Monday 30 June 2014

Miniature Wargames with Battlegames Issue 375

When I returned from our recent cruise, the latest issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES magazine was waiting for me. I have only just managed to have a quick flick through this issue ... but it looks as if it contains plenty of articles that will be of interest to me.

The articles included in this issue are:
  • Briefing (i.e. the editorial) by Henry Hyde
  • Forward observer by Neil Shuck
  • Bargain boats: The continuing tales of a wargames widow by Diane Sutherland
  • Fantasy Facts: ... with added fantasy for a change! by John Treadaway
  • The trouble with dragoons: Reappraising problematic late C17th cavalry by Barry Hilton
  • Send three and fourpence by Conrad Kinch
  • Collecting Featherstone: One man's shrine to the great Don by Daniel Borris
  • For want of a horse: Ponsonby at Waterloo by Arthur Harman
  • The Secret Eye Candy Page: Partizan in the Park 2014 by Henry Hyde
  • Who needs army lists? What unit is that – and do I really care? by Andy Copestake
  • The Mongols in Europe 1237-1241: Part 2: the Polish Campaign by Mick Sayce
  • Bannockburn reborn: the new Bannockburn Visitors centre by Paul Bright
  • Jeux sans frontières: Cure the most annoying wargaming problem by Franz Ehart
  • Hex encounter by Brad Harmer
  • Wars of Absolutism part 2: Game narrative – the Cuneo campaign 1744 by Roger Underwood
  • Recce
  • The Battlegames Combat Stress Appeal report by Henry Hyde

Sunday 29 June 2014

The Land of the Midnight Sun

Sue (my wife) and I have been on our travels again. She found a great last-minute deal on a cruise to Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Orkney Islands on P&O's Arcadia ... and booked it. As a result we have been away from home for twelve nights, and I have come back with lots to write blog entries about!

These travel-related blog entires will be appearing over the next week or so, along with the normal sort of blog entries that I write. The latter will include a brief run-down on the latest issue of MINIATURE WARGAMES WITH BATTLEGAMES and a description of the latest issue of WARSHIP annual.

My most important pre-occupation for the next fortnight will be preparing for COW2014 (this year's Conference of Wargamers). It starts on 11th July and ends on 13th July, and at present we expect to cater for over well forty attendees. I have the programme ready to take to the printer tomorrow, and it will be sent out to attendees by the end of the week.

Friday 27 June 2014

Painting Figures: Another experiment

I decided to have another go at painting a wargames figure ... and this time I chose a 20mm-scale World War 2 one for my experiment.

I used almost exactly the same method as I used for my recently-painted Jacklex figures ... and the result looked like this:

The Nut Brown Indian Ink does add shadowing ... but I think that the darkening effect is too great. As a result I think that I may well miss that stage of the process out when I paint my next figures.

(Note: Most of the paints I used on this figure were craft acrylic paints bought in a local craft shop. I found them to be just as easy to use as specialist modelling acrylic paints ... but they were a LOT cheaper!)

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Painting Jacklex figures: Day 7

The figures were then given a coat of Humbrol Gloss polyurethane varnish. I prefer this finish as it both protects the figures and makes them look like toy soldiers … which is – after all – what they are!

I had not used this painting process for a very long time, and I have re-learnt some useful lessons. Using Nut Brown India Ink is a quick and simple way to shade a figure … but the colours used to paint the figures have to be lighter and the detail more pronounced in order for the full effect not to be lost.

Tuesday 24 June 2014

Painting Jacklex figures: Day 6

At this point the figures looked a bit of a mess … and I nearly stopped the process then and there. (My choice of colours had tended to be similar is shade if not in colour, and the ‘inking’ had made the figures look almost monochromatic.) In the end I decided to finish them to see what they would look like.

The base of each figure was then painted. I used Yellow Ochre as I think that it looks better on the tabletop.

Monday 23 June 2014

Painting Jacklex figures: Day 5

At this point the figures were painted … but lacked any shading or detail. In order to achieve this quickly and easily I painted the whole figure with Windsor & Newton Nut Brown Indian Ink.

The ink was allowed to run into the undercuts etc. on the figures, and any surplus ink was removed using a brush that was regularly wiped clean.

I then let the ink dry overnight. (N.B. This is very important as the ink has to be absolutely dry before the next stage of the painting process can take place.)

Sunday 22 June 2014

Painting Jacklex figures: Day 4

I continued painting on the details. The order I did this in was as follows:
  • Brown boots
  • Red point on top of the turban
  • Red or Green shoulder straps (four figures had red and four had green)

I then let the paint dry overnight.

Saturday 21 June 2014

Painting Jacklex figures: Day 3

Once the undercoat was fully dry, I gave the figures a thin coat of Citadel Zandri Dust matt acrylic paint.

