The Ion Age by Gavin Syme….now live!

Today is the day that the hardest secret I have had to keep in my professional working life becomes common knowledge.  Today I personally told five thousand wargamers and by extension of that over this week maybe two or three hundred thousand more through forums and news portals about the existence of The Ion Age.   A brand new wargaming website, brand new products, brand new approach and all based on my favourite science fiction setting which I first learned about nearly twenty years ago.

Its been a slow build and a lot of work but over the last year the pieces have been put in place and the future literally written as I expanded and hardened the fiction that already existed into a bigger and better format upon which a lot can be hung.   It is one thousand years since the end of the great Khanate War and the betrayal of Prydian space by the fanatical Templars and after an age of darkness and an ongoing bitter civil war between powerful Marcher Barons a great leader has emerged to take command of the Prydian Army and its knights.  Princess Daphne Cyon has her work cut out for her though for as well as the Leagues of Yordan and Canlaster there is the situation in the Camarthen star cluster to now contend with…..

There is a blog for The Ion Age upon which I will be putting the majority of my thoughts on this subject as it grows and encompasses more and more.  Have a look and bookmark it or follow it.  The blog will fill you in on the rest of the details such as the free miniature with every order (changed every month see below), the weekly releases, the loyalty system with earned goodies, new rules sets and more.  Oh and what is coming on Thursday of this week.


That is it for now.  After all I have a universe to build but stick around to see a future filled with hope, bravery, mighty deeds and not the same old hand cranked gaming fodder.  This is the Ion Age and  its going to be a blast!


Julanna…love ya baby!

Baroness Julanna at the head of her Knights

My good friend Sam Croes has just posted up a piece of art by the talented Emel-de-Syrs.  The art shows Julanne a baroness of the League of Canlaster at the head of her Retained Knights.  A scene from the Ion Age universe taken from the MOTH game book.  I really like this image, its got pace and drive and scale too.  Makes a fella want to go AWOL from the Prydian Army and join the rebel Canlastrian ranks.

Well done Emel!


Noble Knight Games now carrying ranges

Something I had been working on for several weeks a wee while ago has now become public knowledge so I can mention it on the blog!  Below I have lifted the text from as it saves me a bit of typing:

We are proud and pleased to announce that Noble Knight Games, one of America’s foremost suppliers of wargame miniatures, roleplay games, out of print titles and much more, is now stocking and Alternative Armies products. NKG aim to provide a top notch service and with that in mind if you are in North America please go along to their website on the links below and have a look. You can order HOF,HOT, Laserburn, HOTT Armies, Altuos and all Alternative Armies starter sets and rulebooks like HOF Fire-Team and the USE ME Series. All prices in USD and provided locally to American gamers. If you are a fan of Noble Knight Games and of us as too you can now combine both interests in one order!

Additionally if you can’t see one of our products on the NKG website that you would like to order please email them and let them know!

I am very pleased with this new arrangement with Aaron Leeder over at NKG’s as I have watched his work with admiration from afar for years.  Noble Knight often causes referrals to Alternative Armies. When they, NKG, pick up small amounts of stock (Firefight 1.0, Flintloque 1.0, 2.0, Erin and other miniatures) from their sources and sell it on using their webstore.  Their customers then coming to us directly for more.  Back in the 1990’s Alternative Armies product was in most of the thousands of gaming stores in the USA before the big distributors went belly up.  This results in little amounts of treasure popping up all the time.

Once more the peoples of the USA can access the goodness of the Alternative!

You can read more and follow the links by going to now.


A look at Miniature Wargames magazine No 352

I got my advertisers copy of this months new Miniature Wargames magazine in the mail on Monday so I have it fairly close to those who line up at WHSmith newsagents at the weekend.  Now that the carnage of the The Thinker’s tenth birthday is over I can do a wee look at this issue.  So without further ado….

Miniature Wargames No 352

Cupola: Andrew Hubback does his editorial commentary as normal and this time he announces or hints at a refreshed design for the layout of MW coming next issue.  I look forward to seeing the rests of his feedback from the readers.  Feedback is vital in all industries and I often feel as if I operate in silence because if the customers who buy my titles and miniatures do not tell me what they think of them or what they would like to see it is really tough to improve!

