Panzerschreck Design Studio

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Archive for the ‘Rants and Raves’ Category

The Wargames Press – in print and online

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2009, July 7

Now that I’m finally settled in Australia, I’m in a much better position to take in new rules, magazines, blogs and forums/bulletin boards. I’ve picked up a couple of issues of Wargames Illustrated (pre-and post-Battlefront purchase) as well as a couple of issues of Battlegames.

Battlegames works very hard at differentiating itself from the other two UK based magazines. Sometimes I think itfalls into unwitting satire of itself, with almost audible hear-hears and self-laudatory commentary. Graphically it errs on the side of de trop with the tell-tale pointers of DTP overkill and form over function. The one criticism I have of Battlegames that resonates with me is that it can look like a Web 2.0 ‘zine on steroids and suffers from a surfeit of Photoshop cleverness. In spite of this, or perhaps because of it, Battlegames offers a great deal in terms of the written word. the prose is well-written and edited, with minimal overt editorialising or agenda-pushing and a distinct lack of the petty jealousies and bitchiness derived from envy that pervades online media at sites such as Page Miniatures The. Mike Siggins’ column is equally thought-provoking and incredibly insular in parts. Battlegames is expensive though, at AUD$17 a pop,  but for that you do get the aforementioned good writing, excellent photography and the “Old School Wargaming” tenor.

Wargames Illustrated, well according to some lackwits and luddites, it’s purchase by Battlefront (a successful non-UK wargames company, the cheek of it!) was the pre-cursor of the apocalypse. If one ignores that sort of thing and looks at the mag of late, It’s back to something of the good old WI of old. Sure there’s Flames of War content, but if FoW isn’t your thing, what’s to stop an adaptation of the FoW content from being usable with your current rules du jour. Certainly IABSM and PBI aren’t too dissimilar interms of scale and scope. There are some distinctly off-putting parts – but they may have gone by now – the excruciating faux bonhomie of the pseudo-Siggins is cringeworthy at best and lacking in any content of note. I wasn’t so impressed with the painting guide for the freebie ECW figure, being pure Dallimore in technique and really poorly presented. Sadly it seems that fewer people seem to be aware that there is more than 3 stark colour clashes to painting 28mm.

Online the usual suspects feature. PMT is becoming more and more irrelevant as it descends into self-parody with each month. By searching through some of the more focused forums around, one finds better advice, more trenchant opinion and often much more up to date news bereft of agenda-pushing and stalking horse commentary. The interface is as archaic as ever and the censor’s knife is wielded with the finesse and reasoning of a dull mattock. I tend to spend most of my online time these days at WargamerAU, despite its Fantasy/Sci-fi leanings, as there’s much to be picked up in terms of c0nversions, modelling and painting in an easily accessible format. When I’m not there I look for inspiration to the Guild, and other such forums. I avoid the heavy traffic forums like FoW, Daka Dakka or Frothers while the SOTCW forums are following the same path and featuring some of the same names that dissuaded me from paying much attention to TMP – sad really as SOTCW would do well if they would actually broaden their horizons beyond the few rules sets they do actually bother with. Again insularity rears its head in the case of the SOTCW. Will I rejoin? Possibly, but only because I don’t have all the back issues yet.

This may seem a tad negative in outlook as a blog post, but I’d like to stress that I see much to be positive generally.  I’ll spend more time paying attention to the various podcasts that are out there especially with 3 hours of commuting each day. There are also a few eZines and club forums that are worth searching out. I’ve given up on Yahoo groups for the main part, only Perfidious Albion continues to be a constatnt, mainly because of the varying content and a take no prisoners attitude to the Prima Donnas of the boardgames hobby.

Pete

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So where have you been?

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, November 3

The long night is over. I’m once again gainfully employed, and have very good job security courtesy of a promotion and raise after only 5 weeks at a fiscally conservative a risk-averse multi-national bank that used to only operate out of Hong Kong and Shanghai. It’s already made a nice wee difference

The € vis à vis the AU$

There’s no earthly chance that I’ll be buying anything sourced in the UK for at least a year and even then it’ll require a sizable shift from the 39-40p mark towards the 50p-55p position to make ordering viable. Whereas once I would have sourced 90% of my miniatures needs from the UK in terms of manufacturers, authors and general modelling supplies, these days I tend to be far more eclectic and perhaps discerning.  Much of my distaste for buying British these days stems from the derisory padding of prices through inclusion of VAT and especially the exorbitant postage and handling charges some of the entrepreneurs assail the consumer with.  But also I’m just a bit tired of little or no customer service in what is a very small, customer-centric industry.

