I only came to build a bridge….

… and ended up blowing the bloody doors off!
Natal Province – March 1879
While out shooting some local wildlife/natives I saw our scouts returning in haste, reporting Zulus to the north, “Fousands of ’em, sir”.
Bagging a last gazelle for supper I returned to the camp to raise the alarm but was pleased to see that Mr Pickwick-Jones had risen from his normal drunken haze and was leading the troops forward in good order.
As the Zulu hordes approached I deployed the troops for action, forming line. The Naval Brigade with their Nordfelt joined me, and the 104th on the left while Captain Richie took command of the right flank with the Natal Levy and the 33rd. We could see the Zulu chieftains overlooking the battlefield as all commanders took stock of the situation, prepared their plans and issued Special Military Stipulations (SMS Messages, the latest in military field theory).
My troops faced a long line of warriors, while Captain Richie faced a dense column thundering towards him, while Zulus, armed with captured rifles moved round his flank which was only held by the Natal Levy.
I threw out a skirmish line to slow the advance towards me and prepared the Nordfelt pour withering fire on the approaching hordes!
But disaster! It jammed! The skirmish line withdrew and soon the rifles of Her Majesties finest poured forth a hellish fire! But this was as nothing compared to the slaughter on the right. The Levy drove off the flank attack and volley after volley destroyed the attacking warriors, who even though some made contact, were soon driven back.
As the enemy stalled in the face of our volleys a great war cry was heard to our left as a Zulu impi surged towards our flank! A skirmish line, apparently lead by Pickford-Jones (no doubt retreating in the wrong direction) rushed to delay them.
But they were too late. As the Nordfelt was finally unjammed my valiant lads kept up a steady fire and the Zulus fell in their hundreds until not a single one stood…
The great Zulu chieftain, distraught at the loss of so many of his warriors, conceded the field, a broken man.
There would be many more widows in the villages that night and far fewer spears to wash. And as Captain Richie oversaw the roll call it was with great relief I was able to report not a man was lost. Even Pickford-Jones could hold his head high at the days performance. There would no doubt be medals and reports in the Times.
Now where did I leave that gazelle…

This little game was fought yesterday at SMOGGYCON. Figures, rules, terrain and umpiring provided by Peeler and you can find details on the forces/figures used on his blog. He also graciously provided his pictures as by then my camera was dead. The Zulu hordes were commanded by Norman D Landings and Goat Major and I took command of Her Majesties forces alongside Richie. Rules were the Colonial Supplement for DBN from KISR and I shall be acquiring these to go with the pack of Pendraken Zulu War figures I bought!

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AAR – SMOGGYCON 2011, Middlesbrough

Today I returned to Middlesbrough. It was the third SMOGGYCON Show. I’d been to the first and really enjoyed it as an excellent replacement for the defunct Stockton Shows. Good venue, keen organisers and good selection of traders and games. I missed last year as snow prevented Norman D’s BMW sporty thing getting out of his drive! But today he picked me up at 9am and off we set. Too busy talking, we missed the turning and were heading toward Thirsk! Quick turnaround and the venue was found with no problems. The car park was pretty full which was a good sign.

It’s an excellent venue. Spacious and light. The two main halls being quiet separate was confusing for some, who commented on the Show being not as big as they thought, and were then introduced to the main Sports Hall – I won’t mention who!

There was a good range of demo games on, some familiar from other shows, and a few participation games.

An excellent looking SYW game wherein it was good to see a lot of my favourite RSM miniatures. The first picture highlighting an issue with the lighting in the Sports Hall which although bright enough gave everything a yellow tinge!

The Derwentside Club had an interesting SF game where all terrain AND vehicles were made from card!

Border Reiver Wargames had a very impressive Irish Civil War street battle depicting ‘The Block’, one of the last actions in Dublin in 1922.

Tyneside Wargames Club fielded an impressive array of Imperialists and Ottomans for a Great Captains game.

Various WW2 games were on show using rules such as Rapid Fire and Kampfgruppe Normandy . It was not always easy to see what games were and what rules were used. Asking would have been the solution but I was a bit pressed for time as the battery on my phone/camera was on the way out. Again. So I apologise in advance for lack of accreditation.

 
 
 
 
 

There were other demos and competition games in the Sports Hall but the lighting didn’t really facilitate decent photos.

As I’d travelled down with Norman D Landings we met up with Goat Major and Peeler (all WD3 denizens). The latter, with the Yorkshire Shore Wargamers, had a neat little DBx Colonial game open for participation using 20mm Zulus against the valiant redcoats.

