Thursday, 17 January 2019

Love and Destroying Planets

My reading this week included two books that probably don’t share a huge readership…

The first was The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. I admit, I am somewhat skeptical about any book that professes to share ‘The Secret to Love that Lasts’, but it came highly recommended, and, at less than 200 pages, it’s a quick read.  

Well…it’s actually pretty amazing. It completely overthrew most of the ideas I had about how I communicated my love to my wife, and it also helped me better understand what it is that I need to feel loved.  In truth, my marriage is a very good place right now, but I think book is going to be a huge help in keeping it there.

Strongly recommended for anyone in a committed relationship.

I followed this up by reading Cadia Stands by Justin D Hill. This is the Warhammer 40,000 novel that tells the story of the collapse of the Cadian Gate, that held the forces of Chaos at bay. It is a key turning point in the 40K universe, and leads directly to the current situation. More importantly, is a rollicking, fun novel that jumps from massed tank battles with 10,000 tanks down to individual soldiers holding the line. There is a load of creativity poured into it, and, once it gets going, the action pretty much never relents. 

Although the novel essentially stands alone (if you know the background of 40K), I am glad to see that Justin D Hill already has another novel coming out featuring one of the survivors.

I don't play 40K these days, and Black Library novels can be pretty hit and miss, but this is the best one I have read in while.

As an added bonus, I was able to get both of these books through the Kent County Library system. I had to request both books be sent to my local branch, so had to pay £0.80 each, but that’s a pretty good price for two good books! It's a wonderful library system and I'm am grateful to have it.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

Visiting Beowulf

This past weekend, my services were required to help chaperon my wife and kids up to London to meet a friend. After the trip, I wasn't needed again for five or six hours, so I was left with a lot of time to kill in London. Now, lucky for me, our train arrived into St. Pancras which happens to be just down the road from the British Library, who are currently running an exhibition called Anglo-Saxons: Art, Word, War. 

I arrived at the British Library just after 10 in the morning. When I went up to purchase my ticket to the exhibition, they said the next available slot was 12:30! Guess I should have booked in advance. Well, thankfully, I had nothing better to do, so I bought the ticket. I spent the next few hours poking around the shop, the book store, and a couple of other smaller exhibitions. I investigated both caf├ęs. Finally, it was time.

Despite getting there on the dot of 12:30 the exhibition was already crammed, mostly with people lingering from earlier admissions, but also from other eager attendees. It is no wonder, really. The exhibition is stunning – eight or nine rooms crammed with artefacts. Mostly these were ancient tomes, but also included bits from Sutton Hoo (on loan from the British Museum), Alfred’s Jewel (on loan from the Ashmolean), and, of great excitement since I hadn’t seen them before, several pieces from the Staffordshire Hoard, including the famous bent cross! Glorious, glorious stuff. 

But really, it was about the books - scores, maybe hundreds of books. All of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles were there. The Domesday Book, which got a room to itself as well as a movie. Judith’s Gospel. The works of the Venerable Bede!

My heart though was set on seeing one specific work, and I missed it the first time through. I had to ask a security guard, and he walked me through half the exhibition. There, in a little corner, given no more standing that any of the books around it, was Beowulf. The only surviving manuscript of the only Anglo-Saxon epic poem. How less rich would the world be if not for this collection of papers that were slightly singed in a fire some centuries ago… 

I saw Beowulf, and another little geek dream came true.

The exhibition runs through February 19, so if you are in London and have any interest in the Anglo-Saxons, Beowulf, or really old books, you really must go. It’s not cheap at £16 entry, but it is seriously worth it. It is an utterly unique collection. My advice though – book in advance! If you can't make it to the exhibition, you might want to consider picking up the exhibition book. It's a pretty incredible tome itself! 

