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.

Sunday 27 October 2013

Loaches, Landing Craft and Little Friends

Many years ago I built up a sizeable collection of Peter Pig 15mm Vietnam figures, backed up by a load of Roco Minitanks vehicles and Revell Hueys. Of course, "Apocalypse Now" was a great influence, and I always wanted some Loaches to go with my Hueys. Some months ago Battlefront brought out a box set of two Loaches. Lovely models, they go together very quickly and easily, and come with a decent set of transfers (decals to you colonial types) and soe nice flying stands. They were quickly assembled, then languished in the painting pile until this weekend. As I discovered yesterday they are als a dream to paint up. And here they are.

 I'm very pleased at how these came out. But I now have a suspicion that 15mm Vietnam skirmish is about to find itself a higher position in "the plan"

I also finished off the LCM - a basic resin model with some additional bulwarks, a couple of gunners and a covered deck. I have another one of these - not sure what to do to soup that one up.

Finally I've finished off a couple of Siemens Schukhert D.IVs that I've had waiting to be painted for a little while. One painted in the colours of my altar ego, "The Black Hand", the other in a corn snake and purple scheme for Laura. a bit of fun.

Friday 18 October 2013

Lack of Focus

I must admit, as I look from the mess that is my wargames table across at my modelling bench, that I'm suffering from a bit of a lack of focus just now. From here I can see, in various stages of completion:

  • A 28mm "posse" for our local club's western gunfight games
  • Several Airfix 1/76 British and Japanese tanks for my Burma project (which wasn't eve  a glimmer in my eye a couple of months ago)
  • Half a dozen 1/1200 ACW ships and ironclads
  • A 15mm LCM being converted into a riverine assault craft for AK-47
  • Eight 1/600 WW2 coastal models, just picked up on Ebay for peanuts
  • Two 1/144 Siemens Schuckhert D.III fighters
  • A scratch built space station for War Rocket
  • Thirty two 15mm Bashi Basouks
I can't help thinking that I ought to get at least one project finished!!!!

Friday 11 October 2013

The Russian War, Lee Village Hall

I spent last weekend in deepest darkest North Devon taking part in a campaign based on the 1855 Anglo-French operations against Russia in the Baltic. The game was put on by the NWS chairman, Stuart Barnes Watson using his extensive collection of 1/2400 models from Hallmark and Tumbling Dice. Stuart was using my "Iron and Fire" ironclad rules and so he asked if I'd be happy to umpire. I&F is written from an 1860-80 ironclad perspective so I devised a set of period specific rules to cater for the slightly earlier time period, and also to cover the campaign specific elements. 

Lance surveys the battle from the Umpire's position

Day 1 saw the British and French repeating their 1854 attack on Bomarsund. The scenario that Stuart had devised had the Russian rebuilding the defences that had been destroyed in 1854, whilst the allies were seeking to occupy Bomarsund to establish a forward operating base for the blockade of the Gulf of Finland. The main differences between this battle and the 1854 campaign were the completely steam powered nature of the allied fleet and the Russian use of ships to defend the islands as well as shore batteries. Alas for the Russians the allies attack was very competently handled; light defences on the outer islands were rolled up by the British Inshore Squadron, the main defences and anchored ships engaged and defeated by mortars carried in the small fleet of bomb vessels. Realising the game was up the Russian steam ships escaped, leaving the islands to face their fate.

Stuart, the Russian commander, checks the range from one of his batteries.

Battlelines drawn at the start of Day 2. Russians in the foreground, Allies to the top

Day 2 was to have been an Allied attack on Sveaborg, but this would simply have been a rerun of day 1, so we recast the day as a fleet encounter in congested waters on the approach to Kronstadt. To win the Russians had to sink or burn the majority of the Allied bomb vessels, which were the primary threat to the Russian fortress. unfortunately again, the Allied players proved too canny for the Russians who, despite many clever ideas and subterfuges (including offensive minelaying) were unable to crack the very well organised Allied squadrons.

