Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Back online with some Red Devils

Right, new laptop purchased, backup restored as best I can, point me at the web!  Probably a few posts to come as I catch up with myself, I'll also be catching up on my reading and commenting on the great work my fellow bloggers have been getting up to during my time in Limbo.

First up, some test models for British Paras.  This initial four are from the Italeri Anti Tank Teams set and are really nicely sculpted, if at the larger end of 1/72.  For the Brit paras, the Denison smock is the iconic bit of kit, so I wanted to make sure that I could paint it successfully before embarking on any more, hence starting with these four as a test.  If successful, I have another set of Italeri paratroopers waiting in the wings (I'd love to add the Esci 'Red Devils' set to this list, but they seem to be as rare as hen's teeth).
I've tried out two variations on the camo, which you can see above.  On the left I started with a GW Foundation Paint Gretchin Green basecoat for the smock, the right started out as yellow ochre.  From what I understand, the early denison smock was quite yellow, but became a more olive colour later.  From that point of view I think the left hand version is more appropriate for Normandy onwards, but I'd be interested to hear what others think.  I'm quite please with how the brown and green patterns have turned out, it helps that the smock pattern was originally just brush strokes of thin paint!

 A couple more, this time the PIAT operator is in the yellow ochre base version, with the 'late war' pattern on the chap with the rather nicely done 2" mortar.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Offline :-(

They do say bad luck comes in threes and that certainly seems to have been the case at Morey towers recently, at least where technology is concerned.  The month started with the dishwasher flooding, proceeded on to the microwave catching fire and now, most frustratingly, my MacBook pro has decided its lost the will to live. A trip down to my nearest repair shop confirmed that the motherboard has shuffled off this mortal coil. More alarmingly, recovering the data from the hard disk isn't certain.

I'm managing some limited access to the web via my iPhone, but it's not ideal, and it certainly doesn't see eye to eye with blogger!  All this is a roundabout way of saying that my already poor posting rate will be even worse for a bit! Also to let all those whose blogs I follow that I am reading and enjoying all your posts as usual, but apologise if I don't comment as much Capctcha in particular is problematic from the phone).

I promise I'll have plenty to post about when normal service is resumed, including my first attempts at Brit paras and their Denison smocks!

And last but most certainly not least, a big thank you to fellow blogger Friendly Fire (who has a great blog concentrating on WWII 20mm models) who's nominated me for the 'leibster' award that's doing the rounds. Thank you FF! I'm supposed to copy and paste some info about the award here and pass it on, but that seems a bit beyond my current IT capabilities, do it may need to wait a bit, sorry!

Toodle pip!

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Where have I been? What time is it?

My painting and posting rate isn't exactly prolific at the best of times, but it's really nosedived recently.

The reason?

The release by Firaxis Games of "Xcom, Enemy Unknown" of course!

For those of you who don't know (and I'm disappointed in you if you don't ;-) ), this is a remake of the hugely popular 1990's turn based strategy game.  I wasted many an hour with my Uni buddy James repelling the Alien invasion back then and, when they announced a remake, was a mix of excited and nervous.  Would they trash my fond memories?

Luckily, no.  What they've come up with is a game that brilliantly updates the original.  They've kept the 'feel' of the original game nicely, evolving the designs and look of the game well for the capabilities of modern graphics without losing its sense of fun, but it remains as brutal as the original, with operatives biting the dust on a regular basis (new squaddies may as well arrive dressed in a red shirt...).

In some ways its a game of two parts: the strategy side of managing your resources (cash, facilities, research, manufacturing and troops), of which you will never have enough to do everything you want; and the turn based combat when you have to deal with an alien incursion or investigate a downed UFO.

"do you think we've found them?"

It wasn't long before I realised I was basically playing a tabletop skirmish game, but with sprites instead of minis.  And what an elegantly simple system it would make!  Each soldier basically has two actions to take (later promotions and skills amend this a bit, but not by much): move/move, fire, move/fire, action, move/action.  Yet it doesn't feel repetitive or too basic.  Range and cover alter the percentage chance of hitting, and damage is set by weapon, to which critical hits are added with more damage.  It wouldn't take much effort at all to turn this into a basic set of pretty familiar seeming tabletop rules.

One aspect that has given me pause for thought though is the approach to morale.  One thing it isn't in this game is predictable.  Each soldier has a 'Will' score, which defines how likely they are to panic generally, but it's pretty tough to predict when it will actually happen, or how it will affect them.  Some will run, some will hunker down behind cover and whimper (literally!), they might also fire wildly; bad news if there are friendlies nearby but, as on one memorable mission, they might also fire back on the enemy, winning you the mission!  I found myself contrasting this to most tabletop rulesets I know and realising how predictable morale often is in them.  Most will set some clear break point at which morale must be tested (usually something like 50% casualties), and the result is nearly always one of two: run away, or the unit ceases to exist.  Hardly uncontrollable, unpredictable panic, is it?  There's something to be learned here, I'm just not sure what it is yet.  I'll keep you posted...

Now, I must leave you again for a moment.  There are aliens abducting people in New Mexico, and I'm needed elsewhere.  Just put on this red shirt rookie, and don't worry, you'll be fine...