Monday 31 December 2012

2012 In Review

As 2012 comes to a close its that time again – to take a look at the plan and see how we did. I suspect it is not good reading, but here goes….

1) Coastal Forces, 1/1200 - a project from last year that didn't get off the ground. The plan is to sort out my unpainted model collection and get my fast play rules into a fit state for games.

How did I do? – Nothing on this whatsoever!

2) 15mm ECW - Just a few units to finish off, mainly the Scots cavalry and generals that I missed last year. Then to sort out the various files I have on my computer covering the DBA extension rules and army lists.

How did I do? – Complete (yay!)

3) Medieval Naval - finish off the last 30 cogs, and sort out the fina details for the rules and campaign system

How did I do? – Nothing here either. In fact the cogs are sitting in a box looking at me right now.

4) AK47 - I have way too much AK47 stuff, so I will sort out what I've got, recycle excess stuff through the Reveille tabletop sale and spruce up whats left. The individually mounted figures I have I'll finish and use for purely skirmish games.

How did I do? – I managed to offload the excess stuff at Reveille and via ebay, but the individual figures are still waiting to be done. I did get some odd vehicles and terrain pieces done though.

5) Napoleonic naval - another big "lead pile" here. I will try to paint and rig at least one ship per month.

How did I do? – Nothing here either L

6) 15mm SCW - finish off the last few units (the ersatz Finnish tank squadron and the casualty figures) and then set about finishing off Laura's fast play rules

How did I do? – Got this pretty much sorted out. In fact I also built an extra “army”, of which more in the next day or two (they are currently drying)

7) The Sudan - I really want to get back into this in 2012. I'm awaitinga  few units from Nigel, my expert painting friend and I have a couple of units of Bashi Basouks and some civilians to paint up, then all is complete on the modelling front. I think I ought to make another river steamer as well. Then to finalise the rules and get some games in!

How did I do? – Still waiting for Nigel to finish those odd figures. I got the civvies done, but not the mounted Bashi Basouks.

8) Wings of War - This is a firm favourite and I'll be getting in as many games as I can, and building up my air fleets.

How did I do? – Lots of games, quite a few new models. Shapeways and I are firm friends. It’s a pity Ares can’t sort out their production release schedules though!

9) War Rocket - I have one squadron of ships already, and a second one (plus the rules) waiting for me in the US. Apart from these I'll probably look to scratch build a few ships as well.

How did I do? – Well I collected the new models and the rules from the US, but that was about it.

I also have two "special projects" which are ongoing but which I can't say more about just now. Details (hopefully) later).

How did these go? – Neither got off the ground. One was down to me, one was down to someone else. Hopefully at least one will take off this year.

The major reason things didn’t go as planned was all to do with moving house. I am how the proud owner of a house in the country, two ponies, a loan horse, a horse trailer and a big 4x4. 

But the whole house move thing was quite disruptive and knocked out several months of my life. And then, in recent months I’ve got seduced by X-Wing, which has been a  big success story as far as modelling and painting goes.

Moving house has also brought me to within a couple of miles of the Berkeley Vale Wargames Club, a very friendly bunch of chaps who are prepared to try almost anything. I’ve got high hopes for getting lots of gaming in during 2013!

We also had kittens - lots of foster kittens and five of our own, one of whom (Scotty - I'm sure he can change the laws of physics) now lives with us after Muffy (our 20 year old mog) passed on.

So that’s the review of 2012 – look out for the plan for 2013 in the next few days.

Oh, and a very Happy New Year to everyone reading this, and thanks for your comments and support. J

Saturday 29 December 2012

Mussolini's Navy

Mussolini’s Navy – A Reference Guide to the Regia Marina 1930-1945
Author: Maurizio Brescia
Published by Seaforth
ISBN  978-1-84832-115-1

