Monday, June 23, 2014

There was this little French cafe

First blush

I'm afraid I've been neglecting you of late as things have been extremely busy. I haven't had much chance to crack on with anything hobby related. This is a pity and there has been some very nice material to work on. 

(And Foy, I haven't forgotten - your package lies half finished as I write this. I just gave up trying to match horse to rider at 03.30 and will approach it with a clear head in the evening.)

This is a very fancy laser cut MDF French cafe very kindly sent me by Colin at Starfort miniatures. It isn't available just yet, but will be very shortly. Mr. E gave me a wonderful gift of some Sgt. Mess 'Allo 'Allo figures at Christmas and they needed somewhere to stay. The kit itself is so new that it doesn't even have instructions yet, but even I managed to get the above together in relatively short order with some help from a passing Engineer Du Gourmand. 

Looking good

The kit itself is made of laser cut 3mm pretreated MDF. I will be gluing it when I put it together, which will hopefully be later this week, but even just roughly dry assembled it holds together relatively well.  There is a little bag of exterior detailing to be added to the outside, including cafe signs and some beautiful, delicately cut windows.   I expect my British London Division fellas to be rolling through and complaining about the lack of a decent cup of tea before too soon. 

Puppy in a bucket

On a completely unrelated note - I saw this chap today and couldn't resist taking a picture. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

My cultist is like a red, red rose

Robert Burns never chased these boys for the excise

I picked a box of these chaps cheap last year and have been a little unsure what to do with them.  I was planning on using them in my occasional Rogue Trader games, but painting them in a very simple colour scheme. The idea was to be able to use the pointy hatted chaps either as cultists or any of the myriad Imperial institutions that like robes as a uniform.  I think they look like they'd make reasonable Adeptus Mechanicus types, so red robes all round.  Red robes would also do for cultists.  Unfortunately, I don't have much experience painting red on 28mm figures and I'm a bit concerned that they will end up looking pinkish. 

Undercoated and ready to go

So, dear Readers, if you have any relatively fool proof (and please be aware I'm a particularly ingenious fool) tips for painting large areas of red quickly I would appreciate them. I'm been looking online and there are some good tutorials out there, but mainly aimed as chaps with airbrushes and who are to be honest, far better painters than I. 

Are you not entertained? 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Blowing up Russians to the music of Queen

Harriers roaring down the valley

I'd been working on this game for a little while and I'm glad to say it went down very well at Hobocon.  The game itself was identical to BUT LEGALLY DISTINCT from Andy Chambers old Games Workshop game "Bomberz ova da Sulpha Riva". This was essentially the Dambusters, but with Space Orks as the RAF and Imperials as the Germans. It's a good, solid, albeit very simple game, that involves gambling on the results of two dice rolls each turn and moving your fighter accordingly. But for uncomplicated fun, I think its hard to beat.  The game can accomodate 1-5 players and lasts between twenty and twenty five minutes. 

Crash! A Harrier collides with an electricity pylon

In my version, the players took on the roles of pilots in 266 Squadron flying Harrier jumpjets against the Russian hordes poring across the North German plain. The Soviet players picked six cards from a hard of twelve and assigned two to each sector.  These cards remained hidden until the Soviet player revealed them or the RAF player flew over them.  The defences were Shilka AA batteries, SAM sites and AA guns, which one needed to be moving fast to avoid, and Electricity Pylon, which one needed to be moving slowly to avoid. The Soviet player also had some Hind helicopters, which were mechanically similar to the Harriers. 

Hokum I know, but it made for an enjoyable game. 

This made up most of the musical accompaniment

It must be said that when I arrived at the convention the game had a different name that made mention of the 3rd Shock Army and a bunch of other Cold War references that no-one quite understood. I had however brought along a CD player and some Queen CDs (mainly because Mrs. Kinch had tidied, nay hidden, my Clash stuff) and these turned out to be very popular. The two albums were Jazz and A Night at the Opera, both of which are fairly in period for 1979. 

