Thursday, 3 July 2014

More For Flames of War #2

It's been a quiet month on this blog, but it's been sunny and I've been enjoying myself outside a lot.  However that doesn't mean that I've got no hobby done, we've played some good games and I've painted a bunch of minis, I just haven't felt the urge to write about them for some reason.  Today I finally photographed the latest batch of minis for flames of war, as usual from a mix of companies, not just 'official' Battlefront ones.

Lets start with this British TOG 2* which I bought after seeing the real one at Bovington earlier in the year.  It's a true beast of a tank, ridiculously big and impractical, but I think fantastically cool, I'm rather proud of the camouflage paint job as well.  The TOG 2* wasn't used in combat and was an experimental tank which is included in the Mid-War Monsters book.  We're playing and collecting late war, but can't help adding a few of the nuts vehicles from this book into our games, just because we can really.

These are two infantry command stands to act as company HQ and 2inC stands for when I field a British infantry list.  I think that they're from the Italy range, but look generic enough to me to fill in for almost any formation.

Switching to the Germans now for these two armoured cars.  Here we have a Sd Kfz 223 (radio) from battlefront and a zvezda Sd Kfz 222 (2cm), I already have one of these cars so can now field a recon platoon.

The next four tanks came as a single lot off of ebay, the auction said they were made by 'peter pig' which isn't a company that I'm familiar with, but they came at the right price and I now have four more tanks for my German force.  Starting with this Tiger, which is awesome just because it a Tiger.

The bulk of the lot were these Panzer IV's.  They're not the best minis ever and the side plating seems to be attached at a slightly off angle, but they will do their job.

Somehow this means I seem to have acquired a German army without particulary intending too.  If I take out the tiger I get a list coming in at just under 1500ptsusing the SS panzer division list from Atlantik Wall.  I've no idea if this is a reasonable list, but lots of tanks is fun.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Isle of Wight Costal Defenses - The Needles Batteries, Bembridge Fort & Others

In Victorian times the Isle of Wight (and the whole area around the Solent) was heavily fortified by the Palmerston Government.  This wasn't because they were that concerned with the island in itself, but it's capture would seriously endanger the Royal Navy's home base at Portsmouth.  The same logic of course applies to defending the entrances to the Solent and the Isle of Wight proved to be the ideal place to situate guns to do this.  On my recent trip to the island we couldn't help but visit several of the sites of these defences.

The first evidence of these defences were the sea forts in the Solent that I featured briefly in a previous post, a couple of days later though we made our first dedicated trip and this was to the New and Old Batteries at the Needles.

Entrance to the Needles old battery
The needles are of course THE iconic isle of wight location and there was no way we could go on holiday to the island and not visit them, however the more interesting part of the trip was the battery.  There is actually two battery's at the needles, the old battery and the new battery.  The old battery is nearly complete and overlooks the needles themselves.

The parade ground of the needles old battery

The site consists of a parade ground with one battery (originally 5 guns, now 2) which faces to the north to guard against any enemy ships attempting to enter the solent, an observation tower and a bunch of magazines and other buildings that the picture above was taken from on top of.  There used to be other buildings in the parade ground, the outlines of some of which can still be seen.  One of the coolest parts is a small tunnel that goes down from the parade ground to an searchlight post that overlooks the needles.  It's an interesting site, but a little pricey considering it's so small and that you have to pay for parking separately as the car park is owned by someone else, I'd still recommend it overall.

The Needles New Battery

Also at the needles site is the Needles New Battery, there is nowhere near as much to this site, a single large low concrete structure to hold the guns (all gone), however it's free to look at and in the basement there is an interesting exhibition on the British space program which used the area around the Needles as a test area for rockets.

Hurst castle & Fort Albert guarding the western approach to Portsmouth (click for a bigger image)

There were several observation huts around the Needles Old Battery and one of these gave this fantastic view of Hurst Castle on the mainland (my favourite castle to visit actually) and fort albert on the isle of wight.  So even if you got past the needles you were a long way from being able to hit Portsmouth.

The Entrance to Bembridge Fort.

The other major site we visited was the Bembridge Land Fort, this is owned by the national trust (like the Needles batteries actually) and isn't open properly to the public as its in rather a poor state and actually has a chemical factory in it, however once a week the NT do open up for guided behind the scenes tours at the price of £3.50.  If you have an interest in military history and are on the Isle of Wight I can't recommend this enough.  The fort is on top of Bembridge down, which is on the other side of the island to the Needles.  Whilst Bembridge mounted eight large guns these weren't for attacking ships but for controlling the area and the east coast of the Isle of wight, in the victorian era it acted as a command centre for all the batteries and forts along the east coast of the isle of wight and would have served as a last refuge if these costal defences were attacked and taken.