But rather than focus on the negatives, I’m going to consider this an opportunity to wander along the hypotheticals and the optimists’ lanes.

All that said if the economic situation warranted it, I’d still be buying a fair bit of gear.  Peter Pig and Kerr & King would be my chief beneficiaries but Spirit Games would get some business, mainly on the publication front.

An order from Peter Pig would almost certainly include the various rules sets based on the Ak-47 engine, along with enough figures and certain vehicles to flesh out my 1940 Sovs and UK Home Army, along with the Brit paras I’ve had sitting around for the last 15 years.

Other UK purchases would in the main be from Kerr and King, with their 15mm range of battelfield terrain and detritus being a particular favourite of mine.  In truth, the K&K items are that nice and that inexpensive I’ll probably spring for a couple of boxed sets anyway.

The only other purchases would perhaps be some Foundry paints (despite my aversion to their prices) which I will find useful for my 19th century armies, particularly given the amount of horseflesh I have to deal with.

But until things improve, such will languish on the back burner.

More soon,

Pete

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The Timing is Right

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 21

As I potter around organising everything for the movers to pick up in 7 days time, I’ve been considering the limits on ‘net traffic as a regimen I’ll be introducing once I have a permanent new connection as from June. A couple of hard decisions need to be made regarding what sites I’ll continue to peruse for mIniature news and updates but I’ve pretty much whittled down the discussion forums I ‘ll be frequenting to no more than five.

I’ve been spending lots of time grabbing ideas and inspiration from GWP and The Guild, no matter that there are a couple of anal retentive types who nitpick sometimes for the sake of their egos. However it’s easy enough just to ignore them as people do stay on topic and the eye candy is spectacular.  Whereas at TMP, the dross significantly outweighs any benefits, and to be honest recent developments in subject matter make me very wary of having anything to do with the site now, particularly in regard to having my business linked even indirectly to it, let alone my actual name.

I can get my news elsewhere, usually from discussion boards, club mailing lists and alternative dedicated miniatures gaming news sites. Secondly I’ve no real desire to interact with many of the regulars on the TMP discussion boards. Very little appears that is of use there and the interface is as moribund as it was in 1999 when I first bothered registering.

Instead I’ll be looking at groups with a real sense of community, groups that don’t indirectly put my family relationships at risk through association with certain subjects, and groups that are proactive and supportive yet don’t take too much time to visit or discover information.

And as for the business side of things, I’d feel a lot more comfortable about putting my small advertising budget towards such groups as The Guild and GWP because of the benefits I receive from them as well as the support network.

It may be time to go back to the old days of mailing lists for specific rules sets  and topics rather than looking at generic everymans guide type sites. At least in part, because I will need to keep a tight focus.

P-J

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Santimonious Muppetry

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, April 6

A bit of a Rant

Read the rest of this entry »

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Terrain: Some Thoughts, Ideas and a Plan Part III

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, March 15

Trees:

For years I’ve been looking to obtain a decent amount of trees to use on the tabletop. I’ve never been a fan of the usual scraggly felt surmounted by one or two lopsided, dilapidated pine trees. Admittedly I’m influenced by the years of playing 1/300th moderns and World War 2 games with hundreds of trees on the tabletops, tree lined roads and lots of greenery breaking up lines of sight. However I’ve always thought that too many wargames have a dearth of terrain that obscures or interrupts line of sight, thus exacerbating the problems of omniscience with the issue of an artificially target rich environment and far too much freedom of action.

I had been looking at getting K and M trees from Essex Australia but it would seem they no longer import them and frankly I’m a bit loath to deal with EA anyway as their word of mouth reputation hasn’t filled me with a great amount of desire to spend hundreds of dollars with them.

From what I understand the Games Workshop trees are pretty much rebranded K and M trees but they lack the autumn shades and variations I really am looking for. I may make do with a couple of packs to start with, particularly with my need for some 25mm ACW terrain. However failing that I think Noch and Heki will suffice particularly if I can obtain some of their value packs – I’m not a big fan of a multitude of pines so may offload those to defray shipping.

Hedges:

Commercial hedge models tend to look far too artificial for my liking so I may just suck it up and scrtachbuild a several linear metres of ordinary and Bocage hedgerows. There are some very interesting tutorials floating around on the ‘net anyway, and with the quantities I want for 15mm, it’ll be much cheaper to do them myself.

