Friday, October 28, 2011

WWII in 15mm Redux

I haven’t done much with 15mm WWII Flames of War stuff for many moons now. A little over a year ago or so, it looked like I would be relocating to Palmerston North, and as they have an active FoW community, I started gearing up. However the move didn’t come off and Kapiti looks to be my home for the foreseeable... I wish there were more active Kapiti based FoW players to hook up with…
Still, WWII is never really far from my thoughts, as it always gets so much airtime on SKY’s History Channel, which is just about the only TV I bother to sit down and watch.

Also, the occasional trip to the video rental store has me peering through the WAR section, at the old war movies I remember watching as a kid in the 70s & 80s. Several old ‘classics’ that were so exciting way back then, and would always have me scrambling to get my airfix plastic toy soldiers out to play with…

And yet, re-watching them now as an adult with a more critical eye, often leaves me very disappointed. The main reasons usually being cheesy and wooden ‘acting’, ridiculous Holywood ‘tactics’; – ah look there’s as German machine-gun nest over there, lets just run towards it over open ground without firing…and get mown down. Or perhaps I should stay where I am, but instead of staying down, I’ll stand up to shoot… oh damn I got shot…

The main disappointment though is the tanks used in the movies. What looked great to a young eye, that didn’t know any better, now really annoys me to see what I typically think are M60s or other unsuitable (wrong period) main battle tanks painted up to try and disguise the fact that they are actually completely the wrong tank.

Last couple of movies I hired were ‘The Bridge at Remagen’, which was OK apart from the US tanks used, and ‘Anzio’ – gods that was dire… I gave up watching halfway through…

There are some good classics out there though that at least try and look right, a family favourite here is Kelly’s Heroes, though its not your typical war movie, but at least they had Shermans and what looked like Tiger tanks (though I have since learnt were mock ups on I believe a T34 chassis).

’Saving Private Ryan’ goes without saying and of course Band of Brothers Series, and presumably ‘The Pacific’ though I have not seen this as yet, and I am more interested in the European theatre anyway.

‘A Bridge too Far’ wasn’t too bad either though not sure about the German tanks used. ‘Cross of Iron’ was pretty good too and was one of the first war movies I saw that you actually got to see what looked like ‘real bullet hits and blood effects’. I like ‘Patton’ for the way George C Scott takes the role, but again the wrong German tanks…

I’d welcome your thoughts [comments below] on other WWII movies for their accurate depictions, or just generally what you thought of them.

So with this once again renewed period interest, I decided to peruse the FoW stuff at Maelstromgames where I get most of games stuff from, only to find they are no longer stocking the range.

They are now stocking ranges called ‘Forged in Battle’ which appear to be traditional white metal based, and also the ‘Plastic Soldier Company’ is producing a range in hard plastics. Both in 15mm so direct competition for Battlefronts Flames of War.

I have stumbled across some blog posts on the web featuring some of these products and wondered at your opinions on these ranges in terms of compatibility with Battlefronts products and importantly, cost. I am especially keen to hear from NZ based players as presumably the Battlefront products are readily available on these shores still, yet the others would have to be shipped in.

Again I welcome your comments and opinions.

Finally, the last issue I have with 15mm FoW, is terrain. Nearly all my terrain is scaled for 28mm, though hills are fairly generic. What recommendations are there out there for 15mm WWII buildings - resin casts presumably? Where is best place and price to source, especially for here in NZ.
Thanks in advance.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Royal Navy crew

I finally managed to get back to some painting work, and have finished my first starting crew figures for my Legends of The High Seas, Royal Navy Crew.

Here you can see them defending the Governors Mansion

Here the Captain and First officer.

And the remaining crew.

The figures are from Brigadegames Caribbean Empires range. I found them very nice figures, that match well with my Foundry pirates. They are perhaps ever so slightly smaller than the Foundry figs but its hardly noticeable.

One thing did trouble me a little. The captain wears a bicorne style hat, which really puts him in the more Napoleonic period, - late 1700s early 1800s. I considered doing a hat or head swap with a tricorne hat more appropriate for the period. But then good mate Roly pointed out the figure also has a turned back lower part to his jacket, which again puts him in this later period. In the end I decided to leave him as is. Its not as if I am being terribly bothered about true historic representation about this Pirate skirmish gaming, so on balance I think he'll look the part well enough.

