Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Prufrock's Wargaming Blog

Friday, June 24, 2016

Prepping the IJN

I've been doing a little more work on some of the Fujimi 1/3000 naval models I picked up recently. Goodness me, they are beautiful to work with, and the detail is astonishing.

Here is the light cruiser Oyodo. There are nine parts that go into making her up, but you'd never know it. I had a little glue run onto her side, but you can see how much detail there is.

This is the (as yet unmade, obviously!) sprue for the Nagato. The thought that has been put into the best way to capture the essential characteristics of the ship is quintessentially Japanese. The craftsmanship is wonderful.

And here is my little fleet so far, including a test painting of the Shokaku. There are another twenty or so ships to do from the sets I already have, but I think I'll grab one or two sets more.

Their opponents will probably be 1/3000 metals, which I imagine will look pretty crude by comparison. Perhaps a plea to the company might be in order?

Monday, June 20, 2016

1/3000 naval sets

And now for something completely different...

It's birthday season in house Prufrock, and while the kids were ransacking the local toy shop for MineCraft accessories to spend some of their gift money on I trotted over to have a quick look at the plastic models section. Would you believe it, but they had four 1/3000 WWII dock sets in. 1/3000 naval is something I've wanted to get into for some time now so this fool and his money were quickly parted.

At home tonight I opened up the Yokosuka naval base set to have a gander and liked what I saw. There are ten ships and a diorama base, so you get quite a lot for your money.

The models are very finely made, and everything seems to have been engineered with typical Japanese exactitude. The battleships are absolutely lovely, but I decided to start with something a little simpler.

Here is the sprue for the carrier Shokaku.

And another for the Fubuki class destroyers.

The three pieces for the carrier went together very nicely, and only slight trimming was needed.

Definitely similar to the real thing!

By Unknown - 広島県呉市海事歴史科学館所蔵品。(Hiroshima Prefecture Yamato Museum collection), Public Domain,

An excellent find, and I'm very pleased. I'm not confident in my painting on hard plastic and in this scale, however, so hopefully I won't stuff things up too much in the next step!

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Articles Done and Away!

Well, I've finally managed to finish and send off a couple of articles that had been hanging over my head. One was a gaming article, the other a book review, and together they took more time and effort than I had been expecting.

I couldn't quite settle on the right balance for the gaming article. As a mixed rules / game report piece, I had to be careful that the information in the report section would be intelligible, but without making the first half read like a rulebook. I also had to try to keep it interesting enough that people might want to read through to the end. Hopefully there's enough information there but not so much as to be overwhelming. My biggest concern is that it's probably lacking a little in entertainment factor, but I guess we shall see!

The other one was very difficult to write. As a review of what turned out to be a bad book - by far the worst non-fiction book I've ever read on the era - it was difficult to keep my indignation under control and maintain the objectivity needed to show what was wrong with it in a matter-of-fact fashion. I ended up with some 8,000 words, pared it back to just under a quarter of that, attempted to excise anything that might sound like frothy-mouthed ranting and looked for something to say about it that was not wholly negative.

Full frothy-mouthed ranting book reviewer mode.

It's not an experience I want to repeat.

Hopefully the next time (if there is a next time after this!) that I get to review a book it will be something properly researched, intelligently written, on-topic and drawing sensible conclusions that follow from the material presented. Then I can say nice things about it with no drama and everyone will be happy.

A bad non-fiction book requires a significant amount more work to review than a good one. If the reviewer's own criticisms can be shown to be biased, incorrect, or based on a misreading, then not only have you unfairly impugned the author, but one's own credibility will be destroyed. There is a responsibility, in other words, to make sure you get it right.

Incidentally, this experience reminded me again of the good thing about cigarettes. Although I quit about nine years ago, smoking was very good when writing.  Going out on the balcony for a smoke every hour gave time and the mental space to reflect. Invariably new ideas would arise spontaneously for a better way to say what had already been said, or for how to approach the next stage.

I really enjoy the writing process, but it is intense. I am the type who takes weeks to get the first few paragraphs right, but then the rest will follow quickly. I find these days that without the ruminative effect of cigarette breaks, 'the rest' does not follow so quickly or so intuitively. Alcohol is no good; after the third drink it just impedes the judgment, you can't trust your revisions, and will generally find you need to rewrite the whole lot.

