Thursday, 22 December 2011

Santa, Me and Brixia 45mm light mortars...

Hi The Teston Rifleman. You are my tenth follower! Many thanks and welcome to my blog.

I popped out for a haircut yesterday and upon my return my wife told me of a phone call I had missed. Seemingly, Santa had called me to discuss my position in the whole 'good boy / bad boy' stakes. Due to many passed instances of naughty, my account remains in defict despite my recent efforts, and, therefore, I would once again not be receiving any gifts this year; just the annual carrier bag of reindeer poo strewn over the car.

The news was not all bad though, Maria was good enough to fill out the required yearly report form and it seems I could be back into the good book within a few years; of course I was happy to pay santa the required £25.00 form fee. I didn't want to appear ungrateful and Maria was good enough to pass it on for me. I have to say Maria has been very helpful on this issue and I will buy her something special as a thank you for looking out for me.

Given this news I decided I should buy myself a little something. A browse through ebay found a Warlord Games 28mm Italian Para Brixia mortar to add to my Operation Squad unit. I won the auction and got the still packaged unit for less than a fiver including postage, a good saving on the £7.00 list price. The figure quality is good, I do like the Bolt Action metal ranges, but the mortar itself is going to be a pig to build.

The pic above shows a replica weapon, you can imagine the fun I will have sorting out the support structure! The pieces are tiny and I can see me using language during the build that may well keep me in Santa's bad books for a while longer.

The Brixia is an odd weapon, quite ahead of its time in concept but complicated to manufacture, prone to breakdowns and used faily under-powered shells. That said, it was very portable and could lay down an impressive amount of fire. The firing mechanism used a magazine of charges (the rectangular box sticking out of the top of the barrel) to launch the shells, meaning that the team could very quickly saturate a target area and then move away, advance etc.

In the Operation Squad list for the Italian Para unit (these, and others, can be found on the Operation Squad website and forum) the two man mortar team costs 100 points but increases the breakpoint by one. The weapon gets two shots per fire but with a grenade sized template for the area of effect, unlike the mortars of most other nations that get one shot but a double sized effect area. I have a feeling that that the two shots may be more adventageous in game terms but only time, and my dodgy dice rolling, will tell.

I shall post progress updates for my Italians as I can. I am having issues with the camo patterns due to my colour blindness issues (stupid WW2) but my good friend Mark is helping identify the right paints. Looking forward to this project, just got to fit the damn thing in amongst all the others!!!!

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Infamy at Christmas!

Welcome new followers Geordie and Norman!

What follows is a tale of infamy so appalling in its appallingness it will leave you all aghast and shaking your heads in disbelief....and just before Christmas too!

The club Christmas game was set to be a jolly affair, a few survivors desperately searching for car keys in an underground car-park full of zombies. The first player to find a set of keys, locate the car they fit and that could then drive that car out of the car-park would be the winner; and get a tin of 'Heroes' sweeties to boot! Who knew that such a bounty (different tin entirely) would cause friends to lose themselves and turn to the dark side of wargaming....stitching up your mates, leaving them stunned and imobile whilst surrounded by nasty zombies????

Well......all of us would obviously, we are gamers after all and a little odd at the best of times.....

Me - light coloured base with yellow stunned marker, surrounded by nasties and only narrowly missed by a swerving car!

My plan was to make my way towards the car-park exit, search the few not-yet-zombie bodies for keys, search for the right car at that end and thus need a shorter drive through less bodies to escape. Simple. My character was a 'Heavy', which I am told was pure chance and in no way meant to be a reference to my size, a character that was reasonably good at stunning zombies and quite hardy. My plan was good, I made my way a good way up the car-park whilst others floundered about and generally got in each others way. I found keys quickly and was making my way towards a few cars, minding my own business, when I was brutally...and with malice aforethought...attacked by a fellow character after my car keys!! I know! Alex had found a fire extinguisher and used it to keep me from escaping...then viciously attcked me leaving me stunned...both physically and emotionally...It was only the arrival of several zombies looking to take advantage of my static state that drove him off. Stunned as my character was, he was defenceless and before you could say 'Look out! there are several Zombies behind you...doesn't the one on the left look a little bit like Barry Washboard from when we were at school? I wonder what he is doing these days, I had a crush on his sister you know, even though she had that odd squint and only one ear.........', I was feasted upon!!

