31 December, 2013

Auf Wiedersehen 2013

Trying to piece together some highlights of the year whilst recovering from various Christmas excesses. Hope you and yours had a good one too!

Gaming Highlights

Waterloo Day
Getting 8 or so wargamers to hole up for an entire day takes a bit of effort. Hats off to Conrad Kinch who disguised the Waterloo Campaign in three connected C&C Napoleonics scenarios. As the French, our gallant victories in the first two battles weren't enough to see us to the finishing line. Such a success, that plans are in motion for a similar game of Battle Cry...

Apocalypse World
I know, not a wargame by any stretch, but a damned good time was had by all in this roller-coaster ride of a post-apocalyptic game. This is the game that got me back into regular roleplaying with my group, so kudos are due.

The Hunt
The long-awaited Pulp meets Predator game was well-received. I ran this for what seems like a record-number of players at Gaelcon. The tension and heroism in that last game went to 11!

Blogs of the Year

An entry on my best blogs list for the second time, not just for his ongoing work on BattleTech or his great moderns, but for his Aliens vs Predator project. Take a look around the great work on the Marines and terrain for gloomy corridors

Tamsin's workrate beggars belief; in her celebratory prize draw I was lucky enough to get some post-apocalyptic survivors (including some familiar-looking pesky kids!) done by her

While concentrating on Longstreet for the past while, there's a good variety of projects going on over at Lord Ashram's. I was especially impressed by the 15mm moderns

New Releases

Having contributed significantly to this one, I am very biased. But I'm quite proud of my involvement and feedback has been very positive on the smaller-scale scenarios in this book.

With BattleGames having been on the ropes less than a year ago, it's dizzying to think that the new merged magazine seems like a mainstay of my hobby reading (and arriving twice as often to boot!)

This unmistakably civilian sci-fi vehicle looks lovely; Antenociti's range sets the standard for me now. 

Projects in the Pipeline

Rainbow Six
With the death of Tom Clancy late in the year, I revisited Rainbow Six to see if there was anything suitable for refitting as a wargames scenario. I've decided that Rogue Spear (the old PC game) might be a better fit, and a takedown inside a warehouse and/or cargo ship is definitely on the horizon

Istvan V Dropzone Massacre
I didn't get this off the ground at all this year, so I'm going to make a concerted effort to paint up my 50-strong force of marines with supporting units this time around.

The Diomedes
While I completed all of the fighter craft I was planning to, I wasn't able to actually find something suitable as the Diomedes itself until very recently. Putting this spaceship together will be a major goal of the year.

Outstanding TV

This short dark conspiracy series was exceedingly well done, albeit quite disturbing. It followed the hunt for a comic book manuscript, which held a secret vital to stopping/continuing vast world-altering machinations.

I was very dubious when I first heard of this project. But I must admit to having been won over by the two central performances by Hugh Dancy (as Will Graham) and Mads Mikkelsen (as Hannibal) as well as the visual style of the production. The writing has been nigh-ingenious and the psychological horror is top-notch (whilst using the gore factor in a relatively restrained way)

This Cold War thriller about two deep cover Soviet agents living in the US. Wigs, disguises and the constant danger of discovery make this one a bit more pulpy than usual, but it's highly enjoyable and well done once you buy into the idea.

Books of the Year

Slim, Master of War: Burma and the Birth of Modern Warfare
So, the title's a bit of a mouthful (as well as making a grand claim) but this history of the 'forgotten' 14th Army in Burma and it's path from defeat to victory tells a powerful story on the ability of one general to turn around the fate of a fighting force

This straight-forward account by a CIA officer of his involvement in intelligence and military actions against Al Qaeda is well worth a look. It's heavily redacted in places, but despite this the narrative places the blame for Bin Laden's escape from Afghanistan squarely on central command's shoulders.

Henry Hyde's all-encompassing coverage of tabletop miniatures wargaming is a must-have for gamers of all stripes. As would be expected the layout and photography is top-notch.

