Monday, 11 September 2017

Gary Gygax, JRR Tolkien and Sid James Walk Into a Bar...



Another week, another Kickstarter...

Philip Hynes, one of the most talented sculptors in 28mm, has  launched a Kickstarter to fund the manufacture of some of his miscellaneous minis.  As the blurb says, it's an eclectic mix - figures that Phil seems to have scultpted just for the fun of it.  Despite the lack of theme (don't worry, there are more Undead Spartans promised!), they are lovely pieces and the Kickstarter is already funded.






Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Doctor Who Wednesday #21


Tenth Series (NS)

I really should say something about the recent series.  I don't have the energy to write a full critique (and I'm sure if you wanted one you'd be reading a different blog).  Suffice it to say that I disagree with those who say that the writers have run out of steam.  I thought that this series put up a good showing.

A few highlights:-

Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts.
A very short-lived companion it has to be said, but she made a big impression.  She acted the socks off recent companions - showing that Jenna Coleman (despite the guff about Clara Oswald being 'the impossible girl') was merely decorative.  I hope to see more of her.


Michelle Gomez as Missy.
It will be no secret to regular readers of Doctor Who Wednesdays that I am a follower of the Master.  Equally, they will not be surprised that I wasn't very impressed by John Simm's portrayal of him.  Now, I've been a fan of Michelle Gomez since 'The Book Club', and was wondering how Missy would develop with her in the role.  I wasn't disappointed.  Yes, there was comedy, but there was also menace and some ambiguity.  The interaction with the Doctor and John Simm's Master was done very well.

Constructive use of Classic Monsters.
In recent years there has been danger of the programme turning into "Doctor Who Verses the Daleks" as the old pepper-pots were seriously overused.  Daleks are best seen when they demonstrate just how powerful they are: remember Christopher Ecclestone and Billy Piper almost loosing the Earth to a solitary, damaged Dalek?  When a whole planet of the beasties can be beaten before breakfast, something is wrong.

Hot on the tail of Daleks in the 'overused villain stakes' have been Cybermen, yet the writers brilliantly turned that on its head with the reintroduction of the Mondasian Cybermen.  "World Enough and Time" was one of the best episodes we've see for ages.

Never again will I refer to these as 'the Black-
and-White-Minstrals-of-Cybermen'!

And what can you say about the Victorian Army battling Ice Warriors on Mars?  Spiffing!

Can we have Yetis and Sea Devils next?


13th Doctor


Now, as a Doctor Who fan I know that I'm supposed to have strong views about the casting of Jodie Whittaker as the 13th Doctor.  If you believe the press, the whole world is split between people who violently approve and those who violently disapprove.  Well I'm neither.

I've not seen much of Jodie Whittaker - she was good in 'Attack the Block', but that was all I've seen her in.  But I'm sure she's a fine actress.   We'll see how she does as the Doctor.

Perhaps it's because it's my nature to avoid conflict, or because I've had enough real things to get worried about in my life.  If I'm in a forum (social media) or otherwise where people are Dicks, I leave.  I really don't see much point in getting upset about a TV programme (no matter how much I enjoy it).  The truth is, some people want to make their opinion heard, whatever the subject is, and it's in the interests of the media to facilitate them.  I'm not interested in other people's random opinions: if there's a phone-in on the radio, I will turn it off.  There was someone who wrote in to my local paper on the matter, sounded off and then said he hadn't watched the programme since William Hartnell's days!  On the other hand, some people feel that they have 'a stake' in the show because they are part of 'the fanbase' (whether they actually watch it or not!).  I suppose there's an argument for that, but, honestly, it's a story about a piratically immortal time-travelling alien - how can you say that he can't change into a woman?!

For as long as I remember the debate about the whether it was time for a black or female Doctor has been going on.  The writers had quite clearly signposted that it was going to happen.  It's been Canon for some time that an elderly, male, white Time Lord can regenerate into a younger, black female ('Day of the Doctor'), and Michelle Gomez has shown how changing the sex of a character can bring some fresh air into it.