Walls and fences:

Walls are something I really will end up having to shop around for, the variety and pricing means I’ll hbe able to go for some serious amounts and with some major stylistic differences. Much of my walling will actually be hardmounted into existing terrain pieces as I’m loathe to lug around a whole box of free standing walling all the time.

Fences are a difficult area, as I’m definitely in the market for some region specific fencing such as Snake, 5 Rail for the American Civil War and the ubiquitous post and rail types, the problem being I’ll need a serious amount of all three types just to get the look right even on a 6′ by 4′ table.

Crops:
Too many variations here, but probably a combination of the infamous floor mats, Teddy bear fur and maybe some of the BTA Cornfields for that quintessential North American look. the latter being probably the most expensive of all my terrain purchases particularly if I go ahead and do a modular terrain version of Gettysburg or Shiloh.

Posted in Articles, Gaming, Modelling and Painting, Rants and Raves, wargaming | 2 Comments »

Terrain: Some Thoughts, Ideas and a Plan Part II

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, March 15

Tiger Terrain is a new producer of terrain that I’m looking at. Referenced by members of The Guild  and Gentlemens Wargames Parlour  some of the items appeal as a means of breaking up the lines of sight, and hopefully avoiding the curse of FOW games – way too much open ground in the area of effective range band – 15 to  60 cms.

These are the particular products I’m looking to add as they will fit in nicely with the Crescent Root and Kerr and King items.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The only downside to the Tiger Terrain stuff is a combination of the price (somewhat on the high side for now) and the fact they require PayPal with no credit card facility  and having been badly burned by PayPal previously, I’m probably going to have to sort out an alternate means of obtaining them indirectly.

JR Miniatures offer a very low cost alternative and also some interesting alternatives to the previously mentioned manufacturers. Admittedly they’re cruder in terms of finish and somewhat more robust (read chunky) but with a bit of work, attention to detail in painting and some judicious application of extra material they have the possibility of really bringing a table to life.

The main selections I’m looking at are these three:

 

I’ve also been advised of Battlefield Accessories USA  and I’ll be picking up a couple of sample pieces to see how they work as well, notably:

 

This will fit in very very well with the Kerr and King Roadblock, I can see a few being bought for some urban slogfests.

So that’s the buildings sorted, now on to ground cover, hedges, walls, fences and trees…

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Redeployment and Refocusing

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2008, March 2

Just as with Friday’s post, a bit of a generalist musing over a fair range of topics today.

I’ve been reading through the rest of Freyberg’s biography the last few days. Now I’m almost certainly biased in this respect, but for me the criticisms of Auchinleck ring very true, insofar as the debilitating effect of his adherence to a mode of warfare that had been palpably shown up as an abject failure in the face of even moderate enemy competency really was rather striking. Freyberg had an arrogance about him, but that arrogance wasn’t exactly born of youthful enthusiasm as opposed to practical experience and contrary to some authors’ views, it wasn’t as if Freyberg was someone recently promoted to staff rank – sometimes I wonder if the authors actually appreciate just how high ranking a Lieutenant General really was in terms of field armies. So far it’s been a damned interesting read, particularly regarding the inquiries into Crete and Greece that were effectively suppressed, and Freyberg’s willingness to take on board Hargest’s criticisms of his hands on command style as testified by Hargest himself did do a fair amount to make me reconsider my view of Freyberg’s ability at the level of Divisional commander.

Out of all this I’ve also found an area of the desert war that really does interest me at a level I don’t think I’ve looked at before: the relief of Tobruk in December 1941. Overshadowed by the events elsewhere and Rommel’s gallivanting around, the operations of 2 NZ Div are quite striking and will reward further study both at the tactical level of Advanced Squad Leader and Flames of War, but also at the operational level of Simonitch’s The Legend Begins. I wonder if there’s a genesis of an idea in looking at using a development of the VITW/Typhoon system to focus on that particular episode solely. Perhaps in view of the above heading, it might be better to just stick with TLB and ASL for now. Certainly it’d save me having to start a FoW desert army which could take years to finish.

Cassino looms large on the horizon right now as well, so I may take a break from Freyberg and the Ferns once the Alamein chapters are done to assemble a decent reference library again.

Overhanging everything at the moment is the move to Australia. I’m now at the stage where I’m going to have to make some very hard decisions about what to take with me and what to leave with family. This is complicated by the issue that family storage issues prevent me leaving too much behind and budgetary constraints affect how much I can actually ship across.

