Sunday, November 20, 2011

WWII miniatures work in progress

Germans - just awaiting basing and matt varnish.

Esci, Italeri and unidentified metal figures.

Italeri MG34

Metal MG team and riflemen

Esci NCO and riflemen

Esci MP40 and Officer

The majority of the figures are from the old Esci German Infantry set which is now produced by Italeri, with the Italeri MG34 from the Anti-Tank set. The metal figures I picked up on e-bay and I'm unsure of the make.

Current painting

Mainly Revell US paratroopers and Italeri US infantry in winter dress, with an odd German that I needed to retouch.

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Organising my WWII troops

For my 20mm WWII project I've decided that the main set of rules that I'll use is Troops, Weapons & Tactics from Too Fat Lardies, though I will also look at trying out some other sets of rules such as Flying Lead from Ganesha Games. One of the main reasons for my choice is that I prefer to do platoon level actions in this scale and feel that a lot of rulesets can break down a bit for this level of game.

For unit organisations there is a section in the national force descriptions in the back of TW&T, but I found that there was a very useful resource at Bayonet strength which has helped me get completely clear on the organisations that I will be adopting for the US paratroops and infantry platoons and German Volksgrenadier platoons that will be used in my Bastogne campaign.

The US Paratroop Platoon had an HQ with a Platoon leader, usually a Lieutenant, a Platoon Sergeant, Sergeant Guide, radio operator and two runners. The Lieutenant and guide would be armed with a M1 carbine, the sergeant a SMG and the others officially carried M1 rifles. There would also be a bazooka with no crew, a sniper rifle and extra Browning MG that could be allocated to the squads. The mortar squad would have 6 men to crew the 60mm mortar. Most of these crew would officially have M1 rifles, but in reality I suspect M1 carbines would have been favoured because of their lesser weight.

The two rifle squads would have a Staff Sergeant leading and a Sergeant as second in command, a scout team of two riflemen, three man LMG team with a Browning M1919A4 or A6 MG with these possibly having M1 carbines and a five man rifle team with M1 Garand rifles. Though this officially based organisation does not include Browning Automatic Rifles it is definitely the case that Paratroop units had them as well as probably more SMG than they were allocated officially.

For the Volksgrenadiers I am using the final organisation from November 1944 with a Rifle Company consisting of 1 Rifle Platoon and 2 Sturm Platoons, with the Sturm platoons being largely armed with automatic weapons. These Sturm platoons have been originally called Machine Pistol platoons with the assumption being that like the Russian SMG platoons they were almost entirely armed with SMG, but I have been convinced that they had a mixture of weapons including MP40, Stg44 and probably still some K98 and G43 rifles. The November 1944 organisation is clearer in describing most of the Sturm platoon as being armed with Stg44, but it is unlikely that all of the troops would have been equipped with new weapons that quickly.

The Sturm platoon HQ has a commander with a Stg44, 2 messengers with Stg44, 3 rifle grenadiers with K98 and Scheissbesser rifle grenade attachments, 2 drivers for the supply wagon with K98 and a stretcher bearer with a pistol. There is also supposed to be a spare LMG with the HQ, but I would expect it to be used by one of the squads to give some additional ranged firepower.

There are two squads led by an NCO with a Stg44 and made up of another 7 troops with Stg44 on the official organisation. I will have these as a mixture of weapons including MP40 SMG, G43 and K98 rifles as it would have not necessarily been possible to have all the new weapons supplied and one of these squads would also probably have the spare LMG from platoon HQ. The third squad contains an NCO with SMG, 2 LMG gunners with a pistol and an MG34 or $2 and 5 men that are meant to have Stg44 from the official organisation.

The Rifle platoon has a more conventional organisation with the HQ having a commander and 2 messengers with MP40,  3 rifle grenadiers with K98 and Scheissbesser rifle grenade attachments, 2 drivers for the supply wagon with K98 and a stretcher bearer with a pistol. The three squads have an NCO with MP40, 1 LMG, 1 MP40 and 5 K98 rifles.

There is no official allocation of Anti Tank weapons in the Volks Grenadier Company, but I think it is fair to assume that each squad would have a number of PanzerFaust available.