Personally, I was secretly hoping that they would find a way for Capaldi to regenerate into Gomez!

Rant over.  I'm aware of the irony of complaining in my own personal blog about people forcing their opinions on others, but there we are!

Charity Shop Finds



I was lucky enough to find these two in the Charity Shop recently.  Although tempted to keep them, they have found their way down to Devon as my nephew's 10th birthday present.  He already had the board game (his brother pointed out that it would do for spares, good lad!), but the inflatable was put to use.

Warlord Games

In the gap between Doctor Who Wednesdays Warlord's much heralded miniatures game has come out (which just shows how long it is since I posted).  I'm sure there are plenty of the dreaded unboxing videos and on-line reviews out there, but I'm afraid I can't add anything to them.  Because I haven't been around any forums, I don't even know what kind of reception it has received.

I downloaded the free pdf rulebook, but have barely glanced at it.
Now I have a quandary.  I have a £10.00 voucher for Warlord products that expires on 6 August.  Do I buy the core set, which gives me a hard copy of the rules (which I assume I don't really need), twelve Daleks and twelve Cybermen (which I certainly don't need) and various cards, markers etc?  Even at £25.00 that seems a lot of stuff I don't need.  Or do I dip my toe in and get (say) three Sea Devils for £1.99 plus postage?  Certainly, I won't be paying £11.99 for them!
The above was written some time ago.  When I eventually attempted the use the voucher it wouldn't work on their Dr Who material.  I sent an e-mail asking whether the Who stuff was included in the offer and Warlord replied (after a week) that they it wasn't and that they weren't minded to include in in any offers.

Gratuitous Sara-Jane Smith Photo

"There's a little something on your back.."

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Gothic Horror SquidStarter



Annie over at Bad Squiddo Games has just launched (and fully-funded within three minutes) a Kickstarter for a range of 28mm Gothic Horror figures (mainly vampires and vampire-hunters, but I've got my eye on the Frankenstein's Monster and Wolfman promised as stretchgoals).

Not a proper Kickstarter, but really a pre-order scheme, the figures are ready to cast and will be dispatched this month.

The Kickstarter closes on 20 August, and can be seen here.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

More Naval Preparations

Oo!  Someone's come up with a graphic!

So I did a test of the mash-up I'd made of DBSA and the TSM rules (to understand, look back to the two previous posts) last night.  I do like elements of the Portable Naval Wargame as well.

They worked quite well with the simple scenario I played through (two Red cruisers attempting to disable or sink a Blue battleship).  They even threw up some classic narrative turns: the battleship sank one cruiser which in its last moments get off a salvo which damaged it so much it was unable to hit the second cruiser with either primary or secondary armament (ie, I rolled really bady twice!).  The second cruiser then sank the battleship.


The next test will involve more ships and ship types, but I'm already going ahead and investing in some prettier ships.  I also need to find more sea room!

In yesterday's comments, Roy and I discussed how to tweek things for solo play.  I'm not the sort of analytical person who can replay the same scenario with deliberately different strategies, so I need something to avoid both sides making the same moves.

In addition to playing asymmetric games I've decided to increase randomisation as follows (last two cribbed from DBSA)
  • rolling for initiative each turn
  • adding movement restrictions for critically damaged ships
  • adding damage control phase (rolling for success/failure/catastrophe)
I go for dice rolls (everything is done with one or two d6), but card draws could be used if you're that way inclined.  As you can see from last night's result, rolling on gunnery can already leads to unexpected results.  

I might go for nominated  targets, but that might get unnecessarily complicated as the number of ships increases.  Another possibility is rolling for mines at the end of the movement phase.

I decided against using DBSA's flag officer characteristics and weather modifiers as I'm using TSM's Movement Points rather than DSBA's NIPs.  Once I'm more versed in such things I might go that way, but for now I want to keep it simple.  I did consider rolling for movement, but couldn't really justify that to myself as representing naval operations.

