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!


Saturday 6 September 2014

Enfilade Figures: 20mm Cold War & Moderns

Let me introduce you to Enfilade Figures based in Germany. Robert is a great guy and is new to figure sculpting. I like his stuff, which is very reminiscent of early figures by Matt over at Elhiem.

Painted Enfilade Figures 20mm SAS
 (from the Enfilade webshop)

Robert initially caught my eye on his Rifles and Muskets blog, where he was previewing his 20mm Cold War SAS. Perfect I thought for Winter of '79!

 Enfilade Figures 20mm SAS
(from Rifles and Muskets blog, used with permission)

Robert also sculpts Cold War and Modern Insurgents, Germans, Taliban SADF and more. A second set of Cold War SAS are on the way. Worth taking a look.

I like the very natural human flow to many of his figures, so I've given Robert some encouragement together with an order including three packs of this initial Cold War SAS release. I'll review the Cold War SAS fully on Winter of '79 once they arrive next week.

Check out Enfilade Figures range here.


Monday 1 September 2014

Little Chef: Some Corner of a Foreign Field Playtest

Jeanette absent mindedly leaned on the counter. It had been another busy day at Little Chef on the south lane of the East Whittington bypass. The customers were mostly soldiers these days, and by the lorry load too. There was still lorry drivers, families going on holiday and the odd travelling rep, but there were far fewer than when the crisis began. Most families who stopped had cars piled high with personal possessions. She felt sorry for them. As short order cook Jeanette had lost count of the number of gammon steaks and pineapple she'd cooked on the griddle. Takings were good today at least and that would please Terry, the manager. It was almost end of shift so he was in the back doing the reconciliation from the tills whilst Pauline, was out front conspicuously cleaning tables in an effort to hurry away their last customers. Right now Jeanette was looking forward to the end of her shift, getting her feet up in front of Coronation Street with a big mug of tea and a Mcvities chocolate digestive.

CRASH! BANG!!! "Nobody Fecking Move!" Jeanette suddenly faced a terrifying reality as 3 armed and masked men burst into the Little Chef.

Baz had noticed something wrong with the Rover and it's occupants back at the Saville Heath Petrol Garage when he'd gone back to collect his Green Shield stamps. "Missus will kill me. Saving up for a new ironing board". They tailed the car at a safe distance. The driver of the rover seemingly unaware that he had been rumbled by Baz and Daz of 13 Close Reconnaissance Company in a souped up but heavily fortified Q Car. When the Rover pulled into the Little Chef, Daz smiled "Got 'em!".

Sergeant Fry of the East Whittington Special Patrol Group was just taking his first bite of a Curley Wurley when the "All Armed Units" call for assistance came over the radio.  When Dispatch "Foxtrot One Two, Foxtrot One Two, be aware, armed undercover army personnel on scene", Constable Baldwin turned to his partner "Sounds like we are heading into a war Kev!".

 So this was the setup for my play test of Some Corner Of A Foreign Field, modern skirmish rules kindly sent to me by Matt of Morningstar Productions. I took to the rules straight away on first reading. And it wasn't a lot of reading because Some Corner Of A Foreign Field (SCoaFF) are only two pages long. Yes that's right, two pages like the One Cell wargames rules emanating from Wargames Developments back in the 80's and early 90's.

I deliberately chose this scenario as it had to be fun for me whilst play testing but allowed me enough characterisation to test the rules several times using different quality stats - called Skills & Drills (S&D) in SCoaFF to measure the effect of the different levels. The houses behind the Little Chef had gardens which would allow for a running battle if it came to that.

SCoaFF uses D20, familiar with RPG players. It is dead simple to pick without the learning curve of other similar modern skirmish rules and flows smoothly allowing you to concentrate on the game not the rules. 

There's no rules for vehicles or heavy weapons as the game is clearly focused as a squad level skirmish game and is no poorer for that. Integral support doesn't generally go higher than platoon level though MGs, company mortars and snipers can all be brought into play as off board support elements if required by the mission. This is because the intended engagement zone of this game is about 500-750 metres square on a 4x4 board (give or take). For most major assets this would be danger close, particularly once the two sides start to mix it up.

