Wednesday, 27 March 2013

New Blog: The Orarian Heresy

After thinking about my last post for a few days, it dawned on me that a huge proportion of my gaming time over the ext couple of years will be focused on Warhammer 40K. It shouldn't have come as so much of a surprise given that I co-host a 40K Pod-cast, play in 40K Tournaments and spend about 75% of my working hours painting 40K miniatures (of the four army sized commission's I'm working on at the moment, two are 40K armies and I've already finished another 40K army order this month)

So, it makes sense to start up a new, 40K dedicated blog rather than spend so much time writing about 40K in what is (still) ostensibly a blog about old school wargames and 15mm gaming. If you've been at all interested in my infrequent 40K posts, please take a gander and follow the new blog, because there won't be any more 40K related posts on this one for a good while at least. Not for the modern edition of the game, anyway.

Hope to see you over at the Orarian Heresy blog.

Sunday, 24 March 2013

The 2 Year Plan 2013-2015

I don't really expect this to be of interest to anyone other me. It's just my way of organising my thoughts for what I want to accomplish from a wargaming point of view in the next 18-24 months. Hence I haven't bothered to include any nice photographs or images to break up this huge wall of text.

In no particular order:

Terrain Wise:

  • Upgrade the 4ft by 4ft terrain mats to 4ft x 6ft terrain mats to match the size of the new table. 
  • Make/acquire more 15mm and 28mm terrain for my Temperate, Off-world Colony and Post Apocalypse/Semi-Arid game boards.
  • In particular, get myself some nice 15mm Napoleonic terrain, modern North African terrain AND some rural russian terrain to use with both other sets of 15m terrain. Also modern terrain from Fieldworks which will look great as North and East African factories and apartment buildings.

Miniatures Wise:

40K Imperial Guard:

I'm really, really missing playing Imperial Guard in 40K. Although my Chaos Space Marines have only lost one game, drawn one game, and won every other game they've played quite convincingly, nothing can replace the IG as my favourite 40K Army. At the moment, I have squidgillions of infantry, but I had to sell most of my tanks before moving down south. So, I need to purchase:
  • At least one Imperial Guard Heavy Weapons Box with Lascannons.
  • Buy ten stormtroopers with Hotshot Lasguns to expand my five man suicide squads into full squads
  • Buy an Ogre Lead Bely boxed set and convert it to Ogryns
  • Convert a unit of Rough Riders.
  • About 15 pairs of Cadian arms and lasguns to convert the rest of my Dream Forge UAMC infantry into Guardsmen (well, conscripts)
  • Buy one Leman Russ Punisher (for Pasque)
  • Buy three Leman Russ with the twin autocannon variants
  • Buy three normal Leman Russ but also purchase the Plasma Cannon and Vanquisher turret variants from Forge world.
  • Buy one Basilisk (the enclosed armour one from Forgeworld)
  • Buy one Medusa (from Forgeworld)
  • Buy one Manticore

40k Space Marines:

I have an entire Space Marine army sitting around waiting to be painted and built. They're not my first choice of army by any means (after 25 years of playing with and against them, they bore the hell out of me). On the other hand, given how expensive it's going to be to make my IG army playable again I'm going to have to concentrate on getting these guys up to speed first so I can use them as an allied contingent with my IG infantry.
  • Assemble and paint the five remaining Terminators, five character miniatures and thirty pus space marines lying around doing nothing.
  • Buy, assemble and paint two Rhino's, one Land Raider Redeemer and one Land Raider Crusader.
  • Play games using these guys as an IG allied contingent (and vice versa) so my IG become a playable force again.

40K Chaos Space Marines:

  • Buy, assemble and paint an actual Chaos Landraider and stop using the normal Space Marine Landraider as a proxy
  • Swap out the Hellbrute from my 2000 pt list and replace it with a twin-linked Lascannon Predator Tank.
  • Paint up the five Thousand Sons, one Possessed and one Chaos Space Marine Champion I need to declare this army fully painted. Optionally paint up the other 6 bikes and bikers and two Chaos Lords on Juggernauts as well. Although it's not really necessary, they'll give me more options to play with list wise.

15mm Napoleonic:

After playing Napoleonic's for the first time in about fifteen years a few weeks ago I'm all fired up for more. To start with, I've picked one of the smaller nations who fought on both sides of the conflict (Bavaria) because of the many options it will provide in terms of armies to fight and also because assembling the entire national army of such a small(ish) state in 15mm is a reasonable enough goal. That's 11 regiments of Infantry (two battalions of 12 miniatures each) and a half dozen regiments of cavalry plus a few guns. Still a major undertaking, but not quite as daunting as trying to assemble the entire army of France.

