Sunday, 25 January 2015

A Little Bit of Light Reading......

Wargamers, specifically figure gamers, as opposed to the couch potato crew, with their rapid digits and computerised gizmology.
You've gotta love us, we come in all shapes and sizes, with regards to how we approach our rather strange little hobby, grown men, playing with little toy soldiers, freaks, geeks, nerds, you name it we're called it!!
But, do you realise, that in amongst the hobby, there are some incredibly talented painters, and model makers, and, some incredibly intelligent writers, and thinkers.  We all take a different approach to our gaming hobby, for some folks, its the simple joy of turning up at a club night, or gathering a group of like minded mates together, setting up a table, deploying two armies, and throwing a few dice, its a chance to relax, have a laugh, and enjoy a bit of socialising with like minded mates.
For others, it can become an obession, you get transfixed on a particular period of history, or a famous general, or perhaps you just have to recreate Waterloo in 28mm ( Yes Chris Cope, I a looking at you here!!)
For me, its a mix of the two, I love to get together with the New Buckenham gang, after a stressful week at work, and just chill, throw some dice, and listen to the banter that does the rounds, but I have this obsession you see, that one particular dark period of a certain country's history, that still echoes on today, for me its..............

The Spanish Civil War 1936-39

Its a common misunderstanding, that this war was between the Fascists, and the Communists, and if you boil it down to that simple conclusion, then you are completely wrong. This war is so much more than that, and to try and understand its complexity requires a bit of reading.
You can of course, just paint up two opposing forces, and find a suitable set of rules, then get on with a game or two, or you could immerse yourself, and read, yes thats right read, and I am not talking about a google search, I mean real paper books.
As this blog is probably going to be very orientated towards this conflict over the course of this year, I thought hey why not throw a few options onto the table, for folks to have  a look at. Now the books I'm going to suggest, are not Ospreys, or a quick whip through the salient points, but more in-depth, and not all of them are dry military tomes either.

So, good starting point

Beevor's book is a great start, it covers the causes that build up to the conflict, the war itself, and the aftermath. Some people say it has a left-wing slant, but I did not feel that at all. This is the one book in my collection, that gets referred back to on a number of occasions.
Ok, I will admit, its not an easy read, being a more scholarly and serious book, but it does cover the war in a great depth.

Ok, so there's a nice intro to the war itself, but what about the country? Good old Spain, favourite tourist destination for the Great British sun seeker, with its high rise hotels, endless beaches, and geared towards keeping us happy, a little taste of England on a foreign shore, where the sun burnt examples of your average moronic Brit abroad can be seen, shambling about looking for "egg and Chips" pointing at the beer taps in the "English Pub" shouting Oi Pedro Uno bigo beero poor favor. Sadly this tends to be the only taste of Spain that most of us have experienced, and it is so far removed from the reality. 
So here are three books, that will give you some idea about Spain, its people its customs and its turbulent history

All three books have been written by people, who have lived, and worked in Spain for a number of years, and if you are seriously interested in trying to understand the Spanish Civil War, then I whole heartedly recommend picking up these three books, and having a good read. Because Spain goes a whole lot deeper, and to understand what made a nation split itself in two, pick up guns, and kill each other, requires that you peel away the surface layers, the gloss that hides the ugly truth lying beneath, and get to the rotten heart of the subject.

I coud list a plethora of titles that are worth reading, and maybe along the way I shall touch on a few other titles worth looking into, but for now, start with Beevor, and I would say the Giles Tremlett book as a companion read

I would love to hear what other SCW gamers think on the subject.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

I have a Cunning Plan...........

So, projects, those ideas that randomly pop into ones head, usually after you have been to New Buckenham Historical Wargamers  (please feell free to pop over and like us), or when you have been perusing the selection of forums and blogs that we all seem to have bookmarked in our favourites folders.

Well I have narrowed my choices, down to just two, yes really just the two!!
Both projects have littered my desk at various stages over the past few years, and as I am now at the stage, where hobby spending is very limited, I have to tighten my belt, and concentrate on the things I have the most stuff for.

2015, will be the year of Pyrrhus, I have the best part of a Basic Impetus in 28mm nearly finished, and that little project has its own shiny little blog
This one has trundled along, jumping on and off the desk, when it should have been done, and dusted about, ooohhhhh about 2 years ago!!

The other project, my long suffering Spanish Civil War in 28mm, once again. Been backwards, and forwards with this one, and have left it stuffed in a box, under the desk on a number of occasions, so now its time to show it the love and respect it deserves.

This time round, I will update the two blogs, on a regular basis, and may even include some "shock,Horror" VIDEOS of me, doing things, you know flocking, scratching, a bit of converting.

