Thursday, April 17, 2014

Book Review: Churchill's First War

Young Winston and the Fight Against the Taliban.

Con Coughlin

The second of the books I picked up in Heathrow, along with this one I have already reviewed. For some reason, I find books cheaper in the UK than here in Canada, at least those on the Bestsellers shelf, but I digress.

The author of this book does not have a history as an author of historical biographies, but comes from the subject as a journalist in the field in Afganistan, and the 'fight against terror' in the middle east (he is currently the Defense Editor for the Telegraph).

At first the link between Chruchill and the Taliban seemed to me to be a stretch, just to get a modern tag-line on a historical book, however, at this particular time in Churchill's life, he was directly involved with the conflict on the North West Frontier, or the border between British India and Afghanistan. However, the links that I thought would be tenuous or forced between Churchill's experiences on the North-West Frontier and the modern conflict in the region turned out to be subtly and inextricably linked. The peace that was finally negotiated by the British Raj and the Pashtun tribesmen on the frontier was maintained under Pakistani rule, and only finally broken 100 years later with the interventions of the USA and Allied forces in recent years. The lifestyle of the tribesmen on the frontier, had changed little in that time, and the issues that were faced by Churchill, and the style of fighting of the tribesmen and the problems that caused an invading larger army had little changed, even with the technology that modern forces can muster. It was not for nothing that Churchill's account of the conflict The Story of the Malakand Field Force was reprinted at the time of the US/Afghanistan conflict, and read by all the major players in the theatre.

The book also gave an insight into the personality of Winston Churchill, specifically his early life. He was a great man, and a polymath, but not someone I have much studied, other than the information you pick up by osmosis being born and raised in the UK. His goal of always becoming a career politician, and how he went about achieving that goal, especially in his early military career, was interesting to read, and certailnly piqued my interest to find out more. I went on to watch the Gathering Storm, which is obviolusy a much later time in his life. It has also made me want to go find a copy of Young Winston, as it has been an age since I watched it.

Back to the book though. As a historical piece, and also as a book that puts a light on the current day happenings on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, I can but recommend this book.
N.B. the book goes by the subtitle 'Young Winston at War with the Afghans' in North America.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


This month's "Colore ton Monde" challenge is to weather a mini. I have started to do so on my mini of choice, but more on that shortly.

In the meantime, I have taken some pics as inspiration for painting rust, and melting snow. Two factors I am trying to incorporate into this month's figures. I was happy to find the hydrant, as it's been painted in Khador red!


I'm also going to try some new things with snow on the base. Looking to get a more slushy/icy look.
Yes, this stuff is still lying around here.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Book Review: All the Countries We've Ever Invaded

All the Countries We've Ever Invaded.

...and a Few We Didn't Get Round To.
Stuart Laycock.

This is the first of two books I bought at Heathrow, when last passing through. The We in the title refers to the British, hence buying it in the UK, however, the title of the book remains unchanged for the North American release of the book.

For the purposes of this book, invaded also includes disputes and incursions in the territorial waters of a country, pirate/privateer activity, as well as the incursion of armed explorers, as long as they working under the approval of the government.

For a brief resume of the countries we have not invaded (obviously the shorter list) there were a couple of newspaper articles that appeared when the book was released. This one in the Telegraph has a handy map, and a list at the bottom.

Clearly, though, as wargamers, we're much more interested in the ones we did invade, and that's where this book comes into its own. Every country in the world is listed, and under each entry a quick run down of how the British (or English, if pre-union) army has been involved there. This obvioulsy includes a great deal of our Colonial past, as well as giving a more rounded apprecition of the many theatres of opperation during the two world wars.

The book is also a wealth of little gems that, when researched a little, should give wonderful historical gaming scenarios. For example, that time in Vietnam, after the war, where British and Indian Troops, and an attached Japanese Batallion, took on the communist Viet Minh forces. Or that other time, when Royalists and Parliamentarians duked it out in the Carribean (Barbados stayed loyal to the Crown, so Cromwell sent an invasion force). The book is full of such little tid-bits.