In my next post I'll set out how I'll actually organise the figures on the table.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

WWII in 20mm Plastic

One of my main wargames projects now is to do some WWII games with 20mm plastic figures as the majority of my forces. I'm supplementing them with some metal figures to fill in gaps that exist in the coverage of the different forces weapons and equipment.

What started me off on this was finding some old Esci WWII British and German infantry sets that were complete and gave me a decent basis for a couple of sections of infantry for each side. Since then I've made some firmer plans for what I'm going to do with the figures, vehicles and terrain that I create.

My initial aim is to do a US airborne platoon and a German infantry platoon, with some appropriate support from AFVs and support weapons. As the Esci Germans are in early war uniforms I've picked up the Revell set of German infantry who are in late war uniforms and have the varied weapons that are appropriate for that period. For the US airborne I've picked up the Revell US Paratrooper set and this is pretty good for the necessary figures to field a complete platoon in one box though it did need some supplementary figures. I'll publish some pictures of the WIP of the figures soon and reviews of the figure sets that I've picked up.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Book Review: Band of Brothers - Stephen Ambrose

Band of Brothers by Stephen Ambrose is a history of E Company, 506 Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101 Airborne Division in World War II. This covers the entire period from the formation and training through to the end of the war in Europe. Ambrose has now acquired a controversial reputation as an historian but his writing is clear and engaging so this succeeds as a readable account for general readers.

The narrative largely focuses on key individuals in the company, mainly the officers and NCO as the NCO in particular were the longest serving members of E Company, many having been in the initial cohort training at Toccoa and serving through D-Day, operation Market Garden, Battle of the Bulge and the advance into Germany at the end of the war. Probably the most heroic of the many named is Richard Winters, who was an early platoon commander until promoted further up in the Battalion and was vital in achieving successful missions at Brecourt Manor and Carentan in Normandy.

This was the basis for the TV miniseries made by Stephen Spielberg which is what actually led me to reading the book. The TV series was very good and I'd recommend watching it if given the chance.

As a Briton I found there were a few of the usual comments from American historians about General Montgomery's alleged slowness which is not borne out by the actual evidence. That is a topic I might discuss later as I don't want to go off on a tangent from the review.

For a wargamer there are a number of scenario ideas and several of these actions have been used in commercially produced games with ASL Starter Kit 2 having an 88s at Zon scenario. I'm planning to use the small action at Brecourt Manor as a basis for some WWII games using the Flying Lead and Nuts rules which will feature in my blog later on. The accounts of the battles fought tend to bear out the approach of the Too Fat lardies rules with 'big men' being critical to motivating and leading troops in battle.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Current Wargaming Projects

My current wargaming projects are really based round recent sales and purchases I've made on ebay, where  I'm clearing out unwanted odds and ends from the minis collection and buying things that will enable me to get games running soon.

I've bought some 15mm ACW to add to my existing collection and get me closer to being able to play some battles with Fire & Fury and They Couldn't Hit an Elephant.

My other project was a bit more of a spur of the moment notion as I had a few boxes of Esci WWII British and Germans and decided that I would play WWII skirmish level games in 20mm. To that end I've bought a copy of Two Hour Wargames Nuts rules from ebay, which are actually the first edition rather than the current one and am also going to try Flying Lead from Ganesha games. If I build up enough figures and get a decent size folding table made up then I will also use Too Fat Lardies Troops, Weapons & Tactics for a platoon level game.

The picture shows my German WWII figures in progress.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

My Favourite Albums: 1 Husker Du Zen Arcade

Zen Arcade

This will be the first of my irregular posts about my favourite albums, which in a way shows my age as it means I grew up in an era where music was sold either on singles with only usually a couple of tracks or albums with probably about 10 or a dozen tracks rather than being bought and sold individually like downloads are. I know that downloads of albums still exist but they are more to provide a comfort zone for older consumers like me I think or to match with CD releases rather than being the way that younger people favour buying and consuming music.

Zen Arcade is one of Husker Du's most musically adventurous albums as it sees them move away from their early hardcore punk sound into more diverse sounds and approaches. There are still plenty of tracks that feature their early sound with the distorted guitar and rapid tempos of early hardcore, but also experiments with slower tempos and adding different instruments to the guitar, bass and drums lineup.