There are 5 Skills&Drills levels, 1-5. All else being equal, you will find that a model at one S&D level is worth 1.5-2 models at the next one down (i.e. 4 S&D4s are worth 6-8 S&D3s). The set-up of your scenario (eg ambush) and weapon mix will alter that of course. In the play tests altering the S&D for various  figures had a significant role in effecting the outcome.

A neat touch is that combat builds up Stress levels throughout the game and effects morale which differs depending upon whether you are regular or an insurgent. Having just re-read Brains and Bullets: How Psychology Wins Wars by Leo Murray for the THIRD time this month, Some Corner Of A Foreign Field was very timely and speaks to me to a degree where the two become the same.

Stretched out with colour pictures and associated fluff I could easily see this as a contender for becoming an Osprey rule set. As it is SCoaFF definitely packs a punch above it's weight in pages and everything is there to play a robust squad level game on the table that equals Battlefield or Call of Duty Modern Warfare on the Xbox with minimum of fuss and maximum enjoyment.


Tuesday 26 August 2014

Plastic Squaddies: 1/72 British Infantry of the 1970's

Want Winter of '79 in a box? These 1/72 plastic Toms from A Call To Arms: British Infantry of the 1970's are just that.

So what do you get? Four identical sprues each with 8 unique figures for a total of 32 men. These are divvied up into:

4   macho officer types firing pistol
4   very macho Charlie G No.1s standing firing
4   patrolling GPMG No.1s
20 assorted riflemen with SLRs in five poses

This is essentially a platoon in a box with some left overs.  You know,  I really like these plastic squaddies.There's a lot of potential here with just the odd headswop. Plus, these figures are simply reduced versions of  Britains 54mm SuperDeetail Paratroopers which were first launched in 1978 and of course because of that they have the bang on feel of the 70's, Life on Mars and a streets of Ulster thing going on for them.

Rather than repeating others, here are links to Paul's excellent PlasticWarriors blog which shows these Toms painted as Falklands era Scots Guards and Argentine 602 Commando Company. And of course the ever interesting Bennos Figure Forum shows their compatibility with Matchbox/Revell's plastic British Paratroopers (Falklands War).

A box of each of these plastics plus some TQD-MF1 SAS Commandos from C-P Models, and you can start your own Winter of '79 shooting war.


Sunday 24 August 2014

Anarchy in the UK!

Punks came pogoing into the 1970's. They were a groundswell movement of working class kids bringing energy and a new urban rebellion that would quickly become the popular image of Anarchy for over a decade. Even today perhaps thanks to the Mad Max franchise Punks are synonymous with visions of post apocalyptic feral gangs.

Apocalypse Miniatures 20mm Punks
(images courtesy of Apocalypse Miniatures)

Since the demise of the excellent Citadel Miniatures Dark Future range, surprisingly no 20mm manufacturer in the UK has picked up the mantle of this distinctive and popular sub-culture. Until now that is... Apocalypse Miniatures have just released 10 new 'heroic' 20mm post-apocalyptic Punks.

 They definitely look the biz and I've already put an order in with Apocalypse Miniatures through their eBay store, so they will be headbutting my door in sometime this week. Which is great timing as we finished  the 'gang' warfare section of our upcoming rules last week and these new Punks will fit straight in and become part of our test games.

I plan to leave some as is but others will have their weapons replaced by SLRs, Sterlings and Brens for pure God Save the Queen, Winter of '79 anarchic urban chic.

 I'm also looking forward to using these new Apocalypse Miniatures in more traditional post apocalyptic games and use them against a stream of different dystopian future and Sci Fi foes. Time to break out the Ambush Alley SOG 2010 post apocalypse Wasteland scenario pack from Apocalypse Miniatures informed me on the back of my purchase that trench coat gangers and futuristic police are on their way too.

Go and check out Apocalypse Miniatures on Facebook and eBay.



The figures proved to be 25mm. See comparison photo below. Apocalypse is going back to rework the figures to 20mm. I've provided them with a Citadel OOP Dark Future Punk to use as a guide.

That's a Liberation Miniatures
Falklands range figure on the right


Saturday 23 August 2014

Winter of '69: Somewhere in the Boonies

As Mark indicated we have been working away during our break from blogging at a dedicated set of Winter of '79 rules. Needless to say I have been....distracted. Mark kindly pointed me to what he described on eBay as "all you'll ever need for Vietnam in 20mm."  I think he did mean all "I" ever need as there's far too few choppers for Mark to even consider it. Well, here's the proof:

 Winter of '69: You don't know man. You weren't there!

