In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

In which I blog about my miniature wargaming and whatever else takes my interest!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Up and Away Junior Birdmen!

Spent a wonderful Sunday morning taking my cadets to Centralia for gliding. RCAF Station Centralia started life during WWII as a British-Commonwealth Air Training Plan base and until the early'70s it was the Primary Flight School and Basic Officer Training School for the RCAF. Now it is a commercial aerodrome and industrial park but the Air Cadet Gliding Cadre runs gliding days for squadrons in the area out of it.

One tiny Scout tow plane was kept busy launching two gliders. The first glider would go up and the next glider was made ready so it could get pushed onto the runway as soon as the tow plane landed again. Then the first glider would be landing after the tow plane took off with glider number two.

Only 12 cadets made it but the weather was excellent and everyone got up in the air. There was even time for me, my Admin O, a Civilian Instructor and a mom (they live nearby so came out to watch) to get up in the air.

Gliding is very different even from  bouncing around in a light Cessna. You really notice how you're floating along on the thermals. I had the front seat so I had a pretty excellent view of the sky and landscape.

Cadet strapped in

Here we go!

Coming back in to land

I got to sit up front

Tight squeeze!

Great view

Ready for launch!

And I'm off!

Mom getting strapped in 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Ancient Codex of Awesome

This summer some long anticipated renovations have been occurring at the Armouries (which are over 100 years old themselves) that shelters my Air Cadet Squadron. With very little notice, no time in command to prepare (although the people running the show before me had 10 months to get ready, but I'm not bitter) and most of my staff being not available (three of them working at summer training centres) I've had to clear my offices for painting and new floors and then two weeks later, move everything back. Fortunately the Army Cadet corps next door had more staff available and they helped me move my furniture and piles of crap. Everything got basically dumped back in the offices. I tried to get admin stuff in my  office and get all the training stuff in the other office, but basically things were dumped in piles. Now renovations have moved to the QM Stores area, and everyone is back from summer postings, so we can get down to sorting out the offices.

My Squadron is 75 years old! It was the 3rd squadron stood up in 1941 when the Royal Canadian Air Cadets were formed.

Plus for about 20 years the same three captains ran the unit and never threw anything out.

Lots of old files, old training materials, old awards and cadet projects. Broken training aides. VHS tapes. CDs for old operating systems. 3 1/2 inch floppy disks!

But I have found some treasures too; the certificate authorising the formation of the squadron in 1941 signed by the Chief of Air Operations, a plaque with all the COs from 1941 to 1985, and this:

The first Air Cadet training manual.

It has the usual basic military knowledge stuff, and lessons on weather, signalling, navigation and lots of math

I like how interspersed with the text are air recognition pictures of allied and axis aircraft quizzing the reader.

But also lessons on armaments.

Parts of the .303 Browning machine gun

And just what every young cadet wants to learn, how to engage an He111 bomber with your Spitfire

The binding is in bad shape. But given the age and presumably heavy use I'm just happy to have it.

Of course this admonition on the first leaf is heavy with irony

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hyena Road

Image result for hyena roadFinally got a copy of this during a family shopping excursion to a nearby large mall and watched it this morning while taking my morning two cups of tea.
I've been wanting to see it ever since the LAV roared out of the screen at me during the trailer I saw two years ago.

I wasn't disappointed after the waiting.


Did I say that already?

The costuming and effects were really good. Getting the Canadian Armed Forces to help and shooting a lot of footage actually in Afghanistan helped too I'm sure.

The story centers on a sniper detachment from the I&R platoon and an Intelligence Captain to try and explore the complexity of the war.

The Captain tries to explain a local VIP to the sniper:
"On Tuesdays and Thursdays he's with us. On Mondays and Wednesdays he's with the Taliban. On his off days he's selling narcotics."

Naturally things go sideways and plans fall apart.

But there's lots of good action and scenario ideas for the tabletop. Naturally I find myself wanting to add a 4 man sniper detachment in soft hats like in the opening scene and firefight.

