Friday, September 29, 2017

An Iberian Interlude

TML Towers was empty for a few days, whilst the author took some 'me time' in Lisbon; thus ticking another country of the list of places in Europe to visit.

Lisbon is a gorgeous city with plenty to see and do, not to mention great weather at this time of year; which when you are British, means any circumstance in which it isn't raining and the temperature is in double figures of any denomination.

The view over the city towards the Castelo de S.Jorge
 Plenty of my time was taken up with seeing some of the local culture, arts, and nightlife.

Roman and Muslim ruins at the Se de Lisboa
 But I also found the time for some gamer activities.  I mean quite by chance I found two gaming stores.

This one open at 9pm on a Sunday night!  Civilisation!
Board games were about 10% cheaper than the UK , and many came in English or with multilingual instructions.  However, for Miniatures games, 40k, Flames of War, and so on, prices seemed to be 10-20% higher than the UK.  So at least there's one thing we have on the continent*.

I managed to visit a couple of museums with a heavy slant on my wargaming/history interests.  Firstly the Museu de Marinha, which covered the maritime history of Portugal, both exploration and military

There's an enormous number of fine model ships

Plenty of artillery to tinker with

And a hall full of preserved vessels

Including naval aircraft
 Secondly the Museu Militar, is a much smaller affair, and has the less polished feel of the sort of museum school trips seemed to go to in the 1970's.  It has several small displays relating to the Peninsular War, World War One, and the Portuguese colonial conflicts; as well as medieval armour and war art.

One of several Napoleonic War mannequins 

and some of the Portuguese equipment of the period
 But the most impressive thing in the museum would be the enormous collection of artillery, surely over a hundred pieces ranging from regimental guns to enormous siege weapons.

Part of the collection
 This gun was particularly interesting for the clear evidence of it having seen combat.  It had obviously been a victim to counter-battery fire.

Look at those dents and gouges
 There are also a range of French pieces captured at Vittoria, though I suspect the main museum for the Peninsular War is elsewhere.

See below

See above
 There was also a range of guns from the Great War, where most of the Portuguese equipment was either British or French.

A British 6 inch howitzer IIRC
Prior to the war much of the Portuguese weaponry was German, so their expeditionary divisions were equipped with allied equipment at short notice.

It's not a big or especially great museum, but the artillery collection is great, and you can get up close and personal with much of it.  For the price of 3 euros, it was good value.  I could also have took in the Museu Confletto, for the more recent military history and apparently a huge collection of classic toy soldiers; but I only had so much time to indulge.  Maybe another time.

The rest of Lisbon; well worth a visit; and for historians, there's lots of interest.

*I mean, if that's enough to justify Brexit, then good luck to you in your misguided interpretation of economics and the future.


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Reaper Bones Third Set arrives

Two years ago I joined Matt in a small commitment to the latest Reaper Kickstarter, at that time.  Finally it arrived a few weeks ago; the best part of a year late it must be admitted.  Matt sorted out my selections and I've now had time to have a small look through them:

All my packs
 I'd picked a selection of items I - at the time - felt I could make use of .  Most if nothing else can serve in dungeon crawls, but many now are also useful for Dragon Rampant.  I managed to push fit the largest models for photographs.  Kicking of with the dragon:

Stan for scale
 Pretty impressive.  I'd also picked up two frost giants, thinking they may be useful; time has moved on of course!  I'm not sure what I might use these for now!

 The largest model, in effect is scenery.  I picked up the mystic stone circle as it wasn't the sort of object I could see as practical to make myself.  I have little clue where or how I'm going to store this though.

It's pretty big!
 There were also some mythical monsters, Orcs, Lizardmen, and some pseudo-space marines, for which I have a specific plan.  But the last set I got a picture of was these rather fabulous Ogres:

Overall, great looking models; but the delay in delivery?  Pretty rotten.  Their fourth Kickstarter recently finished, but given the delays on the two I've backed, I gave it a pass.  The world may not last long enough for the next one to deliver!  This is the fundamental shortcoming of crowd-funded projects, constant delays, frustration.  It may not be the case for all projects but of the dozen or so I've backed about half have been significantly later than intended.