Thankfully I know I can safely take most of my modelling gear across with me, it’s the boardgames and roleplaying that need to be well organised. Given that I’m not a games collector thses days, and what titles I have are very much for playing I’m probably going to bite the bullet and eliminate the wasted space of the boxed games by ziplocing many of the titles and look at reboxing once in Australia. The Roleplaying material is limited to one system  these days but there’s a lot of it and not easily replaceable.

As for this blog, I’ve got a plan in mind for the period March through June. March will tend to be general musings, with some filler articles and photos of my armies as I continue to pack them away. April is where I’ll very much be reliant on pre-prepared posts to keep the body alive and thus there’s likely to be more posts of the rants and raves variety than photo-ops. May is where I’ll effectively be posting from Australia for the first time which hopefully means some photos and reports of my initial forays into the Australian gaming scene. I expect to attend at least one Paddington Bears game meeting in the early days of my arrival which should mean I get to demonstrate my incompetency at ASL in public. If I’m really smart I might even get a game of Storm Over Arnhem in which means no chance of dubious victory.

I’m looking forward to taking a bit of a relaxing holiday from work in May, as I’m very much at the end of my OT rope. The money’s nice but it’ll be fun to rediscover the two day weekend and I think that I’ll be happy to sit and paint during daylight hours for a change, without real time pressures although I should really look to have the Late War British finished ready for the first Central Coast Corsairs meeting I attend. Budget wise I’ve had to look at exactly what I’m going to be purchasing in the way of minis for the next 12 months, most of which involves tabletop scenery and modelling supplies.

And so that’s it for the first post of March. February looks to have been a very productive month for this Blog, not quite up to the level of January but still very pleasing to be one of the top three months since I started this iteration. Perhaps if I actually sat down in May/June and wrote up some more reviews I might get some commentary response 🙂 Yes I’m an attention starved fool.

P-J

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Paper and Iron

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2007, May 8

I see from the stats that the upsurge in visitors corresponds with an increase in regular posts and funnily enough inclusion of images. It’s not hard to actually post something reasonably substantive each day, although I’m not sure how many relevant pictures I can insert without being too flashy.

A bit of an opinion post today, mainly to do with boardgames, and the current state of the hobby as I perceive it.

I’ve almost given up buying new games. Many of the newer games are on subjects I find uninteresting or more often I have severe doubts about the ability, research methods and general credibility of the designer, developer etc etc. I’m also loathe to spend close to NZD$100 on a game that will end up needing a complete new rulebook, reprinted components and more than likely has some fundamental flaws that should have been picked up in playtesting.

In this I’m more talking about some of the major game companies: Decision, GMT, MMP/Gamers, Clash of Arms and ATO. I haven’t included Avalanche or Columbia as I don’t own a single game from either and am unlikely to. Of those 5 publishers, only MMP seems to have been offering a range of games that both interest me and have decent development and playtesting as well as fairly significant track record on quality control.

Decision can say goodbye to any of my money these days, for one Ty Bomba(stic) is heavily involved in game design there and I find nothing to like about either his research, persona online or indeed his ability to design an interesting game. Secondly Decision have almost the worst record at stuffing things up in terms of errata and lack of adequate playtesting that I’ve seen of late (Wacht am Errata II anyone?)

GMT, well they have Dick (Head) Berg as an unfortunate PR face for them and his games on the subjects I’m interested in are pretty poor in terms of understanding and definitely research of the topic. GMT also have had real issues with releasing multitudinous subsequent editions of the same game along with a notable amount of printing errors. I also have some issues with the ethics of the company on three or four levels, which when added together pretty much mean they’re a non-starter. Plus outside of a couple of recent one off games, they’re very much a stable of designers with the same old series, same old solutions churned out.

ATO : nice physical production values, some really interesting topics but would someone please get them a) to develop and playtest their games b) realise that graphics and gameplay are part of the whole not separate things you design in isolation and c) quit using Nazi apologists and panzerporn fanbois as their development team. Oh and notably, pushing the envelope graphically is fine as a means to an end but it is not the be all and end all – I’d rather have a game that works and is intuitive to immerse oneself into the system properly.

MMP: If they could just get Adam Starkweather to drop the proto-Ty Bomba mode he seems to be developping online, it’d be great. There are a lot of really good, well developed and playtested designs coming out of MMP, it’d be a shame if Starkweather’s inability to compromise or even admit mistakes dissuaded people from buying the games. At least with MMP though, they seem to get things done right the first time. It’s not like their living rules are used as a cop out for lazy development and minimal quality playtesting a la GMT. Now if they could just keep Rinella and Starkweather in check it’d be great.