Highly recommended. I have been told you can rent it from YouTube.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Squaddie Tea

Putting the kettle on is always the first thing I do when I wake up.
This morning I got up after being at work until 0230, stagger downstairs to start my brew up.
Tea canister is empty. Stagger to pantry to get the rest of the box.
No box.
Start searching behind things in pantry.
Still no box.
Start going through the kitchen hoping to find a bag of Tim Horton's tea (sometimes when you get a large they only put one bag in and leave the other on top. After questioning their sanity I put the extra in my pocket for emergencies such as this morning).
My daughter's"English Toffee Pu'erh" "Mint Refresher" and " Blackberry Mango" aren't going to do the job.
Then I find two nondescript little foil packets with "Tea. Instant." printed upon them.
They were from a British army ration pack that my friend the Mad Padre had gotten during his posting to CFB Suffield where the British maintain a big Mechanized Brigade training centre. He had passed them to me as a curiosity.
Into my mug poured a deceptively tiny amount of brown powder.
But the results were Not That Bad. I'm sure if cold and wet after sleeping in a slit trench or the back of a Warrior it would taste pretty darn good at Zero Dark Thirty.
So sanity restored until Daughter No. 2 got home with a big box of Yorkshire.
Although there was some panic and angst this morning, I'm proud to say that there were no actual tears.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016


So of course, now that I've finally finished my modern Canadian platoon, Elheim Figures puts up in the store 5 more packs!

More riflemen, grenadiers, SAW gunners plus a nice trio of leaders and a spiffy platoon HQ pack with C6 and radio operator.

Riflemen CAN02

Grenadiers CAN03

SAW gunners CAN04

Leaders CAN05

The above are btw, not my work. They are pictures from Elheim Figures web store. Nice work. I think the painter used a thin wash to punch up the details for photos.

So I guess I need to save some money and get some of these. Either replace the proxy figures (and then repaint the proxies as Rangers), or just add Call Sign 22 to the Battlegroup? A greater variety of poses would be nice.

Either way, between these in 1/72 scale and Full Battle Rattle Miniatures modern Canadians in 28mm, Canadian gamers don't need to use American figures anymore!

(Except in 15mm and 6mm, but does it matter at that size?)

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Lighting the Signal Fires

I have lit the signal fires and summoned the hosts to WARRRRR!

Or at least a nice cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit.

It's all the Mad Padre's fault, really. Positively forcing me to play War of the Ring and trotting out his 28mm Lord of the Rings troops on numerous occasions. He got me feeling all Middle Earthy.

Then he says he's ordering some Wild Men from Vendel and would I like to add a few packs to the order?

Ooooooo-er! Yes please, Vicar!

So what do I want from some Middle Earth gaming?
  • Magic and monsters but they have to be extraordinary not ordinary like in Warhammer Fantasy 
  • Heros need opportunities to be heroic 
  • But heroes, magic and monsters can't dominate the game either 
  • Big enough to be satisfying without letting my megalomania overwhelm the project 
  • Fun. Dragon Rampant seems to satisfy all of the above conditions 
  • No crossbows! Not in the books, so there you go.
  • Same with dwarven steam tanks or gunpowder weapons 
  • Same with plate armour 
  • Basically I want to avoid any cross over with/contamination by Warhammer Fantasy Battles or various D&D backgrounds 
Of course everyone does the War of the Ring to death. If you go earlier into the background, there is fertile ground in the early Third Age with the men of Arnor and Eriador fighting the Witch King of Angmar. These are the fellows who held Weather Top and left behind the barrow-downs where Frodo and company nearly come to an early end.

I'm thinking something like T.A. 1000 or so. Dwarves and Elves are still forces to be reckoned with. There is a Dwarf kingdom in Moria and Elves in Hollin (the abandoned wilderness the Fellowship cross before entering Moria). The Istari have arrived to rally the Free Peoples, the Nazgul are stirring. I can use my early feudal troops for the men. The Black Company is obviously in the service of the Witch King.  With the others I might think about new banners and perhaps replacing the Crusader heater shields with Norman kite shields. Or I might just paint up some more Normans. Although my men only have crossbows as missile troops, so the Elgves will have a decided tactical edge until I can correct that. I'd been thinking a box of the plastic Conquest Norman archers would be good thing to get anyway.

For starters on the fantastic side of things, I've got a lovely Grenadier dragon and an old edition Games Workshop ent, neither of which have ever been in a game. I got them many years ago, in an earlier foray into fantasy gaming with the old plastic Games Workshop High Elves. Sold off the elves but kept the ent and dragon because I liked the models and I was quite pleased with the work I'd done on them.

So looking at my collection I've got a good start:

Old GW ent
Add three units of skirmishing bowmen and an elven sorceress 
Dragon plus the Black Company 
Might not look evil enough to be the Big Bad but at least an evil lieutenant 
Perhaps more Shakespeare than Tolkien but maybe acolytes of the Witch King
Not a bad start. Add some armoured elite foot and heroes to the Elves. Get a couple of units of Dwarves and add allies from my existing feudal troops for men and there's probably a couple of decent forces to start with for the Good Guys (plus I have an unpainted Gandalf in the lead pile!).