The only other slight fly in the ointment, is that 2 of the regular crew carry muskets, which for a Navy crew (in LotHS) should really only be carried by Marines. I'll just have to use them 'counts as Marines' for the game.

So that's a start to the Navy. I know Foundry do a set of RN Boarding party that I hope to get that will flesh out my small navy crew.

[update 21/10/11 - its just been brought to my attention by Cap'n Blood over on the Lead Adventure forum that crew packs II & III have just been released by Brigadegames, so looks like I'll be placing another order there soon!]

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Waterloo - Warhammer Historical

I give you here a brief first impression review of this book.

When Roly suggested we grab a copy of this since it was on 50% off sale I thought yeah why not.

It didn’t take long for the book to arrive, only a few days which is a pretty good turn around time for UK to NZ delivery.

But what was an even better surprise is the book itself. I have got most of the Warhammer Historical supplements and whilst nice they have all been of the soft cover variety.

This book is a glorious A4 sized Hardcover, and about twice the thickness of the prior offerings.

It really is eye candy at its best for the period. The production quality appears very high, and goes to show what can be achieved with a little time and effort. OK, perhaps a lot of effort - no-one said painting up a whole Napoleonic army was easy! ;-)

The figure scale featured (although others can be used), is 28mm which is my favourite, and again shows what is now possible, and financially attainable for most us with the high quality plastic ranges that are now coming on to the market from the Perrys, Victrix et al .

What this book is screaming from cover to cover is “if you’re gonna do it right, do it like this”, and quite magnificent it all looks.

There is also a wealth of colour plates and artwork throughout adding to the look and feel of the book.

The book is 288 pages long, with the first approx. 80 pages giving the Intro and Rules. The rules themselves have some similarities in look and feel to the Core Warhammer game. They have used some similar diagrammatic representations to show how units move and manoeuvre and interact on the table top, and this I like as its always easier to see what is intended from a picture than solely ploughing through text.

The rest of the book covers Scenarios including siege ideas, Army lists with points values in a similar way to Warhammer, Campaign ideas and notes, and also a decent section on the history of the period, so the novice can quickly get to grips with what the period is all about. There is also good hobby advice and instructions in terms of assembling an army and how to paint it up, with sample colour schemes and uniform guides. Enough to wet the appetite to search for more…

Again this I like, as it is very encouraging to new and experienced players alike.

In short this is the entire hobby of wargaming this period in one book, and I feel for that reason alone well worth the investment, at its current sale price.

I must admit I have not read the core rules as yet, nor played the game. So I cannot comment further there as yet. Time will tell.

I realise this style of book will not appeal to all, and some of the ol' grumbling grognards may whinge that there are pictures at all, and shock horror, colour too! It could have been much cheaper without, and would have then only cost 3 shillings and 6 pence, and you'd still have had change for a cinema ticket and a bucket of 'ot gravel for tea, from your nine-bob-note... ;-)

But for the rest of us, its a visual treat, and at its current sale price, a bargain, even if the rules are not your cup of tea...

More can be read on the Warhammer historical website.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

A fistful of ... excuses!

To all those who drop by and peruse my infrequent pictorial ramblings on this hobby blog, I must apologise for the poor show over recent weeks.

Here in the southern hemisphere, we are just coming out of winter and entering spring, but there are still a lot of folks about suffering coughs and colds, as I see day to day at work.

And yep you guessed it, I have been struck down repeatedly this season.

I reckon over the past six weeks my family and I have each had 3 seperate colds, and I got the added bonus of a seperate sinus infection which quite literally floored me for a couple of days...( I haven't had to take time off work since I had my appendix out)

It's the dear little folks of the family bringing a whole plethora of bugs home from school to infect mam and dad with, usually getting mum first as she is closest with them and finally sticking it to dear ol' dad.

Then of course there is the cyclical action I experience at work; customers come and cough and splutter over me their request for cough and cold medication - so I come down with the same . Then when I am coughing and spluttering, the next customers get it back from me presumeably! Ah well it keeps it going round and round, and is I guess, good for sales and profits! ;-)

So, "physician heal thy self" I hear you cry, well I manage to get through the day at work pumped full of pills and potions, but by the time I get home and have dinner, I just can't be motivated to paint, and just veg-out in front of TV before an early night, dosed up to the eyeballs with a hot-toddy.