Caponier Outside and Inside
The guided tour takes you into the heart of the fort down dark tunnels and into basement magazines, there is still rubbish everywhere and on occasion you need to use a torch to see where you are going.  It's a very different way to see a historical site than the usual sanitized version.
Interior of Bembridge Fort

Bembridge was occupied in both world wars and was particularly busy in WW2 which saw all three services using the fort for various observation and training purposes.  after WW2 the fort was leased out to be used as a factory, some of the buildings you can see in the pic above.

Fort Victoria

If you managed to sail down the Solent past the Needles and then through the narrow gap defended by Hurst castle and fort Albert you would then have to get past the guns of Fort Victoria.  Nowadays only the casemates remain the rest of the building having been demolished.  The casemates now house a variety of 'attractions' including a planetarium, an aquarium and a tea-shop.  You can walk along the top of the casemates and this gives a great view along the Solent.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Deadzone - The Rebs

I've finished painting the third faction for Deadzone now, the Rebs, who are an alliance of rebels (but definitely not the rebel alliance) of various species who have rebelled against corporation rule.

This means you have a big mix of different models all with widely varying abilities, The Rebs are the faction of the specialist, pretty much everyone is good at what he/she does, but not very good at anything else.  You have to really concentrate on the mission whilst playing the game, it can be difficult to win with the Rebs, but I find it more rewarding when you do.  It also means you have a big variety of interesting minis a well, and although there are obvious influences from serenity/firefly, star wars and star trek amongst others they do tie together nicely into their own unique faction.  I've tried to tie my minis together as a faction by using a palate of browns and greys (unashamedly inspired by firefly) for the cloths and armour.  This also results in them looking a bit dark, dingy and grubby which I think suits the whole Rebel thing.

Rebel Commanders
There are two leaders available to the Rebs, these lovely ladies and a Yndij sergeant, I find myself using these most often as they combine reasonable leadership with a reasonable sniping ability.  I've painted them with different hair colour as well just for a bit of variety.

Kraaw warriors and Judwan Medics
Two specialists, the flexible Kraaw (glide and one of those pesky blast weapons) and the Judwan medic, which so far I've found overpriced.  The Judwan are pacifists and won't attack at all, and I normally find that once someone gets injured it's rare you have a chance to heal them before they get killed.

Survey Drones


Rebel Human Troopers
The grunts of the reb force, not very good, but at least they are cheap.  The drones and Yndij at least have their uses, anyone know how to pronounce Yndij?

Grogans with Onslaught Cannons & Desolators
Grogans carry the heavy weapons for the Rebs, the blaze away onslaught cannons and the anti-armour desolators.  They're not the best shots, but usefully can move and shoot and hence aim and shoot.  So far I've found the blaze away option to be the best of the two, but that might change when the light vehicles appear in the game in the summer.

Rebel Soraks
These are reminiscent of a certain pod racing alien and armed with an interesting blast weapon that rarely does any damage, but is infuriating to play against. 

Teraton Brawlers

To teraton or not to teraton that is normally the question when selecting a Reb force.  Teratons are nasty scary teleporting combat beasts, but they are expensive and I think ultimately slightly overpriced.  But having said that very little else in the Reb force will last long in combat with just about anything.  They are also simply fantastic minis.

Zee Scavengers

TK-Zero Weapons Team
I had a bit of an accident when building these, if you look closely at the sphyr loader on the left, you'll see his head is different from the one on the right.  That's because I managed to loose his head on the floor somewhere after what seemed like hours of fruitless searching I gave up and used a spare head from the dreadball asterians, luckily I didn't loose the 'hammerhead' part so in the end I don't think he looks too bad, honest.....

Dreadball Conversions
These last three minis were of course designed for deadzone, but I have inducted them into my rebel warband.  The Zee MVP Riller (in the middle) came with my deadzone package for the rescue the MVP scenario in the Nexus PSi campaiagn, I figured he could satnd in for a normal Zee as well.  The other two were also dreadball MVP's that came in the mantic crazy Christmas box, but as I already have copies of both for dreadball I have added guns and given them a grey paint scheme and they now take to the battlefield as a teraton brawler and a human trooper.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

The Liebster Award

Thanks to Red Dog of Dog of War for nominating me for the Liebster Award.  The Liebster Award is a sort of internet chain award which encourages bloggers to promote blogs they enjoy reading once they have been nominated for the award themselves.  It's not the sort of thing that I normally get involved with, but I was pleased to receive the nomination and giving a shout out to a few of my favourite blogs isn't a bad thing either.

