Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Turning the tables

We've had a wedding, a certain amount of professional change and all the drama that comes with that in the last month - so the War Room hasn't seen much use.  I'm hoping to get a game in tomorrow with a bit of luck, but that remains to be seen. 

On the plus side,  I got a new table in the War Room.  The old one was in rag order and was quite unsteady, a dear friend was getting rid of an old dining table and I managed to snap it up. Unfortunately dining tables don't really come in the sizes needed for wargames, but I've added a marine ply topper which is a respectable six and a half feet long and four feet wide. 

My eventual plan is that we will be able to take the plywood topper off for special occasions (Christmas, etc) and have dinner in the War Room, as the table underneath is rather larger than our kitchen table.   I've also added two flaps at either end which allow the table to be extended to eight and a half feet. These are hinged so that they will hang down when not in use. I've added a baton to either side to give added stiffness. 

The trick was to find a way to hold them up solidly when they were needed.  I used pipe clips and some scrap timber to do the job.  We'll see if they hold up. With a bit of luck and assuming my measurements aren't off, I should be able to play six player Epic Napoleonics games with this setup. 

Study of a sleeping baby.  Oil on wood.  Unknown student of Rembrandt. Circa 1660. 

The Lady Baby has a habit of fighting sleep while her brother starts looking at his watch around seven thirty.  This picture was taken after I got home from work, when she had refused to sleep for her mother.  I'm really pleased with it - though I don't think a computer screen does it justice.  She has a nasty habit of torturing Mrs Kinch and then going to bed, meek as a lamb, when Daddy gets home. 

I must go now! My people need me!

Her brother on the other hand is a bit more active during the day, but perfectly happy to get his head down at night. 

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Scary Soviets

Elheim Soviet Officers 

Once a year, some friends and I meet up for birthday con, a day of gaming in March or April which is roughly when our birthdays occur. The last two years, we’ve played “Rogue Troopers” - a game set in my Soviet occupied UK setting.  The game follows the adventures of four members of the Parachute Regiment who were betrayed by a senior officer during the Haartz Zone massacre and now resist the Soviets at home. 

No doubt fans of 2000AD are beginning to join the dots. 

Soviet officers

A game like this needs some suitable baddies and Matt at Elheim supplied these guys. They are great, enough detail to be distinctive, but not so much that they over come the figure. 

These were painted with washes and with preference to the photos of painted figures on the Elheim page.  I found it extremely useful to have something to work from as I didn’t have to faff around looking for references and could just get stuck in. 

These guys have a certain something. Matt is really excellent at animating his figures and making something quite small seem alive.

A  more aggressive looking staff officer and a female MVD officer. 

This lady did good service in our last game as a radio operator at a Soviet secret base. One of the rogue troopers turned his back on her and was shot with a concealed pistol for his pains.

These two are my favourites.  The chap on the right is a Soviet Military Policeman on traffic duty.  I used the picture on the Elheim site as a guide, but I believe those details were taken from an Osprey. 

The second chap is Comrade Comissar Hugo Boche,  complete with white gloves and eyepatch, of the MVD (late of the East German military police).  He’s a recurring villain in the Rogue Troopers games.  

His villainy has included torturing one of the Rogue Troopers, assassinating high level members of the Resistance, leading Project Nightwing and very slowly removing his white gloves while delivering monologues. 

During the last game,  the RTs successfully put  a stop to Project Nightwing,  but Boche escaped by leaping out of a window to go get reinforcements. 

Where will he strike next? 

During a trip to the National Gallery,  the Kinchlets stopped to listen to Mr Shaw.  I’m not sure he made a great impression, though the LadyBaby did threaten him with a banana before she fell asleep. 

It is truly inspiring to have a daughter filled with such robust good sense. 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Armoured car

I often take the Kinchlets for long walks. One of our regular haunts is Collins barracks which is Ireland’s military history museum.  It is closed on Mondays, something which I had forgotten, but the walk did us good and I had the chance to photograph this AML-90. 

The AML 90 is a French built armoured car with a 90mm low pressure gun.  It has seen extensive service with the French Foreign Legion and with the South African Army.  The  South African version was called the Eland-90.  The vehicle proved very successful in African conditions with the 4x4 providing excellent mobility on plains and the 90mm gun capable of tackling second line armour, albeit at close ranges. 

The light weight (6 tons) of the vehicle meant that it was highly portable and the FFL deployed then directly from aircraft to support parachutists. 

Irish AMLs were used almost exclusively on UN service and were acquired in the 1960s.  They served in Lebanon and saw combat in the confrontation at At-Tiri in the early 1980s. 

The AMLs were retired 2013, which is presumably how Collins Barracks got theirs. 

