Coming out - sort of . . . .

Lee Hadley raised a point on his blog (he raised a few actually) about the anonymity of blog authors/owners. As I said at the time, I adopted a pseudonym when I began this blog because it appeared to be the thing to do. I'm not ashamed of my hobby or embarrassed about it, but I readily accept that some gamers/painters feel more comfortable with a degree of confidentiality because of other constraints.

So, I've dropped the Crazy Joe title and 'come out'. Yes Mum, it's me! (Actually my mother died 33 years ago, so that was just for comic effect.)  I'm Gary Amos and I live in Stretford, Manchester. I'm afraid that's as interesting as it gets. I don't have a criminal record or anything, but there's a Maltese policeman who won't forget New Year's Eve 1974 in a hurry!

Strangely, my name has disappeared from the front page of the blog, but it is proudly displayed on the profile. Why? I have no idea. Anyway, nice to meet you.

I bet he upsets somebody this time . . . .

O.K., the world's second most absent minded blogger here. I say second as, in life, there's always room for doubt and there could be someone worse. I've just read this through and, if you're a bit sensitive, have any shred of empathy or still have a couple of friends left, don't read the bit at the end on podcasts . . . .

I've bought a few books lately (I'm always buying books – see below) and I thought I'd mention a couple that are actually wargames related. The first is 'Wargaming Nineteenth Century Europe' by Neil Thomas (currently £12.79 on Amazon).

This was an impulse buy (at nearly thirteen quid!?!) and I've really enjoyed it. It's not one I'd part with just yet despite what seems like an over compensation by the author for criticisms of his previous wargame books. It includes a reasonable potted history and some (debatable) premises for what are in fact a decent set of Feathersone style rules supported by quite broad ranging army guides. I say guides, not lists because that's what they are. There're no WRG style catechisms here, but rather a series of guidelines for players to build armies with a particular flavour. Worth it? Yes, for both the experienced gamer who's after a different view of rules and/or the period in question and also for anyone new to the period who wants a decent sampler without too much outlay on armies or complex rules. The rules are more subtle than they may seem at first, so don't crash into them and start changing things.

The other book is 'Building Wargame Terrain' by Tony Harwood of the Dampf'sModelling Page (£16 plus £4 postage for the UK).

I've been building (and ditching) my own stuff for years so I didn't expect an epiphany and that's pretty much right. However, what I did get was a good insight into how another gamer/modeller approaches the task and his perspective on construction, particularly as he approaches it from more of a fantasy gaming aspect. I think it's a good read and a useful primer, but maybe a few more WIP photographs would have been useful. Having said that, it's pretty well illustrated and an attractive book and it's worth the price.

Now, last week I saw a documentary called 'Broken by Battle' on the Beeb (still on iPlayer) and, as I expected I would, I got a little exercised by it. That's a polite way of saying that I was spitting blood by the end of it. If anyone still believes the UK (or any) government's sincerity to keeping the covenant with its armed forces, this is another wake up call. The focus os on shell shock/battle fatigue/PTSD or whatever term you fell you want to use for the often pitiful condition in which war can leave people and the magnificent support provided for them (that's irony!). A physical wound is bad enough and even then veterans have to fight for support, but mental wounds are a gift to any authority looking for an easy way to abrogate its responsibility. Watch it and when you've calmed down give your MP a hard time about it. The worst thing they'll have to face is getting caught fiddling their expenses.

And relax . . . .

Right, I've got a germ of an idea and I think it's a good one. There have been so many blog give-aways recently that, as I haven't won a bloody thing, I'm thinking of having one myself. Of course, I still have to raid the loft yet to see what's what, but I think I might have more than one. I've been threatening to sort out the book pile for a couple of years now and the lead mountain could do with a pull through too. Not only is it a great way of shifting a load of old crap ;O) , but it's a way of doing somebody a bit of good. I want it to be different to the established routine of 'points for pimping' (God, how I hate that term) and be of benefit to people other than those who actually 'win' something in the competition. Something in the spirit of Andrew Saunders' 'Community Currency' idea. So, no rush: I've still got to ruminate over the 'how' before I can get to the 'when'.

A couple of my (too many) ongoing projects are, keeping it simple, the WSS and the ECW. While the WSS is a bit of a long stander for me, the ECW is a perennial that never seems to take the hint. The trouble is that the drivers for my gaming interests are from the historical viewpoint so they tend to stick around longer than the “Oooo, shiney!” impulses. So, as I'm still engaged in clearing the backlog of leads, the WSS figures came up for a coat of looking at.

The forces for this project are based on the Ebor range because I'm a fan of Paul Hicks' style and . . . . well that's it really. I like the Front Rank range too and they'll almost certainly make an appearance (there's a humble battalion of them already). So, this might set the more observant of you wondering why the following photographs are of Warfare Miniatures figures. Well, that's because it's me intit! I wanted some command bases to cover the European (mostly German) troops who will inevitably form part of the Allied forces, but also stand in for later sallies into Spanish and Italian forces. They're unlike to all be on the table at the same time, so a utilitarian approach seemed obvious. Although the Warfare range is a little early for me, I collared half a dozen 'generals' out of simple curiosity and to give variety because there's nothing worse than seeing the same figures painted up as different nationalities – a hang up of mine going back nearly half a century. And so, ladies and gentlemen, I offer for your delectation command bases of nondescript, totally fictional field officers:

Not james II and advisors (!?):

Not Patrick Sarsfield:

Not William of Orange:

A couple of points. The paint job is my 'get on with it' method of block painting/wash/highlight and the horses are a mix of oil wash and acrylic layering. The choice of commanders available from Warfare is quite good, but does include a couple of the usual suspects pointing at nothing in particular and looking puzzled. However, the King James II and Patrick Sarsfield figures are very nice and the William of Orange figure is sculpted in a classic C18th pose which is very much 'in period' as they say nowadays (whoever 'they' are). I'm afraid the horse poses are limited, but that's not too bad, though they are all unashamedly stallions so you'll have to decide how detailed you want to be. Personally, as I have to motivate myself to paint troops in the first place, I've no plans to sit around all night painting horses' dongs. Still, each to their own.

