Friday, 30 April 2010

Panzer 8 WW2 Naval Rules

Whilst on the train on the way home yesterday evening I took the opportunity to have a closer look at the naval rules produced by Panzer 8 and mentioned in my previous blog entry. This reinforced my opinion that there is potentially a very interesting and challenging set of rules waiting to be bolted on top the basic system and so I am going to spend some more ‘cerebral’ time over the weekend messing about with them; in between the various painting tasks I have scheduled.

I had a look on the Panzer 8 website last night and found a couple of battle reports of actions using the author’s rules and they seemed good fun – both fast playing and with results that looked feasible. Certainly from a club night perspective they have a lot to offer and should I be successful in my attempt to expand the core system into something more palatable to the traditional naval war gamer then it will be a project worth tackling.

The one thing that I need to be careful of with this exercise is that in attempting to add additional ‘chrome’ to the rules I avoid the trap of upsetting the flavour and balance of the system as devised. I want to maintain the simplicity of the original but to have a more ‘rounded’ rules system. Fortunately, the ‘chrome’ will not be too onerous to formulate and neatly breaks down into bite-sized chunks.

Movement – I may introduce a rule whereby a ship has up to three moves allowed depending on type. A turn costs one move. This means that a ship with a move of two could turn and then move one zone or move two zones if facing the correct way; with a move of three they could turn and move two zones or turn, move and turn again or even move three zones if facing the correct way. A ship not turning stays where it is. This rule will allow for variations in ship speeds and manoeuvrability based on their historical capabilities. In connection with movement I may introduce an initiative procedure in order to add some unpredictability into the game turn.

Combat – The main thing that will be needed here is provision for guns smaller than 8” in calibre – not only for light cruisers and destroyers but also for secondary weapons. Provision will also be needed for AA weapons as well as torpedo combat. I am happy with the combat mechanics as they are and so little or no change will be needed in that respect. A few additional firing modifiers will be needed but again, nothing major.

Damage – The existing system of separate Turret and Hull hits is fine as it stands but I am tempted to replace it with the US system of hits being described as D1, 2, 3 or 4 with sunk being the fifth level. This will have implications for combat and will ensure that only one type of damage marker will be required. Damage effects can therefore be linked to the D level and combat etc adjusted accordingly. This will need some careful thought but is certainly viable.

Ship Factors – This is probably the biggest single area for revision. Ship Attack Factors will need to allow for secondary weapons where applicable as well as torpedoes and AA. Movement will be based on type as mentioned above. Defence Factors are a lot more complex as tonnage, build and armour will need to be considered. Assigning one point per 10,000 tons is OK when dealing with the bigger ships but anything less will be horribly vulnerable – single hit heavy cruisers anybody?

Air Power – Ship borne AA guns and the use of fighters need to be factored in and some variety in respect of aircraft types would be in order – the basic combat mechanics are fine as they are though; simple and to the point and will need little change. Carriers should not ordinarily appear within a tactical action in any event and so if one is unlucky enough to find itself in range of a battleship then it has been poorly served by its commander!

Submarines – The whole submarine and ASW thing is a game all of its own and whilst not usually relevant in a surface fight will obviously need to be considered in the context of convoy actions. The use of zones will make the process simpler when dealing with submerged submarines.

Quite by chance last night I noticed that the rug on the floor of the new Man Cave is divided into forty squares – eight by five – so I have an instant zone based playing area of the suggested size of 160cm by 100cm. Ignoring the squares I have the eight zones needed and by placing a selection of models on the rug I was able to see how such an action would look and the short answer is – absolutely fine. The only downside is the colour: beige…………………………………..;-)

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Rules without Frontiers, Games without Tears.........

Following on from my recent post about ‘Relative Position’ naval war games; I have managed to track down the fast play rule set using zones to regulate movement and combat I had mentioned. The rules are by Panzer 8 and are available as a free PDF from The naval rules (there are a number of other interesting sets contained within the PDF) are very fast play and are primarily designed for early war gun actions using ships sized at heavy cruiser or larger. Basically ships are able to move one zone a turn and can be either broadside to the enemy, facing towards or away. A ship that is broadside on is presumably ‘stationary’ although maintaining position would perhaps be a more accurate description. Weapon ranges are given in terms of zones and although scales are not quoted I would take a single zone as being roughly 5,000 to 6,000 yards. Ships have an attack and a defence factor and gunfire is a two step process – a single roll to hit or ‘straddle’ the target and then opposed rolls for damage. Damage is either T for turret or H for hull with the damage being marked as points of either type. There are critical hits so the almost obligatory chance of HMS Hood going bang is represented. Air power is represented with carriers allowed a strike per 10 aircraft at a maximum of two strikes per turn. There are no rules for AA fire or for the use of fighters. Ships that are smaller than a heavy cruiser do not feature and so the light cruisers and destroyers required as escorts and scouting parties are conspicuous by their absence.

The playing surface consists of eight zones – four a side – and ships may not cross into the oppositions half. The suggested size of the playing area for 1/3000th is 100cm by 70cm with the zones being 12.5cm each. Obviously for 1/1800th (the scale of the War at Sea models) these would need to be larger – I would think that perhaps 20cm per zone and 100cm wide. That would give an overall playing area of 160cm by 100cm or just under a 6ft by 4ft table. In fact you could probably just use the 6ft by 4ft as is and scale the zones accordingly. Ships are placed however the player prefers within each zone so formations can be represented quite handily.

The obvious amendments and additions to the basic system look something like this:

Increased number of ship types and more representative attack and defence factors
Secondary and AA weapons
Smaller calibre guns i.e. less than 8”
Ship torpedo attacks
Increased variation between ships of the same notional type
Air power – escorting and defending fighters
Submarines and ASW

Now I realise that this lot looks pretty intimidating but I don’t think the suggested tweaks will cause huge amounts of extra work. The author’s website includes a forum to discuss the rules presented and so I will be utilising this in order to ensure that my efforts to upgrade the core system are in tune with his intent.

I realise that this is yet another set of naval rules I shall be playing around with and so, as a long term naval war game enthusiast I will offer no apologies for this!

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

The Man Cave: Unplugged

In a moment of whimsy I decided to take a few shots of the Man Cave: The Rayleigh Annex (affiliated to its Antipodean version!) so you can see the nerve centre for all my various operations and plans for global domination.
The only thing remaining for me to do is to put up a couple of small shelves for the sound system and a selection of suitably inspiring CDs.
Perhaps a small fridge for the Pimms and Lemonade...............;-)
I am very pleased with the final result although the colour scheme was SWMBO's idea and made use of various tins of paint that were festering in the shed!

In the Man Cave: Abstracting the Abstracted Abstraction

Yesterday evening saw me tackling the first job in the new Man Cave: cutting out card bases for the War at Sea ships and aircraft. Due to time constraints I was only able to get the bases cut for the twelve aircraft. These are 40mm square and are painted the same sea blue I use for the ships – Humbrol Matt 25. I print off identifying labels for these as well; merely numbering them by type e.g. Stuka 1, Stuka 2 etc. I shall tackle the ships this evening with a view to painting and finishing the whole exercise in time for the weekend. Preparing these bases is not difficult, merely time consuming but it does have a certain therapeutic value. The aircraft have been duly stuck to their bases and are awaiting the brush. In the interests of economy I will mount all the ships on their bases before getting the paint out and so tackle the whole lot in one fell swoop. I will need to get the ships and aircraft labels ready as well as putting the names and ensigns on the bases is my favourite part of the process – primarily because that is the last step and it means the models are ready! There will be a photo shoot when the models are ready and now that I have a new camera I am keen to give it a thorough work out!

In all I have a further 32 ships to be based – 17 for the Royal Navy, 7 for the Italians and 8 for the Germans – with no prizes for guessing the nationality at the top of the list! As mentioned previously I am really pleased to have a couple of models of HMS Repulse (one will be used for HMS Renown – although the two ships were slightly different to look at) and have bitten the bullet and acquired an additional copies of HMS Warspite to serve as Queen Elizabeth and Valiant. The War at Sea ships are variable in quality and accuracy but as representations of the vessels in question they are ideal for use as wargames models. The only downside is their size – realistically I can only use them at the club as the table size required is well beyond anything available in my house!

I have considered how best to make use of my War at Sea models at home and have come to the conclusion that the only way I would be able to achieve this would be to dispense with movement entirely and merely concentrate of the combat side embracing the concept of relative positions. I have seen a set of fast play naval rules kicking around on the net that use a system of zones for relative positions and whilst I was initially wary of such a concept I have revised my opinion somewhat. Although such a system will serve to further ‘abstract the abstraction’ I think it may well have possibilities.

The biggest problem with this approach is how best to represent the effects of manoeuvring (course and speed changes etc) on the table top. Consider two warships sailing parallel at a distance of 10,000 yards at the same speed of 20 kts. Their relative positions will stay the same although they will carry on moving on their current course. Ships following these two at the same heading but at, say, 30 kts, will pull ahead and this separation will continue. Similarly, a slower ship will fall behind. As long as the two ships in the centre of our example maintain their course and speed then the faster and slower ships will eventually disappear into the distance. There would no reason then why the two ‘middle’ ships in the above example could not be static on the table top with the faster and slower vessels are placed accordingly until either changing speed or course or exiting the combat area.

Simply put, a ship will either attempt to close or open the range of combat by a combination of speed and course relative to the enemy. Unless one ship has an advantage in terms of speed then, all else being equal, the enemy should be able to maintain the status quo and be able to conform the other ships movement – in other words, stay the same. The trick will be to allow for such tactical manoeuvring without actually moving the models but still showing the same on the table top (after all, that is why we are using models rather than cardboard counters!).

I will look at this in a little more depth as I would dearly like to be able to fit an action using the WaS models on a standard dining table. Much to ponder methinks (yet again!).

Monday, 26 April 2010

Man Cave 2: The Next Generation

After an exhausting weekend I have finally commissioned the new Rayleigh Factorium aka Man Cave 2! It has been hard work putting it together simply because of having to reorganise, in effect, three rooms. Now that I am back in business the first task will be to get the bases prepared for the additional War at Sea ships and aircraft I have. This will be tackled in conjunction with the revised storage system I will be using for them which will take up a lot less space. Although I had mentioned in an earlier post that I had sourced a supply of box files that are half the depth of the standard version I have not been able to price these at less than £3.99 a go which is more than I want to pay. As I calculated I would need about a dozen of these the cost would mount up – I would certainly be able to buy far more interesting material with the monies in question! As an alternative then, I will use the existing box files I have and make up some inner trays to double up the carrying capacity. I was tempted to use a new shade of blue for the bases (my current shade of blue is a little on the dark side) but given that I would then have to repaint nigh on 200 others decided that this was probably not a good idea!

Once that has been tackled I will then return to the Balkan Wars stuff and I will push on get these finished as soon as possible. Around the ongoing figure painting I have a couple of modelling projects to undertake - these are relatively small scale and make for a welcome diversion whilst waiting for paint or varnish to dry. These are of a VSF nature and are simple to manufacture en masse - now that I have some extra room it means that semi painted or assembled ‘kit’ can now safely be left out overnight – and will be used for both Aeronef and the forthcoming Aquanef.

The ‘cerebral’ projects, mainly naval campaign based, are on track, albeit somewhat retarded, and so completing the additional War at Sea stuff should hopefully provide an additional spur. I have two ideas on the go – the Mediterranean based Malta Convoy scenario and revisiting the Bismarck affair. Once the models are based then I should be more inclined to push on with the mechanics of the two campaigns – these will drafted during ‘non-painting’ time e.g. lunch time or even on the train to and from work (I have an hour each way).

As another ‘cerebral’ exercise I will continue to add flesh to the background of both Balkrunia and Karagoz; my pair of 1920’s ‘imagi-nations’. I am enjoying this diversion and have plans to make use of some of the figures I have for the forces in question; with the addition of a few WW1 vintage vehicles and some Wings of War aircraft, suitably repainted. I have been considering using the Peter Laing 15mm WW1 collection as the basis for Balkrunia and Karagoz – I certainly have enough figures to produce any amount of armies and of course, should I design the uniforms etc myself (I was not planning to do this originally) I can ‘mix and match’ to my hearts desire. The figures from this collection would need a repaint in any event so this would probably be a good opportunity to revamp the collection into something unique.

Friday, 23 April 2010

20,000 Leagues Under the Aquanef at Salute

I am really excited about the forthcoming release of Aquanef by Wessex Games. The rules are designed to allow gamers to fight naval actions during the latter half of the 19th century incorporating both submarines and sea monsters and using Aeronef. Aquanef themselves are what Victorians imagined submarines would look like – the most famous example of course being the Nautilus from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne. The game mechanics will be familiar to Aeronef players and as such the set represents a logical extension of that set with many similarities in terms of game mechanics and background. I am a great fan of submarine games but this has usually been confined to board games as representing surface and subsurface activity on the tabletop is not an easy undertaking. From what Steve Blease is describing on his blog it would appear that a viable solution is available in the shape of using upturned plastic beer glasses and old CDs. The CDs are ‘seascaped’ and placed on the top of an upturned beer glass (or should that be beer plastic?) with the ship model placed on top. The complete assembly is moved as per normal – this represents the surface element of the game. The subsurface side can consist of models on the usual ‘flying’ bases – using different height stems for the Aquanef may be a possibility in order to represent different depths. A complexity will arise of course when tackling and action that encompasses subsurface, surface and air elements using this method – an alternative I imagine would be to use half pint glasses for the surface elements and pints for the aerial with the subsurface kit on ordinary flying bases. As an aside, with some careful modelling there is no reason why a model, suitably prepared, could not be used as a spaceship, a dirigible and an Aquanef – that makes for very economic gaming with the same models being used for three different genre! My plan is to experiment with this approach and so my tried and trusted ‘plastic-aircraft-bomb-with-scrap-bits-of-sprue-added-and-based-on-a-flying-stand’ technique will once again be on the model tray in due course.

Steve Blease is running an Aquanef game at Salute with, I believe, Matthew Hartley, so to anybody with a passing interest in VSF please pass by and take a look. Certainly the pictures released thus far on his blog: are very inspiring! I am hoping that lots of pictures get taken of this game as I am really keen to see how the CD idea works out for representing surface and subsurface units. The models that Steve has produced for the game are also featured and very nice they look as well. I was really taken with the underwater scenery idea and so have a mental note to visit our local Aquarium shop – Swallow Aquatics – for some further inspiration. It all looks really effective and I am really sorry not to be going to Salute to see it in action.

A similar approach with the models could be used for another period of interest, which for me would be enormously tempting (and as an additional project I suppose!) – this being a WW2 German U Boat Wolf Pack attacking a convoy. The only problem I envisage is the fact that full hull submarines (i.e. not the usual waterline types) are hard to come by unless you use 1/600th or 1/700th. One to think about for the future perhaps but in the meantime I am keen to try VSF style sub and subsurface warfare using Aquanef as published. It should also give me the stimulus to tackle the 1/2400th scale ACQ models I have that featured in my previous post.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

1/2400th Scale Ships and Steel on Sand

I must confess that I had completely forgotten about these little beauties - these being my collection of models produced by Tumbling Dice of various ACW ironclads and steamships. The prompt came about from a post on the excellent and so whilst the looming spectre of yet another half finished project is now back on the radar I am very pleased I dragged the models out.

The blog is well worth a look for anyone interested in small scale projects - painting, modelling and converting - and is one I have found both valuable and inspirational.

The one thing I have done though is to remove the separate bases as most of the models had already been assembled, undercoated and in most cases half painted. I did this solely because I prefer to use a flat, non textured base as I print name labels and ensigns to decorate them with.

Well done steelonsand - a great blog and really inspirational....curse you!!!

Monday, 19 April 2010

Memoir of the Bobotes by Joyce Cary

I recently acquired a paperback copy of the above title and can do no better than to quote the description from the back page.

'A stirring account of the war in the Balkans.

Joyce Cary, one of the 20th Century's greatest novelists (the author of The Horse's Mouth) was 23 years old at the start of the Balkan War of 1912-1913.

A one time art student in Edinburgh and Paris and newly down from Trinity College, Oxford he went through the war as a stretcher bearer in the Red Cross.

Shortly after his return he wrote Memoir of the Bobotes without thought of publication. It is an extraordinarily vivid account of a forgotten war fought by peasants under primitive conditions - yet particularly fascinating today to readers with memories of later Balkan wars.

It is both a moving and illuminating account of the war but it also offers a self-portrait of a young, upper-class Englishman - idealistic, sensitive, romantic - living in the belief that 'there would be no more wars'.

This is published by Phoenix Press (ISBN: 1-84212-102-2) in paperback and once I have read it I shall report further as to the content. Needless to say I am very much looking forward to reading this.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Relocation - Phase 1 Complete

All of this weekend has been given over to repainting my son's bedroom, reorganising my daughters bedroom and redeploying a new, double sized bookcase into what is now my 'den'. It has been exhausting - there was much assembling and disassembling of units, trips up and down the stairs and to and from the loft. by early Sunday evening I was aching in places I had forgotten I had but was able to console myself with the fact that the first phase is now complete and all of my military book collection, together with my hardback fantasy and science fiction titles are at last residing in their new home . Next weekend will see my two storage units relocated, together with my desk and the Rayleigh Factorium will reopen for business!

Friday, 16 April 2010


Given my fondness for operational level wargames, I was very pleased to have been able to track down a copy of Tim Gow's rules: Megablitz. I had checked with Dave Ryan at Caliver and between us we had decided they were out of print but a chance glimpse on Ebay found a trader with a number of copies and so the deal was duly struck and a set is now winging its way to deepest Rayleigh. Tim Gow also supports a blog devoted to the rules which covers such things as battle reports ets and can be found at There is also Megablitz website found at which has much of interest including scenarios, battle reports, variants and much more besides.

I own a number of sets of WW2 rules that cover the operational level of war i.e. usually with a base of figures representing a battalion and it is a style of game I would like to explore further. A big advantage of this style of game (which is certainly scenario driven rather than just 'set up and play') is that the amount of 'kit' required is obviously less especially in terms of figures as most battalions only need a few figures per base.

At a basic level (driven by the fact that I own no painted WW2 kit to speak of) I could press Memoir 44 pieces into action should I want to experiment with these rules - this would certainly work in the short term and would not take up any valuable painting time!

Thursday, 15 April 2010

The Scale of my Balkan Despair (is 28mm)........

Oh Woe, Woe and Thrice Woe! The last thing I needed to see was this website for reasons which will become blindingly obvious if you take a look at the site. I was absolutely gobsmacked when I saw what was on offer and suddenly 15mm does not look quite so attractive anymore!

The Balkan Wars range that they produce is pretty much complete in its coverage and the figures look really nice. I was also taken with the page devoted to the organisation of the Balkan Armies and the description of an action fought using the said figures.

There are also some other nice goodies on the site – Colonial Germans, Americans and assorted others so if 25mm is your scale then give these a good look, cry into your drink and then reluctantly go back to the mass of metal you already have for the period!

C’est la vie I suppose (through despairingly gritted teeth!).

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Variation on a Balkan War

Readers may like to take a look at the blog recently set up by Bob Cordery. The content is set around the design and use of 'Imagi-nations' set during the 1920s and 30s. The recent release of 'A Very British Civil War' should give you an idea of the type of thing you will find and for my own part I will be using the Balkan and WW1 collection in due course to fight the epic campaigns of the Balkrunian Empire against their mortal enemies from Karagoz.The armies I use will be conventional historical versions but I intend to add vehicles, ships and aircraft where few or none existed. This gives me a good excuse to paint up some WW1 vehicles and to finally make use of the Minifigs 1/1200th scale WW1 ships.

Call it alternate history or even fantasy but the use of so called 'Imagi-nations' is probably as old as war gaming itself although recently has tended to be more 18th century driven. Setting up and running such a 'nation' is very therapeutic and a lot of fun and adds a further dimension to the enjoyment of gaming in my opinion - besides, how else would I be able to add armoured units and dreadnought Battleships to Balkan forces in 1918?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Mars Attacks!!!

Another Sunday, another boot sale. Today we hit the Dunton boot sale which is huge (and took us nearly 45 minutes to get away from!) and once again I managed to score some unexpected goodies.

First up and featuring in the picture above is a trio of plastic four legged robot type machines. I am not sure but I have a feeling these have featured on Doctor Who at some point so if anybody can shed any light on their origins then I would appreciate it. They stand around 35mm high and will fit nicely onto a 40mm square base so will feature as Martians in my Land Ironclads set up. They are painted silver with a single red 'eye' and the only thing I may do to them apart from basing them is to lightly black wash the legs so as the detail is picked out. They are very nice and the three models cost me 30p in total.

I also puchased a Games Workshop bundle for £5 which was obviously the result of a former gamer clearing out their old stuff prior to heading off to the untold delights of university or somesuch. For the £5 I acquired the following: 3 Games Worshop paint brushes (unused), 3 tins of Humbrol enamel paint (again unused and they are colours that I use!), a painted Bloodbowl team (ebay here we come for that methinks!), assorted plastic and metal Orcs and Goblins (about a dozen or so), a Space Dwarf (Squat) on a chopper style motorbike, most of a Bugmans Brewery beer wagon, an Epic metal Imperial Guard Mole (the small one - rather like the one from Thunderbirds), a pack of GW static grass and an unopened pack of GW hedges and wall sections - designed for 28mm. I shall keep the brushes, paint, grass and the Imperial Mole (this looks suitably VSF) but the rest will be 'outed' - probably at the club first and then ebay.
All in all then, not a bad weekend on the boot sale front!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Balkan Wars, Bases and Boot Sales

I ordered a few extra figures from Irregular Miniatures for the 15mm Balkan Wars collection on Thursday which arrived this morning - I love the speed of delivery from them - and I managed to find out from Ian Kay that the Montenegrins are on his 'to do' list and should be available in a couple of months. This is good news as I wanted to have a contingent of these renowned fighters in the Balkan Wars collection.

I have also decided on the basing criteria I shall adopt for the Balkan Wars and WW1 collections. I am going to use the 40mm DBA derived frontage rather than the Volley and Bayonet version although I shall make some 'sabot' bases for use with V and B set. I have decided this purely on the basis that there are probably more rules around for 15mm using that size of base than any other so simple practicality was the main driver.

Today saw the first of the Saturday Boot Sales so we were out in force this morning to see what was around. Sure enough I managed to secure a few goodies to open my account for this season including a paperback copy of 'The Longest Day' by Cornelius Ryan, a hardback copy of his 'A Bridge Too Far' - this is the 1974 Hamish Hamilton edition - and finally a hardback copy of 'Bounce the Rhine' by Charles Whiting.

My knowledge of the war in the West after DDay is limited to Operation Market Garden and the Battle of the Bulge and I have read very little on events in 1945 so the Charles Whiting title was most welcome. 'A Bridge Too Far' and 'The Longest Day' by Cornelius Ryan need little introduction and I think the Market Garden title is one of my most read books on WW2. At the last count this must be around my 6th copy of this and is the first hardback version I have owned. The cost for these three titles came in at a very modest £1.70 so it was a good start to the new seasons boot sales.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Planning the Plan

Partially inspired by the indefatigable Bob Cordery via his excellent blog; I have take the somewhat unusual step of setting myself some targets to be achieved during the course of the next month. Working on the basis that even a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step (or the well worn ‘Rome wasn’t built in day’) I am going to content myself with some small ‘bite sized’ exercises in the hope that as a result they will stand a chance of being completed! The main task for the next few weeks is the planned relocation of my den at home and so time for other projects will be limited. I have a couple of written tasks on the go which serve as a good fill in to the main event – chief of which is producing a play sheet for Mr Fox for a set of WW2 skirmish rules (he will be happy to see that in print for sure, given that it has taken roughly 6 months thus far!). Once these have been tackled then the painting can resume in earnest.

As previously mentioned I am in the process of relocating my ‘office’ at home and this is in itself a major logistical exercise. Basically, I am acquiring an extra bookcase from my daughter’s room so that her ‘stuff’ will need a substantial reorganisation as a result. She is 14 and is growing out of the myriad amount of ‘little girl’ stuff so this means much shuffling around and boxing up of assorted items as her room metamorphosis’s into a young ladies boudoir. I expect this to take at least a weekend and my contribution will be limited to applying the muscle required for moving units etc and packing – the serious business of sorting will be left to the ladies of the house as they are far better at that sort of thing!

