Saturday, 22 September 2018

Paint Table Saturday

By my counting it's been week short of a year since I last made a Paint Table Saturday post. 

I didn't realise that it's been so long, but I'm not surprised - it's reflective of the current state of both my blogging and painting.  But regular posts such as Paint Table Saturdays are here to force progress on those fronts, so here goes.

Not a lot happening (often I have to blow the dust off before I apply paint!).  We have six Mantic ghouls and a Heroquest elf.  With a bit of a push I should be able to finish them in a session.

Both are initially for use in the RPG I've been playing lately.  The ghouls are dungeon critters.  I was going to call them 'dungeon fodder', but experience shows that they're as likely to kill the PCs as to be killed by them.

The elf is to represent my character, B'loxi.  Given the sculpt and game both have an 80's vibe, I tried to represent that in my colour scheme.  However, I'm not particularly happy with it, so it may change yet.

"A Shouty Game of Finger-Pointing"

As I'd had a bad end to the week (more difficulties with the Post Office, which have swallowed up a week's profit) I decided at short notice to attend an evening of games testing at The Games Table hosted by ASH Games, who were bringing along two of their concepts that should be hitting Kickstarter sometime next year.

Pre-ASH Games

The ASH team (it's a family set-up of long-time gamers headed by Ash) were delayed by traffic, so those of who had turned up at 6.00pm had some time to fill.  Luckily, The games library at the shop has built up nicely since it opened in July.

Five of us took the chance to play Battle Sheep.  Despite the fact that three of us hadn't played it before and that the rules were being explained by a seven year-old, it only took a couple of moves to understand it.  It's a fast game that only takes 10-15 minutes to play.  We got three games in, and it became clear that some fun tactical punches can be pulled.  I am tempted to buy it for Sarah and myself.

'Burn the Witch'

When ASH turned up they had two games to test, a card game about witch burning and a minis game based on Star Wars pod racing.  Ash, who has a background in franchising, seems to think that he should be able to acquire a licence for the latter.

I went off into the group that played 'Burn the Witch'.  We did swap over later, but as it was almost 9.00pm I left at that point and thus didn't get to try the racing.

Put simply (there are various rules I'm omitting here), in 'Burn the Witch' the players take the role of an inhabitant of a medieval village caught up in a witch-hunt.  In each hand they are dealt a secret card giving the identity of another player or designating them the witch.  An accusation card is then drawn from a deck of 72 real-life examples ("X has a hairy lip"... "X has too many children").  After a period when we all accuse our favoured candidate a vote is taken.  The people who successfully nominate someone who is convicted score (regardless as to whether they were the witch or not - this is not a game about justice!).  The convicted witch can score by then identifying the true witch.  Each game consisted of 3-4 hands and took about 30 mins.

One of the things that the designers were wanting to determine was whether it was best as a murder-mystery type game of up to 16 people (though at one stage up to 30 people wandering around a room wearing their identities on lapel-badges were mentioned), or for 4-8 mates sitting around a table or on the sofa.   There were six of us playing (four of whom knew each other), and I think that worked better than a larger group would.  A some point the strap-line "A Shouty Game of Finger-Pointing" came up, and that's how I see it.  Throw in a couple of bottles of wine and you might even get fisticuffs!

There were various points discussed:- artwork; bespoke cards; ways of keeping score; whether there was too much/too little historical info; whether that info would be better on the cards or in a booklet; the kind of ancillary 'stuff' (token, etc) that would add value to the game; and Kickstarter stretch goals.

It was an enjoyable game and would be a good ice-breaker.  The process of game-testing was new to me and interesting.  All in all, a couple of hours well-spent.

Saturday, 8 September 2018

Still Here and Actually Doing Something!

This blog seems to have dried up somewhat over the last few months.  It's been a case of "If you have to make and effort to find something to write, is it worth continuing?"  On the whole, I think the answer might be "Yes".

However, there is a bright side.  This blog (and interactions on Facebook and the Lead Adventure Forum) used to be the extent of my Hobby Involvement.  But that has changed with the opening of a new FLGS in Norwich.  I'm actually mixing with people and doing some gaming!

