Thursday, 6 November 2014

Lock Stock 'n Two Smokin' Lewis Guns

Too much DPM makes Jack a dull boy, so it is time to pack up our troubles, say goodbyeee to our loved ones, join Fred Karno's Army, ask Madamoiselle from Armienteres if she parlez-vous and break out the Khaki Serge.

Over the last month we hit a synchronicity about wargaming World War One which resulted in a rich stream of enthusiasm and creativity.  The result of this has been to launch ourselves over the top with a spirited cameo innings to plant the cherry well and truly in the trenches of 1916-18.

I can hear you asking, "Why 1916-18. Isn't that boring?"  The short answer is 'No' and I urge you to take a few minutes to read the introduction to The German 1918 Offensives: A Case Study in The Operational Level of War by David T. Zabecki, which looks at the evolving perceptions of World War One over the last century. You can see how these may have coloured your and our own understanding of the conflict.

Right now, we are feeling our way with regards to rules and we fully expect different rules will be used or made up to fit the occasion, especially as our approach to our wargaming of 1916-18 is very much in keeping with the Wipers Times. A test game with based but unpainted figures using Lock Stock 'n Two Somkin' Sterlings, proved it works very well with minimum of adaptations - notably replacing non-character individual figures with bases which fight as if they are a single man in the original rules. Our homebrew Arse-end of Empire house rules also work well.

Figures are based generically, with no single rule system in mind. This will allow  them to be used as sections/platoons/companies/battalions as we see fit. We are going with three figure small bases from Battlefront for flexibility and these look much better than you might at first expect. And there's plenty of extra character and command figures on one and two figure stands.

Maff is currently drawn more to 1916-17, Dulce et Decorum est and all that, fighting for some real estate around the Wipers (Ypres) salient. I'm preparing forces for Arras, Cambrai, the Kaiserschlacht.

The British are almost entirely from Mrrs Battlefront & Co. These are truly whizz-bang figures and certainly to my mind, the best yet from Battlefront. The castings are crisp, clean and well executed, with no mould lines or flash at all. Not been without trubble and having to contact Customer Services. Im definitely not buying any more. A handful of Peter Pig Square Bashers fill in for various necessary chaps and defaulters whilst Minifig trench raiders complete our 'bombing' parties.

The Germans are mostly Peter Pig (currently 8 units each of 4 bases, plus MGs, guns and trench mortars) with new Stosstruppen from Battlefront to add both colour and characters.


Sunday, 5 October 2014

Enfilade Figures: Cold War SAS Review

A few weeks back I stumbled upon Enfilade Figures, a new 20mm figure company run by owner, sculptor Robert Börnig. His Cold War SAS just had something about them in the photos, that made me think of the beacons and  immediately screamed Winter of '79. Especially as I'd just finished reading Big Boys Rules by Mark Urban.

Enfilade Figures 20mm
Cold War SAS

Now, if I'm honest with myself, I need more SAS figures like a whole in the head as I have plenty from RH Models and ex-Hotspur Falklands War ranges. These double as all sorts of hairy shooters from both sides of our fictional conflict and have even passed on occasion for their intended use as Falkland War SAS/SBS.

 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare or What

Despite these bandito mustachioed hordes, I just had to buy 3 packs of Robert's Cold War SAS then and there. They duly arrived before the week was out and here they are (at last) with a quick wash to show up the detail.

That house definitely needs the harling redone

 Kit detail

Size wise they are on the smaller size and unpainted just about fit in with my ex-Hotspur troops. Their slender build makes them noticeably different to RH Models stockier chaps, but that's what living on Chicken Supreme and Garibaldi's for three weeks does to you.

So what do you get? 4 figures in a pack for 3.99 Euro.Three wear woolly hats and the fourth dons a full face balaclava. All armed with M16s in a rough resemblance of '58 pattern webbing. I won't deny that I'd hoped they would be a little on the taller side - but I'm sure the difference will be minimal once painted and based. Plus, I really, really like these guys.

I'll try and get the SAS painted this week and post up the results. Next up will be a look at Elhiems new armed police and '70's era civvies.