I’d seen at least one game mirror Zulu Dawn rather than Zulu so the three of us, plus Rich with Peeler as umpire embarked on a game ourselves. I’ve never really played DBA but some of the variants seem to have a good following and reputation and this set (which I’ll have to get Peeler to remind the name of!) were no exception. As the Zulus charged forward onto the British line they were met with withering volleys (despite my naval guns jamming!) and suffered badly. On the right (Rich commanding) they fell to Native Levies and when finally made contact were driven off with much loss. By the time the flank attack was approaching the army had broken to not a single loss to the Queen’s forces! As the roll call was called afterwards all were present and correct and the impis returned to villages full of widows. Fun little game. Excellent rules.

And finally the re-enactors (ACW and WW1) looked excellent and had friendly and informative stalls.

All in all it was a good show.

The Damage!
It was inevitable I’d buy something but I tried to be restrained. A few bases, a Britannia BMP for my 20mm Soviets. Some dice (you can never have too many!). And Extra Impetus 4 which finally has the lists for my Punic Armies.

And having swore I would do nothing that involved a new scale or a new period, I walked away with a 10mm Pendraken Zulu War pack! God knows when I’ll paint them but it was only one pack and one pack of figures do not a new project make! Honest…

Bring and Buy was spacious and well run. Not much in the way of bargains for me but there were two boxes, 105 figures in each, of plastic Spencer Smiths. Neatly painted and at £40 a box well worth it I thought. Now there was no way I could justify them but I know a man who might! So come the end’ish of the show as people were reclaiming their stuff from the Bring and Buy I asked if I could leave a contact email for the owner to see if he would like to contact my friend who MIGHT have been interested. But no, it was against ‘Club Rules’. The models had not sold, any potential sale resulting was likely to be weeks off even if it happened and it was in the owners court if even bothered contacting. But no. Not allowed. They obviously couldn’t risk losing the 10% they weren’t getting anyway… I understand and support the general rule about grabbing stuff in the signing in queue, or pulling from the table and then selling and I wouldn’t condone that. But this was the end of the day and they’ve basically cost the guy a potential £80 sale. I felt it was a little petty…

So if the seller reads this, drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch. It may not happen but you never know…

So in summary, it was another excellently organised show. Good games. Good traders and good atmosphere. A welcome regular addition to the pre-Christmas  show calendar. Roll on next year.

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Little Update November…

Been a little bit of a slow week. After the flurry of activity getting the boards done I’ve pretty well done sod all all week! The good news about Battlegames was welcome and hopefully there will be another update soon from Henry. Had a few arrivals on the reading front. Cold War Gone Hot for Force on Force looks good and I hope to try that using 6mm soon. I picked up the SF/Fantasy Special, Darker Horizons, from Miniature Wargames which I’ll review soon, and also the latest Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy. As this is the third of the ‘new’ magazine I plan to review all three soon to get a handle on where the magazine is going.

On the painting front, I’ve just about finished off some BTR-50s with mortar teams and a sagger team and have a GHQ T-62A battalion based and ready to go. You’ll hopefully notice that I’ve expanded the Syrian section on the Painting Master Plan to the right. It’s not the definitive list but it does give me something to tick off as I go until I can get a proper list worked out. I’ll likely add the IDF re-basing to the list at some point as well.

Had a bit of a flurry on eBay to pick up some GHQ models (mostly at half price or less and new in pack) for my Italians and British for North Africa, as well as a pack of Super Shermans for the IDF. These should arrive in the next week and give me a good addition to this project. I’ve even added the A9 and A10s to my Christmas list in the vain hope someone will take the hint!

So that’s it for the week. Still scared to do the Wargaming Neutral…. 🙂

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Battlegames Magazine – SAVED!

Meant to post this last night, but Henry announced yesterday that Battlegames magazine is in the process of being taken over by Atlantic Publishing to be a stablemate to Miniature Wargames. The full announce is here. There have been corresponding posts on TMP, WD3 and assorted blogs and Facebook and as to be expected the response is a big Hurrah! It is really good news. For Henry, to allow his baby to carry on and to get his life back in order. For us, to get an excellent magazine back.

The intention is for Henry to remain at the editorial helm and for the style and content to remain. And there is the intention for Issue 27 to be available by Christmas/New Year. There have already been a few comments on mailing lists that the result of this will be a merger of the two titles at some point – as happened with Battle for Wargamers and Military Modelling all those years ago. I don’t see this happening for two reasons. One, Henry would not hand over the mag if he thought it was going to ‘change’. Battlegames has a unique approach to the hobby – not entirely Old School, but far from the current glossy approach. Two, well actually I can’t think of two! 🙂 I just trust Henry’s decision and that Andrew Hubback and Atlantic don’t have an ulterior motive!

