Flintloque, USEME and I go digital download!

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Last week the four books that currently make up Flintloque 3rd edition not only went back into printed stock but also, for the first time, they became digital paid downloads.  Otherwise known as purchasable PDF books. While other companies have been trading in downloads for several years successfully now it has only been in the last month or so that Alternative Armies and by extension 15mm.co.uk and my baby The Ion Age did the same.  When the decision was taken it was set to me to task out a platform from which to make the digital publications available.  After running tests on several installs I settled on one that seamlessly integrates with the physical products on the websites and is very easy for customers to use and also to return to for their purchases.  We began with DarkeStorme my high fantasy skirmish system for 28mm and 15mm miniatures and then moved across to HOF Fire Team and Age of Might and Steel before turning my other loved system books Patrol Angis and Callsign Taranis into paid downloads.  Then it was onto the main event…Flintloque!

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A busy few weeks and then the time arrived this week and with my usual flourish I presented the books plus a mega bundle to the world.  Early notice went to the Notables who were quick to get involved.  The reception has been very positive across the board and especially from the regular wargamers who play Flintloque who in some cases purchased the books as digital to go with existing print or both at the same time to expand their collection.   What has surprised me is actually the uptake on the printed books in conjunction with the same digital title as well as miniatures (above are the Pudigroan Dogmen and our funky three barrelled cannon).  I have asked and been told that the desire was to read the books while waiting for a package to arrive with paper being very much preferred at the gaming table.  This makes sense to me actually as I read books virtually but often purchase in print those I enjoy and tend to always buy wargaming books and RPG books in print only.  It seems that digital downloads are here to stay at Alternative Armies.

As always if you are a customer who continues to allow me to make my living in this wonderful manner I thank you and hope you enjoy what I do.

When the time comes that I have finished the next Flintloque book which is titled ‘Retreat to Kooruna’ it will be a print and digital download title and as such it will be the first Flintloque book to debut as both mediums.  I look forward to seeing how this is greeted by the fan base of the World of Valon.  While the first ever campaign book for Flintloque will get more, much more, coverage as it nears release you can see the cover art by Edward Jackson below.  Back in December 2015 one of the full scenarios from the forthcoming book was published in the Advent Calendar on Orcs in the Webbe.  Click on the link and you can read it or on this LINK you can have it as a PDF to your device direct.  It is one of a dozen to be in the book.

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Flintloque grows every month with new miniatures, new items and new material.  It has been a part of me for more than a decade and it will continue to be so long, long into the future.  In fact some wargamers would never forgive me if I stopped creating new content for the game!

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On Friday last week the whole USEME series of wargame books went digital download at 15mm.co.uk and while it is true that I nor any other author in the series such as Omer Golan Joel or Kurt Benson have added to its dozen titles in the last two years or so that will change.  We have six small books in various stages of development.  In the meantime I am really pleased to see people still remember my USEME and in honour of that the digital editions are cheaper than the print booklets.  A whole game system for three pounds.  Excellent!

USEME has half a dozen titles in the works by three authors including myself and these are at various stages of readiness.  I am looking at adding titles in the near future and these may well be digital download only.  This will be based upon consulting with several dozen customers at random to see what they prefer.

Thanks for your time.

GBS

The New Bank of England 5 Pound Note…plastic!

An Idle Muse for a Sunday afternoon,

Money, Money, Money…great isn’t it…but what is it?  It got me thinking, musing, on this subject during this week when in my change at a shop I was handed a very odd bank note.  A new plastic polymer ‘fiver’ a five pound note issued by the Bank of England.  Though Scotland has had a plastic note similar for a while now it is rather rare and I have only encountered a few.  Let me tell you that after a life time of paper notes this object is weird in the extreme and does not even feel like ‘money’.  So my musing, what is the note and what is money?

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The new five pound note is very small, smaller than its paper predecessor.  It no longer folds and it has a transparent pane.  The front has the Queen as expected and the rear that most prominent of British statesmen Winston Churchill.  I can see the securing features, the holograms and the other measures making it harder to counterfeit.  It has an odd feel and quite unsettling actually but I suppose I will get used it to as those who swapped coin for note initially did.  I folded it, rolled it, crushed it up and it does not return to shape with any ease unlike paper.  Have a look at this five pound note from about 1932-37.