The book is laid out as an alphabetical list by country, and therefore is easy to pick up and put down whilst reading. It also means that it works as a reference book (there is also a full index).

Sound like your kind of thing? Go look it up. I think it's worth the money.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Colore ton Monde Avril/April

The results of the March Colore ton Monde painting challenge are up here.

The results of my March painting for the challenge can be found here, with more pictures of the minis here.

April's challenge is as follows:

Ça fond enfin...

La neige commence enfin à fondre, se transformant en névasse (!?!) et en gadoue, salissant bottes et voitures partout où elles passent. Pour avril, nous vous invitons à peindre un modèle "sale". Nous étendons le thème à tout ce qui peut être considéré comme du weathering.

It's Finally Melting...

The snow is starting to finally melt, and change into névasse (!?!) or slush, dirtying boots and cars everywhere they go. For April, we invite you to paint a 'dirty' model. We extend this theme to include any kind of weathering techniques.
Looks like it's out with the weathering powders and inks this month! That'll be fun!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Urban War: Viridian Special Forces

As I posted at the end of last month, I painted up my Viridian Special Forces for March's Colore ton Monde. Here are some more pics of, and info on these minis. These are the first edition Viridian Special forces, and in my opinion, the nicer ones. The second wave ones have large shoulder pads. Which, although tying them in with the marines of the same faction, would rather stand out on the battle field. They are also a bit smaller than the other Urban War Minis, and have less to tie them in to the rest of the faction in general, but I still feel they have much more character.

The Squad Leader

It is interesting to note, that of the four members of this unit, 3 are female. As are the veteran sniper and commander figure. Furthermore, none of these female figures have gratuitously exposed cleavages. Yes, I am aware that this company made up for this with the syntha faction running around naked, but we must count the victories too. It is an example that games like Dystopian Legions have failed to follow.

The bases for these guys have finally arrived, and will be added shortly.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Fools!

Happy First of April everyone. Did you get caught out? The local version of Virgin Radio and the Local Rock station (CHOM) switched frequencies on me this morning. It took me a little time to figure out when I turned the car radio on, but was fun and amusing. Especially when they turned back, then played a bunch of calls from people kindly phoning to tell them there was a problem.

The local radio stations are not the only ones running little gags, there are some wargaming related ones out there too.

Rather nifty tutorial on the Tale of Painters Blog, showing how to paint Frodo wearing the One Ring. Of course, you could also Proxy this as Bilbo wearing the One Ring, if you want to use it for Hobbit games too.

Clever but obviously April Fools post from Warlord Games, teaming up with Wargames Soldiers and Strategy magazine to produce a new Magazine, Warlord Soldiers and Strategy. A little gentle digging at the Wargames Illustrated/Battlefront team up too.

Privateer Press have tinkered with their site too, suggesting that their Gobbos have been having a go at the pics on the site. Usually PP are rahter imaginitice with their April Fools, but unless I'm missing something, this one seems rather flat.

There's also this post on Wargaming Tradecraft, less of an April Fools post, and more of a joke post. How to win more games through better cheating

Of course, the web is full of such little gags this morning, for a run down of some of the better ones out there this year, click here.

EDIT: The PP site has taken the boards off the images now, to show all the pics with Bodgers faces. The link to the story why is here.

EDIT II: The estimable Mr Awdry has a post detailing the new range of Rustled Cattle, and there's a lot of work gone into those images, and the box ! Good one Michael!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Colore ton Monde: Mars/March, The Masked Ball

Enough of the Oldhammer minis, back to the present, or indeed the near future...
March's challenge was to paint a figure with their face hidden. Really not to taxing at all to find, as there are a lot of near/far future games that stick a gas mask on their minis, and many many other ranges that have at least a few figs with full face helmets. In the end, I went with the Viridians I brought back from the UK, as I seem to be on a roll with them. I have five Special Forces minis, and four of them are wearing gas masks. Easy peasy. They also fit into the stealth motif of this months challenge.


So, there you go, faces all hidden, and stealth theme too. I have also had the call to say the bases for these guys have arrived, so they will be based and done very shortly.

I love the fact that of the five minis in this squad, three are female.