I then put each figure onto a display magnet. (These are sold in packs in large office supply stores and stationers.) I use display magnets because they are easy to get hold of when I am painting … and the figures don’t move around on them thanks to the steel pennies I have based each figure on.

I then began the process of painting on the details. The order I did this in was as follows:
  • Brown belts, water bottle, and bayonet scabbard
  • White haversack
  • Dark brown rifle and sling
  • Brown face and hands (in retrospect I realise that I should have used lighter shade of brown for the skin areas)

I then let the paint dry overnight.

Friday 20 June 2014

Painting Jacklex figures: Day 2

Once the primer was fully dry, I undercoated the figures using Humbrol matt white enamel paint.

Thursday 19 June 2014

Painting Jacklex figures: Day 1

I recently found some old, unpainted Jacklex 20mm-scale figures … and decided that they needed painting!

Now I am no great shakes as a figure painter (my figures often look like they have been painted by a gorilla with a 6-inch brush!), and have not painted any figures from scratch for a very long time. I decided, therefore, to see if I could make a reasonable job of these simple figures using a technique that I used many years ago … and the following blog entries will describe my progress.

The first step was to clean the casting up using emery paper and modelling files. As the bayonets were either badly bent or broken, I removed them. I then washed the figures to clean off any dirt, and once they were dry I superglued them to steel pennies.

I then primed them using a brush and Humbrol matt black enamel paint.

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Inside the boxes of Green Army Men

I finally managed to open the two boxes of Green Army Men that I bought in Hawkin's Bazaar ... and this was what was inside:

The boxes contained:
  • 5 Officers with binoculars
  • 6 Officers/NCOs with Walkie-Talkies
  • 3 Officers/NCOs with submachine guns
  • 4 Heavy Machine Guns and Gunners
  • 7 Anti-tank Gunners with shoulder-held anti-tank weapons
  • 7 Engineers with flamethrowers
  • 8 Infantrymen throwing grenades (they might also be suitable for conversion to Mortar crewmen or Artillerymen)
  • 2 Infantrymen, kneeling, firing
  • 5 Infantrymen,standing, firing
  • 7 Infantrymen, lunging downwards
  • 7 Infantrymen, advancing
  • 3 Infantrymen, crawling
I am not quite sure what this force would equate to in LITTLE COLD WARS terms, but I would have thought that it was probably about equivalent to a battalion.

I am going to be quite busy over the next couple of weeks, but I hope to begin painting these figures at the end of June so that they will be ready by the middle of July.

Sunday 15 June 2014

Forces TV

Earlier this week (on the 10th June) a new channel became available from our cable TV provider ... Forces TV.

Forces TV is an independent news organisation focused on all aspects of the British Armed Forces. It is currently available on a variety of different platforms including:
  • Sky Channel 299
  • Virgin 244
  • Freesat 652
Forces TV is owned and operated by the Services Sound and Vision Corporation, a charity that was set up in the 1980s to 'entertain and inform Britain's Armed Forces around the world'.

SSVC also runs the radio and television services of the British Forces Broadcasting Services,the chain of SSVC Cinemas, the British Defence Film Library, and Combined Services Entertainment. The latter provides live entertainment for members of the Armed Forces stationed across the world, and is the successor to ENSA (Entertainments National Service Association ... or as it was sometimes called by those who were ‘entertained’, 'Every Night Something Awful').

Saturday 14 June 2014

Green Army Men from Hawkin's Bazaar

During a visit to our local retail centre I happened to go into a branch of Hawkin's Bazaar, a shop that sells a range of traditional toys. On the shelves I found some boxes of Green Army Men ... so I bought a couple.

This might seem like a rather odd purchase, but over recent months Tim Gow has been leading the development of a post-War version of FUNNY LITTLE WARS entitled – surprisingly enough – LITTLE COLD WARS. He has promised to run a session at the forthcoming Conference of Wargamers (COW2014), and I thought that I might try to put together my own small army to take along.

My original thought was to create a NATO-style army for Laurania, but after giving it some more thought I may well opt to paint them up to represent the army of AGGRESSOR, the OPFOR (opposing force) used by the US Army during the 1960s. The uniforms used by AGGRESSOR were American in style but Jungle Green, with Olive Drab webbing/Black leather belts and Black boots, combined with coloured collar tabs that indicated a unit's branch of service.

Friday 13 June 2014

Feedly is back ... but now the gas has gone off ... and come back on again!

I finally got my Feedly service back late last night ... and this morning our gas supply was cut off.

The story of the replacement of the main gas supply pipe to the houses in our street has been going on for some time, but this morning – just after 8.30 am – the workmen arrived to disconnect our house from the old supply pipe prior to connecting us to the new supply pipe. They told us that once that had been done a fitter would arrive to purge the system and ensure that our gas supply was safely reinstated.