In order to get an idea as to how our Winter of '79 rules are stacking, I worked up a fast and dirty solo Winter of '69 Nam variant using more or less the same game mechanisms.

So, my squad of grunts, led by a Sorry Honky of a LT, headed off to search the Ville of Dak Plop. In the section are various panicky dudes, slick grunts and some gung-ho honchos. There's even a Sorry Ass REMF. The LT proves to be useless and it's down to the Slick RTO to get the HQ and M60 team moving. The plan was that they'd give cover to Sgt Greensboro and his grunts as they slid down the track to the ville.

At this point Charlie made his appearance and the oh so simple plan went down the tubes. After about four turns of shooting in which the honky LT actually led by example, Charlie broke off leaving the Medic panicked, the REMF down and Tallahassee (Grunt No.2) applying bandages....then, a sniper emerged together with another gaggle of Charlie. The M60 and the scout drove off the sniper while the RTO got ready to call down The Big One......the LT was paralysed in full on panic so it was down to Sgt Greensboro to man up and grimly pushed Charlie back.

Apart from some pigs, all was silent in the Ville, the bunker was empty and reports had Charlie massing on the trail back to the LZ. A lone sniper popped away from across the paddy but was silenced by concentrated massed fire.

The terrain worked magnificently as did the core rule mechanisms. At one point in the game with the LT and Medic panicking, a couple of wounded were being treated by Tallahassee, plus some weapon stoppages on the firing line there was a very real rising sense of crisis. It was Sgt Greensboro who gathered the scout and pig team around him that turned everything around. Perfect!


Wednesday 20 August 2014

A Semi With A View

Getting the right type of 1970's house types for Winter of '79 has got easier. Kingsway Models have recently released two new OO scale cards kits that are perfect for the new estates that proliferated during the 1970's especially within 'New Towns'.

 SEMD Half relief Modern semi detached houses x2
 Great for filling the edge of your table

 SEMD Modern semi-detached houses (full version)

 My granddad lived in one of these 'New' houses after they bulldozed his Victorian terrace. As they were quite literally NEW the amount of conversion by residents was minimal. Gardens both front and back were uniform.Which means you don't have to mess around with flowers, kitchen gardens etc. The odd shed or clothese line would break this up and provide a more lived in feel. They could also back onto playing fields, more traditional sorts of shops or even a small industrial estate to add another dimension to the gaming table.


Monday 18 August 2014

A Nice Little Detached in the Suburbs

The Dapol (formerly Airfix) Detached House is a classic. First released in 1956, it stands the test of time despite it's obviously dated appearance.

 Dapol 1/76 C27 Detached House
Cheap, Cheerful and Readily Available

When you see them painted up, they tend to look like the type of houses seen on Army estates. I've bought several of these for Winter of '79 games but I have to admit that I am struggling to use them as is. I will admit myself in advance that I'm being a bit precious here, but once assembled they simply don't fit the mental image I'm trying to create for my Winter of '79 suburbs.

Then I fell across this beaut of a kit bash on RMWeb. The very same Dapol model house but sympathetically converted into something more akin of my memory growing up in a house like this. I really take my hat off to the guy. Do check out the other photos in his gallery.


The thing to consider about these detached suburban houses over say classic Victorian terraces of the industrial heartlands is footprint. Together with gardens and leafy back alleys if you want to model them, you need far fewer buildings and have greater opportunity for manoeuvre and cover. Think of the scenes in Shawn of the Dead where they are making their way to the Winchester via the relative safety of the house backs.  By comparison the average 1/76 Victorian semi is only 6cm wide. That's a lot of red brick. Waltham Forest Council have produced an informative PDF on housing typologies found across their borough, whihc provides an excellent primer on C20th British housing in cities and suburbs.

Now, whilst that kit bashed Dapol house on RMWeb is perfect, it does need a lot of modelling to replicate.  I was umming and aahing about the effort required, when I came across this photo of a similar, if more down at heel house from the period. From this I figured that the the addition of a brick course, shingle roof over the front door porch and bay window could make a huge difference in the final look with far less work.