For the first time in some 30 years I've been taking part in regular RPG sessions.  Rather appropriately, we are playing rather Old School - Labyrinth Lord.  As the GM explains:
Labyrinth Lord is a reprinted and improved version of Tom Moldvay's 1981 Dungeons & Dragons Basic and Expert rules. You're not a prince or the strongest man in Aerik, you're a desperate murder-hobo trying to escape with some silver coins before the monsters you hear lurking in the darkness can catch up. Player cunning and skill is strongly rewarded, and experience is largely from treasure recovered. This makes player decisions about when to fight, when to run and when to parley more realistic, and encourages smart play. The game is deadly, and mistakes cost lives.
Despite a TPK on our first delve into the Barrowmaze, I've stuck at it and my Elf, B'loxi, has survived four expeditions.  In ten or twenty years he may make Level 2.

Did I say Old School?
B'loxi's the one having a nap

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Pulpy Shinies from Bad Squiddo

Bad Squiddo Games has just announce a couple of new releases sculpted by Paul Muller that scream out"Pulp!".  And I'm a sucker for Pulp...

These are available at the pre-order price of £7.50 for the pair (normal price £8.00).  They won't be shipped for a fortnight.

As some of you know, Bad Squiddo is very much a one-person shop.  As anyone who has tried to run a business on their own knows, such businesses are even more at the mercy of Real Life than others.  Earlier this year, Annie had to make an unexpected move from Cardiff to Nottingham, finding new premises and shifting stock etc.  This coincided with the planned dispatch of her latest Kickstarter, which was well and truly effed-up.  That led to a backlog of orders, a huge backlog of e-mail (many of them negative).  Given that Annie has moved away from her support network and the part-time staff she had, this all fell on her shoulders: her health has suffered. 

The other problem caused by these backlogs is one of cashflow - fatal to small businesses.  Despite that, Annie made the decision not to release anything from her new releases queue until she could promise dispatch withing a reasonable period.  Annie is a good sort.  If her stuff appeals to you, I urge you to put an order in and help her out.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Recent Reading (and Zombies)

I've went a bit vintage with my reading last week.

Spurred on by the repeat of the TV series featuring Rowan Atkinson as a rather slimline Inspector Maigret, I read My Friend Maigret, one of the Simenon books I've picked up recently.  The Maigret series is one I've always thought I'd want to read but never got around to.  I was surprised by how slight My Friend was*, but I enjoyed it.  And I wasn't at all put off by The Wife saying "I remember reading that at school in French"!
*Perhaps explained by the fact that Simenon wrote 75 Maigret novels and 28 short stories!

I was struck by the fact that although the book was written in 1949 it didn't mention the war, even  when discussing suspects' backgrounds.  These days any thriller set in the 1940s or '50s isn't considered complete if it doesn't have an ex-POW or a bevy of former SOE or Bletchley types.   In recent TV adaptations of Agatha Christie and the like, the plot is changed to shoe-horn them in.  A reflection of changing perspectives on the period, I suppose.

After that, I've gone even further in time to read M R James' Thirteen Ghost Stories in a rather nice German edition* from the '30s.  James** is another author that I've thought I should read and would probably enjoy; and I am finding that to be the case.  Certainly, some of the TV adaptations have scared the willies out of me in the past!
*Don't get me wrong - it's an English-language edition!
**A medievalist and the originator of the "antiquarian ghost story" - you can see the appeal!

And so on to Zombies...

For some reason I often find myself thinking of the Zombie Apocalypse when walking No 2 Dog.  This is possibly because I try to do it when the streets and paths are deserted* or because of the number of beat-up camper vans we pass**.  Perhaps it because Moley has the right attitude to survive the apocalypse - he'd have no problem decapitating a little old lady (or preferably a zombie labrador).
*No 1 Dog on the other hand prefers to walk during or just after the school run - all the better to find half-eaten slices of toast or chocolate crepes, which are his latest favorite.
** I have this half-intention to post some photos on the blog of vehicles for a British Post-Apocalyse (given the lack of US-style school buses outside Suffolk).

Moley ready to devour something or other
So I've acquired these

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

#30Days30 Miniatures: Days 5 and 6

Day 5 (Tuesday) was another washout as far as painting went - I just proved too busy doing RL things.

As part compensation, today I offer two figures.

This is the figure I meant to finish yesterday.  He's from Artizan Designs.

