Sunday, 23 November 2014

Heroes of Normandie

Last month I picked up a copy of Heroes of Normandie, the board game from Devil Pig games.  I'd spotted this at SELWG and foolishly left it on the shelf while I wandered round...when I came back it had gone but I then found a slightly cheaper copy via Ebay from a supplier who coincidentally are based just a few miles from home [ Eurotrash Games ] and was able to pop by and pick  it up a few days later.

I haven't had a chance to play it yet but thought I'd share a bit about the game.  The (very heavy) box comes with 6 double sided map boards and a host of counters for a platoon level WW2 game. The components are very nicely illustrated and the style is quite 'cartoony'. Given that the fact that the game includes a character called Oddball and a scenario entitled Saving Private Rex [the General's missing dog!], it's clear that this isn't a game that takes itself too seriously.

Counters depict infantry sections or vehicles with reduced sections or a destroyed version of the tank or vehicle on the reverse.  Similarly the building counters have a ruined version on the reverse.

The squads are either pre-designed to fit in with the scenarios that come with the book or can be built using a points system.  Players can buy additional equipment or troops or special abilities depending on whether officers are present.  During the game each player also has a hand of 4 cards which give extra orders or bonus actions and can be played to enhance their turn.  The game comes with German and US squads but there are a host of additional sets available here or via assorted online retailers.

During a turn each player has a number of orders that can be given depending on the make up of his troops and places a counter face down on each ordered counter as well as a 'dummy' counter to confuse the opposition... I find this usually confuses me just as much as I forget who I've given orders to!

The designers have tried hard to make as much info available on the counters themselves, reducing the need for other markers and playsheets.... in theory everything you need to know is shown on the counter.  It does make the counter very 'busy' though and a bit confusing.  I'm hoping this will become clearer with play.

The game looks fun and seems like an ideal game for an evening when the thought of setting up lots of terrain is a bit too much...a bit like Memoir 44.  The map boards already come with a lot of the terrain pre-printed on them (trees, hedges etc) with only houses and bunkers etc to place meaning that set up should be pretty quick.  I'd guess squad building could be a bit more time consuming but the scenarios look like a good way to get to grips with the mechanics before delving into this aspect.

Once I get a chance to actually play it I'll post some feed back on how good it actually is!

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Twitter again...

Just over a month ago, prompted Henry Hyde's articles in Miniature Wargames with Battlegames, I posted about being inspired to set up a Twitter account and added a feed to the sidebar on this blog.  At the time there were a few nay-sayers (well ok, one... yes that's you Stephen...) who questioned the point of it.

Today I can confirm that Twitter does seem one of the most pointless forms of media yet! 

I followed a few people and businesses but didn't learn much that I wouldn't have picked up just as quickly from websites and blogs etc.  The only time it came in handy was when my son was off in Iceland and the school Geography department were able to keep us up  to date with photos etc showing us where the money for the trip had been spent! 

I can see the point where there is a group project that's fairly fast moving and where quick updates are useful, but for most other things it all seemed a bit... dull...

So, Stephen was right and the Twitter feed has gone.  I still have the account but don't really look at it very often.  I can't help feeling I missed something....

2nd Anniversary

I just realised that a couple of milestones have ticked past without me noticing.

Firstly this blog is now just over 2 years old... my first post was on 6.11.12.  I started this as a way of keeping track of stuff I was doing and wasn't really sure if it would last but 2 years on it's still going strong and somehow has attracted 68 followers!  Small fry compared with lots of you out there but a constant source of amazement to me!! Thanks to everyone who pops by for a look.

Secondly my last post was #100, meaning I'm averaging around a post every couple of weeks or so.  My posting tends to go in fits and starts, often centred around club games.  There has been a bit of a gap on these as I'm currently unable to drive for medical reasons meaning my access to the club is a bit tricky...hopefully normal service will be resumed shortly if I can convince the DVLA that all is fine.

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

4 Go Mad in Dorset part 2

As promised, highlights of the last day of our recent trip to Dorset.  I clearly have a very understanding wife who agreed to drop me off at the Tank Museum at Bovington for a couple of hours while she took the dogs off for a long walk...for some reason the attractions of hundreds of tanks seemed to elude her!!  Funnily enough when I commented on Facebook about where I'd been there was a very clear gender split [with one exception] with comments ranging from 'the dullest museum ever...', to favourite...'.  I'm guessing that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone!

If you haven't been to Bovington it's really worth visiting.  I went during half-term so the museum was full of families trying to occupy the kids with a smattering of strange men wandering around admiring the tanks [I put myself in the latter category...]