Me, with hat made by Alex...the smile masks my tears!
This caused no small amount of merriment as you could imagine, I was even made a hat with 'I'm a Zombie' written on it but, I would have the last laugh! I would be resurrected as a mega zombie and could have my revenge, once I had shaken off the stunned marker, obviously. All I needed to do was roll a 6 on one of two d6.....five bloody turns and not a single six! The best part of ninety minutes spent stuck in one place and letting everyone else come close to getting free and winning the game (like Millwall). By now, four players had found cars and were driving like maniacs for the exits, crashing through zombies, losing control and missing the exit ramp. At one point my mega zombie was in great danger of being run down by one of three cars all heading in my direction! I was only saved by one car crashing and Alex...YES ALEX...jumping into a car and casually reversing his way onto the exit ramp and heading for the win. The final insult was that I was asked to draw the tokens to see who went first in the last round...given my lack of movement and luck, and guess what? It was I that drew Alex's token first and allowed him to win with no impediment. Bugger.

This was, despite my understandable angst, a great game that everyone really enjoyed. It was fun and engaging, allowing everyone to get involved as a club. I must thank my good friend Clint for organising the game for us. He built the car-park, using a paste board table (brilliant), painted all of the figures and created the scenario all with a few weeks. I did have a lot of fun as I am sure you can all tell; Alex was a worthy winner in the finest traditions of the club.

For a less biased account of the game, take a look at Clint's own blog

Thursday, 8 December 2011

WW2....what on earth am I doing????

Three more followers! Welcome, welcome Ray, Mark and Brummie!!

Dear follower, you may have read an earlier post here regarding Operation Squad. WW2 has never really been a wargame interest for me but of late I have found myself buying figures, albeit a few at a time as my ebay account allows. This is almost entirely due to the Operation Squad rule set, I like the mechnics, the scale of game, the interactions between the players.....and I appear to like them enough to have ended up with several forces. Each squad consists of up to a dozen figures and operates as a true squad, no tanks or planes or other out of scale complications; this is a true skirmish game.

My metal Fallschirmjager squad is now complete with four extra anti tank figures I got for my birthday still to do. I am not entirely happy with the painting, sort of got the camo pattern wrong...a bit anyway...but they work. I recently found some undercoated German infantry figures on ebay and picked them up for a song. The seller seems to have sold off the extra figures he had left over from a project, most being the plastic Bolt Action ones, so no fiddly figure making first! I am not in love with them though, they fit in with my metal figures size and heft wise but the weapons are very skinny. A quick look through the Operation Squad squad lists soon highlighted the issue of weapons, my new figures were mainly armed with KAR98's and not enough of the MP40's and stuff. But that is OK, Warlord games sell a sprue of extra weapons that I can use to outfit a squad to the required level for just £4.00, I shall order one straight away, I paid so little for the germans that even with this cost I am still well ahead.

........except......with Warlord Games an order has to be a minimum of £10.00! RUDE WORD.

A look at my ebay account showed me that I had just a few extra pounds left available, I could buy something else and build up the order. Long story short...I ended with ordering a squad of Italian paratroops as well.......I know, I know.........lets not even get into the number of figures I already have to paint, Ancient Greeks, Marlburians, Pirates, secret project figures.......

But the worst of it? I have absolutely no idea how to paint Italian Paratroops! I have trawled the internet and found a few examples but nothing helpful. The Warlord Games site has a picture of ready painted figures but none close up enough to really be much help....add to that my colour blindness issues. Again, I know, I know.

Has anyone got and ideas for me, all help greatfully received!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Blood, Bilge and Iron Balls

Welcome to my newest follwers, Ash and Oliver. I hope you find something of interest here.

I am advised that my wargame rules, Blood, Bilge and Iron Balls, has been printed and copies are now at the Pen and Sword warehouse! This means that they will soon be available for sale through the Pen and Sword website ( ) , Amazon and so on. I doubt you will find a copy at Waterstones or anything...not that I wanted to stroll into such a store, pick up a copy and say in my outside voice, 'Oh my! Here is a copy of the book that I have written, wow it does look nice and shiny....' etc etc etc. Nope, not the sort of thing that I would do at all.

Here is a picture of it too, just so you know what you are looking or when you finally realise how desperately you want a copy. Perhaps you could forward this on to Santa, just so he knows you dont want socks or bath salts or an eighteenth copy of 101 things to do with a dead cat. It might be worth you printing a copy or seven of this blog off, you know....leave them lying about the place in strategic locations so anyone wondering what to buy you can be left in little doubt. And, given that it is generally available for under £ Fair enough.

