Monday, 31 December 2012

What have we got here...?!

I received sizeable package today. But it was too early for my post-Christmas miniature orders to have arrived. What could it be?

I excitedly busted open the package...


Aha! My Blackwater Gulch kickstarter! I mentioned it back in March, so it was one of those expected-at-some-point packages. Eight heroic 28mm miniatures and some bonus sheriff dice (doesn't every gamer love special dice?), it seemed like a reasonable shout to me and is the only kickstarter I've taken the plunge at so at. The sculpts look like they'll paint up well, they can go on the assembly pile and may feature as a Challenge entry.

Friday, 28 December 2012

WWWII AAR: Securing Facility 621

Initial Contact report,  17 Commando Troop,  Second Squad, 24 October 1944. 

Operation TESTUDO

Most secret intelligence provided the location of 'Facility 621', whose purpose was unknown beyond that it was purported to be managed by the Nazi 'Science Advancement Service'.

Dropped by glider, the mission of 17 Commando Troop was to secure and hold three known entrances to the facility, allowing troops of the 1st Assault Infantry Brigade to enter, exploit and destroy the facility. Intelligence and Aerial Reconnaissance suggested that Resistance would  be high. 

The raiders approach

The assault began one hour after dusk and the squad split into two, to approach Entrance B through thickly wooded terrain either side of a dirt track. Initial fire was exchanged with regular Heer infantry, with initial casualties inflicted and incurred. Jacky-Boy caught a lucky shot and was killed, while the defenders brought up heavier weapons. That mad Scot Rossy surged forwards only to catch a panzerschreck blast. To our astonishment, he survived with barely a scratch - the giant has the luck of the devil, well or a very thick head!

First and second blood


Hunkered down and exchanging fire

Progress was slow through the rough terrain and resistance mounted by the minute. Our misfortune was compounded by the untimely return of a dog patrol, which did for 'Stiffy' Simpkins. Casualties mounted and further progress in the face of such resistance looked increasingly unlikely. 


Showing the utmost daring and bravery, Corporal Anderson scrambled over a steep incline, but we immediately came under fire and were unable to follow. We heard an exchange of fire with an unknown number of opponents, before Anderson's Sten went quiet. 

At 0217 hours, the assault was aborted. 

Casualties incurred: two KIA, one MIA, two minor injuries, leaving three combat effectives. May our colleagues have had better fortune. 

The Major

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

WWWII characters, last of the 10mm WWII

I sent my first Challenge entry to Curt well before Christmas, but my own posting has had to wait s few days. I managed to get two more Weird World War II characters finished just in time for a couple of games over Christmas. Last year, I went away for the holidays before even picking up a brush, only to be left watching others rack up points for a week. Not this time! 

On the left is a British army Chaplain taking up arms to confront the German monstrosities. A really characterful, if slight, Warlord Games miniature. I've named him Padre Jonathan Harkness. On the right, 'Mad' Ross of Erracht,  an Infinity miniature that I though would serve perfectly well as a furious claymore-wielding Scot from centuries earlier.

I couldn't resist adding a little Saltire on his backpack and decided on a simplified 'Cameron of Erracht' tartan, as the green base echoes my Commandos' berets and the flash of red that also features elsewhere in the WWWII force.

Full dress of the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders in 1940, 
wearing Cameron of Erracht tartan. Courtesy of Wikipedia

I supplemented these two with a few 10mm WWII from Pendraken, which pretty much finish my British force for Blitzkrieg Commander.  Two stands of mortars and two of  Commandos. 

I haven't decided if I will blog all of my entries, in a way it is a repeat of what Curt puts up, but also gives me a chance to ramble a little more and preserve my entries on my own corner on the blogosphere. I suspect it will come down to whether I have time to or am back at the painting table!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Merry Christmas bloggers!

A short message to wish a very Merry Christmas to all of my readers and followers. I hope you have a pleasant holiday full of good cheer, good company and good food, wherever you are in the world. 

And also a special thank you to my generous Secret Santa. The rattling package of small boxes was as suspected: Perry Sudan British infantry and Bashi Bazouks. I'm really looking forward to adding some colour to the latter. Ive already got a pack of mounted ones primed, together I think they will be useful for Sudan or as irregulars or slavers for Pulp gaming. Santa also sent some reading material, 'Waterloo Recollections', which looks like a fascinating selection of first-hand accounts. Thanks Santa! 