Alternate History/Ultra Modern:

Despite my rant the other week about comfort zones, I really am attracted to ultra-modern game -just so long as fictional forces and nations are involved. Hence, in the spirit of Alcovia, Franonia, Raynonia and Bravo's Evil Empire, I'm inventing my own fictional nation to fight fictional campaigns against other fictional nations. I need to purchase:
  • North African and rural Russian type scenery (sounds a bit of an odd combination but it'll make sense when I do a feature on my fictional nation).
  • A mixed platoon of ARVN and US Vietnam era troops, plus seven M113's and a few M60 tanks to represent the armed forces of my small, third-world nation for games of Force on Force. All from Peter Pig, (except the tanks) which means £18 for the troops, £56 for the APC's and £8 per tank.
  • Paint up my GZG 15mm civilians as oil workers, consultants and other civilians for games of Force on Force.
  • Purchase a whole heap of Peter Pig AK47 miniatures to represent various bad guy militia's and shady foreign nations.
  • Use Israeli Sand Grey for the armour. Buy it from here:

Post Apoc:

Through it all, I'll continue to build up my PA terrain collection (especially as it also doubles up as my 40K terrain collection) and paint up the many existing PA miniatures I already own as time and inclination allows. I'll be using these for my PA solo games as well as my Judge Dredd solo-campaign that I plan to play every now and then.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Wasteland Terrain

One of my big projects this year is to get back to building more Post Apoc terrain for my gaming table. It's a project I had to put on hiatus late last year when most of my gaming miniatures and scenery went into storage for six months in preparation for the move down to Kent. As well as using it for games of 40k (there's a reason most of my 40K stuff is based for desert play) I'll be using the terrain for Post Apoc games such as the new Rogue Trooper game from Mongoose as well my own home-brew rules (used to game everything from RIFTS to Fallout to Terminator).

As I'm catching up on a five-day backlog at work, my limited painting time for my own projects has become even more limited recently, which is perfect for terrain building. So I've started work on a very simple piece of terrain to add to my existing collection: a camp site.

Here's the planned layout. Once I've got the tents painted I'll start work on the base itself. I use Vellajo stone effect for my wasteland bases (in conjunction with builders gravel) but getting the stuff onto a base without smearing some over a miniature or a tent is fiddly at best. So I prefer to put the white stone effect on first and paint the base separately before sticking miniatures or terrain on top.

Very much a work in progress right now....

I'm also debating with the idea of leaving the tent's loose, for ease of storage and for a greater variety of layouts. We'll see.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Wargaming Comfort Zones

What does this have to do with war-gaming comfort zones? Nothing at all.
Saturday was a damn good gaming day for me, probably the best fun I've had around a gaming table in years. Not only did I FINALLY get to meet up with fellow bloggers Fran, Ray, Clint and Big Lee, I got to join the (in)famous Postie's Rejects for a Napoleonic Spectacular! I know that all four of the bloggers I just mentioned plan on talking about the day's wargaming with Bat Rep's of day, so I won't steal their thunder or say anything more about it here except to say:


After the game finished and Clint and I were presented with lovely "Honorary Reject Awards", I had a great chat with some of the guys in the grand surroundings of Postie's MASSIVE miniatures collection, during which the conversation turned to war-gaming comfort zones. I can't quite remember how we got onto the topic, (perhaps it was someone mentioning the Battle of the Boyne)  but I do remember Smiffy talking about how much trouble he had getting into sci-fi type games as he couldn't take them seriously. This eventually led me to mention that I couldn't get really into ultra-modern gaming for the opposite reason - I take ultra-modern gaming very seriously. Between my brother-in-law being a serving soldier and being ex-military myself (and having lost friends in some of the battles now featuring as scenarios in several ultra-modern campaign settings) I just don't feel comfortable war-gaming any period in recent living memory. I think that the Vietnam War is about as recent as I could manage.

That ended not long before I was born, which leads me to wonder if my actual cut-off point migh tsimply be conflicts that have occurred in my lifetime?

My attitude strikes me as a little odd really, given that I know of gamers who actually served in places like the Falklands or Iraq and Afghanistan who are altogether happy to wargame those periods. Whereas I, who never got anywhere near any proper combat while in the forces (unless you count a few bar fights in Germany), get a bit unsettled even at the thought of war-gaming any of those conflicts.

Perhaps I simply feel that they have a right to war-game the conflicts they took part in whereas I, (given my lack of participation in those events) do not? Possibly this is simply a reflection of how self-conscious I feel in any gathering of my peers who have seen actual combat. After all, it's not as though I'm uncomfortable or offended by anyone who wargames these conflicts, whether or not they've ever worn a uniform!
What's that? You want me to war-game the Road to Baghdad? Good Heavens No!