I wonder if the residents of the sleepy village of Lee knew what world-changing events were happening on their doorstsps? 

All in all a very enjoyable weekend (even the Russians thought so, despite having their heads given to them on a plate twice). The rules and amendments worked well, even with 100+ ships engaged. Oh, and much beer was consumed at the rather excellent local pub in the village of Lee between days 1 and 2!

The weekend did, however, reinforce my thoughts that the Russian War (aka the "Crimean" War) is a tricky one to wargame. Both fleets are large - but both have good reasons not to get heavily engaged. The Russians, with the vast majority of their ships reliant on sail power, are at a severe disadvantage in a fleet action (and as day 2 showed would most likely get chewed to pieces). Meanwhile, the Allies, lacking many specialist inshore craft, would be mad to attempt to force the very strong defences of places like Sveaborg and Kronstadt (behind which the Russians, if they have sense, will be sitting). So one has to develop rather contrived scenarios in order to force an action, run a counterfactual where the Russian fleet has a far higher proportion of steam ships or (as I may do in the future) run a campaign set in 1856 where the Allied have the benefit of the massive 1855-56 inshore warship building programme. It is, of course, an ideal setting for skirmish games based around British landing parties in Finland - ideas of converting the Airfix Great Western into a gunboat for 15mm figures are forming in my mind :)

Monday 16 September 2013

"Sails of Glory" - The NWS at Colours 2013

Yesterday the Naval Wargames Society ran "Sails of Glory" at Colours (one of the main wargaming events in the UK). The small but intrepid team of four stalwart naval types  (myself, Simon Stokes, Rob Hutton and pressed man Paul Ewins from my local wargaming club) assembled at the show at 0800 Sunday morning, set up and in very short order got straight into action. We played an initial game amongst ourselves to give the newbies a chance to get up to speed. Even this game, kicking off before the show started, attracted considerable attention from the gamers and traders present. The show opened officially at 1000 and the public appeared. We were kept busy right through the day, playing through six games, all of which were hard fought and very enjoyable actions, and in fact we were just about the last game still playing on the day.

The reaction to the game was amazing. Everyone who played it loved it. And it worked just fine for all ages. I think our youngest player was 10, but we had a visit from a 6 year old who was very well acquainted not only with pirates, but with Admiral Nelson and Trafalgar, and who grasped the style of play very easily - no prizes for guessing what is on his Christmas list this year! The table was often surrounded by observers If we'd had copies on sale on the day we could have cleared dozens based on the numbers of players and observers who were stuck by the quality of the models and the speed and ease of play. We had a few "old salt" naval gamers playing as well who thought the system was ideal for those quick "club night" games, and for small ship actions (we are already kicking off thoughts for period and other variants using the basic system).

So, all in all a very successful day. And with luck more demos and parti games upcoming at events in the next couple of months (I'm planning to bring it down to Stuart's Crimean campaign weekend). The game was a big hit, highly popular and, if today's reaction was anything to go by, assured of great success in the near future!

I posted  a similar summary to the Sails of Glory forum and was asked by a member there for any advice in running games of this type. I posted ten "hot tips" and thought, as a bonus, some readers here might like to see them too.

1) Have a good team of players with you. It can get rather wearing running game after game after game so you need to be able to swap between umpires. It also allows those not directly running the game to hover around the players to help them out if they get stuck remembering the rules or wanting advice. It also lets the "spare bodies" dash off for a short while to see the rest of the show.

2) "Battlespace management" is more important with a sailing game than most others I think, due to the effects of the wind. The action will naturally flow downwind, so be aware of that and have your scenario starting points clustered towards the upwind part of the table. and think about how the terrain (if any) is going to help and hinder the game. We had an island that, if at the downwind end of the table, was a real pig to sail around due to its proximity to the corner**. So we swapped ends and it was now at the upwind end and much easier to negotiate.

3) If you are playing with the four starter set ships, impress upon whoever gets the frigates that they ARE highly vulnerable to incoming fire from the SOLs. We had two games where frigate players (despite this advice) went SOL hunting in frigates. Their games were short. But tell them anyway, some of them might listen.

