed out yesterday, so now I just need to sort out sets of control cards for the boats and I should be ready to go :)







Saturday, 18 January 2020

Incredible Voyages

So I have this plan for the year, and every now and then it gets derailed a bit as an idea pops into my head and takes over.

This has just happened.

Just after New Year I was tidying away some of my "Stingray" models whilst also trawling Thingiverse for some bits and pieces for my AK47 collection. I stumbled across a rather nice model of the submarine "Hunley"; that combined with the "Stingray" stuff nearby got me thinking about a Victorian sci fi submarine game. That then reminded me that I had some of the old Takara "Ships of the World" series models of the "Resurgam 2" .After some more hunting I had another clutch of 3D models which I started splicing, then printing, then painting, and then the rules amendments to "Stingray" and before you (or I) knew it "Incredible Voyages" was on the table.

The setting assumes a clandestine underwater "cold war going hot" involving scientists and engineers of the Great Powers between whom there is growing conflict for supremacy beneath the waves, but with a shadowy anarchist movement backed by hidden financiers, and evil scientists with their own agendas.

American "Hunley 2" Class boats

Anarchist rams and a gunboat, based on stolen "Hunley" drawings

A trio of Italian "Delfino" class submarines

The French "Requin" class 

The Royal Navy's "Resurgam 2" class

Marines for sea bed operations

The graphics design team hard at work!

Weapons such as torpedoes (wire guided, based on the Ley torpedo of the 1880s) and straight running steam-powered missiles, as well as compressed gas guns and chemical weapons such as corrosive inks and electrical discharge weapons (both developed by the evil scientific committee from generic experiments on undersea fauna - some of which has escaped into the environment) figure prominently but not too seriously. This is VSF after all!

Saturday, 4 January 2020

The Plan, 2020

Like some others my wargaming mojo is a bit off at the moment. This is for a number of "real life" reasons, so "the plan" may seem rather understated this year. And as always it is "more a set of guidelines" so I'll probably end up doing a load of completely different things anyway :)

So, here goes:

1) 10mm Vietnam - I have a load of new Pendraken figures to replace the older types I've had for a couple of decades. So #1 on the plan is to sort out the new figures, fix the various bits of broken terrain that I have and then make sure my rules are fit to use.

2) 15mm Winter Skirmish and 20mm Burma Skirmish. Yes, I WILL get these sorted and ready to play. Rules need to be cdecided upon (fast and fun, not too serious), I may just end up writing my own for quick games at Berkeley Vale. That or heavily modify Bolt Action.

3) Sci Fi Submarines - The rulesI've used for my "Stingray" games are pretty stable now. I'm going to work on them to create a set of generic sci fi submarine rules (into which Stingray will fit), but I'm also going to look at a Victorian "subpunk" version, having found some interesting models to work with. Something different I guess. Both versions will have their own bespoke backgrounds (who knew, for instance that the British Empire, the French and the United States fought a clandestine war beneath the waves whilst also fighting off mysterious anarchists??)

4) WW2 coastal forces - I have a horde of new boats painted up as a result of getting this blasted 3D printer, so a major task will be to get them properly based. Then more games, especially some Pacific theatre ones. This will hopefully get me in a position to finalise my "Narrow Seas" campaign system as well.


In addition I have a few rule-writing projects. I no particular order I will be finalising my Napoleonic fleet action rules, resurrecting my Napoleonic frigate action set, and looking to update my ancient and Renaissance fleet action rules. Oh, and I may be doing something with the original "Fox Two" air rules.

Finally - I heard today that "Project X" is a go, as work to create the masters for the models was authorised today. Watch this space!

Oh, and things that may divert my attention - 1/300 "war on the moon" project, 15mm AK47 and Vietnam, medieval DBA (actually I do have those "camp follower" sets to do, they look fun), X Wing.....

Friday, 3 January 2020

Galactica Shuttle and StealthStar

A quick post to showcase the fist model of 2020 - the shuttle from Battlestar Galactica. Readers may remember that I got hold of a copy of the game from Ares via a friend at the Essen show in 2018 (I guess mien was one of the fist production sets in the UK :) ) Since then I've been expanding my selection of available ships with 3D prints from Thingiverse, as well as the official releases.