Sorry for the quality of this photo

This rather blurry lady (yes, she does have a face!), is one of Copplestone's Female Archaeologists.  Her compatriots will hopefully follow soon.

Day 6
Total minis painted: 7
Days challenge was met: 4

Tuesday, 3 July 2018

Terrain Tuesday #21

Would you believe that the last Terrain Tuesday was in Dec 2016?   Yes, you probably would.

That's why I don't begrudge spending time off the 30Minis challenge to get my terrain juices flowing [Urgh!].

Last week I popped into Poundland and bought one of their Topiary Balls...

It cost £1.00

It was the work of minutes to strip it to its component parts....

A Sphere of Doom at the ball's core

Said component parts were a reasonably sized pile...

After that it was a matter of getting the hot-glue gun and some spare bases in order to make some scatter terrain.

All in all, a decent result from half-an-hour's work on a day I couldn't face anything more involved.

Monday, 2 July 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 4

Today was one of my bad days and I couldn't face painting.

This isn't a disaster - I get days like this and was prepared for them.   The thing to do is to concentrate on the things I can manage and not focus on the others.

I had already decided that I would have Tuesdays off from the challenge in order to concentrate on terrain.  This week I have merely moved that day forward.  There will be a Terrain Tuesday post tomorrow.

Day 4
Total minis painted: 5
Days challenge was met: 3

Sunday, 1 July 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 3

Today, I painted in the morning to take advantage of the summer light on my table.  Sadly, I started too late, and ended up chasing the sunshine, rather as our dogs do when lying on the carpet!
This is 10.30 in the morning

So, I have a completed figure to submit.

This is Lillie Poots from Statuesque Miniatures pulply Statuesque Asylum range.  Like all of their sculpts (and I'd especially recommend the range they've done in conjunction with Pulp Alley), she is a delightful mini and a pleasure to paint.

She's nicely ambiguous, I think.  Not one to eschew cliches, I initially painted her with a Midwich hairstyle, but it looked a little insipid (and I Don't Do Eyes!), nevertheless, she is a girl in a red coat

For some reason I put her on a curbside.  At the last minute I considered adding a cat (or a rat), but decided to leave her be.

Day 3
Total minis painted: 5
Days challenge was met: 3

Saturday, 30 June 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 2

Something a bit different for me today.  I went to the opening of The Games Table, a new gaming venue in Norwich.  As one of the launch features they had painting table with Dave of the Rising Sun Painting Studio.  Under his guidance, I completed the following.

Quite obviously a Games Workshop mini, I think for Age of Sigmar.  Other than that, I know nothing.  [Update:  Apparently he's a Stormcast Eternal.]

The photo fails to show the shading etc, but after yesterday's debacle, I'm quite pleased.

Better photo in the morning sun

Day 2
Total minis painted: 4
Days challenge was met: 2

Friday, 29 June 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day 1

Day 1 and if can be said that I've 'cheated' in two respects.

First, I've done three figures rather than one.  Well, that's not a cheat - the point is to complete at least one figure per day.  And for me the important bit isn't the figures, but the fact that I do some painting everyday, improving my painting and discipline.

Secondly, and more seriously, I didn't go for the already-started mini I'd intended to, but did some new ones (albeit ones that I prepared in advance for the last APHC).  Looking at the figures the reason will be obvious - they have the same, very simple paint scheme.

Despite (or because of) this simplicity I forgot the cardinal rule that 'More is Less'.  If I'd stopped a third of the way through, they would look a lot better than they do now.  It's clear to me that going for six months without painting has left me needing to brush up on some basics.   I'm embarrassed to say just how long I spent on them this afternoon.  Despite appearances I wasn't five minutes slapping on emulsion!   Perhaps there was good reason to start with monster-of-the-week cannon fodder after all.

Two of the mummies are from Dark Horse Studios, who do them in both metal and resin (these are resin).  I can't remember where the the one with his arm aloft came from.

I also did some work on a more involved figure (and am glad to say that I haven't messed her up yet!).  She may appear as a submission on Day 2 or 3.  I'm not sure which as tomorrow I'm going to the opening of a new Friendly Local Gaming Store and do know if I'll find time to work on her.  The good news is that one of the launch events is a painting session, so I should have something for Day 2 either way.

Day 1
Total minis painted: 3
Days challenge was met: 1

Thursday, 28 June 2018

#30Days30Miniatures: Day Zero

OK, I'm committed to having a bash at the challenge.