Like many naval wargamers I have always had a fascination with the Italian Navy of WW2. My interest was spawned by my brother’s 1/1200 scale plastic kit of the Vittorio Veneto (a model I still have today, over 30 years on). So I was interested to hear that Seaforth were releasing a reference guide to the Italian Navy of WW2. As far as I am aware there is no other book , certainly available in English, of its type available anywhere. I have to tell you that this is a most excellent book and possibly the only technical reference that those with less than a very deep interest will ever need. In 240 pages Sig. Brescia covers every ship in the Regia Marina from battleship down to rescue tugs, submarines to “Maiale”, including prize ships and others. The book begins with a brief history of the RM from 1861 to the outbreak of WW2, then goes on to describe in detail the various naval bases and key facilities, fleet organisation and operations around the Mediterranean but also the Black Sea, Red Sea and Atlantic, detailed technical descriptions of all naval craft, naval aviation, both ship and shore based, warship camouflage schemes, flags, uniforms and a “who’s who” of key Italian naval personnel of the period.

The book is profusely illustrated with diagrams and excellently reproduced photographs. A real boon is the inclusion of a colour section, 16 extra pages showing camouflage schemes, some lovely period colour photographs, flags and insignia details.

This is not an operational history of the Italian Navy, but is an essential supporting reference that details how and why the RM was organised, assembled and equipped as it was. I have found it to be an invaluable work in some of my current projects and would not hesitate in recommending it to all with an interest in the naval war in the Mediterranean in WW2. 

Friday 28 December 2012


Like so many things the following is (in part) Steve Blease's fault. You see, he shared a picture on Facebook of a Libyan "technical" where some brave souls had stuck the turret from a BMP on a 4x4 (along with a park bench, or so it seemed - and I was also intrigued by the choice of football strip a modern day Arab revolutionary would wear, as well as the use of a machine gun as a pogo stick!)

anyway, Steve's throwaway comment was "one for the scratch builders" so I immediately had a go. I didn't have a BMP turret to hand but the following was knocked up in pretty short order...

Still some work to do, but a passable starting point for my AK-47 armies. But that got me thinking. We have recently bought a Toyota Hilux Twincab as a "tractor" for the girls' horse trailer and I was joking that we could put a replica HMG in the flat bed, dress up in random footie gear with sunglasses and arab headgear and go to wargames shows and re-enactment events as the Libyan Resistance Re-enactment Society. of course my brilliant idea was poo-poo'd, but I was still left thinking what out truck would look like as a "technical". So I whipped out a spare Peter Pig model, fashioned the extended cab out of Miliput, added the running boards and stuck a 107mm RCL in the back. And here's the result:

Again, not quite finished yet, and Liz wants me to add a horse trailer (presumably carrying ammo - and now that I recall there was an old matchbox horse trailer model that might fit the bill), but good enough and hopefully making an appearance at Berkeley vale soon.

btw, if anyone knows where I can get a cheap replica or decommissioned HMG.... :)

Wednesday 19 December 2012

There's Too Many Of Them!

having discovered how close the old Micro Machines Star Wars models were in size to the official FFG Star Wars models I decided to base them up, and also work on some large ship bases as well. In the meantime two F Toys Lambda shuttles arrived as well, so I now have two rather large fleets of ships (and I have just heard that one of my friends in the Berkeley Vale club is also splurging on models).

All of the fighters are mounted on GW flight stands or similar, themselves glued to 40mm square card bases to match the FFG bases. Large ships (the transport and the Falcon) are on 80mm square bases, whilst the corvette is big and mean enough to cope without (plus the scenario rules I've downloaded effectively treat the ship as "terrain" with the fighters moving around it).

The Falcon and transport bases made use of some "Magnetix" toy pieces - the ships have large ball bearings glued through the lower hulls whilst the bases are the magnetix stalks glued to the cardboard sheet. In the case of the Falcon this gives it a gimballed mount so the ship can be displayed at a variety of angles (an unintended consequence, but most pleasing).

Anyway, here;s the fleet assembled. Now I just need t make stat and manoeuvre cards for them all (plus work up stats for some of the non-standard ships!)

Monday 17 December 2012

Through the Barricades

Colds, work and family stuff have kept me away from doing much painting and gaming recently, but one thing I have managed to finish is a pile of barricades from Peter Pig. I've been after some decent urban barricades for my SCW collection for some time and so martin's recent release was just the ticket. I was given a couple of sets of these and the log barricades by a friend at Warfare a few weeks back and I've just finished them off.

