24 December, 2009

Raising a Glass to the Year

It's been a mixed 2009 in gaming terms. Haven't gotten in half as much gaming as I would have liked but what I have done has been very enjoyable indeed.

Highlights of the Year:

1. Richard Borg as special guest at Leprecon
I ran a big Pacific war scenario for Memoir '44 for Richard Borg's visit to Leprecon. Richard also ran a few demo games of his (then playtest) new Command & Colours
Napoleonics game. Not only does the man design some of my favourite games, he's also a very nice man indeed! Just the kind of wargamer we love playing with and chatting with anyway.

2. Ambush Alley Day in Kildare
Finally got to go down to Kildare for a day full of Ambush Alley gaming with Piers, Cyril, Thomas, Skip. There was also a few lads down from the North and it was great to put some faces to the names. Scenarios, terrain and figures were all top-notch. Looking forward to the next day out!

3. Pulp Adventure Dinosaur Hunting at Gaelcon
Wrote up my own system for this series of games which I ran all weekend at Gaelcon. I reckon I got about 14 people to play this (not counting return customers) and fun was had by all. There shall be another rescue mission launched in March...

An honourable non-wargaming mention goes to my continuing role-playing campaign: The Giyhonan Chronicles, which entered it's ninth installment during the year.

Blogs of the Year:

1. The Wargaming Depot
The centrepiece of the blog this year has been a Napoleonics campaign set in Russia in 1812 using 6mm miniatures
2. Campaigns of General W.A. Pettygree
A truly great story-telling style detailing the exploits on some savage north-west frontier
3. Lonely Gamers
Top notch stuff on a huge variety of topics.

A very honourable mention goes to fantastic wargaming forum: The Guild

Releases of the Year:

1. Ambush Valley
The Vietnam supplement for Force on Force captures the cinematic (but not Hollywood) effect-based wargaming experience that Ambush Alley epitomises. (This is just out, but otherwise it would have been Force-on-Force anyway)

2. Battlegames
Going from strength to strength over the year, this magazine should be on every wargamer's shelf.

3. Sci-Fi Crusaders
Alternative Armies' Ion Age is back, and the re-release seems to have also spurred people to get rid of their old stuff. These are going to be my mainstay when I run 3:16 Carnage Among the Stars later on

Gamer Movies:
(Only a top-two since I've been to the cinema very little this year)

1. District 9
Real sci-fi: future tech, real human problems & enjoyable

2. Avatar
Thrilling Cameron effort, if you can stand the (unavoidable) tree-hugging/stilted dialogue

Projects ready to launch:

1. Napoleonic Wars in 6mm
Using Richard Borg's Command & Colours
Napoleonics or possibly Piquet's Field of Battle. I start off with the Austrian campaign of 1809

2. Medieval Skirmish in 28mm
Set in fictional Ruritania, this small war will change the face of Europe!

3. Ambush Alley in 20mm
A fairly standard setup for Ambush Alley using the British in Afghanistan

Projects in (slowly but surely) Development:

1. Skirmish Version of Memoir '44
Resurrected the rules for playing Memoir '44 at a skirmish level (where one unit actually represents a fire-team of four guys. Eamon's already done the first session of playtesting.

2. Full Thrust-Dirtside Campaign
First draft of rules are just about finished. Have to do a read-through with Steve to finalise force levels and maps.


1. Tru Blood
Sometimes soapy, but a compelling, well-thought out and (vital in these kinds of things) well-acted show

2. Generation Kill
Short and brutish. But quality all round. Interesting in that it seems to draw on 'One Bullet Away' as well as the 'Generation Kill' it's primarily based on

Though I'll give a honourable mention to the TV show 'Ross Kemp in Afghanistan'. I was dubious, but he's pulled off an extraordinary documentary over two seasons here. Superb and well-worth a look.
Looking forward to The Pacific, by the team which brought you Band of Brothers, and based primiarily on the works of E.B. Sledge (With the Old Breed) and Robert Leckie (Helmet for My Pillow)


1. Confrontation: War with Indonesia, 1962-1966
A largely forgotten war, and when it is remembered it's primarily for SAS involvement. There was so much more

2. Altered Carbon
Well-written Noir science fiction, which really examines the societal impact of the technological change

3. Attrition: Aspects of Command in the Peloponnesian War
Approches the war from a command viewpoint; what generals were successful and why

Here's to a similarly fun 2010. Hope you have a good one!

23 November, 2009

Copse of Wood completed

Finished this project last night.

Foliage clumps have been added to the top board section

Foliage Added

A close up of the woods with 20mm commandos outside (though it'll also do for 28mm)

Close Up

An aerial view of the woods - I used two colours of foliage just to give the woods some natural variation.

