29 January 2015

Blueprint for Armageddon

I recently discovered a new podcast titled "Hardcore Histories" hosted by a guy named Dan Carlin.  In particular, I've been listening to his five part series Blueprint for Armageddon regarding the Great War of 1914-18.

Dan uses range of period sources to draw quite from and focuses on the strategic whys of the conflict, and the effects of industrialised warfare at a personal level.  As he does so he draws a nicely logical thread between political decision, economic realities and the frontline serviceman.  While there are things I both agree and disagree with in each 3-4 hr episode, I've really enjoyed it overall and found it most absorbing.

If you are looking or something a bit different to listen to during your commutes (or the treadmill), then I commend this to you.  Oh yes, its free!

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!

25 January 2015

Book Review: Desert Moon

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!

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:

20 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!

15 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!

14 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:


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.

10 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

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

04 January 2015

Book Review: Gates of Fire

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

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.

02 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