My first completed model for 2020 is the shuttle from the original series of BSG. Like a Volvo its boxy but its good. In this case the print was a pig, at least the aft hull was, due I think to some thin sections that screwed up the overall print. But since it took 9 hours to do I didn't fancy rerunning it - instead some filler was applied to seal the holes. This means the middle part of the model looks a little rough - or "hard worked and battle damaged, as I like to think. Either way, I was very pleased with the result.



At the end of 2019 I also finished a print of the StealthStar, a covert ops Viper from the new series. Again, quite pleased with the result. Both of these will give me some additional gaming options before Ares get around to more official releases.





Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Brean Down Fort

Pretty much every New Year's Day for the last couple of decades we've gone to Brean Down near Weston-Super-Mare to blow away the cobwebs of the night before. This year it was just me, but no matter as I arrived at half nine to find the headland enveloped in low cloud and mist. It was a very relaxing walk (even if the stairs at the start kill me every time), and also dead quiet as there was a couple walking a few hundred yards ahead and - nobody else. The local wildlife was enjoying the quiet as well, I saw all manner of small birds and a few pheasants at close quarters, and the herd of mountain goats that live on the Down - although they legged it down a cliff face when they saw me, returning to keep an eye on me from a distance. By the time I got to the fort the mist had lifted  a little, but it was still impossible to see Weston, Steepholm (or indeed back to the seafront at Brean).

I managed a half hour chilling out there in the quiet, with only the sound of the waves breaking on the rocks. Bliss :)
















 Then a quicker walk back along the lower road and back down the stairs to the National Trust cafe for chips and hot chocolate - but whats this? No hot chocolate???!!! And only a bowl of cooked-some-time-ago chips that looked distinctly old and cold. I made  a quick departure and went to the nearby cafe at the bird gardens - there to find not only a lovely hot (and large) mug of hot choccie but also ham, egg and chips. A good way to end this part of the day.






On completion, hole to sort out a few models and to think about what is going to be in the plan for this year.....

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

The 2019 Plan - How did we do?

In the dying hours of 2019 I'm going through the ritual humiliation of assessing progress against "the plan". Lets see how we did this year......

Not part of the plan, but the two 3D printed Vipers (left and right) were some of the most pleasing models I made this year




1.  Burma Skirmish and Eastern Front 15mm - I will finish off the USMC 20mm force, sort out a set of rules and then get some games in. as a stretch I'll sort out the extra Australian, Gurkha and Japanese troops I have uncovered

Nope, didn't happen (apart from sorting out a few USMC vehicles and picking up a new LVT(A)4 at Reveille. Oh, and a few new 15mm winter vehicles. 

2. I will format and finish my WW2 squadron level naval rules and my WW2 coastal set, and at least get a working draft of my age-of-sail set completed.

100% complete! The WW2 rules were published as "Find, Fix and Strike", and the coastal rules as "Narrow Seas". I'm rather pleased with the way they both turned out, FF&S in particular proving to be pretty handy for use in one day or weekend campaigns.

3. "Action Stations" and "Iron and Fire" - I will complete a set of ship cards for both so that I can set up games from scratch more quickly.

Failed - mainly because I was knocking up loads of new craft for Action Stations - which all need basing over the next few months.

4. Stingray - as the NWS game for Salute this year I will renovate the game, add some new things I have been thinking about and generally get everything sorted for an excellent showing at ExCel.

Success! A few new models made (including the WASP "black ops" Stingray, a giant mermaid and an experimental Terror Fish for the forces of Titanica). The game at Salute went very well and received many admiring looks and comments. Great fun as usual.

So not a brilliant performance against the plan as written, but then I did get loads of other stuff done, so not a wasted year. Now it only remains to work up the plan for 2020. Watch this space!

Sunday, 29 December 2019

2019 in Review

In the closing days of the year its time to reflect upon the last 12 months of gaming and modelling. I'll review against "the plan" on the 31st, instead this os more of a general look a how the year has been

Games

I set off with high hopes of getting in more games this year. For various reasons, family issues and other things, that didn't really happen. I didn't get down to the Berkeley Vale club anywhere near as often as I'd hoped, although when I did it was always for a cracking game with some very dear friends. We managed to get the Sudan campaign up and running, Mark developed and ran his excellent Chariots variant of "Wings of War", and my "Far Distant Ships" Napoleonic fleet action rules had a decent run out in a refight of Kamperduin. And in the dying days of the year I've been back to "Liberdy", the BV western gunfight town. Always good for a laugh, and the last time made all the more enjoyable because of the Steve/Rodger "dynamite" incident (Steve's reaction was priceless). I can hear the cries of "move on" now.....