Whilst this is taking place in my daughter’s room I will be decorating the new den and planning what will be going where. The idea is to have the double bookcase along one wall and my existing two storage units across the other wall with the desk along another wall beside the door. My PC will be staying where it is and so the old office will become, to use the modern parlance, a ‘chill out lounge’ cum computer suite. Having the PC located away from the main bulk of the collection is a deliberate choice on my part as I find having both the computer and the bookcase in close proximity to be a major distraction when there is painting to be tackled!

The two big advantages for me of undertaking this exercise is that firstly, I will be able rearrange what is stored where and secondly, I will be able to see what I need to keep and what can be disposed of. My storage space is generous but of finite capacity so care still needs to be exercised in the boxing up and packing of ‘stuff’. For example, all of my War at Sea collection is in dire need of a thematic storage solution so this will be a good opportunity to tidy this up. My plan is to acquire some A4 box files that are half the depth of the standard version. I will be adding magnetic paper to the underside of the ship and aircraft bases and will line the files with magnetic strip. I was fortunate enough to acquire a large quantity of 3” by 5” fridge magnets (extolling the virtues of recycling!) that can be readily chopped up to fit as needed for this particular exercise. I also have the Balkan Wars fleets to consider although at 1/3000th they are not quite so imposing. I have a number of board games that will also need attention – Memoir 44 springs to mind – as well as the Space Hulk kit. Then there is the not inconsiderable 15mm WW1 collection – that will need a new home as well.

Oddly enough I am looking forward to tackling this 1:1 scale project as the end result will be really beneficial to my enjoyment of the hobby as a whole. I will certainly try to avoid the temptation to use the extra space as an excuse to expand the collections further though! Well, I can try in any event!

Monday, 5 April 2010

Back to 'Base-ics' - Where the Grass is always Greener............

It has been a busy few days over the Easter break and no mistake! Firstly,on April 1st (the irony was not lost...) yours truly was presented with his first grandchild - a strapping baby boy called Ryley (I know it is an odd spelling but at least it has the virtue of being unique!). Many congratulations to my son and his good lady on this happy event with all good wishes for the future. Baby, Mum and Dad and all are well - as are the new grandparents.

After the frenzy of hurried dashes to and from the hospital - not to mention contending with an FSA inspection at work it was with great relief that we headed up to Norfolk for a very enjoyable weekend with family. On Saturday we managed to get a couple of hours in Norwich city itself and I made a couple of useful discoveries. Firstly, a very good toy shop called Langleys - good because upstairs has an excellent models and plastic figure section. I did not buy anything but it is always nice to have a chance to see products up close and personal. Secondly, I popped into Past Times to find out about the wooden model village in a bag (Bob Cordery has used this in many of his 15mm Morschauser games) and I am happy to report that whilst they did not have any in stock they are featuring in the 2010 catalogue and were in fact on order as it is a very popular item. the bag retails for £5 and whilst the buildings are a little on the cartoonish side they are ideal to use for gaming.

We returned home on Sunday and had a quick run around to our local branch of Lidl for some bits and pieces. It was there that I came across a really useful and unexpected piece of scenery. The object in question is a grass mat that is more like an outdoor carpet than anything else It is designed for outdoors and is very durable with a very realistic grass colour. It folds flat and the 'pile' is pretty short and so is ideal for a tabletop surface. It measures 1 metre by 2 metres and so can easily be chopped up into bespoke playing areas - I am thing of a 3ft by 2ft, a 2ft square and a Morschauser grid of some size. The price for this was a mere £5.99 so it is cheaper than buying felt!

The Easter break has given me ample opportunity to think about my basing question and I have decided that should I go for the full on Volley and Bayonet approach I will will be using base sizes of two thirds the original i.e. a brigade base will be a 2" square. Trying to place six 15mm foot figures on a 40mm square is a little on the cramped side. I am still thinking long and hard about this whole subject as the lure of the 40mm frontage is a compelling one and should not be dismissed lightly.