Tuesday 30 December 2014

2014 in Review

As we come to the end of another year it is customary to review the annual plan and how we stacked up against it. I suspect it will not make good reading. Here goes:
1 – 15mm Colonial. Sort out those blasted Bashi Basouks and some river boats. Then look to see what we need extra (if anything) for the hinted-at Berkeley Vale campaign.
The Bashi Basouks did indeed get finished, but there was no progress on the river boat front and the Berkeley Vale campaign was stillborn due to various issues. Anyway, I'm claiming some success here :)
2 – Form Line of Battle. A surprise entry, but here because (a) I’ve remembered how much I love the rules and (b) Rodger at the club wants to give them a try. The plan here is to renovate the fleets and complete at least six ships from the “lead pile”

Well we did give them several runs out at the BV club and the chaps certainly seem to like them (and a lot more than Sails of Glory). I started with 1/1200 ships of the line, but for various reasons (in particular fragility) we've ended up playing small ship actions using 1/450 models. I think we'll be doing more of this in 2015. Alas very little fleet renovation was done, and no new ships added, at least not in 1/1200. I did however knock up several bomb vessels and coastal batteries in 1/450 so thats going down as a "tick" :)
3 – Project X. Mysteriously referred to over the last 2 years, PX has three elements to it. I will complete at least 2 of them this year. You’ll know when I do
"Project X" was revealed as my establishing myself as a wargame rule publisher in my own right, covering niche naval subjects. The first element was successfully launched in the summer, this being my rules for WW1 lake steamer battles in 1/600. The rules are indeed now available from Long Face Games (me) via Wargame Vault.

 Element 2 is nearing completion, and #3 may take  acompletely different course (or may diverge into two streams) as a result of an interesting "chat" I had in the latter part of the year. More details as and when I can let you know.

4 – 1/600 Coastal. Resurrecting last year’s objective, I will renovate the existing fleets, finish any odd models that have yet to be completed, sort out soft copies of ship data cards and get some games in! A stretch target will be to do the same for my 1/1200 models.
Not a sausage on this one. Fail

5 – Armada Invencible. Another surprise entry, but 2014 should see the rules for this hit the streets. I have a couple of the ships already and it looks like my stock of old Airfix galleons might work with them at a pinch. The objective here is to get a copy, knock up small English and Spanish squadrons and try them out. And if they don’t work then an Armada variant of FLoB may be on the cards 
Another Fail, although I do now have a set of the rules. Apart from that, no progress at all.
6 – Games. I’m well set up to run a number of games, including Wings of Glory, X Wing, Sails of Glory (of which more in the coming days I hope), War Rocket and a few others so the plan here is to get a number of games of each in. I’ll also try to run a one day campaign, maybe two. These may or may not be connected with Project X.
Here I have been quite successful, and being a member of the Berkeley Vale club has helped. I've averaged a couple of games a month there covering all sorts of subjects including RJW, Napoleonic naval, X Wing, Wings of War, various Bolt Action variants and, in recent weeks, Star Trek using the rather nice "Engage" rules. Definitely more of this in 2015! I've also run or participated in various Wings of Glory events, notably in Penarth, Doncaster, Reading, Devizes and in Thornbury where our game won the award for "best participation".

So in review, not as bad as I thought it was going to be and in part this was due to the various building works going on at home and the unavoidable delay in getting the bespoke wargames "palace" sorted out - for the last 5 months or so my wargames room and table has been filled with junk displaced form the barn whilst that was demolished and rebuilt as a granny annex, and the replacement building delayed until Summer 2015, so there will not be much progress on the wargaming front at home until the weather is very much nicer I think.

So, overall not a bad year, in fact from a wargaming perspective quite jolly. 2015 will be one of upheaval as I sort out the wargames room, but more of "the plan" for 2015 in a couple of days time :)

Saturday 20 December 2014

RIP Jeff Crane

I have just heard the very sad news that Jeff Crane has passed away. Many members of the Naval Wargames Society and, before that, the Battleship Club, will have encountered Jeff at events and shows, where he earned himself a reputation for straight talking and boundless enthusiasm. Jeff introduced the Mortimer regional group to the joys of Games Workshop's "Man o War" fantasy naval rules and his Keshian Civil War ran for many, many years both at regional group meetings and at the Naval Wargames Show. Jeff also took on the leadership of the Basingstoke regional group, running regular games at his home, and regular readers of "All Guns Blazing" will see innumerable battle reports from the wonderful games staged by Jeff there over many years. Jeff was a popular member of the society and one of the more active ones, despite his long term illness to which he eventually succumbed. He was a true friend to many, and often regaled younger wargamers with tales of his time in the Royal Navy – adding invaluable "colour" to many wargames events and Stuart Barnes Watson's wargames weekends in Cornwall. His watch now is over, and we will miss him.