So here goes

2015,  GAME ON

Sunday, 11 January 2015

2015- And So It Begins

New year, new resolutions, or so they say.
I never make resolutions, I cannot stand the crushing disappointment, when after two weeks of trying, it all goes to bits, so, I make plans instead, elaborate, in depth, grandiose, and suffer the same crushing disappointment when they don't reach their dizzying heights, but its fun trying :-)
   I am always harping on, about my grand Spanish Civl War scheme, the impressive game that will appear at a show near you, one day soon. Well this time round I have scaled down the operation, and instead have decided to complete a couple of forces for this, so what follows will be a series of postings abut the journey, to put together the two starting forces.

For those of you in the know, so to speak, "Chain of Command" are a WW2 based platoon level set of rules, from the TooFatLardies, an organisation which seems to be the Marmite of wargaming, you either love what they do, or hate them, as I am putting together forces for the rules, you can obviously see, I am a Marmite fan!! I like what they do, I find the rules a refreshing breath of fresh air, that I find is sorely needed in gaming circles. The people behind the rules are very supportive, and any questions are answered through their active Yahoo group, or through their own forum, they also have some very good instructional videos on YouTube, running through the rules, so you can see them in action.
Chain of Command Espana, is a series of articles from Rolf Grien and Jim Hales, that enable you to build forces for the Spanish Civil War, and pit them against each other using the CofC rules, with the added bonus, that they are FREE, yes, all you need is a set of CofC rules, then get your butt over to here 

and grab all the bits you need, now how generous is that!!!
Jim, and Rolf have done a fantastic job with these additional rules, and they are an excellent starting point, for gamers to enjoy platoon level SCW games, in fact, you really don't need to do anything else, as they are quite comprehensive. I will of course, add my own touch, because I'm a tosser like that, and just have to tinker, and will include any little bits I have added on here.
So there's the basics, now lets start building the first force

Moroccan Regulares

If you want to play along at home, you will need to pop over to here

and download the PDF
So lets get cracking

Dodgy looking bunch? they certainly are, and  rightly feared by the Spanish people , the Regulares came across as part of the Army of Africa, well trained, ruthless and efficiently deadly, they proved to be a very important asset for the Nationalist army. I will cover organisation and tactics in future articles, as this first little taster, is just around collecting some suitable figures, for the game.

Right kids, get that PDF I mentioned earlier, and lets have a dekko at the starting force required, to build ourselves a Moroccan platoon for CofC

Basic starting point, and we are going to require
4 command type figs, two LMG teams, and 34 Regulares with rifles etc
So far I have

Hmmmmm, not enough for even a basic platoon :-(
Not too far short though, which is good, so just a few additions to make up the numbers. Now most of my boys are from the good old days, when I ran Anglian Miniatures, and these lovely figures are part of the Empress Miniatures range, a great starting point for any budding SCW gamer.
I have a handful of conversions, using Artisan Goumiers, with suitable headswaps using Turban and Fez heads from Empress.
Of course I will want to add some more, I would use more Empress figures, but I like a challenge, and a bit of variety in my units, so its off a surfing I went, to find some more suitable figures (victims) to add to the force
Northstar Miniatures have Moroccans, they also have some of  the worst pictures around,

I cannot tell if the figures are nice, or horrible, but they look useable, so I shall get a pack.
Artizan have some stuff in their March or Die range, which may suit purpose

I can get away with these boys too, and no headswaps required here.
These two packs will make up the numbers, and give me a few extras to "experiment" with.

Basics, sorted, well sort of sorted, I will have to scratch a M22 Hotchkiss LMG to give to one figure, so i get the two required LMG teams, easy peasy really.

Now part of the fun with CofC, is the chance to add some support units to your force, so back to the PDF and. lets play about

Loads of cool stuff to pick from, of course its not a simple matter of "ooohhhhhh I'll have one of them, and one of them, and four of those" and I won't get into support choices, and how they work right now.

Some of these support options need litle more than a note on your force organisation, to say they have them, but others, well they will require a bit of lateral thinking, and a lot of lovely converting to get sorted.
Now I have a few of these options already, but want to add a few little bits of my own creativity to my force, and here is what I have planned.

