Sunday, 7 July 2019

Joy of Six 2019

Across to Sheffield for the annual celebration of all things tiny. The show has settled down into a nice routine now, based in the Hallam University buildings - though we were on a different floor again this year. Quite handy, in fact, as one end of the room was the cafeteria, though as usual I went for a meal and a pint at a nearby pub, the Head of Steam.

All the usual suspects were at the show, along with a large number of games, about 50/50 participation and demonstration. I didn't get involved with any of the participation ones - with a fairly limited amount of time at a show, and lots of purchasing decisions to make, I begrudge spending an hour or more sitting at a game table. They all seemed to be getting a fair amount of custom, it must be said. All the expected vendors were there - Wargames Emporium with GHQ, Heroics and Ros and Baccus, and Scotia Grandel who also carried the new 2D6 range. Sadly the new releases aren't quite ready yet, so I confined my model purchases to a fair few GHQ packs for early war - the Panzer 1A which is a new release, the command tank version of the Pz 1, some Panzerjaeger 1B and Sdkfz 221, 231 and 232 armoured cars. To face them I got British A9 and A10 Cruiser tanks, and some Mk VIB light tanks.

I continued to circle, trying to decide what more to buy, if anything. Leven were there as always, but I don't really have any burning need for buildings right now. In the end I got some hedgerows and fencing from GS Miniature Workshop - they are based in Manchester and always attend JoS, and I always buy some stuff - you can never have too many hedgerows. I left about three and had a fair trip home - another good day out.

Saturday, 6 April 2019

Salute 2019

Down to London on Friday night, staying in my now usual hotel close to the ExCel centre. The hotel was very good, I was upgraded to an executive suite which was nice, though I didn't feel I could actually make much use of the extensive second room. I had a curry in a local place, that was not so good - no alcohol licence, I was sat my the door in a draft and they took ages to take my order. I declined the offer of a complimentary dessert and had a Cornetto from the Tesco Express.

Things were much better in the morning, and after a good breakfast I headed off to the event. I got there just after ten, perfect timing as the queue had started to move quickly and I was soon in. I had a list of things I wanted to get, and the first took me up to a stall called Clive's Diecasts. Not because I wanted to buy any of the old vehicle he was selling, but because he had samples and was taking orders for some new 1/285 models produced by 2D6 Wargaming Aka Robert Fellowes on YouTube. He has been showing the new models on his channel, and they are very nice indeed, as were the samples in the flesh - I ordered a few of each.

After that I was off to the Pendraken stand. Two years ago they released BlitzKrieg Commander 3, which I bought, but hardly played if at all. It was badly received, with errors and inconsistencies, and they have produced BKC4, offering a free swap to anyone who had bought the previous version. I took my copy, and they exchanged it with no questions.

Next I went to Magister Militum, where I found a copy of the boardgame Pavlov's House. I wanted to get this at Hammerhead, but they had not brought a copy, and I bought Cuba Libre instead. This time they did have it, and at a good price, just £54. After that I started to circulate, looking at various stuff, but before long I found my next target on the Spirit Games stall, the Player's Handbook for D&D 5th Edition. I wasn't quite sure if I wanted to invest the time in going through another new version, but in the end I decided I wanted to see how the game has changed.

M<y final target was Volume 1 of Donald Featherstone's Wargaming Through the Ages - I picked up volumes 2-4 in the auction a couple of weeks ago. I found the book on the same stall where I picked up two of the Tank Battles in Miniature last week. While I was wandering round I spotted a couple of Dark Ages buildings from Renedra, and I picked those up.

By this time my bag was getting pretty heavy, so I went back to the hotel to unload. I had lunch there, and checked out, then returned to the show. I was just mooching around really, looking at various things but not buying much. I got some spray undercoat, but my last purchase of significance was three packs of Empress 28mm moderns - a team of four British soldiers, and two four-packs of insurgents. That was the lot, and I left about four, heading back to the hotel to get my case and set off home.

Saturday, 2 March 2019

Hammerhead 2019

Off down the M6 and across the A50 to Newark Showground, for the first show of the year (for me). Last year's show was cancelled because of a blizzard on the day, and I missed 2017 because of some clash of diaries, so this was the first time I have attended since the show has been split across two halls. This seemed to work well, with plenty of room for the games and traders but no gaping holes. As usual at this show every game was designated as a participation event (apart from those in the DBA tournament). I didn't try out any of these, so I can't comment on their quality, but there seemed to be a fair amount of activity around most of the tables.