Now they may be bit "mundane" compared with figures, tanks, ships and suchlike but they are a very necessary piece of terrain and, in true PP style, they have come out very nicely. I painted them overall dark earth, picked out various boxes, barrels, logs  bags and furniture in a variety of colours including a pink mattress), black washed, dry brushed and varnished. The result is, I think, quite pleasing.

Now all I need is an opportunity to give them a run out.

Saturday 8 December 2012


A few weeks back I helped run a Wings of Glory participation game at Warfare. one of our group had a model of a British coastal airship which we intended using in the game.Alas Don was taken ill and had to leave before we could do so. But I thought it would be handy to have one of my own. So I contacted the maker, "Clipper1801" (aka "Arizona Dave") from the Wings of Glory Aerodrome. Clipper had one ready to go in an instant, at  avery reasonable price and today a parcel arrived at the residence. Inside I found not only my lovely new airship, but also a brand spanking new scratch-build Dornier RS.III seaplane!

I snapped a picture of the new arrivals here with a couple of 1/1200 models from Rod Langton; a German coastal U Boat and an RN 80' Motor Launch. All of these should, with luck, be appearing at our Wngs of Glory participation game at Penarth next month.

SSZ 65 arrives in Gloucestershire after her transatlantic flight

Also arriving today, a couple of new arrivals for X Wing. But more of this later......

Saturday 1 December 2012

X Wing

 If you saw my post from Warfare a couple of weeks back you'll know that I came back with a copy of the new X Wing miniatures game. Now I've always loved Star Wars (at least the "original" three movies) and I've had a collection of Micro Machines and other SW models stashed away with various plans for them that never came to fruition. Anyway, I liked what I read in the game and splurged on a  few more starter sets and some extra fighters (a TIE Advanced and a couple of Y Wings) - for the standard ship types - X Wings and TIES - it is FAR cheaper to buy them in the boxed sets as the models are retailing for about £11 each, plus of course you get extra sets of dice (which cost around a fiver for a set, and you really need at least 2 sets) manoeuvre templates, markers, etc.

Official minis with my a small part of my existing SW collection

So, this Wednesday the local Wings of War group met at my place, our regular meeting place at the Mall in Cribbs causeway being closed. And a few of the guys decided they'd like to give the new game a spin (its been slagged off by some WoW/WoG fans as being a "clone" of the WW1 and WW2 aerial game). So the biplanes stayed under the table this time, the starfighters came out and the room was suddenly full of Star Wars quotes, made all the more humorous when Laura burst in to moan about something and we realised she shared more than a few characteristics with Chewbacca (don't tell her!). We didn't think too much about the scenario as it was a training mission, and we didn't use the optional extras, so my poor Y Wing was rather undergunned and only narrowly survived the game as Chris' X Wing charged about fending off the attacking TIEs.

The verdict? - Excellent! Everyone wanted to play again and Chris is looking to pick up a few sets himself. On the "clone" issue, and as seasoned WoW/WoG players, we came down on the side of "not". Yes, there are similarities in packaging and basing, but then again there didn't appear to be any sensible alternatives. The game system itself is different and far better suited to the setting than I think a game based on WoW would be (I know there are some variants out there and they are good ones, but I think this works better). Movement actually feels a bit smoother than WoW, certainly easier to adjudicate and without some of those physics defying manoeuvres that WoW is famous for (although physics is hardly a pre-requisite for a good SF game). The combat system is great. At first reading it sounds like a handful with all sorts of modifiers to numbers of dice thrown, modifying results for this and that, but its really very effective and extremely quick to pick up. Good use of game-specific dice (they seem to be all the rage these days) and nice variation in the fighter stats depending in the pilot, a feature that WoW misses unless you get some of the optional extra ace skill cards. Oh, and the models are lovely. I hope they keep the standard up in later releases and don't end up with more "toy"ish models as the later WoW models tended towards. The only thing we felt it missed was a "tailing" rule. Aww well, something to think about for a house rule :)

Anyway, it was a big hit. We agreed that games need to be mission based (as WoW games) to give them focus, and what was needed were ships to escort or intercept, targets to recce, mines to clear etc. and as luck would have it I uncovered my old box of Micro Machines yesterday so we now have TIE bombers and interceptors, A and B Wings, Lambda Shuttles, the Millennium Falcon and Slave 1 (the official minis are delayed until February), and a rebel transport and Correllian Corvette (the latter is about a foot long and will be familiar to players of James Clay's Star Wars game from a decade or so back)

Micro Machines vs. Official. The quality of the latter shines through. But for games with younger or less dextrous players the bendy MM machines might be a better bet. Size wise - pretty good.