In one way Zen Arcade is a concept album as it does have a unifying story that underlies the lyrical content of the songs. The story is of a boy running away from an unhappy home and facing the options of religion (Hare Krishna), the military (Chartered Trips) and drugs (Pink turns to Blue) before facing a realisation that life is hard and change is not always something we can create for ourselves (Newest Industry). The tracks Dreams Reoccurring and Reoccurring Dreams imply that it is all a dream.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Gary Gygax quiz

Dave H took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 90%!

You are a Gary Gygax Lord. Wow, you know a lot about Gary Gygax! My guess is that you are one of those Old School Renaissance guys, or else your last name is Gygax. Seriously, I didn't think anyone would do this well on this quiz.

Though I did look up a couple of answers I did know quite a lot off the top of my head.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011


So now we have an announcement that there will be a new version of RuneQuest from The Design Mechanism which on the whole is pleasing to me even though I still love my old RQ2 from the late '70s it will be nice to have a version that a new player can easily buy.

From what I've seen of Mongoose RQ2 there were some good ideas being incorporated so I'm glad to see that there will be a RQ6 sometime.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Why do I wargame

A recent post on Bob Cordery's Wargaming Miscellany has made me think about what it is that I enjoy about wargaming and on a related subject roleplaying as the two do overlap significantly in my opinion.

To me I think the elements of playing games with miniature figures is a mixture of the physical aspects of painting figures, creating terrain and then using them on the board as well as the imaginative aspects of creating stories from how the games resolve themselves. The modelling side is not my greatest pleasure though I do enjoy painting miniatures as I find it relaxing and I do not aim to achieve a 'competitive standard' as they are only being used as playing pieces for a game.

Another aspect is being able to use my interest in history, particularly military history for research on specific projects and periods to play games in. This includes both the conduct of battles and campaigns, tactical methods as well as the uniforms and weapons.

For me the imaginative aspects are a much stronger part of my enjoyment as I am happy enough to use figures that have only been undercoated or even unpainted to get a game running with terrain represented by cut outs of coloured paper or cloth. Indeed one thing I enjoy with roleplaying games is the fact that you can start a game with just a few ideas noted down on paper and conjure up how things will appear as mental pictures.

One thing that I haven't done much of in the past but is likely to be a feature of my games in future will be writing After Action Reports for my blog even if I end up the only person reading them as it will add to the enjoyment of playing the games.

Friday, June 24, 2011

First Hobbit film stills released

Hobbit Stills - so we get to see Sir Ian McKellen reprising his role as Gandalf and Martin Freeman as the young Bilbo Baggins.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A mutant future NPC

Another character in my series of creating characters for every RPG I have.

A Mutant future character - this will be a mutated human as one of the real defaults for the setting. So rolling 3d6 in order for the characters attributes I get 12, 13, 14, 10, 8, 8 - so good physical attributes but weak mentally. Starting funds: 3d8x10 = 16 x10 = 160gp, which is pretty good. Mutations: 2 physical, 1 mental - 16 Echolocation, 10 Dual headed, 89 Dual cerebellum (defective) - this means a further 1d4 mental mutations with half being defective rounding up - so one further defective mutation. I'm houseruling that the defective mental mutation cannot be another defective dual celebellum and I found that I had 14 points so used a d20 re-rolling any score over 14. I ended up rolling a phobia. A roll of 3 on the phobia table gives me an animal type which I'll work out as part of fleshing out the character. The dual cerebellum means that a secondary personality exists for the character that will take over once a month for 24 hours.

The mutations actually work quite logically for the character which is something that I don't mind as having contradictory values can be fun for a short while, but often presents difficulties in actually playing them as a PC or NPC.

Bobo Ferell
Race: Mutant Human Level: 1
Experience: 0
HP: 49 AC: 5/6 (with/without shield)
Move 60/20/60
Alignment: Chaotic

Strength: 12+0 to hit, damage and open doors.
Dexterity: 13-1 to AC, +1 to hit with missiles, +1 on reaction
Constitution: 14+0 to saving throws, 14 d6 hd
Intelligence: 10- +0 to technology roll
Willpower: 8
Charisma: 8+1 on reaction rolls, max 3 retainers morale 6

Bobo comes from a village of largely mutated humans that has survived by farming and hunting in the wastelands. Bobo has had to flee after his secondary personality, Equill emerged and committed murder to steal a set of gems. He now tries to earn a living as a travelling merchant selling and buying what he can and avoiding staying too long where Equill might emerge and bring him into conflict or get him hung from a tree.