As always, I hope you all have a great 2014!

18 December, 2013

Top (Film) Chases: #3, #2, #1

So, the post you've been waiting for all year!

#3 Wallace & Gromit: The Wrong Trousers (Train Chase)

Another one from the lighter side, this rip-roaring scene has most of the tropes of train chases, with extra kudos fo track laying and the great final capture sequence!

#2 True Lies (Horse vs Motorbike)

By no means a classic film, but everyone's cutting loose and enjoying themselves! This horse vs. motorbike chase is riveting and has quite a few unexpected comedic beats. The chase is actually a little bit longer than this, but I can't find the full version.

#1 Ronin (Wrong Way)

The second great car chase in Ronin, is just hair-raising. Heading down busy Parisian streets, through a tunnel and then into heavy traffic.

I realise that if you were expecting lots of classic 70s car chases (looking at you Sapper Joe!) you'll be disappointed; as I'm not a huge fan, so no Vanishing Point, no French Connection, no Seven-Ups, no Gone in 60 Seconds, no Driver. I did have fun re-watching them, but only Bulllitt from this generation made the list.

Also considered:

  • Tomorrow Never Dies (Handcuffed on Motorcycle)
  • The Italian Job
  • The Seven-Ups
  • French Connection
  • The Matrix Reloaded

12 December, 2013

Top (Film) Chases: #6, #5, #4

Mid-table of this top ten list

#6 Casino Royale (Parkour)

This opening sequence in the initial outing of Daniel Craig as Bond was the first real impact of Parkour in popular culture (or at least, the most famous instance of it).

#5 Way of the Gun (Slow)

A fantastic spin on the chase genre; some cat-and-mouse action from one of my favourite films.

#4 Bullitt (Opening)

The classic car chase - a whole ten minutes of it (just don't count the hubcaps spinning off!)

You can't wait for the top three, right?

06 December, 2013

Top (Film) Chases: #10, #9, #8, #7

So a return to one of the most popular topics of last year's blogging; I'll be looking at my top ten chases from film.

#10 Bolt (Opening)

This likeable Disney animated film about an 'enhanced' dog isn't quite up to Pixar standards, but the opening chase sequence is so well crafted I've got to put it on the list. Some great slow-mo sequences where Bolt is outwitting those hapless minions of the Green Eyed Man.

#9 Point Break (No Parachute)

Point Break (1991) - 3 - by Sebmagic

I'll take an extra helping of cheese with this one. I know MythBusters debunked this, but still...

#8 Fallen (by Touch)

An unusual entry on this list, but a chase I knew I had to include. This relatively unknown supernatural horror tale includes a demon who can move from person to person by touch, and this is exactly the skill used to chilling effect in this chase

#7 Bourne Identity (Red Mini)

Probably the first listing that's expected by all - this is the first real inkling that the Bourne Identity was not your normal action fare - the poor mini is hurtled around the streets, footpaths and stairs of Paris.

24 November, 2013

Get to the Gunboat!

Knowing that they were being stalked by something, Schaefer set up defences and waited for it to come at them. The trip wires and mines did nothing though and now he decides to get his people the hell out of there and get to the gunboat.

Ahead of them, Hamid drags his hostage through the jungle, angling for the jetty where he trusts his dhow awaits him.