For those who might be wondering, my favourite translation of Beowulf remains the one by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. It’s not the most literal translation, but for me, it captures the spirit like no other.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Turn Counters

A lot of the scenarios I am writing these days call for the player, or players, to keep track of turns. Unfortunately, in the midst of a game, this isn’t something I’m very good at doing. So, in hopes of getting better, I made myself a couple of turn trackers that can double as small pieces of terrain.

I made one to use for Frostgrave and other urban/ruined settings, and another for Rangers of Shadow Deep and other more rural games.

For both of them, I started with a little ‘casualty marker’ from Warbases. These can be turned to display a number from 0 – 12. I then glued a figure on top of each. The statue of the woman is  a Reaper miniature. The blackbird on the branch comes from Warbases, in a great little pack of ravens.

Both got a quick paint job and some simple basing and were ready to go.

In truth, even with these on the table, I will probably forget to use them, but they please me none-the-less!

Tuesday, 8 January 2019


If you love Rangers of Shadow Deep, Frostgrave, and paper, it’s your day!

First up, after a bit of trial-and-error, the hardback version of the Rangers of Shadow Deep core rulebook is live. It is exactly the same as the paperback, except with a heavy, thumpy cover.

Next up, Rangers of Shadow Deep: Blood Moon is also now available print-on-demand. It’s a thin one, but makes for an attractive little supplement, much like a classic RPG module.

Finally, Issue 4 of Spellcaster is also available, for those that want to make sure they have the full set in print edition!

I love the flexibility of PDFs, but for me, nothing beats paper. 

A New Battlefield

Check out my new mat from Cigar Box Battles! It’s the 6’ x 4’ ‘Mixed Ground’ matt with 1” hex overlay. (You can get it without the hexes or with 2, 3, or 4” hexes). 

I thought this would be a great mat to lay down for games of Battletech and Ogre. Actually, I like it so much I might even use it for the occasional miniatures game where I’m feeling lazy and can't be bothered to use a tape measure.

Some of the members of my Firehawks Legion are testing it out in the photo. As you can see the new battlemech bases are a bit bigger than 1”. Still, I don’t think the difference is big enough to cause an issue.

Looking forward to getting a game in on this sucker!

Monday, 7 January 2019

Buzz, Buzz

Okay, I admit it. When I wrote Rangers of Shadow Deep, I included ‘giant flies’ in several scenarios without having the slightest idea where players would get such miniatures. I wasn’t worried though, I’ve noticed that miniature gamers, especially those attracted to more open-ended games like this one, are infinitely inventive. I have since seen several suggestions to use for giant flies, but the most popular seems to be this set of ‘joke flies’ on amazon. Since I needed some giant flies for my Blood Moon set-up, I ordered a pack.

So far, I have ‘painted’ six of them, which is probably all I will need for Blood Moon. I say painted, but the only thing I actually painted were the bases. I painted up and flocked some bases, and then I just glued the flies on top. I haven’t otherwise touched them with a brush. It just didn’t seem worth the effort.

So here they are menacing a new ranger I recently painted.

Anyway, if you are looking for flies, these are recommended. Actually, if you can bring yourself to do it, it looks like you can get the same flies for several pounds cheaper if you are willing to buy plastic poo at the same time. Personally, I'm kind of glad I paid the extra few pounds for less... [It has been pointed out that the cheaper ones are only 10mm. The more expensive are 15mm.]

Sunday, 6 January 2019

Mechanized Infantry

It turns out, it is really difficult to photograph 6mm infantry, which is probably just as well as it is also really hard to paint 6mm infantry. All of that said, I gave it a go! Here are the first two squads of a mechanized infantry company that will support my Firehawks Legion Mechs.  (Actually, only one squad is actually pictured, but the other looks almost identical).

The infantry and APCs come from Brigade Models ‘Hammer’s Slammers’ line*. I like these because they are just a bit bigger than their other 6mm stuff and seem to fit better with the Battletech mechs. As you can see, they look great with a Locust looming over them.

* Saying that, I can't seem to find these specific minis on there, but similar ones are available.