Saturday, 4 October 2014

Boarding Party

If you thought last week was the week that was, and the week before that.........

No not a scene from World War Z, or preparations for post referendum disorder, or even some Kevin McLeod/Sarah Beenie build your own TV house fest. The developers came along, conducted a survey and wrote to us saying they'd like to replace the harling (pebble-dash), before the house guarantee ran out. Very nice of them - until you realise this is 3 weeks of work using jack hammers to take it off! But fair do's, they are also checking the underlying granite and masonry for replacement / repair before slapping the harling all new improved harling back on!

On the bright side, and despite having the windows boarded up there is a bright side..... H. was unemployed for a whole day after finishing her MBA before being offered a dream position with a leading company. Huzzah!

It would be easy to think that this was great luck, but in fact it was the result of dedication, perseverance and hard damn work. Being an active observer over the past year and seeing first hand what it takes, I now take my hat off to anyone doing or who has done an MBA or equivalent.


Sunday, 28 September 2014

SITREP: Well done!

Heather's finished university! Huzzah! Not only is the MBA in the bag but it looks like it could be a distinction too! Huzzah!  Her interview went very well, but....the other candidate rescheduled to this coming Monday, so we won't know the result till Tuesday at the earliest.

So, this weekend we are catching up and regaining our equlibrium. The last few months have been tough in many ways and in this final week, tensions reached an unprecedented peak.

Then.....I came home from work on Friday to find Heather waiting with a "Thank you for your support" present; Infinity's new Operation Icestorm boxed set. She had pre-ordered the set over the phone with Firestorm Games back in August (you can tell she likes to be prepared) and subsequently can't rate the store highly enough for their pleasant and informative customer service. She thought Icestorm would represent Mass Effect on the tabletop but apparently what definitely swung it was when they mentioned that one of the (Nomad) figs could pass for a fem shephard and that there was a free limited edition female figure in sexy business attire - 'Corporate Security Unit' - thereby ticking all my personal likes in one go!

 Seriously though. Well done H! Proud of you and a big well done also, to our Canadian chum Natalie and everyone else on the MBA course who has shared our lives for the last 12 months.


Meanwhile.... in a galaxy far, far awaygogagogh.... Huw Solo and the crew of the Millenium Dragon try out... Lock Stock 'n Two Smokin' Blasters!


Saturday, 20 September 2014


This week has gone to hell in a handcart and next week isnt going to be much better. We are in the final count-down now to end of H's tour of duty at university. Next Friday it's all over and done with. What can I say but Thank F***!  But in the meantime she has to finish her dissertation, give a presentation at university, give a presentation to the company where she is an intern, and sail through a second interview (including presentation) for a major position with a leading Scottish company. I'm sure you can imagine that stress factors in the house are at an all time high.

We've also had THE referendum this week. Many of my colleagues plus some of my team were directly involved working at the polling stations. They are all very proud to have taken part in such a historic event and returned to the office yesterday with amazing tales from the front-line of democracy in action.They were bouyed up by their experience in a way I've only seen in volunteers from the Glasgow Games and London Olymics. As for me, with the exception of following the Scottish Independence thread on ARRSE (not for the faint-hearted), I blindedly ignored the media, the leaflets, the campaign, the personalities et al to make my own informed decision based not on flags or fear but a balanced view which lay somewhere between head and heart.

To help me ignore the political chaff, I've read a lot over the last two weeks or so. With a 35 minute train journey each way plus 10-15 minutes in the waiting room in the morning, I can get through a lot in a week, especially now I have the Kindle app on my iPad.

Too Far Too Few, is a tribute to Naval Party 8901 and their defence of South Georgia during the Falklands Conflict. It gets you into a bootnecks mindset but be warned that the salient battle for the defence of South Georgia is limited to one short chapter. I bought this after The Yompers (Kindle edition), about 45 Commando in the Falklands. It follows the all too common We Heard, We Sailed, We Landed, We Yomped, We Fought, We Lost Mates, We Won, We Came Home formula. Reasonable account of Two Sisters but had disappointing maps.