Friday, 21 December 2012

More Weird World War Two (not a Challenge entry)

I had a few Weird War British to paint before Christmas, which was my last effort before the Challenge starts proper. Unfortunately I've been really busy recently, so I didn't get these infantry finished until a day into the challenge.

The miniatures are from West Wind's Secrets of the Third Reich range. I converted one to have a long-barrelled Bren when I first bought them many moons ago. I particularly like the officer miniature.

I've found the main 'Weird War' providers are a bit lacking in inspiration for the British and found I haven't been able to do much better. While Nazis usually get all sorts of weird science and occult offerings, the British are a bit of a mish-mash of science and the mythological with no solid theme. I might go down a quasi-religious route with mine, you'll see why I mean when my first challenge entry is done.

With their more Stompy suits offering support. 

I've also knocked these barbed wire barricades up, courtesy of 4Ground. Really quick paint job on these - just some brown ink to make the wood more uniform.

Finall, I received my bloggers Secret Santa this week. Two packages - how exciting! After a good poke and shake, I've identified that one rattles a bit but isn't Lego (longstanding family joke). I think I know what might be inside each but must leave it wrapped for now!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

I am Ronin number 33...

...and I am not fully prepared

So, with the Challenge starting in a few short hours, below is what my box of goodies looks like. A motley collection, totalling 50-odd 28mm miniatures, 10 cavalry and umpteen odds and sods. A quick count suggests this is around 400 points worth.

I will confess that a good few were actually left over from last year's Challenge and I'm not sure I'll muster the enthusiasm to get them done this time around either. That includes a unit of plastic Perry British Hussars, I'm dreading those. 

I should get a few more bits to assemble over Christmas and I've yet to convert up the rest of my Spanish Cavalry, which I'll be keen to get painted. No doubt I'll also find some new tangents over the course of the next three months! So I'm fairly confident my target if 550 is achievable. 

Best wishes and good fortune to all of my fellow Ronin as well as no-participants and well-wishers. Wishing you all a very Merry Festive season. 

Friday, 14 December 2012

Book Review: All the King's Men by Saul David

I picked up the attractive-looking hardback 'All the King's Men: The British Soldier from the Restoration to Waterloo' earlier in the year when it was on offer in  my friendly giant high street book chain. Purporting to be a 'compelling and vivid portrait of the British Soldier from Blenheim to Waterloo', I was expecting a slightly different perspective from the usual military history fare.

Unfortunately, It didn't really succeed at separating itself from its rivals. While it is well written and perfectly readable, I didn't find it added much of a different perspective at all. In fact, it seems to present something of an idealised view of something very different to the British Soldier: their finest generals: Marlborough, Wolfe and Wellington.

It details their brilliance, campaigns and occasional errors in some detail. But it is also frustratingly inconsistent. Some campaigns and battles are heavily detailed, some are barely referred to. There are precious few maps, many more would be welcome though those that are present are clear and appear well-drawn to my inexpert eye. It also takes huge tangents to offer context. It details Wellington's early life and Political career, which aren't hugely relevant to the prowess of the lowly infantryman under him. It also details the biography of military rivals, perhaps as a counterpoint: particularly Washington and Napoleon. Napoleon's rise and the French Revolution take up a substantial segment, despite being very heavily covered elsewhere. These don't really offer anything more than context to the thrust of the book. I think it gives undue weigh and words to the life and career of Napoleon, given the subject of the book is the British solider, not French!

There was no analysis of made British infantryman different, or better than his French, Prussian or American equivalent. It claims the British were the finest, despite their tendency to loot and pillage, but offers no real evidence to back up that assertion. It notes they lost the American War of Independence but 'learned to adapt (and) hadn't lost their ability to fight', one of many general and sweeping judgements. It barely touches on the life of an infantryman, their training or experiences and how these changed. While there are some first-hand accounts, chiefly from the memoirs of infantrymen, they seem to be those quoted in other modern histories, rather than anything unique.

Covered, but I'd prefer more about the British, thanks!

