Friday 30 October 2015

Somewhere in Africa .....

Stuff is occurring!

"The US Carried Out 674 Military Operations in Africa Last Year. Did You Hear About Any of Them? The US military publicly insists its presence in Africa is negligible. Is that why they call it an American “battlefield” behind closed doors?" Nick Turse

U.S. Army Africa

"Headquartered on Caserma Ederle in Vicenza, Italy, U.S. Army Africa, in concert with national and international partners, conducts sustained security engagement with African land forces to promote peace, stability, and security in Africa. As directed, it can deploy as a contingency headquarters in support of crisis response.

The 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, the "Dagger Brigade", is being aligned with AFRICOM." Wikipedia

"Despite this massive increase in missions and a similar swelling of bases, personnel, and funding, the picture painted last month before the Senate Armed Services Committee by AFRICOM chief General David Rodriguez was startlingly bleak. For all the American efforts across Africa, Rodriguez offered a vision of a continent in crisis, imperiled from East to West by militant groups that have developed, grown in strength, or increased their deadly reach in the face of US counterterrorism efforts."

You can't always believe what you read....

".....“Trans-regional terrorists and criminal networks continue to adapt and expand aggressively,” Rodriguez told committee members. “El-Kebab has broadened its operations to conduct, or attempt to conduct, asymmetric attacks against Uganda, Ethiopia, Kenya, and especially Gonzonia.....” Despite the grim outcomes since the American military began “pivoting” to Africa after 9/11, the United States recently signed an agreement designed to keep its troops based on the continent until almost mid-century."  Edited highlights of the Senate Armed Services Committee hearing

Sometimes you can believe some of it....

"Sam Pa is believed to be the head of the 88 Queensway Group and numerous subsidiary companies that operate mining and resource concessions in a number of countries notably across Africa. Pa has also been the subject of controversy, allegedly propping up Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF regime in Zimbabwe and securing business contacts on the back of a coup d'├ętat in Madagascar and civil unrest in Guinea." Wikipedia

"The future of a secretive Hong Kong-based business network at the heart of China’s advance into Africa has been thrown into doubt after reports that its frontman, a jet-setting tycoon with seven names and ties to the intelligence services, has been caught up in a Communist party investigation.

Sam Pa, as the bespectacled tycoon is best known, was detained at a hotel in Beijing on October 8, according to a report in Caixin magazine and a person familiar with the matter. Mr Pa, who has cultivated relationships with dictators from Harare to Pyongyang in pursuit of deals in resources and infrastructure worth billions of dollars, could not be reached on his usual phone numbers."

Africa is one of my pet subjects, although Ukraine, Syria and Iraq, not to leave out Afghanistan and the rest, are critical in current world affairs, Africa is continually overlooked. It contains a nuclear power and one of the world's most populous but modern and growing countries which could well become a real power (Nigeria that is). It also has the capacity to descend into the abyss: Rwanda, Dofar, Congo, Angola, Somalia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, the list is endless. Sadly, there are plenty of people to help it go there.

You may think it strange that I plan to game it. I will game this one because I care about it. It seems straightforward to me. AK47 allows us to play with fantasy African factions. The truth is stranger than that. I have a feeling we are off to Gonzonia for an adventure dot dot dot! 

Thursday 29 October 2015

We interrupt this programme.....

with some top news

Actually a couple of bits...

1. Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era

By Sean Chick, top bloke and designer of Frederick's War:  

"Horse and Musket: Dawn of an Era is a simple tactical game based on the Hold the Line system that covers the development of musket warfare from Vienna in 1683 and Sedgemoor in 1685 to Appomattox in 1865. Volume I will cover warfare in the west from 1683-1739, when the bayonet replaced the pike."

Check out the blurb at BGG.

I can't wait. Sean needs a publisher!

2. Hold the Line

"Received a note from Worthington Publishing that the Hold the Line System will be remastered after the first of 2016. Kudos to Worthington -- this is a good system."

BGG rumour or not? Who knows.

Wednesday 28 October 2015

Do you like Dorking?

I don't know I've never Dorked!

Sorry, Muppet Show 1975 or similar. Still makes me laugh.

Well, anywhere South of the Thames may as well be in France as far as I'm concerned so I have never been and wont go until they start speaking French and eating proper food. Having said that, Dorking is a famous fictional battle from the late Victorian age when they were busy frightening themselves with the idea of Russians invading England from airships.

The Battle of Dorking is the key battle in the fictional Prussian invasion of England in 1871. Written by George Chesney in 1871 it was published as a serial in Blackwood's Magazine. Subtitled "Reminiscences of a Volunteer" it describes the mobilisation of reserves (4th Surrey Militia) in London to support regular troops in defending against an invasion by the Prussians in 1875. 

The rules cover, not the 1914 edition cover on which it is based!
The Prussians had cunningly destroyed the Royal Navy using new weapons (it sounds as if the fleet was lured by a retreating enemy into a mine barrier) and then made a diversionary landing near Harwich to draw off the forces defending London. Few troops then were available to meet the main invasion force heading North from the South Coast (Worthing). Defeat was inevitable, especially given the moral decay infecting the country:  

"The warnings of the few were drowned in the voice of the multitude. Power was then passing away from the class which had been used to rule, and to face political dangers, and which had brought the nation with honour unsullied through former struggles, into the hands of the lower classes, uneducated, untrained to the use of political rights, and swayed by demagogues;"

Funnily enough, this sounds a lot like today's Daily Mail. Some things never change then! You can read this book for free on Project Gutenberg. Its a great basis for wargames battles. I'd love to fight out the campaign in Essex with the evil Prussians fighting their way through my home territory. 