In other news - I fear we may have been infiltrated by Bonapartists. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Screw you Flanders!

This made me laugh rather more than it should. 

General Creaner and I played a game of Command & Colours The Great War recently.  General Creaner is something of an enthusiast for the period and the system.  


General Creaner is running a Great War games day in the near future and wanted to finish the day off with a large scale multi-player game.  Now as it happens the powers that be haven't released a multi-player version of the Great War yet, but we decided to cobble together something.  General Creaner picked Cambrai as the scenario that seemed most open to adaptation. 

The clanking rattling monsters roll forward

Something the Great War gets absolutely right in my opinion is how absolutely brutal tanks can be.  They are slow and can easily fall foul of terrain, but they soak up a great deal of fire. I was only able to knock out one in the course of the game.  They aren't game winning, but you can't afford to ignore them.

The British first wave hits my line

Some very successful British artillery smashed my front line on the right and I had to fall back.  

Things were looking a bit healthier on the left, but those tanks were getting awfully close. 

The tanks finally crash through the German line

It was at this point that the wheels really came off the wagon.  With Tommy's swarming over my front line and tanks shrugging off everything I could throw at them, I resorted to desperate measures calling in artillery on my own position in the hope of blasting the chaps all around me.  It worked (sort off) and I managed to hold General Creaner to a 16-13 score line, but I was eventually overwhelmed. 

Observations & Conclusions

The game worked.  Our generic sort of Memoir '44 Overlord/CCNapoleonics Epic multi-player rules worked relatively well. 

The cognitive load is substantial.  I was playing the part of four players.   This was a slow game and took about two and a half hours, which is a long time for a command and colours game.  I actually found that this made the game less entertaining for me - but as the objective was to simply test if the setup was feasible - it wasn't a huge issue.  It's very unlikely that we will play this game this way again.  

It's all go here. Arthur Kinch in characteristic pose. 

You've probably noticed that the blog postings aren't coming as thick and fast as they used to and for that my apologies.  Now that I'm back at work and the Kinchlets are a bit more mobile, the days are just packed.  Between trying to keep up my fiction writing commitments and everything else,  poor old J&F isn't getting the attention, but I am trying to keep it ticking over.  

But while I'm at it I have a question, I am rather smitten with the Kinchlets and as children go, I think they're smashing.  I am, however, well aware that perhaps not everyone is an enamoured of children as I am and to those who are not immediately concerned with them they are deathly dull.  

So, do you find occasional domestic (usually child related) incidents entertaining or should I stick to the war gaming pure and simple? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018


Basing some Austrian Infantry

I have found that there is a little known law of physics, related to Boyles Law, which holds that babies expand to fill any and all available time.  However, I have been able to hack out an hour or two and get some hobby stuff done.  At the moment, I'm basing Austrian infantry. I've knocked out a couple of units and I have a few more to do.

Imperial Guard Horse Artillery

Adding these guys, painted by the talented Mr. Tam├ís Lehoczky, should finish off the French collection.  I try to add an odd unit here or there, but there isn't much left to do for them.  Tamas did a lovely neat job on these fellas, I should have taken better shots of them. 

But can a French army truly be considered complete unless it has any Poles?

The Amazing Spider Baby

In other news, Arthur Kinch has developed some interesting new skills.  

When I left he was in the cot. 

When I came back, he had escaped, made his way to the cupboard, defeated a child lock, extracted a plastic box of clothes, emptied it all over the floor and then used it as a step to try and get back into the cot.   

He is doing his mothers blood pressure no good. 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Watchers of the Throne: The Emperor's LegionWatchers of the Throne: The Emperor's Legion by Chris Wraight
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This the second novel from Chris Wraight that I've read recently and he has just gotten better. He deftly switches between three point of view characters and weaves a fast moving tale of violence and intrigue. What was also interesting was that this is one of the few warhammer novels that advances the grand narrative of the setting in any way, something which Wraight manages with a surprisingly light touch.

There is less of the overwrought description that was characteristic of his earlier efforts and ideally it could do with even more trimming, but ultimately this is finely honed and well delivered spot of far future action which kept me mightily entertained in my off hours. More of this please.

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Sunday, March 11, 2018

And now for something completely different.

An unusual football player - I'm not sure if he's League or Union. 

One of the pleasure of the hobby is being able to share it with others.  I don't play Bloodbowl, the comedically overblown American football game from Games Workshop, but I have plenty of friends that do.  I recently came into a few spare figures, including these two goblins. 

Off to frolic on pitches new. 

I did these two for a pal who has very kind to Mrs Kinch and I last year.  He plays Orks and I thought they might make a worthy addition to his team.