Warhammer +0 1d6
Dagger +0 1d4
Shortbow +1 1d6

Shortbow 25gp2lb
Quiver and 20 arrows 5gp3lb
Studded Leather 30gp20lb
Shield 10gp10lb
Backpack 2gp2lb
Bag of smoked insects2cp-lb
Flint & Steel2gp -
3 flasks oil3sp3lb
5 days trail rations25sp5lb
qill pen1sp-
1 oz vial of ink8gp-
5 sheets parchment10sp-
map or scroll case1gp.5lb
2 lb tobacco2sp2lb
1 lb ginger2gp1lb

The total for all the equipment is 109 gp 2sp 4cp meaning that leaves Bobo with 50gp, 7sp, 6cp as funds. The total encumbrance is 66.5 lbs which would give him a movement rate of 60 ft/20 ft/ 60 ft per round - turn/encounter/running.

As normal with this series of characters created I'm happy for other GM to use them as NPC or even as player characters and I'd love to hear what you have done with them.

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Excellent RPG Blog

And I'm not talking about my own as I know that it needs work.

Dyson Logos' blog has lots of useful maps that you can try and interesting NPCs. I recommend a visit if you are a player of RPG, particularly from an old school background.

I've got a few of the maps which are going to be used for some Mutant Future and Labyrinth Lord sample encounters by me, which I'll publish here when I'm ready.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Book Review - I May be Some Time. Francis Spufford.

Captain Oates' famous words provide an apt title for this cultural history. Certainly for Britons of my generation and earlier, where the story of the doomed Scott expedition was frequently repeated. Personally I think that it was probably from either primary school or Blue Peter on TV that I first heard it and that would be a similar experience for many others. Strangely Shackleton's expedition, which may have had less success in reaching the pole but was far better at preserving the lives of its team was less heavily discussed in the media. I also remember being at a school where the different houses were called things like Parry; Ross; Franklin and other names of British explorers showing their memory stretching into the 1970s.

Spufford provides a certain amount of potted history of the efforts at polar exploration, with the early searching for the North West Passage and the loss of the Franklin Expedition in the Georgian and Victorian eras followed by Antarctic exploration by Edwardian explorers. The exploration of the North and South Poles created a fashion in British intellectual life for images of the icy wastes in literature, theatre and art.

Scott's doomed expedition to the South Pole is given a prominent place fitting how strongly it became part of 20th Century British culture. This includes looking at the expeditions life from diary entries and examining how even from its outset there was a strong creation of myths around the explorers and their task. This mythologisation of the Edwardian polar expeditions owed much to Clements Markham, but also to the work of Kathleen Scott  in helping to promote her husband's interests at the Admiralty and in preserving his memory.

Spufford examines the fictional representations and imagery of the Artic and Antartic in works, such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and The Water Babies. This includes American writers like Poe and Jeremiah Reynolds, who created a hollow earth theory with entrances at the poles. This hollow Earth idea was taken up by UFOlogists like Brinsley Le PoerTrench, 8th Earl of Clancarty. Hans Christian Anderson's Ice Queen is also discussed as an image of the ice being appealing.

Spufford has created an interesting work here and I would say this is well worth reading as it does have insights into British views of heroism in the 20th Century (and indeed in contemporary culture). Highly recommended.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Library of Congress maps online

This blog that I was pointed to, gives some insight into the US Library of Congress exercise in mapping their historic map collection. I love historic maps as my past posts about the British Library's exhibitions has shown and this has been really interesting for me to look at.

For the wargamer playing games set in the AWI or US Civil War there is plenty of helpful information at the Library of Congress site.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Roleplaying in the historical past.

One thing that I have enjoyed is playing RPG set in historical settings, whether a strictly historical game like Beat to Quarters or games with fantastic or supernatural elements like Call of Cthulhu.

For Call of Cthulhu in many ways my favourite period is the Victorian or Gaslight setting, this may be because as a Briton it represents a high point of my nations power and status, but also because it feeels a good fit with late 19th Century science and technology. The other period that I do like for Call of Cthulhu is Cthulhu Dark Ages, or as I have described it previously 'A World lit only by Fear'. In the past I've played in several historically based CoC campaigns including 14th Century France in the 100 Years War and many Gaslight games.

