Sunday 31 January 2021

Virtual Lard IV

For those of us labouring under the Covid-19 lockdown, Virtual Gaming has been an absolute boon, and the technologies, such as Zoom, Teams, Jitsi and others, are now part of our standard lexicon.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have become a big fan of games from the Too Fat Lardies (TFL) stable, including Chain of Command, (WW2), Sharp Practice 2 (Black Powder), Dux Britanniarum (Arthurian Britain), and Infamy, Infamy (Romans vs 'barbarians'). In fact, thinking back, it must be nearly two years since I last played a non-'Lardy' game. 

Since March 2020, the indefatigable Jeremy Short has organised a series of virtual gaming days. Where previously face to face TFL gaming days took place across the UK, rejoicing in titles such as 'Wor Lard' (Durham) or 'Deep Fried Lard' (Musselburgh), Clotted Lard (Exeter) and so on, nowadays a group of gamers get together via technology, and play out TFL games from the comfort of their own devices, with their tipple and snacks of choice in their own homes. 

Virtual Lard 1 in June saw six hosts setting up tables and cameras to host players. Usually 2 players per side, games on offer included CoC, Dux, SP2 and Infamy. - games were run in morning and afternoon sessions so you could play CoC in the morning and SP2 in the afternoon. Afterwards a virtual pub was set up on Discord so participants and others could catch up and talk wargames and any other topic with other wargamers. 

From small  beginnings: that first Virtual Lard with six games has mushroomed and on Saturday 30 January 2021, there were (I think)  24 games on offer, around 180 'Lardies' online and a tremendous amount of fun for all.   

Games were allocated via the Discord Channel:

And a Google sign up sheet, and were essentially filled within 15 minutes of the sign up being opened. There were a huge variety of games on offer, from Coastal Patrol to IABSM, and looking at photographs of the day, game hosts had really gone all out to put on truly excellent quality games, with showcase standard terrain and figures. 

The other noticeable thing was how many countries were represented, from New Zealand to Newoundland, Ireland to Italy. In our afternoon game there were Italian, Belgian, Bavarian, myself and even a token Englishman. 

Being well prepared I had signed up to two star games, in the morning Big Rich Clarke (one of the Lardies and wargaming superstar..) put on a game of Infamy - in which myself and Pierre-Yves as the Romans were to burn a rebellious Gallic village and return to camp. 

Zoom - a rogues gallery of players and two views of Rich's splendid table

Needless to say.. a less than stellar middle-game left us nowhere near the village and in danger of being overrun by masses of irate Gauls. A cracking game in which both sides were left with a Force Moral of 1, (0 is game over..) and awaiting the turn of the card to see who would get to inflict the final cut. Sadly for the Romans - it wasn't us and Centurion Chrismas Bonus will have to live to fight another day. (I'm comforted a little by learning the afternoon game saw the Romans massacred... obviously a completely unbalanced scenario in which we did well not to lose too badly 😀 )   

In the afternoon a Chain of Command game hosted by Dom and the Boys in Bavaria, as we fended off 1st Para's attempt to push through to Arnhem Bridge on the first day of Operation Market Garden. Historically, we managed to keep them pinned down and the risk of history being rewritten was averted.

If you do get a chance to play at a Virtual Lard - or indeed any online gaming opportunity, grab it! It is surprisingly fun, satisfying, and the opportunity to play with folk from round the world is one real plus to how we wargamers have managed to stay sane during the pandemic.

Thursday 28 January 2021

Sub Roman British

I've previously posted a couple of pictures of the work in progress on a force of Sub Roman British for the Too Fat Lardies Dux Britanniarum

The game is based on the ongoing struggle between Saxon incomers against local British leaders circa 500AD. It's designed to be played as a campaign where players take on the characters of the leaders and use raids, battles and other means to carve out their own kingdom, or repel the Saxon invaders. There is also an expansion pack to add in Scots, Irish and raiders. I have had the rules, the expansion packs and the cards to play the game for several years, but never actually played until 2020.

Thanks to the Virtual Lard games days, I have now played a few stand alone games (not a campaign) and thoroughly enjoyed it. And by coincidence, there was a bargain unpainted Gripping Beast Late Roman/SRB army in 28mm offered for sale by a gamer on the Society of Ancients forum. That's one side taken care of. 

Then, just before Christmas, Warlord were offering a 3 for two sale on some of their ranges, and they had taken over what used to be the 'Saxon Miniatures' range of Early Saxons, so 'kerchingg...'  that's snapped up too. In these covid times, I have learned my lesson: do both sides and at least you can play solo.  

I suspect I will want to add in the Scotti and/or the Picts at some stage, so I will just keep an eye out for sales/bargains. In the meantime here is the SRB host arrayed.

Leaders and Elite warriors

The Big Man himself!

Skirmishing archers

The peasant levy

Slightly better warriors

The whole force

I still have a ton of additional SRB Lead, including a Scorpion (catapult), mounted warriors, loads more archers and a ton of spearmen. As a campaign progresses, you can recruit additional forces, but this is the starter army plus an additional leader. 

Now on to the Saxons!

Sunday 17 January 2021

More snow covered vehicles

Well, this little project seems to be humming along nicely. Rubicon supplied a Schwimmwagen and a Sdkfz 251 with my Rubi discounts - very inexpensive, I also dug out a couple of earlier purchases that just needed finishing. Passengers were Warlord plastic from another set of purchases.

In addition, Warlord had another of their discount deals and 20% off the Heer Winter Support Pack, that netted me the HMG plus extra figures for jump off points, medic and additional crew for the HMG team. I also picked up their package with flamethrower, sniper and panzerschreck team. So overall I am pretty happy that virtually everything purchased has been at a substantial discount. 

