Sunday, 28 June 2020

You wait 3 months for a game...

...and then 3 come along at once!

Like everyone my Lockdown gaming has been seriously curtailed and it's only been thanks to a friend and I playing some online games of Lock & Load Tactical that there has been any gaming at all.

As things have begun to relax in England (not necessarily wisely) I was invited over for a socially distant game in the garden with Anthony.  We had been going to play Men of Bronze but for technical reasons this had to be changed to something else.  Anthony chose Airfix Battles, the boardgame which came out a few years ago, but using 20mm figures in lieu of the counters.  I'd played this once when it first came out but it's pretty easy to pick up, using cards to activate squads... either to give them a basic action or something a bit more specialised.


The game was a real tussle as both sides came close to defeat and victory but a last ditch charge and assault by one of my sections clinched the victory.  It's a deceptively simple game but great for an afternoon or evening session.

Apologies for the glare on the photos but we were playing on the hottest day of the year and the sun was pretty fierce!

Back at home we played a game of Discworld: Ankh Morpork which is a really fun game...

Discworld: Ankh-Morpork | Board Game | BoardGameGeek

...and then at the weekend my son and I played the 1st game in the campaign of Imperial Assault, the Star Wars game by Fantasy Flight Games.  As I've played before and he hadn't I took the part of the Imperials which is always fun as it meant I get to throw all sorts of evilness at him.  I  almost managed to take out a couple of his heroes early on with a self-destructing probe droid but he realised what I was up to and managed to get out of the way.

I always find the scenarios in this game are well thought out and although they have tight turn limits and are quite demanding, they are all winnable by either side.  In the introductory scenario our heroes made it by the skin of their teeth, achieving the victory conditions on the last turn and receiving a lot of damage in the process.

Surely even Stormtroopers couldn't miss at this range??!  Of course they did!

Hopefully gaming is beginning to get back to some kind of (relative) normality for everyone and we can all get back to regular games soon.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Painting update...Light Horse for the North

It's been a busy few weeks here as we've been finishing off the decorating and my son has returned from Uni, hence no post for a month.  Normally he's back for a few weeks before he returns to the wilds of Cardiff but this time it's a permanent move as he has finished his final year.  It's very strange readjusting to having us all at home again although it's been great to have him back.  Of course he has returned with 4 years worth of stuff which we have to somehow fit into the house as well as clearing out all the things that we've dumped in his room while he was away!

This hasn't left a lot of time for painting but I have managed to complete my 1st unit of cavalry for the Wars of the Roses project.  These are a unit of light horse painted in Clifford's livery.  Most of my infantry are painted as Percy's troops and I wanted a bit of variety.  As Clifford and Percy are both northern lords and fought on the Lancastrian side (mainly), this seemed an obvious choice.

The flags and badges on the figures are all from Citadel 6 and I also have some more flags which I ordered from Pete's Flags

I've also painted up some Pavises to protect my Handgunners and Crossbowmen...the transfers for these came from Little Big Men Studios

I've started on the rest of Clifford's men with a unit of Bow and one of Bill and will finish them off with a unit of mounted men-at-arms.

Sadly there's no actual gaming to report yet apart from last night's game of Discworld, a really excellent boardgame.  As usual I lost badly but the game was great fun as always

I also picked up a copy of Tank Duel from GMT games which is an interesting game in which each player controls a single tank represented via a 'dashboard'.

Tank Duel: Enemy in The Crosshairs: Toys & Games

There isn't a board as such and it is all abstracted but the descriptions of the games sound very interesting and highly cinematic which I always like.  Games also don't go on for hours which is a key feature for me these days...I simply don't have the concentration or time to play marathon games like I used to.   I'll post more on this once it has had a proper outing.

Saturday, 23 May 2020

No painting but lots of reading!

Not a lot to report on the painting and gaming front not surprisingly, especially since I have been doing some 'proper' painting in the living room and dining room over the last 2 weeks.    It's amazing how much rubbish and tat we have acquired over the years so there has been a  massive clear out of stuff before we could get started and as our local recycling centre has very limited slots available that have to be pre-booked m back garden now looks like a scrapyard!  The painting is pretty much done now and I must admit it has been worth the stress and aches and pains to get it all done but I don't plan on doing any more for a while.

 Since I don't have anything game relates to report, I have taken inspiration from the excellent 'Thoughts of a Depressive Diplomatist' blog and thought I'd do an update on books I've read over the last few months.  Luckily I keep track of my reading on Goodreads so it wasn't too hard to track them down, so here goes...

Any Human Heart (Penguin Essentials): Boyd, William ...

The 1st book of the year was Any Human  Heart by William Boyd.
I've only recently discovered William Boyd but thoroughly enjoy his books.  He has an interesting knack of taking a fairly unlikeable central character and have you rooting for him by the end.  This follows the (fictional) life of a writer and art critic through the 20th century, tying him into historical figures and events. It's also worth looking out for The Ice Cream War (set in WW1 East Africa) and A Good Man in Africa, a darkly funny tale set in late-colonial Africa.

Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind: Yuval Noah ...

Sapiens:a Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
This is a fascinating walk through how homo sapiens became so dominant, exploring biology, anthropology, philosophy and economics.  Go and read it, it's great!

Frigates, Sloops & Brigs (Military Classics): James ...

Frigates , Sloops and Brigs by James  Henderson
I started reading this when I was painting up ships for Black Seas.  It's a very readable account of 'small ship' actions which I find more interesting than big fleet battles.  If you've been tempted by Napoleonic naval games this is well worth looking up.

Tarantula by Bob Dylan

Tarantula by Bob Dylan
A Christmas present from my son...I'm a huge Dylan fan and we both went to see him in concert in Hamburg last year (see here for the details of the trip).  Compared with his autobiography which I read last year (which is great) this is a collection of pretty dense poetry/rambling lyrics which I struggled with.  There are odd flashes of his lyrical talent but a lot of it is very imcomprehensible.

Murder on the Orient  Express by Agatha Christie
I'd never read an Agatha Christie book and haven't really watched any of the various tv series or films based on them and thought I ought to.  I'm sure there are good and bad places to start with her books but I thought I'd plunge in with one of the best known...luckily I'd never seen the film so didn't know whodunnit.  I enjoyed it more than I thought I would and will probably read more.

Marshland: Dreams and Nightmares on the Edge of London: ...

Marshland: Dreams and Nightmares on the Edge of London by Gareth E Rees
A psycho-geographical exploration of London and especially Hackney.  I am a fan of Iain Sinclair who I think does this sort of thing much better... this was ok.

The Liveship Traders Trilogy | Robin hobb, Robin

The Liveship Traders Trilogy by Robin Hobb
Sometimes you just need a bit of trashy fantasy.  I'd never read any Robin Hobb...I have a theory that if you look on a library or book shop shelf they will always have volumes 2 and 3 of her epic trilogies but never vol. 1.  I discovered my local library have a load of her books available to download so tried the 1st of the Liveship Traders series, Ship of Magic.  Essentially it's pirates, dragons and living magical sailing ships.  To my surprise I really enjoyed it and have now read all 3 books.

Another Planet: A Teenager in Suburbia: Tracey Thorn ...

Another Planet: a teenager in suburbia by Tracey Thorn
I'm a big fan of Everything But the Girl's music and this memoir by singer Tracey Thorn is a great read.  An exploration of her teenage diaries it's all about growing up in the 70s and especially about the nature of suburbia.

The Five: the lives of Jack the Ripper's Women by  Hallie Rubenhold
This is a relatively new book on Jack the Ripper which caused a bit of a stooshie among 'Ripperologists' (yes, apparently they're a thing).  The main complaint seemed to be that a) Hallie Rubenhold is a woman (gasp!) writing in a very male dominated field, and b) she focused on the lives of the 5 victims rather than on JtR, exploring them as people rather than simply as 'victims'.  Each section explores what is known of the 5 women's lives and stops just before the point they were killed.  It's a really fascinating look at Victorian social history and well worth reading.

Three Tales from the Laundry Files: A Tor.Com Original (Equoid ...

Equoid, Down on the Farm and Overtime by Charles Stross
I'm a big fan of Charles Stross' Laundry novels... think Cthulhu meets John le Carre... and this is a fun collection of 3 novellas.  If you haven't read the main series, go and check them out.

Darien by Conn Iggulden
I'd read quite a few of Conn Iggulden's historical books (the Wars of the Roses series is especially good) but wasn't sure about this step into fantasy.  It took me a while to get engaged with it and it is very much the opening book in a series so there is a lot of scene-setting.  I enjoyed it more than I expected though and would read the next one.  It's set in an unusual fantasy setting with large set-piece battles, magical style abilities and an odd mix of the usual fantasy medieval setting with handguns thrown in.

The Magician's Land: (Book 3): Grossman, Lev ...

The Magician's Land by Lev Grossman
This is the 3rd in the Magicians series (which has also been televised although I haven't seen that). It's a kind of adult Harry Potter meets Narnia with more sex, drug and violence than you'll get in either of those books!  Again, it must be good because I read all 3 books!

Reamde - Wikipedia

Reamde by Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson is one of those authors whose books make great doorstops as they're really, really thick.  I loved some of his other books like Cryptonomicon (really...go and read it!) and Seveneves, but struggled with his more historical set books such as Quicksilver (although I really tried to like it it was just too huge!).  I initially thought Reamde was going to be a sci-fi style book as it features a MMORPG designer and I was expecting it be based around the game.  It is, but actually it's much more of a conventional thriller.  Well worth reading.  I might even go and give Quicksilver another go (for the 3rd time!)


The Complete Father Brown Mysteries by GK Chesterton
Another author I'd never read but I quite like the rather cosy tv version that is shown on BBC1 in the afternoons at the moment (featuring the excellent Mark Williams). This is a collection of all 53 short stories which I've just started reading... all very short and quite different to the tv version so far.