A game that I am currently playing in is set in a Roman based world for Dungeons and Dragons, called Carceres et Dracones to reflect this and based on the later days of the Roman Empire with the barbarian foedarates inside the empire's boundaries and less of the strong control of the earlier periods.

I'm now thinking about how I would want to run a game in the post roman era of British history, traditionally the legendary era of King Arthur, but also with the scope to have small warlords controlling areas, barbarian invaders and remnants of earlier populations. My feeling is to make this a fairly low fantasy setting where mythical creatures and magic do exist, but not in the profusion that is seen in the usual D&D game. I'll go through this in a separate post or series of posts as I don't wish to make this too lengthy. A previous D&D based game set in a reimagined saxon past was the Raedwald game that I playtested at, there is a thread about the design there or the creator's blog is here.

There are disadvantages of historical or semi-historical role playing, particularly if you wish to play female characters or non-human characters who are difficult to fit into many eras as active adventurers. The world of antiquity has probably a little more scope for this as being far less clearly known than the more recent past and easier to turn into a mythical world where other races exist. Another constraint can be the social structure being more rigid than most role playing settings or gaming groups playing styles allow for. Although Chivalry and Sorcery is a good example of how a game can be given a stronger rooting in the society that it is based on, it was difficult to fit adventurers into such a rigid setting.

The advantages of roleplaying in history are being able to get inspiration from the many interesting history books that are available or the remains of past civilisations that surround us. In London I have often been able to go past remains of the Roman or Medieval past and been able to wonder about how life would be in those times. I think this topic has plenty more scope in it so I'll return to it soon.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Labyrinth Lord Character

Back to the series of creating a character for every RPG I own, I'm starting with Labyrinth Lord which is my old school RPG of choice. I've used the basic method of generating the stats using 3d6 in order. The rolls I got were 3, 11, 8, 12, 15 and 5 giving me a character that will be best as a cleric as the best attributes are Intelligence and Wisdom. As a Cleric he'll get +5% to experience as his prime requisite of Wisdom is between 13-15. Starting wealth - 3d8 x10 gives 130GP so not too bad.

One of the things I like with random generation is that it gives me ideas for what a character will be like, with these attributes making me think of an aging cleric who has spent years living cloistered as a monk, though not a traditional D&D style martial arts monk.

Arminius was apprenticed to the monastery of Wildrang as a young boy and has lived there for many years working to maintain the scrolls withing the library. Many years of solitary study have made him withdrawn and difficult in his manner with few social graces. After the loss of a rare scroll from the collection Arminius has been sent out into the world by the abbot to seek it out and find if it can be retrieved. He seeks to join with a band of adventurers who can aid him in his quest.


Class: Cleric Level: 1

HP: 5 AC: 4

Move 60/20/60

Alignment: Lawful

Strength: 3-3 to hit, damage and open doors.
Dexterity: 11- no modifiers
Constitution: 8-1 HP per die
Intelligence: 12- able to read and write
Wisdom: 15+1 to magic effects saving throws
Charisma: 5+1 on reaction rolls, max 2 retainers morale 5

In Labyrinth Lord a first level cleric is able to cast spells and though this is usually allowed to be varied each day for a cleric it is pretty unlikely that Arminius will ever use anything except a Cure Light Wounds.


Level 1: Cure Light Wounds

As a Cleric Arminius is limited to using blunt weapons so I have selected a mace and a sling so that he does have both melee and ranged attacks, though given how poor his strength is melee is a risky proposition for him. I've also purchased his other equipment including armour and miscellaneous gear.

Mace: -3 to hit 1d6-3 damage
Sling: +0 to hit 1d4-3 damage

Mace 5gp3lb
Sling 2gp-
10 sling bullets -5lb
Chain 70gp30lb
Shield 10gp10lb
Backpack 2gp2lb
Holy symbol, wooden1gp1lb
Flint & Steel2gp -
3 flasks oil3sp3lb
5 days trail rations25sp5lb
qill pen1sp-
1 oz vial of ink8gp-
5 sheets parchment10sp-
map or scroll case1gp.5lb

The total for all the equipment is 115gp 0sp leaving Arminus with a starting funds of 15gp which at least allows him some accomodation or food before beginning his adventuring career. His total encumbrance is 71.5 lbs giving him a movement rate of 60 ft per turn, 20 ft in encounters or 60 ft running in encounters.