Aerial View

The rest of the team lurk inside the woods


Some lessons learned/ideas for next time:

1. Use hot glue, not bostik
2. Paint the top of the foliage board section green, not brown
3. Shape the foliage clusters a bit more naturally
4. Try to hide as much of the edge of the top board section as possible
5. Paint the toilet roll inserts before glueing the twigs on
6. Try this for 6mm as well, it should work even better

20 November, 2009

Woods Experiment

A new foray for me, my first terrain scratchbuild.
Taking the idea directly from an absolutely brilliant terrain blog I've linked to for quite a while from here: Take the High Ground

For Scratch Build 1 over on The Guild, but not completely sure I'll finish in time, if this damned weather doesn't ease up, I'll never get to undercoat the thing!
Anyway, the idea is to use toilet roll inserts as the central columns, with twigs glued to the outside to give the impression of a mass of trees. Lay some board on top and then glue foliage clumps on that.
The raw materials

Raw Materials
Everything's got to be cut to the same height

Cut down to Size
Glue everything together, using a board as the base and applying some sand

Glued Together
Tomorrow, I'll spray undercoat and then apply brown paint as the base coat... (hopefully)

29 October, 2009

Escape from Dahomey

Night Attack on the British Camp:

The British have taken fearful losses during the expedition so far. They have decided to cut their losses and make their way back down river. They set up camp in open ground next to the river, post sentries and prepare to march out at dawn.

Sentries guard British camp

A Spinosaurus has wandered past and with preternatural speed [during the first turn, on his five cards he managed to move from the starting position to the camp and attack!] it launches itself at Turner, the sentry who has been joined by Simpson who has just woken up.

Spinosaurus charges into camp

The attack destroys Turner's rifle, and both he and Simpson run for their lives through the camp.

Fearsome Spinosaurus

Meanwhile two groups of Raptors sneak towards the camp, intent on retrieving their eggs, stolen recently by the British adventurers.

Raptors sneak towards camp

Finally all of the British have gotten out of the tents and while they are concentrating their firepower on the Spinosaurus, a second group of Raptors comes into camp from the other side. Chaos ensues but none of the British are harmed and the Spinosaurus is shot dead. Simpson even rushes to help out Turner who's been cornered by a Raptor - cold steel sorts him out!

Second group of Raptors rush British

A Raptor sneaks into the third British tent and is retrieving eggs, when there is a curious stand-off between it and Turner holding his pistol. Turner suspects some kind of intelligence in the creature, but Faulkner fears the worst and blows him away with his shotgun, unfortunately also destroying the egg. Mopping up in good order comes next, the British forming a thin Khaki line and destroying every last lizard.

Thin Khaki Line

The Relief Missions:

Both American and British expeditions are leaving the dangerous highlands, and relief columns have been sent. The British have sent a cavalry column, while the Americans have sent a convoy of vehicles.

American Relief Column winds through valley

A pair of Tyrannosaur lie in wait, skulking in the high grasses along one of the main routes to the river crossing.

Pair of Tyrannosaurs skulk in grasses

The American convoy ignores the threat and continues at best speed to reach their boys across the river.

Vehicles ignore threat to their right

The convoy has bunched up, as Jorgensen in the lead truck has jumped out to view some grisly remains to attempt to identify them. But as he does Raptors emerge from nearby cover to attack Brown in his touring car.

Raptors charge Brown in Touring Car

As the touring car skids out of control and the armoured car brings its machine to bear on the Raptors, they race back into the grass. But behind the chaos of the threatened convoy, the two Tyrannosaurs emerge from their hiding place.

Tyrannosaurs emerge from grass behind column

When suddenly, a Spinosaurus races up to attack Brown, now at the rear of the convoy

Spinosaurus comes out of nowhere

Miraculously the giant dinosaur is brought down by the luckiest of all shots from Brown as he attempts to start the car up!

Brought down by pinpoint pistol shot

Meanwhile, the British mounted relief column trots on through the narrow valleys, wary of any danger nearby

British mounted Relief Column reaches ford

Simpson has galloped ahead to confer with Porter, and they agree on the plan of action.

Simpson relays plan to Porter

Raptors have attacked the armoured car en masse, and somehow the fuel tank has exploded, killing the crew and taking the vehicle out of action.

Raptors tear armoured car apart

The dinosaur converge on the remaining vehicles, and Brown is forced to abandon his car. The nearby truck, holding Bradley has accelerated away, but waits for a moment to allow Brown to jump aboard.

Mass attack on Car and Truck

The Americans on foot cross at the ford, and the field gun takes up position to start aiming shells at the mass of dinosaurs attacking the convoy.

Field Gun takes up position at ford to suppress attack on convoy

Porter leads the main British column across the river, passing by the relief contingent as it takes up a blocking position. The others can see Simpson considering a sabre charge on the Raptors ahead of them...

Main British Column crosses river

The American relief column is looking after number one and returns back up a different valley towards their start line at breakneck pace.

Americans in trucks flee

The British relief contingent dismount, and draw their rifles, forming a firing line and driving the Raptors back into cover.

