Wednesday, November 27, 2013


I played my first game of Meeples and Miniatures Bingo this evening while preparing a pile of Foundry figures for the upcoming painting challenge (and cutting my fecking thumb).

I was listening to Episode 117, and claimed a Tactical Victory 19:11 into the episode. Since the whole episode was about Ex Illis that gave me an easy Wildcard box, so I was able to claim the entire right hand column with the Wildcard replacing one of the boxes. Neil wasn't actually talking all that much in the episode as he was interviewing. so I reckon I did pretty well. So who can claim a Tactical Victory in any episode in less time?

My thumb seems to have stopped bleeding now, so back to the prepping and seeing if I can score a full Strategic Victory...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Meeples and Miniatures Bingo

Back in July last year I sang the praises of the Meeples and Miniatures podcast, and included some ideas for a drinking game to be played while listening.

Captain Man Cave had the idea of revamping this as a bingo game, so we came up with a joint effort for your nerdy enjoyment. This might be a nice little distraction for those of you preparing to chain yourselves to the painting desk for Curt's painting challenge.

1. Best played when painting but play anywhere!
2. Any M&M episode will do.
3. Some phrases or events appear on the Bingo grid more than once, but you can only cross off a box once each time you hear it.
4. Using a brush loaded with paint to cross off the grid allows you to cross off one extra bonus box of your choice on the main grid each game.
5. Claim a Tactical Victory by finishing a complete line in any direction.
6. Full Strategic Victory is won by completing the whole grid.
7. Wildcard! events can replace any other box on the grid.
8. Be careful not to knock over your water jar when leaping up to yell 'BINGO!!'

Please feel free to share it around! Tell us how you get on with different episodes. Are there any where you can't score at least a tactical victory?

Whether you play the game or not, Meeples is a great podcast to listen to while painting, and I would like to thank Neil for the huge amount of work he puts into producing it. Indeed, it is my go-to podcast.

Moving rapidly on....

Friday, November 22, 2013

This Week in the Duchy

Phew! It is nearly the end of the school year, and as always the insane busyness ramps up a few notches. It has been a big week, partly caused by trying to cram in as much gaming time with Cap'n Paul before he relocates to Canberra in a couple of weeks. At the moment it is all smiles and bonhomie, but we are also starting to gear up for ruthless competition in Curt's Painting Challenge. Paul has kindly offered to make a trophy for our side wager in Curt's challenge, so stay tuned. So far he is doing a good job of intimidating me by explaining at length how he has drawn up spread sheets to track his figure painting progress. Roll on December 15.

Last night Paul and I went on an adventure to visit Ian of War and Peace Games fame. Not only did Ian cook up a fantastic bolognaise for us, but we got to explore his warehouse where he keeps his stock. Nerdvana. I'm sure the puddles of drool are still there, and Paul had to be physically restrained from throwing himself bodily at all the Bolt Action goodness, while I only just managed to ignore the siren call of the wall of SAGA lead. Fortunately I spent a lot of money a couple of weeks back on some terrain, otherwise I would have run seriously amok. I was seduced by one shiny thing though, the brand new Fall of the Reich supplement to Battle Group Kursk. There they were in a big lovely heap, smelling of new book. I'm only flesh and blood.

Paul sharing my excitement about Battlegroup: Fall of the Reich

Battle Group Kursk was the main reason for our visit in the first place. We had been planning to pay Ian a visit for a while, and since he had never played BGK, and Paul had only had one quick game, the plan was for me to run through a game with them.

I put together a couple of 500 point battle groups, with Ian and Paul paying the Germans. I decided to keep it simple, so didn't include any indirect fire. Instead, we basically played a tank-heavy meeting encounter, with my company of T-34s and an SU-122 against four Pz IV Hs and a Tiger, supported by a platoon of infantry each and a few other bits and bobs.

The game was great fun. Each side gradually got their units on to the table, with the Germans getting into some good ambush positions while I built up enough of a mass of Soviet armour to launch them across the board. When I finally unleashed them they scared Ian and Paul a lot, as they suddenly had to contend with T-34s rapidly closing to point blank range. The game see sawed a bit, with Paul rolling more 1s than is mathematically possible, then pulling out two double 6s in a row, the swine. Meanwhile, Ian had uncanny luck drawing battle counters as I pinned or knocked out his units, managing to draw a series of the 'special event' chits that left one of my T-34s immobilised and another blown up by a mine. Then, in a single turn Paul managed to brew up 4 of my tanks, and it was all over apart from the gloating. Ooooh I love BGK. Such a fun game.