I discovered that accosting random players with "Would you like to play a game about blowing up Russians to the music of Queen?" was a much easier sell than "Would you like to play a game about trying to conduct airstrikes on the 3rd Shock armies artillery reserve?"

Our gallant lads

I managed to run the game seven times over the course of five and a half hours. Our initial crew were Wing Commander Fatzington, Flight Officer Gundam, Flight Lt. Douglas and Air Marshall Du Gourmand. 

Keep it together Gundam!

These gallant lads managed to scrape a win despite, ahem, rugged individualism and nothing approaching team work. This was mainly due to Fatzington rolling dice that were subsequently burned at the stake for suspected witchcraft. 

Having cut down one Hind (seen going down in flames in the back ground) 

Flight Lt. Ash was the highest scoring lady ace of the day.  The Harriers could only move in the clear hexes on the table, so most of what you see in on the board is set dressing and is just there to indicate to the players the "railway" that they have to travel down.  In the original game, the Orks had to blow up Imperial bridges, but I had two 2SU mobile artillery pieces that served as objectives and they did fine. 

A big nasty furball

On the whole, I think the game was a success. From the point of view of quick playtime and number of players that actually played it, it certainly was. It looked nice and the mechanics held up despite Games Workshop removing the free PDF from their website a month before the game.  This did mean that I had to cobble a rulesheet together from memory, but it was none the worse for it. 

Magniminous in victory as always

It did mean that Fatzington returned to the game when he discovered that Ash had beaten his high score. Though truth be told, the top ranking Ace of the day was Billy, who played the game solo against me and brought such shabby Nazi tricks as tactics and concentration of effort to the game. It was observed that the game was actually easier without a group of players that had to be co-ordinated. The music was also a definite draw. 

Perhaps a later iteration of the game will involve a jukebox element - each target that the players blow up, they can change the song on the CD player from a previously approved selection of Blondie, the Clash, Queen, Abba, etc. 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

1848 Hungarians

Hungarian Honved

Regular readers no doubt remember Carlo's Conversions from last November.  Carlo is a chap based in the UK who divides his time between playing wargames and coming up with some of the most imaginative conversions of 1/72 figures you could possibly think of. I traded some ACW plastics with him over the last few months and got these fine fellows in return. Aren't they fine? 

These are Hungarian Honved suitable for facing the Austrians and the Russians in 1848, converted from American Civil War figures. You can see them here, where their bases are getting a quick coat of the house brown, before a dash of Constables snow and static grass and then they will be off to fight the Germans. 

Romanian Legion 

These fellows are Romanian volunteers in Hungarian service, again converted from American Civil War figures. With this and some figures from Krisztian, the Hungarian forces are looking pretty healthy.  I'll have to invest in some cavalry and start hashing out some scenarios.  That and sort out some flags of course. 

I'm really very pleased with these and I think Carlo has done a cracking job. Don't they look well? 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The Monday Papers: Part Ten

This is as is traditional, being posted a day late and I couldn't find an appropriate picture of an amusing animal, so you will have to forgive me.  We all have our off days. I rarely watch television this days, it's mainly a bonding experience with Mrs. Kinch. This isn't strictly true, I rarely watch television *as it is broadcast* on an actual television. I browse YouTube and I often come across things of interest there.

One of my recent discoveries is Forgotten Weapons, an occasional Youtube channel devoted to odd and unusual firearms, voiced by a curiously Canadian sounding chap.  I sort of assumed he was American, but they more I think about it, the more he sounds like he is from the Great White North.

The above video is one of the rare ones that doesn't feature that particular presenter, but it does feature a rather magnificent Girandoni Air Rifle.  This weapon produced in 1780 for the ReichesArmee in the Austro Hungarian Empire. It was an extraordinary weapon in .46 calibre, equipped with a 20 round tubular magazine and was capable of firing thirty rounds from one compressed air reservoir.   Too delicate and complicated for military service, it was used by the Lewis & Clarke expedition during their trek across North America.