Letters Page:  Good letters in this month especially one from John Treadaway (ah..fond memories of Full Thrust!) concerning the lack of non-historical materials in the magazine (not just MW but focused on it).  While this can mean Fantasy and Science Fiction it also means ‘what if’ scenarios from history too.  This is an important point to take up.  MW own survey last issue showed how much non-historical gaming there was at Salute 2012 and I commented then about its importance to the future of the industry especially among younger wargamers.

Boxing Clever at Fisticuffs:  Nigel Pell and Gary Mitchell report from the Fisticuffs show in Weymouth (south coast of England).  A good read this and its always good to hear of the joy and suffering that wargamers go through getting to shows.  I have not been to Fisticuffs (it would be a thousand mile round trip from Girvan!) but it looked like a fine event with a lot going on including a large game of GrUnTz put on by the Wessex Wyverns local club plus of course Gary’s own excellent Space Vixens from Mars was there; love that range!

The Attack on Raedykes Camp:  The third article in the series by Peter Hall on re-fighting Mons Graupius with the Hail Caesar wargame rules.  This time a Roman Marching Camp hobby article and run through of two games centred around it.  I studied this campaign at university and Peter does an excellent job in turning it to wargaming.

Apocalypse Vow:  It is going to be the end of the world on December 21st this year if you believe the long vanished Mayans.  This article by Gary Mitchell looks the this prediction along with Mayan warfare and ways to use it on the tabletop.  As to the end of the world…no way…I still got rules to write!

The Osaka Campaign:  Part two, and sadly the final, of Kevin Jones look at the rise of the Tokugawa family and the Japanese feudal wars.  One of my favourite nations and a period I know a lot about and in fact I own almost of the books the author quotes as sources.  An excellent summary with some wargaming notes and ideas too.

Scuffle at Shevardino:  Napoleon’s 1812 campaign and the smaller battle that came just before Borodino written by Chris Hahn.  This is a fine article with a lot of history, maps and wargaming material in it but it did not grab me much.  Perhaps I am not in a mood for Napoleonics just now (I am busy with my preparations for a ‘Martian’  terrain set for 28mm scale but that is another matter) so I read it and passed on.’s advert for Renaissance miniatures..gosh it almost looks like a professional did it!

Don’t Forget Your Tomahawk:  I always look forward to Steve Eardley’s pages in MW because he ranges wide and far for material and always delivers a good read.  This time its an approach to wargaming the French and Indian War (or the Seven Years War if you come from the civilised side of the pond!) followed by a delve into the miniatures that can be had for the conflict.  Four excellent pages!

Wargaming Gettyburg Part Two:  Jon Sutherland offers up the second part of his series on wargaming the biggest battle of the American Civil War.  It is a well delivered and sharp article which is just as well as I am fairly tired of ACW as a period and of that battle in particular.  Good for fans of the period.

France 1940:  World War Two booty for fans of the most recent worldwide conflict.   Mark Freeth presents a report on a battle that recently took place at his Wargames Holiday Centre.  It reads like a plug for the place but hey its a good plug and I for one would love a weekend of Mark’s hospitality!

A Spreading Insurgency:  Mike Haran presents a system for wargaming the action when the recent Arab Spring turns to a cold, cold Arab Winter of war and terrorism.  For me this near future article is the best one in this issue. Presenting a squared grid of the Middle East and surrounding regions along with outcomes allows for massive variety and unknowns in play.  Added to this is a system of unit deployment, spies, situations.  Excellent all around and could be adapted to a sci-fi setting with ease.

Darker Horizons: This time headed up ‘Redundancy’ Gary Mitchell begins my favourite part of the magazine by outlining his potential woes of facing the loss of his teaching post and having to do the ‘trolley shuffle’ so loved by the middle aged all across Britain’s thousands of supermarkets.  I wish him luck and while its not the purpose of this posting or this blog to get political it does make you wonder if teaching children is about experience or being cheap…ah but lets carry on.  Gary crams and I mean crams information into the pages listing all the current happenings of two dozen companies and fifty or more releases.  Black Cat Bases get a feature of their new ‘between scales’ Grey Aliens and Sheep while some other person gets a mention about his ‘amazing sci-fant empire.  I wonder where he finds the time?’…what can I say, not much sleep, fast typing, a strong work ethic and a loving wife.

