26 January 2015

Happy Australia Day!


Not so many celebrations here in New England so we are holding our own including making  patriotic snowman! We hope everyone back home has a great time at CanCon this weekend too!

24 January 2015

Desert Moon: Review

Desert Moon by Mark Walker


This book was my first foray into a kindle book, and also the first SF novel I've read in ages after a friend of mine recommended it to me.  First up, the author isn't a 'professional' artsy author - he is ex-Naval Officer and war gamer who also writes the a bit of fiction.  Mark may to know to some of you through his Lock 'n Load games*, which you can see here: http://www.locknloadgame.com
Though he has since sold that company and started a new one: Flying Pig Games!
http://www.flyingpiggames.com

So onto the book.  Initially, I found it a bit difficult to get into actually.  After all the professional reading I've been doing, all that 'critical thinking' really ruins the necessary 'willing suspension of disbelief' necessary for some novels.  I don't like to give spoilers, but there is an essential plot element at the start which I found a little tough to swallow at first.  However, once you do the plot is very enjoyable.

What follows then is a quickly paced story which incorporates some interesting elements including human genetic improvements, international relations played out on a modest but interstellar framework, an insurrection and some major military battles.


Overall, I'm glad I persevered through the first 50 pages (or however that kindle device measures it) to get to the meat of the book.  


I give it a solid 3 and a half stars, tending to 4 out of 5 near the end.  Well worth your time.  I quite enjoyed Mark's writing style and will be checking out some of his other titles.

* Many years ago Comrade James wrote the supplement ANZAC Attack for Mark's Lock 'N Load: Forgotten Heroes – Vietnam game, and I helped him play test the scenarios.  As a nice thank you Mark made us Leader counters in the game! A small world indeed.
In action against the Viet Cong!

22 January 2015

Doing some research", I stumbled across this great blog with a wonderful collection of WWW2 gaming and models.  If you are a Weird War guy, check out the wonderfully thematic offerings from this Hong Kong gamer:
http://wargamesinhk.blogspot.com/search/label/Weird%20World%20War%202


19 January 2015

OGRE...the second gambit

Having taken his licks in his first game, Right Stuff was back with another Mk III OGRE to give it another go.  I took a slightly different defensive mix, dropping the Howitzer and grabbing a few more  GEVs.  This is how it went:
Thought I would be sneaky and set up for envelopment from both flanks...
...but he saw that coming...
...and that was the end of that plan!
The OGRE drives up the middle, zig zagging very effectively 
and then just plowed through!
...with devastating results to the defenders! 
Not much the defenders can do at this point!
Doesn't matter what he rolled at this point - a win for the Lad1
So with one game each he has clearly picked up the rules well enough!
The next one will be fun indeed!

14 January 2015

OGRE...opening moves

It was very cool to sit there with the Lad this week, show him how to punch out counters and segregate them into numerous small zip lock bags.  Ahh the memories!
Defensive setup.  The monocolour map is a bit dull I think, I'll be fixing that.
After a quick run through of the rules and some demos of the attack mechanisms it was time to dive in for our first game.  Right Stuff took a Mk III OGRE while I took the defenders.  Here is how it went...
Right Stuff is not convinced that this is a fair fight - he has only one counter compared to all of mine! 
The OGRE advances and he is very wary of those pesky GEV jockeys!
With rolls like those I'm not going to take out many treads...
The first armour units engage, targeting the treads 
The OGRE starts to breakout down the left flank
Almost through! The Howitzer wore a missile just after this was taken.
Clear and with objective in sight! But the treads have taken a few hits and movement is slowed
The chase is on as the nukes fly!
Coming down to the wire and the defenders throw in everything they have left
With the OGRE movement down to 1 it would be a dice off
In the final exchange, a Missile Tank blew off the last few remaining treads, immobilising the OGRE outside the necessary range to take out the CP (but still with many weapons intact) and giving the Defenders a win.

I thought for his first go at a new game he did a good job and understood exactly what he was trying to.  However, Right Stuff was a bit disappointed though he was happy to reset and give it another go...

...to be continued!