I'm thinking aloud here.  I'm not going to report back on the minutiae of each development, but If anyone has any feedback or suggestions, I'd be glad to hear them.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Naval Preparations


OK, so having decided to make an effort to play something on or before International Naval Wargames Day I was left with the minor problem of not having any teenie-tiny ships.

Now, for anyone else in this situation, I'd recommend printing out some of the free images from the Junior General (either top-downs or waterline images) or perhaps buying some of the top-downs from Topside Minis.  However, I don't currently have a working printer and don't want to wait for the transatlantic post (however tempting it it to refight the Battle of Coronel for under ten quid!).



So, half an hour with the old EVA foam sheets, rounded scissors and superglue, and I have the nuclei of those old adversaries: Red Fleet and Green Fleet.

Now I could waffle on about the usefulness of having non-scale- and non-unit-specific counters instead of beautiful miniatures, but the brutal fact is that this the limit of my crafting skills.  I wanted something quick and dirty for what is in effect a play-test of rules.  For me the important bit is knowing which way the ship is pointing, and these will do.  The space abaft of the ships (d'see what I did there!) is to add some form of identifying mark.  At the moment I'm thinking of a sticker that can be quickly removed.  One of the other advantages of EVA sheets is that they will take drawing pins, if that's how I choose to mark damage.



Another advantage is that having scissors and glue out is getting one step closer to getting brushes and paint out...

Sunday, 30 July 2017

International Naval Wargames Day 2017


Apparently, Sunday 6 August is the inaugural International Naval Wargames Day (it being Fred T Jane's 152nd birthday).  The idea is that around the world, wargamers sit down and play a naval wargame in honour of the old man.

Naval wargaming (like naval warfare) covers a huge spectrum, from full-fleet battles down to single-ship actions.  Settings can be historical, counter-factual, fantasy, near-future or far-future.  They can be played with miniatures, as pen-and-paper exercises, or as boardgames.  Some rulesets are notorious for their complexity, whereas others can be written on a single sheet of paper (some of the latter can be downloaded very cheaply or for free at the Wargame Vault).

So whether you fancy getting hundreds of teeny-tiny ships out and re-fighting Jutland, modelling Amethyst's dash to the sea, or raiding the Lego box to have pirates boarding a fat merchantman, join in!  It should be fun.


My interest in things naval pre-dates my interest in wargaming and is centered on the period 1860-1920.

This may be just what I need to spur me on to doing some actual gaming.  Being a magpie I have acquired several rulesets (mainly the aforesaid free ones from the Wargame Vault).  At the moment I'm thinking of trying out Bob Cordery's Portable Naval Wargame and am tailoring a free set I obtained from the Topside Miniatures website to a pre-combat-aircraft setting.  Phil Barker's Damn Battleships Again! has also been suggested.  But if anyone knows rules better suited for solo play in this period, please let me know.

I have a week to choose one and work out how I want to represent the units involved...

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Thunder Stick Goes "Boom, Boom!"

As we cone up to the fifth anniversary of the start of this blog, I'm seriously considering its future.

Given that my last post was on 27 June, and the one before that 10 May, it's evident that I've run out of steam blog-wise.  That's a shame, seeing it's an activity I really enjoy.  Even writing these few sentences seems good and is enough to make me feel it's worth the effort.  When I started the blog I was in a very bad place: a year after my overdose and coma, I was still very depressed, drinking and soon to loose my job.

Like many others who blog, when I started I didn't really expect many people to read it, or for it to go on very long.  It was merely an intellectual exercise in writing for writing's sake: so I didn't loose the habit. Reaching out to the world was a consideration, but I didn't expect to have regular readers or any feedback. But through the blog I've met a long or interesting people (both in person and virtually), developed new interests and it's prompted me to launch Diplomatist Books.

All in all, blogging has been an overwhelmingly positive experience for me.  I'm going to make an effort to keep it up.
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