Yeah, yeah

My only modelling project this week was completing a set of trophies for school, which appear at the top of this post. In order to cement the History Department's reputation for eccentricity, every year we run the 'Golden Gobbet' competition, a gobbet being an unfamiliar historical source that the boys have to try to analyse and relate to their existing knowledge. I get the trophies made up and adorn each with a different armoured vehicle each year, since the competition is held with the boys doing a unit on the Eastern Font in WWII. This year I painted up some 20mm StuGs as trophies, which the Headmaster presented in Assembly today. I even got him to correctly describe them as self-propelled guns rather than tanks. What a lucky Dux I am to have a job where I can do stuff like that!

Monday, November 18, 2013

I'm so in!

It's time to bite the bullet and enter Curt's painting competition I've set myself the goal of 500 points, which after a fairly unproductive year should get me back on track with reducing the lead pile. Although let's face it, I'll just buy more figures specially for the painting comp. Don't tell the Duchess.

To make it more interesting, and at the risk of turning out like Ray and Fran, I've challenged Man Cave Paul to a duel. He's down for 500 points as well, but let's see who can paint the most. We've decided to put a wager on it, but haven't decided on the stakes.

We're open to suggestions.....

Sunday, November 17, 2013

SAGA - Pagan Rus vs. Byzantines

Had a terrific game of SAGA at the school club last week, pitting my Pagan Rus against some hapless Byzantines. The Byzantines were defending village in the 'Homeland' scenario. I decided not to muck about and used a unit of 12 hearth guard with a war banner to steamroll across the table. It was one of those games that just sticks in your memory as being great fun.

The Duchess has been monopolising the computer doing less important things like studying for an exam, so I don't have time to write up a proper AAR. But just to record a fun game, here are some pics:

String defeat in the face, the Byzantines attempt to deploy miniscule German armour, but to no avail...

Monday, November 11, 2013

First Game of Bolt Action

Last Wednesday night I was lucky enough to have Man Cave Paul and Ian from War and Peace Games come over to the Duchy for a game of Bolt Action. Paul and I had never played before, so Ian was kind enough to talk us through a demo game using my Brits and his Germans on Ian's lovely terrain.

Before getting started we had a great dinner of roast beast, courtesy of the Duchess, along with a great bottle of French white wine Paul brought along. This was a bottle with a history, being sent over to his ship (HMAS Newcastle) by the captain of FS Somme, a French tanker, during a Replenishment at Sea off Somalia.

'Arrr. If only it be rum.'

Paul wrote up an AAR of our game, in which he was kind enough not to gloat at the drubbing he inflicted on my Brits. Take it away Paul:

Late War Brits attacked a small German held village, somewhere in Western Europe...

Alan's Brits had:

Entering from the left:
1st LT
2 10 man Inf Squads with Bren Gun
1 FO
1 6pdr AT gun
1 light mortar

Entering from the right:
1 vet para Squad with Bren
1 vet PIAT
1 medic
1 Centaur (proxied by my Churchill

Paul's Germans had
3 x 5 man squads, each with MG42, MP40, AR and 2 Riflemen
1 x 3 man tripod mounted MG42 team

1 sniper team
2 special figs the Brits wanted - 1 to kill, 1 to capture

I was in a line deployment, starting hidden
Left - MMG team and 1 squad in buildings

Centre - 1 squad and 1 special fig, sniper in church tower (compulsory spot!)
Right - 1 Squad in Building
Pz III in light woods next to building

Alan's pre game bombardment was effective so I started with a bunch of pins on squads. On the right the Brit Paras got bogged down across the road from the building the Jerries occupied and they got hosed by that squad and the PZIII's MGs turn after turn until there was only 3 men left with 6 pins on them. In return the Centaur blasted the building and killed the squad, which was then heroically defended solely by the German Officer - give that man an Iron Cross!

On the Left the German MMG team was suffering from the pins and the British inf sections moved up nicely using cover. As soon as they broke cover to rush the building the Germans on that flank passed all their tests and in a withering crossfire whittled the lead section down to 3 men in a single turn. The second Brit supporting section then wiped out the German MMG team before they could relocate. The German squad then focused on the Brit 6pdr, which was taking ineffective long range shots over the whole length of the table at the Pz IIIs flank, and wiped it out.

The German sniper in the church tower didn't get any spectacular successes, but removed a few figs and added a lot of pins. This rattled the Brits so their FO brought down a barrage onto the building. Lots of pins, no KIA.