4) Practice. Set the game up some time before the event and play it through with friends o make sure your scenario works. I didn't get a chance to do this on this occasion as the kit arrived just the day before, if I'd had the chance the issue with the island would have been spotted before game #1 rather than during it :)

5) Have an on duty "caller" - a floating person who spots interested people (or even vaguely disinterested ones) in the crowd and passers by and hooks them in for a chat and to inveigle them into the game. You need to have a separate person doing this, not the umpire (they are busy keeping the game going)

6) Remember, keep clutter to a minimum. Nothing looks worse than a table strewn with drinks, lunch, random stuff that someone has bought and dumped on the table edge, odd papers etc. A tidy game is an efficient game :)

7) Bring glue - although not required on this occasion I always have some superglue and/or plastic cement (as demanded by the models) on hand to conduct running repairs during a game. Especially relevant in this as you only have four ships to work with and, had one been damaged and out of action, that would have seriously compromised the game.

8) Prepare yourself as well as the game. I take a sports water bottle to shows so can have a crafty drink to keep me going through games - all that talking through rules and the game with players causes havoc with your throat.

9) Practice your rules summary - you need to get the key concepts of play explained to and understood by your players in 5 minutes or less. So work out in advance what you want to say and demonstrate.

10) Above all, have fun! Although you are Ares unofficial PR department on the day remember its a hobby, not a job. and if you aren't having fun, chances are your team and your players aren't either.

** why place an island there, you might ask. The reason being that we had no "official" game mats (they didn't make it across from the US, neither did the display material or packaging) so I ended up using a playing surface made from a roll of John Lewis heavy duty underlay. its blue, flexible and non-slip so ships don't slide around. The night before I sprayed and dry brushed it to bring out the texture as waves and spray and left it to dry - only to find 5 minutes later that the cats had decided it was THEIR mat, had sprawled out on it and, in stretching had clawed the surface in two places. The damage was OK for a club game, but not for a demo at one of the UK's most prestigious gaming events, so islands were placed to strategically cover the tears!

Monday 12 August 2013

Wings of Glory Wins Best Participaton Game at IPMS Thornbury

Yesterday myself and a team of intrepid aviators from the Wings of Glory Aerodrome Avon and South Wales flights took the game along to the IPMS Avon show at the Thornbury Leisure Centre. This was the first year the show had been held at Thornbury and the first year that wargames had been included. We spent a very happy day introducing new players to the game, running through dogfights, photo recce and and bombing missions, met a lot of old friends, and saw some of the newbies who had played head over to the trade stands in search of starter sets, and some older hands to some of the plastic kit stands to hunt down the Valom 1/144 plastic and brass kits of the Sopwith Pup and Fokker D.VII

But our day was topped off nicely when Craig Austen (the wargames organiser) tipped me off that we had won the award for "Best Participation Game" at the show! We were the recipients of a certificate and a very nice trophy which will have pride of place at our Gloucestershire aerodrome for the year before it is returned to next year's show.

Here we see Chris, myself, Bobby, Mark and Stuart posing for the camera after receiving the award.

The game was busy all day. Newbie players mixed with old hands for some tense aerial dogfights over the Italian Front - made a change from the Western Front and gave us a chance to field some of the new Ares Hanriots and Aviatiks.

 Elsewhere in the show there were some lovely large scale plastic models, including this excellent Zeppelin Staaken

Our favourite mission, run several times, sees a couple of AEG G.IV bombers attempting to bomb a city whilst 4-5 Entente fighters try to stop them. In this first game the bombers gave many of the attackers the slip and got through OK

In the second bomber mission we upped the ante with more effective Entente fighters. This time the first AEG went down short of the target. It looked as though #2 would suffer the same fate, especially when his rear gunner was killed. But bombs hit the target and the aircraft snaked its way back, downing one Camel and dodging incoming fire from the second and a Spad XIII - the bomber against all odds escaped from the table with a single damage point remaining.  