I had some specific targets, mostly around the game Rangers of Shadow Deep, which I have recently picked up. This is by Joe McCullough, the creator of Frostgrave and Ghost Archipelago. I find those settings rather specific, whereas RoSD allows you to use much more generic fantasy characters - rangers obviously, and knights, conjurors, rogues and so on. It's main strength is the scenarios which are put out, each with interesting challenges and different mechanics.

My first purchase was a bunch of dungeon dressing - treasure piles, tables, rubble and so on. These came from a vendor called Miniature Vault, which means, according to the packaging, that they are bulk purchased from Reaper Bones and repackaged for sale at conventions.

After a turn around the first haul, and a bit of lunch (pie and chips) I walked over to the George Stephenson Hall, which is the hall where the show used to be held in total. I got some more dungeon stuff from Ainsty - more substantial items like walls, pillars and doors. From 4Ground I picked up a couple of Dark Ages Anglo-Danish houses/huts - they should fit into the generic fantasy background. I also got a couple of packs of clear plastic circular bases (25mm diameter) which I now use for all my 28mm figures.

The final purchase was the biggest, a board game. I had hoped to find Pavlov's House, a solo game of defending a building over many days during the Stalingrad battle. However the only vendor there, Magister Militum, didn't have it with them, and I was quite happy to pick up one of the COIN (Counterinsurgency) series. I dithered between A Distant Plain (Afghanistan modern) and Cuba Libre (Castro's revolution) - in the endI opted for the latter, and I am looking forward to seeing how it plays - like all the COIN series it is designed from the outset for full solitaire play (though you can have up to three other players).

Back to the North West, the trip only spoiled slightly by Blackpool's progressive collapse to a 4-0 defeat at Bristol Rovers. Quite a bit of painting to do now, but also some rules reading.

The booty

Sunday, 28 October 2018

Fiasco 2018

Over the Pennines to my annual visit to Leeds Royal Armouries and Fiasco, my last show of the year. The venue is right on the docks on the River Aire and the Leeds & Liverpool canal, and my ambition is to attend this one year from our boat - though as the round trip from our base is 3-4 weeks that will probably have to wait until I retire.

I was aware before going that I would not be able to stock up on my main target, 6mm tanks, as neither Wargames Emporium nor Magister Militum would be in attendance. Baccus was there, but they have not released anything for WW2 since the Shermans, which I picked up at JoS. So I was going for bits and pieces, and for the atmosphere.

The show was pretty much as usual, a good middle-to-large one day show. The venue is a single large hall, OK but the upper walls and ceiling are decorated in black with small lights like stars - quite atmospheric but personally I would settle for more light.

As usual at a show, I first did a full circuit of all the trade stands, not looking to buy very much (though I picked up a couple of pots of paint) but making notes for later, and seeing if anything struck me out of the blue. At about noon I went off for lunch - with the best will in the world the food at the venue could be called "functional" so I walked over towards the city centre. As a bonus this took me past the docks and over the river, which I looked at in a new light now that we are seriously likely to be boating down here in a year or two.

I went to the same place as last year, a bar called Revolution - clearly a place which will be packed in the evenings but quiet on a Sunday lunchtime, and perfectly acceptable ribs and beer. Then back to the show.

The main thing I wanted to get was Leven buildings, because they are such fun to paint, so I picked up some that are suitable for the Eastern Front - Russian cottages, a Ukrainian church and so on. I pondered a few other things, but I didn't want to buy stuff just for the sake of it. In the end the only other significant item was a set of rules from Osprey called The Men Who Would Be King. These are for 19th Century Colonial battles, which is something that interests me a bit, but the other reason for buying them is the solo rules or AI within them. This is called "Playing Against Mr Babbage" and has been mentioned many times in the wargaming press, so I wanted to take a look.

Things wrapped up around three, and I set off for home. A good friendly way to end the year, and I will be back, by road or water.

A Spitfire outside the Royal Armoury

Leeds Waterways

The Booty

Sunday, 15 July 2018

Joy of Six 2018

Having missed last year because of family illness (I have been to all the others since the start) I was keen to get there reasonably early, and despite the best efforts of some Cycling Fun Day I was able to navigate Sheffield's ring road and arrived in the venue about half ten.

There was a slight change of location this year - although it was in the same building we had moved out of the atrium (the "Heartspace") into a more conventional area, two long rooms connected by doors, with a canteen at the far end of one of them. Personally I htought this was an improvement - while the Heartspace looked spectacular, especially from three floors up, the layout was actually quite awkward, with games squeezed around the stairs, and some relegated to rather cut-off side rooms. Here everyone was in essentially one large space, and I don't think anyone will have felt they were out of the way.