Clash of Arms: I’ve only got games from their early days and I doubt I’ll buy more. Not really to do with the quality more that CoA no longer publish games on topics that hold any interest for me.

Posted in Boardgames, Rants and Raves | 3 Comments »

Rebasing: I hates it with a passion I does

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, November 5

Spent most of the evening organising my 1812 Russians and French Napoleonics so I can start rebasing for use with the Age of Eagles rules the club napoleonics project will be using – they’re pretty fast play, a few factors to count but nothing that doesn’t become second nature (most of the mods are situational rather than discrete).

We’re using a bespoke basing system as it’s a club project and none of us can see any need to be compatible with any other armies outside our own. My armies are currently based for the old WRG 1685-1845 rules with individual figure casualties which makes them awfully fiddly. Moving from Battalions to Brigades as manoeuvre elements is interesting but based on the game last Thursday I can live with moving up to that level. I’m probably going to end up with about 6-8 figures per base for infantry and 2-3 fgs for cav.

We’re also using double sized elements to really speed things up in terms of physical movement and this helps with the arty which will have two gun models and 8 crew per base making them rather nice to look at. The Russians have 22 battalions of foot, 8 cavalry regiments (80 cavalry, 296 infantry and 12 guns), while the French have 16 Battalions of Infantry and 9 Units of Cavalry (90 cavalry, 306 infantry, 6 generals and 12 guns. The artillery is too scary to contemplate just now as there are so many guns and I have full limbers still waiting to be based and painted plus a selection of supply wagons I should get around to constructing.

The only good thing about all this is that finally I’ll be rid of the evil that is single figure basing, moving to 8 and 12 figure elements and no more casualty removal except by element.

P-J

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What I did on my vacation…

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 26

Despite being away from my gaming library, other gamers and 90% of the gaming sites/discussion boards I frequent, I’ve managed to generate more content and a definitive programme of events for the next eight months than I would have done while at my desk at home. Definitely a case of relaxation being the key to focus. I now have a much better grasp of the temporal and financial realities that lie ahead.

In my initial plan for the period November 2006 – December 2007, I had predicated a production schedule of one personal and one painting service army per month with one completed project per quarter. This was an unrealistic target to attempt to reach from day one, particularly with the start of a new outside contract in November. It however is a reasonable goal to look to be attaining once I have been operating as Panzerschreck Design Studio for at least six months, but not while I’m getting things up and running. This has meant a rethinking of various dates as well which in turn has forced further re jigging.

One of the factors involved in this rethink of dates is that I ‘ve postponed my move to Australia by four months to November of 2007, after consultation with my partner and outlining a much more conservative budget. This allowed me to go over my plans for armies and set more conservative completion schedules as well as plan the budgets more efficiently. By delaying the completion deadlines by a month or so, I’ve freed up more time and budget to concentrate on the quality rather than quantity of production. Coupled with some revision of budgets for a couple of armies involving orders from overseas, this makes for far less pressure.

With the new job starting in 4 weeks, I’ll see a reduction in available time for modelling in both the personal and business areas from 65 hours per week to around 24 at best so some better project management was always going to be necessary. To help with debt reduction and free up some capital outside of work income, I’m further rationalising my boardgames collection by selling off some rare or valuable titles on eBay over the next four weeks. The proceeds from these will be split fairly evenly between Peter Pig and QRF/Quality Casting/Stronghold as I lay in some components for the next few months work while I can. It’s always more cost effective to make one or two big orders from the UK/US than lots of fiddly ones, particularly when postage from the UK can be such a problematic cost.

I think I’ll cut this entry short for now and update majorly upon my return to NZ on Tuesday.

Reviews of PBI and IABSM are a little way off still as the focus has been on future developments and planning than writing a quality brace of reviews.

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Validation

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 7

I wandered over to Bill Armintrout’s TMP only to find he’s lost the plot regarding the WW2 message boards – It’s like CSW only without a utilitarian format – if CSW was a pain to post substantively, TMP was worse. Added to that the propensity of TMP to play overt favourites and indulge in a surfeit of nit-picking social correctness and I’m feeling a lot better about going back to blogging as my primary web presence.

TMP has moved away from where its strength was, news and community reviews. Now it’s a haven for sock-puppets, muppets of the first order and unprofessional garage concerns whose spite and jealousy is all too apparent.

A negative post unfortunately with little substantive content. But then as I’m away from home, I’m a little restricted in what I have access to right now.