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I say what is money since the first non tactile notion I gained from this new note was its change from paper to plastic.  It puts in physical reality the twin factors of inflation and the illusion of currency as opposed to money. Humour me here.  Currency is used as a physical representation of value that changes over time (bank notes) where as money is actual value (silver or gold coins with inherent value themselves) and this new fiver shows it.  It is a mere token, an abstract, another step down the line away from ‘money’ on the gold standard.  We are moving into plastic ‘chit’ reality devoid of value as all the nations have borrowed in extremis which can never be repaid.  Inflation is subtle but there and over time it mounts up and up.  Have a think.  In rough terms a pack of twenty cigarettes is now about ten pounds, less than a decade ago it was five pounds and when I was a child in the early 1980’s a fiver would have got you hundreds of cigarettes (I use this as I could find the data but it is applied to the pricing of all items).  Inflation makes currency worth less and less.  I will not go into more detail here as it is a musing.

Remember the 1930’s fiver above..when new it could have bought you 113.5 litres of Petrol….now it buys you about three or four!  As for housing…a nice house in London would have set you back thirty of these notes (you earned about one per year on a typical wage)…now…well no point in even trying to work it out.

Anyhow.  Lets not get depressed!

You can watch a wee video and learn more officially at the notes very own website The New Fiver.  Oh and keep them away from heat..for they melt with ease…I am now without mine… 🙁

GBS

The first digital download of my work….

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I began a test today with a wargame rule system I wrote back in 2005 and then re-issued in 2010 before now in September 2016 turning into a digital download.  The system is DarkeStorme and it is one of my earliest stand alone titles.  I am actually rather proud of it really since it has held up well.  Set on the fictional world of Valon where the mighty rule system Flintloque takes place but in an earlier age of sword and sorcery it was my idea to create a ‘third age’ to replace the lack lustre earlier system ‘Dresda’ which was in a world before Flintloque.  DarkeStorme focuses on warbands of a dozen or so miniatures of any fantasy race and has full rules for monsters, magic and more as well as progression and RPG elements.  A lot packed into sixty pages….mainly due to this being written before I had a lot of parenting responsibilities which makes working life a tad more complex. I am not joking!

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The test is to find out if the customer base of Alternative Armies wishes to purchase paid for PDF’s (digital books)  as well as print books.  DarkeStorme has sold over a thousand copies in its time thus far in print so it is an ideal place to try out this test.  The purchase is made straight from the website using the existing shopping cart and the links are delivered on screen to download from there.  Thus far we have sold a half dozen or so e-copies and it is a good start.  You can visit the page HERE and read the official blog post HERE.

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How do I feel about my work, often running to hundreds of hours per title, being distributed in this fashion?  If you had asked me a few years ago I would have refused straight off since I have watched people being ‘pirated’ our of existence by file sharing networks in the gaming industry.  That and the customers simply did not ask for PDF’s in anything but ‘bolt on’ small items and preferred printed books with their miniatures.  Now though the world has turned and customers are asking for both particularly with The Ion Age title Patrol Angis.  So I will wait and see what happens.  My feeling is that we will be putting out more titles as digital downloads including the big books such as War in Catalucia for Flintloque.  Heck, it may even result in me penning original works for digital download only.  The future will tell.

Thanks for your time as always on my little page.

GBS

All You Need is Kill or Live, Die, Repeat Review

I treated myself to a night at home not doing any work and rather spending time with my good lady and watching a science fiction film.  I know…how dare I!  Moving on from that the film we choose to buy (I tend to just buy DVD’s as renting them is now very difficult and downloading does not suit me) was Edge of Tomorrow or Live, Die, Repeat or All You Need is Kill.  Take your pick of the title.  Though the last title is the book the film is based upon.  So sitting in the dark with a beer or two how was it?