The first chap is a fellow called Fungus the Loon, who brings a sort of giant morning star to the game.

That blasted "bomb" writing was a pain in the neck.  

The second goes by the name Bomber Dribblesnot - and he a football playing version of "The Professor" from "The Secret Agent".  I'm not sure II could swear to his politics with any certainty, but I think it could be safe to say he's a bomb throwing anarchist.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take proper pictures before I handed these figures over to their new owner, but I at least had taken some shots with my phone. Probably the trickiest thing about Bomber Dribblesnot was getting the yellow lettering on a black background right.  

I don't paint 28mm figures very often, but they are fun to do.  I think the next ones will be some Genestealer Hybrids.  I've been trying to find a painting guide for the Rogue Trader era ones, as I've had a look at the new version but they aren't quite the same. Something to mull over for when I next get a little time to paint.

Legio has said that he might put one up on his blog in the near future which would be ace. 

I had never encountered Sir James MacMillan before, but came across his work recently. It's very rare that I find modern choral or church music that I like, but this is absolutely fantastic.  Wonderful stuff. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Book Review: Twelve Rules for Life

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos by Jordan B. Peterson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A great deal of ink has been spilt on the subject of Jordan Peterson and this book. I can not add much to what has been said, but to say that I would unreservedly recommend it.

This is a self help book after a fashion and a lot of what it advises is plain common sense. There is a great deal of value in hearing good advice again and I suppose every generation has to learn the same lessons again. It’s radical firebrand stuff like tell the truth, stand up straight and pursue what is meaningful.

I found the book accessible and eminently practical. The audio version is well produced and read by the author, though it lacks the illustrations, introduction and footnotes that come with the printed edition.

This book (and the work that preceded it, but that is codified within it) helped me when I was in a tough spot with injury, work and family. It has made me a happier, more useful and ultimately a better man.

As Mrs Kinch put it, “you can’t argue with the results.”

If you want a flavour of what the book is about, you could do a lot worse than watch this video, which is about eight minutes long.

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Sunday, February 25, 2018

D-Day - Part One

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"That chap right there, I just plain don't like him." Gen. BRO discussing tactics with his Field Generals. The Americans plan was basically get up the beach and work the rest out later. 

One of the advantages of Memoir '44 is the wealth of scenarios that are available and the fact there have been so many battle reports recorded.  This allows you to work out roughly how slanted the scenarios are one way or the other.  I have had a hankering to do a D-Day game for quite a while and while our much ambitious ideas haven't come to fruition, nor are they likely to, I was glad that we managed to tackle it to some extent. 

Troops wading through the surf at Omaha beach
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We played three game on the day.  Omaha Beach, followed by Sword Beach and concluding with St. Lo.  This made it much easier to organise as I didn't have to write any scenarios and I had a good idea of what the win/loss percentages are. 

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A spot of Robert Capa style camera shake as the lads dash up the beach. 

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I was lucky enough to get a lucky eBay from a chap who was disposing of a large collection of landing craft. These are I think Airfix and aren't waterline models, but seem to work fairly well just plonked on the mat. 

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The venerable Airfix D-Day beach defences looking out over the seawall. 

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Another shot of the Airfix D-Day defences, Conflix pill box in the middle distance. 

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The American Commanders ponder their options.

 Note the shell craters in the foreground indicate hexes that are out of play. 

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General Clint Fatzenberg discusses the utility of using the seawall as cover. 

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We also had some very special visitors. Boomerowski Junior's clenched fist and gimlet eye were exactly the sort of thing that the Americans needed to give them some backbone. 

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The Americans are making some progress, but are taking casualties. 

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The landing craft don't actually have a game function in this scenario. They were mainly used for set dressing. We used them to count victory points. Each time an American unit was killed, we placed an explosion marker on one of the landing craft to keep score. 

A Frenchman awaiting liberation

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This chap might look a bit familiar to some of the more sharp eyed amongst you. I was given this figures as a gift several years ago by my good pal Mr. E. We used them to keep score during the game. Each time a German unit was killed, we added a French civilian to the cafe. 

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Having discussed their strategy upstairs the German team descended to view the flotilla facing them. 

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General GT Boomerowski orders the troops ashore, cigar clenched between his teeth, while Fatzenberg's DD Shermans take the sea wall. 

I didn't actually take any more pictures of this game as the whole thing was fast moving. Omaha Beach is a very tough scenario for the Americans and they lose 80% of the time.  The result was about on par with previous games, but hard fought none the less. If the Americans can get armour off the beach things can get very dicey for the defenders, but alas it was not to be. 

To be continued with Part Two: Sword Beach.