Since most of my painting is done in the late evening, you can tell I have done bugger all painting really over the last several weeks!

Even at the wintery weekends when you are rained in, and I would normally get some time painting, but when you have that horrible throbbing head and sinus thing going on, you just cant be bothered to try and focus on the models and get any painting done...

I have a desk covered in half done models; ACW, Cannibal natives, the first few Zulu test figures, more strumpets, Royal navy crew, and several ships parts...

Oh well, I have hopefully just about kicked this latest bug out of my system and can hope to get back to normallity soon, but...

With the arrival of spring and finer weather, I have also had the usual garden duties to do, and due to a few changes on the domestic front aswell, I have been busy with both house and garden. Jings don't you hate it when 'normal life' gets in the way of your hobby time!

On top of this, there has been a further pressure on my painting time... Better weather has me thinking of trying to get out for a bike ride, if garden and other family duties dont get in the way first, but I have always felt a little guilty going out by myself for a ride at weekends, leaving kids at home, when they dont see much of me through week due to work and school...

However, after watching "Wild Hogs" with my young son, on TV a couple of weekends ago, that seems to have broken the ice so to speak, over his fear of the bike (he'd been told many tales from mum and grandma about my past biking accidents... admittedly when I was 'younger and stupid' and tried to be the fastest thing on 2 wheels on the road, riding my sportsbike - its difficult to ride them slow!)

So having now decided he wanted to be a 'Wild Hog' with his dad, we checked him on back of the bike and he could get his feet on the footpegs, so off we went and got him a helmet. And that was it, after a couple of runs up and down our street to get his confidence, we were off, and enjoyed several rides round the local town.

Not to be out done, younger daughter jumped up and down until she got a turn too... sliding forward on seat she could just get her feet on the pegs, she was determined to have a go. I only took for a run up and down our quiet street.

So as you can see there have been a few things getting between me and a paint brush recently. Hopefully I'll be able to get back to normality soon...

In the meantime a good gaming buddy of mine, Roly Hermans, reminded me of the Warhammer Historical half price sale currently on. I havent played Warhammer (WAB) for a couple of years now I think, and have most the supplements anyway, and didnt bother getting the latest revamp of the rules as there was a lot of dissenting comments when it came out, and my interest was waning... However Roly pointed out the Waterloo supplement.

Truth be told I think he was seduced by the eye candy pictures, but GW usually turn out fairly playable sets of rules, and at half price it was worth a try. So I joined him in a purchase.

To be honest we are both more than happy with Black Powder for our Napoleonic gaming. We like the command and control mechanism and its gentlemanly non competative playing style, but as mentioned we thought this would be worth a try. Plus Roly had noted the rules description suggests easily playing on a 6 x 4 playing area, and that would suit his slightly limited playing area. So worth a try we thought.

With Black Powder rules, and it's ancients 'cousin' - Hail Caesar, in mind, and perhaps noticing that the amount of Lord of the Rings material on this blog has tailed off over the last year or so, I was very intrigued to see that John over on PlasticLegions blog is looking to do a Lord of the Rings variant for Hail Caesar. I know a chap called David did do a version for Black Powder, which is available in the Black Powder yahoo groups files, but obviously Hail Caesar would be a better match for the 'period', so I wish John well in this endevour, and look forward to seeing what he comes up with.

I still feel Lord of the Rings is better played as a large scale battle, (although the SBG skirmish game does equally well suit smaller actions), but have found several issues with the War of the Rings rules, which have frustrated and put me off playing, yet I still love the mythos and figures.

So I think a Hail Caesar variant would be ideal!

[quick blog edit: I would also like to see some sort of 'Fantasy templates' done for Hail Caesar, so other fantasy worlds could be explored with this rule set, eg Narnia. To put this further in context - I greatly enjoy perusing through the variety of army list possibilities in the Hordes of the Things rulebook, I just have always found the rules themselves rather dull, and difficult to get to grips with anyway (its not an eye-candy rulebook!) Having a, dare I say, 'generic' list of templates for various races & monsters etc. that could be tweaked further to suit the setting would allow wonderful scope for Fantasy gaming with these rules]

Well thats enough of a rambling catch up for now. I'll try and get back to painting, get some pictures up, and have normal service resumed!

Thanks for reading and your patience.

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