Saturday, 22 July 2017

WHO`S GONNA DRIVE YOU HOME


David Stone?

Who exactly is this David Stone fella? I wondered to myself a while back. I asked a few of the more knowledgeable guys I knew, and they said "oh Daaaveeee, *sniff" yeah he does all the game trade shows,, the big ones as well as the small.... and not just in the UK either." 

Hmmmmm, I thought, everyone keeps saying how good his stuff is. Then, out of the blue, a small parcel arrived for Hils, a kind little thought to wish her well for her knee replacement operation (now postponed while her surgeon is on maternity leave). Two really cool resin miniatures he had cast himself. A cool Judge Heston (one of the best Ape sculpts for the 2000AD Judge Dredd series I had ever seen, and another really enchanting character from the same comic book.. Tweak! WOW what a cool likeness.

So THAT`S Dave Stone! I thought. Kind bloke, and a good sculptor as well.

Okay I thought, I keep hearing about his cool futuristic sci-fi resin cast cars, and so I ordered three. All different colours, and as I noticed he offers them either unpainted, or fully painted.... I went for the latter option and asked him to jazz them up for me. "lets see what he can do" I thought.

Jeeese this guy is conscientiously quick. I`d barely placed the order (or so it felt) and a rather large and well wrapped parcel arrived at the door.

All I can say is..... WOW!


They were beautifully painted, beautifully rendered, and excellently sculpted and cast; and WOW they were surprisingly big models too. Nice and chunky and would fit brilliantly on the streets of The Dark Knight`s Gotham City, or Judge Dredd`s Mega City 1, or on some alien planet in a futuristic mind-scape episode of Doctor Who or Blakes 7. These three models are truly exquisite.  Two of the `bug` shaped cars have their wheels turned road-side - hugging tarmac: and the third has the wheels angled up... and the hover engines activated so the thing glides effortlessly over the ground.

Best of all, when the order was placed, Dave wrote an email message asking: "what would you like painted on the number plates?"

"WOW, that`s cool." I thought.

Suffice to say, we now own three pro-sculpted, pro-painted futuristic vehicles, bearing custom number plates which read: "Tarot" "Hils" and "Steve" yeeeey!!  How cool is that, yeah?


The rest pretty much speaks for itself and I`ll let the photos tell the story.


Dave Stone On Line Store:

http://wargamesterrainworkshop.co.uk/












The escort was being paid well: "the customer wants me to dress like `The Cat` and whip him, that's fine by me....  that will cost him double is all." But.... she forgets her role play session for a moment and stares transfixed out of the window to the street below. Her eyes glaze over and a soft "meow" escapes her lips, as she spies three `Stone Mark II Sports Cruisers` roll past along Avenue 69.  "now THAT`S a roller" she puuuurred.






The futuristic Mrs Peel approves of her new gift from Steed. The new girl looks on enviously. Hoping that one day she too will be awarded such an extravagant luxury.

One of Jez`s motorbikes steals the show for a moment ^^


A Couple of the Liberator Crew teleport down to the planet for a moment.

"So the rumours are true then Blake?

"Yes, Gemma. The Stone Mark II Cruiser now comes in Metallic Green as well!"

---

Article by Steve.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

HE TRAVELS FASTEST WHO TRAVELS ALONE

The Solo Gamer sits cogitating his next "in game" turn.


Applied here the title of this post really means (for solo wargaming at least) when you get it right, `going it alone` is the quickest way of achieving total success and utter blissful fulfilment within the hobby... which in turn leads to a sort of deep inner emotional high, which only comes on after a really good game or two, as that satisfaction seeps though our pleasure senses like a wave of euphoria (which takes a hold when something is very right in what we are doing).