Well as an adaptation of the book it was quite a bit different which was sad really as the setting in All you need is Kill was to me better than a d-day recreation set in London and northern France.  As a movie though Live Die Repeat was very good with a nice look and a lot of action.  Here is the synopsis:

“The epic action of “Edge of Tomorrow” unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop-forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again…and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.”

It is well worth checking out when you have a chance if you are a science fiction film fan.  Also it was good to see Bill Paxton back in the army!

So the book.  I have owned the book since near its English language translation date in the VIS Media edition in 2005.  I always thought it would make an excellent Manga but never thought it would be a Hollywood A lister live action film.  Here is the synopsis of the book:

“The story is told from the perspective of Keiji Kiriya, a new recruit in the United Defense Force which fights against the mysterious ‘Mimics’ which have laid siege to Earth. Keiji is killed on his first sortie, but through some inexplicable phenomenon wakes up having returned to the day before the battle. This continues and he finds himself caught in a time loop as his death and resurrection repeats time and time again. Keiji’s skill as a soldier grows as he passes through each time loop in a desperate attempt to change his fate.  After several dozen loops, he realizes his fate is tied to that of Rita Vrataski. He uses his knowledge of the day to get close to her and her mechanic, from whom he gets a copy of her massive axe, a weapon he learns to use well given the boltgun normal troops use runs out of ammo and jams easily. Realizing he is a fellow looper, Rita confides in Keiji, telling him of the system the Mimics use. There is a central nexus that can loop the day, as well as several antennae, all of which signal the loop to reset. Contact with an antenna is what trapped Keiji in the loop. Only by first killing all the antennae and then the nexus can Keiji escape. The Mimics constantly adapt to Keiji’s attacks, but he and Rita manage to eliminate the nexus, only to have the loop reset. After telling Rita this, she acknowledges that they missed one antenna. On the last loop (#160) they proceed to eliminate the antennae again, and then Rita attacks Keiji, explaining that being trapped in the loop has modified their brains so both of them are similar to the antennae, meaning one of them has to die before killing the nexus, else the loop will continue indefinitely. Keiji manages to kill Rita and then the nexus, and is hailed as a new hero of the Unity Army.”

Its a very original novel and its story works very well as a text, better than as a film if not using a narrator.  Confusion and despair mixed with a foreboding of events that will happen, have happened and will happen again.  If you have the inclination to read the book then you should and do so before you see the American adaptation of the book.

A last mention needs to be made of the alien creatures ‘Mimics’ which are described in the book but the film brought to CGI life.  It is a shame that no ‘making of’ book exists to be bought since I would purchase it.  The work that went into the design of the aliens was large and done in tandem with the designs of the armoured suits worn by troopers in the movie.  I got this information from two short documentaries included on the DVD.

GBS

Mistress Shani burns for The Ion Age!

Sometimes art takes many forms and today I got to see an example of Pyrography which is, to us lay folk, the art of burning images into wood. An ancient and worthy form of art in my opinion. Now to the matter in hand hot as it is!  Shani wife of Mark and a fan of The Ion Age made her loving husband a unique present of a dice box as seen in the image above. It was fashioned to match the cover of the coming Patrol Angis rulebook which you can see below.

I think Shani did an excellent job of it. You can see the original post HERE.

GBS

Find me on Facebook…finally

I reached the needed one thousand asks and finally signed up for Facebook this week.  I actually have been trying to avoid it due to the extra work involved.  Those who know me know that I just have to answer every comment and email and message sent to me and sometimes it takes me literally hours each day.  I do wonder sometimes if the old adage ‘if someone takes the time to write to you then you write back’ is meant to apply to the information age but in any event its what I do.

You can find me by searching Facebook for me as:  Gavin B Syme.

As result of this taking up of Facebook I am making efforts to join up with communities on that platform and making friends too.  By extension the weekly news, blog posts and product releases that I make from work are also going to feature on Facebook too.  It will not take long for me to get as noticed as I am on Google Plus.