It's something to expect rather than become annoyed at.  But if you are impatient, it is a good reason to stay away from what so often seems like an incredible bargain.


Sunday, September 24, 2017

Old War Reports 2

Another story of battle more forgotten than remembered; back in the early summer I had a game of Saga with Paul:

Vikings Face Saxons (?)

It was a straight Warlord battle - The Vikings began aggresively

The Saxons, hanging back

Getting up in their grill

The Saxon lines 

Vikings attack suicidally


Vikings attack uncertain enemies

And try to turn their flanks
In the end it was a marginal victory for Paul, largely as his Saxons hung back and tried to weather the storm of Viking attacks.

More to follow, it seems I had a few more games over the summer, looking at my photograph stockpile.


Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Storage Project = Pain

Oh, I really should get around to that.

Is what I'd said for months regarding the storing of my Conan miniatures; you see the game comes with some 170 models, and a whole separate box to store them in.  But unless you want to keep the plastic inserts that only work when distributed across both boxes, no effective storage system.

Cue a trip to the arts store for some mounting board and a session building and gluing an insert.

A process that took some ten hours o_0

Looks nice, yeah
So most models are in groups of five or ten with some pieces individualised as they were larger or oddball shapes.  This meant laying out all the models in the bottom of the box and then custom measuring and cutting suitable partitions.  The shorter models are on the lower layer with 45mm of clearance whilst the taller models live upstairs with 55mm of ceiling!  

The biggest models went below, but the upper tray has cut outs to allow them to stand proud!  The two blank boxes turn out to hold all the dice nicely, and next to them is the various furniture and treasure pieces.

This one was a labour of love that left me feeling arthritic and frazzled.  Still the product is sturdy and means no further storage is needed.  So I'm glad I bit the bullet and got it done.


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New 28mm Cavalry from HäT

On a rare visit to my friendly local model shop - Well it's about 15 miles away, but that's still pretty local, especially for my American readers - I was caught off guard by the appearance of some new figures from HäT.  28mm Napoleonic British cavalry:

Two sets no less
 I wasn't aware these were in development, or at least, close to production, so this was a surprise.  £10 gets you a dozen cavalry models, a full regiment for most people, and half the price of the equivalent Perry or Warlord models.  Not to say, around a third the price of typical metal miniatures.

That said...

One of three identical sprues in the box
There are points that will dissuade some gamers, including perhaps myself.  Firstly, unlike previous HäT 28mm sets, these are in a soft plastic, much like their 20mm output, and unlike all other 28mm plastic figures.  How bad this might be off the sprue I couldn't say, but on the sprue they felt a bit bendy to me.  I know that suitably cleaned and prepared, holding paint wouldn't be an issue, but it is still the sort of thing that makes many gamers turn their nose up at soft styrene models.

Secondly, they are very slight models.  They'll scale well to other HäT figures, and are nicely proportioned, but next to even Perry's they will look slim.  Compared to Victrix or Warlord they may well look tiny, Indeed I feel the box actually calls them 25mm.  They will however sit very nicely with classic ranges like Hinchcliffe, Foundry or Eagle.

Thirdly, and only a minor gripe, each set includes four figure poses, with some variable arms and heads; but only two horse poses.  HäT do this a lot, and I think it's a little lazy, give us four horse poses please!

Concerns aside, the photo's on their website do show how well these models can paint up:

(C) HäT
I don't think they will find their way into my British forces, but I may consider them as conversion material for some Portuguese or Spanish horse.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Old War Reports 1

I'm terrible at writing AAR's  I know I used to do it more, but each one would take so long.  I just don't have the time to commit to them at the moment, so it feels.