For me this happened when I first knew I wanted Alan and Michael Perry`s (of Perry Miniatures) Travel Battle - complete game in a box. An interesting choice of title "Travel" battle, apt of course... but I think it falls far short of what this lovely little game is really all about. Its little yes .. so hence is ideal to carry with you anywhere, even while you travel. But its oh so much more than that. It`s actually got all the hallmarks of being a complete hobby in a small, slim, very light carry case. Just with the components of one boxed set, I was not slow to realise this `diamond in the rough*` for what it really is.. i.e. a whole host of gaming potential. And seeing this I`m afraid I went and blew a bit more money on the thing, because I knew what I had my hands on, and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, this was something I wanted to pursue to its full and logical conclusion ... solo gaming bliss for myself. Yes I play  and enjoy the hobby mostly with the good wife, family and dear friends, and very good friends down at the local club. But many, many, many years ago, when I started in the hobby, I started as a soloist. Even during my youth and my college years, it never took much for me to closet myself away.. alone... to enjoy a good game of Micro Armour (1/300th scale/6mm) tank battles, or a good old solitaire game of Thane Tostig (prize for anyone who knows or can even remember that one). I long ago learned the elusive secret to playing Dungeons and Dragons RPG games alone (thank you Mythic), and... well yeah, you get the picture. I`m a bit of an old die hard solo nut on the quiet: a state of affairs, I notice, many bloggers also are in nowadays, whether by choice, situation, or family and work restrictions on their spare available time. For me, playing solo is a choice and a passion, and very much a self indulgence I don`t get nearly enough time to enjoy anymore... not on the scale I used to do it anyway; as I`m usually sharing the hobby with other people, of course.


* why diamond in the rough? Because upon opening the box up for the first time you could easily be forgiven for thinking: "hmmmm not much in here is there?"

Can't sleep... in my pajamas, I come down stairs and play a move or two of an ongoing battle, while I sip a cup of tea. Takes so little space, you can quite easily leave a game in situ for days and days.


BUT, then along came this new game. It doesn't even matter if you`re not a Napoleonics person (maybe time you were then? After all, its never too late to take up a new interest). As it happens, as I have mentioned before, I always had an interest in this subject, but somehow I allowed it to slip away from me. This Travel Battle game, end of the day,  doesn't really matter if you are primarily a fantasy gamer, or you naturally prefer another genre to game in. The point here is that this game is deeply and deceivingly immersive, and I would strongly recommend to anyone out there who likes to play alone, don't hesitate, don't stop, don't think, just BUY IT, do yourself a huge big favour. I don`t think you will ever regret. Not if you approach this one in the right spirit of integrity and dedication.

A French Division desperately tries to punch through the British centre. But Maitland`s boys are prepared and stubbornly refuse their enemy the farm and outhouses. 


How many times have you, for instance, joined a club, and found they play a subject you don't follow. "Drat!" you think to yourself,  "These guys play Warammer and I like Malifaux." or "I play American Civil War and these guys only seem to do World War Two."  But the club looks good, the guys who attend seem like a decent bunch, so what do you do? Like so many others before you, you attend a few nights, watch them play, join in their laughter and excitement, and before you know it you`re going: "Hmmmmm I think I could get into this after all.

The French Young Guard push forward, valiantly, despite losses, but they are being surrounded by overwhelming firepower and flanking cavalry support from the British Union Brigade.




Look what Hils and I have just done? We both knew nothing about Doctor Who, had absolutely no interest in the genre (Hils actually had less than no interest to start with), and yet through reading endless posts from you guys, your enthusiasm, the obvious fun you are all having, in the end it got our own gaming juices working, and look at the end result.... we`re now avid Doctor Who nuts, just like everyone else hahaha. So yeah I`m saying, don't dismiss this Perry Miniatures game just because it's a genre you don't currently follow. The game itself is superb. I was highly dubious of the rules that come with it at first. Five pages long, and seemed almost - abstract to my thinking, as I read them through. But The Perry Brothers really are hardcore gamers and know e-x-a-c-t-l-y what they are doing. The game is brilliant and  inspiringly simple, but BOY does it give surprisingly realistically thematic results. Yes the game is crying out for house-ruling here and there, whatever fits your own ideas psyche, but even without, played as is out of the box, it plays very well. For me, its opened up a whole world of enjoyment, and has got me back into reading books on the era (and Osprey books for uniform guides), had got me back into "Sharpe" hahaha... and "Hornblower" on DVD, and a whole host of other similar period costume dramas from that same era, and documentaries too of course (I`ve not ruled out the possibility of adding in "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies" either, at some point). But the point  I`m making is, this game can become as immersive as you want to make it. As I said, I realised early on this was exactly what I wanted, and first of all, I ordered some more sprues of figures (Perry Miniatures also sell the box game components separately you see) so I had more options for larger games. But then it wasn't long before I realised to see the full vision for this game completed  I thus went and bought a second (duplicate) boxed game as well: more boards,. which comes with more houses and more trees: two additional full armies of course, and all the potential in the world now to play truly epic scale games - all on the size of a small coffee table! Not bad huh?