As normal with this series of characters created I'm happy for other GM to use them as NPC or even as player characters and I'd love to hear what you have done with them.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

25 years since Chernobyl

Twenty five years have now gone by since the major accident at the Cheronbyl nuclear power station.

The thing that I have found most striking is the scenes in the evacuated zones around the power plant where nature has been able to start reclaiming the built up areas. Pictures from the BBC and the Kid of speed website really show how striking an empty city can look. The area has now been opened up to controlled tourism as many of the radioactive materials released are reaching their half-life meaning that the radiation levels are declining. Although the plutonium released means that there will be a very prolonged legacy of radiation in the area.

These scenes really remind me of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker, even though that film was made seven years before the accident at Chernobyl.

One of the most important things is to learn from the mistakes made in clearing up after the accident as well as the flaws in the design of the power station. Particularly as nuclear energy seems set to have a major role in future electricity generation as fossil fuels become more expensive and renewable sources still need more effective ways of collecting and converting energy.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Fifty Years in Space!

Fifty years since Yuri Gagarin's first spaceflight, though manned spaceflight has stagnated a bit since the 1970s and the end of the Apollo programme in my opinion though the ISS is being used for plenty of scientific programmes.

It is always a question of whether manned missions are the most appropriate given the cost and difficulty of supporting life in such a hostile enviroment, particularly when unmanned missions like Cassini-Huygens have been so successful. But to the romantic in me the appeal of mankind travelling to the stars still appeals.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Miniatures Review 7: - 10mm Pendraken Zulu War

I've recently bought some of the Pendraken Zulu War range for a project this year and am going to post a review before I get into painting them.

I bought the Zulu War army pack which contains 1 pack each of ZC1 British Infantry, ZC2 Natal/Durban Cavalry, ZC4 Royal Artillery 9lb RML guns and for the Zulus a mixture of figures from the ZC5 Zulus without headdress and ZC8 Zulu command packs. In total there are 120 Zulus included along with 30 British Infantry,  15 Cavalry and 2 guns with 6 crew so the army pack is a decent saving as it contains the equivalent of 7 packs of figures.


Infantry figures are sold in packs of 30 with 1 officer and 29 other ranks in two poses. The officer is in field uniform with a sun helmet holding a pair of binoculars, he has a holster at his belt but no scabbard though officers did still carry swords in this period. The two poses for the infantrymen are standing firing and at high porte with fixed bayonet. These have the regulation equipment and are decent poses for making up units with.

The cavalry figures are actually more suitable for British regular cavalry as they are depicted with sabres which were not carried by many of the irregular units such as the Newcastle Mounted Rifles or Natal Mounted Police. What I intend to do is modify the figure with the carbine in hand removing the scabbard to depict these and using the figures with sword in hand to depict regulars.


The majority of the Zulu figures are modelled without the full headdresses that their uniforms could include, it is reasonable to think that in combat many would have not worn the full ceremonial array so just the headband or ring worn by the figures is acceptable. The detailing is good on the figures with the shields having the correct appearance and the weapons reasonably close to scale.

General Comments

These were well cast though a few figures had some pitting present and occasionally some flash, there were slight mould lines to be removed but on the whole they figures were produced to a good standard. The height of the foot figures is 10mm foot to eye, so the base of figure to top of head for a standing figure is nearer 12-13mm.

My main reference for the review has been The Zulu War (Men at Arms Series, 57) by Angus McBride, but I have also looked at a range of magazine articles and contemporary photographs in other books.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Wargamers ADD - it can be conquered!

Like many miniatures wargamers I have a tendency to a form of ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) when it comes to new periods and scales, maybe something that should be called PFD - Project Finishing Disorder, but I have found this can be conquered.

My method is simply to refuse to purchase new miniatures until I have completed a specified number of the existing lead pile, the only exception being the odds and ends to finish existing forces for a project. So I have made a vow this year to paint a minimum of 50. Though as I need quite a lot of terrain that is not included in the spending ban.

