27 December 2023

2023 Reflections

Completed AHPC 13 with Reilly, which is always hugely fun

Another year, another look back at my hobby - in fact this is the fifteenth time I've done this. Most importantly, I enjoyed a range of great games with my mates, spread as ever over a wide array of genres.

1st game of the year was with Alan  for Dark Ages Dux Bellorum

Napoleonic action with Valour and Fortitude

15mm Punic Wars with To the Strongest

Space 1889 VSF with TMWWBK

Gladiators with Blood on the Sands

Getting utterly pulped by Reilly in Bolt Action 

Getting my revenge and having a rare Father's Day grudge match win in Dungeonbowl

Last game if the year was with Alan, John and Marty: Middle Empire Romans vs Gepids in To The Strongest

I painted stuff too, but thats all secondary to spending time at the table rolling dice and having laughs.

I also managed to attend THREE conventions - admittedly CanCon and MOAB here in Oz are relatively routine but attending WARFARE in the UK was wonderful, with the best part being to meet face to face with great people I've only been 'e-mates' with until now.

Work travel wise I was again busy on the road and afloat with trips to New Zealand, Indonesia, USA, UK and France. Highlights included time at sea embarked in USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT and USS AMERICA, and visiting Portsmouth UK where we lived 20 years ago.

I also completed my 11th annual reading challenge (though admittedly many are audible books while driving, travelling and painting). A minor achievement but I really enjoy this and it gives me great impetus to discover new authors and titles over the year.

Whats up hobby wise in 2024? A whole lot more swapping and chopping across periods and genres most probably! I'll likely move interstate again at the end of next year so will focus this year on completing projects with the local gang before I go. On my painting table right now are Gladiators, Caesarian Romans and some VSF stuff but in a month...who knows? 

The Old World and Legions Imperialis do beckon though. And I've got my eye on the planned Victrix release of Early Saxons next year too - the previews look very tasty!

May 2024 be good to you, with happiness and health aplenty!

and the Real World stuff that happened along the way

22 December 2023

04 December 2023

November Hobby Wrap Up & AHPC 14

In addition to attending the WARFARE show in the UK recently, I also got to play a great game of tabletop Space 1889 which was a hoot. You can see a full write up and lots of pics at my VSF blog here:


Separately, I've been gearing up for the 14th Season of the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge which is always a hoot and a real highlight for me over the Summer period. I'm signed up this year for a very specific 603 points, to take me to a lifetime total of 8,000 points. 

So I'm in that agonising period where I'm prepping figs and trying to work out what projects will make the cut.  As ever, its an eclectic mix- and inevitably changes halfway through the challenge anyway!

Having just got some Moongrunt reinforcements from GZG Jon at Warfare I'm feeling every inspired by that. Helping that along are two interesting project discoveries around the net. The first is "KOSMOS 68", an alt history where Soviets dominate the Space Race and Mankind's reach for the stars. Using the Traveller system for mechanics, its fabulous artwork is really captivating. Check it out here:


And then there is "The Lunar War" project, a labour of love by fan L5Resident building Hard SF themed spaceships based on the PC game "Children of a Dead Earth". He has used a range of highly skilled 3d artists to generate amazing depictions of warships from armed stations and battleships, to fast attack craft.

All graphics from Theo Bouvier's Artstation channel here

Just the kind of craft I can imagine duking it out in the approaches to the contested Lunar orbits overhead of my Moongrunts. So yes, very inspiring to get cracking

You can follow this project via Twitter here: https://twitter.com/L5Resident

And finally I've been enjoying a talented Amateur Space Photographer Andrew McCarthy who is sharing some amazing shots on Insta, including this one of the ISS transiting across the Moon. Again very Moongrunt inspirational!


Hope you are all well!

12 November 2023


A rare (and rapid) visit to the UK this week gave me a chance to attend the Warfare Show at Farnborough this week, which was a lot of fun.

A bunch of great looking games and tournaments on offer, as well as some great traders too.  Yes my bags will going home a bit heavier :-)

But best of all was the opportunity to people Ive been emailing, blogging and e-chatting with for years in person! 

First up was Jon from Ground Zero Games - I have been buying his models for over 30 years so it was fabous to meet the man behind the many games of Stargrunt, Dirtside and Full Thrust that I have enjoyed over that time. And yes I may have gotten some more Moongrunt goodies from him...

Then I met Ray amongst the Traders and had lunch with him, Lee and Postie which was wonderful. Naturally AHPC came up a few times, and the many faces behind the submissions over the years. Really lovely, genuine people are were exactly how I imagined them to be!

Last but definitely not least I got to meet Ashely from Paint it Pink blog (here) and her wife Susan - what a wonderful and erudite pair they are too, and we chatted about around a myriad of topics. They even gave me a lift to London after the show so the conversation could continue! I was thrilled to received a signed copy of Ashley's first mil-SF novel "Bad Dog", and a range of the old RAFM Heavy Gear models which she was kind enough to release from her model motor pool

Sure there was some great games and tables - I might post more about them later but as ever meeting fellow hobbyists in person was the best part of the day!