My interest in this era is Napoleon`s last campaign, his last desperate attempt to make a comeback: "The Hundred Days War" culminating in "The Battle of Waterloo."


With two games and the spare sprues I ordered direct from Perry, I can now field many factions, Austrians, Russians, Belgians, Netherlanders, Prussians, Brunswickers, Kings German Legion.. not to mention vast armies of French and British. Dead easy to paint too, due to being so small, and painted they do look rather WOW, especially en masse on the boards. 

Casualties feel realistic too. A whole game played to conclusion, and these were the losses on both sides... from a total of six whole divisions  (about 200 miniatures).


Imagine having everything at your finger tips to play Zombiecide in miniature - in 8mm? This game is like that. Why so many solo gamers fail to play many games is, it's a lot easier to sit and talk about games than it is to pull everything out and actually do it. BUT with a game of this diminutive size: waking up and going "I want to play a game today"  then setting up and beginning play is DEAD EASY, and quick too. You can have the idea to play, and be set up and rolling for who gets to move first on turn one, all in less than five minutes.


No, what I have here is a game which I can study, read lots of books about. Watch TV and enjoy war films, to get myself in the mood, enthused and motivated. And best of all, I can immerse deeper and deeper into this; adding in supply lines, ammunition depletion and quartermaster rules for shot and shell. Weather rules, and adverse conditions of smoke, rain, wind, and freezing cold nights. Different effects of brigade commanders on morale.... and best of all, hunt down all those sundry things which brings a board to life: from ancillary staff, civilians, farm wagons, priest attending church and refusing to leave the village hahaha (like happened at Waterloo... and a farmer`s wife too, who refused to leave the animals), all this can be factored in, to make this a game you can enjoy for an entire lifetime.


I can`t recommend it highly enough.


What`s really cool is that right now (all this month I presume) if you buy the game from Warlord Games, they are giving away a free copy of "Wargames Illustrated" magazine with it  (Issue 355), which has a delightful article about this game, and a few really cool articles on "Test of Honour" as well. So wow, what a nice bonus treat.


I could really wax lyrical about this game, and go into the true merits of solo gaming with it. But that can wait for another post :)



Article by Steve.


Sunday, 9 July 2017

CARRY ON DOCTOR


I`ve got a habit of starting campaigns which never get finished. I thought it was about time I put a stop to this and finally create a single theme.. to unify all my previous bits and pieces and cul-de-sac stops and starts. How will I do this? Well, by starting a new campaign haha.  Actually there`s method in my madness, no seriously.. hear me out!  We get all these cool ideas, but like most of us in the hobby, over the years we have allowed ourselves to collect far too much stuff, so it becomes increasingly harder as time goes by to do ANY of it, let alone do it properly. And doing anything well becomes a nightmare as we are forever just try to play `catch up` in some guilty attempt to justify all our ill advised former purchases (I say ill advised, because truthfully, realistically, if the things we always bought ourselves were well thought out, they wouldnt still be sitting unused in boxes, right)?