The Pen and Sword site has a space for people to leave reviews, there are none for these rules yet of course but I wonder what will end up there? One other set of rules on that site has four reviews but the very first one is anything but positive, what will people make of my efforts????? A little worrying but my editor tells me I have nothing to worry about. He has a lot of confidence in my rules so I will just have to trust his judgment. Any proceeds of this book will help support the MHWC and its efforts to bring wargaming to new audiences.

I wrote the very first version of these rules way back in 1991 and the very first person to ever play them in anger was also the very first person to join my Blog, Robert (Bob) Cordery! He liked them back then, I wonder what he will make of them now? Given that Bob was also my head of year in 1977/78 and my teacher for many years he probably has an axe or three to grind.....oh my......

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Stupid Super Glue!!

The title says it all. This is not my usual story of me firmly fixing myself to the table or a base of four 28mm English Civil war pikemen (hospital visits twice within three weeks with figures from the same unit in 1990).

BTW - welcome to my second follower! Hi Clint!!

I get through a lot of super glue, not the posh stuff, the 'twelve tubes for a quid' gloop you can get from Poundland. Its not perfect of course but what is for a quid? I only use the stuff for sticking figures to coins for painting and bases. Works well on coins, holds the figure down well enough and breaks away nicely when strategically tapped with a pair of pliers when you want to remove the figure for basing elsewhere. All went well until I glued the figures down onto their game bases, 40mm x 40mm mounting board. several of the figures didnt want to stay on the bases so I had to be a little more liberal with the glue than normal. I have done this hundreds of times with dozens of different makes of super glue so this held few fears for me...although my wife voiced her usual concerns for the coffee table after last years...unpleasantness?

The figures took ages to stick but I was patient and left them for a good while; experienced you see. This time however, the glue oxidised onto the figures! Each one was pure white from the soles of their boots to the hem of their tunics!! I have had some very minor occurences of this previously, an odd spot or two, but nothing like this. Even the tops of the figures had been dulled, a slight dusting that would have been bad enough on its own but this looked an awful lot like disaster. The cure? More patients and a couple of dozen cotton buds dipped in water, each carefully used in a gentle circular motion to rub off the white stuff. It took hours of careful, painstaking effort to clean the legs of each figure. Even then they were far from perfect but at least they had black boots, white gaiters and red breeches again; all a little more dull than I would have liked.........

Be warned, look out for the yellow Extra Strong Super Glue tubs sold at '99p Stores'. At least be careful how you use them and how much you use.
Stupid super glue.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Bad Vibes in the A Shau, November, 1969 (or....I kill you long time!)

Club member Steve, he of the curious need to ram everything on a wargames table, put on his very first game for the club last night. He had worked out some rules based upon Rapid Fire for a Vietnam game, a period he is particularly attached to, organised the scenario, bought and painted a box-full of figures and liaised with some of the other members for extra figures and some terrain. Not bad for a first  try at something like this; he made a good job of it too.

He had organised the six players with commands, I ended up with some very enthusiastic peasants armed with a variety of weapons useful for close quarter fire-fights. Phil and Alex had better quality Vietnamese forces. Clive, Andy and Mark took on the roles of imperialist pigs; bit of typecasting there methinks. The game was based around the Americans attempt to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter, we nasties had the job of stopping them. This was a major rescue attempt, never seen so many Americans all moving in the same direction....not in this part of the jungle anyway! I had the joy of just reaching the river clearing, where the downed aircraft was, when a 'Loach' appeared over the trees....apparently, this is not a fish but a small scout type helicopter. Don't tend to see many of them during my eighteenth century games or ww1 skirmishes! I shot it down! Me! Me of the unfortunate dice! My guys missed the crew of the first downed helicopter, now being ushered away by a rescue team but that was OK, I had created my own downed crew.

I was then on the receiving end of bad news when two gun ships turned up to support the evacuation and made a bit of a mess but...long story short (too late) I managed to shoot one of those down too! It was the luckiest of lucky shots of course, poor Clive was more than a little disappointed to say the least. So far my guys, the sorriest bunch ever to hold an AK47, were having a great time.