I don’t know whether they intend to use their marketing clout to push the magazine into Smiths. It would be a risk as the increase in print run and costs would put a lot of pressure on its success. I think it could work. As a bi-monthly, especially if alternated with Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy there would still really be only three mags on the shelves per month and I know a few wargamers who buy the Smiths mags regularly but don’t really know about Battlegames so there is a good potential market out there. Then again, they may just keep things as they are. Either way, I’m please to see the mag saved and with Henry and Atlantic the best for a successful future.

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A night on the tiles…

Well, a night and half a day really. And a few years ago I’d have been talking about imbibing alcohol! But not now… Terrain Tiles! That’s what I’m talking about! But first a little history…

Back when I started getting back into figure gaming up here in Newcastle (c.1998) and started my AWI project my two mates, Gary and Terry had started picking up Purbeck Terrain Tiles. These were based on polystyrene tiles, but it was the standard polystyrene a la box packing so it was light and quite susceptible to damage. As I didn’t know what else was available and obviously needed to fit in with what the guys had, I managed to pick up a load at the Shrewsbury Wargames Show. The tiles came in large 18″x18″, mid 18″x9″ and smaller tiles at 9″x9″, the latter being for things like river curves, roads, rough ground etc. I bought enough to cover a 6’x4′ table and due to space/time/wife constraints at home I never actually used them until a couple of years ago when I played a game of Field of Glory at home. Other than that, the only time they saw light was to set up figures for photographing! I’ve tried a couple of times to shift them via TMP etc. but to no avail…

Roll forward to this year…and the need for some desert type terrain both for my FUBAR project, for my Yom Kippur War, and for my upcoming Western Desert WW2 project. I’ve seen rather nice desert terrain mats and the TSS tiles are nice but to be honest I don’t really have the funds to get something like that now. I could make some proper tiles following ideas from Michael at Angel Barracks but again, cost and time. So given that I have a Games Workshop battlemat for my European gaming and the tiles are reversible I thought I would adapt them.

Here we have the basic 18″x18″ tile:

I wanted a little variety in texture so rather than just apply paint to the lot I slapped some PVA in random patches:

And then scattered the usual medium railway ballast I use over the lot:

There are river sections but as I have some ‘lay on top’ river pieces I thought I’d use the river sections for a wadi:

Brushing off the loose left this:

I use DecoArt paints for my basing base colours and for my FUBAR chaps start with Country Maple. Now this would use a lot of pots so I took one down to B&Q and got a pot of emulsion matched. To be honest it came out a little lighter but isn’t too bad a match. Now I should have had a base coat photo but my phone died so we skip to the final tile! As the base was light my usual Tan first drybrush didn’t really show up so I went straight to Antique White. I tried dry brushing but it was getting uneven so I ended up using a sponge over the ballast areas and occasional dabs inbetween:

The river sections had the sides painted light grey and drybrushed almost white as I’d seen pictures of the side of a wadi in the Golan. I stuck a few bits of gravel in the bed and some assorted Woodland Scenics bushes. I may add more of these later.

Overall I did four of the big tiles, two rivers and a couple of hills:

The flatter pieces are MDF random shapes painted to match and these are meant to represent rises in the ground and give areas to hide behind and also to go hull down in what would otherwise be open ground:

Details of the wadi:

More wadi:

And some Israeli M48s moving through with support:

Overall I’m quite pleased with them. The colour doesn’t match the IDF bases as much as I’d like but it will the FUBAR chaps when I dig them out. Ideally I’ll do another two big tiles and another wadi section. This should give me enough for a decent FUBAR game and also a small Cold War Commander game.

I’m still trying to decide whether to add some areas of static grass to match the FUBAR basing, and also whether to spray/coat the lot with thinned PVA to protect it a little more? Not sure.

Anyway, a productive little session 🙂

Andy

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Syrian Support (for ’73 not now!)

I wanted to put together some support for the infantry. Mortars in the GHQ Heavy Weapons pack are fine (though only three of them!) and I’d assumed the ATGWs were Saggers (AT-3s) but I think they’re actually Spandrels (AT-7s?). Now for the Syrians I need the Suitcase Sagger. Which GHQ don’t do. Mainforce don’t do. But H&R do. Now I’ve used these for my Soviets but mixing them with GHQ just highlights the difference in size.