And so, between Hils, Tarot, and myself we have, over the years, started campaigns for Heroclix, Horrorclix, Batman (Gotham), Dungeons and Dragons (Ravenloft), and various other stabs in the dark at wonderful ideas, which didn't exactly run out of steam, they simply got bogged down by lack of time to see them reach proper fruition. Add to this the things we never even got started on: Cursed Earth, The Avengers, and X Men. And now we have Doctor Who to consider as well uuugh!!! *Brain explosion*


So we have come to a sensible decision. We will simply do a reboot! We`re are not going to drop all our other efforts, we are simply going to fold it all neatly into one focussed and dedicated campaign world; and that single campaign will evolve around "The Eternal Traveller"  and his various companions, and all the other cool aspects... the snippets, the fractured half recognised ideas and complicated plots (the things we never got to explore properly from other projects) will simply become aspects of that same world and multiverse. This allows Aliens, and Predators, and villains Terminators, and Judges, and Superheroes, and villains, and... oh EVERYTHING to be pulled out and used in our games, in just the same way that a RPG Dungeon Master roots through his Monster Manuals to pull out all sorts of interesting creations to fill and infest his world(s) with. By centering everything on a Doctor Who mentality (i.e. by having everything pivot around the Doctor and his friends.... and enemies) we will be able to factor in all the strange, and weird, and wonderful and horrific, just like a DM manages his Bestiary: adding things as and when needed to drop things in, to create a complete living world of wonders.

Figures from a bygone age of gaming (1977).


Another thing Hils and I decided was that we wanted to combine a lot of our own miniature creations and retro purchases (from the good old 70`s and 80`s) as well as a lot of the new miniatures available on the shelves today. With this in mind, Hils has set to work creating a lot of sculptures with that old school` look and feel to them, from home made Weeping Angels (made out of Polymer Clay.. her preferred medium to sculpt in), personality miniatures, slimes and oozes, to the whole Doctor Who underground "LINDA" gang of helpers and followers. Oh, and a rather cool K9 and Sarah Jane Smith of course.

 A Hil retro style creation TARDIS.

Fantasy miniatures from (about)1980: to many these would be ugly and pathetically painted. To a nostalgic old school few... a reminder of a gentler age, and a time of simple innocence.


Styles of play will range from Victorian London to Paris Gothica, Dark Ages to Quasi Medieval, Zombie Renaissance to French Revolution, World War Two to Blakes 7 (and Supreme Comander Servalan`s Galactic Empire), Batman to Judge Dredd.... and all the cool bits in between, which go to make this hobby such an eclectic wonder to pursue. 

Old school to the extreme. I played many happy games with all my beloved minis between 1974 and the end of that retro era sometime in the early 90`s.

(1978)

As for the miniatures, just to focus in on that a little more closely, I actually find the old 25/28mm models of the late 70`s, 80`s and early 90`s to be really beautiful: and simply filled with simplistic character and charm. So much so that I have asked Hils to try replicate that feel and tone in a lot of her current sculpting (bless her for making me so many lovely things, without a word of complaint).



Sure, we can create things like this (above and below), but that is a different hobby thing entirely. This is fine art modelling. We prefer to play our table top games with things which resemble toys, not untouchable works of art.


These belong in display cabinets NOT on the games table... unless to show off and gloat, which would not really be our style.


So this post is really in way of a little introduction of the whys and wherefores of our new SINGLE (everything rolled into one) campaign. I was going to start it here, now, today. And yet... while I feel ready to start, sense dictates  me that I am not quite ready to begin yet. Time is against me this week I fear: and so a little teaser post seemed  more appropriate, as a small snippet.. rather than `running before my horse to market` lol.

I hope you enjoyed my insight into our future plans, and for our shared adventures into time, dimension and space.



Article By Steve


Friday, 30 June 2017

TRAVEL BATTLE


Alan and Michael of Perry Miniatures have long been known for maintaining an extremely high standard of excellence in the miniatures field. Indeed, wargamers from all over the globe proudly display various armies of these exquisitely detailed (toy) model soldiers. Half my own collection of wargame figures are made by the Perry brothers, and stand in high honour on my glass display cabinets.