Then quite by chance I found the above Linka compatible Bay Window mould available from eBay seller Martin.Stancer. This arrived on Friday just gone. I've got plenty of Slaters OO scale (4mm) Brick embossed plastikard, so I'm going to give it a go. Will let you know how I get on.


Sunday 17 August 2014

Do Not Adjust Your Set

You won't be surprised to hear that we needed a break from blogging over the past couple of months. The 'freedom' gained had the net result of allowing us to be creative and explore new ideas or try new wargaming memes such as the test game below of our new Victorian character based skirmish rules. Here Perry's new 1860s British Intervention Force are pitted against a mix of ACW and Foundry Filibusters as Fenian rebels.
Trouble in Canada....Assorted Fenians 
waiting to take on Victoria's boys

It doesn't take much to scratch the surface for Winter of '79 to reappear. We've had a lot of fun working on our own rule systems for Winter of '79 during our downtime.  Starting with a platoon level combat system aimed at several sub-units on each side, where my emphasis was on recreating the gritty feel of small unit actions in both urban and rural environments involving 1970's/early 80's British Army and rebel forces.

1979 Land Rover patrol on the streets

 Teasing out the 1970's vibe we couldn't help following an evolving path which branched out into a more character driven approach with factions of 4-16 figures with perhaps a vehicle or so on each side. In all honesty this was great fun to develop. The scope very naturally opened up to encompass everything from gangs on the terraces to hardened criminals vs the Sweeney, revolutionaries and rebels of every political shade and of course the forces of the civil powers and British Army. So we have two very different types of game to show for it but with so many popular published Cold War/Modern'rules on the market we thought we'd initially concentrate on giving you bags of 1970's character and we'll begin to blog some of our play test games over the coming weeks.


Saturday 7 June 2014

Pegasus Bridge: AAR

Thursday evening, 5th June, Maff and I replayed the taking of Pegasus Bridge in 15mm. The game took place only a few hours short of when it had actually happened 70 years before. In truth, the game owed more to the classic scene in the film The Longest Day with Richard Todd playing Major John Howard, than to the history books but it was a great wargaming experience for all that!

The Pegasus mission was about 'dash' so I wanted to keep the game moving and decided that SWATTERS would fit the bill, especially as we have built up experience playing them.

The Ox&Bucks consisted of the compliment of Glider No.1 and Major Howard to make 20 figures in total:

Group 1: Lt Den Brotherridge & 3x Close Assault
Groups 2&3, 4x Rifle each
Group 4:  Bren team, 4x Support
Major John Howard, & 3x Close Assault/Sappers

The German defenders consisted of 3x MG42 positions (2x2 man, 1x3man),1x rifle and 1x SMG team (NCOs) .

Operation Deadstick as the mission was called, began with Maff texting me with the message "Casting Off". Onto Skype, I use my iPad to give Maff a pilots eye view of the glider coming into the objective. Crash..........

First blood to the Oxs & Bucks! The very first men out of Glider No.1 shoot the unsuspecting German sentry with the luckiest of long shots. Even luckier, the German garrison fail their activation rolls....obviously having trouble getting their jackboots on!

 The red berets begin pouring out of the glider 'Denny' Brotheridge in the lead group. His blood well and truly up Maff decides to take the bunker and bridge control building (doubling as main German bunker/HQ).

The lead Close Assault group manage to grenade and Sten the Germans manning the MG pit, but themselves including Denny Brotheridge are cut down as they make for the control building.

The following Ox & Bucks rifle group make short work of the Germans with some well placed grenades but this diversion has bought time for the defenders on the west bank to man their MG42s. One in an emplacment in front of Cafe Gondree, the other in the rear garden which could and did bring devastating enfildaing fire on the bridge.

 The second rifle group rushes the bridge but have two pinned and lose two men to withering MG42 fire from both German guns. Then the defenders dice run out of luck and with that run out of activations! Gott in Himmel!

Major John Howard (Richard Todd) is now on the scene. A quick order, a shed load of activations and the Ox & Bucks race across the bridge under covering fire from the Bren (Support) group who are nicely ensconced in the control bunker/tower!

Two more men fall to point blank German fire before Howard leads the final charge on the jerry MG42, grenading it into oblivion. Maff sends the code word "Ham and Jam", Benouville bridge is secure and goes into the history books as a cracking game!