British Relief dismount and form firing line

Faulkner, who has been sent ahead to make sure the path is safe, quickly realises that it is not, but he manages to hold out against the attack and sensing no weakness, the Raptor flees.

Faulkner scouts for British column

Having secured the rear, the mounted contingent rejoins the main British column and makes its way calmly out of the valley. Simpson is severly injured by a giant snake just as they reach safety, but he is carried out by his trusty native porters.

British column makes it way out of valley

The Americans on foot are attacked by a Tyrannosaur and several Raptors and they panic. The field gun is unable to aid them in their defence.

Attack on Americans causes panic

It would seem that their comrades have left them behind...

American group left to their own devices

The Dahomey Expeditions have learnt the fate of Dr Gaspard de Chateaubriant, and have returned with marvellous tales of their adventures and even with some proof of their exploits.
But who knows the fate of those left behind...

28 October, 2009

The Hunting Begins in Dahomey

An American Safari:

Sibley leads the vehicles in to a series of ravines where his instincts tell him there'll be good hunting. With him is a Lanchester armoured car, surely it'll be of use against these brutish beasts?

American armoured car drives through broken ground

Hearing sound nearby, but unable to get a good look because of the difficult terrain, Torres leaves his touring car behind in search of the tall Iguanadons.

Torres leaves his touring car behind in search of the Iguanadons

They spot a pair of armoured dinosaurs in the distance, moving silently across a gap in the ravine.

American spot Edmontons in distance

Heading to the right of a large copse of trees, the armoured car encounters a fierce opponent, the Tyrannosaur which surges out of the high grass towards it.

Tyrannosaur surges out of high grass towards armoured car

Torres and Sibley, moving towards the Edmontons on foot avoid a terrifying-looking entangling plant.

Torres and Sibley avoid entanglement

Behind them, jumping out of his truck, Shearer stumbles upon what look like the remains of Dr. Gaspard de Chateaubriant! (or at least someone with his sword)

Shearer stumbles upon remains of Gaspard de Chateaubriant

A herd of mixed Edmontons and Iguanadons move along the ridge line, hidden from danger for the moment.

Dinosaurs quietly move along ridge

A Triceratops, previously unnoticed by any of the adventurers [literally not noticed by the adventurer player at that side of the board!] storms out of the forest having contemplating ramming the armoured car in the side, but instead running for the ravine.

Triceratops exits forest away from armoured car

The Tyrannosaur attacks Porter, knocking him to the ground and leaving him concussed and defenceless. Miraculously the Tyrannosaur leaves him alone and moves around the rocky ground to consider the armoured car.

Tyrannosaur attacks Porter, knocking him unconscious

Torres scrambles across the ridge to discover the herd of dinosaurs creeping along.

Torres scrambles across ridge to discover herd of dinosaurs

The Tyrannosaur charges towards the armoured car, and shudders into it. Trying to bite off the turret doesn't work out so well, taking a belt of machine gun ammo in the throat.

Tyrannosaur torn apart as it attempts to bite off turret

Meanwhile the Triceratops ambles up the valley floor, despite rifle fire and eventually scampers to safety.

Triceratops ambles up valley despite shooting

Seeing its dead pack mate, the second Tyrannosaur leaps over the rocks but is grievously wounded as it crosses the open ground.

Second Tyrranosaur grievously wounded as it charges across open ground

The Americans have taken up position on top of the ridgeline and take the Iguanadon down as well.

American snipe from top of ridge bringing down Iguanadon

The Americans have taken an Iguanadon and two Tyrannosaurs today. A fine day of hunting!

British Easter Egg Hunt:

Having spotted a series of nests in the badlands, Aylward leads a column with some trusty native porters to attempt to bring back some valuable dinosaur eggs.

Aylward leads column past muddy flats

Raptors have spotted the column approaching and lie in wait amongst the tall grasses.

Raptors lie in wait amongst grasses

Bailey rides ahead to investigate uneasily, not trusted in his heavy-duty revolver to bring down much of anything.

Bailey rides ahead to investigate

MacLeod's reliable Lee Enfield shoots down the Raptors like rabid dogs.

MacLeod shoots Raptors down

Aylward and MacLeod surround second a second group of Raptors, destroying them without too much trouble while Bailey tries to deal with Pterodactyl

Aylward and MacLeod surround second group of Raptors while Bailey tries to deal with Pterodactyl

The Pterodactyl circles around and shockingly bites Aylward's head clean off.

Pterodactyl bites Aylward's head off

The column on foot continues after seeing off the Pterodactyl up to a high column which holds a nest full of Pterodactyl eggs. The group is beset by even more Raptors and a second Pterodactyl swoops in. The group is decimated.

Group on foot beset by even more Raptors and a second Pterodactyl swoops in

Trusty native porters recover the Pterodactyl eggs having killed the last remaining beasts with their tent poles and make way back to camp, surely to get a extra large bag of shiny beads and a few feet of copper wire for their trouble.

Trust Native Porters make way back to camp

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