Wednesday 28 December 2022

Painting Challenge Report #1

The first week of the Challenge is over and I have managed to score 80 points total in two different entries, 60 points coming from the painted models and the remaining 20 points the bonus from one of the Challenge Studio locations.


This firrst week I focused my attention in completing a Moor/Sarracen warband unit: 12 archeres for 1 point Saga levies section. This comes to complete an old (actually very old) army project of early 2000s when I was heavily playing WAB.


Sunday 25 December 2022

Twelve Wargaming Books for Christmas

Señor Skinner, one of the trio of brains at Too Fat Lardies had an initiative at Twitter to publish his best 12 wargaming Christmas books under the hashtag #12booksofchristmas. The initiave was quickly followed by other Twitterati (including me) and soon we have all gathered an impressive collection of interesting military history and wargaming books.

I thought it was a shame to lose this trove of information (it is impossible to search and find interesting posted materials on Twitter) and for that reason I decided to transfer the list to my blog in this post. 

Nick Skinner list:

#12 Arnhem by Major General Urquhart  

#11 Storming Saint Nazaire byJames G. Dorrian 

#10 Texan Iliad by Stephen L. Harding

#9 Sturmzug: Tactics of the German Assault Platoon 1944

#8 Command by Al Murray

#7 Red Devils by Mark Urban, who incidentally was recently interviewed by Henry Hyde and the podcast is available in his Patreon page really worth subscribing.

#6 Wargaming Campaigns by Henry Hyde coincidentally. This is IMHO the wargaming book of the year and a must-have for anyone in the hobby

#5 is the BAOR series of 12 British Army battlefield tours in Western Europe. A real jewel! 

#4 Oosterbeek - Arnhem 1944 is a book in Dutch of the "then and now" type, comparing historical and modern photos of the Arnhem battle sites.

#3 The Silence of the Merville Battery by Neil Barber 

#2 A Street in Arnhem by Robert Kershaw, of It Never Snows in September fame (among other outstanding military history books)

#1 The Holland Patch by Simon Haines


If you follow the threads of the different entries, you'll find a lot of additional suggestions and recomendations. My own list is a sort of ecclectic, mixing literature and military history works, most of them read this eyar but not necessarely.

#12 is for "14" by French writer Jean Echenoz, an account of a group of French soldiers in WW1

#11 is  The Tartar Steppe by Italiand writer Dino Buzzati. An anti militarist writing in Moussolini Italy in 1938 is a breve move

#10 Sympathy of the Devil by Ken Anderson. In the Vietnam jungles written by a veteran of the Special Ops group. 

#9 Pacific War Trilogy by Ian W. Toll. Everything you want to know from Peral Harbour to the atomic bomb in several thousand pages. A master work

#8 Cassino by Peter Caddick-Adams, used extensively during my trip to the battlefiled last April

#7 The Middle Parts of Fortune by Frederic Manning. Back to WW1 this time with the British by a veteran of the conflict.  

#6 The Battle of the Rhine 1944 by Robin Neillands. Already a classic but fresh and enagaging about the campaign since the Normandy breakout to the Ardennes.

#5 Island of Fire by Jason D Marks. Over 700 pages on Stalingrad BUT focused on the fight around a few hundred sqaure meters: The Barrikady Factory

#4 It Never Snows in September by Robert Kershaw. Another classic about Market Garden from the German eyes

#3 Brazen Chariots by Major Robert Crisp. A veteran of the North Africa campaign riding a Stuart in the desert

#2 1945 Victory in the West by Peter Caddick- Adams (again). You thought Ardennes was the end of the war in the West and 1945 was a walkovr for the allies in the Western Front. Then you must read this. A very much neglected period of suffering and mounting casualties despite the war clearly coming to an end sonner or later.  Probably the bext military history book I've read this year.

#1 Napoleon Campaigns by David Chandler. As Napoleon said abouy Marshall Ney, "The classic-est of the classics". This is one the books that most influenced me to undertake wargaming projects in the Napoleonic era.