Perhaps I need to take a humble cup of tea outside every hour...

Anyway, it's good to have them done, and I might even treat myself to a favourite game in the near future to celebrate.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

To Byzantium

I've had a strange wargame restlessness over the last week which manifested itself in a hobby room clean up and then the taking down of games from shelves, the opening of them, the furrowing of brows, and then the putting of games away because for one reason or another they weren't quite what I was looking for just at that moment.

After doing this over several nights with Sword of Rome, Sekigahara and Caesar XL, I finally hit upon Solitaire Caesar as the possible cure for the malaise.

Solitaire Caesar is one of those games that I wish I had designed myself. Simple map, simple rules, simple set up and engaging game. You start off controlling the city of Rome around 300 BC and, over the course of seventeen hundred-year turns, look to expand throughout the Mediterranean region and fend off attacks by the various game-controlled barbarians.

Each turn you get a different but set number of talents which are used to recruit armies or build cities. After you have done your turn (ie, turned fertile areas into deserts and called it peace) you roll to see which barbarians attack and in what strength. Once the barbarians have done their thing you tally up how many cities you control and note it down. At game's end you compare your total city score against a table to see how well you did.

I said that it was one of those games I wish I had designed myself, but the reality is that I couldn't have designed it, because the simplicity is the result of good research, extensive playtesting and clever design - all things which tend to be absent in my own rules-writing.

The great strength (or weakness, depending on how much of a control freak you are) of the game is that it relies heavily on the dice, and so the game is more about creating a story than plotting a foolproof path to Mediterranean conquest.

Anyway, after all that lead up, Rome Prufrock style was a bit of a disaster: I lost control of the eternal city somewhere around 150 AD and Byzantium a century later.

So, not so much a solitaire Caesar as a solitary one!

It was a nice little gaming interlude and just the thing I needed. The game has actually given me a couple of ideas for future projects, but these, knowing me, will likely never come to fruition!

Here are a couple of shots of the game (note that while my version is print and play, there is now a proper boxed edition available from White Dog Games):

Ouch; just lost Rome to some marauding Germans.

...and then Steppe types and Africans decided to join the party.
Inevitably, given the title of this post, we will finish with a little bit of William Butler Yeats from the website (about time we got some culture on this blog!).

Sailing to Byzantium

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Crossfire with the boy

I set up a table to relearn the Crossfire rules the other night and while doing so I had a visit from the boy wanting to join in.

He played through a few activations, killed four of my US squads, and then left!

Looking from my position.

The boy's nasty machine gunners.

Some kind of filter that the new camera mysteriously added to the GIs!
I think I've got back up to speed with the rules, anyway. I really need to scrape together some better terrain though, and to finish painting the 1/700 buildings.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

World War 1 action with 'Soldiers'

Friday was a public holiday and to make the most of getting a day off work I popped up to Kobe to see boardgame mate Pat for a game of the SPI World War I classic Soldiers and a taste of his sangria mix.

Soldiers was not a game I was familiar with, but I can see why it is so highly rated, despite it being more than forty years old.

The rules are clear and easy to grasp, and the scenario we played, Le Cateau, was a real wargamer's situation: British on defence, needing to find the best way to defend a wide front against a numerous and determined enemy; Germans on attack, needing to both exit companies from the opposite board edge and inflict a certain number of casualties to claim victory.

We got through two games, but only touched on the tactical possibilities available to both sides. It was an excellent choice of game for the day, and if the sangria led to some less than optimal decision making in the second game, it probably enhanced the simulation value of the exercise!

Here are a few of Pat's photos from the first game (during turn 1, and well prior to the sangria taking effect). I should note in passing that the photos do not do the map justice: it had a lovely antique look to it: there was nothing garish or overstated, and the whole effect was evocative but restful. It was a joy to play on.

Full board, from the German perspective

Germans snake forward on the right.

My British defending forward early, and getting battered for their troubles.

As it turned out, the British won both games, but the first one in particular was very close indeed. There were a number of crucial actions which could have won or lost the game for either side, and we were both left thinking about different strategies to employ, which is surely one mark of a successful wargame.

On that note, while it was only a game for us, the huge slaughter depicted did give one pause for thought about how appalling it must have been for the poor chaps actually involved in these actions and others like them.

It's certainly a game I would play again.

Many thanks to Pat for a fine day's convivial play, and some excellent beverages!
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