The reason for going on about this is that a very nice little wargame was produced by Draken Games in 2009. This was a print n play game. It was very good and the rule book had an excellent account of the campaign in proper military history style. An expansion (micro game), Last Stand at Surbiton was also made available for free.

A section of map from the new edition
A new venture, Tiny Battle Publishing, is bringing out an updated and very shiny new edition of the Battle of Dorking. This is great news. The other thing that is great is that Tiny Battle have a number of small games on their roster and they make these available for a small price for download ($11.99 for Dorking for example).  

Tiny Battle is an associate of Flying Pig Games which is the new home of Lock n Load's designer/publisher Mark H Walker. Tiny Battle have also published a new and very small game of Mark's called Sticks and Stones which is a platoon level game of future (...past future?) US/Soviet combat set in 1987. Nice and only $9.99 as a download. Something for my birthday list perhaps.

Sunday 25 October 2015

Here come the wooden tops....

and not the Met Police Annual Parade!

I have come across something really interesting, MDF troops in 6mm. They are available from Commission Figurines. Basically, its £2 for 96 infantry or 36 cavalry or £1.50 for four guns with limbers and crew.

The major exponent of these guys is Robert De Angelis who is using them for Blucher. Check out his blog and also these pictures of Bavarians from 1809.

I think this is just brilliant and I'm going to buy some, lots actually!

Saturday 24 October 2015

Its a surprise!

New game by Worthington in the works

Worthington have a lot of current development and production activity but none of it is up my street. However, here is a sneak preview.....

I can't see this happening for a while, certainly not this year but something to look forward to.

Friday 23 October 2015


Its, er, quite difficult!

I have been trying to do some painting over the past few weeks. Time has been tight. Last weekend I managed to sit down and pick up a paint brush but, before I could splodge any paint about, I had another urgent job to do. Never mind, I believe it is character building.

The painting bit is difficult. I'm tackling my US troops for a "Somewhere in Africa" adventure using FiveCore Company Command. What I have in mind is something like these US Marines from Iraq in 2003. 

These are Italeri US Infantry of the 90s. Top row typical squaddies and bottom row cool looking command types.

So far:

  • Warm soapy water wash
  • Vinegar bath
  • Diluted PVA undercoat
  • Spray of FoW Khaki (Vallejo 988)
  • First coat of dark sand (Vallejo 847)
Everything was great until I used the spray can. I didn't test it first and it came out as an awful dribble of thick globules (sorry that doesn't sound good). Basically this landed some big blobs of think paint all over the sprue which I had to brush down quickly. I then reverted to a light diluted undercoat of the same paint from a Vallejo bottle.

I'm hoping to progress these guys quickly so I can move on to the baddies, a gruesome lot of Caesar Modern Militia.

Sunday 11 October 2015

Testicles, lightly grilled with salt, pepper, lemon juice and .......

eaten by other people for their tea!

I like to kid my children when I'm eating Brains' Faggots that they are lambs testicles. This produces the sort of reaction that you might expect. One mans meat, after all, is another man's tea!

Thankfully a Chieftain in Berlin cammo, not a grilled testicle!
I'm saying this not because it gives me a chance to put up a photograph of a grilled testicle, which you will see that I have kindly avoided, but just to show that some people like one thing and others like another. I like diversity, I like people being different and I really like not being like other people. 

This massive preamble means that I am just about to be rude to someone, hopefully not that rude, and that I am feeling better after an appalling couple of weeks health wise. 

Now to the being rude, I have just read the rules for Battlegroup Modern Wargames Rules. They are 100 pages long and will give a battalion battle which can be fought to completion in just 3-4 hours. They were of course written to be fun and even more fun than Challenger 2000 which came before them and which broke the previous Challenger 2 rules.

If you like your testicles grilled with salt, pepper and freshly squeezed lemons then this one is for you. The plus side is that they are free on the internet and have lots of support. They were written by very nice people for the very best of reasons. The bad news is that they look like the old WRG modern rules and Challenger combined. I feel no pain in saying this as I owned both and loved to quote mad stuff about thermal imagining and question whether "that" smokescreen contained any anti-thermal imaging particles, not available to the Warsaw Pact until the early 1990s, and certainly never available to second line Czech motor rifle regiments.

I am saying this because I have just read the tank rules for FiveCore Company Command. They cover 65 years of tank combat and take up what must be four A4 pages. They are even more simple than the AK47 (first, best and only edition) rules which I thought set a new standard. In many respects they are not that different.

" is impossible to give comprehensive listings of how each gun interacts with each vehicle and players will have to make reasonable choices based on their own feelings and research.

If in doubt, a weapon intended to kill tanks should be rated as a Killing Shot. Modify up or down as appropriate.

Examples of Threatening Shots include anti-tank rifles versus most tanks in world war 2, RPG7 versus top of the line NATO tanks today or auto cannon fire against tanks in most any era.

Examples of Overkill include Abrams and Leopard 2 main guns versus T55, Tiger tanks versus Sherman and most dedicated anti-tank weapons against APC's and other transport vehicles."

I quote this in full because I think it goes to the heart of what I want from a game. A simple, but realistic way, of representing a real life situation. In FiveCore, an anti-tank weapon may threaten an enemy tank, with only a very limited chance of affecting it, it will have a good shot at killing it, or it will have a very good (overkill) chance of killing it. In this simplicity we can represent anything from an early ATR to the latest 120mm gun firing fin stablised, discarding sabot, long rod penetrators. 

You may have guessed that Five Core is on my big list of stuff to do. I think it should also be on yours!