A bit of a set to in the Sikh Golden Temple

You can read more the context of this particular scrap here, but bear in mind twelve people were injured.  It seems an extraordinarily low number considering the amount of chaps running around with swords, but given rapid access to modern medical care perhaps it isn't so extraordinary.   I can only hope that if the Mothers Union ever kick off in Saint Patrick's that we will be able to keep the casualty roll so low. 

I've only witnessed one sword fight that was actually in earnest and curiously enough this has a lot in common with it. 

- There was lots of running about before either side actually came to blows. 
- Strikes when they were made were extremely fast.
- Little attempt was made to maintain a guard of any sort. 

Another thing that struck me about the swordsmen in this video is that most of them carried their weapon on their shoulder, loaded to deliver a strike like a club rather than maintaining a guard. I have seen that posture in Sikh swordplay before, but that mainly where the fighter was carrying a shield in his off hand. 

A somewhat more staid affair was the last duel in France, which occurred in 1967.  The combatants were two French politicians, one of whom had insulted their other. The duel was fought to second blood only, as one of the combatants was getting married the following day. It seems a rather more studied matter than the melee above.

I must admit I have always been fascinated by duelling and would have rather liked to have partaken, should circumstances allow.  Thus far unfortunately, my reconcontres have been rather more extemporised affairs and have little of the Code Duello in them. The code proposed by the Clonmel Assizes of 1777 is I think one of Ireland's greatest contributions to world culture - with the possible exception of triple distilling in whiskey.

A relatively recent calling out in Drogheda came to nothing sadly, which would seem to suggest that its time has passed, but one can still hope.

Friday, June 6, 2014


Ok - I'll admit, it's an old photo. 
I may have put on a few pounds here and there

The Liebsters are doing the rounds again and though I was pretty sure I'm inelligible, I was nominated by Polemarch and Alaistar, so thank you very much gentlemen.  I regret it has taken me so long to get around to responding - I can only plead the exigencies of the service. 

Polemarch is a rum character, who has to the best of my knowledge never posted a single picture of a toy soldier on his blog - which begs the question is he even a blogger at all?. He has won the Monthly "Wargames blog most likely to send me scurrying towards a dictionary" Award for the last twelve months running.  He also has me reading Kant, which made my Daddy very happy, so thanks again there. 

Alaistar is a self described "Guardian reading lefty" and he is very fond of Joy & Forgetfulness, so I'm going to have to have a sit down and a long hard think about where it's all gone wrong. But in the mean time, you could do a lot worse than comb through "A Wargaming Gallimaufry" where Alaistar cracks out a truly respectable number of games, including some with his son, which is no mean feat.  One additional kudo is awarded for enjoying Donogh's "Classified" Force on Force scenarios.   In fact the thing that strikes me about the blog is the sheer variety of stuff on there. 

Each nominator had their own list of questions, so I just answered both. 

Why did you start blogging?
To be honest, I started blogging because I liked reading blogs. That and I was having difficulty with a novel (finished, but still unpublished) that I was trying to write.  I tend to keep blogging to keep my hand in and it's sort of grown from that.  That said, I've had more paid writing work as a result of the blog then I've ever had before, so it's been a success in that respect. 

Though, I think we can all agree - I would rock this look. 

If you could change one thing about the wargaming hobby, what would it be?

There is a streak of Puritanism that runs through the hobby that deeply irritates me. I like historical games, I like games with cards, I like in the words of a very fine blog, the things I like.  I'm not a fan of steampunk or weird World War Two, though I quite like 40K, which I will accept contains a considerable dollop of both. What I find baffling is chaps who spend their hobby time running down that part of the hobby that they don't like, rather than extolling the virtues of the bits that they do like. 

My good chum The Unlikely Douglas McKenzie once coined the phrase, "Stop, stop, you're enjoying it wrong!" to describe this particular approach.  

What is best in life? 