On the left, "The Caid", he is simply an old Anglian/Empress figure I had laying about, I married him up with an eBob horse, and will add some more horse funiture to give him a more exotic look.
Next man along, the loader from the LMG team, the ammo will get removed, and replaced with a rifle, hey presto, instant sniper,  the third figure, well he is an old Mongrel Minis Afghan, he of course will lose his AK47, and instead will have an open hand to replace it, lying next to him, will be a wounded figure (conversion) and he will act as the medic, signalling for a stretcher team to come over to collect the wounded man.
A couple of the rifle armed figures will get scratchbuilt V-B launchers added

A little bit of brass tubing will suffice for this.
and lastly, well I want some Mounted Moroccan scouts, and this is proving to be a bit difficult
My solution? I am going to use these!!! From Footsore Miniatures, mounted BUF.

Yes, seriously, they will of course get executed, and have some suitably Moroccan looking heads added, and I will mess about with the rifles, and horse furniture, but I think they will look ok.

So, there we go, the build up begins, and next time, we shall have a look at uniforms, and a bit of advice on the paints to use.

until next time, keep painting 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Guess What? .............28mm is Not a Scale!!

Seriously, its not, and I am being perfectly honest here.
28mm, this is 28 millimetres, or 2.8 centimetres, odd as it may seem, this is a measurement depicted in the decimal, where 10millimetres make up one centimetre, and 100 centimetres equal one metre. Scale you see, is normally depicted as a percentage, or a fraction, where you reduce the original, down by the percentage, or fraction, to give you a scale, so where you see 1/72nd as a scale, what this tells you is 1  scale inch = 72 real inches, if its depicted as 50%, then its the original size divided by two.
Now, lets get picky, because picky is the theme for 2015 ( Happy New Year BTW)
gaming figures, 28mm to the eye!!!! to the what? Oh yes, to the eye, because thats the way we measure the height of a person, Hmmmmmmm not when I was measured at the hospital last year, they seemed to think that height meant measuring me from the soles of my feet, to the top of my head, they even had this natty gadget to do that!! ( I'm 5ft11in)
So in reality 28mm figures, to the eye, or more like 30mm tall to the tops of their shiny little heads.

Unless of course, you have A sculpt by Mr Hicks ( on the right) then you do have 28mm, top of the head. The other chap is from Fenris, and he shows the 28mm to the eye quite well.

Now, lets confuse the issue, because you can also get "Heroic Scale" figures, WTF does this mean?, well it seems that heroic means taller than 28mm, perhaps up to 32mm, (TOTH) and muscular, in a body building, big fucker kinda way.

So, lets now go completely fucking mental,and look at scales, because my biggest bugbear, and its the scale modeller in me that makes me this way, is the fact that, no one has a clue what they are talking about when it comes to what scale works with 28mm, 30mm, 32mm Heroic, normal, whatever figures!!!!
Its 1/56th, no its 1/48th, no your are all wrong its O Gauge, no its 28mm scale. arrrrrrrrrrrrrrggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, FFS

Lets go here
Its a thingamabob, that calculates scales, ohhhhh how handy.

so we chuck in 72inches, thats 6ft in real life, and the scale comes out at 1/65th, for a 28mm height,

So. lets try 1/56th scale

Hmmmmm, 32.6mm

Now, I have a very handy bit of desk top kit, a cutting mat, that has scale measurement rulers printed on it, and one of these just happens to be 1/48th, the scale that a lot of gamers tell me is the right one for 28mm figures.

oh look, my 28mm (TOTH) measures out at a tad under 5ft scale height, using the 1/48th ruler, bit of a shrimp then.

Now, lets use an Airfix 1/48th scale figure as comparison, he's a nice 6ft scale height, and a fair bit taller than his little mate.

Ahhhhhhhh, now we can cure this problem, because we can use...........A FUCKING SLOTTABASE
No NO NO NO NO NO, I don't care how often people tell me this is the right approach, bunging figures on a slottabase, then standing them next to a comparable vehicle, with no base at all, proves fuck all, apart from the fact that you are stupid

Look at this picture, the slottabase adds a scale 6 inches to the figure's height, and he creeps to just over 5ft, now how often do you go standing on a 6 inch block of wood, to compare your height to a vehicle? Strange as it sounds, you tend to be standing on the ground, unless of course you are into wearing stilleto heels.

So lets recap, 28mm is not a scale, its also not an accurate indicator of figure height, if used in conjunction with the phrase 'to the eye"
1/56th is not the right scale, neither is 1/48th, if you apply an element of scale modelling common sense, then the correct scale is


Of course, all of this is academic, as the gaming figures we use, are not in scale, in  fact the only thing we can use to calculate the scale, is the quoted figure height, converted to the relevant scale. Figures are varying in scale, from heads, to hands, to heft, to height, there is nothing consistent about them at all

So after all of this ranting, what is the conclusion?


Dear god, no wonder us plasticard scale model butchers despair

Until next time folks.