I hope you liked these lists and will much appreciate if your leave your book suggestions in the comments sections




Thursday 22 December 2022

Have a Wonderful Christmas and 2023


Wrapping up at the office now, as I'll be taking at the end of Thursday my first holiday break in 2022... this is the problem of having your own business.

My plans for the Christmas break? Nothing fancy really. My closer relatives live nearby, my mother is 91 and mother-in-law 86 (both in perfect shape and health) and therefore no travelling needed.  

There's a few quite interesting exhibitions I'd like to visit in Madrid these days, like Herge of Tintin fame, Tesla (the inventor, not the car company) or Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland.

Hobby wise, I'm expecting to receive a couple of new board wargames on the 24th (the new Caesar Deluxe box and Cataphract rom GMT's GBOH series); I'll be busy organizing counters and reading rules. 

And I also plan to invest some quality time painting for the Annual Challenge  and reading some of the books in my pile. Alas, unlikely playing games at the club as my gaming group gathers on Sundays and this year coincide with Christmas and New Year.

The blog won't go on holidays:  I'll be posting on my Painting Challenge progress and some other themes I'd like to write of.

Wish all my reader a very Merry Christmas in the company of your beloved ones. Peace and health in 2023. I leave you with one of my favourite Season songs, performed by Canadian jazz singer Jane Monheit. Hope you like it.



Wednesday 21 December 2022

A Most Festive Lard: Two Publications to Fill your Boots

Over the last couple of days, TooFatlardies has released two very interesting publications, for those playing their rules.

The first is the Annual Lard Magazine 2022. This is a compendium of articles including scenarios, variants, terrain guides, etc mainly from external international contributors (mainly gamers) covering a wide range of the sets: Chain of Command, Dux Britanniarum, Sharp Practice, etc. 


The issue this year reached a record 185 pages and covered some articles from the most recently released rulesets like Strength & Honor (massive battles in the Roman period) and O'Group. Worth every euro of the price, the detailed index can be reviewed in TFL's official page  

The second publication is a new handbook for O'Group, the battalion level 2WW rules published by TFL's sister publishing company Reiswitz Press and designed by housewives favourite Dave Brown. 

The supplement covers the army lists in the Eastern Front for the period of Barbarrosa (1941) to before Kursk in 1943, including lists for many of the minor Axies allies. This is the third handbook released after the 1940 France and the Low Countries, and the 1944 Normandy supplements. 

Very timely reading material for the long Christmas weekend and the holiday break.

Remember that if you live in the European Union, you must buy your copies from the nice chpas of Karwansary Publishers, of Wargames, Strategy and Soldiers fame

Saga Campaign in the Age of Invasions

We have started a new Saga campaign at Club Dragon using the mechanics described in the Age of Wolf supplement (a full self standing campaign book set in the Vikings period)  and the lists of the Age of Invasion book. We have enrolled six players using Picts, Late Romans, Saxons, Huns, Goths and Sassanids armies. 

Roman cataphracts guard unit

The campaign rules are easy to learn an fun to play.

The first step is deciding a motivation for your leader: do you want to be a land or a gold hoarder? Or you want to become a legend because of your heroic deeds?. Then create a Saga 4-points warband, acquire some distinctive features for your leader by rolling in a table... and finally go invading or raiding your neihghbours fiefdoms.

A campaign usually lasts 8 seasons (or turns) and the player with a higher victory point scoring at the end of the eighth season wins. When a season concludeds, you recover part of your losses in battles and can recruit new forces. A  table of special events (plagues, revolts...)  must be also rolled, potentially affecting your next season plans. 

As you can see, the campaign system is fully aligned with the Saga complex-free design policy, easy, fun and fast.

In this campiagn I'm using the Late Roman Army lists. My initial warband includes of course a leader, a unit of cataphracts (guards), two units of warriors on foot (regular infantry) armed with bows and hand weapons respectively, and a unit of levies armed with javelins.