Nevertheless I usually take photographs, and I can post those up well enough.  If I get caught up I may even feel more inclined to writing a few battles in more detail!

Going way back to May for starters I had a game of Kings of War against Matt:

My Goblin and Troll alliance

In serried hordes

Versus a kingdom of men allied with an evil Necromancer and his minions

A general advance for the Goblins 
Against a more cautious Human advance

Vast numbers would tell, as the Goblins could block every pass

The Necromancer tries his might against numbers untold

Battle is joined

Pikemen attempt to stay the waves of greenskins

But too few Humans survive
From what little I can recall now, it was a very one-sided affair, in my favour; I think we called it after four rounds, as Matt was making no headway, partly due to misfortune, partly due to being out maneuvered.  The balance of goblin hordes and Mighty Trolls made for a potent combo.

Hopefully more reports later this week...

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Star Wars : Legion - Scale and Cynicism

Firstly the news you may be interested in is the latest release from Fantasy Flight Games; on the Heels of X-Wing and Imperial Armada.  Star Wars: Legion is the game we all hoped for, tabletop battles between stormtroopers and the rebellion with hordes of miniatures.

From the company that already brought us Imperial Assault and its' masses of miniatures this sounds like great news.

But there is a catch.

Rather than inclusively welcome owners of Star Wars Imperial Assault to the new game, by scale matching the range of figures, SW:L has scaled up, to the new kid on the block '32mm Heroic'; or as it could be known, fantasy games that don't want you using any other shit in your games.

It may not sound like a huge march on 28mm, but the reality is I doubt anyone is going to be too pleased with the size disparity up close.  Take the difference between the two 'Luke Skywalker' models featured in the base games:

SW:L on Left, SW:IA on Right
Now, apart from the fact only one of them actually looks like Mark Hamill, it is obvious that there is a huge difference in relative size.

Couple this with the Fantasy Flight - boardgame derived - approach of providing all the supplemental rules for models, with the models themselves only - and you realise that pretty extensive collection of Imperial Assault models you built up will not really be of much use to you in games of Legion.  You know, it probably would not of hurt their bottom line to throw that bone to the fans; given the expense of building up a figure collection for SW:IA.  I know my complete collection for the base game, and the handful of extras I've bought to date has cost me upwards of £150 (Even typing that gives me the hives.)  But instead, they've taken the cynical business choice to more or less guarantee incompatibility between the two mediums, presumably in the hope that the fan base will continue to throw money at the franchise.

Who knows, maybe Disney stipulated it as a contractual obligation.  Such things have influenced games in the past, such as the various commitments GW had to make around existing licenses for the Lord of the Rings Games.

But Scale creep didn't need to be imposed on miniatures manufacturers, it was invented by them; Hell, it's not even exclusive to fantasy gaming anymore.

And whilst it may be the company who jumps to mind for this, and they certainly did the most to propagate it in the modern age; I'm not even going to blame Games Workshop, even though they obviously are responsible for this sort of thing:

 By comparison, how about the slowly growing size of '20mm' miniatures over the years:

L:R ESCI (80's), Matchbox (70's), Pegasus (00's), Revell (90's), Valiant (10's)
 Or 15mm.  Where 18mm is now a thing in its' own right entirely:

Until presumably the snake eats its' own tail, 12mm models become an average of 15mm tall and 18mm models stand 20mm high.  None of this even makes sense any more.

Oh wait yes it does...

I mean, if the audience is happy enough to buy larger and larger models because companies tell them it is an improvement, so be it, throw your money down that hole.  Whether it is Games Workshop flogging you true scale Space Marines, Fantasy Flight with 32mm Heroic scale Star Wars models, or certain Wargames snobs trying to tell you 40mm is the new true scale for real aficionados of the hobby; it's all the same dog and pony show.  What it all really boils down to is built in redundancy of your old collections.

So you'll buy more of their shit.  Keep the cash generator running.

Beware.  Beware.