And so to the ECW (or however more accurately you wish to describe the conflicts). This is a reasonably limited project designed originally to use up survivors from an old foray into the wars. The plan is to do the two main English armies first and then the two Scots with standardised units of regiments of 24 foot and squadrons of 6 horse, letting the rules (still in the drafting stage) handle variations in pike/shot ratios etc. So far I've finished three squadrons of Royalist horse: Royalist because of the variety of figures at hand so I began with a less 'regimented' side (and I'm essentially a Parliamentarian so I can make any cock ups with the first units I complete!). The first two photographs are a mix of Renegade and Bicorne figures and the last all Bicorne:

Again, some points about the figures. Same painting procedure as with the command figures above, but these are very easy to paint. The cornets are all from Flags of War. The Bicorne range is a lovely set of figures, although the horse poses are limited and they have what I'm sure will become an annoying habit of putting one each of the charging/trotting/standing poses in each pack. Crackers.

While on paper the renegade range is very good value for money, the figures aren't generally as good as the Bicorne range and the horses (or at least those I had) were of the 'carve your own' variety. They may have been cheaper, but I didn't want to take on a part time job cleaning them up.

To come are three more squadrons of horse (one Bicorne and two Perry) and three regiments of foot, all decent Perry/Foundry combinations with a few head swaps. I've also got a few TAG figures and these are very nice. This will probably be the recipe for the future with units of Bicorne or Perry/Foundry/TAG mixes. However, when I get on to Montrose's troops, all bets are off and I'll draft in pretty much anything appropriate.

And on a final note: podcasts – what's the point? There's a quite famous podcast done by a chap who's been knocking around for a while now. There's obviously a personality in there somewhere, but he's certainly no David Dimbleby when it comes to broadcasting. He also offers a double act which sounds to me like a cross between Waldorf and Astoria and Smith and Jones. Cruel? Yeah, I suppose it is, but, if you intend to inflict your views on the unsuspecting wargaming public (and, let's face it, some of us need to have something inflicted on us), at least try to make a fist of it. Less “erm” and “ah” and try for some presence or whatever the media types call it. If you've got a voice best left to the written word and the reader's imagination then accept it. I thought I was being a bit hard on the bloke, so I listened to a couple of others, the last of which was this afternoon, and I fell asleep. They were reasonable enough, but packed with nostalgia and nods and winks.

I'm very willing to admit that it's just me as I've got a couple of mates who think podcasts are the absolute dog's, but I'm just bewildered. I know nobody is made to listen, but if anyone feels such a need to make a name for themselves in broadcasting, then there's always the tried and trusted first step of hospital radio.

A sort of interim thing.

Got back from a jolly to Venice a couple of  days ago, but  I shan't bore you with any of that. Stayed for a week, which is long enough to see the city, but not long enough to see the Veneto as well. That's for another expedition, I think.

Anyway, Tamsin (I win EVERY blog give-away) of 'Wargaming Girl' has given a heads up on an interesting blog by a chap who (he'll be disturbed to know) seems to be something of a kindred spirit. If you like your blogs a little different, idiosyncratic with a dash of humour and well written then stop reading this crap and nip over to 'Thoughts of a Depressive Diplomat'. While you're there, become a follower and give your support; not as an act of charity, but because we could do with more blogs like this - that's 'ToaDD', not this rubbish.

Right, that's it for the moment. I'm off for a bask in the sun and a read to be followed by some basing and then, this evening, some PAINTING!!!!!!! All you big tarts who're whining "The heat, the flies, the waiting; but most of all it's those damned drums!" had better take a powder for the foreseeable cos this warm spell's set to last for a little while yet. Blimey, if you can't paint have a read or go to the pub or watch the telly or something; the world will still turn.

I'll take some piccies of stuff and gather my thoughts for an onslaught tomorrow or whenever. So drink your limers and take your salt tablets and reflect on the irony that this time last year you were all moaning about the weather . . . . (It's great being a self righteous bastard and no mistake!)

And now a photo of my best mate who loves this weather cos you can stay out all the time and Grandad lets you do all sorts of daft things as long as  you don't try to throw deer poo at him:

Blimey, another one!

Big  Lee (this bloke here) has just had his millionth hit on his blog (he's got lots of relatives). To celebrate this, he's having a give away of a variety of stuff which indicates to me that he's a complete lead slut. There's a cross section of items which betrays a total lack of control at shows and he's obviously not safe to be let out unsupervised.

If you want to relieve him of some of this loot click here:

Another give away comp . . .

I'm doing this to support a decent chap. Kevin over at here is having a give away  to celebrate 30,000 hits on his blog (not 300 as rumoured). It's an otherwise very good blog so I shouldn't let this influence you. 

The prize is a set of gladiators which will excite some of you for the right reasons and others of you for all the wrong reasons. Anyway, here's a shot of the prize:

You can click on it for a link.

I don't give anything away, so why anyone should want to is beyond me. However, if you're into gladiators (in a nice way) this is the comp for you.

I won't present much in the way of competition as the last thing I won was a large pink teddy bear at a church disco in 1968. I did get amoebic dysentery in the Windies in '74, but I don't think that counts.

The Song of the Dodo

Yes, nice to see you too. Where have I been? Nowhere really, but I've been reading and ruminating and the like. Been cautious about wha...