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 what to get involved with and I've avoided any strenuous physical activity like painting figures and making terrain bits and, God forbid, actually gaming. I can't tell an absolute lie because I have been dabbling with new rule sets, but nothing too dramatic. OK, I do a little painting too, but nothing too demanding.

Over the past year or so, or maybe longer, I've bought a few sets of rules for various periods. Some, I thought were necessary updates for existing sets I own/use and others were spur of the moment buys which have joined the 'Hmmmm' pile which is the collection of rule books you thought were going to lead you to wargaming utopia; those which seemed to offer a new approach; those which seduced you with a properly orchestrated propaganda campaign, those dripping with eye candy; those accompanied by a new range of figures which generated a wave of mass hysteria; those which claim to be updates or new editions, but which aren't really; those new editions which are such a radical change they bear little resemblance to the original; those for historical periods you really want to wargame, but you haven't got the time or money yet; those which you've always coveted, but have no practical way of using: the qualifications for this pile are endless.

Necessary new editions included the brigade level Fire & Fury II which tidied up the original set and provided a replacement for my now tatty old version. These rules have a good few critics, but I've been a fan since I got the original edition years ago and I just like'em. I also bought the new version of Beneath the Lily Banners which is still a good set of rules, but seems to be slipping into the pit of 'more money spinning supplements'. We're covered for King James' Irish Wars, but the really meaty stuff in Europe has to wait for supplements. Well, we'll see.

The big event of the Autumn is the release of Black Powder II, which you don't really need unless you're a big fan and want to follow the thread. I watched Rick Priestly's interview about the new set and he was very honest. He explained what the changes were and how he went about incorporating them into the rules. So, anyone with a modicum of common dog can get stuck in and update their own set, especially as the original PDF was offered free a few weeks ago on the Warlord Games website. Given the pedigree of this outfit, I'm amazed at the open approach and a sales pitch based on the premise that you don't really need them to continue playing and use the supplements. Good on them, I say.

An example of what I think of as the more common approach is the saga of the Konigkrieg rules which were originally a really nice set of rules dating back to the 70's, originally published in the UK by Freikorps and later by Outland Games. Nice, simple, but subtle set of rules which were among the last of the stapled photocopy/printed style. Bags of character, but not too high on the survivability table unless you split them up and bunged the pages in plastic wallets. I'm on my fourth set, the original having gone beyond repair and the two interim copies having disappeared, one after another. However, in the meantime, the rules were bought up by an Australian outfit (the rules are, apparently, popular over there), sexed up with lots of eye candy, puffed out with lots of examples of play (because we're apparently thick), bunged in a posh cover and banged out at a healthy (for them) price. I understand they're now about to publish another revamp which will involve seven or so volumes. Not for me, thanks.

Anyway, as it seems few people can read without pictures too, here're a few:

A post already and it's only January!

Tried to get a last one in before 2017 ended and the world went to pot again, but I've managed to keep up my batting average and missed it completely. Nothing that exciting to report, but I have been quietly plodding along, knocking out old stuff that should've been finished (or started) long ago. Still, the real world things that kept me diverted last year (and before, if I'm honest) have now subsided, but the leprosy returned during the late summer/autumn (back on the tablets now, thank God) and that didn't do much for hobby effort or morale. 

Back on track now though and, as Christmas and New Year are out of the way, it ought to be a Montgomery style advance, but on a broad front with lots of distractions.

Since the previous post, my butterfly approach has served to divert my attention in all sorts of ways. As a sort of side order while I was painting other stuff, I decided to start experimenting with colours and techniques for the landsknechts I've accumulated. I'd like to have said collected or maybe gathered as part of a project, but accumulated seems to be nearer the mark. I decided to pick a few metal ones at random and try colour combinations for the hell of it. I didn't want to paint up a batch of peacocks and aimed to rein in the impulse to include every colour I could lay my hands on by sticking as closely as possible to the colour scheme of the other figures I was painting at the time, but, as you can see below, I failed. The three figures are all Foundry and they paint up well enough, (though I'm not over the moon with them and Young Henry immediately spotted the one with the squint!) but I think the new plastic Warlord figures will turn out better. Come to think of it, many of the other Foundry figures will be easier to paint and look better. It was just pot luck with the three I grabbed from the pile.

Regarding the Warlord range, I'm not sure how far they intend to take it. Since they acquired the plastic landsknechts the availability of 'Italian Wars friendly' figures has increased and there isn't anything like the shortage of suitable castings, generally easily mixed between ranges. All to the good.

This brings me to my Secret Santa gift from the mystery wargamer south of Watford. He/she very generously gave me some packs of the warlord metal landsknechts: various personality figures and officers and a lovely little light gun. I've gleefully nicked the photos below from the Warlord site and, to be honest, I can't see this lot hanging around too long before they fall victim to the paint brush. So, whoever my Secret Santa was, thank you very much.

Continuing the twin themes of gifts and acquisitions, I managed to cop for a decent haul of books this Christmas (and my birthday was in November, so some of those titles are included here), but I'm obviously only going to mention the military ones. I'm not going to do a review of each title because that would take pages of opinionated twaddle and I haven't read them all yet anyway.

Nevertheless, 'A Rumour of War' is certainly one of the best autobiographies I've read and will stand a lot more than one read. 'The Noise of Battle' is undoubtedly heavy going because it's packed with detail and gives much to think about, but it is, I think, essential reading not just for anyone interested in the final North West European campaigns, but for anyone interested in Second World War land campaigns in general. 'Lutzen and Bautzen' are my favourite battles from the latter end of the Napoleonoic Wars and this book is good, despite Nafzeiger's dull style. It's got the expected army lists and decent movement records, but it's a pretty cold fish. Forty years ago I'd have killed for it; now I'd probably just give someone a fat lip. Finally, Don Troiani - what more need I say?

The painting (and basing) table has seen some success with two projects making some headway. I'm now in the position of being able to hang up my 2” brush and get back to tiny tin men and the like. First off was the completion of the bases for three ECW Royalist foot regiments:

Lord Rivers' (Sir John Boys)

Earl of Derby's (James Stanley)

Thomas Tyldsley's

Just Lamplugh's to finish off and then onto the rest of the horse and the artillery. Not a big job really, but I'm also grinding out the Arnhem Paras and Germans which I'm on a promise of a set of games. They shouldn't take too long either because they're Peter pig and pretty easy to paint and the German armour (4xStugIIIG's and 4xPzkpfwIVH's) is already mostly done (and has been for a long time). The paras I've recently finished as a trial run have turned out quite well and the tanks look OK for wargames (just the crews to paint and a bit of touching up, but  I seem to have lost my knack of applying decals) so it's off with the rest of the set up and on with the games. Still not entirely sure which rules to use. The Battlegroup set are very good, but the old, slimmed down Firefly rules are decent enough too. As the original intention was to use the Firefly set with multiple figure bases and there's a temptation to actually get some 20mm stuff for the Battlegroup rules, I might do what I usually do and duplicate things (aaaaarrrrgggghhhh!). Anyway a poor photos of the 15mm stuff, equally badly painted:

And that's about it for an update to begin 2018. I'll try to make more of an effort for the coming year, but don't expect podcasts and the like. There're a few things happening this year which will take up time and will probably be more interesting/demanding than wargaming.

Yes, it's been a long two years and much has happened. Not much to laugh about and a fair bit you'd want to forget, but that's ...