Tuesday, 31 December 2013

So long 2013, Fuck You!

Apologies for the F-Drop in the title, I know not everyone will appreciate it, but that's the only way to sum up how this year has gone.

2013 started pretty poorly and steadily got worse, levelling off at pretty crap in November. Frankly I'm glad to see the back of this year, but I'm tentatively looking forward to next year, hopefully get some better news in the first few months.

Also a quick thanks to my friends and family, the guys at the club and all my internet friends for helping me out over the last twelve months!

Have a great new year everyone.

Monday, 30 December 2013

Kindle Purchases

Ok, it turn's out that Sunday evening wasn't a good night for some painting; rather it was for sleeping a few hours on the couch!  Still, off for a few days now, so I'm bound to get something done.

One thing I've discovered about the Kindle: not only is it great for reading books and wargames rules, it's also really easy to spend money on!  I've picked up a couple books this weekend, notably:

I would have probably picked up the whole Osprey Legends series at some point, but these two were 99p and 49p respectively, bargain.  Admittedly, I'm still getting accustomed to not having the physical book, but reading is surprisingly comfortable.  The Thor book in particular has thrown up a number of things I wasn't familiar with.  Great artwork throughout too!

The Arthur book less so, but I did study Arthurian literature (mainly Thomas Malory and Sir Gwain and the Green Night) for a semester at university, so am a bit more familiar with those legends than the Norse.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Xmas Update

Well I hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas (or at least the day off work!)  I was certainly glad of the day off, my first in a wee while, and managed to lounge around in the sack until eleven or so.  Stirred into motion by the smell of bacon, it was soon time to exchange gifts.

The old man really pulled a surprise by picking me up a Kindle.  I've been wanting to replace the tablet pc (which the ex has, I got the laptop) since the summer and this is a fits the bill perfectly.  Aside from ebooks, which I'm not particularly sold on anyway, it's great for surfing the net whilst chilling in bed or on the couch.  It plays my music and audiobooks too, which I'm getting used to, and is fantastic for reading wargame rules and pdfs.

Other than that, I was given a new Osprey book, Jackson's Valley Campaign and the latest Scott Lynch book, Republic of Thieves.

On a whim, I ordered a Christmas Crazy Box 2013 from Mantic Games.  It's essentially a lucky dip box with a random assortment of miniatures from their various ranges.  My box included two Dreadball MVP players, including the only giant figure I don't own, some elves, three ogres, ten human spearmen, five space Dwarves with heavy weapons, two space Orx with heavy weapons, two wonderfully weird Deadzone figures and a random playing piece figures (no idea what it actually is.)

I'm happy enough with the purchase, in terms of RRP, it's great value.  Of most immediate use, are the Dreadball giant and the Ogres.  The elves and spearmen should also see some use, probably in a skirmish game or an RPG.  The rest are all nice enough, the Dwarves (Forgefathers?) in particular are much nicer than the website photos suggest, and should see some paint on them at some point.  The Crazy Box is still on sale, so it's a nice purchase if you fancy some random fantasy/sci-fi miniatures.

Earlier in the year, I joined the Blogger Secret Santa that was going around.  Sadly, my present hasn't turned up yet (boo-hoo I know,) but that wasn't solely why I joined.  I'll keep faith in the blogging community, and the Royal Mail, that something will turn up in the next few days!

In terms of the Painting Challenge, the last week or so was a bit of a bust!  Just far too busy with work and the occasional social functions i.e. nights in the pub, to get time to pick up the brush.  Today though, I managed to prep the next few entries and, after days of terrible weather, get some spray priming done. Sunday night feels like a good time to get some painting in, doesn't it?

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Merry Christmas

Just wanted to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas.  I hope everyone is getting what and to do what the want today!

I've just finished a nine day run of busy days at work, so, at 9:30 in the morning, I'm still lounging in bed.  Can't see myself getting up soon either!  Until next time, enjoy the obligatory Sophie Howard & friends boob pic!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

10mm Roman Command stand

Here's my first entry into the Analogue Painting Challenge; a 10mm Republican Rome command stand.  Figures are from the Pendraken cavalry pack, nice enough sculpts, but the rest of the pack are all one pose figures - one of my pet hates!

I want to avoid the whole sea-of-red look for my Romans, so tried using green as the main colour and will probably keep it as the main colour for the legionnaires.  These guys have sat glued to the base since the last year, so it was somewhat apt that I started this year's challenge with them.  4 points done!  Chuffed with that.