At 11.30am we were told that the fitter would be arriving at 3.00pm, although he might be slightly later. At 4.30pm there was no sign of the fitter ... and thinking that there was little likelihood that they would arrive before they finished work for the day – and the week! – I contacted the gas supply company and explained the problem to them.

As we were in the situation of having no means to cook or to heat hot water until the gas supply was reinstated – and that this might remain the situation until Monday morning – the supply company agreed to send an emergency engineer to deal with the problem.

The fitter who was originally supposed to arrive at 3.00pm finally arrived at 5.30pm. It appeared that he had been given the wrong street name and incorrect postcode, and had driven to the wrong side of London ... from his base in Gosport, Hampshire … which is over 100 miles away! He took just five minutes to reconnect the gas supply and to check that everything was safe ... and then he set off for the return journey to Gosport.

Once he had gone I contacted the gas supply company and cancelled the call out of the emergency engineer. It was at this point that my wife reminded me that it was Friday the 13th today!

As an aside, the temporary three-way traffic lights that the contractors installed whilst they replaced the gas supply pipe caused an accident today.

A bus that was travelling downhill was confronted by a large dumper truck that had – quite legitimately – passed through the traffic lights in the opposite direction. Trying to avoid the dumper truck, the bus mounted the pavement and hit a bus stop, demolishing part of the bus shelter as it did so and damaging the bus so badly that it had to be taken out of service. This caused a traffic jam that took quite some time to sort out ... and which totally disrupted the local bus service for some hours afterwards.

As my wife pointed out ... it is Friday the 13th today!

Thursday 12 June 2014

No feed from Feedly

Yesterday Feedly was subject to a 'denial of service' cyber-attack, with the result that most users – including myself – were unable to access their service.

According to Feedly's blog:
2:04am PST – Criminals are attacking feedly with a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS). The attacker is trying to extort us money to make it stop. We refused to give in and are working with our network providers to mitigate the attack as best as we can.

We are working in parallel with other victims of the same group and with law enforcement.

We want to apologize for the inconvenience. Please know that you data is safe and you will be able to re-access your feedly as soon as the attack is neutralized.

6:25am PST – We’re making some changes to our infrastructure that will allow us to bring feedly back online. However, these things take some time to put into place and it may still be a few more hours before service is restored. Thank you so much for your patience and for sticking with us. Remember, none of your data was compromised or lost in this attack.

15:07pm PST - We have neutralized DDoS attack that began at 2:04am PST last night. You should now be able to access your feedly from both, mobile apps and third party applications. Our ops team is closely monitoring the situation in case the attacks resume. It might take a few hours for some of the 40 million feeds we poll to be fully updated. We would like to re-iterate that none of your data was compromised by this attack. I would like to thank the ops team for working through the night to resume the service as quickly as possible. I would also like to thank the community for your amazing support! -Edwin

16:34pm PST - If you are not able to access it is most likely due to the fact that your ISP or computer is caching an old DNS entry. Please refresh your DNS cache or wait for it to expire.
I checked my feed from Feedly a few minutes ago, and mine will not as yet update, but I hope to catch up with all the blogs that I follow at some time later today. In the meantime all I can do is wonder about the motivation of someone who thinks that mounting a 'denial of service' is justified in any way whatsoever.

Tuesday 10 June 2014

I have been to ... Broadside

Despite feeling slightly under the weather due to a mild stomach bug, I was determined to go to BROADSIDE. This is a small regional wargames show that is run annually by the Milton Hundred Wargames Club. I know the main organiser – Alan Abbey – very well indeed (I taught him when he was eleven!), and it was a pleasure to meet him again this year.

Here is a picture of the man himself:

I managed to get around all the games that were taking part, and took photographs of as many of them as I could. I did have the usual problem though; some had excellent signage and information whereas others did not. As a result I have not been able to attribute some of the games to a group … so if your group's game is featured but unnamed, please accept my apologies.

World War I (Crush The Kaiser)

Kandahar: Second Afghan War (Gravesend Wargamers Club)

The Arabian Campaign, World War I: The taking of Akaba (Rainham [Medway] Wargames Club)

American Civil War Ironclads in action (South East Essex Military Society)

Note: SEEMS (South East Essex Military Society) were using a slightly tweaked version of my Portable Naval Wargame rules.

Western Gunfight ... using Playmobile figures (Gravesend Gamers Guild)

Dr Who (Friday Night Fire Fight Club)

A variety of skirmish-level wargames (Hornchurch Heroes Gaming Club)

Somewhere in France: Summer 1944 (Shepway Wargames Club)

Battle of Shaho: Russo-Japanese War (Posties Rejects)

Postie scratch-built this very impressive balloon using a polystyrene ball, wire, and cardboard. He used a metal base so that it was stable.

Belgium: August 1914 (Medway Wargames Society)

The Magnificent Seven Gunfight (Skirmish Wargames Group)

North West Europe

Vietnam War

Science Fiction games

Western Shootout

Napoleonic Wars