The award comes with 11 questions as well, which I had answered, but blogger then somehow deleted and I'm afraid I haven't the heart to type it all out again so you will have to make do without.  I will however nominate a few of my favourite blogs and recommend that you give them a look.  In no particular order;

28mm Victorian Warfare

Admiral Drax

Breakthrough Assault

Sam's Minis World

Scott's Wargaming

The Marienburg Gazette

Sunday, 18 May 2014

A Quick Update: SWM SSB Collection Complete & Wayland Games vs Battlefront

It's been a very busy week since I got back from my holiday and I've managed to get almost zero hobby activity done in the mean time, however I still have a couple of bits I'd like to share with you.

Firstly I have a new addition to my Star Wars Miniature Starship Battles collection; which is this droid control ship shown above.  They are a key part of the separatist fleets and feature in the prequel film trilogy.  In the game they are a useful capital ship that make all your droid fighters better.  I wouldn't normally bother showing something like this off in a post, but as I mentioned when I talked about this game a couple of months ago, this was the only ship that I was missing from the game, which now means of course that my collection is complete!  Which is a surprisingly good feeling.  All the playing of X-wing recently has made me want to have another go at playing a few games of starship battles as well, and you never know one day I might make my intended victory at sea mod for these cool Star Wars ships.

Next up are some new minis that I've bought for flames of war, a British TOG 2 experimental heavy tank, a German armoured car and a couple of command stands.  I initially ordered these from Wayland Games some time before I went away and when I got back from holiday and still hadn't received them I emailed Wayland to see what was going on.  They stated that I'd misunderstood their 3-9 days dispatch on the products was a guideline only and sometimes it takes longer, fair enough to a degree but rather annoying.  I then checked the products and the TOG 2 was now showing as unavailable, which would imply they weren't even sure if they were going to get any more!  What annoyed me is that at this point they hadn't bothered to contact me to explain the delay or problem.  I wonder how long they would have sat on my money not fulfilling my order if I hadn't contacted them.  Anyway I did get my money back and placed the same order from battlefront (at admittedly higher standard RRP prices) and it arrived 2 days later.  I will definitely be wary of ordering from Wayland again after this.

And finally it's been nearly free Lego week this week if you buy the daily mail (all quickly sent to be recycled) in WH Smiths.  Whilst it's not really relevant to this blog as such I really like the style of Lego and especially when they turn already cool stuff (like Star Wars or Lord of the Rings) into Lego my inner geek can't get enough of it.  The highlights from this little collection are definitely the two Star Wars ships and the Spiderman Minifig, although I can't say I'm too impressed with Spideys glider thingy.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Thumbs Up To The Isle Of Wight

I've been away on holiday for the last week in my first ever trip to the Isle of Wight.  It's a fantastic place and we had a great time.  The holiday was split pretty much half and half between history and natural history, and there will be a couple of posts in the next few weeks focusing on some of the military history sites I visited and can recommend.

The Hoy Monument raised to commemorate The visit of tsar Alexander to Britain in 1814, later inscribed with a dedication to those that fought at Innkerman in the Crimean war.

Before we even got on the ferry we had a couple of hours to take a walk around Portsmouth (where I've been before) and as well as taking a look at the Warrior and Victory, HMS Illustrious and HMS Defender were in dock.

HMS Warrior
HMS Illustrious
HMS Defender

We then took a walk round the old walled city including the square and round towers that formed part of the defences of Portsmouth harbour.  It's a really interesting place for a walk and there are a lot of old (and current of course, but they don't let you look at them!) military sites in the immediate area.  I thought the sea forts out in the solent looked particulary cool.

The Round & Square Towers defending Portsmouth
Sea forts In The Solent

All that was before we'd even got on the ferry and started the holiday properly!

I even came home with a few new toys, a silly cheap plastic Mig kit from grafix and a set of Tudor pewter figures (bought at Carisbrooke castle).  I've been collecting those pewter figures they sell at historic sites since I was about 5 and have a quite large collection now (see below), it's normally the same 5 romans and 5 knights at every site that they've been making my entire life, it was nice to be able to add something slightly different.  The Tudors came with a basic little board game as well, we didn't get a chance to play it, but it looked like it would be playable if not overly engrossing.