13 January 2015

OGRE...The Next Generation

This week was Right Stuff's birthday and nestled amongst his gift goodies was this little treasure - the recent reprint of the original OGRE pocket edition.  

I remember buying a slightly later 2nd edition (the one in a plastic pocket) at his age too as my first war-game and have loved it ever since.  So it was with quite a bit of nostalgia that I thought it would be an appropriate present for the lad as his first 'real' hex and counter style war-game.

He is off reading the rules now getting ready for our first showdown tomorrow night...

Which reminded me of this great post from way way back in the days of BBCs supporting war-games:

EVERYTHING I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LIFE I LEARNED PLAYING OGRE

1. There are big, bad things out there, and they might come to get you. Be ready.
2. There's no problem so large that it can't be whittled down.
3. You're going to lose a few units along the way, maybe a lot; accept it.
4. A bunch of minor problems, if you don't stamp them out, can wear you down and kill you.
5. Team work is essential. Nobody has all the attributes to succeed on their own.
6. If your movement is high and your defense is low, don't let them shoot at you.
7. If your defense is high and your movement is low, don't run.
8. In the end, only one thing matters. Know what it is, and be prepared to sacrifice anything for it.
9. Time is always running out.

- by Andrew Walters, submitted to the infamous OGREverse mailing list, 22 Nov 2000.





09 January 2015

Concept tanks

From Hard SF styled to futuristic and anime, you'll find a wonderful range of concept tanks from around the www collected here - great browsing indeed
http://concepttanks.blogspot.com

One of my favs: a SHVY from the OGREverse perhaps?

03 January 2015

Gates of Fire: Review

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1305.Gates_of_Fire

I enjoyed the brief break in professional reading over the Christmas holiday to read an actual novel. It made a nice change!

As you might guess, Gates of Fire is set at the Battle of Thermopylae but told in a different format.  In fact it isn't really about Thermopylae at all but about the Spartan culture as recounted by a squire of the one of the 300 Spartan peers.

As opposed to the recent movies, Pressfield's novel is very much based in historical fact.  It follows the education and building of a Spartan warrior, the social demands upon him and his family, and the Spartan society as a whole and how it functions.  Pressfield also puts the allied contingents at Thermopylae into the spotlight, highlighting their contributions until their withdrawal was ordered, leaving only the small Spartan contingent.

This is not a faced paced, action packed book but I quite enjoyed it nonetheless.  It was quite engaging and left one wondering how the action would progress at the Hot Gates, even though you know how that battle concludes.  My only gripe is that Pressfield seemed overly determined to prove he had done a bunch of research and loved throwing in Greek words and terms in the book.  In many places in was quite right and added theme, but he overdid it in my opinion and I was left trying to remember what that word was.  Not a big gripe  overall, but there it is.

If you like ancients, hoplites, phalanxes and the like then this book is for you.  I really enjoyed it and, inevitably, it had me scrolling through the lovely 6mm offerings at places like this.


01 January 2015

2015 Plans

First of all - Happy New Year to all!  May 2015 bring you health, happiness and hobby time aplenty!

I've learnt not to set myself up with unrealistic hobby objectives, especially when I have a bunch of academics keeping me busy.  Then again, I'm one of those guys who likes to have a few goals to keep me focused.  So what's down my 2015 hobby path...

Unusually I will quite deliberately buy more than I intend to paint.
Indeed I intend to paint nothing this year and buy lots so that will be an easy win I think!

Currently my acquisition plan is focusing on:
  • WW2 Desert War forces in 15mm, in preparation for Battlegroup Tobruk early next year.  Still working with Dux to confirm what period we are going for.  So far all we have decided is not Tunisia.  I like Operation Crusader (late 41) as a marker, with options for a little later so we can try some better tanks mixed in with the lighter stuff
  • 28mm Pulp/Horror goodies. One can never have enough cultists, eldritch horrors or deep-one hybrids.
  • A few more companies for In Her Majesty's Name.
  • Get myself some new Blood Bowl Star Players and sideline figures, maybe a new team too (Goblins at long last?)
  • Celebrate the Centenary of Gallipoli this year by getting myself some colonial ANZAC figures
  • In considering new shiny things I will make at least a cursory effort to perceive the differences between games I would like to play, games I really want to play and games I am likely to play.  
* Attend at least one major gaming convention - I have my eye on Historicon in July.  An opportunity to meet some other bloggers there, including Miles from "Lair of the Uber Geek" and Herrodadog from "The Historical Miniaturist". That would be very cool.