The museum is chock full of tanks from Little Willie through to present day Challengers etc, themed in a couple of main halls.  I spent the time wandering around feeling quietly smug when I identified the tanks before seeing the information board , which happened surprisingly more often than I expected. It was surprising [to me at least] to compare the relative sizes of the tanks... some surprisingly small and others terrifyingly huge.

Here are a selection of photos from the day, in no particular order.....


erm...big tank...



Rolls Royce a/c


SdKfz 251 the paintwork!

Aww...diddy little Tank!  Oh, ok...Goliath.







Leopard C2



Little Willie



Char B1

Mark VI

Caro Veloce L3/33


Thursday, 6 November 2014

4 Go Mad in Dorset Part 1

The 4 in question being my wife and our 2 dogs... during last week’s half-term break we took advantage of our son being away in Iceland for a few days and had a long weekend in Dorset.

We stayed at West Lulworth at the Castle Inn... as an aside if you’re ever looking for a nice pub with good food and beer [and a huge collection of local ciders!!] this is a good spot to stay in.  It is, however, very much a dog friendly pub which is why we go there so if you’re not a fan of hounds, best not to go there!
Trigger and Lizzie decided our bed was much better than theirs...

The Castle Inn

On our first day we headed off to Tyneham Village which is only a few miles from the pub.  Tyneham is a small village which was evacuated with 28 days  notice in December 1943 as part of the preparations for the invasion of France.  Despite promises that they could return, the villagers never made it back and the site remains the property of the MoD to this day, and sits right in the middle of tank firing ranges!  There’s some info about the village here...

In the last few years the village has gradually opened up to visitors but remains largely untouched and undeveloped.  In each house are displays about the family that lived there...what they did, where they ended up etc.

In the farmyard is an unusual wall display of bits of shell casings that have been picked up over the years.  The village sits in a deep valley with the tank ranges on the hills to either side and the odd AFV full of shell holes....

WW2 shell cases


Casings from a Challenger 2
Smoke and HE rounds from a Scorpion or Saladin a/c

It’s a quiet, strange place and an unusual monument to the impact the war had on people’s lives.  Well worth a visit if you are in the area but it’s a bit tricky to find and obviously can only be accessed when the ranges aren’t in use.

In the afternoon we headed on to nearby Corfe Castle.  Having stopped off for a bite to eat in a nearby cafe, I headed in up to the Castle itself.

Corfe is another of our Kingmaker favourites [see my post from July about Beaumaris] but I’d never actually been despite several trips nearby in the past.

The castle was founded in Anglo-Saxon times [possibly on Roman foundations] and was in use as a Royal castle until 1572 when Elizabeth  sold it on to her dancing master.  During the Civil War it declared for the King and paid the price, being partially demolished by Parliamentarians after holding out during a number of sieges. 

The view from the ramparts

Evidence of the post ECW demolition

It’s a stunning castle situated high above the surrounding village and has some still massive surviving walls.  It’s easy to see how easily it would have dominated the surrounding area........

A great day which ended with a nice meal back at the pub and some lovely beer and cider!  I’ll do another post about the final day which involved a trip to Bovington Tank Museum.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

Like half the population of London it seems, we went off to see the poppy installation at the Tower of London yesterday.  For those of you further afield, this is a project which is filling the moat at the Tower with 888,246 ceramic poppies. Some more info about the installation can be found here.

Having chatted to a friend who'd been up earlier in the week we decided not to attempt to go near it during the day...the crowds had been 6 deep during the week and by yesterday the public were being asked to stay away as the numbers were becoming unmanageable!  Instead we headed up during the evening on Saturday, getting there around 7pm when it was still busy but not too bad.

The installation is very impressive and certainly worth seeing.  There has been a bit of a debate going on in the media about the intentions and effect of it, especially in the Guardian.  The artist's view can be found here and the original article which sparked the debate here.

As a died in the wool, trendy-lefty Guardian reading liberal [note the small 'l'] I have some sympathy with Jonathan Jones' view that there is a danger this encourages a view of the war from a Nationalist viewpoint rather than an Internationalist one, but there is no doubt that the installation is hugely effective and visually impressive.  If nothing else it has focused more attention on the human cost of war and judging by the comments I overheard while up there yesterday has engaged families in discussing history... it's also done wonders for the Tower of London's visitor numbers!!  I've only ever been there once on a school trip to London back in the late 70's...must go and see it properly at some point, after all the crowds have gone!

If you get a chance to go and see it before the dismantling begins after 11/11 do so...well worth seeing.