MOTH and Me get a mention! 

Book Reviews: A collection of reviewers look at Twilight of the Hellanistic World (Pen & Sword), The Fall of English France (Osprey), Austrian Seven Years War Cavalry and Artillery (Ken Trotman Publishing), Napoleons Swiss Troops (Osprey), Forts of the War of 1812 (Osprey), The Eastern Front 1914-20 (Amber Books) and a biography of Georgy Zhukov (Osprey).  Good reviews but all I can say is thank heaven for Osprey eh, otherwise what would the review pages do!  I often think that a wargames magazine should review wargame rules as well as military history books in its pages; after all it is aimed at the wargaming hobby.

All in all a good read and recommended for those of you who can get it.   But then I would say that…I am in it!


Join the Muster!

“Make your way to the front of the line son.  You wanna fight for your King, you wanna fight for Prydia?  

Well you go right on in.  Sure, you get the Aketon Armour and the Moth Type 6 Rifle…but more than that; you get the pride boy!”

Sam Croes the digital man with the plan has posted the above artwork on his blog today.  Like me he has a liking for sweet little things in uniform (humm…not very PC, but hey it’s my blog!) so as he explains he created this bill poster in a couple of days just for the fun of it.  I want to get this as an actual poster for my wall.  It is that awesome.

Nice one Sam!



An Advert for Miniature Wargames Issue 353

The Ion Age gets an Advert!

Busy, busy this week and despite a full ‘to do list’ written on my traditional blank A4 piece of paper (which looks like a bomb site by Monday afternoon!) I have fallen behind somewhat.  But I am busy rectifying that and here is the latest bit of work now complete and sent off to John at MediaShed.  Our half page advert for the issue after next of Miniature Wargames magazine.

After adverts for USE ME and for Altuos it is the turn of the Ion Age to get the full colour treatment in print.  The 28mm science fiction range is way too big to be listed so I opted for a general information and introduction advert which told a bit of a story and gave basic information.  Along with this some eye candy of the latest pack release and the cover of MOTH.  I had some space left so a sub-advert for Asgard 25mm Space Marines went in featuring the superb paintwork of Sam Croes.

Click on the image above to see the advert in full.


New Blister Backer

A ‘rough’ of the new Alternative Armies and blister backer card

Some of you might have noticed I have been in a ‘hobbit hole’ for the last two days and have not answered my usual three dozen or more personal mails a day. Well I had been handed a new and urgent task; to replace the current now almost extinct blister backer used by Alternative Armies and  I had expected to be doing this but due to the placing of a large trade order into the USA last week it was moved up the job list to ‘do it right now!’ status.

Those who purchase their miniatures from stores or at conventions will know what a blister backer is.  A piece of card with all the needed information about the company and about the product which goes inside a blister of miniatures allowing the customer to know what he is looking it along with how much it costs.  These used to form the back of a blister but those were ‘heat sealed’ use once blisters which we have not used for a decade or more.  We use a ‘clam shell’ plastic blister which is more secure but also is reusable and many wargamers use them to transport finished figures too!  So they full fill the same purpose but are no longer the ‘back’ but the name remains much like ‘watching a video’ does despite it being a DVD!

If you click on the image above you can see a low rez rough of the new design. Size wise it is 105mm by 75mm in dimension. It is simple and effective and tells you all you need to know over an attractive mottled blue with the famous Alternative Armies ‘arrowhead’ embedded in it.  The blue is used as it is the best colour behind white metal miniatures to be able to see them properly and the blank white area on the front is for the placement of the ‘product label’ which tells the customer what code he is holding.  This is different for each pack of course.

I will be catching up with the backlog of email soon as I can but this is turning into one hectic week!


Sam Croes on Asgard Space Marines

My good friend Sam Croes has painted up some of the newly re-released Asgard Science Fiction range which I sent him as a get well soon present earlier this month.  To be frank his skill with a paint brush makes me puke!  Might as well burn all my own at this point 🙂  For more on this classic range see my previous posting.

Asgard 25mm Space Marines (SM3, SM3A, SM9)

Asgard classic 25mm space marines - Rear

Go along to his blog and have a read as to how he painted them and perhaps you can match it with your own efforts.

As for me.  Well I will make do with drooling over the pictures you see here.