Sadly after day two, I'm already a bit behind schedule!  My scheduled day off on Monday went a bit pear-shaped and I ended up working a long shift.  Work and the club on Tuesday meant no activity at all. I managed to get some brushwork in this morning, but am going to have to push Thursday and Friday nights to get the theme weekend entry completed on time. Still, there's plenty of time left, isn't there?

Sunday, 15 December 2013

One down, many, MANY more to go!

Well, that's me off the mark, one base of figures painted.  Having written that, it sounds more impressive than it actually is!  I'll have to wait for daylight tomorrow to take pictures, but otherwise I'm happy enough with the days work.  In some fortunate timing, it was my first day off in over a week today, coinciding nicely with the start of the Analogue Painting Challenge.  As a result, I was able to take a few hours to set up my desk how I like, look out some favourite pots of paint and generally gear myself up for the next few weeks.

Like many other participants, I haven't painted anything in the last few weeks, so today was a chance to brush off the cobwebs.  A few thought occurred to me while painting away:

  • More light!  After lunch, the natural light on my desk dropped off dramatically.  I'll need to dig out a couple lamps for afternoon/evening painting, maybe swap out to using daylight bulbs too.
  • Painting itself is reassuringly satisfying.
  • My home-made wet palette is a godsend, particularly useful for correcting mistakes, by keeping original paints usable hours after a first coat.
  • Listening material is essential to keeping your brain occupied during the more mundane tasks. Football earlier in the day and the latest D6 Generation episode in the afternoon.
  • My points target suddenly seems a long way away!
Another day off tomorrow, so the plan is to finish up another group of figures by the evening. If I manage that I won't feel too guilty about not painting Tuesday while I go to the final club night of the year.

Everyone finished prepping yet?

Only a few hour now until the Analogue Painting Challenge 2014 kicks in.  As plenty of other Bloggers have documented, December has been busy with modelling figures, prepping bases and arguing about exactly what constitutes priming a miniature!

Dreadball figures aplenty!

Although not as much as I'd have liked, I've prepared a few weeks worth of figures; some Dreadball teams, the remainder of my Saga vikings, some 15mm sci-fi reinforcements and a few figures for the lucrative bonus theme weekends.

My Viking army.  Doesn't look like that much work, does it?

It'll be interesting, keeping an eye out to see how everyone starts off the challenge.  I work in retail so this is the busiest time of our year, but I have some painting time scheduled, including tomorrow as a day off.  first goal; to get off the mark.  Best of luck to everyone participating and for those not, I hope it'll be interesting to read about!

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

November Gaming: A House Divided

Not a huge amount of gaming happened in November; real life and whatnot.  I did manage a couple of games in at the club though, the first of which was A House Divided, a board game by Frank Chadwick.  I can't remember the current publisher, but this is apparently the fourth edition of the game.

AHD is a strategic wargame, re-fighting the American Civil War in it's entirety (and beyond if you prefer.) The game board consists of a network of strategic locations, either cities, towns or forts, with a web of roads, rivers and railway lines connecting them.  The game plays out in month long spring summer turns and two month autumn winter turns.

April 1862, look at all those blue tokens, must be going well for the Union.

Each turn, a player has a specific amount of activations he can make, moving or entrenching units, initiating battles and so on.  The movement mechanics are nice and simple, reflecting the importance of rail and river travel (particularly for the Union player in the latter case.)  The fact you can't move a whole lot of units in one turn, unless they are all stacked together as an army, means you can't redeploy strategically very quickly; you have to plan what you're going to do and build towards that carefully.

Combat is an extremely straightforward affair, purely dice based, with two hits needed to eliminate a token. There are still a number of tactical options for each side, with options to reinforce or retreat from the combat or to entrench a position.  After each successful combat, the victor can promote one of his units to a higher quality, from militia to veteran or from veteran to crack.  A slight niggle here is that for each battle, you pick all the involved units off the board and line them up separately, this kind of grated on me for a while, but I can't think of a better way it could be implemented.

The sideboard, tokens and battle area.  Exciting stuff!

The token count has been very specifically balanced to reflect the disparity in manpower between the two sides.  As a result the Confederate player has to be aggressive to promote his units to a higher quality, thereby making the lower quality token available for recruitment. On the other hand, the Union player automatically drafts new militia units every April, in addition to those he can recruit during the year.