Anyway, here are the mortars. Only after I’d finished painting them did I realise I’ve got the crews facing the wrong way! Can’t be bothered changing them now:

 

I’ve gone for 20×20 for my support weapons with one team on each rather than 40x20mm and two teams as for my Cold War stuff.

Now, on to the Saggers. The Heroics and Ros are to the left. My version is to the right.

With the Heroics and Ros the Sagger itself gets lost in the sand and the figures, while fine, are quite small.

For my version I started with the Spandrel from the Heavy Weapons pack from GHQ. Cut of the tube section and used the box as the base for the Sagger. I then had the missiles etc. from an H&R Allouette and chose a suitably sized ‘bomb’, filed one side at the back so it would sit with the nose raised and stuck it to the box. The lying down Spandrel guy had the tripod cut off and the stand looks enough like the Sagger control I’ve seen in some pics. The other crewman is a GHQ radio operator. The radio on his back is a little big but not too bad.

I think it looks better from above as well compared to the H&R one.

And this is the Spandrel that got butchered!

Overall I’m quite pleased. I shall await feedback from various sources, possibly telling me it’s wrong, before I start mass production! And I’ll need to get a few more radio operators as well!

Painting these I did little different. White undercoat, Sepia wash, Violet Brown for uniform, leaving the wash showing for belts etc., Flat Earth kit, Pale Sand drybrush. Mortars and sagger left in Russian Green (all Vallejo).

I have four BTR-152s based and ready to go for them to ride in!

More to follow…

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Syrians and basing woes…

Have finally finished another Syrian unit and couple of HQ units. Have still to finalise a proper list to work to and add to the Painting Master Plan.

So, here are the chaps so far:

I finally finished off the Skytrex T-55s  by adding the HQ stand.

 

Next up was some GHQ BTR80PBs. These are lovely crisp little models and were a joy to paint. I went with the same basic sand on green pattern as above but will be doing some with the grey later.

The infantry are GHQ Soviets. They’ve come out a little dark and I may do the next lot differently. And the basing went wrong – see below.

 HQ stand, again with GHQ Soviet Infantry

BASING WOES
I fear my basing mojo has deserted me. I knew I wanted to use the sand with crushed shells mix as is to speed up basing. I had done this with a few M48s (below) and was happy with it. However, when I came to do the T-55s I had forgotten that on the M48s I’d painted the base mid-brown first. So on the T-55s the various dark patches from the painting process showed through and made the whole lot darker. When I came to do the infantry I knew I had to paint the figure bases and I chose Vallejo Desert Yellow as I thought this would blend with the sand. As I knew I had to paint the bases anyway I just used this for the whole base as well. It was lighter than the mid-brown I use and consequently when the sand was applied that came out very light as well! It was a noticeable difference so I applied a thinned Sepia Wash to it and that has gone too dark. Not horrendously so but enough to be annoying!

The plus point is that the light colour will work really well for my WW2 Western Desert! I also decided that I like the dark brown edges from the MDF laser cutting. So I’m going to leave them as is. And I found that Vallejo German Camo. Black Brown is a good match when applied to existing bases!

All a bit frustrating really as I like to have a uniform look to them all but I suppose the ground colour is different in different parts of the Golan!

OTHER NEWS
I’ve just acquired a few GHQ Italians at roughly half price on eBay so now have a good size force for my Western Desert project for next year.

Next up is some support weapon types, some AA assets and then some T-62s. And a CO stand. Then I should have enough for a wee game!

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Battlegames Magazine RIP?

Found out today that Battlegames magazine is looking like discontinuing –  at least as a print magazine. Here’s the full announce from the Battlegames website:

I am sorry to inform you that following a review of the business, I am no longer able to proceed with further printed issues of the magazine in its current format.
It has become clear that for some time now, I have been subsidising the publication, which has been squeezed by increased print costs, increased competition in the wargames magazine market, substantially increased postage and distribution costs and now, a dramatic fall-off in advertisers. To incur further debt by proceeding to print at this point would be completely irresponsible. Whilst you have been patiently awaiting news of issue 27, I have been struggling to come up with solutions to the problem, but it is clear that no simple solution exists.
I blame no-one else for this situation and I apologise for failing you. Six years ago almost to the day, I made the decision to start a company in what I knew was a niche market, and I am proud of what I managed to achieve, but the blunt fact is that I should have recognised the writing on the wall sooner and am now in considerable financial difficulty as a result. I have been operating as a one-man-band in a precarious financial position from the outset, with no fall-back position, and I have paid the price. It is now imperative that I resume my former career in graphic and web design for the time being, as well as my new one in writing, in order to prevent complete financial meltdown.
I am conscious of the support and encouragement that I have had from so many of you over the last five years or more, and this is not a decision that I take lightly. As you know, Battlegames has been very much ‘my baby’ and I’m sure you can imagine my bitter disappointment, but facts are facts.
I am hoping that I can salvage something from the ruins and have already received a couple of suggestions that have potential merit, such as producing a high-quality quarterly journal without advertising, with a higher cover price to compensate for this, but of course it would be crucial that any future printed matter would have to be profitable to make it worthwhile. Producing Battlegames is a highly labour-intensive exercise, and I am no longer in a position to subsidise the publication in any way.
If sufficiently large numbers of current paper subscribers are willing to convert to the digital subscription, then it is possible that Battlegames might be able to live on in electronic format, again probably quarterly, with occasional printed ‘specials’ and additional e-publications of the kind I had been hoping to produce all along. However, I am aware that many of you are not keen on electronic formats, and I fully understand your position. After all, I started Battlegames so that I could have the *printed* magazine that I wanted. If a digital version of Battlegames were to become viable (at present, with just 150 digital subscriptions, it is not), then I would consider redesigning it to optimise the publication for on-screen viewing, taking into account the most popular methods of viewing digital content such as iPads and Kindles, as well as on PC or Mac screens.
Whilst I am sure there will be plenty of comments online over the next few days on TMP, WD3 and elsewhere, and I shall be issuing a press release along the lines of this email, I am so busy trying to deal with my predicament that I will not be able to respond on forums.
I fully understand that you are likely to be upset about this news but once again, I can only apologise and assure you that if it had been possible to continue Battlegames in its current form, then I would of course have done so.
Until I have had sufficient responses, I cannot yet determine the viability of continuing either in a revised printed format, or with a digital-only option, but I will of course keep you fully updated as soon as I have a clear idea of the response. I would urge you, if you have not already done so, to sign up for the email newsletter on the home page of the Battlegames website at http://www.battlegames.co.uk which is by far the easiest, quickest and most cost-effective way for me to stay in touch with you.
Previous editions will, of course, remain on sale in the Shop here.
Thank you for reading what has been an extremely difficult message for me to write.
For me, this is very sad news. Henry has done an outstanding job over the last few years producing a quality mag in a very small market. It was the only magazine of the ‘big’ wargames mags that I read right through every issue. It’s the only mag that has a permanent place in the attic loo as I often re-read articles while ‘meditating’. It’s Old School credentials were often misleading as the content was wide and interesting to anyone in the hobby although I suppose the market was more of those among us ‘of a certain age’. There are often comparisons to the old Battle for Wargamers. Although the style, and quality were different, it was the ethos underlying them both, and I suppose a nostalgia for our wargaming past that drew us. I really am going to miss it if it doesn’t continue.
I wonder if the new Wargames, Soldiers and Strategy has had an affect on advertisers. It’s a quality mag, it’s in Smiths. There is only so much advertising to go round? Not sure really. There are so many factors involved in the current economic climate I think we’ll never know.
The plans for a digital version I will support. I would much prefer a printed copy but if I can’t have that I’ll have what I can get. I also hope that the removal of the allure of being seen ‘in print’ won’t impact on the supply of contributers. Irregular printed Specials are an option as well, or even a quarterly. I think it will take Henry a while to sort out his options, stabilise  his life/finances and come up with something. I’m sure he will, as his input to the hobby would be missed. Just take your time, Henry. We can wait.
 
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Industrial Bits – Size matters again!

Michael over at Angel Barracks had mentioned that Timecast did a selection of Industrial Accessories for 6mm and 10mm and did I know how they scaled with various ranges. As I was after some MDF bases and some allotment pieces from them I decided to add a pack to my order. You can see what is in the pack here. And I’ve taken a few pics with what I had lying on the bench and with some of the SF I have done.

First up, with a GHQ T62, A GZG tank, some GZG Infantry (I think!) and at the back some Adler Dark Star infantry.

This is one of my based Adler infantry and I think he scales in quite well.

And this is against one of the Dark Realm Ramjacks that I know Michael uses in his FUBAR forces.

And against a ruler to get some scale.

It’s a nice little pack and for £3.50 is good value. The range of pieces you get is good and I’ll definitely be using them if – no, let’s be positive here – when I get my 6mm Modern buildings sorted!

I’m just finishing off a batch of Syrian BTR-60PBs. GHQ models that have been a joy to paint. So much detail there! I’ll try and get the infantry done this weekend and then decide what extras I’m putting on the HQ stands.

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