It is a very readable primer, but not something for those well-read In military history. I found the earlier sections illuminating, but more as I'm less well read on the War of the Spanish Succession and American Revolution. Given all three are well covered by military history books in English, I think you would get more depth from a specific book on each subject. Perhaps I'm being unfair and expected something that this book isn't really meant to be. As I note, it is well written and and an enjoyable as a light introduction/overview. But 'All the King's Men'? More like 'Three of the King's Men'.

Some Weird World War Two

Having dug out the WWWII for a little Christmas Pulpy goodness, I've a few bits to finish over the next week. First up was one of these 'British Steel' suits from West Wind's SOTR range. They aren't the most inspiring sculpts (compared the Incursion American ones, say), but they have quite a cute styling. Pity about the static poses, though.

I finished the left hand one a couple of years ago but think I've managed to colour-match the second, equipped with a flamethrower. You will note the new one is shinier, but I should be able to fix that with some Dullcote.

My camera also seems to have developed a Black Blob of Doom, more prevalent in this second photo. Probably some dust in the lens - it has had had a milder blob before but it went away. It's back with a vengeance, not good timing!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Digging in for the winter

In more sense than one. As well as assembling every scrap of metal and plastic in my cupboard, starting a  batch of Weird WWII which need to be finished before Christmas, I'm also finishing up as many half-finished and non-historical things as possible. 

With a quiet and mild Sunday, I've also caught up on a backlog of varnishing. As I was doing so, I realised I hadn't posted these resin emplacements for armour and artillery. Hopefully they will protect my 10mm WWII British from the usual hammering they receive!

They are from Timecast, each pair a reasonable few pounds. They are nicely sculpted and detailed and needed no preparation, so I'd definitely recommend them. 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Challenge Accepted; The Great Assemble

Curt at Analogue Hobbies is running his Painting Challenge again this winter and I'm delighted to enter once more.

My target is to beat my score of last year, 519 points, just over one hundred 28mm miniatures. That's a fair amount for me to put out over three months. 
With that in mind, I ransacked my hobby boxes. This is what I came up with:

It's amazing what you have stashed away...

I will hopefully get a few more bits around Christmas, including perhaps some miniatures from my Secret Santa. In the meantime, the Great Assemble is now on - I can hopefully get this lot built over the next fortnight!

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Board Game Weekend

Just back from a delightful, if chilly, weekend with the brother. Oddly, we hadn't scheduled any of our usual miniature games, mostly as I was on the train so transporting the necessaries was an issue.

Instead we busted out some board games. The first actually being a miniatures game: Angels 20. Dogfighting with pre-painted 1:150 planes. Its actually really good, a notch or two easier than Wings of War/Glory, but really fun and quick to play through. I liked the hex-based movement and the alternating turn order mean you had to predict where an opponent would end up to line up your shots. Although similar to many Pre-painted plastics, (the rules are almost identical to War at Sea), we agreed it is visually an tactical superior to all the others we've dabbled in.

 We got three games in a couple of hours. So I'd recommend it for something you can pick up and play or for less experienced gamers. Gharak has changed the flight stands to be telescopic, (read more in one of his rare blog posts), which looked ace and meant you could easily tell the altitude level of each plane. 

This poor German fighter actually survived unscathed

Next up was Caylus, a relatively complex Euro game. The theme was building a town and castle and competing for royal favour. It reminded me a lot of Agricola a it has similar man-placement and resource mechanisms. I found it less frustrating than Agricola, I think because you have 6 meeples rather than 2. But I think Agricola is perhaps a slightly better game, due to the challenge (and resulting satisfaction) and the choice of card decks perhaps making it more replayable.

Looks complicated, but surprisingly easy to pick up. 

Finally, a quick one from my collection: Braggart. A quick, humorous card game where you compete to make the most impressive boast of fantasy-world achievements. The art on the cards is good quality and the 'Liar' feature adds fun sabotage to turn great boasts into something quite bizarre and oft hilarious. 

One of my...less impressive feats

Id recommend it fr something quick and fun, but as all of these things I think the replay value is limited. I think D&D players would enjoy it in particular, perfect to start and evening off (or write some quick back story!)

All in all a fun weekend's gaming. At Christmas we hope to resurrect an old
project: side-stepping our Pulp game to a couple of quick weird World War scenarios. The best bit is I've already got all the minis for that and most of them are painted!