Monday, 31 July 2017

The Time Has Come, The Walrus Said, To Speak Of Many Things

And so time passes. The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round.. la la laaa!!!  the clock face spins and the transience of each moment melds into the orbicular  span of moments (still reflexes of impassionate time). The moment is now, yet as soon as you`ve said it.. its past.

It is like this with the hobby too.

Stevie talks about when the Star Wars skirmish miniatures first hit the shelves, and as he talks about it his eyes shine, and he speaks faster and faster as he gets more and more excited, as though it were only yesterday to him. And I suppose to a lifelong gamer it does feel like only a short time ago.

The first miniatures  skirmish game Wizards of the Coast bought out for the Star Wars franchise, was a set called "Rebel Storm" which was released unto the world on September the 3rd 2004 (subsequent releases continued for a number of years following this initial run, and covered the Star Wars prequel `Clone Wars` and even some of the `Expanded Universe`). Funny, even I can remember this game took the gaming world by storm (no pun intended there lol) along with its slightly older sister range of Dungeons and Dragons plastic miniatures. But you try now to find someone to talk to about this  game, and you will usually come up a solid blank.  A decade has passed, and already this game, like so many others, has passed from being popular, and into the realms of obscurity. Same really for Mage Knight, Heroscape, Heroclix, and the rest. Insane really!
Games have a limited shelf life it seems, and may go on being popular for a number of years (sadly, usually far less than this for most) but eventually, every game seems to have its day: and today`s mega "Warhammer" soon  becomes yesterday`s "Old Hammer."
Someone recently said something on YouTube, which I thought was brilliant.  

He said: 

"yep, but now that the game is dead, you can play it as an actual game and have fun with it. I built a collection, and when I want to play it I prepare two parties that seem balanced, let a friend pick who plays what side, and we fight. Sometimes a game needs to be dead (and its meta / tourney aspects with it) to become enjoyable."

In regards to Star Wars, to use as an example once again,  now that the game is old and `defunct,` you can buy relatively cheap `lots` on eBay, and for those choice special pieces, you can buy from  various online stores who specialise in selling singles. The game will play just as well as it did the day it hit the shelves, but without the collector needing to get caught up in all that hype surrounding the initial phenomena, while still popular and in trend.. but will save you a heck of a lot of money should you latterly choose to buy into it. Sure, some bits and pieces will be rare and hard as gold dust to acquire, but hey, isn't that part of the charm and appeal?

Plus surely, it makes you a true collector if you try to flesh out a retro collection in this way: which is another nice way of looking at it.

Yeah these beauties even come pre-painted, like so many miniatures of this era did, as each company followed suit and offered reasonably priced random packs of goodness for the gamer to tear open and play with straight away.. another sign of the changing times, that people now consider these pre-painted jobs lame and badly painted, and now prefer to sit and talk about gaming rather than actually getting everything out the box and having a good old barny on the table top.

But yes, retro games are just as good now, as the day they sat on shelves in their shiny new packets looking cool and interesting. Only difference now is, if you know where to look and are a little patient, you can score big, and buy reasonably cheaply, free from the clamour of the masses who all want in on the same game, which of course, endlessly drives the prices up and up. 

Stevie and Hil have almost entirely stopped buying new things nowadays, and turn more and more to their existing collection(s) to find new ways to enjoy old purchases. Their treasured Star Wars miniatures (as already discussed), The miniatures out of Descent Journeys in the Dark, Lord of the Rings 40mm TMG miniatures, to name but a few. Then there are games  like Flying Frog Productions ` "Shadows of Brimstone" and "Last Night on Earth" (and its cool stand alone/add on "Invasion From Outer Space"), all these were once new, but have a lifetimes playing potential still untapped and sitting unexplored within their cool-looking boxes. The list is endless. But ultimately, they are enjoying what they already own, and it makes me so happy to see this being done, in what has oh so fast turned into a `quick fix throw away` society. It makes me so happy to know the hobby will thrive in this way while I, perchance, must leave it all behind and move away from it entirely. Yes this will indeed be my last post on The Game Cupboard *sobs*. Not because I want to stop, but because changing circumstances  dictate I must now concentrate on my career. As we all know, if you set your course by a bright wandering star, and that star shines brightest over foreign climes,  then "we must away, ere break of day" or miss the boat entirely.  So it is with me, that my work has become my focus and priority. But I know my personal (small) collection of  precious gaming things will be in good hands with the guys.

There, how about that for a long winded goodbye hehehe. Never was one to do things the easy route **grins and winks**

Star Wars......... Brimstone...... Samurai.......  John Carter from Mars, the list of possibilities is long and expansive. But rest assured, the guys are bound to surprise and thrill you many times over, during the coming weeks, months, and hopefully years ahead.

Time for bed said Zebedee.  

Love you guys,


Saturday, 22 July 2017


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:

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


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


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.


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