However, in recent years I have been having a few problems. As one gets older (especially true of hardcore wargamers.. like me) you find it becomes more and more tedious to set up a full eight or ten foot long wargame table. These rare events tend to be left for club occasions and game conventions/shows. I guess I`m lucky if I get to play one of these full blown wargames once a month.. and this last year or so, even less. And so, even though I am pretty good at painting discipline, and have entire three English Civil War armies finished, plus my Liberty or Death American War of Independence, and my Zulu Wars all painted, based, varnished, and ready for action... and even though I have about half my Bolt Action WWII British, Americans and Germans finished and ready for the table... to physically cart these with me to the clubs, is hard. Nowadays, it`s an extremely rare thing to see me actually get them out and play a game with all of this stuff at home. It simply takes up too much space, takes an age and a half to set up, even longer to play, and... frankly, I`m too old, too achy nowadays to want to lean heavily over a frickin` huge five foot wide table for hours on end moving 28mm or 40mm troops about, until even the Paracetamol won't cut through the pain of my poor tired muscles.

This led me to doing three major massive culling sessions of a lot of my wargame and rpg games. Three major `must go` blitz attacks on my lifelong collection, in so many years. I don't tend to sell my stuff when I get rid of it. Maybe I`m crazy, but I usually give things to people I know will find a use for the items I choose for them. Makes me feel good, and more importantly, it does mean I can return a bit to the hobby in general (which has been so kind to me over the years, due to the generosity of others). It`s nice when I can hand over entire collections to people who will use them (not just "thank you very much" but have them gathering dust in a box).

But I digress. When I started playing with toy soldiers back in the 1960`s, when I was a kid, and later when I discovered proper wargaming in the early 70`s, I started with Napoleonics.. pretty much the moment I saw the epic "Waterloo"  at the Cinema in 1970. The film had some awesome names to is credits: Rod Steiger as Napoleon, Christopher Plumber as the Duke of Wellington, Orson Wells as Louis XVIII, Jack Hawkins as General Picton, Virginia McKenna as the Duchess of Richmond, and Dan O` Herihy as Marshal Ney.  I was 8 when I first saw this film on the big screen, and was hooked immediately (my Dad always encouraged me with history, even as a child.. bringing it alive for me in vivid colour of description). Suddenly I was spending all my pocket money on Airfix Napoleonic little plastic men. By the time I was 14 I had struck up quite a friendship with some of the greats of the time, writing to them endlessly with childish enthusiasm and annoying charm; so that by the time I was 15 (in 1977 - the beginning era of Punk Rock) I was invited to visit and have holidays with writers like George W Jeffrey, and Donald Featherstone. Long weeks at a time with these icons of the wargame world. My goodness they honed my appetite for more I can tell you. I am eternally grateful for their kind patience with an incessantly questioning youth with a deep appetite for knowledge.

Incidentally, same time as this was happening (and for some years after) Hils was messing in entirely different circles. She was a part of the early 2000AD comic book `gang` and frequently hung out with the guys from those iconic days of British greatness. I often wonder how things would have worked out had we known each other back then. Me a raving Punk Rocker (all zips and snot), and her, a ravishing beauty with an almost ethereal Pre-Raphaelite demeanour.

But in time, I left Napoleonics behind. I left Wargaming behind too..  and for many years to come. Due in part to having discovered Role Playing, in the form of Dungeons and Dragons, and its many imitators. Mostly though, I left wargaming behind because I had discovered a new phenomena in my life.... GIRLS.... Woohooooo!!!!! .

But the pull of gaming was never far away. Even in my role playing games, I had a love for the big battles and military style adventures. And I guess it was about the mid to late 80`s that I rediscovered, and rekindled my passion for wargames, and `the bug` has never left me since.

Anyway, back to now!


We live in a big old house which is surrounded by the (usually) mist shrouded, Puka filled mountains and Banshee cry, green grassy valleys of Southern Ireland. The house is too big for us now that all the kids have flown the nest, and we tend to rattle about like peas in a very large, rattling pod.  Luckily, everyone seems to want big family homes right now in our area, and the fact we live high on our own hill which translated from Irish means "the place where Cuckoos are first heard in Spring." It overlooks an Iron Age hill fort and is altogether an idyllic spot. But this all does nothing for my hobby. We are selling it... putting the place on the market next year (once we have done some cosmetic paintbrush surgery and TLC on the outside and on the interior six bedroom walls). Meanwhile I have no grand games room: no massive sand table to call my own, and no way I can play full on wargames of the scale and grandeur I most desirously wish to pursue.