Roman in line formation awating the beasty Huns

The Late Romans are basically oriented to defend rather than to attack, based on their table of characteristics; but they are not easy to play with. I have already played two seasons, defending against the Picts in Britain and against the Huns in the Danube or Rhin borders...  and have lost both games.

The Hun archers harassing  Roman cataphracts

So far lucky with the special events rolls, that facilitated recovering many of the losses inflicted in my units. But scoring zero victory points after two turns is not looking good at all. 

Next game would probably take place after New Year, as the main festivities are on the weekends this Christmas. I'll keep you posted about the progress but it looks like I'm going to face an "Edward Gibbonian" sort of campaign end this time.   

The Hun horde ready to attack



Monday 12 December 2022

Thoughts About Saga Rules


In September this year I caught the Saga fever, which had previously infected many of my club's closest gaming buddies. To being now almost less fully dedicated to Saga will come as a surprise to readers of this blog, for two  reasons: it is not a set of rules from the TooFatLardies stable and I´ve  always pretended to be a historical wargamer (or so I say).

On the first, nothing to say; I´ve been more than once unfaithful to my beloved Richard Clarke ;-) 

The second may need more elaboration as arguably Saga design is only loosely based on history, but hardly anything remotely close to the "play the history, not the rules" experience. Actually this has been blocking me to take on the rules for a long time, until I conceded to the club's gaming group pressure after the summer.

Foedatari Visigoths defending the limes vs the invading Huns

Surprisingly though, I'm enjoying Saga a lot: the rules are very easy to learn; you need just 25-30 minis to put a warband on the table; many of the minis are interchangeable between warbands (Vikings, Saxons, Anglo Saxons, etc); games are fast (60 to 90 minutes) and perfect for a Sunday morning at the club; battles are bloody and fun; and game scnearios are highly replayable.

Saga's success secret sauce falls in my view on two main ingredients:

  1. Streamlining the typical skirmish game mechanics,  avoiding the more complex issues like using formations, variable (dice driven) movement rates, or frontage/flak/rear rules.
  2. On the other, the national (or better said, warbands) characteristic tables, enable each warband to use some special features singular to each, making them act different from each other and also allowing replayability.

The Saga books (all titled "The Age of___ Hannibal, Vikings, Invasions, etc) cover  between the Hellenistic Alexander's battles (circa 320 BC) and The Crusades and The Reconquista (circa 1000+ AD). In addition a Fantasy battles book was also issued.


 Some of my Saga books collection

Do all lists work fine with the rules? Yes ... but only if you are not a  picky historical player. My take is that typical warbands not trained to fight in formations are probably a better match for Saga. 

To clarify: a typical unit of warriors comprises 8 models and a guards unit just 4 models. A unit of Roman legionaries (or a Maecedonian pike phalanx) with such few models does not feel right at all. However a group or irregular Vikings, Saxons, Gauls or Iberians raiding neighbouring villages or ambushing other units will do the trick.

Sample of Army Lists

In addition to period books, Saga has also released a specific campaign book in the Age of Vikings and a battles supplement with several types of scenarios, including rules to setup a table, objectives and alternative schemes to deploy troops.  

All the books are printed as high quality hardbacks, nicely edited and lavishly illustrated with beautiful colour photos of the correspoding armies (useful also as painting guides for your units). The national characteristic lists are printed in thick board sheets and are worth laminating or protecting with a plastic cover.

The Saga Dice

Summarizing, an easy, fun, and well crafted set of rules, offering a with a wide array of army lists, highly replayable thanks to the national characteristics tables. Perfect to introduce new players directly into historical gaming (or indirectly using the fantasy battles book); or for the seasoned gamer to play a casual afternoon game in your club.