As I  have enough figures for most of my projects this year maybe it isn't so hard, but I still think the main thing is to select one project and work on that till completion before getting involved in a new one.

My current projects are:
  • 25mm Fantasy and Medieval Skirmish with Song of Blades and Heroes, 
  • 10mm Zulu War with The Sword and the Flame, 
  • WWII with Fast and Dirty(FAD) and Troops, Weapons & Tactics,
  • 15mm American Civil War with Fire and Fury
  • 15mm SF with FAD
  • 15mm Fantasy with Hordes of the Things
Most of which I already have fair numbers of painted figures for already, so just sorting out terrain is the priority.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Britain passes the Turing test!

Excellent news at  The Register that Alan Turing's papers have been saved for the nation, thanks to the National  Heritage Memorial Fund, Google and the public who contributed. Glad to see these will be in the UK at Bletchley Park, but hopefully they'll be digitised and made available on the web.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Interesting site for SF and Fantasy miniatures collectors

I had this site The Stuff of Legends pointed out to me and it has been really useful in finding out what the old Miniature Figurines (Minifigs) and Citadel miniatures SF figures that I own are. At some point I'll be posting pictures, but currently I'm removing paint from them with the intention of selling off some and painting up the others.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

150th Anniversary of the American Civil War

This year will see the 150th Anniversary of the outbreak of the American Civil War and many US media sites are producing articles about this, I've found this series of  NY Times articles to be interesting in setting the scene. This is a subject that I will be returning to over this year, particularly for the anniversaries of the Battle of Fort Sumter and First Battle of Bull Run in July.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Burns Night

A quick post to celebrate Robert Burns' birthday (and me drinking a few drams this evening).

And A Man's A man For A' That
Is there for honest Poverty
That hings his head, an' a' that;
The coward slave—we pass him by,
We dare be poor for a' that!
For a' that, an' a' that.
Our toils obscure an' a' that,
The rank is but the guinea's stamp,
The Man's the gowd for a' that.

What though on hamely fare we dine,
Wear hoddin grey, an' a that;
Gie fools their silks, and knaves their wine;
A Man's a Man for a' that:
For a' that, and a' that,
Their tinsel show, an' a' that;
The honest man, tho' e'er sae poor,
Is king o' men for a' that.

Ye see yon birkie, ca'd a lord,
Wha struts, an' stares, an' a' that;
Tho' hundreds worship at his word,
He's but a coof for a' that:
For a' that, an' a' that,
His ribband, star, an' a' that:
The man o' independent mind
He looks an' laughs at a' that.

A prince can mak a belted knight,
A marquis, duke, an' a' that;
But an honest man's abon his might,
Gude faith, he maunna fa' that!
For a' that, an' a' that,
Their dignities an' a' that;
The pith o' sense, an' pride o' worth,
Are higher rank than a' that.

Then let us pray that come it may,
(As come it will for a' that,)
That Sense and Worth, o'er a' the earth,
Shall bear the gree, an' a' that.
For a' that, an' a' that,
It's coming yet for a' that,
That Man to Man, the world o'er,
Shall brothers be for a' that.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Book Review: Cryptonomicon - Neal Stephenson

CryptonomiconCryptonomicon is Neal Stephenson's technothriller about cryptography and is a precursor to his baroque cycle. Like many of Stephenson's novels it uses multiple points of view to tell the story weaving them together into a single narrative, or in this case two narratives from the 1940s and 1990s.Stephenson does manage to keep the narrative moving despite the frequent changes of focus by interrelating the sections and leaving cliff-hangers on each narrative fragment.

For any reader who has read the Baroque trilogy there are many familiar family names for the characters, with a number of famous historical figures making cameo appearances including Alan Turing and General Douglas MacArthur.

One common feature for Cryptonomicon with many other technothrillers, even those written byTom Clancy who I'd not particularly associate with Stephenson, is the frequent infodumps. These are less common than in the later Baroque Cycle and do not detract too greatly from the flow of the novel, helped by Stephenson's humour and attempt to make them appropriate in context.

Cryptonomicon is an exciting read though as an alternative history does not have the levels of invention that characterised Stephenson's earlier work like the The Diamond Age or Snow Crash. It can clearly be seen as a transitional work between his briefer earlier SF work and the lengthy alternative history series of the Baroque Cycle.