And so we return once more to Perry Miniatures. Once again they have come to my rescue. This time in the form of an early Christmas present. The second I spotted their new Travel Battle boxed set, I knew I wanted it: "pleaaaaaseeee?" I asked Hilary. And yep! she got it for me......  for Christmas. Yipeeee!!! but noooooooo!!!!! I wanted it now! Suffice to say, I, as only a husband can do best, wore her down, until eventually she let me have it..... NOW.

Travel Battle. Hmmmm, a bit of a misnomer of a name really. I would have called it "A complete wargame in a box, for the gamer who is restricted in space."  It's neat, it's beautiful, and its complete. And best of all, it`s a game of generic battles fought in the age of Napoleon`s warfare.

The miniatures are 8mm, and are sublime. I`ve never seen anyone else make 8mm figures before and certainly not in plastic. A marketing ploy you might say? Not so, I reply.... Perry Miniatures sell all the box components separately, for anyone wishing to expand the experience beyond the box (which is exactly what I have done. At £3 a sprue, i.e. three quid for a complete new army, I don`t think even the most frugally minded gamer could complain at that financial drain).


Or you can buy new moulded plastic map boards for £14 each, which is GREAT value. These are superbly detailed I might add, and a nice lick of paint sits well on them The woods and building roof tops even lift off to allow you to put  companies of soldiers inside. 
The boards all fit the next one seamlessly, which ever way you turn them, making it possible to create an endless variety of battle fields.


So, I have me a game in a box. A complete, wonderful, small scale, generic Napoleonic wargame, with the scope and potential to play the grandest of battles, all on the size of a coffee table (or a tea tray if I want to play a small encounter). I painted both my armies (British and French - about 200 miniatures) in a single day, and Hils painted both my battle boards in a few hours on day two.


I immediately ordered more troops (less than five euro with postage) and now I have enough spare soldiers winging their way to me for me to be able to create an entire Prussian army (under General Blucher of course) , and a spare Brunswicker and Austrian one too.... Oo how about a regiment of The Kings German Legion while we are about it, maybe a few 95th Riflemen to keep Sharpe company. Add a few more maps, and I could literally fight The Battle of Waterloo on the same size as it might take to play an average game of Zombicide.


So, it`s quite amazing , really the tides of fate. As it is, I return full circle to my first ever love... wargaming in the Napoleonic era. Which suits me perfectly. No matter how much I enthuse about Doctor Who, Batman, Judge Dredd, Zombies, or any other imaginary genre of the hobby; my first love will always be historical. And as I have boxed up all my other historical subjects and projects... for now, until we move house and I am settled once again in the games room of my dreams: this new Travel Battle set will adequately meet all my needs in the more serious side of my hobby, the part of me where so much of my gaming passion resides. This may be small, but oh boy, this really is a complete diminutive hobby in a box with room to expand it as much as you want.... or simply keep it a game in a box. The choice is yours.


£50 well spent I think. Especially as Warlord Games are currently charging zero postage for this game to be delivered (in Britain and throughout most of Europe). And with individual components available separately (from Perry Miniatures themselves) at such reasonable costs, I think this game is an absolute winner for any gamer who has the occasional call to indulge in the historical side of the hobby. For me this all fits as a perfect accompaniment alongside my other Sails of Glory Napoleonic naval wargame). 

Interestingly, the scale of the ship miniatures is almost spot on with Travel Battle too. Cool coincidence huh?

Suddenly, Napoleonic wargaming is within my grasp. I embrace it with a will. 1815 and Napoleon`s last campaign.. "The Hundred Day War" is the satellite I have chosen to focus on, and I have to say, even at this early stage of my new found delight, I`m having an absolute ball.


Article by Steve