As we ran out of time, the Centaur tried to rush forward but was caught by the Pz III which took an effective flanking shot, set the British tank on fire and its crew bailed out. The British infantry on the left were poised to try and rush the Church with their last Squad (minus 2 figs, incl the Bren), while the Germans still had 2 full 5 man teams, the sniper and a Pz III. Brits conceded at that point.

Brits Lost- Piat, Mortar, 6 pdr, Centaur (and lots of Inf but no full squads). Germans Lost- MMG team and 1 Infantry Squad.

A fun game indeed. Alan and I both found the Bolt Action system easy to pick up, and quick to play. A few abstractions were curious but reult in fast play and I loved the alternate activation system which has both players involved in the games the whole time.

Thanks Paul, I'll take it from here. Like Paul said, we had a great time. Bolt Action seems like a fun game to play with mates. I think I'm likely to engage more with Chain of Command (which I can't wait to play), but the great thing is that painting up a little force allows you to play both!

Typically, my Brits were hammered as it was their first outing, and I felt particularly bad about the lovely squad of Paras Tamsin painted for me, who charged into position behind a hedge and spent the rest of the game getting systematically shot up by every German in sight. Sorry Tamsin!

Thanks heaps to Paul for a great game, and particularly to Ian for being such a good teacher. Buy stuff from him - he 's an excellent bloke.

Dux actual out.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Project Kursk 26: The Volvos of the Wehrmacht

I really like Stugs. They're boxy, but good, like Volvos.

So this week I finished a box of 15mm PSC Stug IIIs. As always, they were a joy to build. Four of them are Stug IIIGs, with the fifth done up as a Sturmhaubitze IIIF.

And guess what I've noticed now that I've photographed them? Yep, I forgot to put the decals on.

Monday, November 4, 2013

OK, so I need some advice....


Here's the thing. I seem to have acquired a bunch of 6mm Baccus Napoleonics, and they are steadily clamouring for some attention.

The problem is that I am somewhat prone to leaping in to massive painting projects that take years, only to discover that I have committed myself to some scale/basing convention/rules system that nobody else uses or likes, and that even I find tiresome before I've ever finished painting an army. My current aspiration is to have a stab at doing up some 6mm Napoleonic armies before I am too senile to tell the difference between an Uhlan and a Landesknecht. At present I have the basis of a 1813 Austrian army and some French.

Ideally, I would like to base up my figures so that I can use them in Lasalle, Back Powder and anything else you good people suggest. For example, should I look into Polemos? Napoleon at War? I don't actually own Black Powder yet, not have I ever played a game, but people seem to like it. Will it work with 6mm?

I'm thinking that basing my units on 60 X 30mm bases will allow me to play any of these rules, perhaps even with the possibility of meeting somebody one day who has a similarly based army (!!) This is a big commitment in figures, for example meaning that one Austrian large Regiment of foot would be made up of 6 bases, each holding 24 figures, but I'm embracing the mass battle effect that 6mm offers.

So what do you think? Is this basing a good idea? Are there other rules it will work for that are worth considering? What do people play? I am of course aware that such topics have been discussed on TMP, and that I could post my questions there, but I usually try to avoid TMP because of all the angry people. Following threads about Napoleonic rules usually just makes me wish people weren't such dicks. Of course, there are lots of lovely helpful people as well, so no offence intended to them. By definition, if you are a follower of this humble blog you are obviously a person of taste and discernment, and full of gamerly bonhomie.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Project Kursk 25: Ahoy to Paul and some Tiger Tanks

It was great this week to catch up with Paul of the Man Cave, following his return from months of derring-do in charge of about a billion dollars worth of hardware and over 200 crew on the high seas. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, visit his excellent blog.

German beer, sausages, wargaming and a good friend. Happy days.

Over sausages and beer we talked for hours, and planned some games for the next few weeks. As Neil Shuck from Meeples and Miniatures would say, 'watch this space'. Paul was generous enough to bring me back a spiffy framed dagger from Jordan, which will have pride of place on the wall of my man cave. I'll post a pic when I put it up. Thanks Paul!

The cumulative effect of German beer: Unit attrition.

Meanwhile, the production lines for Battle Group Kursk continue to produce materiel. Strange as it may seem, I think I have been making models and wargaming for about 35 years, but I have never made a Tiger Tank. Well, I rectified that shameful state of affairs this week with a brace of 15mm early Tigers from Plastic Soldier Company. As always from PSC, these were lovely kits to put together, and should scare the boys at school quite a lot. Heh.

And finally, here's a little squad of Soviert tank riders, also from PSC.

Happy gaming!