New toys
Pewter Tudors
Yes, yet another collection of toy soldiers!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Flames of War - Overwhelmed By Overlord & Atlantik Wall

As anyone who pops by here regularly will know I've recently been painting a lot of tanks and other minis for flames of war.  I've played several small battles and have been expanding my mini collection in a quite random way.  I decided it was time for a bit of structure and managed to get the 'Overlord' and 'Atlantik Wall' sourcebooks on the Normandy invasion from ebay at a good price (£30 for the pair, when normal RRP is £30 each).

I was expecting something akin to a 40K codex book (which retail at the same price), but boy was I wrong!  Whilst these have the same RRP as a GW codex they completely blow them out of the water in sheer size of book and quantity of content.  The quality is pretty amazing too, each book contains many, many lists representing all the different formations that fought in the campaign as well as loads of historical detail on the formations and a whole bunch of historical figures that fought in Normandy.  The books are hardback, have a bigger footprint than a GW codex and come with a much more substantial page count (240 for Atlantik Wall and over 300 for Overlord).

The problem is it's almost too much information, I really don't know where to start.  It's difficult enough trying to find formations that work with what I've got, let alone thinking about future additions.  I can see why it's done this way, but part of me wants an all singing all dancing 40K style list which isn't based on any particular historical formation.  Hopefully a bit of time and a lot of flicking through will help me make sense of it all.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

From The Painting Table #12

Here we go again with another collection of newly painted minis for your perusal.

Starting with this classic Dwarf Lord min for Warhammer fantasy.  Covered in Runic Gromril armour this is one tough cookie.

Next up we have these three objective markers to use with my 40K space marine army.  I believe they were originally from the 3rd ed boxed set, although I got these with some other bits off ebay.  The little side coils were painted with boltgun metal, like the rest of the piece and the given a thin coat of blue wash, it's not something that I've tried before, and I'm quite pleased with the final effect.

Moving away from GW and to Mantic games now and another merc for deadzone.  This time the kickstarter exclusive Project Oberon.  Project Oberon belong to the species 'the nameless' who are among my favourite races in the warpath universe, hopefully we'll see a few more of them in deadzone at some point.

Onto flames of war now with this Soviet T34/85 obr 1943 from Battlefront.

And finally this German Sd.Kfz.22 armoured car from Zvezda's art of tactics range that I will also use for flames of war.  I've bought a few kits from the art of tactics range over the last few months and although this is the smallest of those it was also the biggest pain to build.  This was clearly due to the difficulties due to the shape of the vehicle, but I wouldn't advise just 'snap-fitting' this together like they suggest is possible.  With a little work however you can get a good result out of this cheap little kit.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

A Quick Board Game Review - Temple Run Danger Chase

A while back now I made another one of my impulse purchases from The Works, this time coming away with the board game Temple Run, which is based on the popular app for phones/tablets.  I was addicted to the 'temple run 2' app for a while and when I saw this at the bargain price of £4.99 I couldn't resist giving it a go.  That was around 6 months ago, last weekend we finally played a couple of games.

Gameplay is rather simple and your aim is to be the last runner standing and get the other players eaten by the evil monkey daemon who runs after you.  On your turn you first hit the timer and then roll the five dice, this dice will either show a monkey symbol, one or two people or be blank, apart from the monkey symbol any dice may be re-rolled as many times as you like until you either hit the timer, or the monkey screams via the timer.  You then either move to the back of the pack (if you left it to long and heard the monkey) or move forward the total number of people you rolled, any monkey symbols move the monkey forward and closer to the runners.  The dice mechanism is similar to the one in travel risk and works well, I'm not normally a fan of electronic timers, but in this case it adds to the tension without becoming overbearing. 

Apart from that there's only a couple of other features, first you have to be aware of the obstacles in the path ahead as if you hit one that's instant death!  There are some power-ups to collect which can help you get further along, avoid getting killed by an obstacle or steal a power-up from an opponent.  The board is also never ending and simply recycles round.

It's quick as well, our games were taking 15-20 mins to complete.  If (when) you do get eaten by the monkey on your turn you get to roll the dice once to see if you can get the monkey to move forward, this has the effect of speeding up the game as more players die, which is good as nobody likes waiting around for a game to finish after you've been killed.

The components are of OK quality, but aren't great, this is a cheap game, and it shows.  Having said that all the bits do their jobs fine and having high quality components would raise the price to the point were it wouldn't be worth it for the level of gameplay included.

In conclusion, this is actually a pretty good light hearted game suitable for all ages and levels of gaming immersement, it won't keep you occupied all afternoon, but will provide a bit of quick fun.  Recommended at discount price even if probably not at full retail.
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