Sunday 30 November 2014

Reveille 2014

Today has been a stupidly busy day (equestrian stuff dominating the morning and evening) but in the middle of the day I managed to spend a few hours of relative calm at the Reveille show at Lincombe Barn in Bristol. For once I wasn't running or helping out with a game so I had a chance to wander and enjoy the show. Reveille isn't the biggest show by any means (2 small halls and a smattering of rooms) but it is one of my favorites, probably because I catch up with so many old friends there. So of the three hours I spent at the show I probably spent at least two of them chatting, catching up and making plans for future games and campaigns, some of which might actually come off.

Walmington on Sea - looks so peaceful :)

20mm Rapid Fire form the German perspective

The emphasis is on traders but there were small number of very nice games, including my chums from Abbey Wood with a VBCW game, a "Dads Army" participation game and a medieval game put on by John Curry (which apparently was based on the "reenactor's view" of  a medieval battle. Alas I forgot to ask John exactly what that meant whilst we were chatting. There was also a very nice desert "Rapid Fire" game in 20mm.

The Germans seem to be very well equipped with capture British kit - there was a 25pdr battery somewhere else too

Shoppingwise I picked up the new YT-2400 "Outrider" for my X Wing collection and some bits and pieces for my 20mm Burma Skirmish project (Airfix Jungle Outpost, a DUKW and a set of US Marines in the old style coloured plastic that isn't garish and horrible like many of the current Airfix reprints).

As usual the cafe was busy and churning out decent grub - I got there just before the bacon ran out, which was just as well as I'd not had breakfast, and lunch was  a very tasty lamb burger. Also as usual parking was a complete pig so I ended up a goof 10 minutes walk away. But the sun was shining and the exercise did me good :)

Jerry Hendy ponders his next move in the VBCW game

Looking forward to next year, apparently we are signed up to do a Wings of Glory participation game.....

This lot soaked up the res of my time this weekend - sweeties :)

Saturday 22 November 2014

Galleys and Galleons Playtesting

This week I have (after a game of Fire and Fury at the club - my first for 18 years) been reading through and playtesting "Galleys and Galleons", a forthcoming set of piratical naval rules from Ganesha Games set in the "age of discovery". I don't want to say too much about them as we've been asked not to give away details but suffice to say I am liking these rules a lot. They are quick and simple to play, sensibly realistic within the confines of the game system, beautifully adaptable with all sorts of special features and ship types and - best of all - lots of fun! I've been playing with Peter Pg 1/450 scale models which are ideal for use with these rules, but they are scalable to use with just about any available model scale.

Being the cussed old naval wargamer that I am I have fired off a couple of salvoes of thoughts and comments based on my readings and my first few games. As with any set of rules there are "I wouldn't have done it like that" elements, but mainly requests for clarifications and suggestions for additional bits and pieces to build on the realism aspects whilst maintaining the simple and fun approach.

As you can see, one of my opponents has adopted a very laid back approach to this game and has decided it is his firm favourite (and indeed first) wargame. Ole won this game by the simple expedien of jumping up just after this photo was taken, scattering the ships and batting the dice all over the lounge. Well done Captain Mog!

Anyway, more playtesting later in the weekend. But I must say, very nicely done.

Tuesday 18 November 2014

Warfare 2014

This weekend I made my annual trip to Reading for Warfare, one of my favourite shows in the UK wargaming calendar. As in recent years I was there with the Wings of Glory aerodrome helping to run the participation game. Great fun as always, we had two tables running with action packed games played throughout the day. I understand that traders selling Wings of Glory models, and KR (with their multicases designed to accommodate 1/144 WW1 aircraft) enjoyed a high number of sales as a result of our games :)

One of the reasons I enjoy Warfare is that so many of my wargaming friends from around the UK attend the show. So a good half of my time there was spent in deep conversation with them, and  a number of new projects discussed and potentially in the pipeline.....

Shopping is obviously on the agenda. But for once I was fairly restrained. A small bag of 15mm stuff from GZG, a couple of sets of "Tombstone" 28/32mm westrn gunfight figures, various 15mm bits and bobs from Peter Pig, and some 20mm Airfix Gurkhas and Aussies for my WW2 Burma Skirmish setup.

Oh, and something else on which I will be writing later in the week.....