So, a fun day, and the organisers seemed pretty happy, with them hoping that we would be back for next year (which we will, probably with Sails of Glory as well). The venue itself is lovely, very large, airy and bright, and with a good mix of wargaming, model and modelling suppliers in attendance. Looking forward to next year's show already :)

Thursday 1 August 2013

Wings of Glory SummerCon, Prague

So, this weekend I have been attending the Wings of Glory Summer Con in Prague. Arrived on the late flight from Bristol and after a swift taxi ride into Old Prague I arrived at the hotel at 11pm. Off to be, and up early for a morning constitutional around the nearest bits of the Old City – across the Charles Bridge and its lovely saintly statues and up to the castle to see the 0800 changing of the guard, and back via the Legi Bridge. Prague really is a lovely city, and some of the architecture is just wonderful. A quick brekkie follows before meeting Andrzej (Andy), the rest of the Polish contingent and Thomas from Belgium, and then heading off in convoy to the venue at 1115(ish)

We settle in to the Con at the “Svet Deskovych Her” games shop in Zitomirska. I get to meet some of the other names I know from the Aerodrome forum, including Jan (the lead Czech, local organiser and provider of most of the models in use), Mikhail, a retired Czech Air Force pilot (Mig 17, 19, 21 – a lovely chap who males the most amazing 1/200 WW2 aircraft), Markus and Sven from Germany, and Nemanja from Serbia; After introductions, comparing each other's models and lots of chat we get down to the first game. Its an insane mission, a chateau defended by a barrage balloon chain and six Entente fighters versus ten attackers (including a Gotha), some with incendiary bullets. I'm flying with the Entente. Numbers tell almost immediately but the Entente puts up a good fight and the Gotha goes down. We are, though, eventually wiped out. Markus is the last surviving Camel driver. I get a kill, but I'm wiped out in a collision with an Albatros. German ace Sven amazes us all with his virtually indestructible Camel (over 20 damage cards at the end, mostly zeroes. The Polish children prove to be worthy, and quite deadly opponents (Victor especially).

The atmosphere in the shop is stifling (outside temperature 34 degrees, inside considerably hotter) as we go into a 2 hour dogfight session. Five aircraft each side, aircraft shot down sit out the game for two turns before resurrecting. I'm flying a Fokker D.VIII. Straight into the action and a swift burst into a Camel sees it explode. Then I'm hit by another Camel in a collision; draw the ten card, and next turn shot down. Sitting out the game for 2 turns I re-enter, down another couple of Camels, then set one on fire tht crashes in flames the next turn. Four kills so far and on the last turn I'm about to hack another Camel when he's in a collision with one of his own side and his plane is destroyed. I end the game with 4 kills, 5 for the day.

The final mission sees the Entente on a bombing mission, attacking a port on the Adriatic with three Brisfits, escorted by a Camel and a Spad VII. Against us are nine Austrian Albatri and Aviatiks. Most of the Austrians don't appreciate the comparable speed of the Brisfit against an Albatros so, when we blow through their lines, they aren't in a position to turn and engage. They spend the rest of the game in a tail chase. Unfortunately two do, and being the closest Brisfit to these canny tacticians I get plastered. Not helped by my rear gunner being killed. So my Brisfit goes down just short of the target. Our escorting Camel goes down to a bang card for his first damage. The remaining Brisfits hit the target, one goes down close to the target having just dropped his bombs. The third runs for home and is on the verge of escape as he is finally brought down (like Sven's Camel, this plane drew an unfeasibly large number of zeroes, and made it across two game mats whilst being peppered by two Albatri!) Once again, collisions figure heavily as the pursuing tail chasers bump into each other many times – it seems that “Flying Officer Crash” is one of the top hitters in these games, even with the clever collision resolution system that on average only produced a “hit” in 1/3 of cases.