"Steve Irwin" and attendant RIBs deploy against Japanese whaling ships in my INaWaD game for this year

I've run a very few games at home (apart from playtesting), Denmark Strait on the anniversary, some 1940s Mediterranean games, Sunda Strait and "Save the Whales" as my game for INaWaD 2019 being the most enjoyable. I had intended August to be the month of games (following a month or modelling) but it never really happened. Note to self - more home games please!

I had a few rather good trips out to gaming events and shows. April saw my "Stingray" game at Salute, and then again at Colours in September. Fun days both, although Salute was extremely tiring. Stuart and I did have a  fun chat with a fish and chip shop owner and his mum about the game's source material the night before in Canning Town - top chips as well! I was back at Thornbury for the IPMS show with the Wings of Glory Aerodrome - won "best participation game" again. I'm thinking "Cod War" for 2020. And I had a lovely weekend in Doncaster for the Wings/Sails of Glory annual get together at the air museum. This is always a very happy weekend, meeting friends from across Europe, and this year I actually did quite well (I came top in the naval side of the event and third overall in the rankings). lat but not least, the Naval Wargames Weekend at Yeovilton. Again, a very enjoyable couple of days at the air museum with "Stingray" on day 1, and day 2 spent as a player rather than an umpire for a change, driving ironclads around the Adriatic before raiding the medieval East Coast with a bunch of Viking raiders.

Rules

So I finally managed to get "Narrow Seas" published - over a decade in the making but they have done well and developed a decent fan base. I have plans for these for next year, details later. "Find, Fix and Strike" also hit the streets in the Summer, again they have done well and I've had fun with them playing through a number of WW2 Mediterranean actions.

I've had fun working with soem other people's rules - Black Seas in particular where I got involved in the final stages of development. I'd like to think he changes I proposed (many of which were adopted) have made the game a better representation of AoS warfare than it was, and my suggestions to Warlord on scales and selection of parts for the plastic kits landed very well.

Also on the Warlord front - "Cruel Seas" arrived at the end of last year (and incidentally prompted the delay in gatting "Narrow Seas" out), a set of rules with a few "issues", I had fun developing some variants which seem to have gone down well. The arrival of CS did, however, prompt a number of 3D modellers to generate some lovely models which I have printed and adapted - more on this later.

Waiting in the wings is "Project X" - all done now bar the formatting. Just need the models sorted....

Modelling

This year's "big thing" was my 3D printer. I went for an Anycubic Photon resin printer. It can be a bit tricky to set up, the post printing work gets a bit messy with isopropyl alcohol baths for the models but the results are gorgeous. I've printed out all sorts of things from spacecraft to tanks to skirmish figures to buildings to ships, and I've lost count how many.

Cylon raiders - one of my favourite types of sci fi space fighter. 
These three popped of the printer over the summer

Another iconic trio of spacecraft, again courtesy of the Photon

As an example, I printed out a 1/300 sci fi army of 50+ vehicles plus a moon base in a weekend, a few flotillas of Italian MS, MAS, trawlers and minesweepers in 1/600, Finnish, Romanian and Bulgarian 1/600 fleets, bits and pieces for Gaslands, a load of space fighters for Battlestar Galactica and X Wing, Klingon, Federation and Cardassian ships for "Full Thrust / Engage" (not to mention a swarm of Jem Hadar ships which I really must finish), some lovely 15mm technicals and loads of terrain pieces. I am VERY happy with the results, one of the best purchases I've made in wargaming.

On the more traditional front my 15mm Winter Skirmish collection has grown slightly with some new SdKfz 251s (Zvezda sneaked out a Nvelwerfer model that builds up nicely , and I grabbed a "Mobelwagen" at Reveille). But plans for a revamp of my 1/200 Vietnam figure collection stalled, as did my plans for some medieval "camp follower"/DBA camp vignettes - figures bought, but not painted and assembled yet (maybe these are early candidates for 2020, after the current batch of 3D prints are finished?)

So, in summary. A very good gatting for modelling and working on rules, not so great on games, but a fun and very enjoyable year of wargaming nonetheless.