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Aside from this the current heat wave that is going on in Scotland is making life sticky for me and its been a ruddy long day too.  That being said that fact that we are so busy is a great thing and as I look towards the first birthday of my baby (that is The Ion Age not one of my actual children!) I am so proud of how well it is going.  It seems that honesty, quality, service and pricing never go out of fashion.  My good lady cheered me up by send me a picture this afternoon of the Poet and the Warrior having fun in the park in Girvan with the free kite display.  These huge kites are easily 50 to 150 feet long and it really makes the sky line pretty in the 25c to 30c heat.

GBS

Alternative Armies is changing Website!

This is taken from the Alternative Armies blogger blog as of noon today. For your information as a follower of this website of mine.  GBS :

Alternative Armies is moving!

We are about to move our website and email accounts to a new service provider and system. This will greatly improve what we can show you (we are beginning Project Darkhelm and we have a lot of Flintloque miniatures coming) and make us more effective for offering deals, viewing on mobile devices and blogging too. While the process of moving should be painless we do need to tell you all some information. So please read on. 
The process will begin on Wednesday 18th June 2014 at 8pm GMT and we estimate it will all be complete within fourty eight hours. However it may take up to a week. We will let you all know once the shiny new site is up and running. We will have launch offers too so something to look forward to. 
We will be deactivating our payment gateway and current website and email system between 4pm and 7.45pm GMT on the 18th of June 2014. Please DO NOT email us on our normal email address during the transfer period as we may lose your email in transit. All orders placed with us will be filled and dispatched as normal and all email already in progress with us will be answered by our proxy. 
Our sister brand www.15mm.co.uk is going to help us out during the transfer with our email as a proxy. If you want or need to contact Alternative Armies during this period please email us on sales@15mm.co.uk and they will pass it directly onto us and in turn we will respond by that email address. We will announce here that all is well on the new site and email systems once ready so that live will continue as normal for us and our customers. 
Lastly once the new website is up and you can see it please delete all your page links to parts of the current website as they will no longer work and check your computers cache too as this may show you a ‘ghost’ vision of the website that no longer represents the live one. Its an exciting time and you want to ask me something please do it in the comments below as well.   Go HERE.
Gavin Syme (GBS) 
Creative Manager – Alternative Armies

A New Website for 15mm.co.uk

Migration was a success and now 15mm.co.uk has a brand new fully functional website.  As I said back on Tuesday it might take a day or a week or more but it went like a dream in the end.  It was a lot of work to build this site and honestly the messages coming in saying how nice it is makes me feel very happy. If you have an interest in what I do please go and have a look at the website.  Several thousand products and images.  Takes a lot of collate and insert.

On a separate but related note Alien Squad Leader 2.0, Alex Self’s fantastic 15mm science fiction wargame rules system is now back in stock as of this morning and the print run is selling already.  I had the privilege to write the fiction that was inserted into the pages of the manuscript and I had a hand in the layout while the great cover was done by Jim Brittain.   I have lined up quite a few new products for the HOF line that supports ASQL in the coming months and I will be giving details of each army as it develops into a full box code over on the 15mm.co.uk blog.

Now…the Ion Age calls and I can hear a Skylark singing (cryptic eh!).

GBS

New Phone and Custom Case

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I recently got a new phone.  I thought it was time, since my last one was bought before the advent of most social media.  While its all business for me I did want to share the little luxury I bought myself to go with the phone. As you can see is a great piece of artwork by Sam Croes on a protective case.  Depicting giant robots in a burning cityscape.  From a future project, don’t ask, as this image is all you will see of the project for now.   Its one for 2015.

Enjoy the picture and thanks to my good lady for taking the shot, as you can imagine its hard to take a picture of your own phone case while your phone is in it!

GBS

Kindle to Datapad!


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I am not often overcome with an urge to carry out a silly joke but I did feel the urge to do so upon getting a Kindle for Festivemass.  After spotting a reduced price bright white silicon rubber cover for it I decided that if I got the cover it might well make my device look it a Datapad.  Daft I know but the children like it and it makes me smile!

You can read my review of my first Kindle read here. I will be reading more on my Datapad soon but first some DVD and print books to look over I think.

GBS