Also picked up Nine Battles To Stanley by Nicholas van der Bijl for 2.99 or so on eBay. All I can say is it's a poor man's version of Hugh Bicheno's Razors Edge. Bicheno wins hands down and in fact I use the very detailed battle maps in Razors Edge to follow the action described in both The Yompers and Three Days in June (Kindle edition). If you don't know Razors Edge then all I can say is that as a wargamer it is THE one and only book you need to read about the Falklands.

Three Days in June by James O'Connell I've had for about a month now and thoroughly recommend. I just keep going back to it. It's Mount Longdon from the mouth's of the Tom's who fought there and is superb if you want to get into the mind of soldiers in action as they fought from rock to rock. The book also includes lots of photos of 3 Para with 16 photos of Mt Longdon which help get the scale of the place, location of participants at given times and course of the battle as it unfolded. However,I still found I had to use Bicheno's map in tandem with reading the text to have real clarity of the actual situation. I felt the Kindle format detracted from the fact that with a real book you can more easily flip back and forth between pages to study maps and photo.

At the same time as reading 3 Days in June, I also read Brains and Bullets: How Psychology Wins Wars by Leon Murray. I can't recommend Brains and Bullets enough. I even bought a copy for Maff so we could be on the same page.  In fact when I finished reading Brains and Bullets I went back and read Three Days in June mapping the Toms accounts of their actions or reactions to battle against Leon Murray's pschological model of men in combat. And it works.

Gaming wise, the Enfilade 20mm SAS arrived mid-week. Put an order into Matt at Elhiem for a a clutch of 20mm 'Nam figures on the back of the fun we've had with Lock Stock... Don't be surprised if you find a Lock Stock 'n Two Smoking Hootches (or similar) variant in the future.


Saturday, 13 September 2014

More Hereford Hooligans

Harry Two Spoons and his Hereford Hooligans

This week we've pounded Lock Stock 'n Two Smoking Sterlings into the ground. Resulting in a small tweak to the customisation of characters that has just lifted the entire game. Well worth the effort and a great excuse to down a couple of celebratory beers!

We'll take a look at Elhiem Figures' new BAOR and 1970's civilian releases over the coming week as they are perfect for Winter of 79.


Monday, 8 September 2014

Sssh...You Ain't Seen Me....Right!

In the run up to the publication of our new dedicated Winter of '79 rules, Lock Stock 'n Two Smoking Sterlings, we are getting our forces in order.....these are some of Maff's new SAS from RH Models.

SAS or Free Taff Commandos?

What can I tell you about Lock Stock 'n Two Smoking Sterlings? We've had a blast writing it and playing out the draft rules and we are having the cover professionally created just now. So it's close.  As with any labour of love, we ended up with far more ideas and rules systems than we could comfortably fit in and yet retain the overall fast, slick and fun game we wanted. So we had to be pretty harsh with ourselves and the result is definitely worth it!

Lock Stock... itself is a character driven skirmish game. Ideally you are looking at an optimum range of 4-12 figures together with the odd vehicle. Up to 20 figures will work just fine but you'll find the game turns will begin to creak with more figures than that unless you have more than one player on each side. Whilst the rule systems have been deliberately designed to handle everything from gangs and coppers vs criminals, to urban insurrection and full on shooting war.

We strongly recommend no more than an armoured land rover and an armoured car or CVR(T) as part of your force. There are plenty of Cold War an Modern game systems already out there if you want to pit troops of Scimitars, Foxes and Saladins against each other, so you are not losing out. So vehicles should be kept to a minimum as part of the mission parameters or to add period colour in order to maintain the ethos of the game.

If you know us of old, there will be a certain familiarity about the game, but you will also find a lot that is, I hope, different to anything you've experienced so far in this level of game. We like to think of Lock Stock... as a bit tongue in cheek fun but with a gritty edge. Above all, we've endeavoured to keep the late 1970's, early 80's at the forefront of our design. It is after all winter, 1979, and there's 'oop's for tea!