Everything is there for a German Heer force suitable for Volksgrenadier Divisions from late 1944 - 45.  With one exception, a Panzer IV J. I am so tempted by the Rubicon offering. Will I, won't I ? Oh, and since I have three Hetzers, surely one would be improved by adding Bicarb?

Painting underway...

Nice and polished, well. actually just the gloss varnish to prepare for decals and pinwashing.

Enough dithering, Here are the additional vehicles - finally resplendent in their Bicarbonate of Soda 'snow'.

L-R - 75mm gun mix of Warlord plus 1st Corps crew, Schwimmwagen (Rubicon) with Warlord passengers, and Sdkfz 251 Ausf D (Rubicon), Warlord passengers. At the back is a Warlord Resin UNIC Halftrack, used by 21st Panzer Division. I spotted it was pretty much done other than detail painting and weathering so slippe dit in with this batch.

And here's the UNICs friend from a much earlier post, another converted French vehicle using the Lorraine tractor as a base and with a 150mm mounted on top to make the Lorraine Schlepper. 

So the target is to finish off this platoon this week. And then resist the temptation to add winter US... 

Wednesday 6 January 2021

Here Kitty Kitty...

Those researching the 1944 Ardennes Offensive will probably be familiar with this image. The Rubicon King Tiger kit even has the number decals included. 

I elected to not make an exact copy, simply so the rivet counters couldn't tell me exactly why it was wrong to pair it up with Volksgrenadiers.. So my rendition of the Rubicon kit is more of an 'homage'.

It's actually making me feel chilly looking at it! oh wait.. that's because the central heating failed on the 30th and is still off, waiting for parts.  

Tuesday 5 January 2021

Test Paint - Winter Volksgrenadier

So I was playing with colours, testing them on a single Volksgrenadier.

Here it is...

And the Royal Tiger is progressing too...

Plenty to be getting on with then... Sub Roman British, Ardennes Germans, Jacobites...

Better get the painting sticks out.

Sunday 3 January 2021

Bye Bye 2020... not much missed

So in keeping with every other Blogger, it is by now traditional to do a bit of a retrospective and a look forward. 2020 was a bit of a bast*rd of a year for most, and I guess I was quite lucky. 

On a personal level, I finished up one contract on the 18 March, which pretty much coincided with the first UK Covid lockdown, and found a new contract starting 1 June. Over that time, most wargamers, furloughed and otherwise, would have been painting figures. Not me. I was embarking on massive home DIY projects. 

We lost one of our old dogs while in lockdown, but that was almost a blessing, he had both of us there for the last months of his life, and he loved it, and we got to spend so much time with him in his last weeks.

Starting my new job in June has been a singular experience. I have never met any of my work colleagues in person, and our company offered everyone the opportunity to work permanently from home. Which I must admit, suits me very well. And so far, so good.

Later in the year we moved my mother from her home of 30 years into sheltered housing, downsizing from a decent sized two bedroom cottage, studio, gallery, workshop, shed and garage, into a one-bedroom flat. Not an experience I would recommend.

On the wargaming front, two games at the club, one with my nephew, and then into lockdown. I thoroughly enjoyed three online 'conventions', Virtual Lard 1-3 and those have been some of my favourite games ever. A suitable variety of rules were played, including Infamy, Infamy, Sharp Practice, Dux Britanniarum, and Chain of Command.

I enjoyed the Dux games so much, and having had the rules and Raiders supplements (plus the card packs) for years without ever playing them, I found myself purchasing some second hand Gripping Beast Sub-Roman British, plus Early Saxons from Warlord Games, (the figures were formerly 'Saxon Miniatures'). I am hopeful I will get some games in with them in 2021, but a lot of painting yet to do to get there.

In the meantime, I have also been part of the Virtual Wargames Club, instituted by Phil Olley, where a bunch of like minded souls, sit around on a Saturday afternoon, (some of us beer in hand), and show off what we have been doing, and solve all the problems of the wargaming world via Zoom.

Looking back at where we were at the start of 2020, I said:

"I do think I should be better at not getting distracted by support options, specifically armour, as I just enjoy building and painting them. Looking at the painting queue, there are currently 11 AFV awaiting paint."

Err.. ok, some of those 11 are still in the paint queue, and I've added a few more to the queue, but on the whole I have got through a fair bit of vehicle painting. 

"For projects, I finished (ha!) my Early War German & French forces, I completed my Soviets, and I am a good way in to the forces for Malaya.

Next steps - finish the Malaya forces (Japanese, and Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders). Then kick off the terrain for this campaign. I think I have all the terrain components I need, they just need to be assembled".

Ok, so I did assemble a vast amount of jungle scenery, including a couple of huts and stretches of jungle. And I got a fair way through preparing the two forces, before getting distracted.

"Then there's forces for the forthcoming 'Infamy, Infamy' from the Too Fat Lardies. There's Kickstarters on the way from War & Empire 15mm Dark Ages, plus the Flags of War Hanoverian forces for the 1745."

Ok, so I have lots prepared for Infamy, and even managed to complete the Republican Romans. I managed to paint a decent chunk of the 15mm Vikings, before it became clear there would be no tournament this year. and I made a start on painting the 1745. Much more effort needed here!

"And the various platoons for Chain of Command, Italians, US, Fallschirmjager, US Airborne, British Airborne etc.".

To which can be added the Winter Germans and USMC platoons I purchased this year. No real progress with the CoC forces I am afraid. 

And for 2021... let's see what happens. I hesitate to predict anything these days/ So all the best, and may you have a wonderful New Year.