Then for the Bad Guys start accumulating uruks and snagas (big fighting orcs or hobgoblins vs little orcs or goblins) and trolls. The Ettenmoors from which the trolls in the Hobbit came from are in the region, so I'm sure the Witch King would have some in his armies.

For castles etc. I'd been pondering a Norman style fortification with a stone tower and wooden palisade for years. I think this would fit nicely with both straight mediaeval games and the idea of strongholds of men far from the technical expertise of Gondor. I'll have to think more about elvish fortifications and maybe a dwarven outer work or watch tower protecting the approach to the main citadel.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Disaster at Dari Wada

Gave my NWF army lists a road test this weekend with Patrick. I also wanted to finally give some cavalry and artillery a try too. Patrick was new to the rules, and with the other new things I decided upon a straight forward game with a small Imperial force attacking a tower controlling a valley.

After discussion on the Sharp Practice Facebook page and seeing how few Pathans I got vs. the Anglo-Indian forces, I increased the cost of Imperial infantry by 4 points per group. I also ran the Pathans entirely as skirmishers as suggested by one of the group members.

The Anglo-Indian force had:

  • 3 groups of Green British infantry with a level 3 and level 1 Big Men
  • 2 groups of Gurkhas with a level 2 and level 1 Big Men
  • 1 group of Bengal Lancers with a level 1 Big Man
  • 1 screw gun with a level 1 Big Man

For his 10 support points Patrick took a water carrier, an ammunition mule, a Chaplain and upgraded his artillery commander to level 2.

The Pathans had:

  • 14 groups of skirmishers with a level 3 and 6 level 1 Big Men divided into 7 formations

For my 5 support points I took 5 sangars. Although a Holy Man or secondary Deployment Point would have come in handy.

My DP was behind the tower and out of sight so as my formations came on they were able to deploy with the sangars on either side of the tower. One group occupied the tower. Another formation went up the mountain on my right to snipe at the British. Two other formations went left.

Pathans mass around the tower of Dari Wada
The Gurkhas came on first and pushed straight to the tower.

Gurkhas advance

Patrick deployed the screw gun to support them on a small knoll. The Lancers went to his left to contest the narrow defiles at the foot of the mountain. The British infantry formed a firing line in front of the gun.

Screw gun gets into action

Pathans skirmishing on the mountainside
As the Lancers maneuvered to get ready to charge they had a few saddles emptied by musketry from the defile and the mountain side.
Lancers getting fired upon
Meanwhile I had pushed a formation out to my left to try and attack the British from the open ground. The Screw gun quickly swung into action and blasted them with canister. The British infantry then formed a firing line and unloaded a couple of volleys before they could activate. The 4 survivors out of the 12 man formation fled away with about 28 shock points and no leader!
"Action front!" Screw gun blasts some advancing tribesmen with canister
The Lancers then charged down the defile before my tribesmen could reload (thus the dramatic musket smoke). Surprisingly, my tribesmen were only defeated 4 to 3. I could afford to lose 4 tribesmen, whereas losing 3 Lancers hurt Patrick very badly. More musketry as they retired reduced the unit even further to one sowar and the Big Man.
Lancers charge into the musket smoke
This allowed me to shift two formations out  of their sangars and start sweeping around the Imperial left. The Gurkhas had retired with excess shock after a bitter firefight with the tribesmen in and around the tower. So they started shifting to cover the Imperial left flank.
British getting outflanked on their left
But I was able to get two groups to swoop down on the Imperial Deployment Point, dramatically butchering camp followers. A Random Event left them with a fortuitously covering Pall of Smoke between them and the Gurkhas.
Overrunning the British Deployment Point
In the meantime, I was also sending another formation of two groups further to my left to outflank the Imperials from the big hill overlooking their right flank too.
British getting outflanked on their right too!
Forming a square
It was getting late by this time and the Imperial force was down to 6 or 7 Force Morale, and I was only down to 9. Time for the British to retire back to the main column.
Over view at game's end
So far so good I thought. The points seem balanced. Playing an entirely skirmisher army is interesting. I could have been more aggressive as the Pathan player too I think. I let a few opportunities slip by because I was unsure how things would work, and I wanted to see how some situations would play out. Getting some more troops in the initial list and then purchasing the gun as a Support Option might have been a way to go too. Although the Chaplain did rally several shock off the Gurkhas keeping them in the game.