Play alternates between the two players for the five years of the war until one side emerges victorious.  The Union win by either capturing Richmond or enough other bases to force a win (actually I think I'm forgetting one here.)  The Confederacy win by either capturing Washington or by simply avoiding defeat until May 1865.

We chose to play one of the year scenarios, as time was a bit limited, opting for 1862. Deployment was fixed with heavy concentrations around Washington and Richmond, the Union holding Kentucky and with a small force entrenched in Fort Monroe.  Victory and defeat for this scenario is calculated in the difference between the maximum possible army sizes for each side, calculated by the number of large cities each side controls - essentially this means "how much ground can the confederates take?"  Alternatively, if either side lost their capital, the game would be over too.

For some reason, I took a picture of the rulebook too.

I took the role as the Union commander, keeping my capital swarming with troops while simultaneously building up forces for a naval expedition down the coast (Will it worked for McClellan, didn't it?)  For the hell of it, we also had a push down from Kentucky against what looked like weak opposition.

Adam had the Confederate command and played a much more cagey game in the early turns. All the Confederate militia tokens were on the map, so the only way they could recruit new troops was to promote some milita to veterans, freeing up the militia tokens for the recruitment phase.  Adam did this by harrassing some of my isolated units and forming up to resist my Western push.

My push soon turned into a rout.  With no choice to retreat in the face of much better troops than my own, I launched the naval expedition, taking a couple towns, but not doing nearly enough to avoid the complete defeat I suffered.  This continued the fine tradition I have at the club of introducing new games and then losing heavily at them.

March 1863.  Errr, how did that happen?  And where the fuck have all my guys gone!?!

The box comes with two sets of rules, basic and advanced rules.  The former, beyond learning the basic mechanics really have no depth to them.  The advanced set are a little more meaty, but not complex at all (particularly by the standards of a GMT game.)  The second half of the advanced rules section cover the optional rules players can choose to use (in part or all of them, there are about twenty five or so to select.)  I'm not a big fan of this kind of choice in a game, it makes me think the designers couldn't decide what to include, so put everything in and make the players decide.

As AHD is in it's fourth edition, I think this is a nice nod to the previous incarnations of the game and, with a handy chart to help you, picking what rules you want is pretty straightforward.  There is a huge amount to choose from; I won't go into them all, but some of my favourites are the draft riots 1863,naval assaults and the Grant/Lee rules.  Additionally, there are rules for hypothetical situations like a Confederate navy or European recognition of the Confederacy and subsequent military aid.

I have to say I think A House Divided is an outstanding game.  Well balanced and atmospheric, it was also really fun, despite my horrendous loss.  The year we played took about ninety minutes, although with some fannying about going on;  we're both keen to arrange an afternoon or evening where we can play the whole war through to a finish.  A final point, this game cost me a tenner, from IGUK earlier this year.  The price was heavily reduced, but this is easily the best value purchase I've made all year.  Recommended.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

G3 Games Day

Last weekend, a friend and I had a trip down to Glasgow to attend a Glasgow Games Group gaming event; the Spencer Warner Memorial Gaming Day.  The G3 event commemorates a founder member of the group and lets those who knew him (and those, like me, who didn't) get together for some gaming, for some laughs and to raise some cash for charity.

There was a fair turnout with around ten tables on the go, as well as a huge bring and buy section (I later learned that this was mostly Spencer's collection they are selling off for charity - Man he had a lot of stuff!)  I took some pictures, apologies to all the participants, I didn't get names:

The view from the door.

A well balanced looking Flames of War table.

One of two Apocalypse Warhammer 40K games.  These tables were packed with figures.

A huge Battletech game using Hawk Wargames' terrain set.  I think this was the quick play version of the rules (Alpha Strike?) as it seemed to be playing very quickly for BT.
Our first game, Blood Bowl Team Manager.  A much better game with three people rather than two.  Four players would be better still.

The second 40K game.  Someone came over to us from this table for a blether - Apparently his army had been reduced to just three figures!

In addition to these, there were games of Saga, Chain of Command, Dystopian Wars and a couple miscellaneous games I couldn't see properly.  My loot from the day was pretty satisfying:

Cold War Commander - because I don't have enough projects and scales going on.
Imperium supplement for Crusader - for completness, the only one I don't have.
Gear Krieg - a complete impulse buy.
Khador paint set from PP - great price
Thragosh the Messiah for Horders - again, a bargain.

We'd also stopped earlier at Static Games in the city centre where I picked up the latest booster for Android Netrunner and an adventure pack for the Lord of the Rings card game.