"The first transport is away!" Obvious scale issues here, but it'll do for now. Also the B Wing could be bigger, and I'm guessing the official model will be quite a beast!

Sunday 25 November 2012

Reveille 2012

One of my favourite wargames show is Reveille II, held at the Lincombe Barn centre in Downend, Bristol. Its not a big show but its my local show where I enjoy the "social" side of gaming rather than the shopping experience which was last week). I've just returned early from this year's show to help out the "gels" as they get their ponies ready for an event at Tumpy Green. This year's show was, as always, a lovely little affair. I took a few pictures, but a flat battery meant I only got shots of two games.

First off was the Escape Committee from Burnham on Sea who inveigled me into playing their USMC beach assault game. There being a ship involved I was duly given command and, having endured some accurate fire from a Japanese coastal battery my first return shot detonated his magazine and blew the battery to pieces. Not bad for a first fire, but as the Amtracs closed on the beach and disgorged their troops into the maw of the enemy I found targets drying up (there being no enthusiasm for a "danger close" fire mission!). I did however survive at attack froma  lone "Kate" torpedo bomber which narrowly missed my ship (as I narowly missed him wth my AAA). Still, a lovely game with some beautifully painted models.

The second game I snapped was the battle of Camden from the American War of Independence. This game was staged by my old friends in the Abbey Wood Irregulars (a group of whom I am technically a member but rather more irregular than most as they now play in Frome and I've moved another 30 minutes further away. But as always a lovely game and, as I left the British under Stephen "Cornwallis" Welford were giving the damned traitors a thorough going over :)

Apart from these two, Adrian Hussey's battle of Craonne was great to look at, the Lincombe Barn team were putting on their usual "Alien Squad Leader" game which went down very well, and also going down very well were some Danish floating batteries in a Napoleonic naval game run by D.O.G.S. of War - the game used the "Trafalgar" rules, heavily modified (as indeed they need to be :D )

Apart from that a good chance to chat with old friends, I missed a chance to chat with John Curry (sorry John), engaged in a debate as to whether X Wing was a rip off of Wings of War (verdict - "no") and I had a very nice and reasonably priced cup of tea. So, an excellent morning out, and I managed to get away with out spending too much - just some grass huts for my Sudan collection; six for two quid from The Square, which you can't complain about.

Monday 19 November 2012

Warfare - the Aftermath

I had  a lovely time at Warfare this weekend. the Wings of Glory game went very well, I think. we ended up with three tables. one playing WW2, one playing WW1 and one information table displaying models, boxed sets and other game material. All three tables were busy throughout the day, and we hooked several potential new players, all of whom were directed towards the Caliver and Stafford Games stands where Wow goodies could be had, and also to the KR Multicase stand (as we were showcasing some of their products too).

Gameswise on the WW1 we started with a few actions set in the skies over the Adriatic, with Italian, Austrian and British sea planes in action. Some close fought battles, and some distinctive aircraft (plus an airship!). After lunch we moved to the Western Front and brought out the DH2s and Halberstadts from the Ares Series 5 releases. Again, some excellent actions, converts made to the cause and many aerial (and more general) wargaming conversations had. And we had the "joy" of being next to the carpet "tripping hazard" on the way in to the second hall, where punters regularly took a tumble either over the massive ridge in the carpet, or the yellow warning sign. To be honest we were amazed that no-one hurt themselves. Lucky for all concerned!