This evening I've been looking a my painting table and lead pile to see what needed doing and what was suitable.  The focus is going to be on getting part-done and prepped figures finished.  This will include some I had for the most recent AHPC but also some that are up to three or four years old.  I'm also going to include some new (as yet un-prepped) figures after the others are done.   And not a Dalek in sight!

I found some which just needed a coat of varnish, so I've knocked those off.  Although I've decided that these Won't Count towards the challenge, I'm seeing doing this necessary task as its first positive result.  Equally, there's one that just needs basing. I haven't done it yet, but will do so in time to make a Doctor Who Wednesday posting: perhaps I'll find something else to add to it.

Other than that, there's no Great Plan.  I'll probably decide from day-to-day what get's painted.  If all goes well (ha!), there will be a nice mix and some useful minis at the end of the 30 days.

Day 0.  Minis completed: 0

Wednesday, 27 June 2018

#30Day30Miniatures Challenge

Viscount Eric over at the excellent Gaming with the Gnomies has brought my attention to the #30Day30Miniatures Challenge (originally the idea of James Walls at Living 4 Crits).

The idea is

  • At the end of each day, you need to complete the painting of one miniature.
  • Basing is optional. 
  • It can be any miniature you want, from any game, from any system, from any manufacturer. 
  • Partially finished miniatures in your pile are fair game. I figure that this is about finishing miniatures, and working through those pesky figures in your vault. Why not include them?
  • Have fun!
Now as regular readers will know, I have a dismal record of keeping up with challenges, but I desperately need a fillip to get me painting after six months, so I might try this.

Another prompt is that a new flgs is opening on Saturday.  One of the things they're doing one the day is having painting tutorials.  I may go along to see what I can learn and if it will help my flagging games mojo (there will also be cake!).

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Doctor Who Wednesday #23

The reason that this blog has been so deathly quiet of late is that I just haven't done anything hobbywise worth writing about.  However, as I said last week, I wouldn't be me if I stopped  buying books.  So here we go with that old stalwart "books I've picked up in charity shops".

These I picked up a few months ago.  I thought I'd already posted about them, but apparently not.  

The Torchwood Encyclopedia is nothing special, but has plenty of basic reference on the series.  I was very pleased to get the '80s book though - looking on-line and in more specialist shops, I found that the series goes for silly prices.  That's a shame because (as regular readers of 'Doctor Who Wednesday' will realise) I'd rather have the volumes on the '60s and '70s.  I despaired of ever seeing them at reasonable prices.

So imagine how pleased I was to find this in the same charity shop last week!

In addition, I picked up these specials "from the publishers of Doctor Who Magazine".  Anything that has Roger Deladgo or the Brigadier on the cover is for me!  And they're full of good background stuff. 

This one focuses on the first two series of the New Series.  In addition to episode guides, there's plenty of background in these too, including some nice concept art...

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Podcasts and Some Books

For longer that I care to look into I've been promising to restart this blog.  And for most of that time, I seem to have been promising to talk about podcasts.

Perhaps what has been putting me off is that my thoughts on podcasts are really unoriginal.  I'm going to summarise them in a few points

  • if you podcast is over an hour and a half long,  it is probably too long
  • if you podcast contains a description of how you've edited it, you've failed in the editing process
  • nobody wants to listen to you eating or drinking (unless it's a really niche podcast)
There you go.  You can fill in the details yourself with reference to your favorite 'cast.

So what have I been listening to?

I've mentioned the first two before.  Both are from James Holloway.

Monster Man started as 
a podcast that delves into the classic AD&D Monster Manual from 1977. Every episode looks at one or more D&D monsters, digging deeper into their inspirations and uses. 
After 70-odd episodes James finished the Monster Manual.  He's currently doing some specials before moving on the the Fiend Folio sourcebook.

As a spin-off James also started Patreon Deities in which he does the same thing for Demigods and Deities (this one requires a monthly subscription of at least $1.00).

In his discussion of the Norse Pantheon (just completed), James suggested Saga Thing
a podcast hosted by two friends and former grad-school colleagues who have been reading and enjoying the [Icelandic] sagas for years. We’re both professors of medieval literature and we both have beards.  Though we live quite far apart, recording Saga Thing gives us an opportunity to get together again (virtually) and talk about our love of medieval Iceland.  Our goal is to read and review the sagas, one at a time, in an epic quest to put the sagas of the Icelanders on trial and to celebrate the greatness of saga literature.
Which has also joined my listening schedule.