Figures and terrain: 

Ox & Bucks are Peter Pig, Jerries are pre Flames of War, Battlefront panzergrenadiers. Pegasus Bridge is an MDF kit from Ed at Wargamestournaments (eBay seller), the Glider and Cafe Gondree are MDF kits from Warbases (the cafe has moulded plastic tiling added), barbed wire from GF9, and entrenchments SB_Minis (eBay seller). To add that retro 'authenticity' the terrain was very old school. A grass mat laid over books.

Note that I removed casulaties for the sake of clarity during the game. Had it been a face to face game, I would have left them in place for colour.

Final thoughts:

Loved it!  Two nights of painting and constructing terrain culminated in an exciting game that was touch and go. By delaying in getting boots across the bridge in the first rush, only poor activation dice rolls on behalf of the Germans saved Maff from failing to get take the west bank of the Caen Canal. Of the 20 Oxs & Bucks who started the game, just 12 remained when the "Ham and Jam" signal was given. Despite the fact I never finished the detailing on Cafe Gondree or managed to weather the bridge, it was all forgotten and never mattered an ounce during the game.

I'm sure Maff will appreciate a re-run sometime and it's a perfect scenario for solo play or the opening game of a mini campaign.


Friday 6 June 2014

Pegasus Bridge

We rebooted our weekly gaming in style tonight with a fitting tribute to D-Day. Pegasus Bridge in 15mm using the core mechanisms from Swatters for a fast, furious and above all, fun game!

 Peter Pig airborne make a rush for the Duty Free

More abut the game later when I have some time off over the weekend, together with my thoughts on how choosing a pragmatic approach over 'realistic' allowed me to complete this project in just two nights with no  reduction in game quality.

At this point, let me say a big thank you to Bill at SB-Minis on eBay for helping me out at short notice with those defences. A great guy and recommended eBay shop!


Friday 23 May 2014

Hong Kong Garden Takeaway

First off, apologies for the lack of pictures. The light is spectacularly poor tonight and my carefully taken photos look too horrible for words. Anyway, I'm not traditionally a fan of martial arts films - or martial arts in general. Concerned to head off any bullying in school my Dad did take me to scope out the local judo classes as a kid but it just looked to much like a PE lesson and I think he suspected that if I did use that kind of skill in school I'd be painted as the bad guy who couldn't control himself.

As it was he passed on a few nuggets of wisdom he'd picked up in the RAF.......My favourite, was always get your head through a pullover as quick as you can so you're not blind, closely followed by the good old knee to the groin. His other advice - basic boxing tips - meant that when an older kid did once approach me aggressively, I went into a crouch, put my guard up and he looked at me as if I was a maniac and hoofed it. That's a long winded way of saying that I never really expected to play a game based on Kung Fu.......but there you go.

Last month I bought "A Fistful of Kung Fu" by Ganesha Games and two boxes of Northstar figures (Cops and Yakuza), followed by some Foundry Street Violence SWAT. The figures are easy to paint so had their first outing tonight in two games - Cops vs Yakuza and then SWAT vs Yakuza.

My tendency is to be shooty and so there was a lot of running about and "hails of fire" and not much "crouching tiger, hidden wombat". The great fun is the reaction roll....stuff up your activation and the enemy protagonist can try for a free move for each of your missed activation rolls. That's how in game one, Det Sgt Chang leapt through a window and shot gunned a Yakuza to win the game. The second game ended even more Hollywood. The SWAT team had failed to make any real impact but had managed to wound the Yakuza boss as his bodyguard fluffed three activations. Sgt Kylie (a Foundry Street Violence pack contains at least one female. It's the law you know) rolled three successes to react. One hail of fire took out a bodyguard, a flying kick took out the second, leaving a clear LOS for the sniper onto the Yakuza boss.....and he botched it too. The Yakuza boss reacted, stood up and promptly botched an activation giving Kylie a chance to empty her compact H&K in his direction, down he went and the cuffs went on.

The fisticuffs are more decisive than the "gun fu" but the grunts in your gangs won't last long, your protagonist can usually take about 4 wounds - so they are tough but not invulnerable as a hail of bullets at close range is good for one wound as long as you roll high.....and the SWAT were all in body armour which helped a lot. Actually most of the Yakuza were as well - that does explain the hint of a standoff that developed. I'm not sure if I'll go the whole Bruce Lee and buy martial artists in 28mm. I'm more inclined to a cyber-street-samurai kind of thing a la "Neuromancer". Still it is a fun set of rules and I'd say that if you are a fan of the genre then you really do need to get the rules, it's as simple as that. And a final bit of advice from Dad, once you've kneed them and they are gasping for breath, run like hell.