If anything, it's my own attitude that I find bewildering and perplexing, rather than anyone elses.

Clint from Anything But a One was present at this conversation and, being very aware of the controversy around ultra-modern games, was a little concerned that I might have been unsettled by some of his recent blog content, but I was able to (truthfully) assure him that it  didn't. As I've already said, I might not be comfortable gaming the period myself, but I have no problem with other people doing it. In fact, I quite enjoy reading about ultra modern games and battle reports. I just don't feel comfortable actively participating myself.

Strangely enough, I actively enjoy ultra-modern gaming so long as we change the damn names! I don't care if the miniatures are obviously British, Israeli, Iraqi or whatever so long as we call them Franonians or  Alcovians or Bongolians instead. We can even re-fight actual engagements, so long as they're re-fought in a fictional context. I  actively enjoy gaming in alternate modern histories, such as "Cold War Gone Hot" scenarios. At one point, I even kept a blog called Untied Kingdom, where I worked on an ultra-modern British civil war setting. But, that skirted way too close to the edge of what I considered acceptable, however unlikely the scenario, because it still explicitly involved regiments and corps to which some of my real-world friends and family still belong. In the end, the project died a slow, languishing death. Every now and then I go back to the blog and take a look at it. I still think the concept had the potential to be some of my best work, but it really did skirt too close to the edge of my comfort zone to live.

I think my willingness to bring down the shutters and game in fictional nations stems from the days when I war-gamed modern day battles as part of my profession. Our exercises and TEWTs (Tactical Exercises without Troops) always involved countries with names that bore little to no resemblance to any real nations or cities. Although we were practicing for a very real war, we could comfortably joke about errors that cost our forces entire fictional battalions at a time -even though those self-same battalions had identical equipment and levels of training to real life formations either in our own army or some other thinly disguised nations'. But as soon as anyone present began taking things a little too lightly, there would be a quiet, yet somewhat pointed, cough followed by the even more quietly voiced question from the Colonel or RSM: 

"but what if it had been some of our boys, eh?"

What about you folks out there? Are there any periods or scenario's you in particular feel uncomfortable with?

Monday, 4 March 2013

Art of War Games Campaign Books

Art of War games (publishers of the free Get Some: Fantasy Warfare and Get Some: Future Warfare rules) produce a number of epic campaigns and scenario books that are completely compatible with the GZG's Full Thrust, Star Grunt II and Dirtside II rules-systems. Most of the various campaigns use all three of GZG's rule-books to incorporate Fleet Actions, Battalion/Company scale ground warfare and platoon level ground warfare scenarios.

Most of these scenario books are literally dirt cheap, costing no more than $2 or $3 to download from Wargames Vault and well worth the money, even if you only intend to mine them for ideas rather than play through the whole campaign yourself.

What follows isn't a proper review (as I haven't played through or even read most of these books). It's more an exercise in bring their existence to the attention of people who might be interested.

(Note: You can download the GZG rulebooks mentioned using the links to the left of this article)

The Sentai Campaign is published in two parts. Book One details humanities efforts to enlist allies in their war against the Synod. It includes new ships, new units and 12 scenario's for Full Thrust, Dirtside and Stargrunt. Book Two contains a further 12 scenarios detailing additional battles for the Sentai sector.

The Ghost War Campaign continues the story after the Sentai Campaign, and so far consists of no less than 9 separate scenario books, each with around a dozen scenarios.
The Alpha Centauri Campaign occurs in the same universe as the previous two campaigns, but I'm not entirely sure how it fits into the ongoing story as yet. The campaign involves an intelligence point and a Logistics point system to represent the ebb and flow of supplies and information available to the players.
The various books of the new "Regiments" series each center on the exploits of a single regiment. However, the books aren't quite stand-alone. The later books in the series tend to refer back to earlier books rather than repeat vehicle and unit stats. Even so, the books have a very "Hammer's Slammers" or "Falconbergs Legion" feel to them that should really appeal to a lot of 15mm sci-fi gamers. 

All of these books are available from Wargame Vault.

Probably the biggest issue with these books is whether or not the scenario's are balanced. The books seem to be released at a rate of once a week or so. It's unlikely any of the scenario's have been playtested. Many of them aren't. But I believe that's a deliberate part of the design philosophy. After all, how often does a general go looking for a fair fight?

Edit: I've just learned from TMP that at least some of the photographs used in these supplements are copyrighted pictures which have been used without permission: link

The link also leads to a very interesting review of one of the recently released Regiment books. A second review can be found here.