P-J

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Boardgaming: from Stalingrad to ASL

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 5

Despite the title, I now consider games such as Beachhead, Chopperstrike, Dogfight and their ilk to be wargames per se, and they are what I cut my gaming teeth on. I only discovered Risk in the early 80s when it became available in NZ for the first time.

I played a couple of games such as Dip, Kingmaker and Decline and Fall when just starting out at the Warlords in the 70s but my real introduction came in my first year at boarding school when some seniors taught me hown to play Stalingrad and once I was familiar with that, they taught me Third Reich. The leap was pretty staggering but the small footprint and setup time compared to miniatures was instrumental in getting me over the hump.

1979: I bought Stalingrad and Third Reich from the departing senior

1980: Back in Wellington one of the club members was importing SPI, AH and 3W games and magazines. I grabbed as many back issues of the General, Moves, S&T and the Wargamer as possible and was hooked. The Generals accompanied me back to school where they were read avidly, and even though I only owned two games, I was always going to buy more.

1981: I took out subs to Moves, General, S&T, and the Wargamer. In the end my sub to S&T and moves expired just as SPI went under and I concentrated in buying AH games.

1982: My brother picked up SL, COI, COD and GI for me from the games shop in North Finchley (getting stuff from the US was a nightmare back then) and I was definitely hooked.

1984-86: While at university I moved into a gaming flat (apartment) where we ended up playing Civ, Dip, Machiavelli, Kingmaker and other Multiplayer games almost every night, and roleplaying on weekends. It was pretty much a most concentrated gaming experience, with total immersion being the rule. as people moved in and out of the flat, so my gaming opponents also moved on. I was lucky enough to be working part time for a games shop in town which meant I was getting my games at cost . I accumulated a serious amount of AH games in this time and when ASL came out, I bought it straight away, even though it cost me a month’s wages for it and BV (I think I ate at the Hari Krishna gatherings for the next month).

1987-90: Despite a very heavy gaming workload I managed to gradually accumulate some degrees and while working for a tiny wee law firm I managed to get some serious ASLing done. Just after West of Alamein came out, John Knowles and I decided to spend Easter playing through every scenario; we came up for air after 4 straight days with John having won every game. One of the other infamous sessions involved playing Hill 621 to completion in 11 hours. It was around this time that ASL achieved total dominance. I also remember having a party in the flat to celebrate the 100th games of Civ and Storm Over Arnhem, and getting told that when it came to choosing nations in Civ, I was always to be last and was never allowed Egypt after too many exploits of the 6th Egyptian Mediterranean Fleet had caused a palace revolt .

1991-1995: Played very little ASL around this time, all my FtF opponents had moved away. Actually played 6 games of PBM ASL which was interesting but not something I’d bother with again. Played mostly multi-player games and continued my streak of Storm Over Arnhem without winning a game.

1996-Now: Discovered CSW, the ASL Mailing list, and VASL. Life hasn’t really been the same. I still play the occasional non-ASL game, but opponents are very difficult to find. I’ve gradually accumulated some simpler treatments of operational WW2 which is my preferred traditional consim game, but the Area Based games are favourites. I’m still looking to win SOA for the first time. As for ASL, I think I managed to get close to 500 games total now, and over 60 of those have been PBeM via VASL with only about 10 being live VASL. If it wasn’t for VASL I’d not be involved with ASL anymore, and these days I’m still wary of burning out. I’ve watched the boardgame industry disintegrate from the PoV of retail and consumer, and I doubt it will ever truly recover. I’ve pretty much cut loose my boardgaming apart from ASL and the Area impulse games now.

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A Brief History

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 5

Here in a nutshell is the history of my involvement in miniatures:

Miniatures

1971: My first set of Airfix HO/OO figures, American Civil War strangely enough, and the first time I read a wargaming book, Introduction to Battle Gaming by Terry Wise courtesy of Khandallah Public Library. As part of a school library project we each got to choose a book from the Library to keep. I still have it, sans dust cover and with childish scrawl throughout (even then I was tinkering with the rules)

1975: I Picked up my first copy of Military Modelling magazine and was spellbound

1976: Mil Mod published a directory of wargames clubs worldwide and I saw there was a club in Wellington, the Wellington Wargames Section. I contacted one Paul Graham and found that the club had split into two, The Warlords and the Society. I joined the Warlords because they didn’t have naff rules about junior members and they were a really friendly bunch.