My fellow non-Americans were holding their own too. Phil manged to hold off the worst of a Grunt ground assault (see? I am even getting the hang of the lingo!) with a few casualties....up until a swarm of helicopters turned up with reinforcements quickly followed by a plane (don't ask me what it was). The plane made the previous mess even worse with a bombing run and more casualties for us but, we held our own. Alex was now getting involved as his posh troops turned up to help off-set the American advance although we were still out-numbered. That said, the Americans had left more aircrew behind than they had originally come to rescue! Steve declared that the Glorious Forces of the Peoples Vietnam had gained a partial victory. I was just happy that Steve's game and hard work had paid off....and that I had been the cause of casualties rather than a net importer as usually happens.

The rules and scenario were not perfect (only minor tweaks needed) but everyone had a good evening and the game was well thought out, all very enjoyable; the definition of a good game. Hopefully, Steve will build on this and has already offered to run a follow on game next year. I for one look forward to it, although I think I used up all my Vietnam luck during this game! 

For me, this is an important aspect of any club, giving people the chance, confidence and support to run games of their own. We do get a good mix of games at the MHWC and when the least experienced members can feel comfortable enough to get so involved it can only bode well for us as a club.

Nice one Steve, well done.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

WW2 at the weekend....

Wow, I have my first (and only) member! Thanks Bob, I really appreciate your support.

This weekend club secretary, Mark, and I had arranged to meet up and try out the ww2 rules 'Operation Squad'. Mark stoped by the hall to picked up some terrain pieces and arrived at my house with the obligatory biscuits; sorted.

Operation Squad only uses  ten or so figures a side and can be played on quite small tables, my large coffee table was perfect if not a little narrow, so we were able to have a decent game in relative comfort...with biscuits don't forget! I used my new Fallschrimjager and mark his fantastically painted 'Screaming Eagles', and with even some basic terrain the game looked great. We decided to only use basic weapons whilst we both got the hang of the rules, although we forgot that Mark's figures had M1's! These get two shots and were quite powerful against my KAR98 rifles, not that I am bitter or anything. We had a very nice afternoon, even if I did lose. In fairness it doesn't matter what you are armed with when you roll a three with two six sidded dice, the outcome will never be good. I lost three of my Fallschirmjager in quick succession, each rolling that same damned number! The writting was on the wall then and it was just a matter of time.

Win or lose I had a good time in good company. We had to debate certain rules of course but both agreed that Operation Squad was a success, a very worthy afternoon filler that will work well at the club within a multi game framework. Each player could take a squad from within the same platoon and so some very interesting scenarios could be played out. We even think that we could work the rules with our larger collections of WW1 figures. In fact, I am sure with a few tweeks these could be made to work for many periods and the efforts would be very well spent because the rules are actually very good and deceptively simple.

I played a second, solo game, after Mark went home for his tea. My Fallschirmjager lost again!! How is that fair?? This time to a unit of British Para's that were dug in behind a wall. Bloody Bren guns. I used far less terrain, a few bomb craters for the approach and a static Brit defence and still got a highly enjoyable game with another realistic result.

On top of all this, Arsenal won away too!

Friday, 18 November 2011 does this thing work?

This is my first attempt at probably shows.

I thought this might be a useful thing, a good way of communicating with members of the MHWC, our friends and supporters, the clubs and traders that work with us to make Broadside such a success and, possibly, other wargmers out there that may find this of interest. Sometimes the blog will highlight club happenings, other times it might just be a platform for me to ramble or excorcise wargame frustrations. We all get them, I will try and keep them relevant of course.

My inspiration to set up this blog stems from my old school teacher and now good friend, Bob Cordery, and his blog, Wargaming Miscellany. I have picked up a few good ideas from that blog and thought, given how dynamic the Milton Hundred Wargames Club can be, that others may find something of use. That said, I will have to spend sometime working out how this damn thing actually works, so allow me a little latitude until I get my bearings. Feel free to comment on any post too, it will be great to hear from you.

My plan is to add a post every couple of days or so, especially as we are now working hard on organising Broadside 2012. I have been searching for and emailing old and new companies, raising our profile and sending invites. The success of Broadside 2011 has attracted interest and some big names are coming our way, Warlord Games have already booked their space and I am confident others will soon follow. The list of confirmed traders and clubs can be found on the Broadside 2012 pages of the club website.

As an aside, the postie has just delivered my copy of the Hail Ceasar army list book! This is the first of several to be published by Warlord Games and covers the biblical and classical periods. I shall have a read through and post a review here soon.