And of course, I wouldn't be me if I hadn't acquired some related books.

This one is a present for The Wife
This one is for me
It has nice pictures

And we both like this film

Monday, 21 May 2018

A Marker

This blog has lost it's direction.  I don't know where to go with it.  But I'm not ready to give up on it yet

The real old guard followers will know that I used to be so short of inspiration, that I would set each day for a different category of post.  That worked quite well, created a lot of posts and led to what some flatteringly called an eclectic mix.  I've not done that for quite a while.

I've not yet given up on the blog entirely, and keep a quiet eye on the stats.  Unsurprisingly, this week has seen a big jump in hits*.  These were on the now defunct (and not up-dating) 'Royals in  Medals' series did - down to the Royal wedding of course.  My regular followers decry the royalism of those posts, but they are consistently the most regularly hit of posts**.   I planed to carry on to some more obscure royals, such as the children of Edward VII and George VI, but I didn't get there.

*Not as big as's bot-counter (see left) will tell you, but a real one, as demonstrated by the more reliable flag counter.
**Along, with some reason with that on Sir Arthur Craddock

It won't surprise those who follow me on Facebook*, but my main inspiration now comes when I'm in the pub or when I'm suffering from insomnia.  I need to get away from those situations.  The blog was originally designed to encourage my creative side.  I hope to get back to that.

*For the rest of you - Hello!  I'm still alive!

One of the topics I've been thinking about posting is Podcasts.  I hope that'll be my next post - and soon!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Sailor in the Desert

David Gunn, Sailor in the Desert: The Adventures of Phillip Gunn, DSM, RN in the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1915, Pen & Sword (2013).  

The Mesopotamian Campaign is an interesting one.  The Royal Navy, having made the decision to move from coal, it was necessary to protect the oil supply through the Persian Gulf.  To this end, three Royal Naval sloops were sent to the Gulf, supported by Indian Army contingents (in those Suez Canal days, the Gulf falling within the remit of the Indian Government as far as British policy was concerned) with the aim of  removing Ottoman troops from the Shatt-al-Arab and occupying Basra.

Initial operations in 1914 and '15 were so successful that mission creep developed and the Indian Government and the army sought a way to capitalise on these successes.  Accordingly, an over-ambitious plan to advance (some 500 miles) up the Tigris as far as Baghdad was developed.  More-and-more troops were sent up-river despite limited transport, resulting in over-stretched supply-lines.  After capturing Kut, the expeditionary force failed in the final 100 mile push to Baghdad and were besieged until they were forced to surrender in April 1916.  Some 23,000 British and Indian soldiers died in the attempts to relieve Kut, and over half of the surrendered force died in captivity.

This book isn't the one you want to read to get all the details, facts and figures of the navy's role in the campaign - that's Wilfred Nunn's Tigris Gunboats, reprinted a few times since it's first publication in the 1930s.  Nunn was the Senior Naval Officer, Mesopotamia, during the campaign, and to be frank, his book is a dry read.  On the other hand, Sailor in the Desert is written from the view-point of an 19 year-old Ordinary Seaman.  Gunn* wasn't particularly ordinary though. 

*'Nunn' and 'Gunn', it's annoying, I know!

After serving on HMS Clio during her defence of the Suez Canal and in the occupation of Basra, he volunteered for 'hazardous duties'.  He then, quite literally, found himself at the pointy-end of the advance up the Tigris - ahead of the main force in a steam launch taking soundings to check that the river was navigable for the vessels commandeered down-river to act as troopships. 

Later in the war, the Fly Class of gunboat was developed for these riverine operations, but at this time, two steam launches each towed horseboats which carried antiquated naval ordnance.  Gunn lashed a ladder to his cabin to accommodate a Royal Artillery spotter.  The launch also served to ferry senior officers up- and down-river.

For his services before he was invalided out, Gunn was awarded the DSM.  His obvious merit is reflected in the fact that he ended his career as Captain, RN.

All in all, this is a good read, but I found it slight and a little disappointing.  I gave it Three Stars out of Five.

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