Of course one does not simply walk into Warfare just to play games and chat. There is some serious shopping to be done! Purchases fell into two camps; for my 15mm 1930s "imagi-nation" civil war setting in bought the long awaited components of the British Intervention Field Force (BIFF), the UK's 1930s rapid reaction force aiming to bring peace and stability to a troubled region. Peter Pig infantry and field guns with PP, Zvezda and QRF transport. I'd hoped to get some Zvezda Matilda IIs but without exception these has all been sold on the Saturday (grrr!). BIFF's armoured support is therefore supplied by two A9 cruiser tanks from Skytrex (A9s look suitably whacky, IMHO).

The other big purchase was X Wing. yes, I took the plunge. More on this when I've had a chance to try the rules. But it loks like a lot of fun. Oooh yes!! 

Oh yes, almost forgot. Returned home to find the girls have got a third horse!!

Friday 16 November 2012


After a week that could be described as rather less successful than Napoleon's 1812 holiday to Moscow I will be enjoying a well-earned (IMHO) trip to Reading for Warfare, where I will be helping out with the "Wings of Glory" participation game run by Chris Haigh (aka "Boney10" on the Wings of Glory Aerodrome).  I'll be taking along my Adriatic seaplanes and CMBs, and Snoopy is likely to make an appearance too. If you are at the show drop by and say  "hi" and have a game :)

Contrary to popular belief I will NOT be doing any shopping, and in particular will NOT be purchasing lots of Peter Pig and Zvezda goodness to get my "British Intervention Field Force" (aka BIFF) established for my alt-1930s games. Honest.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Coming Back On Line (Slowly)

Mid September saw us move house from Bristol out into the country as we took up residence in deepest Gloucestershire. Where we now have a vineyard, two ponies and a horse box!

What we also have is the Berkeley Vale Wargames Club just a few miles away, and a lovely bunch of chaps they are too. They (or rather "we", as I've been warmly welcomed into the club) meets at the Tudor Arms pub in Slimbridge on Monday mights. So far I've enjoyed several colonial games (two Zulu, one Sudan) and an introduction to the excellent "Future War Commander" (which has scotched the plans I had to ditch my 6mm SF stuff). Anyway, as and when I unpack my own models from storage I'll be putting on some games of my own. I wonder where to start?.....

A bit of bad news on the Wings of War front. Our group playing at the Mall on Wednesdays has lost its home with the closure of Giardino's cafe. In the interim we christened the new wargames room here at home with a WoW night. the new room isn't as big as the old one, bit is wider and makes the table far easier to work around (we can even fit chairs). Here's the assembled team enjoying some early 1916 action over the Western Front

So, off to a slow but happy start at the new HQ. needless to say all the plans I established at the start of the year are in tatters, but that's the fun of wargaming, eh?

Thursday 9 August 2012


Not much to report on the wargaming front here just now, as an impending house move (which seems to be taking a bloody age to get sorted) has all my projects on a go-slow. That and the Olympics, which i swore not to watch but seem to be glued to every evening.

Laura and I did take part in running a Wings of War participation game at "Attack" at Devizes last month, which seemed to be extremely popular, and our WoW campaign at the Mall is continuing, but apart from that and some minor painting thats about it.

Oh, and "Project X" is progressing very slowly too.

In better news though, the 2013 Naval Wargames Weekend has been confirmed for 22/23rd June at Explosion! so I have some time to sort out a game or two for the show :)

Tuesday 10 July 2012

The Naval Wargames Weekend, June 2/3rd 2012

June saw the second Naval Wargames Weekend at the “Explosion” Museum of Naval Firepower in Gosport. My plans for the event were dashed by both Liz and I suffering various debilitating injuries in the week before, meaning I couldn't walk, Liz couldn't drive or do anything requiring two hands, and so I had to stay home to look after the children. Thanks then to Mark Backhouse for providing some feedback on the event.

The show was, as last year, a small affair but featured some excellent games.

Simon Stokes ran his “Blackbeard’s Last Stand” game as featured at Salute. The Solent Wargames Group, ably led by Mark Backhouse presented a beautiful 28mm Sudan skirmish game featuring the Naval Brigade and some lovely gunboat models.  The Solent team also put on a lovely game set in the Falklands during 1914, played out in 1/1200 with some excellent models, and to cap it off a 1/600 ACW naval game using the popular “Hammerin’ Iron” rules from Peter Pig.