 God's love, books, cats, Mrs. Kinch (the pearl of all her sex), friends, proper work, music.

Major Tom choose incorrectly 
(picture stolen from I'm not sure where exactly) 

Fame or fortune? 

Difficult one. Mrs. Kinch and I once sat down and wrote down all the things we wanted in life. It's a very useful exercise and one I go back to every so often. The thing that struck me was how little of what we wanted to do revolved around money.  Both of us would like to make a little more certainly, but it wasn't really a goal that we wanted to achieve. Some of our goals would certainly be easier to achieve if we had plenty of money, but it's no substitute for talent, character or determination. 

Fame would of course, be nice, but it is dependent on having done something noteworthy and the result is that suddenly your very trivial doing become matters of public interest.  As Major Tom found out, the papers want to know whose shirts you wear. 

I think on the whole, I'd take fortune, our local children's hospital could do with another wing. 

(click to embiggen)

What miniatures are you most proud of having painted? 

Probably this one and I will likely never do another. 

How do you deal with burn out?

I generally play a few games and spend time with my pals. Read books and lounge about with Mrs. Kinch. Go for a long walk.

Why is a raven like a writing desk? 

Because both are rarely used to write on anymore. 

Star Wars or Star Trek?

Star Wars definitely - it feels real to me in a way that Star Trek never does. There never seems to be any greed or laziness or Original Sin in the Star Trek universe, which is why I find it so unconvincing.  I used to put it down to a liking for the work of Leigh Brackett and CL Moore, but I think my father summed perfectly why I dislike Star Trek. "It's seems very silly to believe that everyone in the future will be rich, Western and secular."

If you could only buy from one miniature company from now on, which one would it be? 

Urgh. That is a toughie. You see, there are manufacturers that I like and manufacturers that make the figures I need to complete armies and often they don't correspond. Zvesda maybe or possibly John Cunningham. He's never left me short of a few lads. 

What is your favourite takeaway?

Well it definitely comes in a brown paper bag and involves tonic.  Not a massive fan of takeaway food. 

1.      How would you describe your blog?
A sort of open plan notebook of plans, jokes and other bits and pieces.  Certainly poorly edited. 

2.      How did you pick your blog’s name?
I was reading a book called "Achtung Swchinehundt!" by Harry Pearson which included a quotation from Anatole France.  It seemed to encapsulate everything that I want from wargaming. I read some Anatole France after, but sadly the experience did not live up to the quotation. 

I discovered from Mr. Pearson several years later that he has never read Anatole France and that he found the quotation in an old French book about toy soldiers. Never meet your heroes. 

I proclaim him to be a dastard and a vile Grauniad writing swine and I suggest going here to study his perfidy in greater detail. 

3.      Why did you start blogging?
See above. 

4.      How do you relax (if it's not blogging)?
Spending time with Mrs. Kinch. Writing. Reading. Wargaming. Playing with the cat. Eating out. Drinking. 

5.      Is figure painting a chore or pleasure?
A chore and a pleasure. I enjoy painting, but I do tend to sub contract quite a bit these days. 

6.      How do you deal with burn out?
See above.  
Terribly fond of her really. 

7.      What are the three things you cannot live without?

Mrs. Kinch. Faith. Books. Work.

8.      What was the last book you read and the last you bought?
Read: Last Argument of Kings (Black Powder 18th Century Supplement)
Bought: The Big Short by Michael Lewis 

Not this fellow. 

9.      Who is your favourite fictional character?
Sherlock Holmes in his literary incarnation. Mrs. Kinch is very fond the Cumberbatch Holmes, but I find him impossible to like - though I think Messrs Moffat and Gatiss have done an exceptional job of re-imaging . The Robert Downey Junior Holmes is rather good though. 

I really enjoyed the first season of Sherlock, but to be fair Cumberbatch's portrayal is very different to Conan Doyle's character. Sherlock is a man who is utterly cut off from every finer feeling except the need to know things.