 Anyway, as usual a rather nice selection of games, although not many that "wow"d me this time. Still, they were very nicely presented and quite a few of the players were happy to stop and chat.

Sunday 9 November 2014


One of the latest warships to be restored and displayed in the UK is the diminutive CMB9. At 40' in length she was one of the first of the many short Coastal Motor Boats that were operated by the Royal Navy in the Great War. For the last 5 years she has been under restoration in Avonmouth, In the Summer she headed to Plymouth, but this weekend she headed inland to Bristol to take part in the city's Remembrance Day events. 

I've been keeping tabs on CMB9 via Facebook and hearing that she was coming to the city I was up at sparrows for a trip to Cumberland Basin to see her arrive. She was a lovely sight as she came through the lock and tied up in Cumberland Basin.

However, things didn't end there. After chatting to Robert Morley, the owner, and hearing that they were heading deeper into the harbour and tying up at the Cottage Inn which was where my car was parked I thumbed a lift and was rewarded with a short trip on board. Its not every day one gets to set sail on a WW1 warship, and I feel deeply honoured and indeed very lucky to have had the chance.

Tuesday 4 November 2014

More Engaging

It was Star Trek night again at the Berkeley Vale club last night. We played through a couple of scenarios. In the first a Federation task group was dispatched to rescue a team of research scientists on a disabled science vessel, whilst the Klingons sought to grab them for themselves. A short battle this one, with the Feds beaming off one team only to have the rescuing ship destroyed, then the second team nabbed by the Klingons - only for Alan to blast the Klingon ship that carried them to atoms (his special orders were to ensure that no scientists were left in Klingon hands, and in this he was ruthlessly effective!)

The second battle was a slugfest with the simple aim to give the other side a darned good kicking, and to practice more with the rules. Great fun, and interesting to see tactics developing (especially the use of warp drive for hit and run attacks), as well as a growing appreciation for why damage control and shifting power is something to think about.

I'm really enjoying "Engage". its such a simple set of rules to play, but its simplicity belies a finesse that allows many variations in play and ship design, and it really captures the Star Trek feel very nicely As usual we've identified a few modifications and house rules that we think will make it work even better for us and which better reflect some of the aspects of the TV and film episodes, including changes to the rules for teleports and transporters (both ships should have shields lowered), restricted firing arcs for torpedoes, allowing rear firing weapons and tighter arcs needed to gain the shooting bonus for firing at the targets rear. With luck we'll give those mods a spin in a couple of weeks.

Monday 27 October 2014


Just back from the Berkeley Vale club at the local pub where we've been giving "Engage" from Red Wyvern games a run through. I picked up a copy at Blast Tastic earlier in the month after having a quick play against the designers. Tonight's game was the first proper outing with the club

My original plan was to break out my old collection of FASA Star Trek models but unfortunately the upheaval caused by various bouts of building and other works at home meant I couldn't extract the models I needed, so instead we used a whole heap of Star Trek micro machines.

There was no particular scenario, just a "training exercise" featuring a collection of Federation and Klingon ships, the Feds eventually claiming a narrow victory as the last Klingon Vor'Cha blew up. being typical wargamers the emphasis was on "shoot, shoot and shoot", whereas sometimes reallocating power to reinforce the shields, or conducting damage control might have been a good idea, but to be honest that was no surprise :)

We found the rules to be quite a bit of fun, very simple and straightforward to play but with plenty of scope for added detail with the various optional and extra rules, and also simple enough to be house-ruled if necessary (for example the chaps didn't like the initiative rules so we may use a random draw to determine the order of ship activations). the best bit of feedback though was a resounding "more please", so I'll be looking to put together some more interesting scenarios in the coming weeks. All in all a very nice set of rules.

Saturday 4 October 2014


I've just returned from a grand day out at the Blast-Tastic sci fi wargames show in Bristol. This is the first time the show has been run and I do hope it isn't the last. Starting small for an event like this is always a good thing and Mike from Angel barracks did a great job in organising a starter event that felt just right. There were eight games and demonstrations, including Ashley Pollard demonstrating OGRE, Lincombe Barn with Alien Squad Leader and our own Berkeley Vale club with Shaun's Star Wars Pod Racer game. I've managed to miss this at the club so far so it was great to be able to play - its a real blast, loads of fun and has the feel of the "original". we scoped out a few ideas on how to adapt the rules to other settings, maybe more on this in future posts. The game I played was going fine up until I suffered  a fuel leak which then caused my pod to explode, but not before i'd sideswiped Alan's pod into the ground. Shaun went on to a well earned victory. The next game was a real close affarir with two brothers and their three friends duking it out, and victory only decided on the last corner. Great stuff.