EDIT: I've posted the wonderful Cloudships of Mars pics at my other VSF blog here:


EDIT2: Ray has now posted some great pics of the show and its myriad of tables and games here:


27 October 2023

More Blood on the Sands!

Enjoyed a brilliant evening with 'Blood on the Sands' rules author Frank running 4 new players through the game. My first bout was an epic matchup between my Thraex, Hector, and Drusa the Hoplomachus (played by Alan). Drusa was a machine, keeping the lighter armoured fighter at bay with his long spear. Hector tried to rush in but tripped - stayed on his feet but lost momentum and was deeply wounded in the lead arm for his troubles. Naturally, the crowd loved it!

Bleeding badly, Hector circled the Hoplomachus looking for a way in, but Drusus’s spear struck like an adder - another deep wound to lead arm! With 2 bleeding wounds on the same arm, and fatigue building, Hector was in real trouble. And when his leg was wounded also, he options were getting limited (ie lost an action dice).

Calling upon Fortuna and his Brittanic ancestors to aid him, Hector mustered his fading strength to dance in and deliver a series of lighting fast attacks with his curved blade, finally drawing blood with a deep wound and tripping the Hoplomachus. Drusus tried but couldn’t get to his feet and fought desperately from the ground with his spear.

Using the last of his reserves, Hector went all in for one final attack on the prone Drusus. His weapon slipped past Drusus defences! With the sica's blade resting on his throat, the Hoplomachus appealed for mercy. Being most entertained after this epic combat, the crowd were pleased to give it! Spent, the victorious Hector was barely able to acknowledge the adoration of the crowd.

What a match! With a couple of bad rolls, the game went south for me from the start but I felt I always had options, though they did diminish as my gladiator degraded. The impact of fatigue was a key factor and a real push your luck mechanism. The impact of my double wounded arm was also interesting as I tried to protect it while my opponent tried to target it to knock me out of the fight.

And it was a VERY close fight! As you can see from my fighter status board, there wasn’t much left in the tank by the end - and if my last all-in attack hadn’t worked, I would have capitulated in the fatigue phase that followed. A thrilling match that demonstrated what a great game system this is.

Our second bout of the evening, while Frank inducted our club mates Marty and Gav into the ludus, was a paired match of Provocotores.

This proved to be a very different game indeed, and very evenly balanced. Indeed, it was so balanced that neither of us was able to generate a decisive advantage, and we were really waiting to see if any critical successes or failures would tilt the balance.

None did and with a light would apiece and fatigue building, we called the match - a historical outcome in which these flashy gladiatores would generally amuse the crowds with their close contests. It was interesting to see how their characteristics really made these fighters feel very different the the classes we had just been using, both in terms of moves and equipment.

Marty's Thraex facing off against Gav's bruiser

Thanks again Frank - a great night and a great game!
Also a great baptism for my newly painted Thraex, playing in your fabulous Arena :)

02 October 2023

Blood on the Sands at MOAB!

Another year, another MOAB. Busy busy but not too busy for a couple of Horus Heresy purchases, and an opportunity to play this great Gladiator participation game!

Habet, hoc habet!

This game is a real labour of love by Frank, a MOAB legend for putting on amazing games including the fun Africa game that Reilly, Comrade James and I played in 2019 (see here).  He's been developing it for over a decade and its easy to learn, hard to master mechanics make for an excellent experience - see his Adventures in Lead blog here: 


Frank scratchbuilt this fabulous Arena

I also really liked the way the game reflects the differences in fighting styles and equipment of the different Gladiator types (through stats and special moves) as well as more generic skills and traits that personalise your Gladiator.

My first bout was as a net and trident armed Retiarius, trying to keep my Secutor opponent at bay and wear him down so I could entangle him. I enjoyed the dynamic movement the game allows - no boring locked in combat in the centre here, with thrusts, moves and rushes giving players many options and decisions.

My second bout saw me equipped as a Thraex to face off against the Lanista himself, Frank!  Aided by my ability to throw dice badly, he quickly schooled me in the mechanics of pushing back an opponent, trapping against the wall, disarming and falling prone.

You seem to have dropped something important there Paul...

I was clearly an apt pupil! Forced to concede and appeal for mercy, the crowd were in a bloodthirsty mood and I had proved a disappointment. 

The crowd were NOT entertained after all...

Frank administers the coup de grace demanded by the mob!

Overall a throughly in spiring gaming experience. I've tried many Gladiator games over the years and Frank's game was quick to play, had lots of depth, and stacks of character. There are also campaign rules for running a Ludus, but that was beyond the scope of the demo game.

And yes, I had a great time loosing and that says a lot about a game (and who you are playing with)!

Time to bust out some figures and add more fighters to my Ludus!  Thanks for all the fun mate :-)

For those who want to know more about Blood on the Sands you can visit the Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/bloodonthesands

Or peruse the long yet awesome thread at the Lead Adventure Forum here (its been going for over 10 years!) https://leadadventureforum.com/index.php?topic=51608.0

Thanks to Alan for this pic - I wonder what I had just asked Frank! :-)

Edit: Alan posted his own great blog write up of this Blood on the Sands demo here: