Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Revisiting a list

Looking back at the early days of this blog I stumbled upon a post in which I'd listed all the wargames I'd played or run over my first thirty-odd years in the hobby. I thought it might be interesting to revisit the process.

So back in 2010 my top ten most-played miniatures games were:

  1. Hordes of the Things
  2. Arc of Fire
  3. TacWWII
  4. Cold War Commander
  5. Rapid Fire!
  6. Challenger
  7. Firefly
  8. My own Wars of the Roses skirmish rules
  9. DBA and The Fire and the Rose tied in ninth place.
Interestingly there are two more-or-less homemade rules systems in there. The Fire and the Rose were a set of mass battle Wars of the Roses rules from York Wargames Society.

Having moved on 14 years the current top ten is as follows:
  1. Hordes of the Things
  2. Arc of Fire
  3. Sharp Practice
  4. Cold War Commander
  5. TacWWII
  6. Chain of Command
  7. To The Strongest!
  8. Lion Rampant
  9. Song of Blades and Heroes tied with Pulp Alley.
The actual numbers of games played are interesting. In 2010 the last two games only had four plays each. Now SOBH and Pulp Alley both have 14 plays each.

Clearly the big winners are the two Too Fat Lardies games with Sharp Practice having 31 plays and Chain of Command twenty. This is despite my nearly having given up on TFL in disgust at the way the card-driven events system in first edition Sharp Practice constantly conspired to bugger up my carefully crafted scenarios!

Obviously HOTT is still on top. The sheer amount of games generated by 15 years of the Berkeley tournament, as well as a few other events, mean that it'll probably never be overtaken even through I rarely play it now.

Overall the number of games I've played or run of Arc of Fire, Cold War Commander, and TacWWII is nearly double what it had been.

The remaining systems (To The Strongest!, Lion Rampant, Song of Blades and Heroes, and Pulp Alley) are all, I believe, new games rather than ones I just hadn't encountered in 2010.

Also interesting that only the top four of the 2010 list are systems that I play even occasionally these days.

If there's anything else you think it would be interesting to analyse I'd love to hear from you by commenting below.

Friday, May 17, 2024

Just finished

A couple of items have recently emerged from the workshop with their paint jobs complete. First up is this Hawker Hunter F Mk6.

It's built from the Mistercraft kit, which is a complete dog. It's a reboxing of an early 1990s Polish kit that I mistakenly bought for a bit of relaxing model-building therapy. Unfortunately the parts and the instructions don't match, the decals don't allow you to build all of the variants shown on the box or in the instructions and they were also printed out-of-register.

As a result I decided I'd go for a fictional colour scheme using some decals I had in the spares box.

Our Hunter represents an aircraft of the Andreivian Armenian Republican Air Force in the early 1990s. Note the hand-painted national colours on the rudder.

I drilled a hole in the fuselage and glued in place a rare-earth magnet to allow the Hunter to use one of my home-made flight stands. And five days after I purchased the kit we have another addition to the Andreivian armoury!

Also completed in between sessions on the Hunter was this chap:

He's an old Games Workshop AD&D Hobgoblin. 

He was sculpted by Aly Morrison in the 1980s and he's been half-painted in a drawer since that time. Painted, lacquered and matt-varnished, he'll be going on eBay shortly.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Units for Essel

I'm hoping to get in a game of TacWWII at the informal gaming club at one of the local pubs. I've adapted Bob Mackenzie's Breakout from the Essel Bridgehead scenario and found that it needed a few elements I didn't yet have.

These are all 1/300th scale wargames toys; not accurate scale models.

First up the Germans have a low probability of a single sortie by a ground-attack Me262. Fortunately I had a 3D print left over from the ones I did for Crisis Point:

Then there's a Loyd carrier to tow the British 6pdr AT gun. Don't know the manufacturer - it came in a bag of second hand stuff marked "British Support Company".

And finally I adapted an old Irregular Miniatures Universal Carrier to make the Wasp flame-thrower variant. The flames are from painted clump foliage and the fuel and propellant tanks are from plastic rod.


Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Flashpoint Potsdamer Platz

After a request from frequent commenter Pete I did a bit of digital archaeology and found the scenario he wanted to see. It's an Arc of Fire scenario designed that had two ends in mind; to teach Chris Barnes the  rules and to make use of Chris's 1980s British infantry platoon. The plot is perhaps a little far-fetched but Chris had specifically asked for something set in Berlin.

The format is in that used the scenario books by Skirmish Campaigns. In the event we ran the scenario without the variable attachments. 

For those unfamiliar with the rules, troops are rated on a scale from 4 (the best) to 8 (the worst) for Morale (given per figure) and for Tac (tactical competence and training, given per unit).

Flashpoint Potsdamer Platz

Date: 14th November 1985, 1100 hours. 

Location: Potsdamer Platz, British Sector, West Berlin.

History: A KGB operation to snatch a defecting Soviet agent from under the noses of British intelligence has gone wrong. Shots have been fired and the West Berlin authorities are alerted. The KGB officers with the drugged defector in their car make for their emergency extraction point on the edge of the Grosser Tiergarten near Potsdamer Platz. A platoon from Berlin Infantry Brigade is patrolling in the woods on the edge of the Tiergarten.

British Orders: It’s far from clear what’s going on but obviously there’s been some kind of Soviet incursion. It needs to be contained and the Soviets taught that they can’t just swan into the British sector.

Soviet Orders: Make contact with the KGB team and secure their extraction by way of a hole blown in the Anti-Fascist Protection Rampart (see scenario rules below).

Game length: Eight turns


1. The Soviet demolition team has two explosive charges. These are intended to blow a hole in the Wall at location X on the map. This location links to a safe path along the GDR side of the Wall, avoiding the anti- personnel minefields.

2. Setting the charge requires a successful TAC roll by a member of the demolition team who must subsequently retire 4”. Roll 1d10 on the team’s next card – on a 1 the charge fails completely, on a 2 it fails partially – the gap is passable by only one figure per card.

3. Should both charges fail the VDV will need to climb over the Wall. Any figure can assist another to cross the Wall, taking a whole card to do so and requiring a successful TAC roll.

4. The Tiergarten consists of light woods at this location.

5. If extraction looks impossible, the defector should be shot. This can be done only by the Soviet CO or by one of the KGB officers rolling anything but a 1.


Helicopter Extraction: A helicopter extraction would be an alternative means of getting the Soviets out of West Berlin if you have a suitable helicopter model.

Battle Taxi: One of the British sections may optionally be deployed in it FV432.

Cavalry: As an option, a Chieftain of 14/20 King’s Hussars can be used to lend tone to what would otherwise be a vulgar brawl.

Monday, May 6, 2024

Another Gnat

My flirtation with building model kits just for the hell of it pretty much dried up but I did want to do another Folland Gnat to display alongside the RAF Valley trainer aircraft. 

I fancied the Yellowjacks display team version as I thought it would look great alongside the red trainer. Unfortunately when I did find one things didn't go according to plan. I knew a gloss yellow paint scheme really needed to be sprayed rather than brush painted so I invested in a rattle can from B&Q. Sadly I rather cocked up by spraying the paint on too thick.

However, I found a Airfix starter set of the Red Arrows version, which gave me another go at the airframe. This long weekend has given me a chance to have another go.

It's far from being a perfect job but I'm prepared to live with it. This isn't the easiest kit to get right.

I do like to see the two models together as part of what's becoming a small collection of early British jets.

A recent discovery

Stella's aunt has recently moved into a care home in London and we have most of the former contents of her flat in storage up here in Sheffield. Among the boxes of material we found this:

So that's an excuse to dig out some pictures of my own anti-fascist protection rampart:

This simple representation of the wall was something I knocked up quickly to enable me to run a Berlin-based game to introduce Chris Barnes to Arc of Fire back in 2017. The realisation that this was nearly seven years ago is shocking!

Saturday, April 27, 2024

Some Puebla buildings

The Siege of Puebla, 1863 game is going to need a large number of buildings. 

The city is organised on a grid system and this played a significant tactical role in the battle with the French having to assault one defended block or manzana at a time while the streets could be dominated by dug in artillery pieces. 

One block is going to consist of my large, blue-stuccoed, courtyard house. As this is on a 10" square base, I'm adopting that size as the standard manzana. These low relief buildings will form an edge to our area of action whilst indicating that the city continues off-table. Each is 10" wide and an inch or so deep.

They are build on PVC board bases from left over foam core, thin card, and some scraps of Wills pantile sheet. The laser-cut MDF balcony was from a pack of three I bought years ago from Sarissa. They are a little clean at present but they'll get a general dry-brushing and dirtying up when I have the whole table prepared.

Also completed recently was this small shop.

It's by Income Gaming from their Streets of Venice range. 

I've improved it slightly by glazing the front doors and adding roof tiles again from Wills pantile sheet. The model is intended for the Carnivale skirmish game which has large (35mm or so) figures. Originally it came with doors in the end walls. As well as being unrealistically close to the front door, these looked stupid next to my 28mm chaps so I blanked them off and used quick-drying Polyfilla render to hide the signs of their presence.

This model comes apart to allow the placing of figures both upstairs and down. It will form part of a half-depth line of blocks on the Mexican baseline.