1977: The second National Wargames Convention held after some hiccoughs in Kapiti just up the coast from Wellington. By this stage I was using Bruce Quarrie’s World War Two rules in the form of the ubiquitous Airfix magazine guide, a series that introduced me to Ancients, English Civil War, American Civil War (Terry Wise again) and WW2 through commercial and standardised rules sets. I primarily played WW2 but dabbled with WRG’s 4th and 5th Edition Ancients with a great deal of enjoyment and considered myself a *serious* wargamer. Oh how innocent was I.

1980: By this time I was at boarding school, and roleplaying games were in the ascendancy. Ancients had palled with the introduction of 6th Edition, WW2 was ruled by WRG’s 1973 set complete with wall to wall Tigers, and I was more interested in the new scale of 1/300th-6mm heroics and Ros Moderns, helped by what I regard as probably the best laid out and best written set of rules WRG ever published: the 1950-1985 Moderns set. I spent 5 years playing club games and competitions at regional and national level with a great level of enjoyment at the former and steadily increasing frustration attending the latter, courtesy of rules lawyers, cheats and total wankers.

1985: At University now, and Roleplaying was really starting to eat into my miniatures interests as was boardgaming (See later). I was playing Challenger moderns by now, as the WRG lot were comeptitive arseholes par excellence and I’d had enough. As my interest in painting 25mm figures grew (courtesy early Citadel and Grenadier) I was introduced to a very relaxed period, Gush Renaissance in both 25mm and 15mm. I eneded up with 4 25mm arnies and over 15 15mm armies for these rules, the star army being my monstrous Persian Army that allowed me to max out the army list. We tended to play friendlies rather than strict competition rules.

1992: I was roleplaying all the time and had given up on my miniatures as I wasn’t enjoying any of it. I ended up selling every one of my armies, and have regretted it ever since.

1995: Moved to Palmerston North for a change of scene and ended up getting back into 15mm WW2 with a couple of friends. We started out with a definite idea of playing scenarios, mainly as my experience with ASL was so pivotal. Used Barrie Lovell’s Overlord 1944 Company level rules and had a blast. One of the group decided that he couldn’t handle paying $25 for model tanks from England (NZ $ was worth 27p at the time) and started scratchbuilding his own, first from balsa then from Milliput – he’s now the chief sculptor for Battlefront Miniatures and the rest is history.

1995 to now: I’ve revisited and rebuilt my 15mm collections, not to the level of the 80s however but with an improvement in both quality of the figures and presentation. I can’t see myself going away from 15mm except for some skirmish type games and maybe the occasional pretty army – famous last words. I’m dabbling in Ancients, Early medieval, ECW, Napoleonics, ACW and 19th Century Euro wars apart from WW2. The main reason I’m sticking with 15mm is reasons of cost efficiency, I don’t want to have to acquire two different sets of terrain and 15mm works well on a 6 feet by 4 feet table.

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Excuse me while I get myself a Coffee (Memories of the first steps)

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 5

I still remember buying my very first issue of Military Modelling from WH Smiths in Dorking just after I’d been to Dorking Models, 12 West?High?something Street. It was the October 75 issue that featured the review of a Tamiya Pak 40 built by Norman Abbey. I never looked back really. I can still recall my dad sending away to England for all the available back issues I’d missed beforehand. Of course coming back through International Toys and Hobbies in Hong Kong helped me accumulate some Tamiya kits, including that Pak 40 when I returned to NZ.

I can thank my dad for the encouragement he gave me with my hobbies. He never criticised me for playing with toy soldiers although he did draw the line at me painting swastikas on every drawing I did of tanks as a small child, explaining to my sisters and thus filtering down to me about the Nazi regime. It wasn’t until I started being interested in history itself, that I was able to find out about his war service in the Merchant Marine and that of his cousins, most of whom died in Crete or at Cassino. And I only found out about the actual nature of his service when the Russians gave out medals to the veterans of the Arctic convoys.

Sometimes it’s good to remind oneself how and why one started a hobby.

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Some thoughts on Ancients gaming

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 5

Given that I don’t play in tournaments (I originally typed competitively, but anyone that has played me in Storm Over Arnhem or ASL already knows I’m an easy victim.) abiding by the existing DBx base sizes (40mm wide by 15-20mm deep) isn’t as important to me. I’ve made a point of collecting matched historical pairs of armies for just this reason. This also allows me to stay with plausible matchups rather than things like New Kingdom Egyptians versus Hussites. I’m a big fan of the double depth basing system in 15mm which gives that impression of mass that I want.

I’ve looked at Warhammer Ancient Battles (I even own a copy) and there are a couple of other sets I really want to to get hold of, notably A Glutter of Ravens and Warmaster Ancient Battles.