Mark Barker’s “Inshore Squadron” chose the bicentenary of the outbreak of the War of 1812 to stage a refight of the battle of Sandy Hook – War of 1812, whilst Jim Wallman brought along his ever popular WW2 Damage Control participation game set on board HMS Belfast.

Meanwhile, the Bognor Regis Wargames club brought a 28mm “Very British Civil War” game (which they also ran at Salute), proving that this genre has a maritime as well as a land based component – and that NWS members have a pretty good representation at the UK’s premier wargames event

Mark’s game featured the intrepid Lt. Nelson and the Red Sea Rifles on a daring mission out of Suakin in 1884 to recapture some lost Egyptian rifles being used to arm the local Fuzzy Wuzzy tribes. Mark  played it three times with the Naval brigade coming out on tops twice and losing once. The second pic shows the sad demise of the third game when Lt. Nelson and his men met a rather sorry end!

Mark Backhouse and Jim Wallman took a load of photos which they have made available to me to put on the blog, and a selection of them can be seen below.

The show, whilst small, was deemed a success by those attending and there is a definite will to run it again next year (as long as we can maintain the links with the museum). There were some thoughts to increasing the scope of the event to include traders, but I don’t think the size of the event justifies this at all – although there have been some thoughts as to a “bring and buy” which we can explore for next year. Whilst the event doesn’t have a formal “mission statement” the aim is, I feel, to provide an annual forum in which naval gamers can get together for a few games and a chat to swap “fish stories”, thoughts, tips and ideas and perhaps the odd model or two.

Timing was, to be honest, “not optimal” since the event clashed with the Jubilee weekend (I knew there was something significant about that date when we agreed it with the museum!) which kept many people away, so an event in 2013 will be better timed! The location, in the museum’s conference area, was much better than last year’s event in the grand magazine which, whilst very atmospheric, was very dark.

So watch out for the next event in 2013 – dates posted as soon as they are decided.

Classic headgear for the 1890s wargamer

Mahdists cause trouble for the trusty boys of the Naval Brigade

Hope the Nordenfelt doesn't jam (again!)

Blackbeard’s Adventure awaits the government onslaught

Action in the Falklands 

Jim Wallman's popular Damage Control game

Jane and Ranger close on Blackbeard for his final battle

 British steamer and barge from Bognor’s VBCW game

A Very British Civil War, and some Very Lovely Models

Bob Kirk and compatriots contemplate the Sudan heat!

Jim Wallman explains the intricacies of WW2 damage control

Simon’s “Blackbeard” game

HMS Aeolus plies the sea off Sandy Hook

The Naval Brigade and Mahdists mixing it!

Saturday 7 July 2012

German Naval Camouflage - Volume 1

Something rather lovely popped through the letter box this week - a copy of "German Naval Camouflage" by John Asmussen and Eric Leon.

This is an excellent publication, written by the creator of the famous website and beautifully illustrated by Eric Leon. Over 190 pages covering every major German surface warship from the light cruisers upwards, including (as far as possible every variation in colour scheme and tactical markings, a selection of destroyer schemes and even a few pages on embarked seaplanes. The many colour illustrations are supported by a myriad of photographs (many of them quite rare and unusual), and a very readable and informative text.

Well worth grabbing a copy, and highly recommended! I can't wait for volume 2!!

Sunday 13 May 2012


Please welcome another new arrival to the family:

This it Toddy, Laura's new pony. This is what happens when I go away with work for a few weeks!! :)

So that puts us at four cats, one kitten, two corn snakes, one bull python, two gerbils, two rabbits and a pony. A nightmare, and indicative as to why there's been no wargaming postings here recently!  However, to reassure you, dear readers, here's a taster for the next instalment, wherein normality (or what passes for normality around here) should hopefully be restored.....

Sunday 11 March 2012


Maisie had her kittens last night. One "maisie look-alike", two dark torties and a black and white. Laura is convinced the b&w is a boy, the other three are girls. Mother and babies doing well :)