Sunday 13 April 2014

Winter of '79 on the Cheap

It's silly sale season.........and a good time to start your Winter of 79 / Cold War British.

Elhiem is having a 10% off Not Going to Salute Sale - this includes their BAOR and very nice COP5 set of  1970's British TV cops and vilains.

Meanwhle Hannants is clearing existing stocks of JB Models Cold War British kits for just £1.99, including the Saladin armoured car, Saracen APC and L118 105mm Field Gun.

And completely by chance, I found that HMV have bought much of Model Zone's old stock and selling it in store. I picked up this Corgi 1:72 Westland Wessex HU5 for just £14.99! These normally retail at around the £50 mark. Even Model Zone were selling it at £29.99 in the final days of their clearance before closing. Heather had tried to buy one of these for my birthday whilst Model Zone was still very much on the go and was just met with a wall of indifference. Result!

Best of luck finding your own bargains.


Saturday 5 April 2014

Random Encounter - hex row 2379

Back in the day, I played a lot of D and D and much of it in the City State of the Invincible Overlord; as a DM I ran a few games in the surrounding Wilderlands of High Fantasy. I still have the Wilderland map and can trace the route the party took as you filled in the player map as you went along. One place they visited was Haghill - I ran it with undead berserkers attacking them in the Tavern and black clad riders stalking them along the road; its only reading the game background now that I appreciate what a nasty piece of work the Squire, Huberic, was. So.....with a new copy of Song of Blades and Heroes, some nicely painted Citadel Feudals, some skeletons and a pre painted vampire, it seemed like a good idea to try to do something vaguely related to CSIO and Wilderlands and so, without further ado, here is a tale of horror......

Ambush on the Rorystone Road!

Huberic's retinue are marching up the Rorystone Road looking for peasants to tax when a creaking noise from the undergrowth warns them that the undead are upon them. One skeleton lumbers forward and is chopped down by the soldier in the lead. Another tries the same trick and is cut down. Seizing the initiative, Huberic sends the retainer forward but he is killed messily by a skeleton. Seeing this, most of the retainers, including Ochall Cateye, the "trusted lackey" run for it. Huberic stands his ground - odd for a coward - but he has a crossbow of speed and uses it to kill or knock over three advancing skeletons. He then calls his remaining retainers forwards to take the attack to the undead but the Haghill troops are inveterate looters and being greedy, stop to search the skeletons for anything of value. The undead leader, Milady La Vampyra tries her bolt of dark fear and one retainer simply runs away instead of dropping dead with fright. Huberic is reluctant to get closer, she's running out of skeletons. Both decide to claim victory and retreat......

Huberics lads stroll up the road.....
It's all going wrong for everyone...... This was a fun game just made up on the spot and it probably shows. I'd thought up stats for Huberic in the week,in all honesty the crossbow of speed - which allowed him to shoot more than once per turn was a bit excessive. Then again that's a magic item for you. I may change it to a one or two use item. This has given me a taste for fantasy skirmish again though and I'll probably think up more games in the Wilderlands. I've found Searchers of the Unknown - a very basic stripped down set of D and D rules which may be useful too.... Cheers Maff

Sunday 16 March 2014

Sunday, Coffee and The Archers

It's Sunday morning, the sun has emerged after 6 months of winter darkness. Time to revel with a cup of coffee, the Archers Omnibus and a quick fight in the Winter of  '79 for a hamlet in Borcestershire.

 Somehwere near Ambridge. A Government section 
debussing from a Saxon APC (FV432 standing in).

The road is the 'ready to drive roadway' from the Early Learning Centre - picked it up on sale for under a tenner in September. You get forty-six 2mm thick laminated jigsaw carboard roadway pieces which include a roundabout, crossings, junctions, long and short straights and bends. Enough to full my kitchen table and more.

ELC 'ready to drive roadway'

Each straight piece is around 8 inches long and 4 inches wide. It also works for 28mm as a smaller B road. Cheap and effective. Worth looking out for on eBay, where you might even find it cheaper.