Conan Doyle's character was a bohemian genius. Difficult and often prickly, he maintained relationships, cared about society, his country and the wider world in a way that Cumberbatch's Sherlock would be completely incapable of. I know which I would prefer as a friend.

10.   Ball point, rollerball or fountain pen?

For preference fountain pen, but in work ball point as fountain pens rarely thrive in rain. 

Now for nominations -

Honourable mentions to Tim Gow (for infinite invention and an admirable sense of humour), Bob Cordery (for sheer variety), Lee (for his tenacity and beautiful paintwork) and Ben (for his singular devotion to the Napoleonic period - would that I could be as faithful to a single period).

MC Monkey Dews Miniature Games - Mr. Monkey Dew is a distinctly odd fish. I'm the sort of fellow that doesn't like Shakespeare when he's been messed with (like for example when they make Hamlet a girl or decide to set the Tempest in a super market) and MC MDs blog is a cavalcade of Napoleonic battles fought by orks, talking dogs and other strange creatures. This is the sort of stuff calculated to leave me cold - but the thought he puts into it, the careful presentation, the charm with which MC MD writes will win you over, even if you've never fancied a French elf.  Read some of his battle reports deeply and you'll find a greater commitment to trying to understand black powder battle than many blogs that obsess over hats and gaiter buttons. You should also have a look at some of his rules writing efforts. Recommended. 

Obscure Battles - I only recently discovered this blog and it is very fine. I imagine Jeff Berry, who works in advertising, as one of those impeccably turned out Don Draper sorts, who takes time out from drinking martini's and selling washing powder to pen detailed, idiosyncratic and beautifully illustrated articles on battles that take his fancy.  Updated once a month or so, Jeff substitutes signal for noise and is always worth reading. Run, do not walk and address yourself to this blog. 

Lead Plague - Jean Baptiste's Lead Plague blog is full of beautifully painted miniatures and interesting stuff. There are lots of blogs like this, what makes JBs blog so different is his transparent love of the hobby and his wonderful sense of humour and whimsy.  Show me a Frenchman who sculpts a knight riding a giant chicken into battle and I will show you living, breathing proof why the French are the finest of fellows and the best of foes. JB will just make you happy. 

British Audio Books - This blog differs from all the others in that it is a commercial venture, albeit in a cottage industry sort of way.  The owner, the magnificently named Mr. Felbrigg Napoleon Herriot, records, producing and sells audiobooks, the sort of audiobooks that no one else is doing - like the memoirs of Wellingtons Judge Advocate General, Oman's History of the Peninsular War as well as 1930s science fiction. He is also a wargamer and has produced a number of board wargames. Check him out. 

Cold War Gamer - If you are interested in Cold War wargaming, there are lots of excellent websites, like Cold War Hot Hot Hot and Winter of '79 that I've written about before, but I think Cold War Gamer is special even in that field. Andy's specialty is a hypothetical World War Three scenario in Central Europe in the 80s. His blog is updated about once a month or so, but the sheer quality of what Andy produces make it always worth waiting for. His standard of modelling is very high, though I think I prefer his pithy essays on Soviet operational art and how the British army (the author is a former serviceman) did it's business in the 1980s. A class act all around.

So, having picked my nominees, there has been some headscratching to settle on questions.

1. You have a particular style of wargaming, how did you fix on it and why does it appeal to you? 
2. A lot of blogs tend to peter out after a dozen posts or so.  Your endurance stands out. What has kept you in the game? 
3. Time and money no object. What is your dream wargames project?

4. What was the last book you read and would you recommend it?
5. Smoker or non smoker?
6. Our shared hobby is full of some pretty odd characters. Whose the strangest chap you've ever come across through wargaming?

7. Figure painting. Pleasure or chore?
8. What is your preferred tipple?
9. Do you have a prefered ruleset or did you write your own? How did you settle on it?

10. Would you say you are a club wargamer or a loose association of friends sort of operation?
11. Are you "out" at work - would your non wargaming friends know about your hobby?