Thursday, 10 September 2015

Land of Tales and Heroes

I've been playing Song of Blades and Heroes, a small skirmish game published by Ganesha Games, for a few years now on and off. It's a straight forward miniatures game, with simple enough rules to play through quickly, but with enough depth and interesting systems to remain engaging and enjoyable. It's a system that is easy to get into, and as a result, easy to manipulate. You can play games in any setting that inspires you, with any miniatures you have handy.

Like many gamers I seriously lack storage space, but being a fan of the smaller scale of miniatures is a bonus in this regard. My favourite scales for figures tend to be 15mm or smaller. For Song of Blades and Heroes I bought a range of 15mm Orcs and Goblins from Splintered Light (and they are wonderful models). The only thing lacking was a good playing surface.

Being small scale miniatures Song of Blades and Heroes only calls for a small sized board. In the shed I happened to have a 2ft by 2ft piece of MDF that had served me many moons ago as a DBA board. It was time to re-purpose the glaringly green gloss surface to something that looked a little better!

Previously the board had been coated with a horrid dark green gloss spray. The first thing I wanted to do was to add some texture to the surface, so I sprayed it with watered down PVA, and sprinkled sand across the surface. After this was dried I sprayed it with a black undercoat, then painted on successive layers of brown, culminating in several layers of drybrushing, from brown, to a very light skin tone.

To add some colour and interest to the surface I sprayed on some more PVA, and then added static grass to finish it off. Once I had shaken off the excess I sprayed the lot heavily with a matt varnish.

I'm pretty happy with the result, now I'm just waiting to get a game or two happening!

If you're interested in Song of Blades and Heroes - it's well worth checking out. At the moment Ganesha are running a Kickstarter for the Advanced rules and a Dwarf source book. I am very much looking forward to getting my copies!

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

The History of World War II Podcast

I have crossed the line. Semi-exhausted, semi-elated, with a similar sense of accomplishment as having finished a grueling challenge. Not that it was unpleasant, far from it, but it is the denouement: the slightly sad afterglow of a long, bright day. A time to kick off the mud caked boots, rub the aching calves, prop the pack and sword belt by the door, and reflect with a melancholy satisfaction on the journey so far completed.

Around January or February I started looking in earnest for new podcasts to listen to, having come from the brilliant History of Rome I was ready for another journey through the annals of time, and found The History of World War II Podcast, by Ray Harris Jr. At the time it was up to something like 120 episodes, and as of yesterday, after listening to little else, I have managed to work my way through the now 138 back episodes and am completely up-to-date. That is not to say that The History of World War II is finished! Operation Barbarossa is just kicking off and there is plenty to be covered yet, but that for now, my journey with Ray Harris Jr., is done.

I really loved the History of Rome, which is a brilliant podcast and well worth listening to, and The History of World War II is similarly excellent. Ray does a very good job of covering, in detail, what is a complex and fascinating story. Altogether I would have listening to something like 90-100 hours of the podcast, and would recommend it to anyone with a passing interest.

If you do stop over and listen, I would recommend downloading a bunch and listening to them in groups. To be honest, I prefer to listen to history podcasts this way - a stream of audio following the story, however long, is preferable to small piecemeal chunks where detail may be lost or forgotten between installments. Ray will undoubtedly keep up with his schedule, but I won't be joining him again for at least a couple of months as I allow the bank of episodes to build back up. I very much look forward to it!

My one and only gripe with The History of World War II is the cover image. When I open my phone and I have been listening to the show, the cover image above dominates the screen, with the distinctive red colouring, swastika and the image of Hitler, it has drawn some interesting looks from those who happen to be nearby... but that is a small price to pay for such quality listening!

Thursday, 3 September 2015


The promise of being able to capture the thousand fractures of light and colour that make up the kaleidoscope of ideas that traverse my mind is appealing. The alternative: saying dishonestly to myself, "I'll remember that tomorrow morning," always results in the same sad and frustrated fate come that morning, when the only thought rebounding in my head is, "There used to be a better one here not so long ago."

I have a bunch of note books that are badly organised and generally filled with a mix of various projects, drawings, notes and things the children did (which can hold multiple meanings). All of which, of course, makes them less than useful. I've always found the idea of being well organised in the note book sense rather engaging, being able to jot down ideas for blog posts, podcast topics, game ideas, setting concepts and flashes of story seems the sort of thing I should be doing, after all, I keep telling myself I should, but it's something I've never really mastered.

I have tried a great many organisational apps over the years, from Awesome Note, to Evernote, to Something Note to The Other One Note to Umm Note. Every time they take me on a sort of short lived mildly euphoric roller-coaster (well, more like an energetic miniature-train ride). That sense that 'this is one'! THIS is the methodology that will help me herd and pen all those cats I call ideas. I haven't found one yet that managed to live beyond that initial mentally salubrious beginning. I write all this nonsense because I spent that last twenty minutes reinstalling Evernote on everything I own that can be plugged in and has a screen. I am hoping that my foray once again into the realm of attempting to organize the mess I usually call my mind will be more successful than the last. We shall see.