And so the Con came to a close. With five kills I'm the second placed player for the day and I'm rewarded with a prize of a lovely German Red Baron beer mug and a bottle of Vodka (which I donate to the shop owner for hosting us – I can't take it back on  the plane, hand baggage only). Young Victor from Poland is the well-deserved winner with six kills, his prize is a Gotha repainted in Austrian markings and a large bottle of “rocket fuel” (which his father appropriates).

 I've had a fun day, even if the stifling temperatures did wipe me out by the end. And I've made some good friends too, as I always knew I would on a Wings of Glory event.

Wednesday 10 July 2013

The Plan - Mid Year Review

So, how are we doing?

1)      More games – doing well, plenty of games at Berkeley Vale, and the odd Wings of War game at Cribbs, plus games at shows. I'm still hopeful of running a one-day campaign or two.

2)      Medieval Naval – I haven't even got the cogs out of the box yet! mind you, I have given myself a target of 2 weekends to get them done. Hmmmmm......

3)      Wings of War – played lots, quite a few new models. Going well :)

4)      X wing – All of my Micro Machines and other "non official" models are ready to play. Soft copies of play aids made up and printed as needed. And we've played a few games which have worked well.

5)      The Sudan – played  a few games at Berkeley Vale, but no progress on the modelling front so far. Bashi Basouks, terrain pieces and one new gunboat still to do.

6)      WW2 Coastal – no progress so far. That said, the spate of coastal games in 1/600 and 1/1200 at the Naval Wargames Show have piqued my interest here.

So, 3 out of the six going reasonably well. Not bad. And better than progress against last year's plan at this stage I think.

(as an aside, this is my 100th post!)

Sunday 7 July 2013

War Rocket

Like many UK wargamers of my age I used to love watching reruns of Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers on TV during the school holidays, and the camp 1980s "remakes". So it was no great surprise to me to find that I splurged on a box of War Rocket Galacteer  miniatures from Hydra at the Reveille show in November 2011. Of course they then went into the "lead pile" and were forgotten until June last year. At that time I came across them again and, with a trip to the US coming up, I ordered the rules and some more ships (Imperial and pirates this time) and had them delivered to a chum in Manassas for me to collect. As before, after a good read through of the rules the models ended up "in the pile". My interest was piqued for a third time at Salute when I decided I did like the look of the Valkeeri ships and was going to shell out on a fleet but, alas, all sold out. Mail order was my friend, the models arrived a few weeks back and this time the assemblage stayed on mt games table. Last week I took the plunge, starting the Galacteers, Imperials and Pirates, and today I finished them and the Valkeeri, which I started during the week.

I must say i do love the retro look of these models. A classic blend of 1930s with more "modern" lines from SF movies and illustrations form the 50s, and a touch (especially with the Imperials) of the 80s - you can almost hear the Queen soundtrack whilst you are painting them!

So, Imperials first and it wouldn't be right to paint them in anything other than a classic red and gold detail scheme. These are my favourites form the bunch and I'm thinking of either converting one of the Class III ships into a closer representation of the "Ajax", or perhaps scratch building one (unless some clever soul on Shapeways does one, of course)

Next up the Galacteers. I went for something similar to the "official" scheme, but was looking at a model of Gerry Andreson's "Stingray" at the time I worked out the details and that has obviously had an influence.

Latecomers to the party were the Valkeeri. There is something very aquatic about these, and I may end up with a few more for my planned "Stingray" game (which has been "planned" for about 6 years now). Anyway, I went for something completely different for these, virginal white with shocking pink trim. Ideal to lull their enemies into a false sense of security, as these are no fluffy bunnies in combat! Paint scheme I guess influenced by "Girls und Panzer" - which I think would make an ideal subject for an SFSFW parti game....

Finally, those pesky pirates. A smaller "fleet" this time, as befits their irregular status. They have rather nice, menacing lines. And the red bridge windows help the effect I think

So there we are. Another painting project completed - although not one that was on my plan from the beginning of the year (I'm sooo easily distracted!!) With luck these will be pitching up at the Berkeley Vale  club sometime soonish.

Once I've found the rulebook.

Which is in "the pile".