The games were all good looking as usual - with the impression of large-scale battles given by this scale. For looks I would pick out the Manchester ECW board - it wasn't huge, but it was covered with buildings representing the city and the bridge to Salford during the siege. Most innovative I think was the Cold War Commanders (using the rules of the same name). They had a long table with three battles side by side. The terrain represented the same area on each (Wesel in Germany) but in different time periods - 1959, 1973 and 1989. They fought a Russian attack in each period simultaneously, using the appropriate troops and vehicles, but under the same CWC rules.

Purchasing was of course the most important aspect. I started off at H&R, just a chat really as I thought I had their latest stuff on my painting table already. But a casual question revealed that they had some brand new Fallschirmjager, not yet on the website, so I bought some of those. I went to the Baccus stand, but sadly the Panzer IV they had on display is not yet ready for sale - the gun barrel is true scale, which means it is too flimsy to be practical as a wargame model, so it will be out soon.

It wouldn't be JoS without a visit to the Leven stand, and despite not having a building project on the go at the moment, I had to pick up 4-5 assorted models. Down to the other end of the area to Wargames Emporium, where I got some of the new GHQ Lloyd Carriers (with and without 6lbdr guns) and some German Leichter Ladungstrager (essentially tracked quad bikes with trailers). I got a couple of Ospreys (Market Garden and the Valentine Tank) from Christopher Morris books, but my biggest purchase was a bunch of scenic items from GS Miniature Workshop. I got four of their "canopy woods" as well as an assortment of walls, hedges and palm trees.

All in all a very good day. I had lunch in the Head of Steam, though sadly they don't do rack of ribs any more. The trail to and fro over Snake Pass is tedious, especially with all the cyclists out int he sun, but worth it for a unique and very well run show.



Manchester/Salford - ECW siege

Gilly 1815


Bag the Hun 

Normandy 1944 (Iron Cross rules)

Normandy 1944

Zeebrugge Raid 1918

Horka 1708

Weser Cubed - three battlees in one

Weser Cubed - 1989 foreground, 1973 middle, 1959 far end

Battle of Britain - Check Your Six.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

H&R Paras

Following on from the Heroics & Ros LRDG in the last post, I have now painted the UK Paratroopers I bought at the same time. These are new figures, and like all of the later H&R releases they are very nice. They are much "slighter" than the likes of GHQ, Baccus or Adler, and as such they are probably closer to true scale humans. In theory that might be a problem, but in practice I have no qualms in using these in the same force - when you are looking down on them from a scale thousand feet in the air, the differences are unnoticeable. What they do have is very nice animation and good character, and they add a new set of options to the other lines.

In this case that's exactly what I am using them for. I already have a reasonably sized force of UK Paras from Baccus, so what I ordered from H&R was the oddments around the edges. I got recently landed men gathering their chutes, and men getting kit out of drop containers. There are some riders on tiny "Wellbike" motor cycles, and a variety of combat engineer types - flamethrowers, satchel charges, pole charges. There are a variety of jeeps, and some "cut down Morrises". There are in fact the well-known Quad tractor, used with the 25lbdr gun, with the bodywork removed to make it light enough for a glider. H&R do two versions - one has a tarpaulin over the load, the other has a group of men sitting on the tarpaulin, hitching a ride. This is a good example of the "character" I mentioned earlier. The last items were some command figures - some pointing, some with clip boards, radio men, the usual mix.

All in all a nice little batch, fun to paint, and they'll fill out my Para forces nicely.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Long Range Desert Group

At Salute Heroics & Ros announced three new ranges - UK Paratroops, Afrika Korps and the Long Range Desert Group. Sadly they did not have the figures available at the show, but I was able to order examples of all three on-line before they went off for a break.

The first range which I have painted is the LRDG. This consists mostly of vehicles: Chevrolet trucks fitted with a variety of weaponry, and some jeeps. There is also a small number of troops on foot. As with other recent H&R models these are very nice, with good detail, and the figures are well animated, though small by comparison with (say) GHQ or Baccus. However H&R would argue that they are probably more in scale with the vehicles, and they paint up well.

I based the infantry, and a radio car with no crew and standing figures, but I left the rest of the vehicles unbased for now. This is because I think it is more likely, give the nature of the models, that they will be used in individual or skirmish type games where bases may be less appropriate.