Wednesday, 27 December 2006

NOT the Last Post

Well, given that I finally moved into the new place nearly two weeks ago you would no doubt be expecting a post from me by now. No, alas, thanks to my wonderful service provider NTL, who let me know the last day before the Xmas weekened that they don't operate in my new postcode area. Well thanks boys. Great customer service. Regular posting will resume the minute BT Home Hub is installed. In the meantime, here's a breif rundown of what you can expect to hear about when I finally have regular internet access again:

Two battle reports involving the Normans.
Miniature Painting and Purchasing Updates.
Eberron Update (or should that be "Proper Introduction"
and some other random gaming thoughts.

Anyway, lunchbreaks nearly over and I need to get back to work.

Speak to you then.

Wednesday, 13 December 2006

Moor's the Pity

Well, I've gone and done it. I've managed to arrange my second game with the Norman's for next week. I challenged Julian's Celts to a game just as Sam was about to invite me to his Iron Kingdoms one off game next week. Having heard what he had planned makes me want to split myself in two to play both, but I really need a second outing with my army and I couldn't possibly break off one engagement to accept another - despite Julian's generous offer to allow me to do so. Cheers Julian, but an agreement is an agreement. I've been meaning to get in a game with you for weeks and I`m looking forward to our game every bit as much as I`m looking forward to hearing the screams of dismay coming from the players around Sam's table. Bwahahahahahahahah!

I actually challanged Julian to a game against his massive array of British Celts (over 7000 points worth!!) but happily Julian has a more appropriate army sitting in his shelf and as yet unused: Moors!!!! Hurray! Another historically appropriate enemy I didn't know a thing about. Thing is now, when he says Moors what does he mean? There were so many Arab and Muslim armies that the west labelled "Moorish" (much in the same way that to a Arab or Turk of the time, Europeans were all "Franks") that the army could be based around any one of half-a-dozen lists that I can think of. Is the army chosen from the list in Armies of Antiquity, or one of the lists in El Cid? Who can tell?

Not me anyway. So thats why I'll have to ask Julian. Or maybe the all-seeing all knowing Spence. More pics of my painted milites coming up shortly by the way, honest. Just as soon as I can manage a decent lighting rig for a change.

P.S Still no sign of a blog entry r/e our Battlelines game appearing on Johns Blog. Ah well. I suppose he'll get around to publically admitting his humiliating, I mean, honourable overall draw, one day :D

Saturday, 9 December 2006

Army General (Plus Free Bonus Rant you should certainly feel free to ignore)

Well, between baby-sitting and getting semi-ready for tomorrows move Ive have done exactly nothing. Again. Except work... and even then I didnt do much as I managed to skive off to pick up some Xmas decorations for the office and then spent the next three hours decorating the damn place. It did mean I had to stay back for an extra hour though, as I couldn't just leave the job half-finished. My, isn't celotaping tinsel to the ceiling a great way to make a living?

Yeah, more sarcasm. Still, beats having people moan at you all day about how inefficient the government is. Believe me, I already know. We tell our senior management how utterly useless they all are often enough that they no longer even bother consulting us before introducing the latest inefficiency anymore.
Gah! I miss the army. Sure, the MOD was every bit as blithely incompetant as the Department of Work and Pensions but at least we could ignore their stupid directives until they took the hint and tried something else. They once asked us to count every individual 5.56mm rifle round held by the entire regiment (as opposed to counting and weighing the twenty round boxes in open ammo crates and examining the seals on the unopened one's). Yeah, seriously, only about half-a-million rounds or so! Needless to say they were told in no uncertain terms where they could shove their ammunition audit.
But now I`m just a lowly civil servant who cares more about getting vulnerable people they're money that he does about the governments bloody unemployment figures. I cant really get away with that sort of thing anymore. Honestly, I`m not sure how much more rule bending they'll let me get away with. But frankly, I dont see why a customer should have to wait five days to be paid just because their GP can't fill out a medical certificate properly. Especially not when we can use Internet Banking to pay the customer on the same day the doctor re-issues the cert! Sure it takes a half-an-hour each time. But it's not the customers fault the government sacked nearly a third of our processing staff is it? Or that the "time saving measures" brought in the goverment actually increased the time it takes to issued emergency payments. Yeah, we told them that would happen, but now that they've spent 13 million on a payment system that forces us to start from scratch if we make a spelling mistake (or, heaven forbid, try to go back ato the previous screen!) they're determined to make us use it rather than admit to the mistake.
Frankly, if the senior bods were really even remotely adequate for the job, they wouldn't be civil servants. They'd have been head-hunted long ago and off to the happy, delerium -inducingly high-wages of private bussiness. Instead, they're still here. Basically because no other bugger would be stupid enough to employ them.
Don't get me wrong, there are a few senior bods whom I truly believe have stayed on in the civil service because they are genuinely trying to make things work. Alas, they're just banging their heads against brick walls every bit as much as we are. At the end of the day, it's the civil service culture that's at fault for allowing second-rate individuals to rise to the top of the chain. But how do you change a culture thats become ingrained after several hundred years of development?
Truly, I just dont think you can. And that, to me, is a real shame. When civil servants (we're SERVANTS remember?) care more about their statistics and the next performance review than they do about the people they are supposed to helping you can't help but be inundated at our level with a thousand little tradgedies a day. Like a primary school teacher who has worked for thirty years being told that although she has developed bowel cancers and now has toilet issues, the fact that she has survived breast cancer for six years now makes her fit for work! Now it will take an Appeal and as long as six months to get her Incapacity Benefit claim up and running again. And all because the certificate informing us that the cancer had spread was lost in the interal civil-service mail. What kind of social "security" system is that? It disgusts me!
It also makes me very sad.

Right, enough. This is supposed to be a wargaming blog after all. So, included for your delectation (I love that word) are some pics of my recently touched up Army General. Again, apologies for the picture quality. I have had some great advice from some good people, but these pics were taken off the cuff about fifteen minutes ago and it's far too late to be messing around with lighting and such. Anyway, I've off to bed now. G'night.

Friday, 8 December 2006

Horsing Around the Battlelines

Well, I was going to post up pictures of my mounted milites tonight, but on relfection Ive decided not to. As they were a little rushed I didnt put as much detailing on them as I would have liked, so the shields are off and a little updating is in progress. I know, I know, I`ve broken the cardinal rule of army painting: never go back till the whole army's done. But in this case I felt it was justified. Ive gone back and added a few more blazes, highlighted a few manes and tails I didnt have time to finish, and now I need to mount the shields again (heh, heh, I said "mount", get it? a double entandre and a pun all in one word. Damn I'm plleased with myself).


In the meantime Ive being playing a few games of Battlelines with John. See his blog, here: Got game! for more details. Our game isnt up yet but I`m sure it will be eventually. That was sarcasm by the way. John has yet to write up a single game in which I've beaten him, though he's quite happily to admit to a few loses from badger? I wonder why?

Nah, I`m just ribbing you! Actually John and I rarely play boardgames, mostly because Im not a big fan and they quickly bore me. I've only played boardgames with him on three occasions: one in which I was soudnly beaten (Settlers), one on which I was victorious during my first ever game of Up Front (Well, I have commanded real infantry platoons a time or two, even if I was a tankie!) and on this last occasion an overall draw. He trounced me in the first game and I won the second, far closer game, after getting a grip on the game mechanics.

All in all, it's an enjoyable little game, but I cant bring myself to think of it as a wargame or a simulation, only as a very pretty dice game. A peasant with a shortsword and a bow is just as likely to kill a fully armoured mounted knight in close combat as he is to kill a fellow peasant ( a one in six chance either way). And if you ask me, that just isn't right. Plus the support rule encourages generals to form their units into "wedge" formation. The successful player is the one who exploits the rules mechanics to his best advantage rather than the one with the best tactical knowledge. In fact, someone with a decent understanding of historical combat is likely to be at a severe disadvantage in their first game (like I was). Just because a unit of knights would be near invulnerable to a peasant with a sword sword in open field doesnt mean they are are going to ride over them in this system. Admitedly,I did charge my knights unsupported across the field (well, I WAS playing the French at Agincourt :D) but even so it should not be possible for four stands of peasants with shortswords to withstand a charge by three stands of heavy cavalry and then wipe them out a turn later!

So, on the whole an enjoyable evening, especially when I came back from defeat and (again using the Fench) defeated John in a straight on infantry fight, using my knights as bait for his archers and swarming his men-at-arms (medium infantry) and dismounted knights (heavy infantry)with own medium infantry suported and one unit of medium cavalry. I didnt bother trying to take down his archers: they were faster than my men at arms and would simply flee "in good order" after a round of combat with an equally sized unit of my medium infantry. Also, my unit of medium cavalry was put to better use attacking already weakened infantry units to capture their banners. As the game is won by the player who captures a cerain numbers of banners first (in this case four) this was a far more useful role for them than chasing hordes of archers back and forth. Heck, theirs no guarantee the archers wouldn't have mown them down with their shortswords anyway, not in this game at least.

If it sounds as though I hated this game, please, don't get me wrong. I truly enjoyed it and would gladly play it again a time or two -this time including the "Lore" rules. See Johns blog if you want to know what I mean by that, as I wont explain it here. It's a fantasy game after all, but I would expect a fantasy game that perports to be set in an "alternate medieval europe" to at least reflect the realities of medieval combat a little better.

Two units of knights wiped out by two units of peasants archers with sword swords indeed!!!!

Monday, 4 December 2006

Haven't forgotten

No, I havent forgotten to update and no little green men havent come down from mars to upduct me...

They were blue.

The truth is that a lot has been happening lately, the new house is sorted and the organising of furniture is about to begin. Throughout all this I havent had much (read "any") time for painting, but somehow Ive managed to out the finishing touches on all the mounted milites and the general EXCEPT for the shields. Which should take no time at all. After that, I have to consider whether I`m going to paint the libres next, or the axemen. And also consider what miniatures to buy. Colin's VIkings have a bunch of Foundry, Crusader and Gripping Beast mixed in together and they look fine. Just a normal distribution of build amoungst a standard group of guys. Oh yeah, and I have to figure out my new minaiture buying budget. Darn lucky I dont drink, thats all I'll say.

Pictures of mounted milite unit to follow when all the shields are done.