Much of my planning for this period involves the construction of the logistical tail of an ancient battle force (DBM’s Baggage elements being a step in the right direction) and some terrain pieces that are more that scraps of felt and clumps of lichen. Charles Grant’s scenario ideas are frequently a source of inspiration as is muchof the historical fiction dealing with the era; Sutcliff, Breem, Cornwell et al.

Where I go with this and how long it takes is unknown right now as I do have to sit down and earn some dosh again. Right now my plan is to at least get the Marians and Spanish completed, before tackling the Ancient Brits, Gauls and Germans.

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Why Blog?

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, October 5

Some one wrote on CSW in response to my notification that I would not be posting anymore:

I don’t get the blogging thing when it comes to anything other than an online diary. For hobby purposes I think it limits the discourse your going to get substantially unless your pretty famous in your field or hobby. Shame to see a contributor leave such a great forum for their “my space” moment.

For me it comes down to several aspects:

  • Control: I have full control over what gets posted here, the format it uses, how I want to present information and archiving
  • Technical: It’s far easier for me to post and format something here and keep it focused than on CSW, where it quickly loses immediacy and context. Secondly I don’t have to deal with different formatting styles such as HTML, BBcode or raw text emails. Far simpler to just get it right in one place and post update notices. And I can do it very easily offline via Semagic for example, a client which I can’t really use for the arcane formatting of CSW
  • Work: At some point this blog will be integrated into my business, as such it forms a necessary part of the business equation
  • Community: I already belong to several diverse gaming forums, and it made sense to just post updates linking to here than constantly cutting and pasting duplicate articles to the various boards and forums. As for it being a “my space moment”, well I’ve been online for a fair while now, and had a gaming blog of sorts since 1996, but this is convenient, fast and more conversational than a generic webpage. Funnily enough I find I do more constructive concrete writing here than I do for the webpage.

As for the ego, yes there’s an element of that, but I already have a few people reading this blog who were doing so well before I started posting on CSW so CSW updates were very much a new thing. As people can see from the link there’s a FoW Community at Live Journal, which may not be very active but it is an audience. Pretty famous? Not really, if that was a goal I’d be much more active doing stuff for Battlefront and posting everywhere like TMP and other miniatures forums. The only reputation I do see myself trying to achieve is as a designer of wargames scenarios and a decent painter…that’s why having my own dedicated venue makes sense.

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Lots of Changes

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, September 29

Some huge changes since I last updated just on 5 months ago.

  • I’ve moved house into a place on my own
  • Almost finished painting a new Flames of War army
  • Stopped playing ASL for a while – unfortunately
  • No longer have ADSL – just dialup access for now
  • May well be moving to Australia in 2008 rather than France as I originally intended

I’ll be posting here a lot more – I’ve got a few things I need to catch up on posting and then I’ll be updating on a daily basis hopefully including pictures.

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Plus ça change…I could post more if I'd actually achieved anything

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2006, May 25

The only gaming I’ve been doing in the last two months has been Advanced Squad Leader on VASL.

I’ve completed several games:

  • Vulcan’s Forge (Melee Pack II – Red Barricades)
  • Bread Factory #2 (RB3 – Red Barricades)
  • Rescue Attempt (Doomed Battalions)
  • Thrust and Parry (GI’s Dozen)
  • Moldavian Massacre (Hero Pak)
  • Riposte (GI’s Dozen)
  • Clearing Qualberg (Schwerpunkt)

I’m currently playing several others via PBeM and the occasional live VASL session, which seems to be working nicely although I’m starting to get a pasting in one which is the result of a poor series of initial moves.

The Stalingrad project is stalled for the meantime owing to lack of discretionary cash while the winter power bills mount up and I’m still loking for a new job. However I do at least have a solid grasp of what i need to do, although spending US$500 on three source references is making me wince a great deal.

As far as painting of minis, that’s still proceeding very slowly…the BEF will be put obn hold for June and I’ll finish off my FJs…only 12 months after they were meant to be completed – the Late War brits however are almost finished to a tabletop standard – I’ll tidy them up on a section/troop per week basis from now on, ready for the 2007 round of Tourneys.

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Hazy Days of May

Posted by panzerschreckdesign on 2004, May 3

The worst thing about the late Autumn is the gradual accumulation of colds and flus that seems to occur.

I’ve not been able to hold a paintbrush for more than about 15 minutes at a time so what progress Ive made has been patchy at best. The shermans are coming along nicely and will be ready for public unveiling at the next meeting, which will also see the debut of a fully equipped armoured halftrack company for the first time.

P-J

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