Harper and Carpenter go ashore from the gunboat to make contact with the Marines, while Cook and Kennedy 'hold the fort'. 
Overlooking the Marines' defences, the Hunter is still cloaked
Shore Party makes contact with the Pirates, they race up the hill to get a superior position, but Harper is killed by concerted musketry
Carpenter hunkers down around the corner and tries to come up with a plan to save his life and the hostage
The exultant pirates go to the top of the cliff and display their hostage
The Marines make it to the river bank - from there they open fire on the pirates in the distance, killing a few of Hamid's companions and clipping the hostage's leg
Eyeing up the river crossing, Schaefer has his men take cover behind a rock formation
The Hunter de-cloaks
and leaps down to move towards bridge
Carpenter rushes back up the hill and takes on Hamid's sword with his bayonet
Having no time to finish the slaver, Carpenter scampers back to the foot of the hill and hides in the undergrowth as more pirates arrive on the scene
Hunter tries to cut off the Marines at the bridge, but they're still taking their time crossing the river
Kennedy urges the wounded hostage back to his feet and over to the gunboat - raking the nearby pirates with his tommy gun as he does
Rushing into wreak havoc, the Hunter survives the snapshot from Schaefer as he runs past
Blaine and Billy go down as the Hunter unsheathes wicked wrist blades
Gunfire from Schaefer and Hawkins sees Hunter unscathed, but return fire from the Hunter's shoulder cannon vaporises Schaefer's weapon
Schaefer somehow avoids the Hunter's wrist blades but drive him backwards - he shouts out for Hawkins to run for it!
Hamid has scrambled down the cliff face, ignoring the pain from his leg and making towards the shore - Kennedy watches the carnage ashore and tells Cook to fire up the engines
Schaefer withdraws firing his trusty M1911 but it has no effect and as the Hunter turns towards him Schaefer drops it and raises his fists. The Hunter accepts the challenge and the wrist blades withdraw. Within moments Schaefer goes down crippled, and it's only then that the Hunter notices the rest of his prey is in danger of escaping!
Cook stands guard at the rear, bearing the old reliable Springfield 1903, while Kennedy is at the prow. The hostage has been given a quick tutorial and is at the wheel
Pirate scrambles past crocodile to swim aboard, but instead of making common cause with the sailors, he attacks Cook with his sword (but is dispatched back into the river!)
The Hunter arrives with preternatural speed at the jetty and leaps across to the gunboat!
It guts Cook without too much trouble and looks to enter the engine room
But only gets a faceful of lead from Kennedy for his trouble (destroying its useful mask)
Further fire from Hawkins damages the shoulder cannon and it withdraws back to shore to think again
With no way of chasing the gunboat, the Hunter disappears back into the jungle. Back on the bank of the stream Schaefer struggles to bind his wounds and salvage what he can for his last stand...

17 November, 2013

Coming Aboard?

Lt. Vanderbolt leads a small gunboat towards the rendezvous point with Gunny Schaefer’s squad, but as they cruise towards the landing point, a dhow slides up behind them, ignoring their hails.

A band of Zanzibari Pirates have been patrolling the area and are aware that their glorious leader has raised the ire of the Americans. They will attempt to prevent any interference by taking control of the boat.

Grant goes aft to challenge the approaching dhow
But the pirates have taken positions ashore as well
In fact, they've set up a small gun overlooking the jetty - it opens fire on the gunboat and Warner, manning the Lewis Gun near the bridge takes a direct hit
Other Zanzibaris converge on the jetty
As Seaman Black and Lieutenant Vanderbolt seek to take control of the prow gun, they are hit by a fusilade of musket fire from the shore
Harper and Carpenter jump to the jetty (avoiding the crocodile lurking below) and open fire on the group nearest - driving them off
Meanwhile, the dhow starts its approach and the pirate aboard open fire, killing Grant - though taking serious return fire from Kennedy's tommy gun
Harper and Carpenter have wiped out the gun crew and turn it on the dhow
Kennedy has been hit by the pirates (dropping his sub-machine gun overboard) and one of the pirates makes it across in an attempt to finish him off
The other group of pirates rush down the jetty and jump aboard
Harper, now hobbling with a gammy leg, rushes towards the shore - he spots that the gunboat is in serious trouble of being taken!
Thankfully he spots that Kennedy has gotten back to his feet, and he points his shotgun back at the remaining crew of the dhow
Kennedy has more than that to contend with - with just a pistol left, he leaps up to the top deck and runs for the bridge
Somehow, Cook and Kennedy defend the bridge against both groups of pirates with just their pistols!
The leader of the Zanzibari pirates run back to his ship
So, it looks like the navy will be able to make the rendezvous with Schaefer after all...

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