* Attend at least one major Blood Bowl tournament - hopefully Chaos Cup in Chicago - and meet some of the cool North American Blood Bowlers I have emailed and chatted with over the years.

* Introduce Reilly to a new wargame, a traditional hex and counter style game which is quite different to the more visually based miniatures games he has played like Blood Bowl.  I have a cunning plan but lips must remain sealed until his birthday later this month.  I'm really looking forward to it though.

* Try to maintain 2 blog posts per week, but only if they value add.

* Given that I'm not gaming much and painting not at all, live vicariously through others' Blogs!

So thats the rough outline for the year.  Modest? Indeed. Achievable? I hope so!

Good Luck to all in the 2015 hobby endeavour and may the tribulations of real life not get in the way :-D

27 December 2014

2014 Reflections

Another year comes crashing to an end at a paid pace and its time since again to look back upon the year and see what I've achieved hobby wise (if you are interested, find the previous four years detailed here).
Warbands struggle to control the Hilltop in one of our SAGA games
2014 proved to be a year of two very different halves.  From January to June I really made the most of being back from the Middle East and being in the same town as long time Man Caver Comrade James.  We got more gaming in both together and with other friends than I have achieved in a long time.  Bolt Action, Chain of Command and SAGA featured predominantly, which was a lot of fun.
Getting thematic as a WW2 Brit commander in Bolt Action!
Right Stuff and I enjoyed CanCon also, where he again participated in the National Blood Bowl Championships (coming a very respectable 23rd out of 46) and I was joined by old mates Ken and Peter from Melbourne who road tripped up the the event.  Many participation games and beers for us over the four days.
Right Stuff at the Nationals - clearly something just went awry during kickoff!
Peter and I (left) playing in a Tomahawks & Muskets game
We also participated in the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge and I started and finished an entire  28mm WW2 British Para force in under two months - an unheard of achievement - and then used it in several very enjoyable games.  The painting challenge was a lot of fun, especially our side bet comp with Alan (aka Dux Hormunclulorum) - well done on your win mate!  Cant wait to do it again another time.
My "Red devils" - I added a few more elements after this pic but you get the idea.


Separately, Right Stuff and I both had coached teams in the Rookie division of the Blood Bowl League (Where my Chaos Dwarf team, the Darkland Decimators, went undefeated - though with more than a few ties in their record).
The Darkland Decimators, my Chaos Dwarf Blood Bowl team
Then in July the Man Cave was packed up, put into storage and I moved the family some 16,400 kms to the New England region of the USA (that is around 10,000 miles for the non metric locals).  I brought a few gaming books with me but there will be no painting or modelling for me for awhile.  Thats OK because my studies and travels here keep me sufficiently busy.
The Man Cave in early July; it had seen more productive times!
I also had to sell this baby - you could almost get a 40k Army for that money!
So my limited gaming time for the last six months was spent online gaming, buying stuff online, and looking at/reading the stuff I have bought online.  Amazon is awesome but not my wallet's friend...  I have a few plans to make the more of 2015 but thats for another post.

Blogwise The Man Cave clocked over 300,000 unique visits this year which is rather amazing, didn't quite crack 500 followers (maybe next year), and averaged over 2 posts per week between me, Comrade James and the odd one by Right Stuff as well. Not too shabby if I don't say so myself!

On a completely different hobby note, Reilly and I enjoyed Scouting (and sailing) in three different countries this year, having started 2014 at the New Zealand Scout Jamboree (see here).  We are now active members of our local Boy Scouts of America troop where I am a leader and he is on track to get his Eagle Scout at the end of our time here.

May 2015 bring you all health, happiness and hobby time!