Sunday 11 December 2022

Getting Ready for the XIII Annual Painting Challenge


Winter is coming ... but also the Annual Painting Challenge. This is a friendly context organised by Canadian wargamer Curt Campbell (a.k.a The Snow Lord) in which you basically compete against yourself (after setting your own points target scoring that must be reached or exceeded) and shared with 80+ other participants your painting work.

This is my Challenge's eight year. Traditionally it has been an opportunity in the bleak three-months winter days to  progress in my painting projects. In previous years I alway tried to focus on one specific project (British Red Devils, German Fallschirmjagers, French and Austrian Napoleonics...) complemented by a radom and many times unrelated paiting models to socre addittional bonus points.

It won't be this year, though. I turned 60 last May and over the summer I realized that I had an obscene amount of unfinished projects (the "pile of shame") and realistically enough time or stamina to undertake all. For that reason I have been selling and giving away to my local club friends for free, minis, books, and boardgames that either do not interest me any longer or will unlikely play in the medium term. 

I also committ to not buying any new models except if a similar number to those bought are taken away from the pile (the "net-zero" rule). So far, so good, more than three months since making any new major acquisitions (just a singular mini or a complementary vehicle sporadically) 

Therefore, I aim approaching the Painting Challenge this year in a more relaxed way, painting whatever I feel more attracted at each time and also trying to follow (and enjoying more) the other participants' work. What I have on the painting tray right now is a mix of different themes, including:

  • German early 2WW infantry and supports
  • German Fallschirmjagers in 1940 jump suits for an Operation Mercury project
  • Complete a few Saga warbands (Dark Age warriors, Moors and El Cid Reconquista)
  • A Germanic warband for Infamy Infamy 
  • A wide array of 2WW vehicles

This year I also got introduced in the world of 3D printing with the assisstance of two of my club friends, real professionals in the field. I don't rule out printing some models during the period of the Challenge from STL files already acquired, but always under the same "net-zero" rule as explained above.

The parting shot of the Challenge is December 21st extending until midnight March 20. Expect to see reports of my progress over the next weeks.

And as usual, feel free to leave your comments. 

Thursday 8 December 2022

Back to Blogging and Thoughts About Social Media


Arguably blogging activity has been in general decay for more than 5 years now, replaced by other social media tools enabling quick /rapid consumption and massive attention/reactions from the community. This has been my case too: I started in Twitter in 2013 initially as a way to promote my blog, but I increasingly turned my attention and effort there, and finally abandoned blogging entirely.

However, the recent Musk-related turmoil in Twitter had made me rethink my presence (or not!) in social media and whether it made some sense to come back to blogging. As many other people I'm utterly fed up of the contaminated atmosphere of Twitter and what real value brings reading lots of short 250 characters snipets throught the day. I have tried Mastodon but don't see any advantage to Twitter and have never being attracted by Facebook.

Blogging is totally the opposite to Twitter et alt. Here you need to put your mind and concentration in what you want to convey to readers. Each post is much more ellaborated and thought. Blogging can be easily isolated from politics, and while the target audience is significantly narrower, trolls can be kept at bay while achieving engagement from truly interested readers. In summary a muche superior overall experience for me and for the interested reader (I hope).

My plan therefore is to resurect this blog afteer to neglecting years. I won't committ (at least for now) to a specific publication schedule, let's keep expectations right. Topics will not be too different of those in past: wargaming, military history and related items.

I remain a devoted fan of Toofatlardies, that's not changing and expect to see lots of related posts. But my wargaming interests have evolved over the past two years and now I devote much time to boardgaming too. In truth this is going back to my gaming origins in 1980, when Panzerblitz (my baptism of firre) literally throwed me into this hobby. I'm also now involved in Saga the ancient/dark age period rules,  participating in a campaign with other 6 members of my local club.

In the very short term  expect to see posts from the Saga campaign and also from my participation in Curt Campbell's Annual Painting Challenge in its 13th edition this winter (you can see my mobile painting office in the photo heading this post).

As usual, feel freee to leave comments. Will get in contact again soon .