The traders, of whom there were thirteen, seemed to be doing OK. I added to their OKness with a few purchases. Brigade Models were there so I took the opportunity to pick up some 1/1200 Napoleonic naval forts (not what you'd expect to get at a sci fi show, but they are lovely models and I've been toying with the idea of getting some for ages). I played  a quick game of "Engage" from Red Wyvern; a quick play sci fi set with a very obvious Star Trek vibe. I enjoyed the game, the extras over and above the basic rules looked good and so I bought a copy. I think we'll be seeing this plus my old Micro Machines down the club in the next few weeks. Next stop - The Scene, where i got a few packs of not-terminators for my 15mm SF collection, and then over to Armies Army to pick up a couple of their lovely near-future Russian BTR APCs. Finally Craig Austin had a box crammed with sci fi terrain pieces for a tenner and as I'd been looking for stuff like this for a while that was a no-brainer.

The show itself was fine. Not too big, not too small and a perfect start to what I hope will be a regular event. Sci fi wargaming in the UK used to be fairly well served with the SFSFW's Ragnarok show but that stopped some time ago and so Blast-Tastic seems like a natural successor. I hope the show has done well. Certainly the traders and players I spoke to on the day thought so.

Finally, it was good to see that the "friction" that exists between Angel Barracks and The Miniatures Page didn't dampen the show. In fact, far from it. A number of people I spoke to were there as a result of hearing about the fracas, thus proving once again that any publicity is good publicity. Anyway, I do hope that the rift sorts itself out soon because, to be quite frank, the regular deletion of threads about the show on TMP has been nothing short of disgraceful. I have no dog in this fight, I just think it reflects badly on the hobby as a whole. That is all.

Anyway, a fun day out - oh, and the food was good and reasonably priced, thus thckinga nother important wargamers box :)

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Wings of Glory at Doncaster

This weekend I took part in the first of what will hopefully be the annual meeting of UK Wings of Glory Aerodrome members, held at the South Yorkshire Air Museum at Donnington. 30+ Wings of Glory players mainly from the UK, but also with vistors from Poland, Belgium, France and the US battled it out in the skies of WW1 and WW2 over three large tables in the museum. I ran one of the games on the Saturday afternoon, the latest development in my "Wings and Waves of Glory" game, with coastal Motor Boats, a motor launch and a U Boat duking it out with a variety of German, British, Italian and Austrian seaplanes (OK, the nationality mix was a bit random there, but I wanted to get a variety of these oddball aircraft in play).

I had a basic set of rules covering the motor boats already, but nothing for the ML or the sub; these were quickly invented, written up and implemented, and they worked just fine. A good time was had by all, with carnage in the skies and one CMB shot up and sunk before the second sneaked in and torpedoed the U Boat.

Alas I was thick with a bad cold all weekend which made the 5 (!) hour drive up from Bristol hellish, but which also fuddled my brain, causing me to forget to bring my phone (and its rather nice camera) so apologies for the poor pics, taken on my "alternative". I also managed to miss out taking pics of much of the rest of the event, although I did get some nice ones in the museum - which is lovely and well worth a visit if you are ever in the area, especially if you have an interest in the Falklands Conflict as they have a great collection of aircraft and other historic items, and a lovely memorial made in part from stones brought from various places in the islands.

Despite a head full of phug I must have been doing something right as I ended the event with the highest tally of kills (6) in the WW1 era games (which earned me a nice trophy) and I won the prize for the most successful WW1 player in terms of kills and mission objectives achieved. I also managed to go the whole weekend without being shot down in a game a first!!

So, loads of fun, looking forward to next year!

Friday 12 September 2014

Cogs, Carracks and Galleys

Another element of the lead pile reduction exercise conducted last week was finishing off a few Navwar 1/1200 naval models. I'm getting quite  a collection of medieval models now, what with the ships I have from Outpost, Ral Partha Europe and Games Workshop. This latest batch were cogs, carracks (a bit outside my time period, but I was curious to know what they were like)  and some galleys.

All of these came up quite nicely, I think. The cogs and galleys  are quite a bit smaller than the similar ships from Outpost and (in the case of the cogs) Ral Partha, which IMHO is good and quite handy in allowing me to have sets of clearly different sizes and types, an important distinction in the rules I'm working on. I was quite pleased with these; its likely that the collection will be expanded with a few more of these in the not too distant future (I can then spend the next year waiting to paint them!!)