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


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.


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....


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.

Sunday 22 December 2019

Photon Phun

You could be forgiven for thinking that a lack of posts here suggests I've not been up to much recently. Au contraire, I have been extremely busy, Laura headed off to New Zealand for a gap half year last month so I've been up to my eyeballs in horse care and looking after the alpacas, but in the margins I've been giving the Photon a good thrashing. Here's some of the items I've printed off in the last few weeks:

First up, a series of Napoleonic naval fortifications. The release of Black Seas has prompted the 3D modelling community to  deploy their expertise. There are a number of ships available to download, but the things that caught my eye were a couple of martello towers and a sea fort, the Chateau de Taureau. All are lovely renders of the originals and print up nicely. I printed a set martellos in 1/450 to fit in with my Peter Pig small ships of the same nominal scale.

The sea fort didn't print too well as one end detached from the print bed. However, the upperworks of the fort were fair and since the fort is supposed to sit o its own island I decided to fill in the missing area with some miliput "rocks". 

Of course the joy of 3D modelling is that you can rescale your models to print at just about any size, so I printed off soem examples in 1/1200 and also in 1/2400 to fit in with my Fleet Action collection.

Another set of models I found were the lovely 1/200 WW1 collection by Mike Bergmann on Thingiverse. One of my plans for 2020 is to resurrect my 1/300 WW1 Western and Eastern Front games, probably using Bloody Big Battles. So I decided to do some test prints of the 1/200 models scaled down to 1/300.I was not disappointed.......

This is just a small selection of the models in Mike's WW1 collection. The detail is lovely and they come up a treat on the Photon.

Finally for this post, a rather nice set of "Technicals" for my AK47 games. I've been after some alternatives to the Peter Pig Toyota Hilux. The Land Cruiser I printed out a few montsh ago (with the Tetrarch and Alecto) is a nice addition, but these really fit the bill.

These are from two sets of files on Thingiverse. The first is a collection of "tin cab" 4x4s, in basic, cut-down and "uparmoured" versions. The file set also contains a variety of weapons to fit into the flat beds, including a rather nice ZPU-2. The second is a rendering of the infamous "4x4 with BMP turret" seen during the Libyan Civil War. Again, this was on my "must do" list. A few hours after finding the files my African warlords are in possession of some nifty self propelled firepower :)

Thats it for now. I have many, many more models to share with you dear readers, but they will have to wait for now.......

Saturday 16 November 2019

Prince of Wales

I'm just back from a very enjoyable day in Portsmouth seeing the new baby of the fleet, HMS Prince of Wales, make her first entry into Portsmouth ahead of her commissioning next month. It was a lovely day, made better by the presence of all the friendly and chatty ship enthusiasts on the Round Tower - I was first there at 0800, it was toppers by 1000, ship passed the tower at 1400, but the atmosphere and chat was great and the time flew by.

PoW has special meaning for me for a number of reasons, so I must admit there was a small tear in my eye as she came past :)

Saturday 26 October 2019

Far Distant Ships

This is my first blog entry for a while, so you could be excused for thinking that I've not been up to much. In fact the last few months have been quite busy (and you'll find a brief summary at the end of this entry).

The reason for this entry is to post an update on a project that has been on my books for two decades, and that is a set of fast play fleet action age of sail rules. I've had a number of false starts on this but over the past 6 months this project has accelerated a bit and it looks like it is coming to fruition. The rules now sit within my set of fast play rules, between the Renaissance and the age of the ironclads, and players of my other sets such as "Broadside and Ram", and "Cannon, Cross & Crescent", will be familiar with the mechanics (although they differ in a number of details). The rules have been the subject of some gritty playtesting by a number of groups, not least of which is Bob Blanchett and his antipodean team who have done a grand job highlighting areas for improvement.

My latest play test here was last Monday, wherein my friends in the Berkeley Vale wargames club took to the high seas off the Netherlands to refight the Battle of Camperdown/Kamperduin - Monday was Trafalgar day but I wanted something a bit smaller for this game as it was the first time the BV team had seen them.

As in the real battle the aim was simple - Dutch need to escape to the West, the Royal Navy needs to stop them. And thats sort of how it turned out, although the RN wasn't as successful as in real life. The Dutch vanguard and middle squadron managed to extricate themselves quite nicely, and gave the British vanguard a  bit of a hard time. The British rear managed to get itself out of position and ended up trading shots at long range, but the centre squadron hit the Dutch line between the Dutch centre and rear, isolating the rear squadron which was hammered at close range. As the game ended (and last orders called) the Dutch rear was lost, but they had managed to get their other squadrons into a position from which they could escape, albeit with some damage sustained.

Start of the game. The Dutch (right) decide to close the distance to the British fleet 

Closing, closing......

Battle is joined. The white and yellow puffs are markers representing damage suffered. 

Towards the end of the evening as the Dutch rear is isolated

A fun action, and the BV players picked up the essence of the rules very quickly. The important thing though from my perspective was that they enjoyed it and want to play again. Perhaps we will get Trafalgar done this year after all? :)

Just for info, the models are 1/2400 scale ships from the Hallmark range. I first got these to do Trafalgar around 1995, and Andrew Finch of A&AGE painted up my first batch (plus the Danes at anchor which I bought to do Copenhagen). The last batch of models, which I bought soon after the first, I finally completed earlier this year :)

** So what else have I been up to? Well, in no particular order:

  • The Naval Wargames Weekend at Yeovilton
  • The Wings of Glory / Sails of Glory weekend at Doncaster Air Museum (I won the naval tournament, came 3rd overall in the weekend event)
  • Published "Narrow Seas" at last
  • Printed and painted a whole host of 1/600 craft for Narrow Seas, including Finnish and Italian squadrons, and some additional 1/700 PT boats and Japanese "targets" for my Pacific collection. This lot has comprised somewhere in the region of 60 new craft
  • and probably a whole lot more :)

Monday 12 August 2019


Whilst I was thinking about storage for my new BSG/Buck Rogers fighters I got thinking about how some more "targets" (aka "vessels in need of escort") wouldn't come amiss. Some hunting around on Thingiverse and a few hours of printing later.....

The model is based on the Senators' Shuttle from Star Wars but has been modified by "Snickett" to act as a typical ship's launch or cutter in the Traveller RPG setting, so it also makes an ideal shuttle for use in my BSG/BR games (and might also work for X Wing). 

If anyone wants to try  the model out you can find it here:  

Thursday 8 August 2019

INWarD 2019 - Save the Whales

My offering for INWarD 2019 was a run through of my "Whale Wars" game. In this scenario a trio of Japanese whalers has its sights set on a small pod of whales, whilst the ea Shepherd organisation is out to frustrate their efforts. An Australian patrol boat stands by to observe the action.....

The start of the action. Japanese to the bottom of the picture, Sea Shepherd to the top left, RAN centre right, whales in the middle.

The Japanese whalers steaming in formation - whales ahoy!

George and Gracie blissfully unaware of the peril that is about to befall them

Meanwhile the Aussies look on...

 Sea Shepherd dashing to the rescue - The Steve Irwin and Brigitte Bardot head towards the danger zone

As the Japanese close in the Steve Irwin slows and launches inflatables

Boats away!

The inflatables streak ahead of the Steve Irwin as the Brigitte Bardot closes on the Kaiyo Maru 3

Interception to the South as Brigitte Bardot crosses the bows of Kaiyo Maru 3

Collision! Kaiyo Maru 3 hits Britte Bardot. Both ships heave to and a vigorous "debate" on the application of COLREGs ensues 

Meanwhile the first inflatable group swarms the bows of Kaiyo Maru 2

The inflatables swarming Kaiyo Maru 2 attempt to daub slogans on the side of the ship, appealing to the world's media (embarked on the Aussie ship), whilst the whalers retaliate with fire hoses

Kaiyo MAru 2 and Brigitte Bardot continue to bounce off each other and trade insults

chemical bombs thrown from the inflatables distract Kaiyo Maru 2, whilst the Steve Irwin amkes a run at Kaiyo Maru 1 

Steve Irwin and Kaiyo Maru 1 collide. The Sea Shepherd ship is temporarily disabled, the whaler undamaged 

Kaiyo Maru 1 slips past the Steve Irwin and heads towards the whales, a pair of inflatables positioning themselves between the Japanese ship and George 

Meanwhile, Kaiyo Maru 3 gets under way again and heads for Gracie

The Japanese continue to close, the inflatables marking George get into position btween the whale and the ship

Kaiyo Maru 1 fires its harpoon, but the inflatables crossing her bows distract the gunner and his harpoon falls wide of the mark

as the Steve Irwin gets under way again the whales decide it is time to make deep dives. As they disappear from the surface the game ends. A victory for the protesters and the whales.

This was a fun game that lasted a couple of hours and which threw up a few improvements needed to the text of the rules. It also reminded me that I need to knock up some markers to show the various attacks taking place, such as fire hose sprays, stink /chemical bombs, harpoon shots and slogan daubing. Some thoughts on that needed over the next few days.

Sunday 4 August 2019

Thornbury IPMS 2019

Well dang it, we only went and won "best participation game" at the Thornbury show again. More news later but worth noting that Tim won the award for most damage taken in a single game turn. Well done Tim :)